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Soon, we'll have joint stock companies in the three cities of Nairobi, Jozi and Lagos which arguably form SSA's biggest economic axis. Here's a newly-released interview with the president and CEO of General Electric Africa, based in Nairobi. General Electric, the largest US conglomerate upgraded its Nairobi office early this year to a regional hub serving its sub-Saharan Africa business. Over the past one year, the manufacturer of large-scale industrial products has also sealed several deals on the continent as its seeks more opportunities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Mwaura Kimani spoke to the president and CEO of GE Africa, Jay Ireland on doing business in the region and the firm?s strategy for the continent. We set up our headquarters in Nairobi based on the realisation that we needed a larger presence in East Africa.
We are in the final stages of negotiations with Kenya Power on a Power Purchase Agreement and hope to break ground next year.
In Kenya some of our biggest customers are Kenya Airways and Rift Valley Railways to whom we supply engines.
In Africa, the traditional financiers of such projects have been development institutions like the World Bank and IMF. Human capital is becoming the arsenal for growth and the single tool each company needs to navigate the business terrain. Governments have to take the responsibility of educating their people up to a certain level, say secondary school. But regarding returns on projects ? the political and business and credit risks are the same as everywhere else.
Kenya holds its election next year, an event which is of interest to business and households in the East African region, at least following a botched poll in 2008 that triggered violence. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (the world's largest services firm) has organized their African business into 3 streams: the East, the South and the West. Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently restructured its business, creating three African hubs in a move aimed at increasing efficiency and growing revenues on the continent. Emmanuel Were spoke to recently appointed regional senior partner heading the East African hub, Anne Eriksson, on the restructuring, trends in the accounting profession and her rise to the top. The business fundamentals of setting up the hub are also right because the continent has 11 of the 15 fastest growing economies in the world. Some clients are investing in niche services that require recruiting and bringing in expertise, which is where we come in.


We have divided the business in Africa into three, with each having a head: East, South and West Africa.
We aim to distinguish ourselves by collaborating more effectively and applying our specialised industry knowledge to regions that share a number of common growth trends and profiles. For sub-saharan Africa, Pricewaterhouse Coopers only operates in those countries mentioned. They're in Abidjan but I do know most of their recruitment for francophone africa are done in France. President Kibaki and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn (second left) listen to Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia University?s Earth Institute, as he made a presentation on how smart water meters work during the launch of the Columbia Global Centres for Africa at KICC January 14, 2013. An international research and training institute has established a centre in Nairobi that seeks to bank on robust technology breakthroughs to solve some of Africa?s economic challenges. Columbia University, through its newly-established hub ? Columbia Global Centre for Africa ? is seeking to ride on ICT solutions developed in Kenya to meet the region?s needs in agriculture, health, education, and environment. Columbia?s Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs said Kenyans could be poorer in the next century with the population projected to reach 160 million people. The mobile phone money transfer platform has offered solutions to financial inclusion in Kenya and Africa. After a week of traveling around sub-Saharan Africa, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt saw what he thinks could be the continent?s technology leader: Nairobi, Kenya?s capital.
But Kenya, with relatively stable politics and the British legal system, attracts foreign investment with fewer problems, he wrote. Entrepreneurs in Nairobi said Schmidt visited the iHub, a startup co-working space that has taken over a couple of floors of a mall there, to meet a dozen companies. Kopo Kopo is a startup that makes it easier for businesses to accept money via text message.
Africa?s youth can avoid being taken advantage of through corruption or militarism by spreading information and connecting with it, Schmidt said.
One test of his thesis will be Kenya?s March elections, which citizens fear will erupt into violence. Mauritius used & second-hand cars marketplace - autocar, Autocar mauritius - buy or sell used cars, reconditioned cars or second hand cars in mauritius.
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Across East Africa, we are increasing our investments in medical equipment as well as supplying jet engines for companies like RwandAir and other regional airlines.


We have good luck in pulling business-oriented people together but there is a need for more investments in the hard technical stuff. For example, it takes two weeks to ship goods from Nigeria to Ghana ? that?s got to get better. You can lose money in Africa just as much as you can anywhere else, but you can also make a lot of money here. We need to see growth across countries especially with regard to electricity and logistical networks. For us, the biggest worry is not something drastic like violence happening and shutting down everything but new governments coming in and changing everything say with nationalisation laws. At seven, the South hub has the most countries — South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland. Many businesses in East Africa already operate regionally and Mauritius, for example, is emerging as an important offshore centre for mainland Africa. Unless we harness ICT rapidly and solve the problems we are experiencing, we might not be able to face off the challenges,? said Prof Sachs.
Among the solutions is a smart water dispensing system for use by vendors in slum areas, starting with Kibera. SafariDesk helps plan East African vacations, and eLimu makes a computer tablet for Kenyans in primary school to use.
In 2007, more than a thousand were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes after the elections. We plan to invest over $100 million in two wind power projects in Kenya starting next year. In his post, Schmidt pointed out M-Pesa, a mobile payment service backed by Safaricom, the biggest carrier in Kenya. A growing middle-class means companies must produce more, and more goods have to be shipped in.
What happened in Kenya was awful but from a business perspective, we are not in the consumer business, and the economy kept going, despite the drop in tourism and other sectors.



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