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Invest in Africa’s food markets to win the war on hunger and boost nutrition – African Development Bank

Invest in Africa’s food markets to win the war on hunger and boost nutrition – African Development Bank

Yokohama — By investing in Africa’s food markets, governments can win the fight against stunting and improve nutrition across the continent. And with support from institutions like the African Development Bank, the results would be a win-win situation for all.

“What a huge potential the food markets represent. “Feed Africa,” which is one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities, has nutrition at its core,” Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke said last week at a panel discussion on day two of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

The session, organised by the Global Panel on Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition (GPAN) & the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), was titled Ending Malnutrition in Africa: Towards Nutrition for Growth 2020 and Beyond.

A senior management team from the Bank led by its President Akinwumi Adesina is attending this year’s TICAD in the Japanese city of Yokohama, under the theme: Advancing Africa’s development through technology, innovation and people. The conference is focused on Africa’s economic transformation and the business environment through partnerships and increased cooperation with Japan.

Despite holding 60% of the world’s arable land, African countries import nearly US$50 billion net of food annually. Yet the population bulge and a rising middle class represent a massive opportunity in terms of agribusiness and the consumer market.

“There is a business case for governments to invest in grey matter, or brainpower, and this requires much more nutritious diets,” Blanke said.

With most people in Africa getting their food from local markets, business opportunities for healthy foods abound everywhere in the food system and potential investors were urged to engage and explore.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular play a predominant role in the food supply chains in Africa, but their growth has been slow. “The biggest constraint to their scaling up is lack of access to finance,” Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) said.

Other side events such as a session on Investing in Human Capital Development and one on Rural Transformation and Sustainable Agriculture in the Digital Age, jointly organized by the Bank and the World Food Programme, spoke to policy makers about the importance of the private sector and an enabling environment in fighting malnutrition.

Accordingly women and Girls need to be at the table. Last week, a discussion on empowering women and girls highlighted how that directly benefits Africa’s development agenda.

Technology, access to finance, education and digital technology can help women leapfrog over many hurdles.

“It is essential that women are empowered to become a vehicle for transforming society,” said Ms Toshiko Abe, of Japan’s ministry of finance said.

Blanke said women in agriculture were an overlooked stakeholder group. In many parts of Africa most farmers are women.

The Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative known as AFAWA, seeks to support women entrepreneurs in Africa. Through AFAWA the African Development Bank aims to raise at least $300 million for a guarantee facility that will spur lending of ten times at much (around $3 billion) to African women entrepreneurs.

“We can leverage more for women,” Blanke concluded.


 

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.