Africa- Brokers key in commercial insurance space

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Database of Press Releases related to Africa - APO-Source

Africa- Brokers key in commercial insurance space

Brokers provide critical partner for African commercial insurers

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, August 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ With tough market conditions providing so little opportunity for growth, commercial insurers are starting to focus on brokers at the more profitable end of the market, either through niche products, or by working with regional community brokers who typically know their clients better, resulting in stickier, more profitable business.


Photo: (Clinton Brown, SSP Business Development Manager)

“Commercial insurance can be highly complex because it needs to be more specific and tailored to the individual needs of businesses,” says Clinton Brown, Business Development Manager at SSP ( “As a result, brokers are far more crucial partners for insurers in the commercial space than the personal one,” explains Brown, referring to a recent SSP white paper, “Where next on the distribution journey?”. (

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The Hold-Up with Mobile Money in Nigeria

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Center for Financial Inclusion Blog

> Posted by Prateek Shrivastava, Global Director, Channels & Technology, Accion

The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act in 2007. The Act included provisions for the creation of the CBN to ensure monetary stability, issuing and maintaining legal tender, and promoting the implementation of best practices including the use of electronic payment systems in all banks across Nigeria.

In the same year, the CBN developed the Financial System Strategy 2020 wherein the need for electronic financial services (amongst many other reforms) to make Nigeria a competitive economy was identified. Since 2008, the CBN has been extremely active in developing and implementing guidelines and frameworks to support the digitization of financial services (for example, all banks and microfinance banks need to have core banking systems, and the use of ATMs is governed) including mobile money and agent banking. The Guidelines on…

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Dawn raids rise in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Shawn hi res

Shawn van der Meulen

Dawn raids in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to increase in a bid by competition authorities to investigate potentially anti-competitive activities by companies, according to Webber Wentzel, one of South Africa’s leading law firms.

Speaking at a competition law seminar for Sub-Saharan Africa today hosted by Webber Wentzel, partner in the competition practice Shawn van der Meulen said, “We are seeing a big increase in the number of dawn raids carried out by competition authorities in Africa. In South Africa, we have already seen six this year across a number of sectors.”

The purposes of these dawn raids is to enable competition authorities to uncover evidence of anti-competitive practices, and in particular collusion (price-fixing, market allocation and bid-rigging), which is the most egregious form of anti-competitive activity.  “In such operations, the competition authorities can copy and save all electronic documents from a company’s servers to use in the investigation, which includes very sensitive company information,” he added.

Interestingly, the dawn raid risk is a growing concern for businesses in Africa with recent momentum gaining in many other sub-Saharan African jurisdictions, including Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

Van der Meulen noted that “Cross-border dawn raids could potentially be conducted where multi-jurisdictional cartels are investigated, but this requires a coordinated approach from the competition authorities in different countries.” For example, the South African Competition Commission might carry out a dawn raid on a South African-based company, but the incriminating evidence could be held at its offices in Zambia and potentially be destroyed before being uncovered. “Collaboration is thus critical for the authorities in order for multi-jurisdictional dawn raids to be fruitful,” he added.

Also speaking at the seminar, Luyamba Mpamba, director of the mergers and monopolies division at the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, gave an indication of the level of dawn raids in Zambia. Mpamba says, “Since the competition law pertaining to Zambia was revised in 2010, five dawn raids were carried out across various sectors including banking and fertilizers. We are also currently looking at five cartel investigations. We have found that dawn raids prove useful in investigating companies and we will be pushing for a leniency program to allow for better incentives so that members of cartels can come forward.”

In Zambia specifically, there are quite clear restrictions on which offices and documents can be seized, based on what is stipulated in the search warrant.   The Zambian authority also considers it important to try to limit the impact of a dawn raid on the operations of the business while the raid is being executed. There is however a need for further co-operation and co-ordination by the competition authorities in relation to uncovering multi-jurisdictional cartels.

In relation to South Africa, representative from the cartels division of the South African Competition Commission, Mfundo Ngobese, pointed out that dawn raids are likely to increase as the Commission gains further expertise and grows in terms of its resources.

Since the commencement of the Competition Act in 1999, the South African Commission has conducted dawn raids at approximately 20 different business premises across a broad spectrum of sectors. Although the Commission’s early days focused on merger control, it has shown an increasing ability year on year to uncover other anti-competitive activities, particularly focused on collusion.

