13 August, 2014

DHL shares Insight on How They Made It In Africa

51 countries, 60 direct reports, 60,000 customers, 4,000 employees, 14 aircraft, 2 young children and 2 dogs! Charles Brewer is the MD who loves leading all of that

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, August 13, 2014/ -- DHL Express, who has been in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 36 years, is the ‘Most International Company in the World’ and has a significant operation in Africa, moving thousands of shipments every day.

At the helm of this business is Managing Director Charles Brewer, who has been with DHL for more than 30 years, has worked in all regions of the world and found himself in Africa for the first time three years ago.
Charles Brewer, managing director for sub-Saharan Africa at DHL Express)
“Like many who haven’t actually been to Africa, the perceptions I had were found to be very different in reality,” Brewer says. “Simplistically, Africa is the last frontier. It is the most beautiful, dynamic and exciting region I have had the pleasure to live and work in, and despite the very obvious challenges and occasional risk, I love being part of this exciting journey.”

His role, as MD, is to “motivate and excite my employees to deliver unbelievable and unparalleled service levels and to help our customers grow and be successful” and it is clear that customer centricity is at the very core of Brewer’s DNA.

So what does it take to oversee this many people and territories?

“We worry a great deal less about formal qualifications and focus far more on emotional qualities, experiences and abilities” – not surprising when you consider that he spends huge amounts of time on the front line and considers himself the Chief Energy Officer.

Every week you will find Charles in a different country in Africa – he could be with a courier in Rwanda this week, selling with a sales executive in Senegal the next, to sitting side-by-side with a Customer Service Agent in Lagos the week after. “If you want to know what your customers or employees really think about your product or your company, get to where the action is as often as you possibly can.”

A few years ago, just after Brewer arrived in Africa, he took the bold decision to completely de-layer the management structure, with an aim to bring everyone closer to the “sharp-end” and to significantly improve communication and speed of decision making.

“Africa is so dynamic and I just felt that we were too far removed and operating far too slowly”. All 51 countries now report directly to Brewer and the new structure has proven to be really successful.

“The new structure is very different and demands a very open, rapid and engaging leadership style but it is working really well, with quicker decision making, simpler communication lines and a significantly improved employee engagement level”. As an example, the couriers, who are key to the DHL service delivery promise, are never more than four levels away from Brewer and five from the Global CEO.

Think global, act local and TRUST!

One of the key lessons learned over the past three years and specifically as DHL went through the structural change, was the importance of trust. “With so many countries, all with different opportunities and challenges, you have to trust the teams on the ground”. What that means is using the global processes and procedures, but allowing a high degree of input on how best to execute locally.

To illustrate his point, Brewer describes a recent example were DHL was running a retail point of sale promotion to attract new customers to its ever-growing retail points. The typical approach would be to offer discounts and/or corporate give-aways to incentivise walk-in customers. The country manager in Ethiopia however suggested a much better idea – giving customers a chicken as part of the Easter celebration.

“When the Country Manager first suggested ‘chickens’, I had to laugh and genuinely thought she was joking, but she was serious and right – the promotion was hugely successful”.

It is big, but do-able!

DHL’s sub-Saharan regional headquarters is based in Cape Town, but Brewer spends a considerable amount of time visiting the company’s operations across the rest of the continent. “You have to be very visible”.

In a region as large as Africa, this is however easier said than done. Unlike Europe where one would struggle to fly a stretch of more than four hours, travelling across Africa can be gruelling. Just visiting each of the countries in West Africa can easily take two to three weeks.

“It has its challenges in terms of flight schedules and being away from one’s family, but it makes for an interesting experience and I’m still having lots of fun. Playing a small role in the African growth story is an incredible privilege and one that I am very proud of,” says Brewer.

As we leave his office I hear him call out to his assistant, “which lucky country am I going to next week?!”

12 August, 2014

Swala Oil and Gas (Tanzania) Plc Debut on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange

The first public owned Oil and Gas Company in East Africa
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, August 12, 2014/ -- Swala Oil & Gas (Tanzania) Plc (“Swala” or “the Company”) today listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (“DSE”) becoming the first public owned Oil and Gas Company in East Africa.  The company is the 20th to list on the DSE and the 2nd to list under the Enterprise Growth Market (“EGM”), an equity market specifically intended for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.

The company listed on the EGM with 99 million shares after a very successful Initial Public Offer  which raised 6,650,000,000 Billion TZS. This IPO was oversubscribed by nearly 4 million shares and has raised nearly 2 billion TZS more than the maximum subscription of 4.8 billion TZS.

