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Economic Impact of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga Handshake in Kenya

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Kenyans went into a hotly contested election in August 2017. The  Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, as the winner of the elections. Raila Odinga, the charismatic leader of the opposition party, came second. Odinga claimed foul play in the elections and refused to accept the results.

Political Tensions in Kenya

What followed was a series of protests in the opposition’s strongholds, with Raila Odinga remaining adamant that he won the elections. As a result, the country’s political temperature was high, subsequently leading to a significant negative impact on the country’s overall economy. The situation was exacerbated when Odinga swore himself in as the president–a move considered by some pundits as equivalent to treason.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga holds a bible aloft after swearing an oath during a mock “swearing-in” ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Odinga was sworn-in as “the people’s president” during a mock “inauguration”, in protest of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s new term following the divisive 2017 election, and despite the government’s warning that the event would be considered treason. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The swearing in of Raila Odinga as ‘The People’s President’, few months after the official swearing in of Uhuru Kenya as the President, threw the country into limbo. With Odinga enjoying support from a significant proportion of the population, the divisions across party and ethnic lines were self-destructing.

Falling Economy

Most businesses considered certain parts of the country as high-risk areas to commit their investments. Some foreign investors took leave waiting for the outcome of the unfolding events. The country’s economy was on a downhill stretch. With the country’s history of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, the investors took no chances.

The Truce

On March 9, 2018, a new dawn in the country’s future was birthed on the steps of Harambee House in the Nation’s capital, Nairobi. Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta shook hands as a sign of reconciliation after hours of talks at the President’s office. Ultimately, the leaders exhibited a show of unity by shaking their hands and addressing the nation together.

The handshake between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.

The handshake between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya being an important East and Central Africa’s economic hub, this was good news for both Kenyans and non-Kenyans in the region. In addition, the handshake was a good sign  for foreign investors from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Rebounding Economy

Since March 2018, Kenya has enjoyed tranquility and stability, creating a favourable environment for investors and local businesses. Once again, the prospects of the country’s growing economy are high. As of April 2018, just a month after the truce, the Kenyan shilling hit a two-year high. With foreign investors’ confidence restored, there was a rise in inflows.

The country’s economy advanced by 6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018. According to the World Bank, Kenya’s economy is projected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2019. Furthermore, the IMF has ranked Kenya as among the fastest growing economies in 2019, with a projected growth rate of 3.8 percent. The upward trajectory in the country’s economy is a result of the ‘handshake’ between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

The handhsake is a good example to other African leaders on how to unite a country.

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Business and Development

Pan African eCommerce Giant Jumia Makes History with NYSE listing

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Jumia

Jumia Technologies made history on 10th April 2019 following the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) allowing the pan-African e-commerce giant to sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Consequently, Jumia started trading its shares at $14.50 using the ticker symbol JMIA. This makes Jumia Technologies the first African startup to secure major global exchange listing.

Jumia is currently active in fourteen African countries including Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania. The e-commerce platform has 81,000 active sellers with over 5,000 direct employees. According to a statement contained in its recent SEC filing, Jumia Technologies added three hundred thousand new active customers in the first quarter of 2019.

Through the sale of its American Depositary Shares, the company can raise up to $316. According to the Corporate Communications officer, Lisette Kwong, Jumia initially set its IPO at $14.50 but it opened and closed at higher prices.

Jumia’s Brief History and Growth

Jumia was co-founded in 2012 by Sacha Poignonnec, Jeremy Hodara, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Kofi Afaedor. The company was an outgrowth of the Rocket Internet Company. However, its rapid growth allowed it to secure funding from investors like Millicom group, MTN, Orange, Goldman Sachs, and CDC. According to The Guardian, MTN is the largest shareholder with 29.7%. Rocket Internet is second on the log with 20.6%. Other investors and their stake include AXA Africa holdings (5.8%), AEH New Africa eCommerce (8.4%), and Millicom (9.6%).

The two Nigerian co-founders, Raphael Afaedor and Tunde Kehinde are credited with the creation of some of the company’s components including JumiaPay. However, they left the company in 2015 to build other startups.

What Next For Jumia?

Jumia’s share price was up by 61% in early trade. Inasmuch as NASDAQ is traditionally for technology companies, Jumia decided to list on NYSE. The Head of International Capital Markets at the NYSE, Mr. Alex Ibrahim said the company did so because they saw the benefits. According to Ibrahim, the volatility of NYSE is higher than its competitors. Speaking on the listing of the company on NYSE, the co-founders said,

“This achievement has been made possible thanks to the hard work of our teams, the trust of our consumers, as well as the commitment of our sellers and partners. All stakeholders deserve credit for this milestone, and we are just at the beginning of a long and great journey. We are going to continue to focus on our mission and to work even harder to help consumers, sellers, partners, and all stakeholders benefit from this technological revolution.”

