All posts by rachel_eaton

Gong wins comms brief for EU funded Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator

Adelphi research, which runs the EU funded Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator (UGEFA) in collaboration with Finding XY, has selected Gong to lead communications for the next phase of its business support programme. 

Seeking financing can be extremely challenging for SMEs in Africa and UGEFA aims to improve the flow of capital into SMEs with high growth potential which are focused on the green economy.   

By identifying established green SMEs in sectors such as clean energy and sustainable tourism,  UGEFA prepares business leaders to scale their offerings through interactive learning. They are then matched with a bank and are given access to loans, a third of which is covered by UGEFA. The business support continues through the next phase of growth through training and peer mentoring.  

 The aim is to develop a supportive ecosystem of SMEs and lenders, committed to shaping Uganda’s transition to a green economy. 

Gong’s role will be to amplify the next call for applications from eligible green entrepreneurs across the country, as well as disseminate programme results, notably during the Green Finance Dialogue Forum due to take place towards the end of 2021. 

 

The East Africa Insurance Sector: driving momentum to ensure climate change mitigation? 

By Sarah Caddy 

Extreme weather events are on the rise due to climate change, placing East Africa increasingly at risk. The recent torrential rain raising Lake Tanganyika to dangerous water levels is just one example, with experts citing climate change and deforestation in the Burundi highlands as causes for topsoil erosion around the lakes. Droughts, tropical cyclones and even plagues of locusts have all been experienced recently. Each threaten the health and livelihoods of households and economies. 

In response, there’s growing impetus to promote sustainability in the run up to the global climate event COP26, to be held in the UK in November. As experts in estimating risk and with significant investment capable of steering meaningful change, the insurance industry is well placed to advise and make a difference.   

To this end, the Nairobi Declaration on Sustainable Insurance was launched by the UN Environment Programme’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) on 22 April 2021. Founding signatories including the Association of Kenyan Insurers (AKI), ICEA Lion Group, Egypt’s Regional Center for Sustainable Finance (RCSF), FSD Africa, and PTA Reinsurance all pledged to strengthen the African insurance industry’s contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include ensuring a sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Four months on, with global climate disasters continuing to make news headlines, we look at the efforts being made by the African insurance industry to achieve the goals outlined by the Nairobi Declaration.  

As the only African member of the 22 global insurers and reinsurers who collaborated over 2020 as part of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) insurer pilot group, ICEA Lion Group is vocal about its pioneering role. Writing about its work on the group, it describes the analytical tools the firm is developing to improve climate risk disclosures in line with the recommendations of the TCFD, using the latest climate science. With mounting global pressure on accountability and evidence-based net zero target achievement claims, we predict an increase in African insurance firms communicating their use of tools aligned to the TCFD recommendations, and their role in mitigating against climate change. 

Meanwhile, FSD Africa refers to the obligations for the insurance industry to act on climate change. Writing in their July 2021 blog, risk managers Kelvin Massingham and Zillah Maliah outline the extent of the sustainable development crisis that we currently face, and the essential role that the insurance industry must play in facilitating the flow of capital to climate mitigation investments.  Their call to action to their industry peers is to act now: with only 3 percent of global climate finance allocated to sub Saharan Africa, and a low percentage of African weather-related losses currently being insured, East Africa is poorly equipped to meet the cost of increasing climate disasters. Delay from the insurance industry could prove to be catastrophic. 

While home to 15 percent of the world’s population, Africa is responsible for only 4 percent of global carbon emissions. And yet, Africa’s citizens are already among those suffering most from the effects of climate change – not only from extreme climate events, but also from decreasing agricultural yields and increasing disease transmission, as outlined in this article by the UNFCCCDespite the unfairness of this situation, there is hope. Rama Yade, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centerdescribes the potential offered by the African continent to reverse climate change. She writes convincingly of the renewable energy opportunity, but also of the “massive investment” required to achieve full capacity – fifty billion dollars per year by 2050, according to the United Nations 

The onus is on African insurance industry leaders to leverage their collective might towards a sustainable future. The appetite for working collaboratively towards a common goal that benefits society as well as business is evident in the work of the Nairobi Declaration. By effectively communicating their individual efforts, those insurance firms that are pioneering in this regard can not only be seen as industry leaders but may also nurture best industry practice for all. 

