Construction Industry

RAKEZ Supports Construction Industry Investors Set Up and Expand in the UAE

Construction Industry

Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) takes part in the Big 5 to help investors in the construction industry set up and expand their operations in the UAE. The economic zone’s participation underlines its commitment to the industry and reflects a world of opportunities for construction investors in the business haven of Ras Al Khaimah and the wider UAE.

Group CEO of RAKEZ, Ramy Jallad, said, “The construction industry in the UAE is projected to reach a value of more than USD 133 billion by 2027, according to the Global Data Report, which means that the prospects for companies and investors in the country’s construction supply chain are simply vast. And we aim to be at the forefront of this plan, helping stakeholders grow and expand into global markets.”

“RAKEZ has an ideal business ecosystem for investors in the diverse sectors of the construction industry. With us, an investor’s journey doesn’t end with company formation. Our support is available every step of the way, from liaising with government entities for securing relevant approvals at the initial stage to helping them connect with financial solution providers and the right suppliers within the industry on their onward journey,” he added.

The economic zone is already a fertile ground for hundreds of construction companies that chose RAKEZ as their base for growth. Steel fabrication and construction expert Fabcon Industrial Services is a prime example of a company that has benefitted from the RAKEZ business ecosystem. The firm’s General Manager, Binu Jacob, said, “We have consistently grown over the past 15 years, adding facilities and bringing projects from across the globe, thanks to RAKEZ for providing excellent support in terms of infrastructure and government interfaces, leaving us free to focus on the business.”

Along with Fabcon, many other companies are eager to benefit from the current and predicted growth in the industry. Ahmed Al Ghalayini, Project Manager, Rad Asphalt (a branch of Rad International Road Construction), said, “The UAE construction market is projected to grow more than 3% between 2023 and 2026, providing the contractors in the field the opportunity to thrive. The good news for companies who wish to utilise ecosystem business models, but otherwise lack the structures and maturity, is that there is RAKEZ, a growing body of leading companies, and an increasingly large workforce that understands the practical elements of building and operating an effective ecosystem function.”

Similarly, Fala Group Vice Chairman, Hani Ihsan Kurbaj added, “We set up Fala Asphalt Industry with RAKEZ in 2012 and our organisation has undergone a great deal of change since then. We got governmental infrastructural projects, hired more employees, welcomed diversity and gender balance in the workplace, and diversified our investments in the UAE and overseas. In all this, RAKEZ has been our supportive strategic partner understanding our needs and always working hand-in-hand with us. We are optimistic that if we continue like this, we can double our efforts to expand in the years to come.”

RAKEZ is one of the leaders spearheading growth in the construction sector actively supporting investors in their journeys. At the Big 5 International Building & Construction Show this year, the economic zone is extending its expertise and services for new as well as established companies that wish to expand their reach globally.

Earth

Africa Must Industrialize: 10 Key Points That African Leaders Committed to at the Just Concluded Summit On Industrialization and Economic Diversification

Earth

With increasingly growing concern over the slow progress in the implementation of the Industrial Development Decades for Africa (IDDA) I, II and III; the Strategy for the Implementation of the Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial development of Africa (AIDA); and other continental strategies and programmes relevant to industrialization, structural transformation and development towards the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063, African leaders have committed to far-reaching and firm decisions to accelerate industrialization, economic diversification and trade on the continent, with full ownership by the citizens.

The leaders reaffirmed their determination to ensure that Africa’s industrialization and economic diversification is financed in a predictable manner and with the urgency of identifying and addressing the impediments to productivity and growth through infrastructural development, energy, access to finance, digitalization, innovation, and skills development to achieving economic diversification.

Here is a highlight of the key points of commitment at the just concluded African Union Extraordinary Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification, and the Extraordinary session on the African Continental Free Trade Area convened in Niamey, Niger on the 25th of November 2022.

  1. To accelerate a commodity-based industrialization as an engine of growth, productive jobs and economic diversification through a regional value chains on the continent’s natural resources endowments, with priorities on health and pharmaceutical, automotive, minerals beneficiation, food and nutrition and apparels of cotton industries in order to reduce the continent’s external dependency. In this regard, the African Union Commission will now draft a report with clear recommendations on strengthening regional value chains.
  2. To increase investments in infrastructure and energy with the support of financial institutions and partners to reduce production costs, and boost the competitiveness of the African economies.
  3. To enhance domestic resource mobilization to ensure sustainable financing on Africa’s industrialization, and allocate a minimum of 5 – 10% of the national budget dedicated to the industrial development.
  4. To develop sustainable Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks as well as work with and support existing ones in member states as a means to overcoming existing industrial infrastructure constraints, and become hubs for regional value chain integration.
  5. To ensure inclusive and sustainable industrialization, the Heads of State and Government and other stakeholders will have regular dialogue with the private sector in order to scale up high level engagement on industrialization. The African Union Commission in collaboration with other institutions will strengthen support to Member States in creating an enabling business environment for private sector to thrive.
  6. The leaders endorsed the African Union Small and Medium Strategy. Relatedly, the African Union Commission is tasked with establishing and operationalising the Africa Enterprise Network. The African Union Commission will also work with the African Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) and the Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) to expedite the finalization of the Made in Africa Standards and Guidelines.
  7. The leaders have committed to reserve a minimum of 10% of public procurement to local enterprises, to strengthen the private sector development and industrialization;
  8. At the Summit, the leaders agreed to establish, at the national levels, programmes for industrial linkages between the educational system and the labour market, aimed at promoting competitiveness of the private sector through development of soft and hard skills necessary for industrialization in particular in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); technical and vocational education and Ttaining (TVET), and robotics and artificial Intelligence. Relatedly, the African Union Commission and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) will prepare a feasibility study on the establishment of an African Manufacturing Institute to support Member States and the private sector in the development of modern manufacturing skills and fostering innovation in the manufacturing sector that will accompany the ongoing structural economic transformation in Africa.
  9. H.E Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger, was appointed the African Union Champion on Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialization and Productive Transformation, to provide political leadership and awareness, and ensure a follow-up on the progress regarding the industrial development on the continent in order to achieve Africa’s transformation under Agenda 2063. The African Union Commission will set-up an Inter-Institutional Coordination Mechanism to provide technical assistance to the AU Champion.
  10. With prevailing exceptional circumstances that justify the extension of the TRIPS Agreement to cover therapeutics and diagnostics for a comprehensive response for COVID-19, and to diversify production, the Heads of State called on all WTO Members to support the extension of the TRIPS waiver to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics no later than 17 December 2022. Africa accounts for less than 5% of global production of all medical products, exposing the continent to vulnerabilities and fragility during pandemics.

