Tag Archives: frontier markets

3 Things I Learned Today in Ghana

1. It’s great to have friends in country

Not only fornthe hospitality, or the insights and view from inside, the ability to trust people to do what they say they’ll do is invaluable.

2. Projects are not always what they seem to be

A simple capital raise can reveal a need for a variety of consulting services

3. There’s nothing like on the ground presence.

I spent most of today with the management team of a Nigerian construction firm setting up in Ghana. Today they were looking for office space. Tomorrow they meet key decision makers whose influence can determine who wins contracts. American companies need to show this level of commitment or else be beaten to the punch by bold competitors from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

I was also reminded why I made this trip. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see first hand the changes that say much than the macroeconomic statistics. Now I’m  better prepared to explain this exciting and growing market.

 

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8 WAYS TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF #AFRICAN #TECH #STARTUPS

 

I. Jobs Created

  • We of course want to know the total number of jobs created by startups. In addition we need to understand the type of jobs created and how that fits with the profile of the national labor force. What are the salary levels and how do they compare to the local statutory minimum wage? Will these startups have a significant impact on their local labor markets?

II. Capital Raised

  • Are these startups attracting new capital to Africa?
  • Are they attracting foreign capital from other African countries?
  • Are they attracting capital from within their own countries?

III. Increase in Skills and Know-How

  • Are the startups introducing new technology or management practices
  • Are skills and know-how spreading beyond the universities to the general population?

IV. Return on Capital Invested

  • Have investors in African startups experienced favorable outcomes?

V. Export Revenue Within and Outside Africa

  • Are African startups exporting?
  • Are African startups enabling exports by other companies in their home countries?

VI. Supportive of African Business

  • In what other tangible ways have these startups helped foster the growth of African businesses?
  • Training
  • Access to customers
  • Access to capital

VII. Social Impact

  • Environmental
  • Education
  • Poverty reduction
  • Financial inclusion

VIII. Intangibles

  • Inspiration – Is there a 12 year old girl in a village saying “I want to be an entrepreneur too!”
  • Positive influence on government – Is there a community of entrepreneurs who can make their voice heard in the halls of government to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
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3 Lessons from the 2015 Africa Business Conference at Harvard Business School

As usual there was a palpable spirit of optimism at this year’s Africa Business Conference at Harvard Business School. While the facts on the ground may not be as rosy, I did come away with several observations that will be helpful in current tasks as well as in plotting strategy in the medium and long term.

1. Storage and transportation of both inputs and goods for sale are critical to improving farm performance.

2. Institutional Private equity is well entrenched in Africa and the characteristics of a successful deal are increasingly well known. In the second panel on closing the electricity deficit the parameters for funding power projects were clearly laid out:

  • A quality PPA deal is required. This is the guarantee of cash flow that investors look for. They’re not all created equal. For example, local currency denomination is a deal killer since it adds currency risk to the equation.
  • The PE folks will also need a sovereign guarantee as an indication that the government supports the project.
  • As always a strong management team makes the deal much more attractive.

3. Startup capital especially for non-tech ventures is extremely difficult to find. Angel investors and venture capitalists are slowly finding their way to tech-related, high growth startups. For others, it’s tougher but there are a few possibilities:

  • Impact investors. If one can demonstrate measurable social benefit in addition to financial returns then a new set of potential investors becomes available. Many impact investors use the IRIS standard to assess social benefit. African companies would be wise to seek out experts who can help the make their case using IRIS
  • Multilateral/DFI capital. Organizations such as the African Development Bank and International Finance Corporation sometimes have special programs for ventures with attractive features such as environments sustainability.
  • Trade promotion agencies. Agencies such as the U.S. Export-Import Bank can often provide funding or lean guarantees for capital purchases that meet certain requirements.

As always the Harvard Business School Conference showed us an Africa on the move—not without its issues, but with opportunities for businesspeople to benefit themselves, their organizations and the African continent. Successful entrepreneurs will assemble a skilled team that can execute on their vision and achieve financial and social results.

