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ICD and Mauritania Free Zone sign partnership

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, and the Free Zone Authority of Nouadhibou in Mauritania, have signed a joint plan of cooperation mandating the ICD as the advisor to the Free Zone Authority. As the advisor, the ICD will supervise the studies for the development of the Free Zone, as well as provide institutional support towards organisation structure, capacity building of cadres and enhanced workflow.

The ICD said the partnership will help set up a developmental roadmap for the city of Nouadhibou by giving priority to projects that can utilise the city's resources, such as the fishing industry. It also gives ICD and authority to study the establishment of institutional and operational structures in the fishing sector with the view of strengthening the capacity of surface cooling and conversion.

Standard Bank says Francophone Africa is the next frontier

Standard Bank plans to use its presence in Cote d'Ivoire to expand its service offering across the rest of Francophone Africa, which the lender believes is poised to experience an investment boom as foreign companies are lured by the region's mineral wealth and economic growth, it said in a statement.

"It's fair to say that we'll be using the Cote d'Ivoire office as a launchpad into the rest of the region. Francophone West Africa is less well-known to South Africans but it cannot be ignored due to the economic potential," said Greg Goeller, Executive for Client Coverage Africa at Standard Bank's Corporate and Investment Banking Unit, said. "The region has all the components to benefit from the next global mining and infrastructure boom, which in turn will lead to economic growth in other sectors as well. Our clients are increasing presence and exposure to West Francophone Africa and we plan to follow them."

Continental Reinsurance announces growth plans for North Africa

Continental Reinsurance Plc, Africa's largest private reinsurer outside of South Africa, has announced the opening of a regional office in Tunis and the introduction of its Shari'ah-complaint Takaful offering. The launch of the Tunis office is coupled with the introduction of Continental Reinsurance's Takaful offering for Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The exponential growth of Takaful has led to increasing demand for Retakaful capacity, particularly in the region of North Africa which has a majority Islamic population.

Dr Femi Oyetunji, Group Managing Director/CEO of Continental Reinsurance PLC said the opening of the regional office in Tunis is part of Continental Reinsurance's strategic approach to develop the African reinsurance market and to realise the Company's vision to be the premier Pan-African reinsurer.

M-Pesa transactions are now instant

Transaction time on the mobile banking platform M-Pesa will now be instantaneous after a system upgrade on the application programmable interface (API). Previously, transactions took two hours. Safaricom says the new platform allows for the streamlining of operations for businesses which disburse staff salaries through M-Pesa, receive payments and those that transfer cash through the platform regularly.

"Innovation is a continuous process at Safaricom and that is why we have been seeking ways to deliver services to customers with speed and efficiency. Twelve leading banks and 26 SACCOs have already migrated to the new platform and migration is ongoing for 30 other institutions," said Safaricom's Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, adding that this will in effect help entrench the move towards a cash-lite society through a more effective mobile-banking proposition. Safaricom projects that more than 13 million Kenyans will be on mobile banking by the close of 2014.

FirstRand Bank's Securities Issuance is credit positive

In early May the International Finance Corporation announced that it had invested $172.5 million (ZAR 1.8 billion) through a private placement in FirstRand Bank Limited's contractual non-viability Tier 2 securities. FirstRand's contractual non-viability subordinated debt will be classified as Tier 2 under Basel III's regulatory-eligible capital. It has language written directly into its contractual terms specifying that the securities absorb losses through a partial or full principal write-down at the point of non-viability, as determined by the regulator. The prospective new Tier 2 debt of up to ZAR 2 billion to be placed in the local market will be subject to bail-in under the forthcoming implementation of the resolution regime in South Africa.

Africell Holding acquires Orange Uganda majority stake

Africell Holding signed an agreement with the Orange Group to acquire its majority stake in Orange Uganda. The transaction upon completion, following regulatory approval, would bring Africell's portfolio to four operations with a total market potential of over 120 million inhabitants.

"Uganda, with a population of over 37 million and a penetration rate of 50 per cent, was well within the criteria we had set to further expand in Africa targeting high potential and high growth markets" said Ziad Dalloul, Chairman and C.E.O of the Africell Group. Africell also said that it would still be looking to add one more market to its portfolio before end 2015 to further expand and diversify its portfolio to cover West, Central, and East Africa.

