Category Archives: Covid19

10 Points from AfDB 2022 in Accra

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group held its 2022 series of annual meetings in May in Accra, Ghana with the theme of achieving climate resilience and a just energy transition for Africa.

Highlights of the meetings:

  1. Food Security: Most countries in Africa are Agri-based. But going forward, they should engage in modern agriculture with technology, fertilizer & seed improvements, and not just produce, but also process and package high-value foods to quality standards that they can export. Agriculture can then bring transformation and jobs to rural areas.

Africa has 400 million hectares of savannah which, the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said, is better than Brazil’s (which is a net exporter of maize, beef, and soya) – and that for Africa to be a major player of global food, must transform its Savannah.

In six years, the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program has provided 76 million farmers with improved agricultural technologies. In Sudan, the AfDB provided certified heat-tolerant wheat seeds that, when cultivated over 65,000 hectares, made the country self-sufficient. In Ethiopia, the country progressively increased its acreage cultivated with certified heat-tolerant seeds from 5,000 to 167,000 hectares in 2021. With the increased harvest, they expert to export 1.5 – 2 million tons to Kenya and Djibouti.

  1. Energy Transformation: Currently 85% of the bank’s energy investment are in renewable energy with plans to double funding to $25 billion by 2025. While the bank has a policy not to support any coal, as part of its climate change, they acknowledge that intermittent renewable energy sources cannot power Africa alone, and that Power must also be accessible, secure and affordable.
    • One solution for Africa is gas. Nigeria has $200 trillion worth to exploit, according to President Adesina who said that Europe, which gets 45% of its gas from Russia, should look to Africa. Other countries with gas potential are Ghana, Cote de Ivoire, Angola, and Morocco. The AfDB is assisting Mozambique with a $24 billion LNP project that may make the country the 3rd largest producer in the world.
    • Some of the renewable energy investments the bank has undertaken are the Quarzazate Solar in Morocco – the world’s largest concentrated solar farm, the 3,000 MW Benban energy in Egypt, the $20 billion Sahel 10,000MW, and the largest wind project in Africa at Lake Turkana in Kenya.
    • The bank is mobilizing $40 billion for South Africa to ease its transition from a reliance on 44,000 MW of coal toward renewable energy sources. Donors have committed $17 billion of grant financing, and concessions, that the bank will leverage to meet this gap without South Africa getting into debt. As the government plans to move to net-zero emissions, the AfDB has invested in solar (Xina and Redstone projects) and wind (Sere) and is also supporting a feed-in tariff for renewable energy.
  2. The ADF: The Bank’s African Development Fund (ADF) receives donations from regional members and has provided $45 billion to low-income countries. Nine of the ten countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa and 100% are ADF countries. As the ADF needs more resources, the Bank plans to tap the ADF’s accumulated equity of $25 billion to raise $33 billion from capital markets. This will make the future of the ADF more sustainable and member countries will enjoy lower borrowing costs.
  1. The Infrastructure Gap: Infrastructure’s share of the bank’s funding portfolio is high because infrastructure projects are capital intensive. One project showcased was the Pokuase road interchange that is part of the Accra Urban Transport Project and which now disperses traffic on four levels to help reduce transport congestion in Accra. It was funded with $84 million from the Bank and the Government of Ghana.

Also at the summit, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan received the Africa Road Builders–Babacar Ndiaye prize for 2022. In her speech, she credited her predecessors, especially President John Pombe Magufuli who was a Roads and Public Works Minister in two governments before leading the country. The AfDB in 15 years had advanced $2.1 billion for 2,315 kilometres of road on the Tanzania mainland while Zanzibar has received $113 million for 139 kilometres of roads.