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Major Africa Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q4-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 4TH QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

1.42%

GHANA-US$

2.83%

KENYA-Local Currency

-4.70%

KENYA-US$

-6.19%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-15.66%

NIGERIA-US$

-27.06%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-0.37%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-3.42%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-1.91%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-6.05%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.89%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-2.52%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

-2.10%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-6.97%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

4TH QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

4TH QTR PCT CHG

YTD

DEC PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-4.14%

-11.66%

GHANA

1.41%

-25.86%

KENYA

-1.49%

-5.08%

NIGERIA

-11.40%

-13.27%

SOUTH AFRICA

-3.05%

-9.56%

TANZANIA

-2.07%

-7.42%

UGANDA

-3.88%

-9.18%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

It was a rough year for emerging market stocks with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index losing 2.1% in the fourth quarter and 0.69% the full year 2014. African stock markets did better than emerging markets in Q4, though for the year the MSCI Africa index trailed emerging markets. Nigeria was the worst performer largely due to the fall in the price of oil. Its downward momentum continued into the first week of 2015 with the Global MSCI Nigeria ETF falling another 9%. Ghana was the strongest performer, up 1.42% in the 4th quarter, and 2.83% for the year.

All currencies in our table fell against the dollar in 2014, which diminishes returns (and increases losses) for foreign investors. This is partly a function of dollar strength rather than weakness of African currencies. The US economy finished the year strong and the dollar index was up from 99.1 at the end of 2013 to 102.8 at the end of 2014’s 3rd quarter. The currency depreciation also reflects the challenges to resource based emerging and frontier market economies that has persisted all year. A couple of currencies were especially weak. Ghana for example was down almost 26% in 2014. Aggressive action by the central bank, with the assistance of the IMF reversed the slide and the cedi has recovered, showing a slight gain in the fourth quarter. Nigeria’s naira showed the biggest loss of the quarter again influenced by the drop in the price of oil.

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Major African Stock Market and Exchange Rate Changes in Q3-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 3RD QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-4.18%

GHANA-US$

-3.87%

KENYA-Local Currency

7.92%

KENYA-US$

6.18%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-3.24%

NIGERIA-US$

-3.86%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

-1.90%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

-7.28%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

9.21%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

2.28%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

0.52%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

-4.41%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

1.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-2.13%

Sources: Stock exchange websites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

Table 2

3RD QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

3RD QTR PCT CHG

YTD

SEP PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-6.92%

-7.85%

GHANA

0.31%

-26.89%

KENYA

-1.74%

-3.64%

NIGERIA

-0.62%

-2.10%

SOUTH AFRICA

-5.38%

-6.72%

TANZANIA

-1.16%

-5.46%

UGANDA

-1.89%

-5.51%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

Emerging and frontier market stocks showed mixed results as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 1.44%, and the MSCI Africa Index was up 0.52%. Choppy commodities prices, and mixed economic performance lead to losses in some countries like South Africa and gains in others. The Nairobi Exchange in Kenya and the West Africa Bourse were the strong performers in Q3.

Currencies that were weak in the first half of the year—notably Ghana—have largely stabilized. Though most currencies are lower against the dollar, this is due more to a strong dollar than weakness elsewhere. The US Dollar index rose from 99.316 in Q2 to 100.342 in Q3.

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Africa 8 and 3 Cities to Watch

Two recent stories caught my attention for their deeper analysis of African economic growth:

A post in LinkedIn’s African Financial Professionals group links to an article about the Africa 8. The Africa 8 are 8 countries highlighted in a study by Ecobank, a pan African bank based in Togo. Ecobank predicts Angola, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Rwanda to be the drivers of growth on the the continent. Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are known to be attractive due to their political stability (Ghana), size (Nigeria) and tech driven dynamism (Kenya). Cote d’Ivoire has put its civil conflict in the past and in some ways is like a francophone version of Ghana. Congo and Angola are all about oil. Mozambique shows high rates of growth but one wonders if its influence is felt beyond its borders.

The question for all these countries is whether they will evolve into more than just natural resource plays which are vulnerable to market swings and technological and social trends such as the global imperative to move away from fossil fuels. Many of these economies are also carrying large amounts of public debt which could become a problem if US interest rates rise or commodity prices fall.

The second story identifies three African cities that are at the beginning of their growth curve: 1) Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2) Dakar, Senegal, 3) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. http://www.emia.org/news/story/978 This is another way of acknowledging the growth prospects of the countries for which these are the major cities.

In addition to Cote d’Ivoire’s positive outlook, Abidjan is considered one of the most attractive cities in West Africa and is an important center for meetings, tourism and commerce. Dakar, the capital of Senegal is a port at the westernmost location on the African continent, giving it easy access to Europe, North and South America. If West Africa is serious about regional integration then Dakar will become even more attractive as a gateway city. Ouagadougou stands out in this group in that although it is a national capital it is not one of the region’s most important cities. It is included largely because of growth in Burkina Faso’s gold mines.

