What If You Could IPO An African Country? These Are The Three To Bet On
VENTURES AFRICA – Record number of firms in Africa are lining up for a potential initial public offering (IPO) in 2015. Baker & McKenzie, a leading law firm, said 30 firms were preparing to list this year. Last year, the 24 IPOS by African domiciled companies were a 33 percent rise in volume and, at just over $2 billion, nearly 225 percent increase in value from 2013.
In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya offer the highest projected IPO values and the best markets for accessing local and foreign investors, particularly spurred by the exit strategy and investment activity of private equity investors focused on the continent. With the boom in private equity fundraising for Africa, the outlook is very bright.
But risks remain with specific African markets disproportionately exposed to the global volatility. Some economists and investors fret that the low oil price, low gas price, and strong US dollar could burden specific African markets in the near term and possibly long term depending on how prices shift by mid-2015 and through 2016.
What if a Country went for an IPO?
All things considered, what would it be like to IPO a country in the current market? Walk with me for moment…The factors used for evaluating an IPO are very transferable to evaluating a target country for an IPO or investment:
- Why go public? (Translated: Why open the market at this moment?)
- What will the company do with the money from the IPO? (Translated: What will the country do with the new foreign direct investment (FDI)?)
- What is the competitive landscape for the company and its relative position? (Translated: How does Country A in sub-Saharan Africa match up against Country B-Z?)
- What are the growth prospects? (Translated: What is the upside growth potential of the country?)
- What is the current profitability? (Translated: Is the country actually turning foreign direct investment into greater returns (i.e., GDP per capita, income growth, etc)?
- What is management like? Does the management team have prior experience running a publicly-traded company and/or a history of success in business ventures? (Translated: Do the leaders of the country have sufficient experience and qualifications to run the country?)
- What are the past operating results? (Translated: What has been the country’s past performance?)
With all the IPO factors translated to be applied to a country, we can formulate a list of the best countries to IPO (or translated: the countries that would garner the greatest value in the public market based on a cross section of factors). This week’s article highlights the top 3 countries on that list:
Rwanda – often called the “Singapore of Africa” – is an investor favorite for all the reasons that would make it an ideal IPO candidate. The country still requires significant investment, particularly in infrastructure. Fully (as lot has been done to date) bridging the infrastructure gap in the county is an instance gateway to unlocking further value in the country’s manufacturing and financial sectors among others.
Rwanda is definitely the little giant in the competitive landscape…its population of more than 11 million is bigger than NYC (~8.4 million) but not by much. Yet it is booming from an economic productivity perspective, best indicated by 7-plus projected growth in 2014 and 2015. On a per capita (PPP) basis, the GDP has grown north of 165 percent in the last 20 years from $575 in 1995 to approximately $1530 in 2015. The smart investor will ask what the distribution on that investment dividend is and statistics show that a significant portion, hovering around 40 percent, still goes to the top 10 percent of the country.
But management, aka Paul Kagama and crew, are making great strides to change that number and lift more people out of poverty. Economic management may be the country’s strongest IPO characteristic. Kagame & Co. have built Rwanda’s brand as a tourism location, an emerging financial and technology hub, and an up and coming bilingual (French and English) services hub. The country is one of Africa’s most technologically advanced countries with a consistently easing environment for doing business. All these factors considered point to an amazing upside for potential investors. Leadership is dedicated to and capable of driving the country towards achieving significant growth in target sectors and has a demonstrated track record, as the numbers indicate.
The caution is to not overpay for the small giant. But this article did not promise a pricing range for the IPO.
Nigeria is an IPO candidate taken from a different view than Rwanda. The country requires significant amount of investment, particularly in infrastructure, similar to Rwanda.
Nigeria may have one of the highest return upsides for capital. The country, due to its size, has Facebook potential:
(1) it has a population north of 175 million,
(2) it is Africa’s biggest oil exporter and (usually forgotten) has the biggest gas reserve in Africa; and
(3) it has one of the most technologically advanced and entrepreneurial populaces in Africa. And from a financial standpoint, the naira is significantly undervalued with a low oil and gas price environment hanging above its head…in other words, any investor is buying in at a cheap foreign exchange rate with all expectations of a higher naira value in the future.
On a per capita (PPP) basis, GDP has grown north of 330 but has a long way to go on a dollar value, especially considering the wealth of resources in the country. As an oil and gas behemoth, the country has not captured the full value in the resource exploration and production value chain. Why is that? That question leads us to the underlying risks (or more so challenges) in Nigeria.
