Archive for the 'South Sudan' Category

The Africa Report food for thought on the “great game” in East Africa

“East Africa is the most promising regional bloc. [It] has registered between 5 and 6% growth annually for the past decade. We estimate that regional gross domestic product will expand 18-fold by the middle of the century, from $185bn in 2010 to $3.5trn by 2050. This era is comparable to the period immediately after independence.” This is an intriguing article just published by The Africa Report, quoting Gabriel Negatu, regional director of the African Development Bank.
The article, by Parselelo Kantai in Nairobi and Juba, additional reporting by Patrick Smith in Addis Ababa, talks of the four leaders that dominate the East African “chessboard”. Here are a few sample quotes: “At international gatherings such as the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, the four gravitate towards each other: Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
“Differing in age and political experience, they argue about many details but there is a critical point of consensus. If East Africa is to grasp the economic opportunities now available, there must be a determined effort to integrate its markets and economies, even if that means making concessions and compromises in the short term.
“All four run interventionist foreign policies – Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda sent troops into Somalia, while Rwandan and Ugandan troops have been both invited to and expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“They all favour a statist hand on the economic tiller, but they are all building up business classes on whose political loyalty they can rely. All have supported Kenyatta in his attempts to avoid prosecution at the International Criminal Court.
“Economic growth and breaking away from dependence on Western markets are common imperatives. None of them enthuse about democracy, particularly in its Western, liberal variants.”
The article also gives insights on Uganda’s $8bn oil infrastructure deal of 5 February that will help reshape the region and its economies and 2 giant railway projects due for completion by 2020. It highlights the need for jobs and services to keep up with growth, and China’s giant role in reshaping the region.
It highlights regional diplomatic tensions too. The writers also point to joint pressure on Tanzania, sometimes seen as the laggard in the regionalization project, and give insightful perspective on the lessons from the South Sudan crisis, as well as letting key South Sudanese voices be heard. They write:
“For governments tempted to ignore the new underclass, South Sudan serves as a cautionary tale. An abiding weakness of governments in East Africa is their ethnocentrism: their tendency to favour crassly their ethnic support bases in the allocation of public sector jobs, appointments, commercial opportunities and government tenders.
“South Sudan’s crisis may have been exacerbated by its weak institutions, but the best illustration of this was the government’s failure to rein in cronyism, corruption and ethnic rivalries in the state sector.
“In South Sudan, these weaknesses caused a war. In other countries in the region, they produce bad elections and policy-making, and hold back burgeoning economies.”
The article speaks of the determination not to be proxies for foreign powers in any conflict and says the South Sudan crisis could give an opportunity to rebuild a state more suited to local realities.
For more, we recommend that you read the article in full here.