 

Working with development partners, the African Union will also produce and disseminate amongst Member States, an annual Africa’s Industrial Development Report base on an African Industrial Development Index, and fast-track the establishment of the African Industrial Observatory.

The leaders called on the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat to support the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) under the Guided Trade Initiative in collaboration with the African Civil Aviation Commission, African airlines and other relevant stakeholders. Further, the Secretariat is expected to fast-track the implementation of a work programme related to the Annexes for Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) specifically in the areas of standards harmonization.

Desert

Global Tourism Leaders Told of Saudi Arabia’s Unparalleled Ambition to Become One of the Top 5 Tourism Destinations in the World

Desert
  • Kingdom’s growth strategy wins ringing endorsement from WTTC Chiefs on Day 1 of 22nd Annual Summit
  • Tourism from nature generates $600 bn, WTTC CEO Julia Simpson tells delegates
  • Saudi Ministry of Tourism signed MoUs with Oman, Indonesia and Barbados

The leaders of the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) have described Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become one of the top 5 destinations in the world in the next decade as “unparalleled” in the history of tourism and travel. 

Opening the 22nd edition of the Summit, Arnold Donald, Chair, WTTC & Vice Chair of the Board, Carnival Corporation, welcomed the nearly 3000 participants to what will be the biggest ever meeting of global tourism and travel industry leaders.

Praising the goals set by the Kingdom to welcome 100 million international and domestic travelers a year by 2030, Mr. Arnold said: “These are ambitions that are unparalleled in the history of our sector. Over the past three years it has been a great privilege to see the progress made here with our own eyes.”

Summit host, Saudi Arabia Minister of Tourism, HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb welcomed the leaders of the tourism world to Riyadh said: “We have the power to shape the sector, bridge cultures, and transform communities. We are fortunate to be in the position to effect change. We must not let this opportunity pass by us. Let us ensure that here in Riyadh, we really do deliver a better future for travel.”

WTTC CEO Julia Simpson focused on the vital importance of nature to the long-term prosperity and sustainability of the sector. She said: “The WTTC Positive Travel and Tourism Report shows tourism from nature generates over $600 bn which provides opportunities for some of the world’s poorest countries to protect biodiversity and their communities.”

In a day packed full of debate, dialogue and the sharing of innovative ideas from around the world, leaders of the global tourism industry participated in panel discussions and keynote speakers.

The Summit has attracted the leaders of the world’s biggest hotel groups and Christopher J Nassetta President & CEO, Hilton Worldwide, told the audience:  “We are in a new golden age of travel. Travel and Tourism is an unstoppable force for good. People want to see places they want to interact with people. My advice to everybody is to believe in the power of travel.” 

Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon was in discussion about the sustainable future of travel. He declared: “Tourism has made a substantial contribution to humanity’s social and economic progress. Whether you belong to Saudi Arabia, China, United States or South Korea – there are no boundaries.

“We need to become global citizens. We have so many problems – health issues, political issues, environmental issues – but with global citizenship we can solve them. Let’s work as global citizens to make this world more sustainable, to transform this world and pass it on to the next generations in a better way than we found it.”

Speaker after speaker focused on a number of key developmental areas to ensure the successful future of tourism. Stephen Scherr, CEO, The Hertz Corporation explained:  “You need infrastructure in the various markets and countries. Whether it’s an airport that can handle the kind of traffic that you will have or in our business, you need to build infrastructure that is accommodating and inviting for the people you want to be traveling around.”

Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia H.E. Sandiaga says that when you consider Indonesia and Bali that means sustainable tourism and it means a change in mindset.  He said: “The new trend of tourism is more personalized, localized and customized, and smaller in size also means better revenue. This year we are creating three times more revenue from tourism than we had expected with only a quarter of previous numbers of foreign tourists arriving.”

Creating a truly local and unique welcome for visitors was also a powerful topic of debate as international destinations work to ensure they offer visitors a unique taste of local culture, customs and heritage.

Bahrain Minister of Tourism H.E. Fatima Al Sairafi, Minister of Tourism, said: “We have noticed in Bahrain that whenever we get tourists visiting our country, one of the main things that they leave with is the authenticity of the experience they have enjoyed. We have successfully incorporated that in our tourism experiences that we offer in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Those authentic experiences are delivered by Bahrainis.”

Hashil Al Mahrouqi, Chief Executive Officer, OMRAN added: “Today, everyone is talking about sustainability. Everyone is saying protect nature, everyone is saying protect this planet. But I think in Oman we have been prepared for it.  What we need to do now in Oman is capitalize on what we already have there and I think we are on the right track doing it.”

The Summit has also seen a number of major announcements and signing of MOUs on the sidelines of the main Summit debates.  These have seen Saudi Arabia sign MOUs with Oman, Indonesia and Barbados and Wizz Air appoint Arjaa Travel and Tourism Company as the exclusive agent for Wizz Air in Saudi Arabia. 

The Summit is the largest ever staged to date and has nearly 3000 participants taking part from 140 countries.  The enormous global interest in the Summit was shown by one million livestreams of sessions on the metaverse on the first day.

Sharjah

‘Sharjah Outlook Forum’ Inaugural Edition Kicks Off February 1

Sharjah
  • Forum brings together representatives of government and semi-governmental bodies and international experts
  • People’s quality of life is at the core of all policies
  • Event to explore key global experiences in changing work week system
  • Forum’s output and recommendations will be provided to decision- and policy-makers

 

The Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) and the Department of Statistics and Community Development (DSCD) have announced the launching of the region’s first-of-its-kind ‘Sharjah Outlook Forum’.  The annual event will analyse, deliberate and evaluate specific developmental milestones, experiences, initiatives introduced in the emirate as well as the best practices adopted by its entities.

