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technology transformation in Africa’s crossborder payment market


Digital disruption in Zimbabwe’s insurance sector


Most Admired African Brands

CEO Mustafa Sachak on being at the forefront of global technology innovation City Focus

YAOUNDÉ Spreadshirt: productivity in the age of digital disruption

Connecting people to the technology of tomorrrow


Africa Edition EDITOR IN CHIEF


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elcome to December’s Africa edition of Business Chief!

On the cover of this month’s issue features Zimnat, the Zimbabwean life assurance and short-term insurance firm. Zimnat has been serving customers in Zimbabwe for over seven years by managing wealth, assets, and funds. Recently the company has focused on radical transformation, using technology as a key driver in its operations. Zimnat is embracing the nation’s 15 million mobile customers and six million internet users whilst exceeding customer expectations and providing quality customer experience. Elsewhere, we have looked at how SBM Bank’s digital transformation journey and spoke to leaders from Compass Group South Africa. We speak to SWIFT to discover how the cross-border payment company implements innovative technology in the industry. The firm is responsible

for connecting over 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures, and corporate customers across more than 200 countries and territories. The magazine focuses on the city of Yaoundé this month. We discover how Cameroon’s capital connects thousands of young people to future technologies. Earlier this year, the city revealed the Next Generation Center for Technology (NGCT) – the start-up incubator which is supported by Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment and UNICEF. We look at the top 10 most admired brands in Africa, based on a list compiled by Brand Africa. The companies cover food and beverages, consumer, and telecommunications across East, West and Southern Africa. Enjoy the issue! Sophie Chapman. a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com





Digitally disrupting the insurance sector in Zimbabwe

36 24 SWIFT


Spreadshirt simplicity is key amid its digital transformation

46 City Focus




Digitally disrupting the insurance sector in Zimbabwe






a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


Through a digital transformation, Zimnat brings Zimbabwe’s insurance space into the digital age


or over seven decades, the people of Zimbabwe have placed their trust and belief in

Zimnat to protect their assets, manage 10

their wealth and ensure that their assets and funds are passed onto future generations. Over the past two decades, however, the global financial services industry has radically trans-

industry is evolving and as Zimbabwe

formed, and technology has become

further opens its arms to technology

the key driver.

and innovation, we want to be at the

As the global industry continues this

forefront,” says Mustafa Sachak, CEO

evolution, Zimbabwe has been playing

of the Zimnat Group. “We want to

catch up. But with over 15mn mobile

position ourselves as the first ones to

customers and around six million

both create and implement a digital

internet users in 2018 alone, now is the

offering to customers here in Zimbabwe.”

time for Zimbabwe to fully embrace the

As the industry evolves, so does the

technology conversation and leading

customer and Sachak is keen to stress

companies like Zimnat will play a key

that when Zimbabwe fully embraces

role in this shifting landscape.

technology, it will be defined and driven

“From a global perspective, the DECEMBER 2018

by the customer. With more than 15mn



a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


“Through our digital transformation we have been able to find customers who would never be able to find us through traditional means” — Mustafa Sachak, CEO, Zimnat

digitally enabled customers, through internet and mobile usage, the financial customer of today demands one thing: speed. “People want convenience and they want ease of use,” he says. “The CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos put it best when he said that the customers of today are divinely discontent as their expectations are never static. “They will see insurtech offerings happening on the global financial stage and they’ll expect that from us. That’s what set us on our journey.”



Mustafa Sachak Mustafa is the CEO of the Zimnat Group which includes Zimnat General Insurance, Zimnat Life Assurance, Zimnat Asset Management, Zimnat Microfinance, Grand Reinsurance and Botswana Insurance Company. The Zimnat group has partnered with Sanlam which is now the largest non-banking financial services group in Africa. Mustafa started his career at Motorola in the USA where he spent 10 years in various roles starting as a process engineer before moving to Zimbabwe in October 1996 to pursue a different career path. Mustafa has a BSc in Chemical Engineering from University College London, a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and an MBA from Florida International University.

a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


“Our digital journey speaks to our responsibility to educate them and change that perception. That’s our purpose, making people’s lives better. That’s what drives us” 14

— Mustafa Sachak, CEO, Zimnat

That journey is an ambitious digital transformation, not only of Zimnat’s insurance offering but of Zimbabwe’s entire insurance space. As the company prepared to embark on this transformation journey, it needed a roadmap defined by the customer experience. Sachak notes that in this digital age, it is no longer good enough to satisfy the customer. A company has to go above and beyond to exceed the customer expectation and ensure that it is providing the greatest customer experience possible. In the insurance space, the customer journey begins from the very moment they lodge a claim. “From that moment, to the time we



CLICK TO WATCH : ”TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE LIFE BETTER” 15 actually pay the claim, there are a series

from protecting customers from risk

of touchpoints along the way,” he says.

with financial products to actually

“This digital journey is all about under-

preventing risk in the first instance.

standing and improving that customer

“Data is the new gold,” he says. “Big

experience. Companies that create

Data, Blockchain, Artificial Intelli-

exceptional customer experiences can

gence… technologies like these will

really set themselves apart from their

enable us to leapfrog the competition.

competitors and that’s what we are striving to achieve with Zimnat.” In order to better understand the

“Having the ability to use digital technologies to actually help prevent risk from occurring through making

customer experience, Zimnat has

intelligent predictions, that would be

invested in data analytics. For Sachak,

completely game-changing.”

the long–term ambition will be for

The challenge that comes with data

Zimnat to be able to utilise Big Data and

capture, particularly as an insurer with

Artificial Intelligence in order to move

millions of clients and customers, is a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m

Because anything can happen...