The momentous event took place at the DSE offices and was graced by His Excellency the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Ali Hassan Mwinyi who rang the bell at 10:30 am EAT to officiate the event, the traditional symbol signifying the opening of Swala’s first trading day.

(His Excellency the former president of the United Republic of Tanzania, Alhaji Ali Hassan Mwinyi, rings the bell officiating the first trading day of Swala Oil & Gas Tanzania Plc on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE). With him Swala CEO, Mr. David Mestres Ridge (L) and Swala Chairman, Mr. Ernest Massawe (R)
Former president Mwinyi asserted that Swala’s oversubscription shows a great investment appetite amongst Tanzanians in investing in their country’s economy and a growing confidence in the national Stock Exchange.

Mr. Moremi Marwa, CEO of the DSE remarked, “In October of 2013, the DSE introduced the EGM segment at the Exchange whose main objective is to enable Small and Medium Sized business access to the capital market. Swala is the second company to list on EGM within a year of its launching. Listing on DSE comes with transparency, good corporate practices and proper disclosures. Swala has made the right decision to join the family of companies aiming at being open and transparent to their shareholders, the public and the world at large”.

Chairman of Swala, Mr. Ernest Massawe further added, “Today’s listing on the EGM marks a new chapter for our company and another step forward in realizing our ambition to achieve a successful venture based on private and public partnership. We wish to extend our thanks to all those who have made this possible: the regulators, our advisors and, most importantly, our new investors. The company is now ready to commence its 2014 seismic programme and we look forward to fruitful results. I am confident that Swala, as a public company, will be able to capitalize on its achievements to date and continue to deliver for all its stakeholders”.

Comedy Giant Robin Williams Is Dead !

Shocking as it is the king of comedy Robin Williams is dead  due to suspected suicide according to the HolyWood Reporter internet site. Robin Williams has entertained Millions perhaps billions of us through his witty comedic antics in several blockbuster Hollywood movies such as Mrs DoubtFire ,Aladin, Patch Adams , Jumanji.

He was such a funny guy, uniquely talented and could get a laugh out of anyone. The World will surely miss him.

Its especially tragic to note that he died not due to natural causes but suicide after a bout of depression.That is just so sad and illustrates the reality that being a superstar or famous does not automatically translate to being happy.Value your life as it is.Our sincere condolences to the family.

08 August, 2014

Gemalto to acquire SafeNet, the worldwide leader in data and software protection

DUBAI, UAE, August 8, 2014/ -- Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 - GTO) ), the world leader in digital security, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the share capital of SafeNet, a worldwide leader in data protection and software monetization, from Vector Capital for US$890 million on a debt free/cash free basis. 

Headquartered in Belcamp, Maryland, USA, and presently located in 27 countries, SafeNet is one of the largest dedicated digital information security companies in the world, trusted to protect, control the access to, and manage the world’s most sensitive data and high value software applications. As an example, SafeNet technology protects over 80% of world’s intra-bank fund transfers and its 1,500+ employees, including 550 cryptographic engineers, serve more than 25,000 customers, both corporations and government agencies, in over 100 countries. Customers utilizing SafeNet solutions include Banamex, Bank of America, Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Netflix, Starbucks and many more of the world’s best known companies. In 2013, SafeNet recorded revenues of US$337 million and profit from operations of US$35 million and expects revenues of US$370 million and profit from operations of US$51 million for 2014.

As Gemalto enters into its 2014-2017 multi-year development plan, the digital world enters a period in which proper control over sensitive information is paramount. Nearly 400 million digital data records have been lost or stolen already in 2014, prompting a significant rise in global awareness regarding the effective protection of data. With this acquisition, Gemalto and SafeNet combine the best technologies, expertise and services available for securing a complete infrastructure: network, users, data, software, at the core and at the edge.

SafeNet provides an extensive portfolio of data protection solutions including HSM1 advanced cryptographic key management systems, encryption technologies for civilian applications, authentication servers and authentication as a service, as well as sophisticated software license management and monetization solutions. As an example, HSMs are the essential cloud-based secure elements generating and protecting the fundamental cryptographic keys and processing units used by digital authentication, encryption and signature mechanisms within computer networks and the Internet. All of these will perfectly complement Gemalto’s offering of embedded software and portable secure elements, which are used globally at the other end of the network security chain, i.e. in the users’ pockets and inside the network-connected terminals.