Each year, a specific central initiative will be discussed by a host of representatives of local and federal government entities, in addition to experts from different developmental sectors with international experiences to meet the needs of the emirate’s residents and the community at large.

The inaugural edition will kick-off on February 1, 2023, under the theme, ‘4X3 Indicators and Prospects’, and will discuss Sharjah’s pioneering 4-day work week mandate with a 3-day weekend, the world’s first-of-its-kind system in terms of its scope and impact. The new work week system offers public sector employees, including education and healthcare institutions as well as all government entities, a three day weekend. The four-day work week system had only been previously adopted on an experimental or trial basis in specific sectors and was not approved and adopted officially.

The announcement was made during meeting held today (Wednesday) at the Department of Statistics and Community Development headquarters in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Chairman of DSCD; Sheikh Sultan bin Abdullah bin Salem Al Qasimi, Director, DSCD; HE Tariq Saeed Allay, SGMB Director General, HE Alya Al Suwaidi, SGMB Director, to address the impact of the new work week system on the quality of life of residents and the productivity of human resources, in addition to reinforcing the emirate’s appeal for living, working and investment.

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Chairman of the SCTDA, underscored that the forum translates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, on the relationship between development and the human being who is described by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah as the essence, purpose and maker of development. At the same time, the forum exemplifies the emirate’s keenness to engage all community members in ensuring the success of its developmental project, HE added, pointing out that people’s quality of life, social stability, creative and innovative abilities, and self-development capability are evaluation and assessment  tools for all policies and experiences.

“The Sharjah Outlook Forum will provide significant data to public and private entities dedicated to tracing the emirate’s development journey, particularly in light of the world’s first of its kind inclusive adoption of the four work week, given that it had a direct impact on local communities, business community, productivity, and continuation of offering services to the public. Although this experience is promising, it is essential to discuss it subjectively, transparently, and scientifically, in order for us to develop and build on our experiences and progress forward,” said HE.

 

Annual evaluation and assessment platform

For his part, HE Tariq saeed Allay, Director General of SGMB, said: “The form will be an important annual evaluation and assessment platform that convenes a host of decision-makers and high-ranking officials in public and semi-government sectors to discuss and deliberate a specific experience through exploring its results and impact as well as its development and amendment mechanism. The forum will also enable us to compare our experiences with those of other societies to maintain Sharjah’s position as an incubator of society, families and individuals alike, along with being a champion of culture and inclusive development.”

“Countries that experimented with the four work week system trials in some sectors were looking for mechanisms that strike a balance between the quality of life on the one hand, and improving productivity, reducing costs and resource consumption, and stimulating creative economy on the other hand. Since each experience has positive and negative aspects, the forum will host a number of experts and representatives of key global experiences to share the means through which they successfully bridged the gap and shortcoming of their experiences, particularly in terms of the projected impact on some sectors,” HE added.

 

Increase in productivity and prosperity

On the forum’s projected output and results, the Director General of SGMB remarked that the milestone developments the world has been seeing over the past two decades, including AI, digitisation, transformation into modern work and life styles, are time-effective and can increase production without compromising people’s daily lives and needs. He added that the expected output of the Sharjah Outlook Forum will comprise how to harness technology in ensuring successful experiences and supporting communities’ quest for more prosperity. It will assess the experiences of Sharjah and other cities utilising scientific methods and data to enable policy-makers take evidence-based decisions.

Dubai Resort

Hilton Looks Ahead and Identifies Key Travel Trends for 2023, As a Record Year of Travel Draws to a Close

Dubai Resort

New research shows that UAE travellers seek personalised experiences, health and wellness, and deeper connections to local communities and cultures in 2023

 If 2022 was the year of the changed traveler, 2023 is the year of the evolved traveller. Today, Hilton released its 2023 trends report, The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experience, A Report from Hilton, which reveals the latest consumer expectations following a year when travellers showed up in record numbers.

Based on a survey of 500 UAE residents commissioned by Hilton, the new report reveals the aspirations and needs of people taking trips next year. Overall, the survey shows that a large number of UAE respondents (74%) wish to travel more in 2023 than they did in 2022. Additionally, (32%) of people said their wish list of travel destinations has increased for next year.

The research uncovered four consistent themes for 2023 travel:

 

People will turn to travel for deeper, more engaging, human experiences and connections

Travel is a gateway to discovering different perspectives and rich traditions. The research found that UAE travellers will focus on travel in 2023 to create deeper, more engaging connections with family, friends, colleagues, customers, cultures and the planet. Nearly half (46%) of survey respondents want to learn about local culture while traveling, while 39% want access to locally-sourced products. In addition, strengthening connections with friends and/or family through travel was highlighted by 40% of those questioned.

From destination-focused culinary travel packages to impactful programs like Hilton’s Travel with Purpose, which helps guests positively impact the communities they visit, travellers are looking to create meaningful change through more immersive travel experiences. In fact, Hilton is witnessing signs of this growth through its reimagined Hilton Honors Experiences, which saw a 77% year-over-year increase in Hilton Honors Point redemption during the first nine months of 2022, allowing members to connect with their passions through new, exclusive artist and celebrity events.

 

People will recognize travel as an essential part of their wellness routine

Health and fitness emerges from the survey as a significant priority for UAE travellers in 2023 with 36% of people saying travel will be an important part of their wellness routine. Having access to unique spa treatments (33%) came out strongly, as did having access to fitness activities outside of the fitness centre of their hotel (34%). Regarding food and drink, almost half (48%) of people want healthier options while travelling.

 

Travelers will want to be taken care of more than ever

Next year, Hilton anticipates UAE travellers will have a renewed appreciation for experiencing moments where they feel special. 49% care about friendly and reliable service while travelling and 28% will expect travel and hospitality companies to accommodate their personal needs next year. Specifically, more than half (56%) are looking for personalized food and beverage options and 51% are looking for personalized experiences and activities.

