Moving into Africa

With its enormous growth potential and the realisation that every country has different opportunties and challenges, the African continent is the most exciting and logical place for South African business to expand. It takes a great CFO to get it right.

03 November 2017

Gates Foundation launches open-source financial inclusion software

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has released a new open-source software for creating payment platforms that will help unbanked people around the world access digital financial services. The software is designed to provide a reference model for payment interoperability between banks and other providers across a country’s economy. It is available now, free-of-cost, for software developers to adapt and banks, financial service providers and companies to implement. Information on the code can be found at mojaloop.io.

11 October 2017

Finance Indaba: TransUnion Africa driving digital transformation agenda

"TransUnion is an exciting business to be a part of. It’s an organisation that has amazing global intellectual property, and when you combine that with great people and data, it allows us to solve some of the greatest challenges businesses and consumers are facing today," says Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion Africa, a silver partner at the Finance Indaba Africa 2017 on 12 and 13 October 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

27 September 2017

Put your money where your mouth is - Africa's best investment destinations

Rand Merchant Bank’s (RMB) recently released ‘Where to Invest in Africa 2018’ report reveals interesting changes in its ratings of the continent’s most attractive investment destinations. Not only have Nigeria and Algeria dropped out of the top 10 (moving to positions 13 and 15 respectively), South Africa has surrendered its first place position to Egypt, now Africa’s most attractive investment destination.

14 August 2017

The impact of cybercrime on SA companies: are we better or WORSE off?

During the last year, the public became painfully aware of what cybersecurity experts have long been warning us about: That cybercrime is on the rise and that everyone is a potential target. The recent WannaCry and Petya attacks have revealed that hackers have adopted an increasingly financial focus, as they demand ransom (usually in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin) in exchange for unlocking the affected users’ data. Companies throughout the globe have been affected in the latest attack this June, with South African companies being no exception.

18 July 2017

CFOs must have a deep understanding of operations, says Hatch CFO Craig Sumption

Craig Sumption has been with Hatch, a global concern headquartered in Canada and supplying engineering, project and construction management services, process and business consulting and operational services to the mining, metallurgical, energy and infrastructure industries, for more than a decade. He assumed the role of Regional Director of Finance for the firm's African, European and Middle Eastern operations two years ago. A passionate finance man who knew very early on that he wanted to go into the field, the father of three's grasp of the numbers remains second to none. He shared his thoughts with us about volatility, moving into Africa and leadership.

07 June 2017

Golden opportunity: WATCH Standard Bank's Tiro Motlogeloa at #findaba16

As one of the foremost financial institutions on the continent, Standard Bank has been making great things happen in Africa for over 154 years. The bank currently operates in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa, as well as in other selected emerging markets, and employs more than 54 000 people across its 1 221 branches. CFO South Africa is pleased to have retained such a prestigious diamond partner for Finance Indaba 2017.

08 May 2017

Cybersecurity skills shortages leave us open to attack, says MWR Infosecurity SA's MD, Riaan van Boom

According to Europol’s 2016 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), several EU states have found that cybercrime offences have surpassed traditional crimes, with trends such as crime-as-a-service and ransomware rising significantly. Given the increasing sophistication of the attack landscape, hacking has become a genuine threat facing organisations and countries across the globe. And yet, the ability of those targeted to manage such attacks remain, for the most part, limited. Riaan van Boom, Managing Director, MWR Infosecurity South Africa, unpacks the issue.

02 May 2017

Former British minister delivers FinTech boost to African farmers

Former UK government minister Mark Simmonds (pictured) has teamed up with FinTech veteran Hirander Misra on a venture that aims to help African smallholder farmers boost their earnings by connecting them with local commodity exchanges. The Financial and Commodities Ecosystem (FinComEco) says it wants to improve food security, economic diversity and financial inclusion by connecting farmers with exchanges, financial infrastructure and national economies.

28 April 2017

World Bank launches African digital entrepreneurship programme

The World Bank has launched an accelerator for African digital entrepreneurs. The five-month long XL Africa – which includes a two-week residency in Cape Town and the Venture Showcase pitching event – is backed Finland, Norway, and Sweden, XL Africa. Participants will be mentored global and local experts through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and receive access to potential corporate partners and investors.

