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African Fintech, Agribusiness Firms Attract Interest from Investors

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African private equity and venture capital deal-making in April were dominated by investments in technology companies, particularly fintech and business-to-business platforms, together with encouraging activity in the agribusiness & food sector.

 

This according to data provided by Africa Private Equity News, an industry information service.

 

Fintech investments were mostly in mobile-enabled banking and financial services companies.

 

These include: French development-finance institution Proparco’s $3-million backing of JUMO, which helps customers to access loans and savings products in East and West Africa; and a $70-million round, led by US-based Trinity Ventures, into credit provider Branch International.

 

Digital payments network MFS Africa also raised $4.5 million in funding, led by LUN Partners Group, thereby becoming one of the first fintech players on the continent to receive funding from a China-based venture capital firm.

 

Business-to-business solutions remains an attractive theme, with TLcom Capital announcing two investments in the space – a $5-million injection in Nigeria-based mobile marketing company Terragon, and a $3.5-million Series-A round for Kenyan consumer-feedback platform mSurvey, which plans to use the capital to scale and expand into more countries.

 

Asoko Insight, a provider of data on African companies, attracted $3.6 million in additional funding from its early shareholders and some new ones, while South Africa-based Giraffe – which enables businesses to recruit high volumes of medium-skilled staff – closed a second round of investment, supported by FirstRand’s Vumela Fund, with participation from Omidyar Network, the Brozin family’s Forever Young Capital and Catapult Trust.

 

The continent’s rapidly-growing food market could be worth more than $1 trillion annually by 2030 as imports are substituted with high-value locally-produced food, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

 

With 60% of the world’s unused arable land, Africa’s potential in the broader agribusiness sector is also enormous.

 

The sector continues to attract interest from private equity firms such as DOB Equity, which last month backed Rwanda-based grain trader Sarura Commodities.

 

Furthermore, Agri-Vie and Norfund announced a $7 million co-investment in Marginpar Flower Group Holdings, which has floriculture interests in Kenya and Ethiopia.

 

In addition, South African-based The Beverage Company, in which Ethos Private Equity and Nedbank Private Equity owns a stake, signed an agreement to acquire 100% of SoftBev, the sole licensed bottler for Pepsi and its related brands in South Africa, from Bowler Metcalf and the original founders.

 

“In South Africa specifically we’re seeing agro-processing and food production becoming quite topical. If you pick the right investments here you can generate superior returns,” commented Tshego Sefolo, CEO of Agile Capital, in an exclusive interview with Africa Private Equity News.

 

When it comes to private equity exits, glass packaging manufacturer Consol, which counts the Brait Fund IV as a significant shareholder, in early April announced its intention to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), only to later withdraw its IPO plans, citing unfavourable market conditions.

 

However, private equity firm Abraaj might soon realise its investment in South Africa’s Libstar Holdings after the food and personal care manufacturer said it would list on the JSE in May.

 

Also on the exit front, Helios-backed Vivo Energy, a retailer and marketer of Shell-branded fuels and lubricants in Africa, announced that it too plans to float on the London Stock Exchange and the JSE.

 

 

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Business

Global IT Spending to Hit $3.8tn in 2019 – Report

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Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2019, an increase of 3.2% from the expected spending of $3.7 trillion in 2018.

This is according to the latest forecast by market analyst firm Gartner, which says enterprise software spending is forecast to experience the highest growth in IT spending with an 8.3% increase in 2019.

“While currency volatility and the potential for trade wars are still playing a part in the outlook for IT spending, it is the shift from ownership to service that is sending ripples through every segment of the forecast,” says John-David Lovelock, research vice-president at Gartner.

“What this signals, for example, is more enterprise use of cloud services; instead of buying their own servers, they are turning to the cloud. As organisations continue their digital transformation efforts, shifting to ‘pay for use’ will continue. This sets enterprises up to deal with the sustained and rapid change that underscores digital business.”

Gartner says software-as-a-service is driving growth in almost all software segments, particularly customer relationship management (CRM), due to increased focus on providing better customer experiences.

It believes cloud software will grow at more than 22% this year compared with 6% growth for all other forms of software.

While core applications such as enterprise resource planning, CRM and supply chain continue to get the lion share of dollars, security and privacy are of particular interest right now, says Gartner.

It points out that 88% of recently surveyed global CIOs have deployed, or plan to deploy cyber security software and other technology in the next 12 months.

In 2018, the market analyst firm says, data centre systems are expected to grow 6%, buoyed by a strong server market that saw spending growth of more than 10% over the last year, and in 2018 will come in at 5.7% growth.

However, by 2019, servers will shift back to a declining market and drop 1% to 3% every year for the next five years, Garner notes, adding that this, in turn, will impact overall data centre systems spending as growth slows to 1.6% in 2019.