Travellers from the UAE know the importance of wanting to feel valued for their loyalty. In fact, 35% of survey respondents indicate that loyalty perks—such as earning/redeeming points and loyalty benefits—will matter to them when traveling in 2023.

 

Travelers want frictionless travel innovations that are both technology- and human-led

Hilton’s research found that almost half (46%) of travelers will seek an easier overall travel experience in 2023 and 37% of respondents anticipate hotel technologies will be important to them for a seamless stay.

For a frictionless travel experience, Hilton’s Digital Key allows travelers to bypass the front desk and go straight to their rooms. Additionally, enhanced booking options like Confirmed Connecting Rooms by Hilton allows families and friends to reserve adjoining rooms when booking online.

Open Banking

The New Blueprint for Open Finance? – A Look Inside the New Saudi Open Banking Framework

Open Banking

Chris Michael, Co-Founder & CEO, Ozone API

It has been a genuine privilege for all of us at Ozone API to work with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) to lead the development of its open banking standard over the last few months. We are also providing the enabling technology behind SAMA’s Open Banking Lab – the model bank and conformance suite – as well as working with a number of banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to help them deliver their own open banking solutions.

This is much more than a compliance exercise. We are right at the forefront of helping banks in the Kingdom to unlock new business models and deliver innovative financial services. But much of this is only possible because of the ambitious approach taken by SAMA.

 

Starting with a BIG vision

Open banking and open finance are now happening all around the world. Implementation looks a bit different in each market, but where it’s being driven by central banks and regulators, it is usually with a defined outcome in mind. This can be to create more competition or to drive consumer data rights. But increasingly, it is being seen as a foundation to drive economic transformation.

There aren’t many (possibly any) countries with a more ambitious vision for transformation than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi 2030 vision is huge, from transforming society to the creation of uber-modern megacities. A big part of this vision is the creation of world-leading industry sectors, with financial services being a key focus. And at the heart of that agenda, you’ve guessed it: open finance, starting with open banking.

The Saudi ambition is growth, fuelled by a thriving financial services sector. With this in mind, SAMA’s whole approach has been designed to drive adoption and usage by ensuring there are clear incentives for all participants: end users, third parties building on top of open finance access and the banks and financial institutions themselves.

In other markets, we’ve seen initiatives done to the banks, not with the banks or even for the banks. This may sound nuanced, but it is huge and important.

 

BIG Ambitions demand different approaches

With a big vision defined, SAMA’s approach to delivering its Open Banking Framework had to be different from other initiatives around the world.

The founding team at Ozone API were privileged to have led the development of the UK open banking standard during their time at OBIE. So being chosen to lead the development of the open banking standard in the Kingdom was a huge honour and a great opportunity to continue the journey and create a new blueprint.

With a big vision, SAMA has taken a very progressive approach, building on learnings from other markets and going way beyond.

The starting point was to define key use cases that would drive the greatest demand and drive value for the different participants. That’s the end users, the third parties and, yep, the often overlooked banks.

Use cases are the right starting point, since this creates clear consensus, allowing everyone to understand what they’re building and why. The intention is not to limit the implementation to a few use cases, but to enable these key use cases so that the foundations are there for many more which can be enabled now or added in future phases.

Then, and only then, did work start on defining the standard, the business rules to enable these use cases.

Whilst it sounds simple, elsewhere we’ve seen regulations, rules and standards defined ahead of such user-centric thinking, creating artificial and unnecessary limitations to the detriment of uptake and usage. And often the incentives across the ecosystem have been an afterthought, significantly impacting the motivations of banks to see it as anything more than a compliance project.

 

The Standard itself, what’s different?

On November 2nd 2022, SAMA published the first release of its Open Banking Framework to industry participants. This first phase includes business rules and the technical standard needed to meet a number of defined account information use cases, with future phases coming next year to include payments. But already, there are some significant improvements versus other standards.

Whilst there are many detailed enhancements and improvements, the game-changing differences can be summarised as follows:

The standard has been designed to be more efficient for banks and third parties to interpret and implement, ultimately creating a more effective ecosystem. Key to this is the inclusion of “event streaming” or webhooks. Historically, open banking APIs have been designed to replicate the behaviours seen with screen scraping, i.e. the third party goes and ‘pulls’ data from the bank at regular intervals to see what has changed. In the new KSA standard, event streaming informs third parties when things change in real time.

The standard has also been hugely simplified to ensure clear separation between business rules (i.e. detailed regulations) and the technical specifications themselves. This has led to a dramatic simplification of the documentation with a much clearer articulation of detailed implementation requirements.

Arguably the most exciting change is the creation of a new (to open banking) concept called “service requests”. This will be truly game-changing for banks and financial institutions.

The concept is simple: expose an API that allows almost any service to be initiated. In this first phase, we have enabled the creation of ‘letters of guarantee’, allowing banks to embed the setup of such products in a third party experience. This enables banks to ensure their products are in front of customers at the right time, in the right place and in the right context. Crucially, it provides the tools to have a direct impact on the metrics that matter, such as the number of customers, number of products sold, revenue per customer and so on.

 

What happens next?

Now that the framework and standard for phase 1 have been published, the market moves to focus on implementation.

Then, next year, Phase 2 will see the inclusion of payment initiation.

The implications of our work go much further than the Kingdom. We’ve seen a new blueprint emerge and other markets should take note and build on this approach.

We’re also excited to be working with banks around the world to help them unlock true value from open APIs, bringing a full suite of information, payment and service request capabilities to reinvent the role that open APIs will play in the new open banking business model. This means APIs that deliver real revenues, new customers and increasing product holding per customer – more to come in a future blog.