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Gaborone - Head Office : (+267) 360 0500 Francistown Branch : (+267) 241 3623 Maun Branch : (+267) 686 3410


turning that data into a real and quantifiable value. To this end, Zimnat has implemented a number of dashboards that are readily accessible to all internal staff and advisors. Through these dashboards, Zimnat can dig deep into customer data to create a rounded picture of the customers and their behaviour in order to provide them with relevant services and solutions. “Through data analytics we can really personalise our service offering for customers because not all customers will want the same insurance cover,” says Sachak. “Once you start to analyse that customer and look at how they engage with Zimnat then we can offer solutions specific to them.” “At the moment this is very generic, but as we grow and the technology

“Through data analytics we can really personalise our service offering for customers because not all customers will want the same insurance cover, once you start to analyse that customer and look at how they engage with Zimnat then we can offer solutions specific to them” — Mustafa Sachak, CEO, Zimnat

matures here in Zimbabwe there is incredible potential.”

experience. Additionally at the senior

Data analytics in particular is

level, the Zimnat Group has recruited

something that Sachak is extremely

a Chief Digital Officer and a Group

passionate about and has ensured

Marketing Executive.

that Zimnat has invested in the right

As a result of challenging economic

resources to support this data

environment over the past 20 years,

enablement, creating a full time data

insurance penetration in Zimbabwe

analytics role as well as a marketing

has been stuck at around 1.5%. Rewind

and digital officer to continue to better

the clocks back to the 1990s and

understand and improve the customer

insurance penetration painted a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m



£70mn Approximate revenue


Year founded



Approximate number of employees



a different picture, reaching as high as 6%. Under the leadership of a new President, 2018 represents a changing tide for Zimbabwe and the insurance space and Zimnat’s responsibility to cement confidence in the sector is one that Sachak recognises. “A major challenge we have faced is getting everyone in the leadership team and all of our stakeholders to fully appreciate that this digital transformation is real and that we have to embrace this technology,” he says. “This extends to our customers. We have not been able to access a large part of our population because the penetration of insurance and the education we can provide for them hasn’t been there. Technology and digital platforms will allow us to reach them. “Through our digital transformation we have been able to find customers who would never be able to find us through traditional means. It’s actually increasing the market for us.” Sachak feels that educating the market is a critical ingredient, not only in growing a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m










the company but developing the

responsibility to educate them and

insurance sector in Zimbabwe. He

change that perception. That’s our

points to the company’s purpose of

purpose: making people’s lives better.

“making life better” and how that starts

That’s what drives us.”

with changing a negative perception

Key to moving forward and to

that insurance and insurance compa-

making people’s lives better is listening

nies have in Zimbabwe.

to people and recognising where the

“There’s a general view that insur-

company is both succeeding and

ance companies simply take money

failing and ultimately, responding.

from the public and then don’t pay up

Sachak understands that in order to

when it comes to claims,” says Sachak.

understand how the company is

“Our digital journey speaks to our

performing with the customer it must a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


“What we’re doing right now, and what we will continue to do, is strive to make sure it’s not only a seamless experience for the customer but an experience that has them saying, ‘Wow. This was superior’” 22

— Mustafa Sachak, CEO, Zimnat

ask the customer. “We can sit and pontificate as much as we want but in reality, the customer defines that conversation,” he says. “It’s never been easier for a customer to move to another provider, so we have to ensure that we are looking after their interests and delivering on our promise.” The insurance space in Zimbabwe will continue to evolve and so too will the customer prompting Zimnat’s digital transformation to evolve with it. DECEMBER 2018



Over the next 12 months the company

a customised experience for the

will increase its investment into data

customer,” he says. “What we’re doing

analytics in order to establish and

right now and what we will continue to

provide a loyalty reward platform.

do, is strive to make sure it’s not only

Sachak notes that Zimnat will continue

a seamless experience for the customer

to dive deeper into emerging technol-

but an experience that has them saying,

ogy trends and assess how it can bring

‘Wow. This was superior.’”

those technologies from all around the world into both the company and the Zimbabwe market. Ultimately though, Zimnat will continue to do one thing. “It’s really about a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m






a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com




WIFT connects more than

11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infra-

structures and corporate customers

in more than 200 countries. The company enables its global community of users to communicate securely by exchanging standardised financial messages to facilitate global and local financial flows, supporting trade and commerce all around the world. SWIFT’s recent report, “Africa Payments: Insights into African Transaction Flows”, reveals that intra-Africa 26

payments clearing and trade is increasing in importance. The paper maps commercial payment flows against financial flows, pointing to an increase in the use of African currencies for cross-border payments and a decline in the dominance of North American clearing banks and the use of the US dollar. The data further highlights a significant increase in intra-African commercial payments, with almost 20% of all cross-border commercial payments being credited to an African beneficiary. This indicates that more goods and services are being bought and sold within Africa, up from 16.7% in DECEMBER 2018

