By Peter Leger, Coronation Fund Managers
So you thought a six-month break on a desert island looked appealing and spent long hours in silent meditation, reflecting on self-actualisation, harmony and humanity’s ceaseless race to consume the planet. Now you’ve just made the return journey to find that the oil price collapsed from over $110/barrel to less than $50. Peak theorists having turned into piqued theorists. You didn’t see that coming. And, frankly, neither did we. Nor did we expect to see the Swiss franc jump 28 per cent in a single day – as it did recently.
The lesson being that extreme volatility has to be an assumption when building portfolios, and doubly so when investing in frontier markets, where volatility is often amplified. Read more
By David Humphrey, Standard Bank Group
Sitting around a fire in the middle of the Namib Desert, western tourists can sample the twin delights of African cuisine and its staggeringly beautiful night sky. The Milky Way is a vibrant arc of white, the stars five times brighter than in Europe. It is one of the few places in the world where light pollution does not exist, which is another way of saying most of Africa lacks power.
Africa’s population of roughly 1bn people accounts for over a sixth of the world’s population, yet it generates just 4 per cent of global electricity supply. Excluding South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, the entire installed generation capacity of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is only 28 gigawatts, roughly equivalent to that of Argentina. The result is that just 24 per cent of the population of SSA has access to electricity compared to 40 per cent for other low income regions. Read more
Source: Thomson Reuters
Nigeria’s central bank on Friday tried to drawn a line under the naira – but the market continues to increasingly bet on a devaluation after the elections set for early 2015. Read more
By Henry S. D’Auria and Christine Phillpotts, AllianceBernstein
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers. Resolving its electricity generation gaps could significantly boost the country’s economic growth and provide opportunities for equity investors.
Most global investors pay insufficient attention to Nigeria, which is not included in traditional emerging market equity indices. Yet in this country of 174m people, a policy-driven change to infrastructure could transform the economy and create new opportunities for equity investors. Read more
By Timi Soleye of CRYO Gas
Seated on the dais at an investment conference in one of Lagos’s posher hotels are the luminaries of the Nigerian power sector: the minister of power, the head of the national electricity regulator, the chairman of the presidential task-force on power and chief executives of the newly privatised electricity generation companies and distribution companies. They are desperate for the money of the reluctant foreign private equity managers and local investors who mill about the room.
It is a tough call. On November 1 a year will have passed since the effective privatisation of electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria and it must now be acknowledged that the privatisation is on the brink of collapse. Yet this is a good thing for Nigerians and for future investors. Read more
Nigeria has become the first country to completely stop selling oil to the US due to the impact of the shale revolution – an astounding reversal as the African nation was only four years ago one of the top-5 oil suppliers to America.
According to the US Department of Energy, Nigeria did not export a single barrel of crude to US-based refiners in July for the first time since records start in 1973. Preliminary data suggest the trend continued in August and September. Read more
Late at night during a power blackout in Ghana’s capital Accra is neither the time nor the place you’d expect pop diva Celine Dion to come to your rescue. But when a rider from restaurant delivery service Hellofood Ghana lost his bearings with a customer’s dinner on the back of his motorbike, he turned to Celine for help.
Unable to find his customer’s home in the gloom, he arranged for the client to come onto the street playing “My heart will go on” on her phone. The driver, also a Dion fan, played the same music on his phone, allowing the two of them to locate each other by siren song.
“Luckily, he still had a mobile phone signal so he could phone the client,” says Yolanda Lee, a 26 year-old Canadian who runs Hellofood Ghana, a subsidiary of Hellofood Africa which manages a meal delivery service in 10 countries and 14 cities in West, East and North Africa. Read more
By Sara Menker, CEO and Founder, Gro Intelligence
Last week, at a “Solve for X” gathering in Nairobi, I opened my presentation with a pop quiz. There were only two questions, and yet everyone got both wrong.
The first question: What was Nigeria’s GDP in 2013 — $270bn, $460bn, or $510bn? The second question: How much corn did Kenya produce in 2013 — 3.3m, 2.8m or 3.6m tonnes?
In both cases the crowd was evenly split amongst the choices. Read more
After a deal-making spree in Africa in 2013 that included investments in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, private equity group Abraaj is on track for an equally active 2014.