Ngobese said, “The rise of dawn raids is in line with the Commission’s growth over the last few years in terms of resources and people. The Commission’s expertise is also growing as we have conducted raids in a number of sectors including tyres, scrap metal, cables, airlines, furniture removals, panel beaters, fertilizers and cement.”

Dawn raids ‘flush out’ collusion particularly effectively when they are conducted at the same time at the premises of competing companies thought to be engaged in collusion. Competitor companies are forced to quickly consider the Competition Commission’s Corporate Leniency Policy (CLP), which outlines a process through which a self-confessing cartel member, who is first to approach the Commission, may receive immunity or indemnity for its participation in collusive activities upon fulfilling specific requirements and conditions. Under the CLP, the whistle-blowing cartelist may escape paying an administrative penalty (of up to 10% of turnover) where it confesses to having engaged in cartel conduct.

“Therein lies a whistle-blower’s carrot,” says van der Meulen. “It is not uncommon for a firm that has been the subject of a dawn raid to discover cartel conduct  in its operations, and so have to quickly apply to the Commission for leniency under the CLP, given that the leniency applicant may be scurrying against its competitors to be ‘the first cartelist through the door’ for immunity.”

Steps to be taken by firms during a dawn raid

Firms are best advised, and in fact obliged, to co-operate with the Commission during a dawn raid there are some basic steps to follow which may serve to ensure that the legal rights firms and individuals have in a dawn raid are protected. The following guideline provides some basic steps to follow in a dawn raid and sets out some key “do’s” and “don’ts”.

Arrival of the inspectors

Step 1: Ask the inspectors to provide their identification and to explain by which authority the search is being executed. In most instances the search is conducted with a warrant – ask to see the warrant and make copies of it. Note the names of each individual present. Each person must be an appointed inspector and produce a certificate of appointment.

Step 2: Examine the warrant and ensure that it:

  • is issued by a judge of the high court, a regional magistrate or magistrate with jurisdiction over the area in which the premises are located;
  • clearly identifies the premises which must be entered and searched – ensure that the warrant refers to your premises; and
  • has not been issued more than one month prior to the date on which it is executed.

Step 3: Ensure you understand the extent of the search powers (scope) and the degree of access granted to the inspectors.

Step 4: Ask the inspectors to wait at reception until you have had an opportunity to phone your in-house legal advisor/s and /or external attorney/s. Ideally, the search should only start once your legal representative is present, but the inspectors are not obligated to wait for legal representatives to arrive.

Step 5: Take the inspectors to a meeting room to use as their base and request that they wait there until your legal representative has arrived. Be calm at all times and do not resist any actions by the use of force. Make it clear that the company intends to comply with the lawful conduct of the search.

During the dawn raid

  • Shadow the inspectors, closely allocating at least one employee to each inspector. The shadows must take notes of all of the inspector’s activities, carefully noting all their requests and everything that they do. Shadows should be co-operative and explain where things are and how documents are filed (to the extent that they can). An information technology (IT) specialist from the company should be allocated to the IT inspector representative.
  • Shadows must ensure that they have a duplicate copy of all documents copied by the inspectors.
  • Shadows must not allow the inspectors to review privileged documents – “privileged information” refers to any document which has been prepared for purposes of contemplated litigation or any legal advice. Privileged information need not be marked “privileged”.
  • Do not answer any material questions in relation to the dawn raid or any documents reviewed by the inspectors until your legal representative has arrived.
  • Do not obstruct the officials in exercising their power and do not destroy, falsify or conceal documents.

Can you drink water made from poo? Bill Gates did

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Early January, a video clip featuring Bill Gates started making the rounds on the Internet. But he wasn’t delivering one of his inspiring speeches about vaccines or getting drenched in ice water to raise awareness about ALS. He was just drinking a glass of water.

Sounds boring, right? The catch: five minutes before Gates took his first sip, that water had been human waste pumped in from a local sewage facility. That’s right: Bill Gates drank poop water to entertain an audience on the Internet.

Well, sort of. Gates was using the apparent publicity stunt to unveil the OmniProcessor—a low-cost waste treatment plant that combines a steam power plant, an incinerator, and a water filtration system into a machine capable of converting 14 tons of sewage into potable water and electricity each day. I’ve tried the water myself; not only is it drinkable, it’s actually indistinguishable from tap water or bottled water.

