Tag Archives: Africa Rising

WEF Davos 2019

The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) take place in Davos Switzerland this week. The 2019 event will feature over 3,500 attendees from 115 “economies” (according to WEF) of who 118 are from Africa. Among this number, 57 are from South Africa, 16 from Nigeria, 13 from Kenya, 9 from Egypt, 6 each from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, 5 Rwanda, 4 Cote d’Ivoire and 3 from Morocco.

This year Qz has drilled down the attendees by continent, and listed under Kenya are Jesse Moore (M-Kopa), Katie Hill (Liquid Telecom), Mohammed Hassan (Kakuma Refugee Camp), Patrick Njoroge (Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya), Dr. Githinji Gitahi (CEO, AMREF) Agnes Kalibata (AGRA President), Paul Okumu (AfricaPlatform), Peter Munya (the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives), Liz Muange and Kanini Mutooni (both of USAID), Kennedy Odede (CEO Shining Hope), Mohamed Al-Beity (Savannah Fund) and Winnie Byanyima (Executive Director Oxfam).

 

Other familiar attendees from the continent include Tony Elumelu (Chairman of UBA Group), Ahmed Heikal (Qalaa), Cyril Ramaphosa (President, South Africa), Abiy Ahmed (Prime Minister, Ethiopia) Yoweri Museveni (President, Uganda), Moussa Mahamat (Chairperson African Union Commission), Akinwumi Adesina (President, African Development Bank), and Paul Kagame (President, Rwanda), Elizabeth Rossiello (CEO BitPesa – now in Senegal), and Emmerson Mnangagwa (President, Zimbabwe) who may have withdrawn to deal with the latest chapter in the country’s economic crisis.

Others are Mthuli Ncube (Finance Minister, Zimbabwe), from Botswana President Eric Masisi and Investment Minister Bogolo Kenewendo, Kamissa Camara (Foreign Affairs Minister Mali) and from the DRC is Denis Mukwege, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.  Qz notes that the youngest attendee at Davos this year is the 16-year-old photographer Skye Meaker from South Africa. 

Also on the list is William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, a now frequent attendee at Davos. In his fascinating book, “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”, he writes of his first visit to Davos – where in 1996, he gatecrashed the town of Davos with an investment banking friend. They did not have an innovation to the $50,000 annual summit, “an A-list party of the business world,” in which all hotel rooms are booked a year in advance. But they did mingle around the town and met a former finance minister of Russia in a group where they had an eerie conversation about investing in Russia.

“Don’t worry about the election, Yeltsin is going to win for sure.”
“How can you say that? His approval rating is barely 6%”
“These guys will fix that”

M&A Moment: January 2019

The Competition Authority of Kenya recently approved the completion of several corporate merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. They are interesting in that they reveal some revenue and deal value numbers that private companies, acquirers, and equity funds usually don’t make public.  The deals were all approved with exclusions as the transactions between the affected companies  will not affect competition negatively and they met the threshold for exclusion under the “merger threshold guidelines.”

The deals and exclusions include:

Airline/ Oil/Energy/Mining M&A

  • (The Competition Authority of Kenya [CA-K]) .. Excludes the proposed acquisition of 51% of Selenkei Ltd by Frontier Energy as the acquirer assets for the preceding year (2017) was KShs. 225 million while the target’s assets was KShs. 4 million and the combined assets valued at KShs. 222 million meet the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of control of Paygo Energy by Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund 1 LP and FPCI Energy Access Venture Fund as the acquirers had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs 2 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 51% of Cedate by Frontier Energy as the acquirer assets for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 225 million while the target’s assets was KShs. 355 million and the combined assets valued at KShs. 580 million meet the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the entire issued share capital in Iberafrica Power (E. A) by AEP Energy Africa
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of control of Consolidated Infrastructure Group by Fairfax Africa Holdings.
  • edit The CA-K has approved the acquisition of Cemtech Ltd by Simba Cement, which is owned by the Devki Group. Cemtech has limestone and clay deposits and licenses for extraction in West Pokot but has been dormant for a decade. Its shareholders have been looking for a partner (another deal had been mooted in 2013 ) to finance a cement plant, and Simba plan to resuscitate it by acquiring its land, business, intellectual property, records, equipment, goodwill, licenses, stock and third party rights. Simba has an 8% share of the cement market behind Bamburi (33%), Mombasa Cement (16%), East African Portland (15%), Savannah (15%), National (8)and Athi River Mining (13%) (March 2019).