2013. Intra-African clearing of payments has also increased, from 10.2% in 2013 to 12.3% in 2017. This indicates that an increasing number of payments are being routed through Africa instead of via a clearing bank outside of Africa. As a member-owned cooperative, SWIFT plays an important role in the Southern African Development Communities’ (SADC) Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS). SADC RTGS (previously known as SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS), established in 2013, is a common electronic payment system which enables direct cross-border interbank payments in real-time. From its inception to 31 March 2017, 83 participants carried out 712,099 transactions with a value of 3,100 billion rand on the system. The system delivers faster settlement time, a reduction of settlement risk and lower cost of transacting. SWIFT also supports the East African Payment System (EAPS) where the company continuously seeks out opportunities to further the digital payment conversation through innovative technology. “With rapid change occurring in both the payments and securities a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com



“With rapid change occurring in both the payments and securities landscapes, SWIFT is continuously researching and testing new technologies in practical use-case scenarios and working together with banks to rejuvenate the correspondent banking model” 28

— Denis Kruger, Head of sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT

landscapes, SWIFT is continuously researching and testing new technologies in practical use-case scenarios and working together with banks

Through SWIFT gpi, customers’

to rejuvenate the correspondent

transaction times have been signifi-

banking model,” says Denis Kruger,

cantly shortened to minutes and in

Head of Sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT.

some cases even seconds. Currently,

“To this end, we launched the

around 70% of gpi payments leaving

SWIFT global payments innovation

Africa are completed and credited to

(gpi) service in 2015, to enhance

the end beneficiary within 30 minutes.

corporate customers’ experience of

Efficiency and speed is one thing,

correspondent banking by increasing

but introducing multiple solutions

the speed, transparency and predict-

and increasing the number of digital

ability of cross-border payments.”

transactions can only heighten the risk


in multiple jurisdictions. This is demanding - and increasingly costly but the costs and reputational impact of non-compliance are even higher.” The Africa Cyber Security Report 2017, conducted by Serianu, revealed that the cost of cyber-attacks on African businesses is around $3.5bn annually. To this end, SWIFT launched the Customer Security Programme (CSP) in 2016 as a sign of the company’s strict commitment to recognising the importance of cybersecurity, not just in Africa but around the world. “We strive to reinforce and safeguard the security of the wider financial services ecosystem through our Customer Security Programme, a dedicated programme supporting banks to secure and protect their local environment, surrounding cashless payments and

prevent and detect fraud in their com-

transfers. SWIFT recognises this and

mercial relationships and continuously

Kruger points to financial organisa-

share information and prepare against

tions as they increasingly position

future cyber threats in collaboration

themselves at the frontline of defence.

with others,” says Kruger.

“All over the world, regulators require

“Having accurate, up-to-date informa-

financial institutions to meet stringent

tion on relevant cyber threats is critical

Know Your Customer (KYC), anti-mon-

and we are supporting greater levels

ey laundering and sanctions rules and

of intelligence sharing across the

regulations,” he says. “African banks

global community.”

need to comply with such obligations

Additionally, SWIFT has developed a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com



“A s the financial industry on the continent matures, financial communities are looking to share investment costs and expand their activities from their local bases. The adoption of the global ISO 20022 standard will provide a common language for such regionalisation initiatives” 30

— Denis Kruger, Head of sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT

industry and it has done so by creating and maintaining financial messaging standards and reference data standards. These standards ensure that data exchanged between institutions is unambiguous and machine friendly, enabling efficient automation and reducing industry costs and risk. A key example of this is ISO 200022, a methodology that supports rich data structures and enables data transparency and interoperability. This standardisation is both global and open, with no single interest controlling it and as Kruger notes, also flexible enough to be adapted as new technologies emerge. Africa’s financial market is still

a broad finance crime compliance

growing and can benefit significantly

portfolio with the SWIFT community.

from SWIFT’s standardisation. Kruger

This portfolio is a suite of managed

points to South Africa as a front runner

and shared services that leverage

in the adoption of global standards,

SWIFT’s platform, technology and

citing the South African Central

standards to remove the complexity

Securities Depository State becoming

and give African banks a simpler,

one of the first security market infra-

more-cost effective way of meeting

structures to use ISO 15022 which

the challenges of financial crime

sets a series of principles necessary


to provide the different communities of

Around the world, SWIFT has

users with the tools to design message

played an integral role in standardi-

types to support their specific informa-

sation across the financial global

tion flow. Along with the South African


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘SWIFT FOR ISO 20022’ 31 Reserve Bank, both institutions are

provide a common language for such

looking to move to ISO 20022 in the

regionalisation initiatives.”

near future, highlighting Africa’s growing

SWIFT has already cemented itself

appetite and capability for the moderni-

as a key player in sub-Sahara Africa

sation of the financial industry.

and through its cooperative nature

“ISO 20022 is also expected to

and structure of its network, products

help with the practical implementation

and services will continue to meet the

of regionalisation projects in African

evolving needs of its customers. A key

financial markets,” says Kruger. “As

example of this is SWIFT National

the financial industry on the continent

Member Groups. Acting as represent-

matures, financial communities are

atives of SWIFT shareholders and

looking to share investment costs

users, serving in an advisory capacity

and expand their activities from their

to the Board of Directors and SWIFT

local bases. The adoption of the

management, the National Member

global ISO 20022 standard will

groups are present in 35 African a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com