The contraption, about the size of two school buses placed side by side, was engineered from scratch by a small, family-run company called Janicki Bioenergy; its two-year development was funded by The Gates Foundation as part of its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

When it was first revealed to the world, the OmniProcessor sat in an open lot in small-town Washington behind other Janicki buildings where workers built machine parts for aerospace, marine, space, and transportation operations. But once most of the kinks were worked out of the prototype—Gates personally inspected the machine late last year—the Janicki team wanted to see how the OmniProcessor worked for real. They took the machine apart and in February traveled to Dakar, Senegal, to rebuild the high-tech waste plant in the city to see if it could live up to its promise. By May, the OmniProcessor was up and running—and it turns out, as usual, that the real world isn’t as simple.

Garbage In, Water Out

So far, Gates says, the Janicki is working “as predicted,”though that doesn’t necessarily mean the test is going without a hitch.

“The real world introduces lots of variables,” Gates writes in a blog post today. “For example, you have to find the right personnel to run the machine. You have to work with local and national governments and gauge the public’s reaction.”

Gates says the OmniProcessor team is thinking about how to tweak the OmniProcessor’s design and working out a business plan.

“The next version of the machine will burn most types of garbage in addition to human waste, and it will be easier to maintain,” Gates says. The Janicki team is looking to sell the first $1.5 million OmniProcessor unit to a Sengalese city and is in talks to sell other units to potential buyers in wealthier countries, too.

It’s tempting, Gates says, to focus on the flashier part of the OmniProcessor. Poop water that’s actually drinkable?!? But ultimately, the goal isn’t for the OmniProcessor to produce water, according to Gates. It’s to dramatically improve sanitation for cities in poor countries.

Affordable Sanitation

Today, at least 2 billion people still use toilet facilities that aren’t properly drained, and disease caused by poor sanitation kills 700,000 children a year. Rich-world solutions don’t work in developing countries, either—the infrastructure is too expensive. The whole point of the OmniProcessor, Gates says, is to make sanitation affordable for low-income communities.

In the city of Dakar alone, 1.2 million people aren’t connected to a sewage line. Instead, they have their own pits where people dump fecal waste. To deal with the waste, members of the community often empty the pits manually, filling buckets by hand and transferring sludge to holes in the ground that they’ve dug themselves. It’s a truly dangerous business—because of the rapid spread of pathogens, these people risk getting seriously ill from the work.

A better way to deal with the waste is to mechanically transfer fecal sludge via trucks and tubes to treatment plants. In Dakar, those plants have now been partially replaced by the OmniProcessor. According to Mbaye Mbéguéré, program coordinator at the National Institute of Sanitation, about one-third of the sludge in Dakar is now processed by these machines, turning human waste not only into drinkable water but producing electricity and ash for use in activities like construction.

Clean Tech

That’s not an insignificant accomplishment for the OmniProcessor. The hope is that other entrepreneurs in Africa, seeing the machine’s success in Dakar—that is, not just proving feasibility, but actually succeeding as a business model—will push them to invest in sanitation, as well.

“Why hasn’t anyone built one before now?” Gates asks. “Because the people who understood the technology weren’t getting sick or dying from contaminated water, and they didn’t know anyone who was. Nor was it clear how they could make a profit by working on the problem.”

Whether or not the OmniProcessor will see real success, the Gates Foundation’s effort to move sanitation research forward—not exactly the sexiest science there is—is laudable. As Mark van Loosdrecht, a professor of environmental biotechnology at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, pointed out in January, having support from a philanthropic organization—especially one with pockets as deep as the Gates Foundation—is an advantage for researchers and developers of sanitation tech. “They don’t need to worry about the support,” he said. “I like the long-term vision instead of the usual program with short-term gains.”

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9 interesting facts about pangolins

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The pangolin, also known as scaly anteater, is a mammal of the order Pholidota (means a horny scale in Greek). Two of its genera Phataginus and Smutsia, living in Africa comprises two species each.

The name Pangolin comes from the Malay word “pengguling”, meaning “something that rolls up”.

Here are some interesting facts about the animal.

