Google to invest $1bn to lift Africa internet access

Google to invest $1bn to lift Africa internet access
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Updated 06 October 2021

Google to invest $1bn to lift Africa internet access

Google to invest $1bn to lift Africa internet access
  • Internet reliability is a problem in Africa where less than a third of the continent's 1.3 billion people are connected to broadband
  • The deal expands Google's pledge announced four years ago to train around 10 million young Africans and small-scale businesses in digital skills

Google on Wednesday said it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to allow for faster and more affordable internet access and support entrepreneurship in Africa.


Internet reliability is a problem in Africa where less than a third of the continent's 1.3 billion people are connected to broadband, according to the World Bank.


But the continent, where nearly half the population is under 18, is a promising market.


According to Google and Alphabet boss, Sundar Pichai "huge strides" have been made in recent years, but more work is needed to make "internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African".


The investment will support digital transformation by ensuring improved connectivity and access, he said in a statement.


The funds will, among other things, go towards infrastructure development including the Equiano subsea cable that will connect South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena with Europe.


The deal expands Google's pledge announced four years ago to train around 10 million young Africans and small-scale businesses in digital skills.


"I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa's biggest problems than Africa's young developers and startup founders," said Google's Africa managing director Nitin Gajria.


Internet access is also hampered by the affordability of smartphones.


Google said it will partner with Kenya's telecoms giant Safaricom to launch affordable Android smartphones for first time users.


The project will later be rolled out across the continent with other carriers such Airtel, MTN, Orange and Vodacom.


India seeks 10m tons of overseas coal: NRG matters

India seeks 10m tons of overseas coal: NRG matters
Updated 12 sec ago

India seeks 10m tons of overseas coal: NRG matters

India seeks 10m tons of overseas coal: NRG matters

RIYADH: Despite the global pressure to move away from fossil fuels, South Africa and India are relying on coal to help fill gaps in the energy supply. On the other hand, the Commodity Hedge Fund index is seen benefiting from the energy transition.

Looking at the bigger picture:

  • Japan’s 2 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) green innovation fund created back in 2020, as well as the potential carbon tax, are not enough to bring the country to its carbon neutrality goals by 2050, Bloomberg reported. One possible solution is for the Asian country to consider a new form of sovereign debt as a source of funding in an attempt to pursue net zero goals.

Through a micro lens:

  • South African electricity public utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is to burn more coal than expected over the next year amid delays in a government program that aims to draw energy supply from private producers, Bloomberg reported. That said, the state owned firm anticipates 2 percent more energy generation from coal over the next year.
  • Indian state owned statutory corporation NTPC Ltd. sought bids for an accumulative amount of over 10 million tons of foreign coal to curb power shortages amid expected strong summer power demand, Bloomberg reported. As a result, coal imports will jump in spite of the policies in favor of local production. 
  • Germany’s electric utility company E.ON gained hundreds of thousands of customers across Europe as the rallying energy prices forced smaller competitors in the region to shut, Reuters reported. Despite the fact that this is just a small share of the firm’s 50 million customer base, it emphasizes how the surging costs are severely affecting retailers across the continent.
  • The Bridge Alternatives Commodity Hedge Fund Index jumped over 19 percent in 2021 as the energy transition unlocked several trading opportunities from crude oils to base metals, Bloomberg reported. The surge in trading opportunities is mainly attributed to the global shift towards renewable energy which increased demand for battery metals required for electric vehicle production.

 


Shares of Saudi mining firm Ma’aden hit highest value since listing

Shares of Saudi mining firm Ma’aden hit highest value since listing
Updated 11 min 18 sec ago

Shares of Saudi mining firm Ma’aden hit highest value since listing

Shares of Saudi mining firm Ma’aden hit highest value since listing

RIYADH: Shares of the Gulf’s largest mining firm, Saudi-listed Ma’aden, hit its highest value since listing at SR95.5 ($25.5).

The company's shares reached that level at 10:36 a.m. Saudi time on Thursday Jan. 20.