Investors and entrepreneurs considering entry into Africa should start by investigating the locations cited above. Each is brimming with opportunities and fraught with challenges—all for different reasons. Knowledgeable advisors both at home and on the ground can help point the way.

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q2-2014

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 2ND QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

-1.42%

GHANA-US$

-18.45%

KENYA-Local Currency

-2.78%

KENYA-US$

-3.86%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

10.06%

NIGERIA-US$

11.33%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

5.62%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

5.32%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

-2.17%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

-2.99%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

4.25%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

3.94%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

4.44%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

6.22%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

2ND QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

2ND QTR PCT CHG 

 

YTD JUN PCT CHANGE 

CFA AREA*

-0.81%

-0.99%

GHANA

-17.03%

-27.12%

KENYA

-1.07%

-1.94%

NIGERIA

1.27%

-1.49%

SOUTH AFRICA

-0.30%

-1.42%

TANZANIA

-1.09%

-4.35%

UGANDA

-1.85%

-3.70%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

The big markets–Nigeria and South Africa performed well. Both markets were up in local currency and in dollars.It appears that the long term story–the demographic boom, the growing middle class, the improved political environment in some countries–are causing investors to look past current bumps in the road.

Despite lackluster growth, South African stocks have been strong. The country remains an attractive investment destination, its stock market being the largest and most liquid in Africa.

Nigerian stocks have proven attractive to investors and Boko Haram attacks and new competition from North American shale oil have not changed anyone’s thinking so far. Most of the market activity is in the financial services sector lead by such firms as Access Capital and Guaranty Bank. Consumer goods companies such as Nigerian Brew have also showed strength. The naira actually gained a little during the quarter and remains within the narrow range that has prevailed all year.

In Ghana, currency weakness continues as the nation has sought IMF assistance to help get its accounts back toward balance. Trading activity is as usual dominated by the large consumer and financial service companies such as Fan Milk, UT Bank, and EcoBank. The stock market has weakened, reflecting caution among investors even though the economy is still growing. Could be a chance to get in the market cheap.

In fact, the current period is a possible second chance for international investors to invest in African assets at favorable prices when exchange rates make deals affordable and much of the bad news is already priced in.

 

 

 

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Ghana’s Currency, Millennium Challenge and Economic Prospects

The Millennium Challenge Corp. recently signed a second compact with the Republic of Ghana.http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/08/230295.htm  This compact’s focus on the power sector addresses a major challenge to Ghana’s economic growth and to Ghanaians’ overall quality of life. The signing of the MCC compact is a good time to reflect on current economic and business conditions in Ghana.
Ghana is potentially a strong economic engine for the region and Secretary of State Kerry is right to cite Ghana’s commitment to good governance and economic prosperity. However the country faces some major challenges. Among them is the rapid depreciation of Ghana’s currency. Our data shows that the cedi lost about 27% in the 1st half of the year and has continued to fall since then. Currency weakness in Ghana is a symptom of persistent trade deficits as well as rising government spending. The financial community has noticed and has raised the issue in several forums and publications. It doesn’t change the longer term story of Ghana’s growth potential (in fact dollar based investors might find favorable prices for Ghanaian assets) but it does raise questions about how government will handle the problem while remaining investor friendly.
Red flags went up earlier this year when the government began to restrict the movement of currency, damaging Ghana’s reputation for financial openness. The more sensible answer is to change the character of Ghanaian trade. Surpluses might be a lot to ask but Ghana should at least aim for smaller trade deficits. Ramping up the nascent oil sector would help but there should also be greater orientation toward exporting in several sectors. This is why reliable electric power is so crucial. It’s location, general business friendliness and political stability make Ghana a logical export platform for the West Africa region as well as destinations further abroad. However for indigenous and foreign investors to locate in Ghana reliable electric power is essential. For that reason we should all hope for the success of this second MCC compact.

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3 African Currencies – Outlook for Direct Investors

What follows is a brief analysis of the behavior of currencies in 3 important African economies.