Year founded


Countries & territories where SWIFT operates


Messages sent via SWIFTS' platform 32


countries and allow SWIFT to customise its solutions to fit local requirements. This has seen the implementation of SWIFT’s Sanctions Screening in Nigeria in 2014 to tackle financial crime compliance regulation with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The digital revolution is in full force, and SWIFT’s customers are continuously influenced by new technologies regulation and evolving consumer behaviours. As it moves forward and embraces this changing landscape, SWIFT remains committed to being a central part of this evolution. “One key priority for the coming years is promoting SWIFT gpi, the new standard in cross-border payments, to the wider financial community both in Africa and across the world,” says Kruger. “We currently have four banks live on the service in Africa, Standard Bank, ABSA Bank, Nedbank and FirstRand Bank, with many more going live in the coming months. The service is supporting these African banks in becoming more competitive by increasing the speed, transparency and end-to-end tracking of crossborder payments.”

a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com


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rom promoting snappy slogans and allowing people to create to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses

thrive, global self-expression company Spreadshirt made its name as a European

T-shirt printer, but is now fast becoming a much more diverse, global entity. When we last spoke to CEO Philip Rooke, the company was just starting to expand in the US. Now, it has reached over €100mn revenue thanks in part to this new market and is looking to optimise efficiency and stick to its customer centric vision in order to help the European business grow in uncertain times where 38

productivity is ever more important. “The majority of our business is European,” says Rooke. “That’s what drove us over €100mn (US$114mn) revenue.” Last year, Spreadshirt reached €106mn (US$121mn) in revenue, making €8.6mn (US$9.8mn) EBITDA. “This probably makes us the most profitable in our industry, and that’s because we’re able to concentrate on the right things.” For Spreadshirt, the US marks a mammoth opportunity, but the region is not without its challenges. “America is a huge market – the average American buys 9.4 T-shirts per year, while the average German buys 4.5,” Rooke explains. “More importantly, in most European countries we have three DECEMBER 2018


“American companies are very good at being lean, agile and customer focused” — Philip Rooke, CEO, Spreadshirt

or four competitors – and are nearly always number one – but in America we’re tracking 200 companies to compete with.” In this relatively new territory, Spreadshirt must step up to the plate and enhance customer experience for the modern, tech-savvy consumer. “Americans are not very patient,” Rooke observes. “If your usability is poor, they leave for a competitor. We really had to work on getting the experience much simpler. “American companies are very good at being lean, agile and customer focused,” he adds. As such, a key transformation Spreadshirt has implemented, not only in the US but a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com


throughout its business, is to simplify

our customers do that in their spare

everything from production processes

time? I look with horror at how much

to its user platforms – not least mobile,

money I’ve spent on Amazon recently

which is important to nail down since

– most of it on mobile as it’s so simple,”

55% of Spreadshirt’s traffic last year

he adds.

was mobile. “With a lot of ecommerce,

Now, all development of the ecom-

all the browsing takes place on buses

merce platform happens mobile first,

or in bars when people are on the move

forcing the business to

or have a spare moment.

ensure the experience is

“By concentrating on mobile, it forces


as simple as possible.

you to simplify the consumer’s journey

“You can always imagine

so they can not only browse but easily

extra features, but they

buy on mobile. Is the platform simple

can make it harder

enough to create your own T-shirt or

to use. Every feature and

browse the creations of others? Can

function must be simplified,


right down to marketing communication

items. Coupled with the number of

because you can’t write two paragraphs

markets it operates across, Spread-

on why a premium T-shirt is better than a

shirt in 2018 is in may ways a complex

normal one – nobody’s going to read that

beast in which, as Rooke puts it, “there

on mobile. It forces everyone from web

are 10,000 things that could go wrong.”

designers to purchasing and assortment

This in itself has forced Rooke to simplify

teams to simplify.

his own outlook and that of his leader-

“Five or 10 years ago, the more

ship team. “There’s no way to manage

features you added the more exciting it

all that end to end – I’d go crazy. So,

was, but now people want to achieve

over the past couple of years, there’s

tasks really simply and as such the

been a big shift in how we manage

80/20 rule is cutting back in,” adds

the business.

Rooke. “You have to concentrate on what 20% of features, stocks, offering,

“I don’t manage or oversee all elements – I’ve employed people who are a lot

makes up 80% of your business.”


Across the board, from mobile ecommerce to the factory floor, digital transformation is certainly “forcing a lot of simplification,” according to Rooke. This is especially challenging for Spreadshirt when its business model is anything but

“Five or 10 years ago, the more features you added the more exciting it was, but now people want to achieve tasks really simply” — Philip Rooke, CEO, Spreadshirt

simple – it has several businesses within it including people who sell on Amazon, directly to market, or create and buy or sell their own a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com


better than me,” he explains. “People used to write reports and ask for approval on what they were doing, but now we say ‘if you can turn this around, we don’t really care what you’re doing – we care what results you’re achieving.’” Spreadshirt now uses a system called Objectives and Key Results (OKR), which is used by the likes of Google and LinkedIn, to empower various teams. Objectives for the quarter are agreed among directors and it’s up to individuals and teams to go away and achieve these however they see fit. 42

“That’s the only way to manage a complex international business,” says Rooke. OKR allows empowerment to run right through the business. “People take responsibility. They care. They like the freedom of being able to think about how they can do things differently. Teams and individuals can really take ownership of what they’re doing.” This is vital when as CEO, Rooke lives on a different continent to some of his teams and might only see them a few times a year. Having trust and empowerment in place means C-level executives have their time freed up to communicate where it matters. “When I’m talking to the Las Vegas factory, I’m DECEMBER 2018