Once the acquisition is completed, SafeNet will significantly reinforce Gemalto’s Identity and Access Management business. It will become part of Gemalto’s Payment & Identity segment, and its Platforms & Services activity, that account respectively for €1,329 million and €715 million of the 2013 pro forma revenue.

The purchase price of US$890 million is self-funded with US$440 million from available cash, and US$450 million drawn from existing long-term credit facilities. Depending on market conditions, Gemalto may refinance the credit facilities through a bond issuance or other means at a later date. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur in Q4 2014, after approval from the relevant regulatory and antitrust authorities. After the acquisition is completed, Gemalto will retain a strong financial structure with a net debt/EBITDA ratio < 1. The transaction will be accretive to adjusted EPS (Earnings Per Share) before purchase price allocation upon completion.

As a result of the acquired business’s anticipated profitability, growth and synergies, Gemalto expects to surpass its 2017 profit from operations2 objective of €600 million by approximately +10%.

“The opportunity to acquire SafeNet has come at exactly the right time, as we have just entered into our new multi-year development plan and there is a perfect fit between Gemalto’s “security at the edge” and SafeNet’s “security at the core” capabilities. This will enable us to further accelerate the deployment of strong security solutions in the Enterprise sector, and expand our technologies and growth opportunities in protecting online access. Overall, our global leadership in digital security will be reinforced”, said Olivier Piou, Gemalto CEO.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to join Gemalto, which is recognized internationally for leadership in the digital security domain. Our products and routes to market are perfectly complementary and our visions for the future naturally intertwined,” said Prakash Panjwani, SafeNet President and Chief Executive Officer. “The combination of our portfolios will allow customers to have access to world’s leading security products for mobile and cloud, delivering best-in-class protection of data and identities. This transaction will accelerate the delivery of Gemalto’s security solutions to the Enterprise while also making SafeNet’s data protection solutions accessible to the Banking and Telecom sectors – truly a win-win for everyone involved.”

06 August, 2014

Momentum gathering in Power Africa initiative across Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, August 6, 2014/ -- Standard Bank Group Africa’s largest lender by assets, has renewed its commitment to the Power Africa Initiative, a multi-stakeholder project driven by US President Barack Obama, which aims to double access to power in Africa by significantly accelerating investment in the sector over the next five years. The US government has committed more than US$7 billion dollars in financial support to Power Africa over five years.

(from left to right) Dr Donald Kaberuka President of AfDB, David Mark Rubenstein co-founder and co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group and Mr Sim Tshabalala, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group, during the panel discussion at the African Leaders Business Forum
 Power Africa aims to add more than 10 000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generating capacity, and in the process electrifying at least 20 million new households and commercial entities with on-grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions.  The six initial partner countries - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania - have set ambitious goals to boost their power generating capacity with the ultimate aim of enhancing energy security, decreasing poverty and fostering economic growth.

“We are seeing an increasing pipeline of power projects across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Mr Sim Tshabalala, Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group. “In 2013 we committed to arrange funding of at least $150m of debt in the near term across the Power Africa countries, while more recently that amount has risen to over $400m, principally in Kenya and Nigeria, with smaller transactions in Ghana and Tanzania.”

Standard Bank is using its extensive balance sheet and on-the-ground presence across 20 markets across sub Saharan Africa to help finance projects under the Power Africa initiative while at the same time actively leading the policy reform process required to facilitate increased private sector investment in Africa’s power sector. The bank expects more than $1bn in commercial projects to be realised across the six Power Africa partner countries by 2018, and as much as $5bn when one includes the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

“Standard Bank will strive to arrange or underwrite at least half of the debt required for these projects,” said Mr Tshabalala. “As such, our commitment to Power Africa is to help fund an additional $600m of debt in the Power Africa countries through 2018, taking our total since joining the initiative a year ago to $1bn, and another $2bn across the rest of sub-Saharan Africa over the same timescale.”

The Ghana Power Compact (GPC) is the largest US Government transaction to date under the Power Africa banner. The GPC takes a system-wide approach to Ghana’s energy challenges with six projects across three areas: distribution, generation and access to energy.

The GPC also supports Ghana’s efforts to mitigate climate change by funding major energy-efficiency initiatives and improving the investment climate for renewable energy. At the heart of the GPC is a strong commitment from the Government of Ghana to change the laws and regulations needed to transform its power sector and put it on a path to profitability and sustainability.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will invest up to $498m over the next five years, to support the transformation of Ghana’s energy sector, helping the country provide a safe, reliable source of power to households and businesses. The Government of Ghana will contribute an additional $37m, bringing the total investment to $535m. This initial investment is expected to catalyse at least $4.6bn in additional private sector energy investment and activity from American firms in the coming years.

