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Mergers and Acquisitions in African Fintech

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By ERIC OSIAKWAN 


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May 4, 2021

On 1st of April, as I was publishing my Uniconization of African Fintech piece, Mastercard was busy announcing their $100 million investment into Airtel Money (Airtel Africa’s mobile money subsidiary) to acquire a minority position – half what TPG Capital did. Even though I had gotten wind of the transaction knowing that Mastercard was already in bed with Airtel Money – some part of me thought of it as an April fools joke….


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On the 12th of April 2021, Mobile Telecom Network (MTN) announced the valuation of their mobile money business at $5 billion making it the 7th African fintech unicorn with plans to bring in minority shareholders before going public. Given that Visa is already in bed with MPESA (Vodacom and Safaricom’s mobile money business), it is a matter of time before Visa also invests.

The unicornization of African fintech is the first trend but the second, topic of today, are the mergers and acquisitions in the sector. Mergers and acquisitions are slowly taking shape in the African fintech sector but, unlike the uniconization, they are manifesting on two interrelated tracks that may or may not eventually converge. The first track is maturing fintechs are acquiring smaller and earlier stage ones to grow their market share and establish territorial presence as Andrew Takyi-Appiah, CEO of Zeepay, told me. On the 28th of April 2021, two headlines made the news; AZA bought Exchange4Free whiles Ajua acquired Wayawaya. Zeepay had earlier acquired Zambia’s Mangwee Mobile Money and MSF Africa had acquired Beyonic last year. In 2018, Emergent Technology acquired Interpay Africa in Ghana and back in 2016, Interswitch acquired Vanso – the infographic below gives you more details. The second interrelated and accelerating track that has the African banks at the center of it. Some of the big banks in Africa have realized that if they are not careful, African fintechs would take over what used to be the domain of banking.


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This has led some of them to establish ways to gain visibility into the market so that they can make snap acquisitions and strategic investments to protect their interests. The first evidence of that came through on the 24th of March 2021 when First National Bank (FNB), South Africa’s most innovative bank acquired 100% of local fintech firm Selpal to gain access to their community and township based “mom and pop” businesses.

With FNB leading the charge other South African banks are following whiles the phenomenon is slowly crawling up to Eastern and West African banks. Standard Bank setup a corporate venturing arm and also backed Founders Factory to cultivate ventures for them to invest in. Nedbank has a VC team that has made eight investments so far. Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA) made their first investment in 2019 followed by the second one in 2020. Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has their own accelerator, Alphacode that is incubating startups. Ecobank Group has their fintech challenge which annually selects startups that have strategic fit for integration. Equity Group which owns Equity Bank has also launched the Equity Investment Bank (EIB) to back early-stage funds that would back startups. A totally different approach but with the same ramifications.


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Then we have those banks that seem to be late to the party or have still not come to terms with the changing landscape and continue to lobby regulators not to allow fintechs into their space. That came to a head on last month in Nigeria when the lenders kicked MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) off their shared platform because MTN MoMo halved it commission charged on the banking channels to 2.5%. The regulator had to intervene to restore MTN MoMo to the platform and reinstated the commission to 4.5% for the purchase of airtime via the banks. Whilst this may look trivial; it is really about the banks that are not on the fintech wagon realizing that fintechs are putting their business and margins at a significant risk. For example, in Ghana, MTN MoMo has about 15 million active accounts whilst all the 23 banks collectively have about 5 million bank accounts – that is a 3:1 ratio. In Nigeria, the Central Bank is yet to approve payment-service licenses to MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa after two years of them putting in their application which would allow them to provide most banking functions except lending and taking foreign-currency deposits. Whiles that seems to be a showstopper, Nigeria’s recent open banking regulations have forced the banks to share their data with the fintechs. This levels the playing field to some degree but begs the question whether the banks would change their strategy and start looking to acquire the fintechs or whether the fintechs like Flutterwave, Interswitch, Fawry, Airtel Money, MTN MoMo or MPESA which are all worth more than a billion dollars might turn around and start acquiring the banks.  Whichever way it goes, M&A is going to characterize the African fintech space as the second major trend after unicornization for the foreseeable future.


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Africa Finance Corporation – Changing the Narrative on Africa

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Africa is on a major growth trajectory and the future belongs to Africa .


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New luxurious Vic Falls hotel close to opening

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from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – THE multimillion dollar hotel that is the latest such facility in the prime resort town is set to open its doors in the Victoria Falls in July.


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Spencers Creek is building the Palm River Hotel on the edge of the Zambezi River, at a cost of US$24,6 million.

The 71-room four-star hotel, built in partnership with Old Mutual Zimbabwe, targets high end travelers to Zimbabwe’s tourism capital.


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Spencers Creek already runs Ilala Lodge Hotel group, another luxurious facility, in the town.

Heather Kay, the Ilala Lodge general manager, said the new hotel would comprise 60 deluxe rooms, two deluxe suites, two honeymoon suites, two family suites, three executive suites, one presidential suite and one Palm River Villa inclusive of three bedrooms.