  • They are the only known mammal with protective keratin (the same material of which human fingernails are made) scales covering their skin
  • The lion plays with pangolins
  • pangolin4
  • They are very choosy, tending to consume only one or two species of insects, even when many species are available to them
  • A pangolin’s tongue is longer than its body when extended
  • pangolin tongue
  • Their diet consist of mainly ants and termites
  • They are solitary animals, meeting only to mate
  • They are the most trafficked mammal in the world
  • All eight pangolin species are listed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species
  • It curls up into a ball when threatened
Coat made from Pangolin scales on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Photo: Gaius Cornelius

Coat made from Pangolin scales on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds.
Photo: Gaius Cornelius

Climate Change: How to decouple economic growth from emission of greenhouse gases

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It has often been said that with economic growth comes more pollution. A classic example is China, with 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. The Chinese economy grew at an average of 10 percent over the past three decades, but so did its pollution. Several African nations growing at an impressive rate have also seen pollution rise.

With Climate change threatening to exacerbate poverty and hurt economic growth there must be a way to “decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions” if the world will end the development challenges it faces.
“We have to keep the economy growing – there is no turning back on growth,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim told the student audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on March 18. He offers insight into how we can divorce growth from carbon emissions, suggesting five things that need to be done to achieve this.

Put a price on carbon

Cutting emissions starts with clear policy signals.

Carbon pricing systems – such as emissions trading systems that cap emissions or carbon taxes that charge per ton – send a long-term signal to companies by creating an incentive to reduce polluting behaviors and to invest in cleaner energy choices and low-carbon innovation.

Close to 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and provinces now have or are preparing to implement carbon pricing through emissions trading systems or carbon taxes, and their numbers are growing. Korea launched the newest carbon market in January. China, with seven pilot carbon markets in cities and provinces, saw its emissions drop last year and plans to launch a national emissions trading system as early as 2016.

“A price on carbon is the single most important thing we have to get out of a Paris agreement. It will unleash market forces,” President Kim said when asked about expectations for the international climate agreement expected in December 2015 in Paris.

End fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidies send a different signal – one that can encourage waste and discourage low-carbon growth. By phasing out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, countries can reallocate their spending to where it is most needed and most effective, including proving targeted support for the poor.

Nearly $550 billion went into direct fossil fuel subsidies worldwide in 2013, taking up large percentages of some countries’ GDP to artificially lower energy prices. Yet, “the evidence shows that fossil fuel subsidies are not at all about protecting the poor,” President Kim said. Studies show the wealthiest 20 percent of the population captures six times the benefit from fossil fuel subsidies as the poorest 20 percent.

Reforming subsidies is never easy. Often, the population is unaware of the true costs of energy, and support for the poor must be phased in as the subsidies are phased out. The World Bank is providing support for fossil fuel subsidies reform through a $20 million facility that will help countries design and implement subsidy reform and accompanying social protection systems.

Build low-carbon, resilient cities

Getting prices right is one part of the equation. Another piece is building a sustainable future, because all development happens in the context of climate change.

There will be more infrastructure built in the next 20 years than in the past 6,000, the president told the audience. Cities are growing fast, particularly in the developing world. Just over half the global population is urban today; by 2050, cities are expected to hold two-thirds of the world population.

With careful planning of transportation and land use, and the establishment of energy efficiency standards, cities can build in ways that avoid locking in unsustainable patterns. They can open up access to jobs and opportunity for the poor and reduce damaging air pollution.

Financing that growth to be sustainable can be a challenge, though. Data show that only about 4 percent of the 500 largest developing countries cities are deemed creditworthy in international markets. The World Bank Group is helping cities improve their strategic planning and fix the financial fundamentals that can prevent them from accessing finance.

Increase energy efficiency and use of renewable energy

When we talk about energy, we have to talk about access. Worldwide, about 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.8 billion rely on solid fuels for cooking, such as wood, charcoal, and coal, which cause harmful indoor air pollution.

Through the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the World Bank Group supports three goals for 2030: to achieve universal access to modern energy, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Energy efficiency improvements are crucial. Every gigawatt saved is a gigawatt that didn’t have to be produced. Globally, energy use is about one-third lower today than it would have been without the past 20 years of energy efficiency improvements.

Renewable energy, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly affordable as prices fall. In many countries, developing utility-scale renewable energy is now cheaper than or on par with fossil fuel plants.

Implement climate-smart agriculture and nurture forest landscapes

The fifth area for action takes in both mitigation and adaptation. Climate-smart agriculture techniques help farmers increase their farms’ productivity and resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, while also creating carbon sinks that help reduce net emissions. Forests, too, are valuable carbon sinks that absorb carbon and store it in soils, trees, and foliage.

climate change

Attacking climate change in all that we do

Global efforts to reduce emissions are having an effect. Last week, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency announced that global CO2 emissions had been flat in 2014 for the first time in four decades without an accompanying economic downturn, while the global economy grew by 3 percent.