  1. Climate Change: One of the themes of the 2022 meetings was “achieving climate resilience”. Climate change is an existential threat with droughts, floods, and cyclones devastating Africa and causing losses of $7-15 billion a year. Even though the continent contributes just 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, it just gets 3% of climate-related financing. Developed nations had promised to fund Africa with $100 billion to adapt to climate change but this has not materialized and the Bank now plans to mobilize $25 billion for climate adaptation through a new fund.
  1. Creative Financing: During Covid, the bank launched a $3 billion social impact bond on global capital markets and the funds went to train 130,000 health workers, provide social protection for 30 million households, and business advisory for 300,000 SMEs. The Bank now plans to use its AAA-rated balance sheet to leverage $100 billion of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from International Monetary Fund and grow that four times.
  1. Development Financing by the AfDB can be targeted at specific areas:

• Towards Food Security: In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, food prices have gone up 30-40%, oil is 60%, and fertilizer prices tripled. So the AfDB launched a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to enable countries to intensify agricultural productivity and ward off the looming hunger crisis.
• For agriculture, President Adesina said the bank will allocate $1 billion to fund special agri-processing zone in rural areas of Zambia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, CIV and Senegal.
• Towards transformational infrastructure projects; the bank continues to fund ports, highways, bridges and border-crossing stations.
• Towards Youth Funding: one mechanism to help youth stop fleeing Africa will be through a youth entrepreneurship investment bank that will invest in youth business in 13 countries. The Bank is working on a mechanism to be ready after June 2022.

  1. Looming Debt: Even as African countries recovered in 2021 from Covid shocks, they face elevated debt levels and limited financial capacity that constrained further growth.

The bank has a focus on debt management of countries to improve the quality, sustainability and transparency of the debt. They will work with the World Bank, IMF and G20 nations to deal with private debt and commercial debt that now account for 44% of Africa’s debt. The Bank helped Somalia build back its debt management capacity after decades of war and negotiate debt relief with an arrears clearance plan and it now plans to l work with partners to do the same for Zimbabwe and build it back to an economic breadbasket.

  1. Rain parade: The Economist magazine dive-bombed the meetings with an article about a missing evaluator at the Bank. Later in his speech at the end of the summit, President Adesina said that a two-year external review of the Bank showed that its governance was world-class where areas of improvement were pointed out, these will be done. The joint communique at the end of the meetings mentioned the AfDB would implement the recommendations of a governance committee.
  2. Accra Image: The host nation of Ghana, celebrated 50 years since the passing of Kwame Nkrumah its founding President. It is seen as the birthplace of Africa as, in 1957 Ghana was considered the first Sub-Saharan country to achieve independence and is now a showcase for AfDB -financed projects including roads, farms and airports.

See more about the last in-person annual meetings – the 2019 AM in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Picture of President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania, speaking after receiving the Babacar Ndiaye prize for 2022. Courtesy of Edgar Batte

Next meetings: Following these first meetings since Covid, the next annual meeting will be at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt from May 23-26, 2023. The new Chairman of the Board of Governors is Tarek Amer, the Governor of the Bank of Egypt. The First Vice-Chairperson will be a representative of Brazil and the second one will be from Uganda.

Absa Kenya resumes dividends after record FY2021

Banking seems to have gotten over the shocks of the last two years, going by the outlook of Absa Bank Kenya. The bank released its 2021 financial results in Nairobi today and signalled a recovery with a resumption of dividend payouts similar to pre-Covid times.

The bank recorded assets of Kshs 429 billion and pre-tax profit of Kshs 15.6 billion for 2021, up from Kshs 5.6 billion in the previous year. Its deposits of Kshs 269 billion and loans of Kshs 234 billion had grown by 6% and 12% respectively. Absa Kenya will pay a dividend of Kshs 1.1 per share to its shareholders, equivalent to a sum of Kshs 6 billion or 58% of its profits. This comes after a dividend freeze last year in which the bank had rescheduled 30% of its loan book to accommodate its customers whose business and lives had been affected by the Covid-19 trade disruptions.

Absa Kenya Managing Director, Jeremy Awori said that 95% of the rescheduled borrowers had since resumed making loan repayments and the bank was able to lend another Kshs 128 billion in 2021.

The bank grew income by 7% to Kshs 37 billion and impairments decreased by 48% to Kshs 4.7 billion. The results were booked without the weighty exceptional items as it has completed the separation, rebranding and transition exercise from Barclays Kenya to Absa Kenya.

