Aga Khan University in Kenya hosts major education conference

Education stakeholders meeting in Kenya have urged for curriculum reforms to be learner-centered

The Aga Khan University in Nairobi has organised a major education stakeholders as it aims at evaluating the development of education in the East African region.  The conference theme is Maximizing Educational Change: Research, Policy, Leadership, Technology and Curriculum and will run until April 17.

The conference, is hosted by AKU’s Institute for Educational Development, brought together around 100 policy makers, teachers, and education stakeholders to discuss relevant issues affecting education in East Africa.

The Chairman of the Commission for University Education, Prof. Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha has advised education stakeholders to ensure that the ongoing curriculum review process is learner-centered.

Noting that the review of the current educational structure is inevitable, Prof. Chacha told stakeholders to ensure that they do not exert their influence to the process, at the expense of the pupils and students who need the education as a base for their careers and vocations.

Read also: Aga Khan University scholar appointed to major UNESCO role

“Any reform that is not informed on the basis of the good opportunities that will be availed to the learner is not good reform,” Prof Chacha said, “we must always take into consideration the interest of the learner in terms of what he or she is able to get from the education system.”

Prof Chacha also called on stakeholders within the East African region to work together in promoting quality teaching and learning so as to improve the socio-economic development in the region.

“We do believe that the education system will enhance the togetherness – the economic bloc that we are building – through the East African community can be enhanced by the way we conduct business in classrooms and the people we produce from our schools and from our institutions including our universities,” he said.

“We believe that if we are to make an impact and change in the societies we work in, we cannot confine ourselves in academic institutions,” said Prof Joe Lugalla, Director of the Institute of Educational Development, East Africa, “and we must engage policy makers and education stakeholders in identifying educational reforms that support educational development in East Africa.”

This year, the conference will focus on maximizing change in education that will provide every Kenyan learner with world-class standards in the skills and knowledge that they need and deserve to thrive in the 21st century.

“What kind of socialization agenda, whether it’s in the home, the community or the school, will put us on a different path?” asked Dr Kofi Marfo, Director of the Institute of Human Development, AKU, “so that in addition to the curricula that is providing us all the cognition we can have, we’ll create a different society in which we understand that There is something called a common good – and each one of us has a role to play in the development of that common good.”


Read also: Aga Khan Education Services: How financing education in East Africa pays

Exploring gender inclusiveness in Private Investments in Africa

The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) has hosted its inaugural gender roundtable at the 16th Annual Conference in Nairobi.

AVCA recently organised a roundtable on the role of gender in private investments with leaders drawn from top institutional investors and development finance institutions (DFIs), as well as global and local private equity firms as it explored the role played by different gender in pooling resources for investments in Africa. 

The event’s proceedings were chaired by Michelle Kathryn Essomé, Chief Executive Officer, AVCA, who highlighted that gender was becoming an increasingly important priority for the Association’s members.  

Limited Partners (LPs) including Shruti Chandrasekhar, Head, SME Ventures, IFC, Clarisa De Franco, Managing Director, Funds and Capital Partnerships, CDC, Maria Håkansson, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Swedfund, and Worku Gachou, Managing Director, Africa, OPIC gave their perspectives on the opportunities afforded by gender equality while discussing the solutions needed to achieve better representativeness 

The emerging consensus was that gender diversity is a crucial consideration when investing but that it could play a greater role in the due diligence process. Toben Huss, Chief Executive Officer, IFU concluded that “We’re encouraged by the fact that gender-smart investing is gaining more and more traction. As LPs, we have a clear role to play in making sure that General Partners (GPs) are paying greater attention to gender.” 

A session with Ngalaah Chuphi, Partner, Ethos Private EquityGenevieve Sangudi, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group and Runa Alam, Chief Executive Officer, Development Partners International, focused on GP perspectives. Ms. Alam, who is also a steering committee member of PEWIN, an organisation for women leaders in private equity, noted that “Diversity of people means diversity of decision-making. We’ve witnessed first-hand how this has instilled a great culture within our firm and has led to high returns to investors. Women continue to be heavily underrepresented in key positions, both within private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) firms, but as LPs put the spotlight on this issue, the tide seems set to turn”.  

Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director, Alitheia Identity added that “female entrepreneurs are the future of Africa’s growth but are massively underrepresented in terms of access to capital. We’ve made it our mission to support them and drive structural growth on the continentOn the topic of performance, Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, Chief Executive Officer, AFIG Funds commented that “the numbers speak for themselves: gender-balanced teams within firms generate better returns and gender-balanced teams within portfolio companies generate higher valuations.” 

Stephen Priestly, Managing Director, Funds and Capital Partnerships, CDC Group emphasised the importance of collaboration, highlighting that “the dialogue between LPs and GPs can play a key role in solving gender imbalances in the PE ecosystem”, while Suzanne Gaboury, Chief Investment Officer, FinDev Canada concluded the session, adding that “Gender is now among the key considerations of ESG. We need to keep focusing our efforts to ensure our vision is fully implemented throughout the industry.”