“Is this the beginning of decoupling carbon emissions from growth? We sure hope so,” President Kim said.

Even if we do all of this successfully, we will still see changes, the president said. Scientists believe that about 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is already locked in through the amount of greenhouse gas emitted and expected in the coming years, so the world will have to adapt while bringing down emissions.

That means building resilience into all development and increasing financial support for preparedness and prevention.

As a major provider of finance, the World Bank Group invests in disaster preparedness, renewable energy, energy efficiency, city planning and development, and providing decision-makers with the tools and data they need to make informed decisions. It tracking financial commitments for climate mitigation adaptation co-benefits, screens for disaster and climate risk, and uses greenhouse gas accounting and a price on carbon.

“What we really want to do is see how we can attack this problem in just about everything we do,” the president said.


The World Bank Group

From Somaliland to Eritrea, Flydubai has a thing for uncharted routes

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When Emirati budget airline Flydubai began operating flights to Somaliland recently, many wondered why the company chose to add the unknown country to its growing African routes. But barely two months after the four times a week flight to Somaliland started, has it proven to be a good business decision.

“Flights to Somaliland which we operate four times a week have been well received and we are seeing demand for these flights,” said Kareem Mahjoub, a company spokesperson.

Somaliland has been an autonomous region of Somalia for more than 20 years, but its self-proclaimed independence is yet to be recognized by any country or international organisation. It is internationally recognised as part of greater Somalia where terrorist group Al Shabaab is based, the last place on the mind of most businesses. Regardless of this, Flydubai became the first carrier to ply the Dubai-Hargeisa route.

With the success in Somaliland, a route widely believed to be less travelled, Flydubai is set to launch direct flights between Dubai and Eritrea’s capital Asmara starting from October 25. The flights to also be operated four times a week will mark the start of the first direct link between Eritrea and the UAE in line with the Government of Dubai’s vision, by creating trade and tourism flows in previously underserved markets.

Eritrea is not like Somaliland, it is an internationally recognized autonomous country but according to the World Bank, it is the worst place to do business in the world. The country located in the Horn of Africa ranks 189th out of the 189 countries on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business list. But it isn’t just business that is hard to do in Eritrea, the country has a grueling record of human rights violation. Widely criticized over alleged arbitrary arrest and detentions, freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association are limited in Eritrea. Those who practice “unregistered” religions, try to flee the nation, or escape the mandatory military duty are reportedly arrested and put into prison. The Eritrean government had often denied the claims.

Although tension between Eritrea and its neighbours have left the country isolated and UN sanctions have had a negative impact on the overall investment and business environment, the economy of Eritrea has experienced considerable growth in recent years. African Development Bank (AfDB) in a recent report projects Eritrea’s real GDP growth to continue increasing from 2.0 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent in 2015. This is mainly due to increasing investments in the mining sector.

While Eritrea’s human rights record, as alleged, is condemnable, state-owned flydubai never stops seeing business opportunity in any situation. Eritrea is rich in human and mineral resources such as copper, gold, iron ore, nickel, silica, sulphur, marble, granite and potash. Development of these resources plus the right policies will significantly increase the need for travel between Dubai, the business hub of Middle East and Eritrea, a potential business hub in the Horn of Africa.

Flydubai CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith said of the launch: “Adding to our recent operations to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Somaliland, we are delighted to add a direct link between the UAE and another emerging market with great potential for more growth”.

Al Ghaith said that the airline was keen to reflect the UAE’s efforts to support emerging markets, particularly in East Africa.

Sudhir Sreedharan, Flydubai’s Senior Vice President Commercial (GCC, Subcontinent, Africa) also noted that “flydubai will be the first UAE carrier to connect Dubai with Asmara as trade and tourism continue to rise between the UAE, Africa and the rest of the world.”

Many international companies have their MEA office in Dubai. With China, South Korea, Italy and Germany believed to be aggressively pursuing market opportunity in Eritrea, more travel is expected in the coming years.

There are also thousands of Eritreans living in the UAE. Sreedharan said “Additionally flights to Asmara will provide the Eritrean diaspora with greater opportunity to visit their families and friends in their home country.”

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