[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: What EU’s lifting of financial sanctions on Burundi means for EAC
The European political and economic bloc, the EU, recently lifted financial sanctions that it had imposed on Burundi almost six years ago in what could have implications to the rest of the East African Community member states. The EU made the decision in the wake of deteriorating political situation occasioned by a disputed presidential election in 2015.
This development, besides boosting development in Burundi, will invigorate the integration process while ensuring that the member states can work together as a bloc in the implementation of EU-funded programmes.
The European Union has invested in a number of projects in the region in areas of governance, environmental conservation and climate change, digital transformation and innovation, trade and integration, capacity building, peace and security.
And in more encouraging news, Emirates has announced the resumption of its passenger operations between Dubai and five African countries, three of them in East Africa including Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya.
In the banking sector, African digital payments company DPO Group has partnered with Bank of Kigali to onboard e-Commerce merchants for the bank, in Rwanda. The new partnership will allow Bank of Kigali customers to access efficient e-Commerce and payments services through DPO Group’s robust platform.
At the same time, The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has announced the acquisition of 84.89% shareholding of Century Microfinance Bank (Century MFB) by Branch International.
This follows CBK’s approval on December 30, 2021, under Section 19 (4) of the Microfinance Act and approval by the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning on January 7, 2022, pursuant to Section 19(3)(b) of the Microfinance Act.
This week, LOLC Mauritius also acquired 73% shareholding in Key Microfinance Bank (Key MFB). LOLC Mauritius is a private company incorporated in Mauritius that is wholly owned by LOLC Holdings PLC. LOLC Mauritius holds investments in financial entities in Africa and is licensed by the Financial Services Commission of Mauritius. LOLC Holdings PLC is a Sri Lankan conglomerate holding investments in financial and non-financial entities and is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Sri Lanka.
In the tech space, SEACOM, the pan-African telecommunications service provider, has acquired selected infrastructure assets from Africell in Uganda. The acquisition marks a significant step for SEACOM and is a testament to the company’s commitment to providing, competitive end-to-end connectivity and ICT solutions across the region.
Nokia has appointed Pius Ang’asa as Country Manager for Kenya. Pius will be the primary interface with local authorities and government and be responsible for establishing and leading the Country Sales Committee (CSC) to foster Nokia’s business in the country across all customer segments.
SealTowers, a Kenyan cell tower company, and Everstrong Capital, have announced the signing of an agreement that will see Everstrong making a majority equity investment in SealTowers. The investment, structured through the Everstrong Kenya Infrastructure Fund, will form part of the $12.5 million financing required to facilitate a tower roll-out programme with a target of reaching 200 tower sites in the next two years.
In the East African startup landscape, NALA, a Tanzanian cross-border payments company that recently pivoted from local to international money transfers, has announced that it has raised $10 million in a new fundraising round.
The seed round is coming almost three years after NALA secured a seven-figure pre-seed round led by Accel in 2019.
Kenyan-based electric vehicle technology and financing startup BasiGo has closed a $4.3 million seed funding round.
BasiGo which is bringing electric bus services to sub-Saharan Africa says it will use the new funding to commercialise its electric bus business model and launch local assembly of electric buses in Kenya.
In other news, following an overwhelming response to the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar’s decision to open up 10 smaller islands for high-end development and investment opportunities last year, a further nine islands have been added to the investment portfolio.
The programme, which is being implemented by the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA), further builds on the Zanzibarean government’s strategy to attract foreign investment by granting interested parties Strategic Investment Status, which offers a host of residential and investment benefits.