Low CO2

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Ltd Aims to Help Africa Transition Towards Low-carbon

Low CO2

Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Ltd, the banking arm of MCB Group, ambitions to become a more prominent player in the African energy landscape, by financing and supporting electrification projects that encourage the use of renewable energy. In this respect, MCB has recently participated in three landmark projects in Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria. These projects are crucial milestones in the electrification goals of these respective countries and in their transition from fossil energy to more renewable, low-carbon energy sources. Prior to joining those three projects, MCB applied the Equator Principles to proactively identify and mitigate environmental and social risks.

Zaahir Sulliman, Head of Specialised Finance, MCB: “We are proud to contribute to these important electrification goals and the transition to more renewable energy sources”

 

Make a difference in Ghana

In July, Genser Energy announced it successfully closed an 8-year USD 425m funding package, which will be used to refinance existing debt and finance crucial electrification projects in Ghana. The funds will allow for a 100km natural gas pipeline to Kumasi, Ghana’s largest city, a 200mmscfd gas conditioning plant at Prestea and a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) storage terminal at Takoradi port. Genser Energy ambitions to achieve net zero carbon by 2035.

As per Genser Energy, the construction of the natural gas pipeline to Kumasi and the gas processing plant in Prestea will have significant economic and environmental benefits not only for Genser but also for Ghana and the West African sub-region. The transaction will support Genser’s diversification from power to the gas midstream sector and mark a significant milestone in its decarbonization strategy to achieve net zero carbon by 2035 whilst contributing significantly to Ghana’s national climate change targets on emission reduction.

The availability of cheaper and readily accessible piped natural gas in Kumasi and the central belt of Ghana via the new pipeline will encourage industries to switch from imported trucked diesel and heavy fuel oil (HFO) to indigenous natural gas as a low-carbon intensive fuel. The pipeline will also support relocation of power plants from coastal regions to reduce line losses and improve efficiency on the national grid. Moreover, the gas conditioning plant will produce cleaner fuels and establish Ghana as a significant producer and exporter of LNGs. Moreover, the gas conditioning plant will produce cleaner fuels and establish Ghana as a significant producer and exporter of natural gas liquids. This demonstrates the potential of natural gas to act as a transition fuel that can help Africa achieve its development agenda.

 

Supporting Nigeria’s gas-to-power programme

MCB, as co-Mandated Lead Arranger, assisted in structuring and raising USD260MM in debt to fund the completion of the ANOH Gas Processing Plant.

Despite significant untapped reserves, domestic utilisation of gas remains low due to lack of infrastructure. Gas development and infrastructure projects will address this imbalance and result in significantly higher rates of gas utilisation for domestic use.

Assa North-Ohaji South (“ANOH”) is a conventional gas development located onshore Nigeria which will supply AGPC with the feedstock gas and is operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. The gas infrastructure development project is one of seven critical gas development projects earmarked by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”) and the Ministry of Petroleum to bridge the demand-supply gap in the Nigerian domestic gas market.

The 300MMscfd capacity ANOH plant, located in OML53 in Imo State, is being built by ANOH Gas Processing Company Ltd (“AGPC”) which is equally owned by the Nigerian Gas Company Limited (“NGCL”) and Seplat Energy Plc. Seplat is already a leading provider of natural gas to Nigeria’s power sector, supplying up to 30% of Nigeria’s domestic grid in 2021.

 

A prominent player in Rwanda’s Omnihydro project

Last June, the Omnihydro hydroelectric powerplant was inaugurated in the district of Nyamagabe, Rwanda. This project, implemented by Omnicane, a Mauritian company, and financed by MCB, the leading bank in Mauritius, , came to fruition under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) incorporated in Rwanda and operating under the name of Omnihydro Ltd. The facility has one common powerhouse with two different intakes, one on Mushishito river and the other one on Rukarara river. This power plant intends to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 14,500 tons per year. The hydropower plant is expected to power on average an equivalent of 175,000 homes with clean energy. The small dams constructed on the Mushishito and Rukarara rivers protect communities against floods and droughts, whilst providing more than new 600 jobs during the implementation of the project.

 

How MCB can help

To limit global warming and mitigate climate change’s worst impacts, MCB recognises the need for countries around the world to transition to low-carbon economies. This is particularly important for Africa, as existing development challenges such as poverty, food insecurity and instability make it the continent most vulnerable to climate change. However, MCB also recognises Africa’s complicated energy requirements and the challenge in balancing economic and social progress and access to energy with climate goals.

Africa has the lowest rate of energy access globally – it is estimated that 600 million people lack access to electricity and more than 930 million lack access to clean cooking fuels. While there has been increased investment in the continent’s vast renewable energy potential, this is insufficient to meet growing energy demands. To achieve the continent’s growing electricity needs and help reach its renewable energy goals, MCB can be a financial partner and arranger of choice.

Commenting on MCB’s strong involvement in these projects and its ambition to accompany African countries’ transition to more renewable energy sources, Zaahir Sulliman, Head of Specialised Finance, MCB, said: “We are proud to be contributing towards Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria’s universal electrification and their respective objective to drive sustainable development goals of meeting universal energy demand, whilst optimising production, minimising costs, and reducing emissions”.

Mr. Sulliman added: “MCB is aware of its responsibility in the face of the climatic emergency and has already committed to stop financing new coal power-plants and discontinue the trade financing of both thermal and metallurgical coal. We believe that the financing of LPG and natural gas will form part of MCB’s gradual energy transition strategy, which builds on our previous commitment to stop all new financing of coal infrastructure and trade worldwide. Financing more sustainable energy projects is a first step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing to support client projects that drive energy transition through responsible consumption and production in an endeavour to improve living standards”.

Future environmental conservation and sustainable ESG modernization development by using technology of renewable resources to reduce pollution and carbon emission

Imo State – Nigeria Goes Green; Official Flag-Off Holds In Owerri – November 1, 2022

Future environmental conservation and sustainable ESG modernization development by using technology of renewable resources to reduce pollution and carbon emission

Partners Numerix Development For A Greener, New Imo State

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has approved Holistic Green Strategies for a Greener and New Imo State, as the state officially goes green in November 2022.