 

Understanding the full value of rural electrification in sub-Saharan Africa

By Ryan Witton 

According to the International Energy Agency’s 2019 Africa Energy Outlook, some 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity (that’s 75% of the global total), and around 900 million lack access to clean cooking. Despite this, the population without electricity access is in fact falling thanks mostly to the speedy energy transitions of a small number of leading countries, particularly Kenya, Senegal, Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia. Electrification in these countries has been implemented through grid connections and a rapid rise in off-grid systems such as the solutions provided by Bboxx 

At the turn of the century, Africa’s installed renewable energy capacity was around 22 gigawatts (GW) – a sharp contrast to the 189GW capacity in Europe the same year (a continent with 85 million fewer people). In the two decades since, Africa’s installed generation has more than doubled to over 53GW and is continuing with strong momentum. Just take a look at recent officially launched projects like Kipeto‘s 100MW wind farm in Kenya or AMEA Power’s 50MW solar PV power plant in Togo. 

We all know that access to electricity brings a host of economic and social benefits to high-growth nations, but the full worth of providing these clean sources of energy in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa has yet to be realised. While the physical health challenges of traditional fuels for generators and cooking is widely examined, the strain on mental health is granted much less consideration.  

Let us look at the case of Teresia Olotai, a Maasai mother of six and senior ‘Mama’ of Lobulu, a tiny rural enclosure (or “boma”) in Tanzania. Like the other women in Lobulu, life without electricity for Teresia was challenging. In the darkest hours of the night, she risked falling on stones or unwittingly stepping on venomous snakes. She has had to deliver babies in the dark, and when her children woke at night, she fed and changed them by touch. Candles and kerosene lamps posed a potential fire hazard in her wooden hut. This was until Teresia and her boma became part of a USAID Power Africa Project to install rural solar micro-grids. 

For rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the introduction of access to clean electricity has undoubtedly led to positive impacts in physical wellbeing. Electrified health centres are able to offer extended service hours, laboratory testing and vaccine refrigeration. In the home, there is less illness from indoor smoke inhalation and fewer burns from traditional cookstoves. The physical strain attached to carrying heavy loads of wood or kerosene, along with a danger of physical assault during collection (especially for young girls) is also diminished. Increased access to health and hygiene information via TV, radio, and the internet can be greatly beneficial. But let us also consider the psychological traumas arising from these same situations. 

The concept of wellbeing runs far deeper than what can be ostensibly observed at a purely physical level. Studies in renewable energy interventions, predominantly solar and hydro pico-, micro-, and mini-grids, have revealed positive mental impacts for rural people that emanate from a lower perceived risk of injury or illness. Examples of these risk reductions are increased security inside and outside the home from thieves or wild animals with improved lighting, or a lower chance of illness, injury and property damage from burning kerosene indoors.    

Women have reported better sleep at night knowing that they had safe lighting for emergency situations, especially involving their children. Connectivity through improved access to mobile phones is a huge boon to mental health, and communities are able to celebrate their new-found ability to stay connected to loved ones, friends, and family when they are able to charge phones at home, rather than walk and bus to town and pay a vendor.  

Lighting facilitates communal and family gatherings, extended study hours and has been revealed to reduce the risk of domestic violence because households are generally happier with increased light. Regions where public services have been improved and street lighting has been provided offer the greatest community wellbeing benefits, with increased safety outdoors and more opportunities for communal gatherings and entertainment after hours. And of course all of this has an impact on economic growth. 

The worry or stress felt from the risk of injury, sickness, or lack of sleep can in many ways be more ubiquitous than the physical harm itself. It is therefore crucial that these implicit, as-yet-unquantifiable impacts to mental wellbeing be given just as much focus as physical impacts when planning renewable energy projects and micro-grids in rural sub-Saharan communities. 

The rise and rise of East Africa’s creative economy

“African imaginations are worth investing in” is the rallying cry of Teesa Bahana, Director of 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust, as she campaigns for funds for her new Ugandan arts centre. She’s not alone in thinking so – Sotheby’s’ recent African contemporary art auction saw record-breaking sales from artists from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Senegal, according to  Quartz. What’s more, in a celebration of local cultural heritage, African collectors made up 70 per cent of those sales. 

