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'F*** The Poor' Says Ex-African Bank Boss
Category: SPOTLIGHT
Tags: News Business South Africa Banks

Johannesburg - A former African Bank executive, Tami Sokutu, has turned his back on those drowning in debt due to easy loans from the bank.

According to the Sunday Times Sokutu, who made over R50m in share options and earned another R35m in salary and bonuses while he was Abil’s chief risk officer, showed no sign of remorse for the reckless lending to millions of South African’s who could not afford to repay their debt. This, say analysts, has led to the collapse of the bank.

During his interview with the newspaper he reportedly boasted about having made millions and said he was now globetrotting.

Sokutu reportedly owns three houses in South Africa and another in Portugal. 

Arriving drunk

He said he did not need to ever work again and according to him he also owns six luxury cars, including a Porsche and a Bentley.

He said he lived a lavish lifestyle and had no regrets and blamed borrowers for their predicament and said they should not have applied for loans if they were not able to repay them.

Sokutu, a former director-general of the department of public works, was sacked last year as South African Biodiversity Institute chairperson after arriving drunk at the Chelsea Flower Show in London where he was meant to be welcoming guests.

South African Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus last Sunday announced that African Bank had been placed under curatorship.

She said a consortium involving major banks had committed to underwrite a R10bn capital raising and would engage with shareholders and other participants.

The consortium comprises Absa, Capitec, FirstRand, Investec, Nedbank, Standard Bank and the Public Investment Corporation.

Reckless lending

African Bank's shares plummeted recently after it warned of massive losses and said it needed about R8.5bn in new capital.

Marcus said African Bank served 3.2 million people.

The Debt Counselling Industry said on Monday the NCR should be probed for not properly investigating African Bank.

"Over the past few years, debt counsellors have lodged thousands of complaints, many relating to reckless lending... against the country's major credit providers, including African Bank," founder Deborah Solomon said in a statement at the time, according to Sapa.

"These complaints have repeatedly been sent to the regulator who has chosen to ignore them and the plight of desperate consumers."

However, Motshegare said the NCR conducted an investigation into the bank's lending practices and their impact on consumers last year.

Lending practices

"We investigated the bank last year for reckless lending and entered into a settlement agreement in terms of which the bank paid R20m."

Motshegare said the bank's unsecured lending had declined in 2012, after the regulator "expressed concern" about it in 2011.

However, she admitted that the bank's recent growth in impairments and bad debts "went a lot further than expected".

Motshegare said the NCR would engage the curator of African Bank to ensure the bank's clients were served in a manner that met the terms of the National Credit Act.

The regulator would also continue to work alongside the Sarb to ensure that the bank's lending practices were "sound and fair".

Source: fin24

5 Takeaways About Doing Business In Africa
Category: Business
Tags: News Business Africa

In case you missed it during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum last week, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published a report that shows that the U.S. trade relationship with Africa is growing at an increasing rate.

ITA’s Report on U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment examines the economic statistics related to U.S. commercial involvement in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. The report is part of the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, through which federal trade agencies are joining forces with U.S. businesses to take advantage of the growing export and investment opportunities available in the region.

Here are the five key takeaways of the report:

1. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Average GDP growth has surpassed 5.2 percent three straight years. The International Monetary Fund estimates that this will increase in both 2014 and 2015.

2. U.S. exports to SSA are at record levels. Merchandise exports reached $24 billion in 2013, an increase of $8.8 billion from 2009. The past decade saw the largest increase in value of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa in history; U.S. goods exports have increased by 130 percent since 2000, or an average of 6.7 percent annually.

3. Small and medium-sized businesses are finding success in SSA. More than 92 percent of businesses exporting to Africa are considered small and medium-sized enterprises—those with fewer than 500 employees. They accounted for a 53 percent increase in the value of exports to the region from 2009-2012.

4. Most export growth originates from Texas, Louisiana, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Georgia. In total, these states accounted for 60 percent of total exports and more than 70 percent of growth in exports to SSA in 2013. Mineral fuel and oil drilling, automotive parts and supplies, precious metals, and boilers and machinery parts are the top export sectors to SSA common among these states.