The Government of Imo State had appointed and signed a Joint Venture Partnership Agreement for Carbon Credits, Carbon Finance, Carbon Revenues and Carbon Emissions Reduction with NUMERIX DEVELOPMENT LIMITED and SUMMIT INNOVATIVE & SYNERGY LIMITED in Nigeria; under a Strategic Green Partnership Initiative.

In a statement from GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, Strategic Partners to NUMERIX DEVELOPMENT LIMITED, the Managing Partner of the Joint Venture; the Green Initiative covers all MDAs and the Private Sector in Imo State, thus reducing the Carbon Footprint, Ecological Footprint and Technological Footprint of all stakeholders in the south-eastern state of Nigeria.

Under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, Numerix Development Limited is expected to develop the Carbon Finance Component of all existing and future projects in Imo State and also midwife the HOPE GREEN REVOLUTION for a Greener and New Imo State.

According to Engr. Babatunde Aina, Managing Director/CEO of Numerix Development Limited, the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma will officially flag-off the Hope Green Revolution and also declare Imo State as a Green State in November, 2022.

Speaking further, he revealed that the Imo State Government will also officially announce that 2% of the state’s annual budget will henceforth be committed to Holistic Green Initiatives, Emissions Reduction and Race towards Zero Carbon in Imo State. Aina further disclosed that Nigeria is fully committed to the Global Green Transition Agenda as demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari, and that Imo State, being the very first Subnational to wholly go green in Africa, is a pride to the nation.

The official flag-off of the Hope Green Revolution is scheduled to hold in the state capital, Owerri on Tuesday, 1st of November 2022 by 10.00 am (WAT) in the Government House.

The event with the theme “GREEN TRANSITION AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA” will highlight the strategic and key Importance of Accelerated Green Financing to Sustainable Green Growth in the continent.

The flag-off ceremony is expected to bring together, Strategic Stakeholders in Climate Finance, Investment, Environment, Sustainability, Energy, Green Growth and other relevant sectors in Nigeria and Africa.

Some of the immediate take-off projects under the Strategic Green Partnership Initiative are Clean Cooking Technologies Deployment, All-encompassing Retrofitting, Innovative Economic Tree Planting & Nurturing, Training and Capacity Building for Green Jobs Creation and Imo State Carbon Credit Train for improved Economic Prosperity – leaving no one behind.

Contactless payments

Visa Reveals More Transit Users Are On Board with Contactless Payments in Egypt

Contactless payments
  • Survey finds 95% of consumers in Egypt either strongly or somewhat expect transit to offer contactless payment options

Visa today announced the results of its second annual Future of Urban Mobility Survey, which uncovered a desire for change among transit users in Egypt.

The survey was conducted in May 2022 among 1000 adults in Egypt and aims to better understand what matters to transit users today – and what they want the future of transit to look like. The survey included questions about how often they use public transit, why they use it, and what they expect in terms of new payment methods.

“In cities across the globe, people are venturing out again after a more than two-year hiatus,” Essam El Daly, Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring Sector for North Africa, Levant and Pakistan at Visa, says .  “Public transit has always been a vital part of how people get to work or school, run errands, and travel to leisure activities. Now the pandemic has pushed many riders to challenge the status quo when it comes to how they pay their fares.”

 

Shifting preferences

The speed, security, and ease of digital payments have helped shift global transit user’s payment preferences. In Egypt, the Future of Urban Mobility Survey found that 95% of those surveyed either strongly or somewhat expect contactless payment options to be available on public transit.

Further, 52% of respondents in Egypt said they are most likely to pay their transit fare through contactless payments.

Contactless payments continue to help riders navigate the future of transit.

Respondents in Egypt said the top benefits of contactless payments were the time saved due to faster transactions (37%), reduced contact with surfaces and other people (37%), less worry over carrying enough cash (31%), and convenience (30%). 

The survey found that (31%) of public transit riders in Egypt cited contactless payments as the top feature that would entice them to use public transit.

Among employed riders in Egypt, 39% of riders said they take public transit at least three times a week, and 32% ride five times a week or more. Additionally, 55% of those surveyed in Egypt plan to use transit more often over the next 12 months.  As ridership continues to ramp up, it will be important that paying to ride is secure and seamless.

 

Fare-capping attracts riders

Payment options such as fare-capping represent an important opportunity for transit operators to serve as many riders as possible. Fare-capping limits how much a rider pays for their total rides in a day, week, or month, eliminating the need to tie up funds on a monthly pass or transit-dedicated card. Among survey respondents in Egypt, 37% said that capped fares would encourage them to take public transit more often than a non-fare capped system.

In the same survey, 40% of riders in Egypt ranked faster journey times as a top motivator that would encourage them to use transit more often. Fare capping can help speed up the boarding process by alleviating confusion over how to pay for newer riders. 

 

Sustainability is driving ridership

Why do riders prefer public transit? Of those surveyed in Egypt, 93% said that sustainability and the environment were a factor in how often they decide to travel by transit, and it was the top reason for 47%.

 

Contactless rollouts increasing

Open transit systems help city residents sustain their livelihoods, connect to services and pursue activities that create a vibrant city life. Visa supports global transit operators to deliver digital tools to draw in more passengers and improve the overall experience. In Q2 of this year Visa and our transit partners rolled out 50 new projects worldwide, from Thailand to Japan to Mexico and beyond, to enable riders to simply tap their contactless credit, debit, prepaid card, or payment-enabled device, without needing to purchase or load a separate transit card or handle cash while boarding.

For example, a pilot project in Izmir, Turkey, this year enabled passengers to pay with contactless domestic and foreign credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards.

 

An economic lifeline for millions

The Future of Urban Mobility Survey also shows how public transit is an economic lifeline for millions of people around the world In Egypt, 36% of respondents said public transit is their primary form of transportation. For 48% in Egypt public transit is how they commute to and from work.

Energy

Africa-Europe Roundtable Tackles Energy Transition, Global Trade at African Energy Week (AEW) 2022

Energy

As the European Union (EU) restructures its plans for energy security in light of shifting geopolitical realities, the Africa-Europe Roundtable – organized on the first day of African Energy Week 2022 in Cape Town – addressed the role of the African continent in advancing the global energy revolution and supplying Europe with energy security.