21 March 2017

Mena region set for FinTech boom

The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is set to experience a boom in fintech innovation over the next three years, propelled by a large unbanked population, VC inflows and the rapid emergence of a host of new startups, according to a state of the nation report prepared by local payment services outfit Payfort and entrepreneurial platform Wamda. According to the report, the number of startups in Mena’s FinTech ecosystem doubled from 46 to 105 over the three years 2013 to 2015 and the region could see a total of 250 FinTech startups launch by the year 2020.

28 February 2017

Mauritius is an ideal FinTech location - Inter Pay Tech's Mark O' Sullivan

Mauritius-based payment solutions provider Inter Payments Tech will be one of the FinTechs pitching at the FinTech Africa Future of Payments event in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 14 March. Topics of discussion relevant to the exciting and expanding space on the evening will include the the death of credit cards and systems enabling digital currencies. We spoke to founder and CEO Mark O’ Sullivan to find out more about the company’s activities and involvement in the event.

03 February 2017

Innotribe FinTech challenge open for applications

Financial messaging service provider SWIFT Innotribe's Startup Challenge for Africa is open for applications. For the third year running, the Challenge will be part of SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 16-18 May 2017. ARC brings together policy-makers, industry leaders and the broader financial community from across the African continent. Typically attracting up to 500 delegates from around 40 countries, ARC is a unique forum for networking, education, discussion and debate and a great platform for FinTech startups to connect with the financial sector.

31 January 2017

Ecobank launches African FinTech challenge

Pan-African banking conglomerate Ecobank, which boasts operations in 36 countries on the continent, has launched a FinTech challenge for African startups. The Ecobank FinTech Challenge provides selected startups with tailored mentorship from leading industry experts, funding of up to $500 000, a partnership with the multinational, and access to Africa’s biggest banking ecosystem, maximising exposure across the continent. The winner will also showcase their idea at Ecobank’s Innovation Fair.

26 January 2017

Africa has great potential: WATCH Eclectics consultant Sebi Salim at #afta16 #findaba16

"We believe there is a lot of potential in Africa and this is why we are investing heavily. Up to 60 percent of our solutions are USSD- and SMS-based, but as Internet access becomes cheaper and easier, we are increasing our investment in web and mobile banking apps. Through our partnership model, we sit down with banks and understand their requirements to produce customised solutions," said Sebi Salim, a consultant at Eclectics International, a Microsoft Africa Partner of the Year in 2016.

02 November 2016

Four top finance bosses reveal the reasons for their success on the continent

What does it take to be successful in the rest of Africa? We asked four CFOs who were nominated for the 2016 CFO Awards to share some tips. Here’s what Bikash Prasad from Olam International, Johan Geel from Afgri, Mohammed Abdool-Samad from Illovo, and Osman Arbee from Imperial Group had to say on the matter. Bikash Prasad (right): look at the long term Bikash Prasad has quickly moved through the ranks and last year became CFO for Africa and the Middle-East at Olam International, a global agri-business operating from seed to shelf. Bikash has been a long-standing supporter of CFO South Africa and the panel of judges voted him as winner or the 2016 Moving into Africa Award, which he received out of the hands of Standard Bank’s CIB CFO Luvuyo Masinda on 12 May 2016. We asked him what it takes to be successful in Africa. “Look at the long term. You might have challenges in the short term, with the global economic slowdown and the slowdown in China impacting the continent, but the long term is looking very bullish and positive.” “To operate in Africa, you have to be a noble corporate citizen. You cannot be non-compliant. You need to really believe in sustainability and get a license from the community you want to work in, not just an official license from the government you are dealing with. We hardly ever run into any trouble because of that approach. Recruiting and developing talent is also crucial.”

27 October 2016

Local currency and DFIs: an opportunity for African financing - Standard Bank at #findaba16

Standard Bank treasurer Paul Burgoyne brought together a strong panel at the Finance Indaba Africa on 13 October 2016, to discuss accessing liquidity in Africa. The speakers included CFO and VP of Olam International, Bikash Prasad, as well as three Standard Bank team members: head of institutional sales Africa, Mark Kalil, VP for power and infrastructure finance, George Kotsovos, and global head: client solutions & distribution, global markets Steve Barnes.