There’s a sound business case to be made for backing the East African arts scene. The added value of a productive creative economy is well-documented – be it on tourism, technology, or social mobility. Albeit a few years out of datean Ernst & Young  2015 study indicated that cultural industries in Africa and in the Middle East are worth US$58 billion in revenue, contributing 1.1 per cent to regional GDP and employing 2.4 million people. Despite the setbacks of the Covid pandemic, those figures are likely to be on the increase – a British Council report‘Scoping the Creative Economy in East Africa’ cites “new digitally enabled business models which converge different sectors and practices through the development of new creative content, services or experiences, are flying out of countries at a rate few would have predicted just a few years ago.” 

An increasingly enabling policy, investment and regulatory environment is also helping East Africa’s creative sector. Despite well-documented tax policies on social and digital services, the bigger picture is positive. The British Council’s East Africa Arts Programme providesongoing grant, skills training and funding opportunities for art projects, while dedicated funds like Heva provide finance and business support for creative industries.  One such benefactor is talented Kenyan entrepreneur Bryan Ngatia, whose collective of Kenyan creatives – Too Early for Birds – tell Kenyan stories through art and film. He commends his British Council Cultural Heritage Seed Fund grant for providing the ability to offer his cast and crew healthy contracts and stable working conditions that set a precedence in the sector, enabling a whole community of theatre practitioners who won’t settle for exploitative agreements going forward. He adds, “The icing on the cake was that HEVA’s involvement went beyond financial support. We got business and structural guidance that shaped us better for survival in the future. “

The private sector is progressively more interested in the sector’s potential. Last month (April 2021) saw the launch of Birimian, the first operational investment company dedicated exclusively to African luxury and premium heritage brands. Delivered through a combination of mentoring, financial and operational support, Birimianis establishing an ecosystem designed to create value for African entrepreneurs and help independent labels become international brands.  In the same month, the East African Community (EAC) Leather Industry Network Platform launched, offering industry players a “reliable virtual space to connect, interact and transact business.” The trade in leather and leather products in the EAC has enormous potential and is growing at an annual average rate of 1.5 per cent. 

As the global economy begins to rebuild following the effects of the still-present, crippling pandemic, the creative industries look well-placed to support a return to economic growth. Not to mention helping us all to come to terms with the experience through essential artistic expression. 

Further Reading 

The following links support further investigation into East African cultural industries: 

Gong Wins 2021 Africa SABRE Awards

Gong has been named as one of the winners of this year’s Africa SABRE Awards, which celebrate superior achievement in branding, reputation, and engagement for its work with Dive In Nigeria.

Since inception in 2015, Gong has worked on delivery of the Dive In Festival , the insurance industry’s diversity and inclusion festival, which took place in a record 35 countries in 2020.

In a virtual awards ceremony run by PRovoke Media, Gong was recognised as the winner in two categories (Research and Planning and Public Education) and additionally received a certificate of excellence (in the Financial and Professional Services category) for its work in delivering this world-leading festival in Nigeria, alongside its African partners Phyllion & Partners Limited, Aon and Lloyd’s.

You can find out more about the Dive In Festival – which is running again from 21 – 23 September 2021 – visit www.diveinfestival.com.

British Council appoints Gong to profile AGILE leadership programme for social entrepreneurs

Gong has been appointed by the British Council to help profile its AGILE social leadership programme, designed to help social entrepreneurs across Africa improve their business skills, networks and resources. Delivered in partnership with Clore Social Leadership as the ‘Discover Programme’, AGILE seeks to address gender imbalance in leadership and education through an engaging and broad-reaching course delivered remotely.

In addition to media relations, Gong has supported the British Council with social media strategy and direction across several African countries and will also produce promotional case study videos.

Dive In Nigeria

DIVE IN NIGERIA

Building support for diversity and inclusion in the Nigerian insurance market

In 2020 Gong was asked to take on the event running of Dive In Nigeria to build support for diversity and inclusion in the Nigerian insurance market. Due to Covid-19, the event was held virtually, with over 260 people attending. We secured CNBC anchor Esther Awoniyi to chair the event and invited five business leaders from across the sector to discuss gender diversity in the Nigerian insurance market.