5. Total U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa has grown by 37.5 percent since 2009. While world foreign direct investment position in 2012 was 27 percent greater than in 2009, U.S. FDI position grew by 40 percent during that period.

As evidence of the report’s positive outlook for U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa watch this short video of many of the deal signings that happened last week at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. 

If your business is ready to do business in Africa, visit Trade.gov/dbia or contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

Source: commerce

Microsoft Unwraps $25 Phone For Asia, Africa
Category: Business
Tags: Business Technology Africa Phones

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is rolling out a $25 phone for consumers in Asia and Africa in a clear bid to expand its presence in emerging markets.

Microsoft on Monday introduced the Nokia 130, which is priced at 19 euros and billed by Microsoft as “an ideal handset for first-time mobile phone buyers, or for people seeking a reliable backup phone to complement their existing smartphones,” the company said in its announcement.

The technology giant said the phone is expected to become available in the third quarter of this year in select markets, including China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

“As demand in the affordable mobile segment continues to grow, Microsoft remains committed to delivering market-leading mobile innovation at each and every price point,” Jo Harlow, Microsoft vice president for phones, said in a statement.

“It is estimated that at least 1 billion people in the world still do not have a mobile phone, while at the same time there is increasing demand for reliable backup phones in both mature and high-growth markets.”

The company said 300 million phones priced below $35 are sold every year.

IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said the move is not surprising given Nokia’s strategy of “courting emerging market users with inexpensive devices.”

“For Microsoft, this is new territory,” he told MarketWatch. “But they are not going into this blind. Nokia has a lot of experience in this area.”

Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business earlier this year.

However, Llamas also noted that the Nokia 130 runs on Nokia’s Series 30 operating system, not Windows Phone, and it’s not clear how the move could meaningfully boost Microsoft’s overall position in the mobile market, in which having a robust operating system user base is also key.

Microsoft faces stiff competition in the mobile market from Apple AAPL +0.13%   and devices using Google’s GOOGL +0.15%   Android operating system

“What is the path from Nokia 130 to a Windows phone? That is not clear,” Llamas added.

Source: marketwatch

Africa Is Open For Business And Partnerships
Category: Business
Tags: News Business Sim Tshabalala

“Africa is now being taken seriously and is open for business and partnerships,” Standard Bank Group Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala told an audience yesterday at the first US-Africa Business Forum in Washington DC, USA.

The forum took place yesterday at the historic US Africa Leaders Summit. The business panel discussions and speeches by various global, American and African business and political leaders energetically grappled with expanding the new era for business in Africa; financing the Africa of tomorrow; and leading developments in infrastructure.

The Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Tanzania raised the bar when they eloquently affirmed that this was an historic event. There is no doubt that Africa is now being taken seriously as it is rising and emerging. This event has helped cemented relations between African and Americans and the clear message is that Africa is open for business and partnerships.

WATCH VIDEO

It was remarkable to observe how attuned Standard Bank Group's purpose, vision, strategy and plans were in harmony with the issues that were discussed. We are on the right path.

The climax of the forum was President Obama's rousing closing speech where he confirmed that the US wanted to up its game in Africa by summarizing five concrete actions that were meant to increase trade and investment between Africa and the US and between African states.

These initiatives were extending and deepening AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act); helping US companies compete for business with Africans; partnering with Africans to build infrastructure; helping Africans trade with the US and with themselves; and doing more to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs.

As a business that calls Africa home, Standard Bank Group is well positioned to facilitate the business that will develop out of these deliberations.

Source: standardbank

Liberia, Nigeria Sign Five Cooperation Agreements
Category: Business
Tags: News Liberia Nigeria Business Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan Nuruddeen Muhammad

The Inaugural Session of the Nigeria-Liberia Joint Commission has ended in Abuja with the signing of five agreements for cooperation between the two countries.

IN PHOTO: LeftLiberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of Liberia while Nigeria’s Minister of State II Nuruddeen Muhammad singed on behalf of the Federal Government.


Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of Liberia while Nigeria’s Minister of State II Nuruddeen Muhammad singed on behalf of the Federal Government at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

According to a Foreign Ministry dispatch from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the inaugural session laid the basis for enhanced economic and social development of the two countries and peoples and the promotion of regional security and development.