20 October 2016

Bruno Bayet new CFO for Lafarge Africa

Lafarge Africa has announced the appointment of a new CFO, Bruno Bayet (pictured), effective 1 October 2016. Prior to becoming CFO of Lafarge Africa Bayet was the Strategy Director; a position he held since April this year. Bayet, a Belgian, was Manager, Corporate Finance, with PwC from 1998 to 2005, and Senior Analyst in the Investments team of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert from 2005 to 2011. Before joining Lafarge, Bayet was an executive committee member of Enterprise Generale Malta Forrest (RDC) from 2011 to 2013, having gained over 15 years of experience in the construction and materials industry. He was appointed Director of Ashakacem Plc in later 2013, combining the role of CFO in September 2014. Bayet holds a Business Engineering degree from Universite Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium, and completed his Master’s in Business Administration at Georgetown University, specialising in Financial Risks Management.

15 October 2016

Riding the tides of African volatility: Standard Bank discusses the continent - #findaba16

The “Africa rising” narrative that dominated headlines ten years ago has taken an anecdotal beating, affected by the downturn in commodities, and several of the continent’s biggest economies being plagued with poor growth, both private and public corruption, and political bad news. But, investment wise, does that mean Africa is no longer a strong growth space? Do investors consider this bubble burst?

25 September 2016

Edcon loses the battle; gets taken over

Struggling South African clothes retailer Edcon has been taken over by banks and bondholders, including Standard Bank, Barclays Africa Group and FirstRand. Furthermore, creditors in Edcon have agreed to substitute R21 billion in debt for equity control of the retailer. The retailer has been struggling with an over-leveraged capital structure for years. Having been taken private in a R25-billion buyout by Bain almost a decade ago, Edcon has been unable to to grow at a fast enough rate to pay down debt.

17 June 2016

MD Sneha Shah reveals Thomson Reuters plans for Africa

No matter what the question is, in Sneha Shah’s world, the answer always starts with the same two words: the customer. In an exclusive interview with CFO South Africa, the charismatic Africa MD of Thomson Reuters speaks about her time in New York, the challenges facing modern CFOs and about her drive to help transform Africa’s aid-based economies into knowledge-based economies. Most of the successful projects Sneha has run, delivered because of a firm focus on customers. “For me, the customer is a passion,” Kenyan-born Sneha Sanghrajka Shah reflects. “Too many companies start with their products and ideas, risking irrelevance when the customer needs change. You cannot afford to lose sight of the customer, so my team starts with the customer every day. Even HR, which many organisations would see as a back-office role, has customer-facing targets to meet.” The same rules apply for CFOs, says Sneha, as “they have had to become more customer focused in order to be able to manage the increasing burden of regulation and risk. But overall, there is a trend globally where CFOs are becoming much more market-aware and client-facing. CEOs are becoming less of the singular face to the market and more like coaches to a strong business focused leadership team, and this has led to CFOs and other C-Level roles evolving accordingly.” Reuters has had news reporters in South Africa since the 1860s, and the finance business here started in the 1980s. The name has become synonymous with FX trading across the continent, but Thomson Reuters actually does much more, across a variety of industries and customer segments. “For a global information company with strong roots on the continent, we definitely need to do a better job of sharing who we are and what we do,” says Sneha, as she lists the range of Thomson Reuters services that can benefit businesses and their CFOs. The firm brands itself as ‘the answer company’ and combines news, broad and deep content and industry expertise with innovative technology to provide information to decision-makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets.

17 March 2016

Local talent in the spotlight at smashing CFO event 'Moving into Africa'

Innovative ways to identify and develop top local talent in African countries were the hottest topic of conversation during an extremely insightful CFO South Africa event about Moving into (the rest of) Africa, hosted by Standard Bank at its impressive Rosebank premises on 16 March 2016. Vibrant CFO panel discussions alternated with insights from experts from Thomson Reuters and Spencer Stuart, while attending CFOs also had the chance to get involved.