Banking and Finance: Finance, Law, & Insurance M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 44% of Cellulant Corporation by The Rise Fund Certify, L.P. as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 93 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 752 million and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 844 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 12% of Pezesha Africa with certain controlling rights by Consonance Kuramo Special Opportunities Fund 1 as the acquirer’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 6.2 million while the target’s turnover was KShs. 3.1 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of Serian Asset Managers by Cytonn Asset Managers as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 0.9 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 1.1 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 1.9 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • The Competition Authority approved the acquisition of indirect control of Abraaj Investment Management by Actis International. Abraaj controls Star Foods Holdings, which ultimately controls Java House Ltd in Kenya.
  • CA-K approved the proposed purchase and subscription of up to 25% shareholding in Prime Bank by Africinvest Azure SPV

Agri-Business, Food & Beverage M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 99.9% of  Twiga Foods Limited by Twiga Holdings as the acquirer has no operations in Kenya and therefore had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 140 million and the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Anchor Flour Millers Company by Archaic Industries Kenya as the acquirer is a natural person with no business activities and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 97.3 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of class B ordinary shares in Fertiplant East Africa by Oikocredit, Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society U.A as the acquirer is a natural person and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s assets were valued at KShs. 47.5 million.
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Art-Caffe Coffee and Bakery Ltd by Artcaffe Group
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of certain assets and part of the business of Kreative Roses limited by Kongoni River Farm on condition that the target retains 43 of its employees while the acquirer employs the remaining 362 employees for at least one year after the completion of the proposed transaction.
  • edit The biscuit manufacturing and selling business carried on by Golden Biscuits (1985) at L.R. No. 209/4260, Kampala Road, Industrial Area, Nairobi, will be transferred to Trufoods Limited pursuant to the terms of a business and asset transfer agreement entered into between the Transferor and Transferee on 7th February, 2019.

Health and Medical, Pharmaceutical M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 32.5% of the shares with certain veto rights in King Medical Supplies by LGT Capital Invest Mauritius PCC Cell E/VP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 20.9 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 32.5% of the shares with certain Veto Rights in City Eye Hospital by LGT Capital Invest Mauritius PCC Cell E/VP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 62.1 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of sole control of Hain Lifescience East Africa Kenya by Bruker Daltonik GMBH as the acquirer’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 102 million while the target’s turnover was KShs. 106 million and the combined turnover of KShs. 208 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the manufacturing and distribution business of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company (Kenya) by Shalina Healthcare Kenya as the acquirer’s assets for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 0.4 million while the target’s value of asset was KShs. 43 million and the combined value of asset of KShs. 44 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of certain assets of Maghreb Pharmacy by Goodlife Pharmacy as the target had a turnover of KShs. 15 million for the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 60% shareholding in AK Life Sciences by CSSAF Lifeco Holdings as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 377 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 125 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 503 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • The competition authority approved the proposed acquisition of the entire share capital in Arysta Lifescience Inc by UPL Corporation.
  • The Competition Authority authorized the proposed investment by Tunza Health Investments in Pyramid Healthcare Ltd.
  • The Competition Authority approved, the acquisition of 100% of the business and assets of Desbro (Kenya) by Brenntang (Holding) B.V. on condition that Brenntang retains the 80 employees of Desbro for a period of one year. Desbro distributes over 600 industrial chemicals to various industries in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia.