Congolese woman beats all odds to launch Africa-wide financial services platform

Why PE in Africa is becoming vital for growth

A report released recently by Africa Venture Capital Association (AVCA) highlights how Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya each lead by huge margins their respective region in terms of attracting private equity.

Kennedy Nyabwala is CEO of startup Bwala. Two years ago, when he started his logistics company his vision on paper did not feature that he could be expanding his board to include Silicon Valley angel investor Justin Caldbeck.

Now the company which employs technology to facilitate delivery of cargo across East Africa, latest venture being into Uganda, needed funds to facilitate delivery. This led to Nyabwala seeking Caldbeck’s help and incorporating him into his board. The latter previously co-founded Binary Capital and is former partner at Lightspeed Ventures.

The case where local companies are seeking alternative funding for their start-ups is increasing. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are key magnets for private equity (PE) as more and more foreign-based capital companies enter into the market.

A report released recently by Africa Venture Capital Association (AVCA) highlights how Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya each lead by huge margins their respective region in terms of attracting private equity.

Exploring the role of Private Equity in Africa’s infrastructural projects

The most referenced case was when Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by growth equity platform TPG Growth  announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire $47.5M in Cellulant, a leading digital payments provider that reaches 40 million people across 11 African countries. The Rise Fund invested alongside Endeavor Catalyst, Satya Capital, Velocity Capital and Progression Africa.

“Across Africa, expanding easy-to-use and low cost mobile banking offers immense potential for impact and Cellulant is at the leading edge of that work,” said Bill McGlashan, CEO and co-founder of The Rise Fund. “We’re excited to invest in African entrepreneurs like Ken and Bolaji to help them grow their businesses and expand their impact on society. Cellulant is a perfect partner for The Rise Fund’s first investment in Africa.”

Cellulant’s digital payments platform delivers connected, flexible payment options for consumers and businesses, and works with financial institutions, governments and mobile network operators to increase transparency and expand their reach in Africa. Building on a business model that first debuted in Kenya and Nigeria in 2004, the company has since expanded its services across 11 African markets, including: Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, and Liberia.

“Cellulant occupies a unique position in the fintech ecosystem in Africa, with the potential to offer increased access, savings, and income to tens of millions of users across the continent,” said Yemi Lalude, Managing Partner for TPG in Africa. “As more and more smartphones come online across Africa, Cellulant makes it easy for customers to increase their incomes.”

Kenyan based entrepreneurs launch talk forums

Beyond Cellulant, PE activity on the continent remained relatively stable in 2018 according to a report titled 2018 Annual African Private Equity Data Tracker. The overall PE environment in the continent has remained bullish.

The total value of African PE fundraising according to the AVCA report increased to US$2.7bn in 2018 from US$2.4bn in 2017, indicating investors’ confidence in Africa’s PE industry. The report however notes that the total deal value decreased marginally to US$3.5bn in 2018 from US$3.9bn in 2017, total deal volume rose significantly reaching 186 reported PE deals in 2018 (up from 171 in 2017).

Information Technology (19%), Consumer Discretionary (15%), and Consumer Staples (13%) accounted for almost half of the total number of PE deals in 2018, while Communication Services (which includes deals in Telecommunication Services) was the largest sector by value. Information Technology’s share of PE deal volume has grown significantly in recent years, accounting for 19% of PE deals in 2018, compared to only 10% in 2016.

This increase was mainly driven by growing deal activity in companies involved in the development of applications for the business and consumer market. The number of PE exits recorded in 2018 dropped to 46 from 52 in 2017, largely due to a fall in the number of exits recorded in South Africa (representing 20% of exit volume in 2018, compared to 42% from 2013 to 2017). Exits to trade buyers represented the most common exit route in 2018.

Eric Osiakwan, managing partner of Chanzo Capital, a leading player in the capital environment in Africa notes the situation in Africa is showing great potential. “There is an increase in the number of “smaller” PE deals by “local” PE Fund Managers whilst the big global PE Funds are retreating out of Africa due to lack of deals, which speaks to the market dynamics of Africa,” he adds.

Nairobi hosts PE investors collectively managing over US$1.5t in assets

“There is going to be an increase in “smaller” PE deals as well as more Growth and Venture Capital deals because there is a huge concentration of pipeline in those spaces. There is too much big ticket PE capital looking at very few deals at the top – that is not sustainable.”

Among major countries in Africa, there has been an increase in the number of PE shedding off their ownership or selling to make profit, a process called exits. However, Kenya has recorded these engagements.

This Osiakwan attributes to the nature of the Kenyan economy. “Generally because the market is not fully developed some investors are exploring other liquidity mechanisms and a lot are building enough patience to allow their investments to mature over a longer horizon as opposed to the classical horizon.”