“In the past, we thought things were clever if they were complex. But actually, if someone can work out how to make something complex simpler – that’s the cleverest thing” — Philip Rooke, CEO, Spreadshirt


a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com




talking about quality and cost improvements and why they matter – before, I was worrying about processes. “We’ve abandoned nearly all the internal reporting – with the OKR system, and daily reports that show the KPIs that come out, it’s so much simpler and there’s less red tape. The whole mantra is around simplicity – trying to achieve something in a quarter is the simplest way to move it forward. People get rid of the big, complex ideas and brainstorm how to do things in a more complex way. We celebrate that at Spreadshirt. In the past, we thought things were clever if they were complex,” Rooke adds, “But actually if someone can work out how to make something complex much simpler – that’s the cleverest thing.”

a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com



City Focus 46


As Africa continues to embrace digital innovation, the capital city of Cameroon connects thousands of young people to the technologies of tomorrow WRITTEN BY



a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com

C I T Y F O C U S | YA O U N D É


n recent years, Africa has become a continent transformed and technology has been the key driver. With technology

all around the world redefining everyday life and industry sectors in more mature countries and markets, Africa is currently undergoing a digital revolution. Some of the leading technology companies and service providers have turned their attentions to Africa. Only recently, Google provided an update to its Google Africa Scholarship challenge to provide Android and Web development trainings. In the announcement, it revealed that it had con48

nected more than 8,000 developers across Africa to training and technology solutions, as well as more than 10,000 young aspiring and professional developers. It is of no surprise then, that the capital city of Yaoundé, is also significantly investing in the technologists of today to embrace the technologies of tomorrow. In early 2018, the capital of city of Cameroon officially unveiled the Next Generation Center for Technology (NGCT). Located in central Yaoundé, NexGen is a non-profit start-up incubator, supported by Ministry of Vocational training and Employment in Cameroon and UNICEF. Its purpose? To fund mentors, nurture ideas, startups and entrepreneurs to bridge the gap in providing skills for the next generation of workers in Africa. “The NexGen links workforce education to the latest technology DECEMBER 2018


Supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Vocational training and Employment in Cameroon, the Next Generation Center for Technology (NGCT) is located in central Yaoundé

‘Only recently, Google provided an update to its Google Africa Scholarship challenge to provide Android and web development training’ a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com

C I T Y F O C U S | YA O U N D É

The NGCT’s purpose is to fund mentors, nurture ideas, startups and entrepreneurs to bridge the gap in providing skills for the next generation of workers in Africa

and is designed to achieve excellence and foster creativity amongst the brightest 50

minds,” says NexGen. The centre provides a diverse ‘bootcamp’

The innovative game studio, Kiro’o Games, is based in Yaoundé, and described as the ‘first of its kind’ in Central Africa

curriculum that incorporates project-based learning, connecting aspiring young technologists with real-world technology problems, and a robotics summer program that sees children and young people work with robotics and automation to solve problems with innovative solutions. This bootcamp portfolio offers courses in digital literacy, coding, graphic design, cyber security and database design management among other courses. Another area of innovation that is proving key to developing a new generation of entrepreneurs is gaming and Yaoundé is home to one of the most successful digital startups in Cameroon focused entirely on educaDECEMBER 2018

The Kiro’o Games team

tion through gaming technology. Kiro’o Games, headquarter in central Yaoundé, is an innovative game studio described as the ‘first of its kind’ in Central Africa. The company is made up of 20 young Africans with a vision to create the best digital African catalogue with a blend of video games, comics, animations and illustrations. Orginally founded back in 2004, Kiro’o Games has spent the last decade transforming not only the Cameroon gaming space, but disrupting the global industry. In 2016, the company broke

2.5mn +

Approximate population of Yaoundé

English & French Languages spoken

new ground across the gaming industry with the release of Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan. What makes the game unique is that it is one of the very first companies in the world to produce and release an African-themed roleplaying game (RPG). The game was incredibly well received around the world and has cemented the company as an innovation hub for Cameroon, but the journey was one of challenge.


Year that Yaoundé became the capital of Cameroon

As it approached a launch date for the game, the company was rejected by every bank it approached for funding and so it launched a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was incredibly a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com


C I T Y F O C U S | YA O U N D É





successful and saw more than 88 international investors invest into the company. Speaking at the time of launch, Guillaume Olivier Madiba, founder of Kiro’o Games, commented that the game and the backing from international investors represented more than simply gaming as entertainment. “Our dream is bigger than that,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We want to build a bridge between the gaming industry and Africa.” Recognising this responsibility,