Chief Financial Officer, Yusuf Omari said the bank had strong capital and liquidity ratios and was in a good position for 2022 and onwards. He added that the capital position is stronger than in pre-Covid times, and the bank’s bad debt ratio is now at 7.8% compared to the Kenya banking sector average of 13%.

Awori said that the country’s GDP was on the rebound and services, notably tourism, were expected to recover with the removal of travel and quarantine restrictions that had kept business people, tourists and other nationals from visiting the country. There was however caution given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine following the invasion by Russia and which is expected to drive up food and fuel prices across the globe.

Chief Strategy Officer, Moses Muthui said that the last five years had been about growing revenue, driving transformation and bringing down costs. He added that with the separation done, Absa could focus on further diversifying its retail products, growing business banking, and building a regional powerhouse in corporate and institutional banking.

Absa Kenya rebounds from Covid hit

As the wave of quarterly financial results by Kenyan banks stream in this month, the banking industry appears to have recovered from the early effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Absa Bank, Kenya’s fifth-largest bank with assets of Kshs 398 billion ($3.6 billion), released its results, showing a 5x growth in pre-tax profits in the half-year, from 1.6 billion last June to 8.0 billion in June 2021. In the half-year period,  it made provisions of Kshs 1.9 billion compared to Kshs 5.3 billion last June. Overall, loans have grown from Kshs 202 to 219 billion (8%) while deposits have grown from Kshs 249 to 264 billion, representing a loan-to-deposit ratio of 83%. 

The banking industry made many responses to Covid-19, including reducing digital bank charges and restructuring customer loans. Absa restructured 59,000 loans worth Kshs 62 billion, representing 30% of its balance sheet. Absa Kenya’s Managing Director, Jeremy Awori, said it had been a good initiative to work with customers as, by June 2021, 94% of the loans have resumed repayments and the bank’s non-performing asset levels were down to below the industry average of 14%. 

In the last seven years, the bank had doubled the size of its balance sheet, navigated the re-branding from Barclays to Absa, and brought down its cost to income ratio from 53% to 45%.

Absa will optimize costs through technology to improve banking services. In 2021, it will invest Kshs 1.6 billion in technology initiatives; they have already launched WhatsApp banking and will upgrade the Timiza digital banking platform, expand agency banking, automate securities trading and increase cash deposit ATMs and rollout of contactless cards. 

Going forward, Absa Kenya management expects that, with the built-up strong capital and liquidity, the bank will be in a good position to pay a dividend to the shareholders at the end of the year which they missed last year.

AfDB 2021 annual meetings

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has announced its series of annual meetings for 2021.

The theme of the annual meetings which will take place from June 23-25 is “building resilient economies in post-covid Africa” and will include the 56th annual meeting of the governors of the African Development Bank and the 47th one of the African Development Fund. The 81 governors of the bank will review the annual report and operations of the group and adopt key resolutions with a focus on inclusive growth, debt and governance.

Just like in 2020, the meetings will be held virtually due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in which the prescribed mitigation measures are restricted gatherings and travels.

Most dialogue sessions will be restricted to only the governors and bank officials, but there will be some” knowledge events” that are open to the public such as on climate change and building Africa’s health defences.

EDIT: Also during the annual meetings will be the 2021 African Banker Awards with the two main ones being the African Bank of the Year Award (contested by Afreximbank, Attijariwafa, Banque Centrale Populaire, Commercial International Bank, Equity Group Holdings, Standard Bank Group, Trade and Development Bank and Zenith Bank) and the African Banker of the Year between Ade Ayeyemi of Ecobank Transnational Admassu Tadesse (TDB), Brehima Amadou Haidara (Banque de Développement du Mali), Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank), James Mwangi of Equity Group, João Figueiredo – (MozaBanco), and Kennedy Uzoka of United Bank for Africa.