The country has strong leaders. But a consensus has yet to be found among leadership on addressing terrorism in the country, managing oil production in a low price environment, and realizing value in the gas sector. Local entrepreneurs have strived in the euphemistically described “burgeoning wild west” of Nigeria but greater internal financial structure and security from management could push this country’s stock to the front of the pack as an investment opportunity. Its financial, energy and industrial sectors combined could and should be unrivaled by the competition.
Nigeria is a major buy in any market, but especially with a low naira valuation. Expect a low valuation in the current environment with great stock appreciation over time.
Ethiopia is the equivalent of an early stage IPO – probably before it could get an ideal offer price but still with an immense upside. The country requires significant investment, specifically in its numerous business sectors…although infrastructure is a big need for the country, the country’s leadership is already making great strides in investing in that space.
If Nigeria has Facebook potential, then Ethiopia has WhatsApp potential: (1) it has a population approaching a 100 million and (2) it is one of the world’s fastest growth countries but it lacks (1) the natural resources of other booming African countries (ala Nigeria) and (2) the technological infrastructure of other emerging economies (ala Rwanda). It is euphemistically the emerging app with great upside but many investors are still wondering how success (monetizing in technical terms) will look like in the long run. The country is generally unaffected by changes in oil and gas prices, except for the pseudo tax break it receives on its oil import bill in a low price environment.
Ethiopia banks its growth on a multitude of consumer-driven industries, including manufacturing, financial services and consumer products. The growth is steady but may not have the consistent opportunity to have a 15 percent boom year (i.e., oil rising above a $100 in next six months will not add 33 percent to 66 percent to the revenue line like it could in a Nigeria and Angola). Still, on a per capita (PPP) basis, the country has grown north of 125 percent in the last twenty years.
The country’s management consistently provides strong (not always favored) leadership with the economic management of the country. Criticism is expected on the iron-fist nature of the ruling party. But a lot of credit should be equally handed out for the leadership’s ability to combat terrorism, manage security, and drive growth. There is ample room for improvement with currency management, financial (including debt) management, and guiding the development of the technology and (overall telecom) sector.
All things considered, Ethiopia may not get the ‘Nigeria’ price at this stage…but you may be very surprised how close it will get. It has an upside that is immense albeit not fully spelled out.
Ghana and Angola
Ghana and Angola are tricky countries. One (Ghana) has a significant mining sector with some oil and gas potential. One (Angola) is an oil behemoth that could use growth in non-oil sectors. Both countries are gradually boosting their financial services sectors and have great upside in that sector. Yet one (Ghana) has a currency suffering in the current environment (largely due to some economic miscues) and one (Angola) could soon feel pain if the oil price does not recover. In a dream world, investors probably like to merge the two countries and IPO them together.
But, unable to M&A two countries (or just because it sounds ridiculous to discuss countries in this sense), Ghana and Angola stand as the tricky two countries tied for fourth place on this list (or the honourable mention countries as the first three countries were not ranked). Per capita and GDP growth numbers remain strong and the upside is simply massive because of a growing financial sector supplemented by a strong mining (including oil & gas) sector, major infrastructure improvements, quickly improving energy sectors, and committed leadership. Leadership, for reasons not to be overly indulged, can also be the catch-22 as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been critical at differing stage of both countries’ leadership from a financial and economic management perspective and an openness in the market perspective.
Ethiopia to construct 11 new universities
Addis Ababa February 05/2015 –
The Ministry of Education announced plan to construct 11 new universities during the second growth and transformation plan period, which will begin in the next Ethiopian fiscal year.
Oromia, South Ethiopia and Amhara are among the regional states the universities will be built with the aim of increasing access to higher education, according to the State Minister Dr kaba Urgessa.
Up on completion, these universities will increase enrollment capacity to 600,000 in regular program alone and raise number of higher learning institutions to 42.
Design of the buildings, selecting specific areas for the construction and conducting surveys on the selected areas are being underway, Kaba said.
Construction of the universities is expected to be completed within two years and priority will be given to science fields.
Training of lecturers for these universities will be started next academic year, so as to equip them with skilled labor, he added.
Constructing and equipping these universities will be carried out in accordance with the lessons learnt from the previous practices, the Minister said.
Ethiopia undertakes activities to boost ties with foreign countries
Addis Ababa February 5, 2015 –
Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn said activities that help to protect the national interest and improve ties with neighboring and other countries undertaken during the past six months.
