As we begin to look beyond the economic downturn to recovery and global growth, it has perhaps never been more timely to examine the state of corporate sustainability. Despite the downturn, we see corporate commitment to environmental, social, and governance issues remaining exceptionally strong: 93 percent of CEOs in our recent survey see sustainability as critical to their company’s future success.
Over the course of the past quarter, This is Africa has been speaking with senior figures in the banking industry across the continent, as well as to some of the sector’s leading analysts and investors. No two banks are the same, but across almost all TIA’s conversations, three key themes emerged:
Negotiations over expanding Tunisia’s integration into the European Union are raising questions about the efficacy of Brussels’ soft power mechanisms in promoting political reform in the Southern Mediterranean
Andry Rajoelina: Exclusive Interview
“We are on the path to reform and this is the first time that the one in power will not run in the next presidential election. This has always been a problem in Madagascar and in Africa, because those in power always want to stay”
Building on a qualified success
Ten years after the Clinton administration adopted the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a groundbreaking piece of trade legislation, Agoa’s architects are petitioning to take it a stage further and increase US investment in Africa
Brazil aspires to be partner, not donor
Brazil is actively sharing its experience in agriculture with Africa, and there are hopes that this might be a critical contribution towards realising the continent’s elusive ‘green revolution’
Anna Tibaijuka: Exclusive Interview
Africa’s urbanisation must be understood and managed to prevent growing inequalities from becoming a source of conflict, according to Anna Tibaijuka, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of urban development body UN Habitat.
Quiet streets greeted the African Development Bank’s return to Abidjan, its former headquarters, this May for its 45th annual meetings. The bank left in 2003, precipitated by the deteriorating security situation in the city as Côte d’Ivoire slid into civil war. Today it occupies three buildings in Tunis – a “Temporary Relocation Agency” that has begun to seem less and less temporary. Its dislocation has been frustrating for bank staff and for international partners, but with elections in Côte d’Ivoire repeatedly postponed an imminent return has seemed unlikely.
Mobile money goes mainstream
When Vodafone launched the M-Pesa mobile money transfer service through its subsidiary Safaricom in Kenya in February 2007, few could have predicted its success. Originally developed with funding by the UK’s Department for International Development, it has quickly outgrown its development roots. By April of this year the service had 9.5m active users and accounted for approximately $330m worth of person-to-person transactions.
Indian demand fuels African cashew trade
West Africa is developing into an increasingly significant producer and processor of cashew nuts, feeding into lucrative markets in India
The Nile Exchange is one of a number of initiatives designed to provide a boost to Egypt’s small- and medium-sized enterprises but these are just a small step on the difficult path towards creating a culture of entrepreneurship in the region
Sub-Saharan markets remain in lower league
Given South Africa’s showing in the recent World Cup it would appear that Africa in 2010 is a lot like the US in 1994 – better at hosting the tournament than playing. Similarly, sub-Saharan stock markets in 2010 are a lot like the S&P 500 in 1994: poised for five very strong years of appreciation.
For mining firms being big matters
Despite the recent recession, mining fundamentals remain strong, fuelled by robust demand from urbanising economies, especially China’s, and by constrained supply for many metals and minerals.
Few reasons for Africa to fear EU’s fund directive
Much has been written in the financial press about the draft EU directive on alternative investment fund managers. The usual focus is on the directive’s potential impact on remuneration and the additional regulatory burden it seeks to impose. A lesser-told story is the potential impact of the directive on Africa-based funds, whose investments play a key part in the economic development of the continent, particularly with regards to infrastructure. We look at the history of the directive and how it might affect Africa-based funds.
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“There is a regional consensus that the crisis cannot be allowed to affect regional development”
“Africa probably has more resources than any place you can imagine”
“There can never be soft touch regulation. But it has to be regulation that is not arbitrary. The direction needs to be clear”
“Africa has lots of potential – raw materials and young people – but it needs FDI”