Citadel Capital’s Rift Valley Railway opens Uganda-S Sudan trade after 20 years

Rift Valley Railways (RVR) has repaired 500 kilometers of track between Tororo in eastern Uganda and Gulu in the north. This opens north and northwest Uganda to rail services after 20 years of disuse and inefficiency and provides businesses targeting South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with cheaper transport, including for bulk items.
RVR is a “platform company” for Citadel Capital (citadelcapital.com, CCAP.CA on the Egyptian Exchange), which controls investments worth $9.5 billion and is a leading investment company in Africa and Middle East focusing on energy, transport, agrifoods, mining, and cement and able to tackle large and long-term projects. It operates freight rail services in Kenya and Uganda on an exclusive basis with a mandate to operate railway services on 2,352 km of track linking the port of Mombasa with the interiors of Kenya and Uganda, including Kampala.
Uganda’s President, HE Yoweri Museveni, attended the relaunch of the Tororo-Gulu-Packwach link with Citadel Capital Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal, TransCentury Director/Chairman RVR Ngugi Kiuna and BOMI Holdings Chairman Charles Mbire, as well as local government officials and key executives from Citadel Capital and RVR.
According to the press release Dr Heikal said: “Rift Valley Railways is the investment that first brought Citadel Capital to East Africa, a region many of us at the firm now view as our second home on this great continent that we share. Intra-regional trade currently accounts for just 9% of Africa’s total commerce, and we believe this new line is an important milestone that will further complement ongoing Ugandan Government initiatives aimed at facilitating trade on the continent.
“RVR is an excellent example of what can be achieved in Uganda and the continent in the future. It is truly a global financing effort — with shareholders like Bomi in Uganda, our partners Transcentury in Kenya, and Citadel Capital from Egypt.” According to the press release, he said that funding comes from OPIC (US Government arm which finances private sector), sovereign and quasi-sovereign wealth funds from the UAE and Norway, the International Finance Corporation, and the German, French and Dutch governments. RVR’s lenders also include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), KfW Entwicklungsbank (The German Development Bank, KfW), FMO (the Dutch development bank), Kenya’s Equity Bank, the ICF Debt Pool, and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO). Africa Railways, Citadel Capital’s platform for investment in the African rail transport sector, counts among its equity investors the IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund LP (ALAC, the private equity fund managed by the IFC Asset Management Company LLC); FMO; German development finance institution DEG; FISEA, a vehicle dedicated to investment in Sub-Saharan Africa owned by France’s Agence Française de Développement and managed by its subsidiary PROPARCO; and the International Finance Corporation. Technical partners are global experts from America Latina Logistica in Brazil.
RVR Group Chief Executive Officer, Darlan de David said that RVR will expand in Gulu and eventually transform the town into a logistical hub for its operations in northern Uganda and the surrounding regions.
Citadel Capital Managing Director Karim Sadek noted: “This new service will play a vital role in promoting regional integration and trade by providing access to areas that were once closed to rail transportation. Working with logistics partners and our own logistics subsidiary, East Africa Rail and Handling, we will provide end-to-end transport and delivery solutions for customers in this important part of East Africa.”
The financing of RVR was previously covered on this blog in 2011.

Kenyan IPO only 60% subscribed but regional plans go ahead

Kenya’s financial services holding company British-American Investments Company Ltd.(www.british-american.co.ke) issued a statement on 23 August outlining that its initial public offering (IPO) had only attracted 60.09% of the targeted KSh5.85 billion ($63million). The company owns 2 insurance firms and an asset manager and said it will reconsider its plans, which had included real estate and regional expansion, including in South Sudan.
The listing was previously detailed on this site here.
The company successful raised KSh3.5bn by selling 390.6m shares at KSh9.00 each. It meets the minimum 50% requirement in its prospectus to go ahead and with 28,000 shareholders is permitted to list on the Nairobi Stock Exchange main board. The shares are due to start trading on the Nairobi bourse on September 2.
According to stockbroking analysts, foreigners were largely absent due to risk aversion and worries about the Kenyan economy. Reuters quotes George Bodo, a research analyst at ApexAfrica. “The timing of the IPO came … when the global markets were risk averse and foreign investors were cutting risky positions internationally.” International problems include the US economy and the eurozone debt crisis. “It was unfortunate that the US debt crisis escalated right in the middle of the offer period, causing loss of appetite amongst institutional investors especially those outside Kenya,” said Group chairman Nicholas Ashford- Hodges, according to a report in “Business Daily” newspaper.
Foreign investors normally account for 70% of action on the NSE, but Reuters says they are less active and this has been made worse as the Kenyan currency declines against world currencies.
Local retail investors recorded the highest participation, taking up 70.9% including a 142% oversubscription of the 195m shares offered to them; qualified institutional investors hung back and took up 23.7%, just over a third of their 240.5m shares allocation; employees, agents and individual life policyholders snapped up 5.2% and foreign investors were almost absent, taking up only 0.3% of the offer, less than 1% of the 195mn shares reserved for them.
Analysts said the poor macroeconomic environment in Kenya did not augur well and inflation in Kenya hit 15.53% in July, driven by food and fuel prices. Rising interest rates have dissuaded many investors from seeking funds from banks to invest in shares and banks were also not willing to take shares as collateral. Gregory Waweru, an analyst at Kestrel Capital, was reported as saying: “There was competition for funds due to tight liquidity in the market.” Many investors have not yet realized substantail returns from East Africa’s biggest IPO which was Safaricom’s listing in 2008.
British American had planned to spend KSh2.5bn on property development and group managing director Benson Wairegi said in a statement: “The property development initiative where the bulk of the funds were targeted will be reviewed with a view to scaling it down.”
The company was also to set aside KSh1bn for regional expansion and KSh1.28 bn to expand its Kenyan operations, including the asset management business and to launch new funds for Kenyans in the diaspora as well as local and international investors and to comply with a proposed law for real estate investment trusts.
Mr Wairegi said the company may consider using bank loans to finance other planned projects: “The group has no other gearing despite the very strong balance sheet, which has become even stronger with the raising of KSh3.5bn. We shall, therefore, be able to easily leverage to implement all the profitable projects that have been lined up,” according to a report in “Business Daily”.
British American launched a Ugandan subsidiary in July and at the time the chairman said next stop would be to open offices in Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan.