While presenting his government’s 6 months performance report to the parliament, HaileMariam said activities have been carried out to strength bilateral relation with foreign sovereigns.
He mentioned bilateral talks carried out on various levels with Djibouti, Kenyan, Sudan and Egypt governments so as to boost political and economic ties.
HaileMariam said that his government has been striving to build lasting peace in Somalia.
Ethiopia, as the chair of IGAD, is working to provide peaceful resolution for the crisis in South Sudan, he added, it has been playing its role for the successful conclusion of the peace process.
Following consecutive discussions with the Egyptian authorities and deployment of public diplomacy delegation, the bilateral relation has now shows progress, according to HaileMariam.
The Premier also expressed his hope that the relationship between the two countries will be enhanced further and the suspect on the Egyptian side regarding the Grand Dam will be resolved soon.
“Doing Business in East Africa” held in Washington D.C.
Addis Ababa, 5 February 2015 (WIC) –
The Ethiopian Embassy along with the Embassies of Kenya and Tanzania and in collaboration with the US Commerce Department, have organized “Doing Business in East Africa,” an after hour Networking Series.
The information exchange event was intended to give the opportunity to network with US trade officials and members of the African diplomatic community. It also envisages an opportunity to hear about the latest momentum around Africa-US trade.
Included in the program was the opportunity to hear important announcements about Trade Winds Africa, the largest ever US- government-led trade mission to Africa, it was learnt.
Ambassador Girma Birru, Special Envoy and Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the US, made a remark on the Networking event for the “US Business Development Conference and Trade Mission to Africa in September 2015.
Ambassador Girma noted that although there are some disparities among countries, the recent economic performance of the East African region has been remarkable by international standards. The region is one of the fastest growing regions in the continent, with average GDP growth of 5% in 2013-2014, compared to the sluggish global economic performance of 2.4% during the same period and cited Ethiopia as the third growing success economy in the world.
The region has abundant agricultural and other natural resources and provides ample opportunities for U.S. businesses. With a total population of about 320 million, the region is also a big market for food and other consumer products, he underlined.
Recognizing this immense potential, and as a follow-up to the very successful U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, convened by President Obama in August 2014, Ambassador Girma punctuated “we are very pleased that the U.S. Department of Commerce is organizing a “Business Development Conference and Trade Mission” to 8 African countries in September 2015″.
The Trade Mission will offer you a unique opportunity to explore, first-hand, the vast business and investment opportunities that exist in Africa in the various areas, the Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary, added.
In reference to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which he said has served as the cornerstone of U.S.-Africa commercial relations, AGOA, he underscored has contributed to economic development in the 40 countries that benefit from this program through market access, job creation, and closer commercial ties with the United States.
Increasing number of American companies is recognizing the opportunities that exist in the continent partly through this preference program. Imports of American products (such as Boeing planes by Ethiopian Airlines) have contributed to job creation in the U.S. as well, he proclaimed.
However, he exclaimed AGOA is set to expire at the end of September, 2015. With a new Congress and many issues competing for legislative attention, it appears that AGOA’s reauthorization will not be as seamless as expected, Ambassador Girma expressed his opinion.
Given the necessary lead-time that U.S. buyers need for placing orders (such as in the textile industry), African governments and the private sector are quite concerned the delay in reauthorization of AGOA could result in unnecessary disruptions in commercial transactions between the two sides, the Special Envoy added.
It is paramount, therefore, that a call for action on AGOA needs to be taken by all concerned, particularly the U.S. business community, to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of this landmark trade relation between the U.S. and Africa he emphasized.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express our continued commitment to collaborate with the U.S. Government and the private sector to make the September Trade Mission to Africa a success, thereby contributing to the strengthening of our economic ties,” the Ambassador concluded.
Earlier Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for US Operations made a welcoming remark. Ambassador Robinson Njeru Gthae of Kenya and Ambassador Liberata Mulamula of Tanzania, to the US have also made speeches pertaining to the occasion.
Present on the event were Ambassadors, Michael Lally, Executive Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and John Saylor, Chairman of Virginia-Washington DC, District Export Council, Ambassador Robert Perry, Vice President, Corporate Council on Africa, Jude Kearney Chair Africa Practice, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Marta Alonso, Verification of Conformity Manager & CCCS Supervisor, BIVAC North America, Bureau Veritas and other invited guests.
Government working to keep stability of macro-economy: Premier
Addis Ababa February 5, 2015 –
Prime Minister HaileMariam Desalegn said his government is working to keep the macro economy stable so as to maintain the economic growth.