Logistics, Engineering, & Manufacturing M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of the shares in JGH Marine A/S and JOHS. Gram-Hanssen A/S by Pitzner Gruppen Holding A/S  as the acquirer has no presence in Kenya and, therefore, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 392 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets and business of Socabelec East Africa by Cockerill East Africa as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 193, million for the preceding year 2016 while target had a turnover of KShs. 226 million the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 419 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 55% of  Air Sea Logistics (ASL) by Expolanka Freight PZCO as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 8 million and therefore meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets of Rich Logistics (K) by Bigcold Kenya as the acquirer is newly incorporated and hence, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target had a turnover of KShs. 48 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the stationery and shavers manufacturing, sales and distribution of stationery, lighters and shavers business of Haco Industries Kenya  by BIC East Africa.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the Kenyan freight forwarding business and assets of Dodwell & Co (East Africa) and those of Inchcape Shipping Services Kenya by ISS Global Forwarding (Kenya) – which is owned by Investment Corporate of Dubai (ICD). 
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of the assets and business of Blue Nile Wire Products by Blue Nile Rolling Mills.
  • The Competition Authority approved the acquisition of the assets and business of Wild Elegance Fashions by Wild Elegance Africa.
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of 73.6% of Sintel Security Print Solutions by Ramco Plexus. Sintel is involved in the printing and supply of scratch cards, highly secured cheques and custom labels.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Office Mart by Sai Office Supplies
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Lino Stationers by Sai Office Supplies on condition that the acquirer employs not less than 57 out of the 74 employees after the completion of the proposed transaction.

Real Estate, Tourism, & Supermarkets M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 40% of Dufry Kenya by Ananta as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target had a turnover of KShs. 269 million for the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed joint venture between Scan-Thor Group and Otto International GmbH as the acquirer has no market presence in Kenya and, therefore, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 11 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed transfer of 100% of Norbu Manda Pwani Ltd to Margot Kiser from the provisions of Part IV of the as the acquirer is a natural person and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s assets were valued at KShs. 47.5 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge by Archaic Industries Kenya as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 51.5 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business of Ocean Sports (2006) by Ocean Sports Hotel as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s turnover was KSh. 44.6 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 34.48% of African Forest Lodges by Earth Friends LLP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and has no assets or turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s assets was KShs. 197 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the (Furniture, fittings, equipment and Prefabricated building) assets of Me To We Ltd by Bogani Training, excludes the proposed acquisition of the (motor vehicle) assets of Me To We Ltd by Minga Ltd and excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets  (vehicles, beads, stocks) of Me To We Ltd by Araveli For Mamas as the acquirers had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s turnover for the preceding year 2016 was KShs. 68 million and therefore, meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of control of Tumaini Self Service by Sokoni Retail Kenya. Tumani operates retail stores in Nairobi, Kisumu and Kajiado.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of Nova Academics Tatu City Property Ltd by Summit Real Estate Pty
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Hillcrest Investment Holdings by Education Asia Holdings – which is an investment holding company owned by GEMS Global Schools. Hillcrest operates three learning institutions in Nairobi – Hillcrest Early Years, Hillcrest Preparatory School and Hillcrest Secondary School.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 39% of the shareholding in the Star Publication by Avandale Investments and 10% of the shareholding by Adil Arshed Khawaja as the acquirer had no turnover for the financial year ending 30th June 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 679 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of Mobile Web (trading as Hivisasa) by Novastar Ventures Easy Africa Fund 1 L.P.  as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 14 million or the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.

Other M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of Dc Xiang Kenya Company by Lin Bingwei from the provisions of Part IV of the Act as the acquirer is a natural person with no business activities and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover or assets;
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of the shares in Kesar Investments by Dipak Lakshman Halai and Ramesh Kurji Visram as the acquirer are individuals and had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s assets was KES 0.07 million
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of Zelepak Africa by PPG  Holdings

CA-K, as a regulator, has not yet reported on two mega deals; the proposed bank merger between CBA and NIC and the buyout of Kenol by Rubis that will lead to a delisting of the company. edit: Later in January 2019, the Competition Authority approved the Rubis-Kenol deal along with a few other deals. 

Also, see some other deals approved six years ago.

$1 = Kshs 101

The reason for the collapse of the Zimbabwe Economy

Anonymous guest post. 

Land redistribution (or seizures) didn’t sink the Zimbabwe economy. In fact, a 2011 independent study, quoted at the time in the New York Times (it’s unlikely to get more sceptical than that) declared that the redistribution programme had actually worked – that Zimbabwe was not just more productive; its food security had also rebounded to pre-redistribution levels.

But many (especially Western) analysts politicize the economic crisis without properly comprehending it. They link the collapse of the currency with the collapse of settler production, which in turn is caused by misrule. Misrule is then metaphorised as a trust problem, which is then looped back into the economic crisis, this time as its very basis.