‘The [NexGen] centre provides a diverse ‘bootcamp’ curriculum that incorporates project-based learning, connecting aspiring young technologists with real-world technology problems’

the company launched a mentoring a fri c a .busi ne ssc hief. com

C I T Y F O C U S | YA O U N D É

‘Africa is embracing technology now more than ever and Yaoundé has already begun to show that it will play a key role in the evolving landscape’ program designed to connect the ‘missing link in the African economy’. The Kiro’o Rebuntu project is a mentoring program and 54

fintech platform that offers the “quintessence” of the company’s 13 years, connecting more than 10,000 technology project leaders to Cameroon and wider African communities. This project is but a reflection of the company, and Yaoundé’s growing emergence as a technology hub, and its vision to create an African digital catalogue hub with a user base of at least 18mn users across the continent by 2025. “The Web 3.0 will open a world based on the shared economy, and the one that will have the formula of “Renewable Finance” will be one of the kings of this new world,” says Kiro’o Games. “For now, it looks like science fiction (like the smartphone 30 years ago), but we know that this revolution will come DECEMBER 2018

from Africa, and we are now starting to prepare it with Rebuntu as a first step.” Yaoundé demonstrated its commitment to embracing the technological revolution by hosting a unique event designed to realise the tremendous opportunity that technology can bring to NGOs. Through a partnership between leading global technology companies including Microsoft, Bitdefender and Autodesk, “Exploring TechSoup Cameroon and taking advantages of TechSoup Global” invited professionals and NGO representatives to explore the “firing power” of the TechSoup programs. TechSoup provides access to resources, solutions and digital knowledge for NGOs all around the world. While no plans have been announced to make it an annual event, it is but a testament to the growing recognition of the transformative effects of technology across Africa. As Yaoundé looks to the future of technology it continues to invest in the young generation of entrepreneurs and innovators of today. Africa is embracing technology now more than ever and Yaoundé has already begun to show that it will play a key role in the evolving landscape.

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most admired A African brands Inspired by the African Union Agenda 2063 towards an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa, Brand Africa lists the most admired companies in the country based on image, reputation and competitiveness. Business Chief Africa looks at the top 10 admired African brands. WRITTEN BY


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Azam – Food, Tanzania One of the leading brands under the Bakhresa Group, Azam is brand that produces carbonated soft drinks, dairy ice cream, juices as well as Azam Bakeries. The Bakhresa Group is a leading family-owned industrial conglomerate in Tanzania, but also has a presence in Zanzibar, Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa to name a few. The company has an annual turnover of around $800mn. In 2007, as a sign of its commitment into corporate social responsibility, Bakhresa Group established Azam Football Club.



Trade Kings Ltd Consumer, Non Cyclical, Zambia The largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturer in Zambia, Trade Kings Ltd produces high quality detergents, soaps confectionary and soya nuggets. The company distributes its products throughout Zambia and the Sub-Saharan region. It’s flagship brand, Boom, is a washing powder that was first launched back in 1995. In the years since, an average of 5,000+ tons of Boom is produced per month.

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Tusker – Alcoholic Beverages, Kenya A premium lager brand under the East African Breweries company, Tusker Lager is a beverage dedicated to the spirit of the co-founder of Kenya Breweries Ltd, who was killed by an elephant while hunting back in 1922. Tusker is brewed from 100% African ingredients that are all locally sourced. The barley used in Tusker is sourced from the Savannah and the Maasai Mara, the spring water from the Aberdere mountains and all the yeast is developed locally. Tusker is well and truly an African beer. The beer’s slogan “Bia yangu, Nchi yangu” means “My beer, My country” in Swahili and more than 700,000 hectolitres are sold each year in Kenya.



Econet Telecommunications, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s largest provider of telecommunications services, Econet first launched its network back in July 1998. As it stands today, Econet is one of the largest companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange with a market cap of around $5.5mn. Econet Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of Econet Wireless, a privately held diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim. In 2017, the company partnered with the Zimbabwe National Road Administration to create cashless payment tollgates which allow drivers to link their vehicles with their EcoCash mobile money wallets.

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Shoprite – Retail, South Africa With a promise to deliver low prices in world-class shopping environment, Shoprite Holdings is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries constituting the largest fast-moving consumer goods retail operation in South Africa. With 28453 outlets across 15 African countries in sectors including hospitality, liquor, furniture, ticketing and fruit and vegetable procurement, Shoprite is well and truly cemented in the hearts of Africans everywhere. In 2018, the company cemented its position as the only national retailer with a verified 100% recycled shopping bag in all of its supermarkets, implemented a customer loyalty scheme that rewards customers with a 50c discount on all shopping for reusing Shoprite’s recyclable bags.



Tiger Brands – Consumer, South Africa Founded in 1921, Tiger Brands is a South African packaged good company.It’s very first product was an oatmeal brand called Tiger Oats and over time the company has grown and expanded into a wide range of consumer goods. Tiger Brands now provides products in baby care, beverages, perishables, personal care and grains. The last eight years has seen Tiger Brands expand and grow through strategic acquisitions including a controlling stake in Haco Industries (Kenya) and Chococam (Cameroon) as well as a 63.35% stake in Dangote Flour Mills (Nigeria).

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Globacom (Glo) Telecommunications, Nigeria Globacom, often referred to as Glo, is a leading telecommunications provider in Africa with millions of subscribers in Nigeria, the Republic of Benin and Ghana. The company provides much more than simply telecoms solutions designed to simplify the lives of Africans, it invests heavily into community development projects as well as being official sponsors to the national football teams and the Premier Leagues in both Nigeria and Ghana. In early 2018, the company reported that it had the highest new internet subscriber acquisition, recording 866,656 new data users which accounted for 66% of all Nigeria’s data users.



Anbessa – Apparel, Ethiopia The oldest shoe manufacturing company in Ethiopia, Anbessa produces more than 10,000 pairs of shoes per day. The company’s corporate headquarters are located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and it serves retail outlets across the country as well as in Italy, Germany, Sweden and North America. In September 2017, Anbessa officially moved to its 20,000sqm manufacturing facility in the Akaki Kality District. The move saw the company’s annual production capacity rise from 3,500 to 10,000.