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It is also sensitive to disability as it includes two wheelchair accessible rooms.

“Construction of Block A (Acacia) and Block B (Baobab) made up of predominantly Deluxe rooms and a Presidential Suite, together with a refreshing 20-metre infinity pool are now complete and await the arrival of the first guests,” Kay said.


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She said Block C (Combretum) and the main area including the reception, dining hall, bar and fresco restaurant are currently receiving the last of their final touches in preparation for the opening.

Block D (Duiker-berry), Block E (Ebony) and Block F (Fig) are being constructed and expected to be finished this November.

Kay said the hotel is elegantly appointed with comfort and space in mind and the interior design of the rooms is focused on bringing the stylish use of natural tones, locally sourced materials and artwork reflective of the area together.

She said the tastefully modern style of the Queenslander is reflected in the inside as well as the outside, giving a new sense of luxury in the resort city providing guests with comfortable modern convenience.

A river deck on the edge of Zambezi and a large alfresco dining area under a canopy of trees offering an A’la carte service, an outdoor bar, conferencing and events facilities, a pool that transforms into a star wonder-lit completes the luxury.

Palm River has made plans for a shuttle to transport clients between town and the lodge via some areas of interest such as the rainforest, Big Tree, Victoria Falls Bridge and Zambezi National Park.

The Palm hotel is one of a number of tourism developments in Victoria Falls.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa toured the site before construction last year in August.

Construction was delayed by challenges posed by COVID-19.

Recently built lodges in the area include Shearwater Village Explorer, Wild Horizon’s Old Drift and Mbano Manor Hotel and Mpala Jena Camp.

– CAJ News


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De-risking the World’s Future Growth Engine:

African Trade Insurance (ATI) joins The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business

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n our 27-year history as a Chamber of Business (www.CanadaAfrica.ca), the latest range of risk insurance instruments from the African Trade Insurance (ATI) Agency is a major leap forward for Canadian institutional investors and African countries – standing to unlock billions in investment capital.


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ATI facilitates inward investment in Africa by providing insurance against trade and investment risks. This month the organization joined The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

‘ATI is a game-changer. From discussions with private equity and pension fund representatives, ATI has the potential to ensure both the perceived and real risks on the continent are well-managed; ensuring investment committees can proceed on deals that until recently may have been deemed too risky,’ says Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, Chair of the Board, Chair of the Board at The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.


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The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business invites interested parties to learn more.

Join us on Thursday 20 May 2021 at 10:00 ET/ 16:00 CAT / 17:00 EAT


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View the Full Virtual Program (https://bit.ly/3ooyuNB)

RSVP (https://bit.ly/3eSzlmu)


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ATI has a good market position in Africa, based on the scale of its underwriting penetration and benefits from significant local expertise and understanding in a number of African countries. It currently insures trade and investments worth over USD6 billion or an average of 1-2% of GDP annually in its African member countries. ATI’s partners and clients include African Governments, lenders, traders (both domestic & international) and project developers.

‘It has become increasingly clear that to achieve “the Africa we want” the role of private sector must become central in mobilizing the needed resources. Alliances like this one present excellent opportunities to address the development challenges facing our region.’ – Manuel Moses, Chief Executive Officer, ATI

‘During my career on Bay Street, it was clear solutions were needed to unlock the billions of investable capital in Canada. ATI has since developed a suite of products that in my view has dramatically changed the landscape in recent years’  – Deepak Dave, Chief Risk Officer, ATI

ATI’s African Member states contribute, along with international governments, multilaterals and private sector to the pool of capital underwriting investments, without holding any influence over ATI operations. The Nairobi-based multilateral has maintained an ‘A/Stable’ rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor’s, and in 2019, ATI obtained an A3/Stable rating from Moody’s.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business.

For More Information:
Garreth Bloor
President
The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business
Tel: +1.647.667.1223
Email: garreth@canadaafrica.ca
Manulife Building RTO
55 Bloor Street West
PO Box 19553
Toronto
Ontario M4W 3T9

About The African Trade Insurance Agency:
ATI was founded in 2001 by African States to cover the trade and investment risks of companies doing business in Africa. ATI predominantly provides Political Risk, Credit Insurance and, Surety Insurance. In 2020, ATI closed the year with a gross exposure of US$6.3 billion and a net profit of US$39.4 million, owing to a strong demand for ATI’s insurance solutions from the international financial sector and from African governments. Since inception, ATI has supported US$66 billion worth of investments and trade into Africa. 
www.ATI-aca.org

About The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business:
The Chamber is committed to accelerating trade, business and investment between Canada and African markets, through world-class networking and information sharing opportunities.

Founded in 1994, the Chamber is based in Toronto and Ottawa, with members located throughout Canada and African markets.

The Chamber is an independent, not-for-profit organization with strong working links with both Canadian and African businesses and governments.
www.CanadaAfrica.ca


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