During the past four consecutive years, the nation has managed to grow by 10.1 percent in average.
This year, the economy is expected to grow by 11.4 percent. The industry sector is expected to contribute the lion’s share, 23.7 percent.
Agriculture and services sectors are expected to grow by 8.7 percent and 9 percent respectively.
While reporting his government’s 6 months performance to the parliament, the Premier said “We need to have a stable macro-economy in order to sustain the ongoing economic growth.”
Fiscal and monetary policy measures taken so far helped to keep the inflation in single digit, he said.
Since increasing amount and type of export items is important to improve foreign currency earnings, the government has been working to expand this sector.
Because of this, the revenue earned from export market has increased by 60.3 million USD in this half year from the previous year same time, he said.
The increase in the revenue earned from the export market will help the nation to step by step be free from foreign assistance, HaileMariam said.
Parallel with this, improving domestic saving is important to diversify financial sources, he added. Gross domestic savings has reached 22.5 percent at the end of last fiscal year.
Improving amount of tax collected from domestic sources has also being carried out to improve government’s revenue.
In this regard, 69.5 billion Birr revenue was collected from tax and non-tax items during the six months, he said. Although the performance exceeds the previous year same time, it is below the target.
HaileMariam said activities need to be done to improve and expand tax collecting system so as to increase the revenue.
Ethiopia launches mobile money schemes to extend banking reach
* Millions have little access to branches or services
* Schemes will allow payments via mobile phones
* Mirrors model pioneered in neighbouring Kenya
By Edmund Blair
ADDIS ABABA, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Ethiopian banks and microfinance firms are launching mobile money services, helping reach swathes of the population that now have little access to branches or services, the mobile technology providers and banks said.
The launch of the services, which allow customers to make payments or receive money via a mobile that is linked to a bank account, mirrors technology used in other African nations that has drawn millions of people into the financial system.
Netherlands-based BelCash is offering a technology called helloCash, while MOSS ICT, mainly owned by an Ireland-based firm, is rolling out M-Birr in the nation of 96 million people.
In both cases, Ethiopian banks and institutions will offer the service to customers and hold the cash deposited, in line with government policy that bars foreign firms or banks from investing in the financial sector or the telecoms industry.
“One of the things that the government wants to do is ensure there is financial inclusion,” said MOSS ICT deputy general manager Kidist Negeye, adding M-Birr would help reach rural areas. “Another aspect is the mobilization of domestic savings. The government wants to increase the number of deposits.”
The central bank approved the roll out for M-Birr, which will be offered by five micro finance firms, in December. It already has 5,000 to 6,000 users and expects to add 13,000 in February. Kidist said the potential was “in the millions.”
BelCash’s helloCash service could have 2-3 million users this year and 10 million by 2017 or 2018, the firm’s chief executive Vince Diop said, adding that BelCash would receive a fee for each transaction made.
Two of Ethiopia’s 16 private banks, Lion International Bank and Cooperative Bank of Oromia, as well as a microfinance firm, have signed up for helloCash. Two more banks have yet to submit applications to the central bank, he said.
The pilot project was under way and commercial services should start in about two months, Diop said.
Bankers say Ethiopia has no more than 1,500 ATM cash machines, while there was just over 2,200 bank branches as of June, or one for every 40,000 people, the central bank says. Only one in 10 people have a bank account.
In addition to branches, which are expensive to set up, banks plan to authorise thousands of agents, such as shops or merchants, in line with new regulations. Such agents will be able to take deposits and hand out cash via the mobile system.
Ethiopia’s initiative mirrors the model pioneered in Kenya, where there are now 27 million users in the nation of 45 million. Safaricom, a unit of Britain’s Vodafone , was first with such a service, launched in 2007.
Pittards to boost production by threefold
According to Pittards Project Manufacturing General Manager, Tsedenia Mekbib, the company made investment in Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector for the first time in 2011 after it bought the government owned Ethiopian Leather Company.
In the past fiscal year Pittards earned USD 4 Million from the export of 100,000 pairs of gloves, Tsedenia explained. She furthered the company is working to boost Ethiopia’s foreign currency earnings by 60 percent.
Currently Pittards manufactures industrial and fashionable gloves, leather garments and jackets.
Its factory, upon establishment, had 80 employees. Yet this figure grew to 700 workers and it is still trying to increase the number of employees to 1500.