GHANA CEDI
The persistent trade deficit that is the norm in Ghana seems to be increasing. That deficit contributes to price inflation and the two conditions combine to weaken the currency.
The Ghana Central Bank is fighting back by raising interest rates which are already high. The cedi is likely to remain weak until the general pattern of Ghanaian trade changes. One of the reasons for Ghana’s growing trade deficit is the increase in equipment imported to support oil production which has not yet reached the desired production levels. When oil production will grows to the point at which it reduces the need to import, and when Ghana develops additional sources of high value export earnings, then a lower trade deficit will become the norm.
Although investors should build currency weakness into their assessment of Ghanaian deals and projects, they should also build the ability to raise prices locally into financial forecasts, and consider Ghana as a possible export platform.

KENYA SHILLING
The shilling has fallen only about 1% in the last year and a half through March 2014. Since then it has stayed within a narrow range.
Kenya’s trade surplus is rising and so are international reserves. The Kenyan Central Bank has kept interest rates steady and treasury bills have fallen slightly. It seems a radical devaluation is not likely, though the shilling/dollar rate might move outside the 86-88 range where it has been for about the last 18 months.

NIGERIA NAIRA
Recent inflation has been falling on a quarter on quarter basis. Nigeria’s trade surplus increased during 2013. Interest rates held within a narrow band during 2013 and have fallen a bit in 2014. Naira has stayed between 155-165 for 2 years. While the naira could lose a little ground vs the dollar simply due to much lower US inflation, many investors consider it stable for investment purposes.

 

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Major African Stock Index and Exchange Rate Changes in Q1-2014

 

 

 

Advansa International follows exchange rates and stock market indexes for several emerging and frontier markets. Exchange rates and stock indexes are recorded on the last trading day of the week. The tables below show changes from the last trading day of the last full week of the quarter for several key markets in Africa.

Table 1 

 STOCK MARKET INDEX TRACKER 1ST QUARTER 2014

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QUARTER PCT CHANGE

GHANA-Local Currency

11.37%

GHANA-US$

-0.80%

KENYA-Local Currency

1.76%

KENYA-US$

0.88%

NIGERIA-Local Currency

-4.72%

NIGERIA-US$

-7.45%

SOUTH AFRICA-Local Currency

0.48%

SOUTH AFRICA-US$

3.68%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-Local Currency

5.07%

WEST AFR. BOURSE-US$

4.88%

MSCI AFRICA-Local Currency

3.80%

MSCI AFRICA-US$

0.33%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-Local Currency

0.79%

MSCI EMERGING MARKETS-US$

-0.23%

Sources: Stock exchangewebsites, Financial Times, Advansa International data

 

Table 2

1ST QUARTER 2014 EXCHANGE RATE TRACKER

AFRICA

COUNTRY

1ST QTR PCT CHG

YTD

MAR PCT CHANGE

CFA AREA*

-0.18%

-0.18%

GHANA

-12.16%

-12.16%

KENYA

-0.88%

-0.88%

NIGERIA

-2.73%

-2.73%

SOUTH AFRICA

-1.12%

-1.12%

TANZANIA

-3.30%

-3.30%

UGANDA

-1.88%

-1.88%

Sources: Financial Times, Advansa International data

*Includes most French speaking countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and others

2014 marks a change in investor sentiment towards the emerging and frontier markets. We see a shift from the mad rush into EMs of the past 3-4 years to people wondering if all the emerging market hype is a bit overblown. The announcement of tapering by the US Fed in 2013 was the trigger. In Africa the new outlook is manifest in continued currency weakness and retrenchment in several key stock indexes.

Every currency in our table lost ground in the first quarter. This is in spite of monetary tightening and rising interest rates across the board. Indeed, monetary policy in most of these markets has been fairly rational. On the fiscal side, however governments are finding it difficult to control spending. These are countries with young populations climbing out of poverty. They are at a developmental stage that demands rapid growth and are under tremendous political pressure to deliver social services and better infrastructure, all of which leads to deficits in the trade and fiscal accounts.

Ghana is a conspicuous example among this group. We see from the tables that Ghanaian stocks performed quite well while the currency was the weakest among prominent African economies. Many companies are performing well and investors anticipate future growth so stock prices are rising. However the trade benefits of the nascent oil sector have not materialized and have in fact generated additional imports as production ramps up. Thus the trade balance deteriorates. The resulting inflation on top of politically driven spending increases puts downward pressure on the cedi.

Yet it is these same characteristics that make the emerging markets such as Ghana attractive to investors. Among the larger markets that attract most of the trading volume, the currency issue is not as urgent. If this is a short term correction and if governments and investors don’t panic, then the long term trends will continue to imply growth and favorable investment outcomes.

 

 

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