Roundtable speakers included Hon. Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa; Eng. Fuad Mosa, General Supervisor of Local Content, Risks and Crises Management, Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia; Rebecca Enonchong, Founder and CEO of AppsTech; Nangula Uaandja, CEO of the Namibian Investment Promotion Development Board; Mary Burce Warlick, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA); and Anja Casper-Berretta, Head of Energy Security and Climate Change in sub-Saharan Africa, Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The panel was moderated by Eleni Giokos, CNN Anchor and Correspondent.

“We are heavily dependent on coal generation. Renewables now supply only about 10% of energy in South Africa. But the first problem we have is the polarized energy debate, which doesn’t achieve solutions. We must transition, but we must be very practical in our transition,” began Hon. Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, on the current state of the energy mix.

“We believe that the new energy mix will have everything – coal, oil, gas, renewables. All types of energy creation will continue,” added Eng. Fuad Mosa, General Supervisor of Local Content, Risks and Crises Management for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy. “The world has been blessed with resources and our ultimate goal is securing the right volumes of energy at the right price. In Saudi Arabia, we will continue accelerating oil and its role in the global energy mix, while natural gas and renewable energies also need to be expanded.”

To date, African oil producers have largely exported crude oil to China, with a few exceptions of North African producers who export to Europe. However, current sanctions against Russian gas and the ongoing war in Ukraine has reignited interest in African hydrocarbon and renewable energy projects alike, which could result in billions of new investments into emerging energy markets like Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania.

“In Namibia, there have been recent discoveries of oil and gas,” noted Nangula Uaandja, CEO of the Namibian Investment Promotion Development Board. “At the same time, we are one of the few countries where renewables can be produced at relatively low prices. How can we produce energy at lower rates so that we can export to Europe? It is definitely possible to use countries like Namibia, where our carbon emissions are already some of the lowest in the region.”

“From the European perspective, for a long time, the acute need for access to energy was not so dominant,” said Anja Casper-Berretta, Head of Energy Security and Climate Change in sub-Saharan Africa, Konrad Adenauer Foundation. “Yet in Africa, you can’t have an energy transition discussion in countries where more than half of the population doesn’t have access to electricity. So energy security comes from a very different angle. How do we assure energy security? Diversification is a key component. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there has been a more practical approach to finding pragmatic solutions to the current crisis.”

Making an Africa-Europe energy trade a reality – even later down the line – will be contingent on ensuring the availability of financing solutions for energy infrastructure development. Prior to the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a growing number of multilateral financial institutions had reduced or eliminated their support of fossil fuels altogether, in accord with the Paris Agreement and climate concerns. Now, the African continent will need to strengthen ties with the West and its associated financial institutions to forge global energy partnerships and guarantee energy security and project stability.

“Unlocking financing for investment is crucial for addressing not only the clean energy transition, but also the energy access issue,” stated Mary Burce Warlick, Deputy Executive Director of the IEA. “Our estimates show that in order to achieve universal access to electricity 2030, 90 million would need to gain access on average every day from now until 2030. This will require $25 billion in investment. It’s not impossible, but it will require clear policy and commitment and a more flexible approach to financing.”

“In the issue of funding, we also have to think about risk capital,” added Rebecca Enonchong, Founder and CEO of AppsTech. “A lot of the risk capital that goes into energy projects does not go to local entrepreneurs. A few years ago, a famous start-up in Nairobi raised about $260 milion for pay-as-you-go solar panels – and failed – because no one knew how to fix and maintain them. We need to look at where the capital is going. Is it going to local founders who understand the local ecosystem and needs of the people and build wealth?”

“In South Africa, we have not run across the problem of a lack of funding,” contrasted H.E. Minister Mantashe. “There is a lot of money going into renewables. The issue is that the money that goes into renewables does not compensate us for what we lose by moving out of the existing sectors. When funding for coal stops and flows to renewables, the capacity to help the same number of people is not comparable. It’s not apples and apples. You get less energy from more megawatts from renewables.”

For Africa, new investments could be critical to capitalizing on untapped hydrocarbon reserves left behind in the midst of the energy transition and green lending behavior. According to Rystad Energy, renewed European interest for African gas could boost African production from 260 billion cubic meters per day in 2022, to nearly 500 billion cubic meters by the late 2030s.

Expert Tips for E-Commerce Marketing 2022

Due to its convenience and low cost, online shopping has become the preferred option for consumers worldwide. Since there are more than 24 million e-commerce sites globally, eCommerce has grown significantly, and more companies are opening online stores. As a result, keeping up with sales in such a competitive market is difficult.

By using cost-effective channels like search, email, and social media, eCommerce marketing has grown crucial for business expansion and revenue growth. The most important recommendation to improve eCommerce marketing efforts is provided in this article.

eCommerce marketing tips for growing sales 

Step up email marketing

Most visitors don’t buy on the first visit and need multiple visits to the eCommerce website to purchase. Therefore, building a relationship and trust is needed to get them back and buy. Email marketing is the most effective way to do so and increase revenue. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Sending welcome emails will help establish a relationship between the visitors and the brand and facilitate future targeting
  2. Tips and relevant info will build trust and put the brand in visitors’ minds
  3. Use email to collect valuable data to improve the business by asking for feedback through emails
  4. Increase the revenue by sending coupons and discount emails; people love good deals
  5. Collect emails effectively via pot-in forms, pop-ups, checkout, etc.

Reduce shopping cart abandonment

Abundant carts are the most frustrating challenge for every eCommerce business. More than 88% of carts were abandoned worldwide in 2020, which is a lot of money. Customers change their minds at the last second for many reasons. Here are some tips to reduce cat abandonment:

  1. Use a simple checkout form
  2. Send an email reminder for the abandonment cart
  3. Provide a guest checkout option
  4. Offer free shipping option
  5. Use a pop-up when exiting an incomplete purchase

Leverage real-time personalisation

Customers anticipate a unique experience that satisfies their needs when they visit a website. Most customers will become irritated and may leave the website if they encounter irrelevant content.