The land redistribution-economic collapse analysis was deliberately trotted out in the early 2000’s by both the British and the white settlers. It’s a myth, as carefully and boldly planned and executed as anything Goebbels ever put out. It’s the Big Lie Theory stunningly executed. The Big Lie worked on a very plausible assumption: given that the white settler control of agro-industry was the heartbeat of the Zim economy, it followed that dismantling it would trigger the disintegration of the economy. This was only true to the extent that the land seizures disrupted productivity so severely as to halt it altogether.

Herein lies the Big Lie: it was easy to assume that a change in land ownership would mean a collapse in agricultural production. This evidently (as the statistics demonstrate) was a manifestly racist assumption. For one, it failed to account for ongoing smallholder production. More to the point, a decade after land redistribution, agricultural production was at the same levels, if not higher than what they were prior to redistribution.

So: what accounts for the collapse of the Zim dollar? The simple answer is sanctions. In 2002, and at the height of the land redistribution programme, (then President) Mugabe refused to sign onto the second phase of the IMF ESAF programme.

In response, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Fund. At the same time, and in solidarity with the white farmers, Bill Clinton (presidency ended in 2001) and the US Congress instituted sanctions against Zimbabwe. The result: Zimbabwe lost ALL its major export markets. And as a follow-on, its hard currency reserves began to tank.

Those sanctions have still not been lifted. This makes Zimbabwe, after perhaps Cuba, Iran and North Korea, the biggest pariah country on earth. Attempts to lift sanctions and the IMF suspension over the past two decades have all been unsuccessful.

One last thing, which I think is at the core of the sanctions question: why haven’t they been lifted? I was at a press briefing in 2010 or thereabouts with (then Prime Minister) Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara. These were clearly individuals who had been brought into Uncle Bob’s cabinet (at the instigation of Mbeki and the grand coalition peace deal) precisely on the calculation that they were acceptable faces to the West.

And the question they were asking was: why have the sanctions not been lifted now after the peace deal? Almost a decade later, the whole determination of the Emmerson Mnangagwa government to conduct a credible poll turned on the assumption that, following such credible poll, sanctions would be lifted.

In fact, one could argue that the current design of the post-election Commission of Inquiry is itself an attempt to convince Bretton Woods and Washington that Zimbabwe now has a ‘credible govt’. But still, there are no clear indications that even if the poll had been deemed credible, that sanctions would be lifted.

So one is now driven very close to the conclusion that Zimbabwe is being turned into the new Haiti i.e. that its punishment for daring to stand up to Western capital and threaten the very idea of white supremacy is going to be punished for generations to come.

Also, read the Guide to Harare, the work of the late Professor Sam Moyo.

Barclays Kenya unveils AFMI 2018 – the Absa Africa Financial Markets Index

Barclays Kenya launched the second edition of AFMI 2018 – the Absa Africa Financial Markets Index, revealing performance improvements at a time of economic turmoil on the continent and also the addition of new countries to the index that now tracks twenty African economies.

In the time since Barclays launched the initial Africa Financial Markets Index in 2017, they have seen good engagement from policymakers striving to improve their appeal to investors through the AFMI 2018 index which measures countries across six pillars of market depth, access to foreign exchange, market transparency/regulations, capacity of local investors, macroeconomic opportunity, and enforceability of legal agreements. This year, three new countries – Angola, Cameroon and Senegal joined the index bringing the countries tracked to 20 and the country measures were also tweaked to include elements of financial inclusions and levels of investor education

The AFMI 2018 was again topped by South Africa, the most advanced financial market in Africa, followed by Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria. Kenya, Morocco and Seychelles all improved in the rankings while Mauritius and Namibia slipped slightly. Nigeria was credited for improving in its administrative efficiency and tax reforms. 

Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Kenya said that emerging markets were under great pressure with currencies dropping, interest rates rising, political instability, falling commodities etc. and these highlighted how strong domestic financial markets could be used to cushion African economies from headwinds. He said that while  Kenya topped the access to foreign exchange pillar of the index, and had improved in the enforcement of  legal agreements, showing it was on a path to be a regional financial hub, there was still need to need to improve capacity of local investors, and grow the diversity of investor products. He added that Barclays Kenya was the first institution to list an ETF – an exchange-traded fund at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and was also providing thought leadership on international swops and global master repurchase agreements.