The firm, also known as the Saudi Arabian Mining Company, returned to profit last year, posting returns of SR3.1 billion ($826 million) in the first nine months 2021.

This was compared to a net loss of SR780 million in the same period in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit pushed industries to the wall. 

The recovery was due to higher average sales prices of all products except gold.


Key factors to watch before opening bell on Tadawul today

Key factors to watch before opening bell on Tadawul today
Updated 20 January 2022

Key factors to watch before opening bell on Tadawul today

Key factors to watch before opening bell on Tadawul today

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock index, TASI, was up on Wednesday to its highest close since 2006, continuing its rally from last week amid heightened investor sentiment. 
TASI edged 0.5 percent higher to 12,260 points, and the parallel Nomu market added 0.4 percent to reach 26,158 points.

In line with Saudi Arabia, most GCC indexes closed higher on Wednesday, with Abu Dhabi’s FTSE ADX General index outperforming, up 1.6 percent.

Muscat Stock Exchange’s MSX30 rose 0.8 percent, followed by Bahrain’s BAX and Qatar’s QSI which were up in the range of 0.2 and 0.3 percent.

Bourses of Dubai and Kuwait were down 0.3 and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, the Egyptian index EGX30 dropped 1.4 percent.  

In energy trading, Brent crude rose in early morning to its highest level in seven years, reaching $88.5 per barrel, and US WTI crude oil went up to $87.3 per barrel as of 8:48 a.m. Saudi time.

Stock news

  • Yanbu National Petrochemical Co., known as Yansab, reported a 126 jump in net profit in the fiscal year 2021, due to higher product selling prices
  • Amlak responded to a plaintiff who alleged it faces damages regarding a residential tower project, saying it did not not breach its contractual obligations

Calendar

Jan. 20, 2022

National Co. for Learning and Education will start paying out dividends of SR0.8 per share for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2021

Jan. 25, 2022

Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co., SADAFCO, to pay cash dividends at SR3 per share for the first half of its fiscal year

 


Saudi fintech Lean Technologies raises $33 million latest funding round

Saudi fintech Lean Technologies raises $33 million latest funding round
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi fintech Lean Technologies raises $33 million latest funding round

Saudi fintech Lean Technologies raises $33 million latest funding round
  • The proprietary technology is used by a number of financial players in the region, across different verticals

RIYADH: Saudi financial technology startup Lean Technologies has raised $33 million in its series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India. 

The startup provides a platform that allows its clients to integrate with their customer's bank accounts to retrieve relevant information or initiate bank transfers. 

The proprietary technology is used by a number of financial players in the region, across different verticals including remittances, cryptocurrency, and investment, the company said in a statement. 

“We started Lean with the aim of enabling the next generation of financial innovation in the Middle East, a mission deep-rooted in the hearts of our entire team,” Hisham Al-Falih, co-founder and CEO of Lean, said. 

The investment happens in the background of a burgeoning regional financial ecosystem, characterized by fintech sandboxes and forward-thinking regulations. 

Lean aims to be the first Saudi aggregator to “enable the booming sector within the Kingdom,” which it ties back to the ambitious 2030 vision that includes financial objectives. 


Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high
Updated 20 January 2022

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

Residential land prices drive Saudi real estate inflation to almost 2-year high

RIYADH: A hike in residential land prices prompted real estate prices in Saudi Arabia to rise by an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the final quarter of 2021, according to data by Gastat.

This is the highest level since the first quarter of 2020 as prices of residential land plots went up, causing the sub-index of residential real estate prices to go up by 1.7 percent.

Other components of this sub-index – which includes costs of buildings, villa, apartments and houses – all underwent negative inflation.

Meanwhile, commercial and agricultural real estate prices fell from a year ago by 0.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, balancing the effect on the overall index.

In quarterly terms, real estate prices in the Kingdom ticked up by 0.5 percent induced by, again, the household real estate sub-index which grew by 0.7 percent.