Therefore, modifying and personalising the website for the intended users is crucial. The first step is to gather customer information from previous visits, surveys, behaviour, demographics, etc., and then modify the content as necessary, for example:

  1. Recommend products based on customer interests, previous visits data, etc.
  2. Offering the customers some gifts or special offers such as on their birthday.

Advertise on social media channels

In recent years, social media has transformed marketing by directly connecting to a large audience base. Therefore, social media marketing must be implemented for the e-commerce website to generate traffic and increase sales.

Sharing informative content will entice followers to visit the website and make purchases. Content includes product images, special offers, articles, etc. Thanks to online tools like Instagram Post Maker, which allows users to create stunning designs, creating such attention-grabbing content has never been simpler.

Make your website mobile friendly

Due to their accessibility to the Internet and ease of use, smartphones have surpassed PCs globally. The majority of customers now browse and buy products on mobile devices, so any eCommerce business must have a responsive, mobile-friendly design. Furthermore, Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor; websites with great mobile experiences will rank higher.

Add live chat and Chatbot

Customers will have questions and concerns before making a purchase, just like in a physical store; offering a live chat will help alleviate those worries and speed up the purchasing process. Additionally, live chat support will enhance customer satisfaction and help them quickly and successfully find what they’re looking for, improving conversion rates.

Additionally, a chatbot can function as a live chat, offering assistance to customers around-the-clock and enabling businesses to bring in new clients whenever necessary, even when the live support is unavailable.

Offer Fast And Flexible Shipping Options

Customers’ top priority after making an online purchase is streamlined delivery. Conversion rates will rise, and cart abandonment rates will decline if customers can access quick, flexible shipping options that satisfy their needs. Additionally, free shipping is a risky way to boost sales because people will perceive it as a big discount.

Use Discount Sales

Discount sales are popular with consumers, and eCommerce companies can use them creatively to boost sales. Discounts can be seasonal, buy one get one free, etc., and they work by establishing a sense of urgency through the psychology of scarcity. Therefore, including a countdown clock with the offer will encourage people to take advantage of it quickly, increasing sales volume.

Promote customer reviews and build trust

Reviews from customers are crucial for fostering trust. Most customers read customer reviews of websites or products to decide what to buy. New customers will be inspired to buy after reading reviews from previous clients, giving them a good idea of what to anticipate.

Conclusion

The secret to increasing sales is e-commerce marketing, but picking the best approach would be difficult. There are general guidelines to follow, such as email marketing, providing discounts, using social media, etc., even though it depends on the type of business and niche.

Why and How Should You Invest in Mutual Funds in Dubai?

If you’re looking for a way to grow your money, you may wonder how and where to invest. Mutual funds can be an excellent option for investors in Dubai, as they offer opportunities for growth and diversification. In this article, we’ll discuss why you should consider investing in mutual funds and explore some of the factors you need to consider when making your decision. So read on to find out more.

What are mutual funds, and why should you invest in them?

A mutual fund is a type of investment vehicle that pools money from many investors and invests it in a portfolio of securities, such as stocks, bonds, or cash. Investing in a mutual fund achieves a specific financial goal, such as capital growth or income generation.

There are many reasons why you should consider investing in mutual funds. Firstly, they offer the potential for capital growth. When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is used to purchase a basket of assets. These assets may increase in value over time, which can lead to capital gains for the investor. Mutual funds can provide you with diversification. Investing in a range of assets can spread your risk and potentially reduce the volatility of your investment portfolio.

Mutual funds can offer you professional management. When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is managed by a team of professionals with expertise in the securities market. It means that you can benefit from their knowledge and experience, which can help to grow your investment over time. Finally, mutual funds are a flexible investment option. You can invest lump sums of money or make regular contributions to your fund. It makes them an excellent option for investors with different needs and goals.

How do mutual funds work, and what are their benefits for investors in Dubai and beyond?

Mutual funds work by pooling money from many investors and investing it in a portfolio of securities. The value of the fund’s assets will rise and fall in line with the performance of the underlying securities. It means that when you invest in a mutual fund, you are exposed to the same risks as if you had invested directly in the underlying assets. However, because mutual funds are diversified investments, they can offer some protection against market volatility.

The main benefits of mutual funds for investors are capital growth potential, diversification, professional management, and flexibility. Mutual funds offer Dubai-based investors the opportunity to grow their money while spreading their risk across various assets. When selecting a mutual fund, it is crucial to consider your investment goals and risk tolerance, which will help you choose a fund that is right for you.

What to look for when choosing a mutual fund to invest in

When choosing a mutual fund to invest in, there are many factors you need to take into account. Firstly, you need to consider your investment goals. What are you looking to achieve by investing in a mutual fund? Are you looking for capital growth or income generation? It would help if you considered your risk tolerance. How much risk are you willing to take on?

You need to consider the fees charged by the fund manager. Mutual funds typically charge an annual management fee and other fees. These fees can eat into your investment returns, so comparing the fees charged by different fund managers before making your decision is essential.

Finally, you need to research the performance of the fund. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but it can give you an idea of how the fund has performed in the past.

How to get started investing in mutual funds

If you are interested in investing in mutual funds, there are a few things you need to do before you get started. Firstly, you need to open a brokerage account with a licensed broker. Once you have done this, you can start researching the different funds available.

Once you have selected a fund, you need to decide how much money you want to invest. You can invest lump sums of money or make regular contributions to your fund. Finally, you need to monitor your investment over time. It will help you track your progress and ensure that your investment is on track to achieve your financial goals.

Risks and rewards of investing in mutual funds

Mutual funds are a popular investment option for many investors. However, it is essential to remember that all investments come with risks. When you invest in a mutual fund, you are exposed to the same risks as if you had invested directly in the underlying assets. It means that your investment can go up or down in value, and you could lose money.

However, mutual funds also offer the potential for capital growth over the long term. If you choose a fund with a track record of solid performance, you could see your investment grow over time, making it an excellent option for investors looking to build their wealth over the long term.