Also Innovation in Financial Services Award, Financial Inclusion Award, Sustainable Bank, SME Bank, Investment Bank (with nominees Absa EFG Hermes, FBNQuest, Misr Capital, and  Standard Bank of South Africa. There is also the Energy Deal of the Year Award, Debt Deal of the Year (which includes Dangote Cement PLC $208 million bond by FBNQuest), and Agriculture Deal of the Year which has nominees from Banque Misr, Standard Bank Group, Nedbank, Stanbic IBTC Capital and, Afreximbank.

Some of the other nominees of include the Equity Deal of the Year Award, which has the Acorn Holdings student accommodation bond/REIT by Renaissance Capital, Infrastructure Deal of the Year in which TDB is nominated for both Kigali’s King Faisal Hospital and Tanzania’s Standard Gauge Railway.

Safaricom’s Ethiopia License Bid

This week marked the deadline for bids for two new Ethiopia telecommunication licenses on April 26. Two offers were received in Addis Ababa; one by MTN (Mauritius) and the other for a “Global Partnership for Ethiopia”, a consortium by Vodafone, Vodacom, Sumitomo and Safaricom.

This is part of an overdue privatization push by Ethiopia that has continued even as political tensions have flared up in different parts of the country. The licenses do not include mobile money, but that is something that currently monopoly, Ethio Telecom has been granted and hopes to launch soon. It is expected that others who did not bid for mobile licenses such as Orange may bid for the partial privatization of Ethio Telecom which has 50 million subscribers.

Can Safaricom grow in this market 110 million population strong-market? That has been a goal of Safaricom’s management for the last few years. But a January 2021 report by Citi Bank was negative on the “high risk, high return” venture which will impact Safaricom’s earnings in the short to medium term. This was due to the impact of Covid-19 on the risk profile of all potential investors in Ethiopia, but also as, by taking a controlling stake in the consortium, the Ethiopia operations will be consolidated in Safaricom’s financials. Citi expects that Safaricom would raise half a billion dollars of debt to contribute to the consortium which would put an end to special dividends paid by the firm.

After technical and financial evaluations of the two qualified bids, a decision is expected by mid-May 2021.

Also, see more about MTN, from their Nigeria listing.

EDIT May 24, 2021:

  • The Global Partnership for Ethiopia welcomed the award of a license to operate telecom services in Ethiopia. Safaricom is the lead partner in the consortium which will establish a new company in Ethiopia that aims to start providing telecommunications services from 2022. The country has 112 million people and is introducing competition as part of economic reforms supported by the International Finance Corporation.

EDIT May 25, 2021:

  • The consortium bid $850 million and will get a 15-year license, with the possibility of one extension of the same duration. Safaricom has incorporated an SPV, the Vodafone Ethiopia Holding Company in the UK, in which it owns 90% and Vodacom 10% – which will own a company in the Netherlands, that it intends to move to Kenya, and get shareholder approval at their upcoming AGM, to operate it as a subsidiary. The SPV will own 61.9% (Safaricom 55.7%, Vodacom 6.2%), and other shareholders will be Sumitomo (27.2%) and CDC (10.9%).

EDIT June 8, 2021:

  • Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said their group serves 180 million in Africa with 58 million accessing financial services on M-Pesa, Africa’s largest mobile money platform that processes $24.5 billion a month. It has now expanded to international money transfers, loans, savings and lifestyles ad lifestyle and could be used to enable small Ethiopian businesses to access e-commerce. Also, the launch of mobile money services in 2022 will ensure financial inclusion and close the gender gap.
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali said Ethiopia will next offer 40% of Ethio Telecom to a foreign investor with another 5% to the Ethiopian public. Also, they will adjust policy (mobile money) and re-tender the second national telco license as he called on all the telco players to coordinate to connect everyone.

EDIT July 5, 2021

  • Safaricom appointed a new Managing Director for Ethiopia, Anwar Soussa.
  • Safaricom released the notice for the AGM on July 30 where shareholders will be asked ratify the Ethiopia deals.

EDIT July 15: The Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) issued a fifteen-year telecommunications operator license to “Safaricom Ethiopia PLC,” a newly incorporated local company.