BIG PICTURE – KEFI Minerals advancing rapidly to mine development in Ethiopia
By Ian Lyall
This morning it revealed the resource base had increased again, although the confirmatory work around this update has wider ramifications.
“It’s set the scene for final mine plans to be optimised from a much better starting position,” chairman Harry Anagnostaras-Adams told Proactive Investors.
“The way we have done all our work is now bankable from all points of view because of the quality of the due diligence, the methodologies and the independent sign-offs.”
Earlier, KEFI verified the JORC resource at an indicated 1.62mln ounces. Not only is this 100,000 ounces higher than the previous estimate, the grade, at 2.67 grams a tonne, is superior to the last released figure.
And since taking control of the asset, the team has presided over a 50% rise in the resource base with an increase, rather than fall in the grade.
In its update earlier, KEFI also revealed a potential open pit down to 1,400 metres modelled by KEFI estimated to host 1.42mln ounces, while the firm has identified a high-grade mineralisation of almost 1.1mln ounces at 5.88 grams per tonne.
The mine developer took the latest step forward after ‘wire-framing’ the mineralised structures to create what it describes as ore-body solids, which was used to cross-check against the previous model.
“Since acquiring the Tulu Kapi project, KEFI Minerals has made considerable progress on expanding the resource base and advancing plans for mine development,” said the resources boutique SP Angel.
The plan is to begin mine construction in the final quarter of year and Anagnostaras-Adams said “we are pretty well smack in line” with that deadline
Licensing is in the “final stages of documentation” with the government, the community resettlement programme should be signed off soon and “detailed discussions” with financial advisers and bankers are also underway, the KEFI chairman revealed.
He said in December the group was talking to the “natural funders” for projects of this type, with those negotiations expected to notch up a gear when the firm receives the mining licence.
By the middle of next year prospective lenders should be ready to go to their credit committees, while the development plan should also have been finalised.
Of course there is the issue of finding equity funding for the project; but there are options at “project or parent company level”, Anagnostaras-Adams said in December’s interview.
KEFI, since it took a majority stake in Tulu Kapi in late 2013, has gone about ‘crafting and sculpting’ the project to make it a cheaper, but economically more enticing proposition.
Now, the investment required to get it into production will be US$120-150mln, or roughly half the figure proposed by its former owner.
Okay, output will be lower than first projected (around 10% lower at an annual 92,000 ounces ignoring the start-up and close-down years), but the mine will be one of the cheapest gold producers in the world.
If construction gets underway on schedule then first gold should be poured in late 2016.
Nation obtains over $157 million from mineral export
Addis Ababa, 4 February 2015 (WIC) –
Ethiopia earned 157.4 million US dollars in revenue from the export of mineral products in the first half of this budget year, the Ministry of Mines (MoM) said.
MoM Public Relations Head, Bacha Faji, told WIC recently that the stated sum of income was secured from the export of 32, 425 kilograms of gold and gemstones, 270 cubic meter of marble and 113 tons of tantalum.
According to Bacha, the sector generated less revenue in this half budget year compared to the same period last year due to the decline in gold price at the global market.
Ethiopia envisaged earning 714 million US dollars from mineral sectors this budget year, he said.
Ethio-Japan cooperation for further development
Recently, JICA Vice-President Kato Hiroshi, while making a visit to Ethiopia, discussed with Industry Minister Ahmed Abitew, concerning development issues JICA can carry out in collaboration with Ministry of Industry.
The Ethiopian Herald conducted an interview with the Vice-President concerning Ethio-Japanese relations based on Industrial Development cooperation between the two countries.
Explaining the relations Hiroshi said: “Historically, the two countries have been enjoying splendid relation for long that, in the long run, has grown into strong friendship for development. In connection with the development activities accomplished so far, the Government of Japan has a plan to reaffirm its commitment to work with the Ethiopian Government for further development.”
While stating the approach Japan follows in its relation with the Ethiopian Government, Hiroshi said: “Ethio-Japanese relations, particularly as regards direct investment have been guided by two pillars. The first one is the Industry Policy Dialogue approach. It is highly interactive process between the two countries involving high-ranking government officials including Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn who is leading the process. In this approach the experts, practitioners and researchers of the two countries get-together and discuss strategies and policy issues concerning development while the government takes responsibility in order to promote the industrial development.
“I believe this started in 2009 when the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi made official visit to Japan. During that time, Meles realized the significance of the projects Japan was undertaking in Tunisia. He became interested in the benefits of these projects. As a result, this Industrial Policy Dialogue between the two countries was started,” he said.
