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BevSA wants more time on sugar tax

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The South African soft drinks industry is asking for more time for a total dietary study to be done on obesity in the country before the new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is introduced.
The Beverage Association of South Africa (BevSA) didn’t specify how long this process would take or who should be responsible conducting the research in its statement.

The draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament by the former minister of finance Pravin Gordhan in February incorporates a tax on sugary beverages and represents the first indication of how National Treasury’s proposed health promotion levy may manifest in law.

BevSA believe this law will have a negative economic impact and limited health gains. It also said there were baseline studies in a submission to National Treasury on the matter.

While acknowledging and agreeing with World Health Organisation targets on sugar consumption, and supporting initiatives to reduce total sugar intake in a sustainable way, BevSA said it remained concerned that there had been disproportionate focus specifically on sugar in beverages as a source of calories.
The levy targets just 3% of the average South African’s daily caloric intake, and as proposed will have no discernible impact on obesity – reducing the average daily intake of South Africans by just three to four calories/day.

BevSA executive director, Mapule Ncanywa, said the Nedlac and parliamentary processes now in motion offered an opportunity for all interested parties to engage, and together develop an effective anti-obesity solution that will not lead to job losses while still meeting health objectives.

Total dietary study

“We urge the government to pause legislative action until such research is available and such engagement and consultation processes have run their course. We maintain that a total dietary study is absolutely necessary to clarify the key causes of obesity in South Africa and to establish a benchmark against which future improvements can be ascertained. To be clear, obesity is a problem and we can be part of the measures toward addressing this problem, but singling out one beverage category and taxing it punitively does not make sense, especially as we are offering up an alternative solution that unions and civil society are discussing with us.

Industry reducing sugar content

“While BevSA members committed to reducing the sugar content of their products, they requested that they be given a reasonable amount of time to do so prior to introduction of the tax. The organisation said the timeframes for implementation were especially challenging for smaller, local brands, where reformulation was more difficult,” the statement said.

In its submission, the association also asked for clarity on the rationale for selecting 4g/100ml as the threshold for the tax as a starting point.

“While Treasury indicated that the 4g threshold was arrived as a result of stakeholder engagement, it presents an impossible target for many industry players to attain in a short space of time, and was certainly not consulted on with the industry most immediately impacted” added Ncanywa.

BevSA said it believed the current proposal to include the health promotion levy within the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill was flawed, and instead proposed that the fiscal element of an obesity strategy be included in the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill. Owing to its technical complexity, the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill would be more appropriate for the introduction of new tax administrative procedures and other technical and procedural changes to tax laws.

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Press Release

Softline expands in MENA by increasing its investments in the Egyptian market

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Softline, the leading company in digital transformation, cloud and cybersecurity services, unveiled a plan to increase its business and investments in Egypt. The company recently held a series of meetings with officials in different sectors and government institutions including the Ministry of Communications and Information, The General Authority for Investments and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA).

During these meetings, representatives from the company and government discussed a wide range of issues including Softline’s targeted investments over the next few years, as the company works to consolidate its presence and investments in Egypt. They also discussed the joint frameworks of cooperation to support Egypt’s national plan for digital transformation, which encompasses various companies and sectors.

The meetings also touched on the company’s plan and strategy to hire recent engineering graduates from Egyptian colleges – especially the technology colleges – and also providing ongoing support through training.

The meetings were attended by Roy Harding, President of Softline International; Atul Ahuja, Softline Senior Vice President for Middle East, Africa and Asia; Engineer Ahmed Nabil, Managing Director of Softline Egypt; and Mohamed Khattab, director of government and education sector at Softline Egypt.

Engineer Ahmed Nabil, the managing director of Softline Egypt commented: “It was an honour to meet with officials and decision makers in Egypt, which is making a great leap forward in terms of its digital transformation and IT. Today we are looking forward to expanding our business in the Middle East by increasing our investments in Egypt, which will also serve as a hub for our business in the region.”

Softline provides digital transformation and cybersecurity services in more than 50 countries and around 95 global cities. Roy Harding, Softline International’s President mentioned: “These meetings have given us a very clear sense of how Softline can support the public and private sectors, and we’re excited to be playing a part in realizing Egypt’s vision for overhauling its digital infrastructure over the next decade.”

Atul Ahuja, Softline Senior Vice President for Middle East, Africa and Asia, commented: “At Softline Egypt, we feel we are at the right time and right place. Softline’s global experience in offering solutions and services for emerging economies would be just right for the growth and transformation Egypt as a country is experiencing”.

The company also contributes to building and managing a safe hybrid infrastructure for its clients. It also provides support and maintenance teams for the required infrastructure to support global digital transformation, cloud services and cybersecurity.

Nabil, asserted that the stable economic situation in Egypt and the continued improvement of the investment environment in Egypt “gives us a confident push to increase our investments in Egypt and support Egypt’s national agenda and the long-term strategic plan of the state to achieve the principles and goals of the sustainable development in all sectors according to Egypt 2030 vision”.