The firm points out that IT services will be a key driver for IT spending in 2019 as the market is forecast to reach $1 trillion in 2019, an increase of 4.7% from 2018.

It says an expected global slowdown in economic prosperity, paired with internal pressures to cut spending, is driving organisations to optimise enterprise external spend for business services such as consulting.

In a recent Gartner study, 46% of organisations indicated IT services and supplier consolidation were in their top three most-effective cost-optimisation approaches.

Worldwide spending for devices (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) is forecast to grow 2.4% in 2019, reaching $706 billion, up from $689 billion in 2018.

Gartner says demand for PCs in the corporate sector has been strong, driven by Windows 10 PC hardware upgrades that should continue until 2020. However, the PC market may see some impact from the Intel CPU shortage. While this shortage will have some short-term impacts, Gartner does not expect any lasting impact on overall PC demand.

The current expectation is that the shortage will continue into 2019, but Intel will prioritise the high-end CPU as well as the CPUs for business PCs, says Gartner, adding that in the meantime, AMD will pick up the part of the market where Intel cannot supply CPUs.

“PCs, laptops and tablets have reached a new equilibrium state. These markets currently have stable demand from consumers and enterprises. Vendors have only subtle technology differentiation, which is pushing them to offer PC-as-a-service in order to lock clients into multiyear recurring revenue streams and offer new bundles of service options,” says Lovelock.

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MDXI Achieves Microsoft Gold Data Centre Competency, SAP Recertification

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MDXI, data centre provider, has attained the Gold Data Centre certification from Microsoft, thus strengthening its position as one of the leading Cloud Services providers in Africa demonstrating “best-in-class” capability to meet Microsoft’s customers’ needs.

The Gold Data Centre is the highest partnership level with Microsoft in Data Centre Competencies and is the pinnacle for Cloud Productivity in Microsoft’s Partner Network program.

Attaining Gold Partner status is an important step for MDXI in its drive towards supporting local companies face issues on digital transformation, particularly in relation to their data centre and computing platform strategies.

To obtain the certification, MDXI has demonstrated the highest commitment to the integration of the latest Microsoft products, with proven expertise to help costumers drive innovative solutions on the latest Microsoft platforms.

“The Gold Competency provides MDXI with a competitive advantage that helps us offer our customers the most relevant Microsoft solutions in the market. With this competency, MDXI is accredited as a partner to transform data centres into more flexible, scalable, and cost effective solutions using Microsoft Azure Cloud and hybrid solutions.

This will enable us deliver greater value to our customers with best-in-class staff that have been subject to rigorous exams, proven implementation and satisfaction references auditable,” says Gbenga Adegbiji, General Manager, MDXI.

The new milestone proves MDXI’s commitment to enabling digital transformation for its customers through constant improvement in delivering only the best services with competency levels including Silver Cloud Platform; Silver Data Centre; Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions; and Silver Application Development competencies.

In a similar vein, German business software maker, SAP, has given MDXI a clean bill of health with its recertification as a provider of infrastructure services for its cloud solutions.

This recertification endorses the ability of the company to deliver high-quality cloud and infrastructure operations services for customers running SAP solutions and confirms MDXI can continue to host and manage SAP applications using the company’s enterprise cloud platforms.

As a SAP-certified provider of hosting services, MDXI offers cost-effective yet reliable delivery models for mission-critical applications for customers of SAP.

SAP customers that rely on MainOne’s data centre for hosting services are empowered to focus on the business value of their solutions and benefit from reduced operational expenses that a commercial data centre provides.

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Oracle Academy Steps Up ICT Training in Nigeria

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The Oracle Academy announced a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria (FMoE) to create new computing education pathways for local students.

According to a statement, through the agreement, FMoE plans to integrate Oracle Academy computer science curriculum and resources across 10,000 academic institutions across the country, reaching over 1.5 million students within the region.

Over the next three years, Oracle Academy will also facilitate the training of 4,000 educators at the secondary and higher education levels to teach computer science.

Permanent secretary, FMoE, Arch, Sonny S.T Echono, said, “As we are all aware, ICT has become the driver of competitiveness in the world today. It has redefined efficiency and productivity, and changed the dynamics of the world of work. Oracle Academy is well-known globally for the advancement of computer science education. There is therefore, no doubt that our partnership with Oracle will bring great improvements to the education sector and Nigeria as a whole.”

Adebayo Sanni, Managing Director, Oracle Nigeria, added, “As technological innovation increasingly drives our global economy, computer science skills become even more critical.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria through Oracle Academy, and advancing our collective educational mission to support students and teachers in computer science and drive diversity in technology.”

In its statement, Oracle Academy added that it will facilitate a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ course to prepare teachers and faculty members as instructors for the following courses: Database Foundations; Database Design and Programming with SQL; Programming with PL/SQL; Java Foundations; Java Fundamentals, and Java Programming

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