Guests at the launch included Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of the NSE, and Paul Muthaura, CEO of Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA). Odundo said that while the 2006-08 IPO era unlocked retail investor capital, there was much more opportunity for investors to get good returns in the secondary markets including through REIT’s and that the NSE was currently piloting on offering derivatives. Muthaura spoke of initiatives to connect investors across African investors including a pilot exchange partnership between Kenya and Nigeria, and the African Securities Exchanges Association which was looking to enable trading links between the six largest exchanges on the continent.

Anthony Kirui, Head of Markets at Barclays Kenya said the country had an array of fixed income securities, but attention needed to shift to re-opening bonds as opposed to issuing new paper. He added that there was a need to create a primary dealership and a true OTC market and to also address the reluctance from local owners to list on stock markets. Muthaura said that one factor in the lack of new listings at the NSE was due to companies, who may have been candidates for listing to get new capital, now opting for the abundant and cheap funding from banks that were flush with cash in the era of interest rate caps

In East Africa, Uganda was stable (at No. 10) on the index while Rwanda and Tanzania dropped slightly, the former due to discrepancies in the implementation of rules and the latter due to lack of capacity of local investors. Ethiopia was at the tail end of the Index due to not having a security exchange and corporate bond markets, but that is likely to change as the country pursues reforms such as freeing the foreign currency exchange rate and planning for privatization of Ethiopian enterprises.

The AFMI 2018 report was done with the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and can be downloaded from the Absa site.

Ethiopia privatization window opens

Several weeks of rapid news has seen Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises proposed as one of several changes to sustain what has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. This all comes in the wake of a new era under Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who is leading change within the country and outside, such as on his recent visit to Kenya.

In the last few days the Ethiopian government has lifted a state of emergency, signaled an effective cease-fire with Eritrea, released long-jailed political prisoners, reshuffled security leaders, launched e-visa’s for all international arrivals with a view to dropping visa requirements for all other African nationals, and opened the Menelik palace to tourists among other changes, which have drawn comparisons or Abiy to Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia in the 1980’s.

The surprise was statements about plans for the massive Ethiopia privatization program in which the government would sell minority stakes in roads, logistics, shipping, and prime assets like Ethiopian Airlines, which just took delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787, and which is the centrepiece of a logistical, tourism and business hub plan for the country. The program would also extend to two sectors that have been off-limits to foreign investors up to now;  banking and telecommunications.

For comparison, a 2012 list of Eastern Africa’s largest banks had the Commerical Bank of Ethiopia as the largest in the region followed by National Bank of Mauritius and KCB in Kenya, and at last measure (2017) had about  $17 billion of assets, 1,250 branches, and 16 million customers. And in telecommunications, Ethio Telecom, a government-owned monopoly has about 20 million customers in a country with a population of 107 million (many of them children), but still a low penetration rate. 

Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises is not a new item, but it is one which the government has put side as it pursued an industrialization model that has seen the building of new infrastructure, new factories, industrial parks, agro-processors, leather parks, vehicles manufacturers etc. but which has not been equally felt by the country’s large and young population – and this has seen wide-spread protests and a state of emergency that ushered in a new leadership with a new prime minister (Abiy). 

It also came after a lengthy story in the FT – Financial Times on the state of Ethiopia’s economy which cited the fatigue that China has with large investments and some projects that are operating below capacity coupled with the high government debt and shortage of foreign currency  – Two investors said that Sinosure, China’s main state-owned export and credit insurance company, was no longer extending credit insurance to Chinese banks for projects in Ethiopia as willingly as it used to. It notes that imports into the country are four times that of exports from  Ethiopia leading to the shortage of foreign currency.

The changes in Ethiopia could also be a warning to other African counties that have been moulded in a similar way to Ethiopia model, with heavy borrowing from China and building infrastructure and mega-projects for the future.  When the Ethiopia privatization program starts it’s unclear who will benefit and if Chinese companies will be given priority given that they have invested for a long period in Ethiopia compared to other new companies, such as Vodacom and MTN, who are excited about the prospects that are now opening up