“Ghana is one of Africa’s most dynamic and exciting economies and the GPC will make a significant contribution towards putting the country on a sustainable long-term economic growth path,” said Mr Tshabalala. “Standard Bank will use its presence in Ghana and the rest of the continent to further support the Power Africa Initiative as well as other power projects across the continent.”

CNN'S Richard Quest ;President Uhuru Kenyatta's Interview Video !

Richard Quest seems to capture the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta thoughts in a coincise manner in this interview.There's more to it than simply peddling the mantra that Terrorism is a global threat.Specifically i find  President Uhuru on point when he points that "Travel Advisories"  following specific threats  are ill advised and work against international corporation. Think of it such travel advisories by Western States amount to scoring an own goal and giving terrorist the power and effect they so desire.Interesting interview by Richard Quest during the Ongoing Africa /United States of America Summit!

You can watch the video UHURU KENYATTA CNN INTERVIEW 

01 August, 2014

Able Wireless: Why Government(Communications Authority)Should Enable Rather Than Disable Local Entrepreneurship !

Its hardly two months since the Government re branded the statutory regulatory body  Communications Commission of Kenya to the Communications Authority of Kenya. The move was hailed as "a new dawn" for in the ICT sector in Kenya. At the Launch His Excellency the President stated and i quote  “In establishing an independent regulator, we gather to mark a new beginning for the Information and Communications Technology sector and indeed for the whole Nation”As with any other statutory body i am a bit apprehensive and pessimistic as to whether Kenyans and foreign investors are experiencing a new dawn with regards to service delivery.Case in point :The Able Wireless Company.

A lot of verbal pep talk has been made about vision 2030, empowering the youth, making it ideal for local investors to get an enabling environment with little legal impediments ...etc.But time and again you read of local start ups by vibrant young men being hounded and frustrated left right center in Government  offices trying to get regulatory approvals and that is repeated time and again and you wonder is it all talk and little or no action with our systems?Do we ever take audit of what our leaders say and what happens in  practice shortly thereafter?

 Speaking of which note the tone of frustration and economic sabotage that has faced Able Wireless( a company founded by a young Kenyan entrepreneur) in their quest to roll out their services due to regulatory impediments ...and i quote from their blog
But in Kenya, despite the push to help enable youth driven businesses, The Regulatory atmosphere has failed to adapt. Come August 2nd 2014, we will have spent a year seeking Regulatory Approval to start operating in Kenya. This Regulatory overhead means that every month, we have to meet financial commitments to our suppliers per contractual agreements without having earned a single shilling. August 1st marks the 2nd time The Regulator will have delayed our launch owing to their own internal processes. Despite us being gazetted on March 21st 2014, we only know that the process is still ongoing, and approval is due soon, but this is proving to be a protracted endeavor. Two months ago, it seemed impossible that we would be forced to wait longer than August. We were wrong.

Able Wireless TopBox
Able Wireless is a Company that seeks to revolutionize content delivery and connectivity in the local market by streaming Video On Demand (VOD) content and other services at an all time low fee of Kshs 500 per month(See the video interview  explaining the service)The founder is a pioneer blogger and techie  Kahenya Kamunyu a brilliant chap and a friend. Therefore when i read his blog post on 31 July, 2014 detailing the  bottlenecks he is facing as he tries to realize his venture and create value for Kenyans. I had to throw in my support and highlight that its time we changed our modus operandi if we expect to improve the collective livelihoods of fellow Kenyans.

Its imperative to note that often it may not be the policy of a Government body to stifle investment but individually Government staff have a responsibility to be thrifty and hardworking in their duties and service delivery.Corruption ,bureaucracy ,tribalism and other malignant  practices are a shot at ones own foot;self defeatist at best.Once an investor meets the required statutory requirements thresh-hold , the Licenses  should be issued promptly.To keep people visiting your offices as if that is their daily occupation is ethically, economically and morally unsound.

I hope someone from the "newly" re branded Communications Authority of Kenya picks up on this issue and grant s Able Wireless the opportunity to start providing services  to Kenya and enable us to have a cheaper local alternative to the foreign based content providers that  have dominated the entertainment industry in Kenya for a considerable period.

To Kahenya Kamunyu....don't let that stop you soldier on, sky is the limit!


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