Liberia and Nigeria signed agreements for cooperation in Education, Culture, Bilateral Trade and Training of Liberian Foreign Service Officers. The two countries also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Mining and Geology.

One of the significant features of the agreements signed is that Nigeria has committed to grant a soon to be agreed number of scholarships to Liberian diplomats to pursue an 18-month Masters in International Relations and Strategic Studies (MISS) programme at the University of Lagos.

While pursuing their masters’ degree, Liberian beneficiaries of the Nigerian scholarships would also take courses at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy.

Speaking ahead of the signing ceremony, Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan gave special recognition to experts from both countries that worked behind the scenes to make the signing of the agreements a reality.

Minister Ngafuan sees the signing of the Joint Communiqué as a giant step forward in consolidating Liberia/Nigeria relations. “We at Foreign Affairs are the diplomats and have done our part by enhancing the relationship; we are now expecting implementation which means our sector ministries and experts would coordinate more through direct communication and follow ups on issues of mutual concern as it relates to the successful implementation of the various agreements”, the Liberian Foreign Minister remarked.

He said if the ministries and sectors in both countries forge closer partnerships it will ensure success while the Foreign Ministry in both countries will be continue to nudge their respective ministries and agencies in taking the concrete steps that would ensure the achievement of the objectives laid down in the agreements.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan also wants both governments to work on strengthening the ties between the private sectors of their respective countries. He spoke of the huge investment potential in Liberia and urged the Nigerian private sector to take advantage of what he called “the first mover advantages”.

Minister Ngafuan thinks it will be more win-win if a private sector actor from a West African country like Nigeria would invest more significantly in Liberia in various sectors as Liberian entrepreneurs also look to doing similarly in Nigeria.

For his part, the Minister of State II for Foreign Affairs of the Nigerian Government Nurudeen Muhammad said he was overwhelmed with joy that the Joint Commission Meeting that has been in the pipe line for over two decades could be finally held with the signing of several agreements.

He described Tuesday, July 15, 2014 as a day of history making for both Liberia and Nigeria.”It is my hope that the five documents we are about to sign today that includes agreements and memorandum of understandings will open a new vista in improving our bilateral relationship”, the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated.

Dr. Muhammad is hoping the signing of the agreements will broaden and deepened Liberia/Nigeria relations and explore possibilities of future cooperation. He commended Minister Ngafuan and the Liberian delegation for what he described as productive two days and looked forward to the next joint commission meeting in Monrovia which he anticipates would take place in less than a year.

The Foreign Ministry dispatch said both countries deliberated on education related matters and accordingly signed an agreement that will further concretize the already good collaboration of the two countries in the sector. Nigeria agreed to continue the Technical Assistance Cooperation (TAC) Scheme wherein Nigeria regular fields Nigerian teachers to render critically needed services in the Liberian school system.

 An agreement that will facilitate the training of Liberian Foreign Officers in the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy was also signed during the Joint Commission meeting in Abuja with both countries also agreeing to reinforce the subsisting agreement on the Technical Aid Corps Scheme.

 

The Session recognized trade as an essential and indispensable component in the deepening and broadening of relations between Nigeria and Liberia and resolved to facilitate trade and commerce by removing all impediments that militate against free trade including putting in place measures and structures that would enhance commerce and people to people contact.

The release said guided by the desire to enhance relations in the Cultural sector and recognizing the importance of promoting cultural values in both countries, Nigeria and Liberia signed an Agreement on Cultural Cooperation that will promote cooperation between the public and private cultural institutions in both countries.

Mindful of the enormous opportunities that abound in the mining sectors of both countries and the comparative advantage of Liberia in the sector, both countries agreed to explore ways of making positive intervention in the sector through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Mining and Geology.

Meanwhile, the two countries agreed on further consultations on the MOUs on Immigration, Drugs, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Sustainable Development, Health and Medical Sciences as well as Transport and Civil Aviation.

The Foreign Ministry release disclosed both sides are expected to give due attention to the two MOUs on the areas stated for signing as soon as possible.

Source: Sengbeh

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