 

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TradeDepot Raises $110 Million To Extend ‘Buy-Now-Pay-Later’ to Retailers Across Africa

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TradeDepot, the leading B2B eCommerce and embedded finance platform in Africa, has raised $110 million in an equity and debt funding round. This will support the delivery of Buy-Now-Pay-Later services to 5 million SME retailers and drive further expansion of its merchant platform across the continent.

The Series B equity round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group, with participation from Novastar, Sahel Capital, CDC Group, Endeavor Catalyst and existing investors, Partech and MSA Capital. The debt funding was led by Arcadia Funds.

Africa’s SME retailers generate $1 trillion in sales annually and contribute $2.6 trillion to the continent’s nominal GDP, but a fragmented distribution network and lack of access to financing has led to inefficiencies in distribution and many missed opportunities across the value chain. Via its ShopTopUp platform, TradeDepot offers a broad range of consumer goods to SME retailers within its network and provides credit lines to enable these retailers to access inventory and pay in installments as they sell on to their own customers.

The new funding will expedite the delivery of this service to more retailers, increasing penetration for consumer goods brands and driving prosperity in one of the continent’s most critical sectors. With active operations in 12 cities across Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, TradeDepot leverages its data, technology and robust logistics operations to connect retailers with suppliers and unlock financing to fund inventory purchases for retailers, enabling increased sales, higher margins and other value-added services for all parties.

Speaking about the new funding, Onyekachi Izukanne, CEO and co-founder of TradeDepot, said, “We remain super focused on making digital commerce and financing both accessible and affordable to neighbourhood retailers across key cities in Africa. We are delighted to be joined by an elite group of new investors and have IFC’s Wale Ayeni and Brian Odhambo of Novastar joining our Board of Directors, to support us on this journey to drive growth and prosperity across the continent.”

TradeDepot has built a network of leading consumer goods brands and SME retailers across Africa, and created a proprietary risk scoring engine that uses retailers’ purchase history, previous repayment performance and other related data points to predict their creditworthiness. This game-changing financing model coupled with industry-leading technology to support logistics operations has led to a 200 percent increase in transaction volumes for retail store owners.

“The informal sector is a large and critical part of Africa’s economy, accounting for around 80 per cent of jobs in the region,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. “We are excited to work with TradeDepot to leverage technology to help small businesses across the continent, particularly the many retailers led by women, access the resources they need to grow and scale.”

 

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Insurpass Partners AXA Mansard To Provide Easy Access To Health Insurance Coverage For More Nigerians

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Insurpass, an insurance technology company has partnered with AXA Mansard, a leading player in the insurance and asset management sector to provide access to affordable insurance coverage for emerging customers in Nigeria.

The partnership will leverage Insurpass’ Open Insurance API to provide easy access to AXA’s health insurance products such as Malaria-care, Malaria-care plus, Easy Care, and so on.  AXA’s Malaria-care provides quality malaria test and treatment to customers at various accredited partner pharmacies nationwide. Malaria-care plus provides cashback on customers’ hospital expenses when placed on admission for 2 or more nights and pays life insurance benefit to the customer’s beneficiary in an event of a customer’s death. Easy Care provides comprehensive health coverage and gives customers access to over 1000 hospitals nationwide.

Insurpass, in its drive, to deepen insurance penetration, increase financial inclusion and break the barrier to accessing insurance coverage in Nigeria. Through its plug-and-play API infrastructure and embedded insurance model will enable other service providers ranging from Banks, Health-techs, Edu-techs, and various point-of-sale agents to enroll customers for this health insurance scheme. The company also promises coverage to the base-of-the-pyramid consumers who live in rural areas. And do not have access to smartphones or internet service, as it will enable them to access healthcare insurance. Through thousands of point-of-sales agents who already carry out mini-financial activities around their neighborhoods.

Speaking about the partnership with AXA Mansard, Gloria Agboifoh, Head of Partnership and Business Development at Insurpass stated that, “Insurpass at its core is committed to breaking the barrier to inclusive insurance in Nigeria and bringing innovative and affordable insurance closer to the very people that needs it the most and this partnership goes a long way in bringing the company closer to its goal of democratizing access to insurance coverage starting with health insurance”.

In the same vein, Mr. Alfred Egbai, Head, Emerging Customers and Digital Partnerships Group at AXA Mansard, stated that “our aim is to create innovative products that cater for the needs of our customers. We will therefore continue to strive to ensure that these products are easily accessible, this is why we have partnered with Insurpass to achieve this objective”.

Insurpass, provides an API-driven insurance infrastructure-as-a-service solution that enables companies across various sectors to embed insurance products and back-end insurance components into any web, mobile app, or USSD channel through its Open Insurance API.

AXA Mansard is registered as a composite company with the National Insurance Commission of Nigeria (NAICOM). The Company offers life and non-life insurance products and services to individuals and institutions across Nigeria whilst also offering asset/investment management services and health insurance solutions through its two subsidiaries – AXA Mansard Investments Limited and AXA Mansard Health Limited respectively. The parent company was listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange in November 2009.

Customers can also access affordable insurance products on their devices when they log on to BimaCred an online platform powered by Insurpass.

 

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