[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: DR Congo’s factor in the integration agenda
13-05-2022 14:08:00 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 1178 | Tags:

The recent entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East African Community has heralded a new economic dispensation expanding the regional market, deepening integration and increasing trade and investment opportunities for the citizens.

Already Kenya and DR Congo have signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.

The objectives of the agreement include promoting increased agricultural productivity in Kenya and DR Congo, encouraging joint investment ventures between respective private entrepreneurs as well as boosting mutually beneficial trade between the two countries.

At the same time, International Finance Corporation, IFC and Equity Group are expanding their partnership to support the sustainable development of Africa by increasing access to financial services for small businesses and funding for green projects in six countries across Eastern and Central Africa.

And South Sudan Business Community has partnered with the East African Business Council as it seeks to link business people from the other East African countries to invest in South Sudan.

Gig work across East Africa is helping to drive economic growth by facilitating economic opportunities, improving livelihoods, and acting as a buffer against unemployment according to a recent whitepaper released by Mastercard.

However, for the gig economy – which is based on short-term, temporary and flexible independent contractors – to reach its potential and unlock prosperity for millions of people, the digital divide must be bridged through connected devices that power the digital economy, and value adds like access to capital and access to market.

In the banking sector, African investment company Arise has acquired a 34.9% shareholding previously owned by Rabobank in NMB Bank Plc listed on Dar es salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) in Tanzania.

On 28 December 2020, The Capital Market and Securities Authority (CMSA) in Tanzania approved the transfer of 174,500,000 NMB Bank Plc shares owned by Rabobank to Arise, an African investment company that partners with sustainable, locally owned financial services providers in Sub -Saharan Africa. The share transfer process was completed on 31 December 2020.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced a loan to I&M Bank Rwanda, to help the bank increase lending to potentially thousands of Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) in Rwanda, many of which are facing COVID-19-related liquidity challenges.

In tech, Ethiopian state-owned operator Ethio Telecom has launched its first 5G base stations in the nation's capital, Addis Ababa. The operator called the 5G launch a "pre-commercial trial service" with six mobile base stations up and running so far.

Millicom International Cellular S.A. announced that it had completed the transaction announced on April 19, 2021 for the sale of its operation in Tanzania to a consortium led by Axian, a pan-African group.

In accordance with the terms of the sale, Axian has assumed ownership of the business, including its debt and other obligations, and Millicom has received net cash consideration of approximately $100 million.

Safaricom M-Pesa revenue grew by 30.3% to hit Ksh. 107.69 Billion. This is according to the telco’s Full Year 2021/2022 results released on Thursday.

M-PESA, which marked its 15th anniversary this year also hit the 30 million active customer mark in Kenya. Kenya now remains M-PESA’s most active market accounting for more than 30 million of the service’s 51 million customers across Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ghana and Egypt. 

And finally Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a business of Cassava Technologies, has partnered with PEACE Cable Company to introduce 800Gbps of additional subsea capacity in Mombasa on the highly-anticipated global submarine cable. 
This will increase the availability of high-performance and reliable Internet connectivity access across Africa, leveraging Liquid's 100,000km of terrestrial fibre across 12 countries. 
The global financial services institution also committed $150 million to Kenya Commercial Bank to support the growth of the Bank’s sustainable climate finance portfolio and scale-up lending to micro, small and medium enterprises including women-owned businesses.

NMB Bank PLC and Mastercard have announced a partnership to roll out 1.5 million Mastercard branded prepaid and credit cards in Tanzania over the next five years.

The collaboration aims to further build the domestic payment ecosystem and empower Tanzanian consumers with safe and secure electronic payments.

Bob Koigi is the East African Region Editor at Africa Business Communities