Here are three big stories from Africa’s business and policy landscape you (probably) didn’t miss but should keep in mind this week:

MTN Nigeria Reports ₦137 Billion Loss in 2023 Despite Increased Investment

MTN Nigeria, the country’s leading telecommunications provider, has reported a net loss of ₦137 billion ($320 million) for the 2023 financial year. This loss is primarily attributed to significant foreign exchange (forex) losses experienced by the company. The buttresses the impact of the recent devaluation of the Nigerian Naira on businesses with significant foreign currency exposure. MTN’s experience mirrors that of its competitor, Airtel, which also faced substantial forex losses in 2023.

However, the report wasn’t entirely negative for MTN. The company demonstrated its commitment to Nigeria through significant investments and tax contributions. The company reported a strong revenue figure of ₦2.46 trillion ($5.8 billion) for 2023. Additionally, MTN Nigeria remains a significant contributor to the Nigerian economy, having paid ₦543.9 billion ($1.28 billion) in taxes and levies to the government. MTN Nigeria demonstrated its commitment to infrastructure development by increasing its capital expenditure (CapEx) by 13.2% to ₦571 billion ($1.34 billion) in 2023. This investment facilitated the expansion of the company’s 4G network coverage from 79.1% in 2022 to 81.5% in 2023, and its 5G network coverage jumped from 3.2% to 11.3%.

Botswana to Launch First Satellite, BOTSAT-1, with Bulgarian Partner

Botswana has taken a leap into space exploration with the announcement of its first satellite, BOTSAT-1. This ambitious project is a collaborative effort between the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and EnduroSat, a Bulgarian aerospace company. Scheduled for launch in February 2025 via SpaceX’s Transporter-13 mission, BOTSAT-1 will be a software-defined satellite designed to support the nation’s critical mining and agricultural sectors. This collaborative effort will see BIUST engineers travel to EnduroSat’s headquarters in Sofia to contribute to the satellite’s assembly and payload integration.

Equipped with a hyperspectral sensor camera, BOTSAT-1 boasts a 32-meter spatial resolution at an altitude of 500 kilometers and a swath width of 32 meters. This advanced technology will gather valuable data across multiple light bands and near-infrared spectrums, providing crucial insights for informed decision-making in areas like resource management and long-term investments. The launch itself is slated for August 2024 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX will also manage the logistics and conduct rigorous testing to ensure a smooth mission. When the BOTSAT-1 successfully launches, Botswana will become the 16th African country to have a satellite in orbit.

Nigeria Selected to Host New Africa Energy Bank

Last week, Nigeria emerged victorious in its bid to host the newly established Africa Energy Bank (AEB), According to a statement released by the country’s Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, the selection was made during an extraordinary meeting of the African Petroleum Producers Organization’s (APPO) Council of Ministers. Nigeria’s commitment to the AEB was solidified in late May with the ratification of the bank’s charter and a $100 million investment from President Bola Tinubu, exceeding the required member state contribution of $83.33 million.

This fossil fuel-focused bank, a collaborative effort between Afrexim Bank and APPO, aims to finance energy projects across the continent and support its transition to new energy sources. “This decision reflects our collective goal of finding African solutions to African energy challenges,” stated Lokpobiri. He added that the AEB will be vital in providing financial backing for energy projects that will drive growth and development throughout Africa.

The AEB will launch later this year with an initial $5 billion in capital. Analysts believe Nigeria’s strong interest in the bank stems from its role as a founding member of APPO and Africa’s leading energy producer. The country is actively seeking investment to revitalize its lagging oil and gas industry. Clementine Wallop, director for sub-Saharan Africa at Horizon Engage, a political risk consultancy, commented before the announcement that hosting the bank would be a significant vote of confidence in Nigeria’s energy sector, which is in dire need of a boost. Algeria, Benin, and Ghana were the other contenders vying for the AEB headquarters, while Ivory Coast and South Africa were disqualified for not meeting the necessary requirements.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • Nigeria’s equities market depreciated by 0.04% over a 5-day trading week, with the NGX All-Share Index closing at 100,022.03 points. The top gainers were Veritas Kapital Assurance Plc. (25.00%), Conoil Plc. (20.48%), Jaiz Bank Plc (19.49%), Coronation Insurance Plc (17.91%), and Aiico Insurance Plc (13.40%). The top decliners were UPDC Real Estate Investment Trust (-17.43%), Ikeja Hotel Plc (-12.03%), Lasaco Assurance Plc (-9.80%), Julius Berger Plc, (-9.59%), and Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc. (-8.96%).
  • The naira closed the week at ₦1509.67/$1 on Friday at the investor’s and Exporters’ window.
  • Brent crude closed last week at $86.85. While the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at $83.16.
  • The global cryptocurrency market cap stood at $ 2.11 trillion, as of 8 am Monday, the 7th of July. Bitcoin stood at $57,311.53, a 9.02%, decrease over the week, Ethereum decreased by 11.29% to trade at $3,066.02, and Binance coin also reduced by 11.12% over 7 days, to trade at $514.33.
  • Last week, Zedcrest, a Nigerian debt and equity capital markets investment firm, reportedly acquired the Nigerian arm of RMB Stockbrokers for between ₦400 million and ₦420 million.
  • Meanwhile, to start this new week, South African digital banking platform TymeBank has raised $77.8 million in a pre-Series C round led by African-focused growth-stage fund Norrsken22 and Swiss global impact investment firm Blue Earth Capital.

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