The second pillar is the Kaizen Project. The Kaizen movement, which refers to a continuous improvement of production process, helps to increase productivity at factories, save a lot of waste and further transform people’s mindset. It was adapted to Ethiopia based on the request Prime Minister Meles made. And the collaboration between the countries created excellent opportunities for JICA to support the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute, the centre of kaizen movement. The Ethiopian Government is expanding the concept in ensuring the intended development in the industrial sector.
Japan has also continued commitment to work with the Ethiopian Government. For instance, it has already launched a program known as African Business Education that works on human relations development. In this program, 1,000 young African leaders have been invited for advanced studies. Last year, Japan extended the opportunity to 24 young Ethiopian entrepreneurs, business people and government officials for this higher education training.
Explaining his insight on his observation he said: “While I was visiting the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Studies (EIAS), I observed that Ethiopia is using highly advanced technology which is accompanied by well organized research and farmers’ input.”
On the other hand, literature indicates that the Japanese cooperation program started in Ethiopia in 1972 following agreement signed between governments of the countries. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have served in Ethiopia. Currently, they are serving in Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia and SNNP States.
In a recent press tour organized by the Embassy of Japan to Bonga, SNNP State, The Ethiopian Herald talked to beneficiaries of the services JICA volunteers provide.
Since October 2013, the volunteers have been carrying out varied activities which contributed to development of Bonga Town for their two-year activities.
Among the three volunteers, Hideaki Otsuka who is working at Culture, Tourism, and Communication Affairs Department of Kafa Zone Administration, is committed to raise the number of tourists to Kafa, and to prepare readiness among the locals to welcome and entertain them, according to the residents of Bonga Town.
The department is involved in the conservation of culture, language and history of this State through identifying and preserving cultural heritages, and developing tourist destinations in sustainable manner. The department is also in charge of museums now under construction, trying to contribute to socio-cultural developments in the zone.
According to Manager of the National Coffee Museum, being consistent with the aims of the organization has identified natural and cultural tour destinations and created promotional tools to attract visitors and to raise awareness among people.
The Manager also said that Otsuka began to give training on musicology for those who are interested in it. The volunteer has been planning to collect exhibition items from ethnic group residing in this zone in order for people to appreciate cultural diversity, and also planning to conduct a research on the local language, which has never been investigated.
Hideaki’s colleagues also said that since he came to their department, he has shared his knowledge and skills with them. Beyond that, he has established proper relationship with them.
The second volunteer is Tsubasa Hagiwara. He works at Agriculture Department of Kafa Zone Administration, conducts awareness program of nature preservation to the young generation. Since the purpose of the department is to increase production in line with the environmental protection, Hagiwara conducts related activities at schools and different youth centers.
Hagiwara has been providing environmental education for students and consulting smallholder farmers.
The volunteer also said: “Even though this is my first time to be in Africa, I found it very interesting to work with the people. I often work with you to improve their understanding about their environment so that they can protect the natural surroundings.”
Eri Hirayama who works at the Department of Cooperatives and Marketing, Kafa Zone Administration is serving as a Marketing Adviser. According to views of the cooperatives, the activities Eri is expected to carry out include capacity building of administration staff through offering a solid consultation to farmers/traders, marketing system improvement through creating primary market centre or market linkage, woman empowerment through encouraging women’s registration to cooperatives, and discouraging illegal trade to protect farmers’ rights and interests.
While explaining her mission, she said: “My assignment is to support cooperative unions or farmers in Kafa to build the market linkage for their products both inside and outside Ethiopia, which enables them to generate worthy income, and which, in the end, enlightens the locals on the importance of environment conservation. Last season, I succeeded in making a business deal with Japanese honey company. Kafa honey that Mirutse Habte-Mariam (one of the bee keepers in Bonga) produces has been introduced to Japanese market as the 1st honey from African continent for the company. My next mission is to sell out the fine coffee of Kafa Forest Coffee Cooperative union and build the Kafa coffee brand in Japanese market.”
The Kafa Forest Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union Manager Frehiwot Getahun said “Since came to our office, she has always been active to meet new people, learn our local languages, and obtain our technical knowledge such as coffee processing method. We sincerely appreciate her attitude the passion to bring the business for our farmers. And along with that, we are simply enjoying stay with Eri.”
Mirutse Habte-Mariam, the owner of Mirutse and His Families Bee Keeping Produce, said that Eri has played considerable role in the achievements they made so far. Her commitment for establishing market access and continuous encouragement helped them a lot, according to them.