14 March 2016

Give African executives opportunity to develop: Pratik Chandaria (Africa Advisory Group)

Contrary to perceptions, there is a strong potential pool of great local business leaders in Africa," says Pratik Chandaria of Africa Advisory Group, a company specialising in recruiting executives and developing the next generation of leadership for Africa. "The strength of the leadership pool is defined by the potential you see in it. This means you have to be willing to give leadership talent the opportunity to develop; particularly in Africa where leadership skill sets are still developing. I rank the pool highly in terms of potential."

10 March 2016

Meet CFO Awards 2016 nominee Matone Ditlhake, FD of Groupe SEB South Africa

Matone Ditlhake | Financial Director | Groupe SEB South Africa Matone Ditlhake - current Financial Director of Groupe SEB - started his career as a trainee with PricewaterhouseCoopers. After leaving PwC, Ditlhake strated working as a Cluster Financial Analyst for Citigroup. In 2009, Ditlhake gained his first experience in leadership related roles while working as the Managing Director of Ditlhake Africa Investments (Pty) Ltd. In 2014, mister Dilthake became the Finance Director of Groupe SEB South Africa. In this role, he leads the IT, Finance Procurement functions of Groupe SEB. In addition to his work as the Finance Director of SEB, Ditlhake is a Member of the Council for both Ditsong Museums South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Museum. For his work as the Finance Director of Groupe SEB South Africa, he has been nominated for the CFO Awards 2016.

09 March 2016

How to succeed in Africa: 5 questions for Kamal Patel (Thomson Reuters)

Local talent, knowledge and understanding of the local context is crucial for businesses to be successful in African countries north of South Africa, says Kamal Patel, Head of Corporates & Partnerships at Thomson Reuters. Kamal is one of the exciting speakers lined up for our CFO event Moving into Africa on Wednesday 16 March 2016. To get to know him we contacted him - during a business trip in Ethiopia! - and asked him five questions.

07 March 2016

Join our Moving into Africa event about knowledge & talent on 16 March

People and knowledge are at the centre of attention during this year’s CFO event Moving into Africa, on Wednesday 16 March at the Standard Bank office in Rosebank on 35 Baker Street. CFOs who will their experiences on the continent will include Alexander Visser (Philips Africa), Mohammed Abdool-Samad (Illovo) and Greg Davis (Standard Bank Africa). Experts from knowledge company Thomson Reuters and executive recruiter Spencer Stuart are also at hand to provide insight.

26 February 2016

FinTech Africa event: fascinating insights in #blockchain at Barclays Rise

A Dutch “prophet of the future", a forward-thinking Barclays boss and a group of amazing South African FinTech pioneers engaged in some intriguing discussions and short presentations during FinTech Africa’s Blockchain event in Cape Town on 25 February 2016. The gathering of around 80 FinTech professionals and enthusiasts was hosted at the marvelous Rise innovation hub of Barclays Africa at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock.

22 February 2016

RMB's Africa Outlook 2016 - investors more discriminating

In 2016 investors are even more likely to scrutinise the effectiveness of domestic policies, the strength of governance, the sensitivity to commodities price trends and the sustainability of debt burdens. In this fourth part of RMB's Africa outlook 2016, authors Celeste Fauconnier, Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana and Neville Mandimika look at the financial markets, Eurobonds and currency risk, as financial markets are becoming more skilled at mitigating the unusual risks presented by African currencies.

02 February 2016

Skilled local resources key in Africa, says Illovo CFO Mohammed Abdool-Samad

Africa is complex and diverse, so here’s a secret tip from Mohammed Hoosen Abdool-Samad, finance director at Illovo Sugar. “To succeed, you need to have a deep understanding of the political and macroeconomic landscape. This can only be done by having skilled and experienced local resources that understand the business environment. Overreliance on expats can result in the business being ‘unplugged’ from the local business environment."

29 January 2016

Sub-Saharan Africa seen as promising consumer market, says Agility survey

The recently released 'Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2016' offers interesting insight into worldwide markets. It also pegs consumer spending by a fast-growing middle class as important a growth driver for Africa as mineral and resource demand. In the survey, industry executives ranked South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria as the most promising markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the more than 1,100 executives who responded to the survey, poor infrastructure, lack of power generation and corruption pose the greatest risk to African economies.

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