Abraaj, which has $7.5bn in assets under management and is based in Dubai, expects to complete four transactions in the region by the end of the year, including in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, partner Sev Vettivetpillai told beyondbrics. Read more
The Nigerian economy has enough resilience to ride out the wave of Boko Haram terror attacks, the country’s finance minister said in an attempt to persuade foreign investors to keep their holdings in local bonds and stocks.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and a magnet for international investors, which have poured billions of dollars into factories, oil fields and its local securities market.
“We are sticking to our growth forecast of 6.75 per cent [for 2014]. It is realistic. Any losses in the northeast [where Boko Haram is more active] will be made up by activity elsewhere,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Financial Times in an interview. Read more
By Melissa Cook, Africa Sunrise Partners
The headlines about Boko Haram’s deadly and vicious attacks in Nigeria threaten to overshadow what we see as considerable progress on one of the country’s top priorities: power reform and privatization. Despite ongoing challenges ranging from inadequate gas supply to funding shortfalls and antiquated wiring and transformers, the Nigerian power sector is moving full-steam ahead.
Access to electricity could be a game-changer for Africa’s largest economy. We realize that it may take years to get Nigeria’s power capacity up to the 40GW target from today’s 4-5GW (see chart). But step by step, we see barriers to business, household activity, and entrepreneurial activity dropping as power generation and distribution companies—and the government-owned transmission company—refurbish or repair assets. Read more
Nigeria’s insurance sector is growing rapidly and has low levels of penetration in a young society inhabiting Africa’s largest economy. Add to this what a recent Fitch Rating report calls an environment “ripe for consolidation” and it becomes easy to see why foreign insurance groups are eyeing the market keenly.
The March 2014 Fitch report says “foreign investors in the Nigerian insurance market have shown a preference for acquisition or partnership above setting up new insurance operations”. This preference is down to a need for local knowledge, a good distribution footprint and the ability to achieve scale quickly. Read more
Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy after the government released updated figures that raised the country’s gross domestic product by 89 per cent to $509bn.
The re-calculation rightly put most Nigerian officials in celebratory mood. But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s finance minister (pictured), offered also a cautious note: the new figures do highlight some acute problems. Read more
In a world of shrinking liquidity, sub-Sahara African governments are finding little room to manoeuvre in stimulating their cooling economies as investors and ratings agencies take a much harder line on state excesses.
With growth prospects improving in developed markets and questions being raised about the fate of emerging markets – especially with growing evidence of a bigger than expected Chinese slowdown – investors have started to write off large swathes of the developing world. Read more
From an economic viewpoint, Africa’s most populous country, with about 173m people, is moving in the right direction, as the FT’s bumper Investing in Nigeria special report shows. Growth remains strong, at more than 6 per cent. Nigeria is set to overhaul its ways of calculating GDP, for the first time since 1990, to reflect more recent developments, which should bring it closer to overtaking South Africa as Africa’s biggest economy. Inflation is down to single-digits and government debt remains modest. Read more
It’s well known that Nigeria’s oil industry is going through a rough patch – and one that’s likely to get rougher as a US shale boom revolutionises the global energy market. The government has noticed too and is setting its sights on other sectors as future sources of economic growth. Mining is high on the list. Read more
Nigeria’s central bank has held its policy interest rate at 12 per cent for the 12th consecutive month. Can anything make it budge?
Analysts seem to think not. There are three factors that will keep rates locked: inflation, the naira and reserves. Read more
It’s a busy time for Nigerian finance ministry officials. This week they celebrated the launch of eurobonds worth $1bn. On Monday they’re off to China to sign off on $3bn of loans from the government in Beijing.
What’s with all the borrowing? In a word: infrastructure. Read more
The railway linking Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, to Kano, the country’s second largest city, has reopened after more than 10 years thanks to Chinese loans and investment. Xan Rice, the FT’s West Africa correspondent, makes the 31-hour journey and asks whether the train line is a sign of progress in Africa’s second biggest economy.
The head of Shell’s Nigerian oil unit has warned that Africa’s largest oil producing country is in crisis as a result of a “significant upsurge” in oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Making the comments on Sunday following an aerial survey of its operations, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria’s managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said the company was losing 60,000 barrels of oil a day as a result of theft, the heaviest losses in three years. Read more