Working closely with our local partners Phyllion to action our strategy, generate press coverage and engage insurance professionals in Nigeria, we secured 33 pieces of coverage including five TV interviews. Google ads delivered 421,000 impressions and #DiveInNigeria was trending on Nigerian twitter feeds on the day of the event. A number of senior leaders from Nigerian insurance firms also took part in our curated social media campaign, taking to twitter to share their support.

“We selected Gong and their partner agency in Nigeria to work on this project because we loved the concept and approach they presented us with. Their experience of the market, knowledge of D&I and familiarity with the Dive In festival meant they were the obvious partners for the event. In terms of delivery, I couldn’t have asked for more. The event was well attended and proved to be a great discussion on gender diversity in the Nigerian insurance market. The coverage was exceptional, with five of our panellists featured on prime TV show interviews in advance of the event. We were really pleased with the result.”

Mary Alade, Chief Strategy Officer, Aon Reinsurance Solutions (sponsor of Dive In Nigeria)

British Council East Africa Arts

BRITISH COUNCIL EAST AFRICA ARTS

Strengthening international collaborations for east African creatives

Our brief was to strengthen awareness and increase links between 18 to 35-year-old creatives in East Africa and the UK, in celebration of East Africa Arts (EAA).

Despite the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic stalling the creative sector worldwide, we set about showcasing the efficacy of the British Council’s East Africa Arts programmes and the importance of the creative sector as a career path, through the lens of their direct beneficiaries.

These creative entrepreneurs had incredible stories to tell. To generate engagement and support international partnerships despite the challenges of the pandemic, we crystallised the narratives of their innovations into media-friendly, engaging pitches with which to generate media interest.

Key titles and podcasts in the UK and across East Africa picked up these stories, which included the adversity-transcending power of fashion for a group of female textile producers in Kenya and Ugandan entrepreneurs benefitting from the Creative Hubs Academy.  Publications such as the Evening Standard (UK: circulation 1,780,000) and The East African (circulation: 3,000,000) jointly promoted No Direct Flight – a festival of African film and storytelling streamed live from Nairobi during the period of engagement. The press coverage reached approximately 30 million people in both East African and UK media.

By developing a rigorous content programme for Instagram, we were able to provide a digital platform to encourage international partnerships at a time when physical international movement was no longer permitted. Using powerful video clips alongside the compelling entrepreneur stories, we successfully increased the British Council’s EAA’s Instagram following by 17 per cent.

Despite significant strategic setbacks as a result of Covid-19, the British Council’s EAA engagement programme gained momentum by celebrating creative entrepreneurship as a direct result of the activity secured.

Kipeto Energy

KIPETO ENERGY

Brand refresh and reputation management services for renewable energy project

Kipeto, located in Kajiado county, is the second largest wind power project in Kenya. Following two years of construction, the project connected to the national grid in 2021 and once at full capacity will supply 100MW of clean, renewable energy as a significant contribution to Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda.​

Gong has worked with the project team, and an extensive list of international stakeholders (and their corresponding PR agencies), since mid-2018, including a change of ownership ahead of the project’s financial close in December 2018.

We began by running messaging workshops with both the project and investor teams and then rebranded Kipeto Energy Plc (KEP) to create a fresh, new corporate identity reflecting the project’s international pedigree.

In addition to reputation management advisory services delivered throughout the construction period, Gong has supported KEP on media relations, announcing news of key milestones in major industry titles, local, regional and international press, to ensure the project’s developments reach core sector audiences.

DPO Group

DPO GROUP

Corporate profile raising in Kenya, across Africa, and beyond

DPO Group has developed the technology to allow businesses across Africa to process payments, both online and offline. Headquartered in Kenya and with a presence in 19 African countries, DPO works with businesses of all sizes, supporting the growth of small local businesses, as well as working with large corporations, such as Uber, Booking.com and DHL.

Gong was tasked with supporting DPO in developing its corporate profile and raising awareness of its suite of products to businesses locally, regionally and internationally.

We supported DPO in developing its brand and corporate profile, writing corporate collateral, launching new business lines and products and announcing company milestones. As well as extensive local Kenyan media coverage, further coverage was secured in South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, the UK (including the Financial Times), the US, China and France, amongst other countries.

With a modest investment we are delivering outsized results, including in top tier international titles such as Forbes and Quartz. The estimated reach of one single announcement was over 1.5 billion readers.