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Dangote – Consumer, Nigeria The largest indigenous industrial conglomerate in Sub Saharan Africa, Dangote Group provides excellent business practices and products across a diversified portfolio that includes cement, fertiliser, food and beverages and real estate. Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, Dangote Group stands as a company ‘posed to reach new heights in every endeavour’. In October 2018, the Group took part in the World puff-puff Day by breaking the Guinness Book of World Records, baking 200kg of flour to produce 30,000 pieces of puff-puff.

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MTN Group Telecommunications, South Africa A leading provider of cellular network access and business solutions, MTN operates in 23 countries worldwide including the Middle East, Europe and of course Africa. With a mission statement defined by leading the ‘delivery of a Bold New Digital World’ to one of the fastest growing internet and mobile markets, MTN’s position as the most admired company in Africa 2018 is the latest in a series of milestones for the company, registering more than 230 million subscribers and becoming the first African telecom company to be ranked amongst the top 100 global brands.

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urrently the second largest bank in the country with a 25% market share, SBM Bank (Mauritius) Ltd is part of the SBM Group, a leading financial

group in Mauritius, with over 1,600 employees in Mauritius and a growing international presence. The Group is 72

also present in Kenya, India and Madagascar and, from early next year, the Seychelles. Last year, SBM Group acquired a majority stake in Kenya’s Fidelity Commercial Bank Limited followed this year by the acquisition of selected assets and liabilities of Chase Bank (in receivership), which has positioned SBM Bank (Kenya) Ltd as a top Tier 2 Bank on the Kenyan market, with more than 60 branches across the country and around 700 employees. SBM is also the first foreign bank in the world to have obtained a Wholly Owned Subsidiary Licence from the Reserve Bank of India to operate as a full-fledged wholly owned subsidiary on the Indian market. SBM is also expected to start operations in the Seychelles early next year. With digitalization as one of its strategic pillars, the bank is working to leverage the industry leading technology platform from Infosys Finacle, to provide the best possible customer experience in a digital world, as well DECEMBER 2018



as improve its operations from within. Head of IT Application at SBM, Ashwin Ramphul, was keen to discuss this digital transformation. Ramphul boasts 18 years of experience in IT, and has been heavily involved in the implementation and management of core banking systems and digital solutions for a number of financial institutions across Africa, Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


Ramphul spent most of his career in the banking and consultancy space,

get the project done and by April, it

where he occupied a number of key

had successfully gone live.

positions in IT, and recently joined SBM


and his team hit the ground running to

Keenly aware of SBM’s place in the

where he was ready to take on new

banking sector, Ramphul believes it is

challenges within the finance industry.

“imperative” for SBM to implement

At SBM, Ramphul is responsible for

innovative digital solutions in order to

all IT applications used on both the

surpass its main competitors. This is

customer side as well as internally. He

key not only in terms of customer

also heads the Project Management

service (with the likes of SBM’s new

Office and the Business Solutions Group.

mobile banking platform), but also in

“When I joined the bank in January,

the inner workings of the bank itself.

one of the key projects was the upgrade

“If we want to go digital outside, our

of the internet banking and mobile

processes and operations within the

banking platform,” he recalls. Ramphul

bank need to be fully digital as well,”

“We can’t go digital outside if our processes and operations within the bank are not truly digital” — Ashwin Ramphul, Head of IT Application, SBM



he explains. “That’s why we’re really

With this in mind, SBM has invested

looking at the end-to-end and inside-

in digitalising and improving internal

out processes.”

processes and efficiencies, while also

Part of SBM’s aim is to offer potential

enhancing customer experience.

digital channels to fulfil customers’

Processes within the bank are being

expectations and financial needs. “In

robotised and several avenues are

Mauritius, traditional branches still

now being explored to enable the bank

have a big role to play in serving

to become a “truly digital financial

customers,” he explains, citing the

services institution”.

country’s ageing population who will

“We’re looking at RPA, AI and data

always prefer going to their local

analytics, and at some point we were

branch and having someone to talk

also investigating the use of Blockchain

to, meaning a balance must be struck

technology – our intention is very strong

between digital innovation and the

on these fronts,” says Ramphul. For

expectations of clients.

example, Infosys Finacle RPA is now E X E C U T I V E P R OF IL E

Ashwin Ramphul is Head of IT Application at State Bank of Mauritius (SBM). He joined the company in January 2018 and has been responsible for digital transformation at the bank, including the upgrade of its internet and mobile banking platforms. Previously, Ramphul worked at MCB Group, the largest bank in the country, for 16 years and was responsible for core banking systems. Ramphul holds an MSc in Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems from the London School of Economics and Political Science, which he obtained following a BSc in Business Information Systems with Management at Middlesex University. a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m



used to process inward remittances at SBM – this has reduced processing time from over 15 minutes to just 2-3 minutes, and as Ramphul adds: “The advantage with robots is that they operate on a 24/7 basis.” With operations spanning in Kenya, India and soon the Seychelles, Ramphul is keenly aware that SBM’s customers will increasingly demand and expect to be able to bank digitally at their convenience. “We’re present in countries where innovations and digital solutions have really hit the roof. India is like 76

a honeypot where digital solutions are concentrated, and Kenya has the highest digital penetration point in the whole of Africa. Our technology partners such as Infosys Finacle have tremendous experience in these markets, and we are constantly leveraging their expertise. One of the key things with technology is user experience, so revamping the user interface for our internet banking and mobile banking customers was a necessity. We really felt they needed to have a proper user experience (UX), which is more modern, more appealing and more user friendly, so it was necessary to move to a more digital-friendly solution for DECEMBER 2018