S&P assigns Ethiopia 'B/B' rating, outlook stable

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned its 'B/B' foreign and local currency long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with a stable outlook. The transfer and convertibility (T&C) assessment is 'B'.

S&P said, "The ratings are constrained by Ethiopia's low GDP per capita, our estimate of large public-sector contingent liabilities, and a lack of monetary policy flexibility. The ratings are supported by strong government effectiveness, which has halved poverty rates over the past decade or so, moderate fiscal debt after debt relief, and moderate external deficits. Ethiopia's brisk economic growth-far exceeding that of peers-also underpins the ratings." Ethiopia is the 129th country to be rated by S&P.

Little progress in the evolution of mobile banking apps, says new report image: mobile banking

Only a small number of leading retail banks have made significant progress in their mobile app offerings Swiss-based research group MyPrivateBanking said in its newest report, Mobile apps for banking 2014-From multi-channel to mobile first. It ranked DBS Bank (Singapore) and BNP Paribas (France) first for innovation, followed by UBS (Switzerland) and Westpac (Australia).

"Most banks are stagnating, showing an incomplete app portfolio with limited integration into everyday business processes and still treating their mobile channel as a 'nice-to-have'," says MyPrivateBanking Head of Research Steffen Binder. "Banks do not make use of the full potential of mobile applications to engage and better serve their clients, sell their products, strengthen their brands and achieve customer loyalty."

A Sierra Leone delegation meets with UAE Minister of State

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of The Republic of Sierra Leone paid a visit to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the UAE, Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, to discuss bilateral issues relating to trade and investment, as well as the establishment of a full diplomatic mission.

The representatives were also joined by Abdulah Bin Abood Alnaqbi, Deputy of the Department of Africa Affairs. The delegation from Sierra Leone included Hon. Dr. Samura MW Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Siray Alpha Timbo, Ambassador Designate of Sierra Leone to UAE; Bahige Annan, Consul General of Sierra Leone in Dubai; and Eric Gamanga, Director Asia & ME Affairs in The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. A wide range of issues were discussed regarding economic and technical cooperation in the fields of infrastructure developments such as the recently awarded IRENA/ADFD "Solar Park Freetown Project."

Moody's expands sovereign analyst team in Africa

Moody's Investors Service has expanded its team dedicated to analyzing sovereign issuers in Africa, responding to the rapid expansion in economic activity, international issuance and investor demand for credit ratings and research on sovereigns and multilateral development banks in the region over the past few years, it said in a statement.

The team will be headed by Matt Robinson, a Moody's VP-Senior Credit Officer, with more than 20 years of macroeconomic, public policy and credit analysis experience. Moody's said that international issuance by African governments, financial institutions and corporate entities has grown 300 per cent over the past decade and the region is amongst the strongest growing in the world.

IMF and Madagascar reach financial assistance agreement

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, headed by George Tsibouris, reached an agreement with the Malagasy authorities on a program that could be supported by the IMF's Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). Subject to IMF management approval, the staff- level agreement is expected to be submitted to the IMF Executive Board for its consideration in June. Under the arrangement, Madagascar would be able to access up to SDR 30.55 million (about $47.4 million).

The mission met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Minister of Finance and Budget Jean Razafindravonona, Minister of Economy and Planning Herilanto Raveloharison, and Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Madagascar Vonimanitra Razafimbelo, as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society.

"Madagascar has urgent balance of payments and budgetary needs that, if not addressed, could result in further economic disruption," Tsibouris said in a statement.

Azura Power Holding's Nigerian power project secures $750 million in financing

Azura Power Holdings Ltd announced that it has completed the signing of the key industry contracts and confirmation on the debt financing of its flagship 450MW Azura-Edo Independent Power Project in Edo State, Nigeria. The $750 million transaction is the first of a new wave of project-financed Greenfield IPPs currently being developed in Nigeria. The financing of the Azura-Edo IPP involves $220 million of equity and $530 million of debt from a consortium of local and international financiers.

Standard Chartered will be the lead arranger for the project, the first Nigerian power project to benefit from the World Bank's 'Partial Risk Guarantee' structure and political risk insurance for equity and commercial debt from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The overall transaction will be underpinned by financial support provided by the FGN through a Put and Call Option Agreement agreed by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance for Nigeria.

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Publication:Banker Africa
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:May 31, 2014
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