British American Investment launches Kenya IPO

British American Investment Company (Kenya) Ltd (www.british-american.co.ke) launched its initial public offer (IPO) on 12 July, aiming to list on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. It aims to raise KES 5.58 billion (US$62.2 million) for expansion in the offer which is open until 5 August.
British American is issuing 650 m new ordinary shares at KES9 each. East African retail investors and foreign investors have each been allocated 30% of the shares, institutional investors 37% and employees, agents and individual life policy holders get the remaining 3%.
The offer was launched by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He urged more people to use insurance products, and said market penetration is only 2.3% of GDP, according to Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation. The Standard newspaper reports him saying “I would like to take this opportunity to assure investors that Kenya is on a renewal path.”

Expansion: “missing middle” and new products
According to a report in Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper, of the money raised KES1 bn will be used for new investments and entry into the regional market while KES 1.3 bn would be used to grow its Kenyan insurance businesses and to expand its asset management business, including launching new funds for Kenyans in the diaspora as well as local and international investors.
The company will use KES2.5 bn to set up real estate investment trusts when the proposed law comes into effect and to develop property investments, including commercial buildings and housing units. KES750 m is to offset a loan from Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and KES 300 m is for offer expenses.
The paper reports British American’s chairman Nicholas Ashford-Hodges saying funds raised would be used to boost the company’s operations in Kenya and expand to regional markets: “This IPO will give British American an opportunity to increase the scope of its operations and widen its footprint.”
The company hopes to seize emerging opportunities through innovative products such as micro-insurance and bank-assurance. According to the Standard, managing director Benson Wairegi said the company is developing more products for the retail market and small and medium-sized businesses: “We seek to fundamentally redefine the scale and scope of the insurance sector in Kenya and the wider region. Our established model of scale, reach and multi-layered selling will also be extended to the retail market and SMEs in the wider geographical region.”

Regional expansion – Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda

On 7 July, BAT launched an insurance services business in Uganda through a subsidiary, Britam Insurance Company (Uganda) Limited, which has a capital of UGX5.6 bn ($2.2m). It also aims to open offices in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Southern Sudan.

Profit turnaround
British American is also the holding company of British American Insurance Company (Kenya) Ltd and British American Asset Managers Ltd (BAAM).
The market capitalization of the new company will be KES19.4bn ($216.3m), the highest among listed insurance firms. CfC Insurance Holdings, which was listed by introduction in April, was valued at KES6.85bn as at the close of trading yesterday, Jubilee Holdings Ltd at KES8.86bn, and Pan African Insurance at KES1.92bn, according to the paper.
Business Daily reports that British American Group posted KES2.7 bn in profits after tax last year, up from KES421 mn loss in 2009. The company made KES4.68 bn (KES 196m in 2009) in investment income and KES220 m (KES 32 m) in other income.