He continues, “For example, if you have a profitable asset that is paying you dividends then you won’t be in a rush to exit if you don’t need to. The Kenya market itself is at an inflection point so investors are sitting tight.”

Another significant buy in Kenyan market was the US-African focused private equity firm—Emerging Capital Partners (ECP)—announcing an investment to acquire a substantial majority in Artcaffé Group (Artcaffé), a restaurant and coffeehouse chain that operates fast-casual and casual concepts in Kenya.

 Artcaffé’s most prominent chain, Artcaffé Coffee & Bakery, is a full-service bakery, coffee shop, bar and modern casual dining restaurant. The eating place which opened its first café in 2008 now manages 26 stores throughout Nairobi. ECP boasts of having raised over US$2 billion through funds and co-investment vehicles for growth capital investing in Africa.

Improving Early Stage Investor Engagement in East Africa

Nairobi hosts PE investors collectively managing over US$1.5t in assets

AVCA plays an important role as a champion and effective change agent for the industry, educating, equipping and connecting members and stakeholders with independent industry research, best practice training programmes and exceptional networking opportunities.

Nairobi is hosting the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s (AVCA) 16th Annual Conference with top 400 private equity leaders  in attendance as they discuss the most critical topics shaping the investment landscape in 2019.

With the role of private equity on African development on the rise, delegates are looking at various opportunities that have presented themselves in investing in Africa and evaluating how fund managers, venture capitalists and angel investors can tap in to the continent’s growing influence.

Africa Development Bank estimates that Africa’s economic growth will accelerate from an estimated 3.5 percentage growth in 2018, to reach an estimated  4 percent in 2019 and reach 4.1 percent in 2020, which in turn will offer remarkable rewards for both public and private investors. However, the greatest achievers are expected to be the private investors.

The landmark event is sponsored by leading investors and industry players across different geographies including Adenia Partners, AFIG Funds, African Development Bank, AfricInvest, Alitheia Identity, Amethis Finance, Catalyst Principal Partners, CDC Group, Centum Investment Company, Clifford Chance, Debevoise & Plimpton, DLA Piper, Development Partners International, eFront, European Investment Bank, Flourish Ventures, FMO, MMC Africa Law, Old Mutual Alternative Investments, Proparco, Software Technologies, The New Practice, TLcom Capital, and Verod Capital Management.

The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association is the pan-African industry body which promotes and enables private investment in Africa.

AVCA plays an important role as a champion and effective change agent for the industry, educating, equipping and connecting members and stakeholders with independent industry research, best practice training programmes and exceptional networking opportunities.

Exploring the role of Private Equity in Africa’s infrastructural projects

With a global and growing member base, AVCA members span private equity and venture capital firms, institutional investors, foundations and endowments, pension funds, international development finance institutions, professional service firms, academia, and other associations.

American institutional investors including executives from the New York State Insurance Fund, Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois and the Board of Education Retirement System of the City of New York also discussed their perspective on opportunities in Africa.

Papa Madiaw Ndiaye, Chief Executive Officer & Founding Partner, AFIG Funds notes, “African private equity can generate significant returns and diversify portfolios, while bringing about the kind of positive impact our members want to see.”

Discussing venture capital,Maurizio Caio, Founder & Managing Partner, TLCom commented: “Africa’s venture capital ecosystem is in full swing and the future looks bright for the continent’s next unicorns.” Speakers from leading DFIs including, BIO, CDC group, DEG/KfW, FinDev Canada, FMO, OPIC, Proparco and the EIB reiterated their commitment to the continent while Samia Tnani, Head of Credit, AfricInvest shed light on private credit, noting that it constitutes a promising asset class that has the potential to transform the SME segment.

The significant of Kenya as an investment hub in Africa has come into play with revelation that majority of fund managers and PEs like to operate from Nairobi and close deals in other countries die both to the centrality of Kenya as well as conducive investment environment.

Kenya ranked third best in sub-Saharan Africa according to the World Bank in 2018 and it accounts for the region’s largest share of private equity investments. The country is ranked the second most attractive country by private investors surveyed by AVCA and its status as one of Africa’s main tech hubs means it is the ideal location to hold this year’s conference.

However, with growing appetite for private investments in Africa, the conference is deliberating how these investments can be managed vis a vis various challenges faced in Africa. These include volatility of money markets, lack of clear investment policies in some countries, unconsolidated markets as well as low instances of exits.

Matthew Hunt, Principal at South Suez Capital with a purely Sub Saharan Africa investment focus, says currency fluctuation is the biggest issue for Managers with an Africa focus. This is also supported by Eric Idiahi, the co-founder of Verod Capital Management, who have spent considerable time in West Africa which is prone to currency fluctuations.

Idiahi says, ” As a firm over the last 24 months every investment we’ve made has been hedged against a currency risk”.  However, there are also stable currencies with Kenyan Shilling remaining stable against global currencies mainly US dollar.

Read also: 3 obstacles to Africa’s private sector development