Previous Awards

Jumia is attracting lots of attention but the pan-African eCommerce giant is not a stranger to accolades. Some of the awards on Jumia’s archive include;

  • Best New Retail (World Retail Awards 2013)
  • Online Retail Brand of the year (Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (2013)
  • The innovative business of the year (Success Digest 2013)
  • Leadership ICT company of the year (2013)
  • Best use of Mobile App (Rima Awards)

E-commerce website of the year (Beacon of ICT Award)

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Gambia’s AfCFTA Ratification Means Africa Will Soon Become The Largest Free Trade Area In The World

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Gambia President Adama Barrow

The dream for a Continental Free Trade area in Africa became a reality when Gambia ratified the agreement. Initially, prospects of the agreement becoming a reality were hindered by a lack of numbers—falling short on the minimum threshold. With Gambia ratifying the agreement, the bill can now be actualized.

Gambia became the 22nd African country to approve the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement—AfCFTA. Ethiopia was the 21st country to ratify AfCFTA when it approved the agreement on March 21, 2019. Gambia parliament ratified the agreement on April 2 2019.

African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement

The African Union brokered the agreement in 2018. The agreement was then signed by 44 countries on March 21 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda—out of a total of 55 member states. Among other provisions, the agreement requires member states to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods. In addition, member countries will be required to allow free access of goods and services across the continent.

From March 17 to March 21, 2018, an Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA was held in Kigali, Rwanda. During the summit, the agreement establishing AfCFTA was presented to African leaders for signatures. The agreement was framed such that it goes into force 30 days after 22 countries have ratified the agreement instruments. Furthermore, ratifying states are required to deposit the instruments with the Chairperson of AUC—African Union Commission.

Gambia’s ratification and completion of all due processes satisfy this constitutional requirement to bring the agreement into effect.

Required Instruments

Only 20 countries have ratified and deposited the required instruments with the AUC Chairperson—as of April 16, 2019.  Two countries, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, have obtained parliamentary approval but have not deposited the instruments.

The 20 countries that have already deposited the instruments of ratification include The Gambia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, Mauritania, Mali, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Guinea, Djibouti, Congo Republic, Chad, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana.

Notable Non Signatory

The AfCFTA is moving forward, however, Nigeria’s lack of commitment to the agreement is a big blow. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but only an estimated 10% of its trade volume is done with other African countries. Nigeria’s hold out has been blamed primarily on influential Labor Unions

During the 2019 African CEO Forum in Kagali last month, President Kagame of Rwanda who had championed the AfCFTA during his tenure as the African Union Chairperson shared that he had reached out to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to sign the deal.

There are still concerns however about how the agreement will be executed. At the same event, African billionaire Naguib Sawiris said: “The challenges are going to be in the implementation.”

Impact of the Agreement

The AfCFTA is expected to boost free trade and investment across Africa. Once it comes into effect, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement area will create the largest free trade area in the world. The agreement will bring together all the 55 member states of the AU. This means the agreement will cover a market of over 1.2 billion people. The Economic Commission for Africa estimates that this agreement has the potential of boosting intra-African trade by 52.3 percent.

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Mauritius and Kenya Sign New Deal. Ban Lifted on Kenya’s Produce

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Kenya’s president and Mauritius Prime Minister witness the signing of the deal

Kenya and Mauritius signed a new deal that saw Mauritius lifting a ban on Kenyan farm produce. The new agreement enhances trade between the two African countries. Mauritius had initially banned baby beans, baby carrots, broccoli, and avocados from Kenya. Bilateral talks between Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and Kenya President Uhuru Kenya culminated in the lifting of the ban on these products.

Agreements

The bilateral talks also saw the signing of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement—DTAA. In addition, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for the development of an Export Processing Zone in Kenya.

Kenya and Mauritius also signed an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Other agreements signed include MOU in the field of arts and culture, an MOU in the field of higher education and scientific research, and an MOU on tourism.

Impact of the Deal

The signed agreements will boost Kenya’s ambitions to reach its development goals. According to President Kenyatta, the agreements will particularly boost Kenya’s manufacturing sector and create employment opportunities.

The new deal will further foster cooperation between Mauritius and Kenya. This means that the cordial relationship between the two countries is enhanced. This relationship will boost trade and investment opportunities in both countries.

Both Kenya and Mauritius have long coastlines, and more benefits can be derived in their blue economies through cooperation. President Kenyatta stated that there is a need for the two countries to look for ways of enhancing maritime transport by linking the Port of Mombasa to Port Louis. An established link is considered a catalyst for growing trade and businesses in the two countries.

The key benefit to Kenya from the deal is the promotion of its agricultural produce. Mauritius lifted a three-year ban on Kenyan avocado. Kenya lost the avocado market in Mauritius in 2015. The ban was due to the Mauritian National Plant Protection Office citing low hygiene standards of the Kenyan avocados. Lifting of the ban will now see more exports of avocados to Mauritius, along with other farm produce such as baby carrots and broccoli.

Kenya’s deal with Mauritius follows an initial pact with China. In 2018, Kenya signed deals with China and the Republic of Korea that opened opportunities for farmers to export more agriculture products to the two countries. The Kenya-China agreement opened opportunities for Kenya to export meat, flowers, and a selection of fruits and vegetables to China.

Kenyatta’s visit to Mauritius for the deal makes him the first Kenyan president to visit Mauritius.

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