“With technology, we are able to deploy our staff to do true value-adding tasks and more revenuegenerating initiatives, instead of getting bogged down with administrative tasks” — Ashwin Ramphul, Head of IT Application, SBM


both internet and mobile banking. “Nowadays, everyone has a smartphone and most companies use corporate banking through the internet – so the issue of security is getting a lot more attention,” he adds. “We felt we needed more secure internet and mobile banking solutions than our competitors, so we came up with some security features no other banks have in Mauritius.” One such solution has been the use of biometrics – fingerprint recognition – to access mobile banking. This is a first for Mauritius, and for Ramphul this is a strong message to our customers that SBM values security. Ramphul also comments that to work for a bank which innovates it is imperative to ensure that an optimal level of security is in place. “When I joined SBM, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the level of cybersecurity, and even the level of general IT security, are incredibly strong. Everything is properly controlled and the right tools are in place.” The IT operating model of an organisation also plays a significant competitive role. “Most of our systems are managed by a system integrator,” says Ramphul. “Having said that, we do realise that we cannot rely solely on a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m




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system integrators with the expertise

especially when it comes to customer

and technology that are so vital to

service and innovation. The most

development. SBM is therefore working

innovative banking ideas normally

to rebuild some internal capacity for

surface from within the organisation

strategic innovation, and looking at how

and that’s where you get flexibility

to utilise the best technology that will

and rapidity rather than going fully

truly add value to its operations. “For

outsourced. For this, one requires

example, the implementation of robotic

a capable, agile team; flexible technol-

process automation (RPA) in some of our

ogy platform; and reliable partners,”

key processes has yielded good results

he adds.

– this was done with a third-party provider

It’s therefore a careful balancing act between those who work within the

in collaboration with our team.” This kind of collaboration is vital in

bank and understand what it needs and

building the partnerships that make

what the customer expects, and those

SBM work. “If you don’t have a good a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m


“We always do our market research and have a proper business case in place to ensure that any solution we bring in will truly add value” — Ashwin Ramphul, Head of IT Application, SBM

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be at its optimum operating capacity, otherwise it doesn’t work. We really need to be on our toes and make sure everything is being developed in the proper way – it’s not about being a watchdog over them, but being collaborative and guiding them as well as them guiding us and making sure that the relationship is working.” With a well-established international presence, a key challenge for the bank going forward will be to maintain levels of quality and brand expectations whilst also catering for the local communities it serves. “The market context is very working relationship with the service

different in Mauritius, India and Kenya,”

providers, everything goes down the

Ramphul comments, “so before we

hole,” Ramphul comments. “You need

bring in any kind of solution or innova-

to be agile. It needs to be a two-way

tion we always do our market research

working partnership. We can’t just

and have a proper business case in place

expect a system integrator to do every-

to ensure that any solution we bring

thing for us. We need to understand our

in will truly add value.”

customer requirements and communicate those to our service providers.

Already, SBM has launched a plethora of digital solutions and the bank’s digital

“This relationship needs to be devel-

transformation journey is still ongoing.

oped and nurtured, not only in terms of

It has been vital to keep staff on board

contractual agreements – there needs

with all the new developments and

to be trust. We need to understand each

implement proper change manage-

other properly. That’s where a true

ment. “When we launched the new

vendor-customer relationship needs to

internet banking and mobile banking a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m



for instance, we had to train all our front-end staff,” Ramphul explains. Corporate customers were accompanied with small teams of experts to ensure they understood the new platforms and the value the changes were adding. “We were present with our corporate customers before and during the launch, guiding them through the new system.” When it came to individual customers, SBM’s customer service centre was vital. “Our contact centre played 82


Domestic marketshare


Year founded


Approximate number of employees

an important role in this – we had to ensure that all staff were up to scratch in terms of competency, knowing what the platform was all about. One of the ways of doing this was to involve them in our user testing. They were an integral part of the project,” he says. Ramphul is confident that the bank

trative tasks. The second aspect of

is already reaping the rewards of

technology is in terms of reducing

implementing new digital solutions,

human errors – the cost of errors can

both from a customer service perspec-

be really huge, like a manual error

tive and through automating operations

where a transaction is duplicated and

within the company. “With technology,

processed twice… the risk of this with

we are able to redeploy our staff to do

solutions like robotics is mitigated and

more value adding tasks and more

minimised, so the cost of errors goes

revenue generating initiatives, instead

down significantly.”

of getting bogged down with adminisDECEMBER 2018

Moving forward, SBM will look to



synergise its digital solutions across its key markets in order to grow in a sustainable, successful way. “The most important strategic initiative we should really be focusing on is to leverage our group digital offering in Kenya, India and Mauritius, have this digital ecosystem in place and work toward making it a success,� says Ramphul.

a f r i c a . b u s i n e s s c h i e f. c o m









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Profile for Business Chief Africa

Business Chief Africa — December 2018  

Business Chief Africa — December 2018