FSDH Research wins the Research House of the Year Award at the Business Day BAFI annual awards

The annual BusinessDay Banks’ and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards seeks to identify and celebrate the financial institutions and leaders that have excelled across
a number of areas in the Nigerian financial industry.

In the 2020 edition, 44 companies and 3 CEOs were recognised for their contributions to the industry’s overall growth, ranging from financial performance and shareholder value creation to corporate governance, sustainability and innovation.

It is therefore a great honour for FSDH Merchant Bank Limited to have won the Research House of the Year at this year’s BAFI Awards. FSDH Research is a strategic partnership between FSDH Group and Imara Africa Consulting, launched in 2019, to ensure that the bank’s clients have access to the best quality research from across the African continent.

Imara Africa Consulting is proud to be associated with FSDH Group and to be a critical provider of world-class research. Barbara Barungi, Founder and CEO of Imara Africa Consulting says: “Imara Africa Consulting aims at show casing African expertise and leveraging international best practice to provide development results and solutions backed by robust research. For FSDH Research to be awarded a BAFI award affirms that our collective efforts are doing just that”.


RICS Africa Summit 2018

RICS Africa Summit 2018

The focus of this year’s Summit is connectivity and smart urbanism. High-level speakers from leading organisations will advance the debate on how built environment professionals can contribute to key issues such as inclusive growth and sustainable development in Africa; they will analyse what role city leaders, innovators and businesses should play in finding sustainable solutions to the continent’s power deficit and how new technologies can impact. Sessions will explore how effective approaches to facilities management can streamline the operation of built assets, save on resource, enhance employee health and wellbeing, mitigate business risk and lower costs.

Building on the successes of the last three Africa Summits, this year’s event continues to be a collaboration of property institutions and associations across Africa, working together to accelerate the professionalism of the land, construction and property sectors throughout the continent. The Summit is designed for Presidents, Chairmen and CEOs, providing a forum where common goals and a shared vision can be created through consensus and discussion.

The event will begin with an analysis of economic growth prospects in Africa. Building a picture of the whole continent by first detailing regional trends, the session will look at the performance of import and export sectors, commodities pricing, domestic demand, fiscal policy and currency valuation. Paying particular attention to the built environment’s key industries, the session will assess the likelihood of Africa’s economy continuing to expand in 2018/19.

Barbara Barungi ,Managing Partner of Imara Africa Consulting gave the keynote on the macroeconomic outlook for Africa.

Download the African Economic Outlook 2018 presentation.

Nigeria: Third edition of the Kaduna economic and investment summit KADINVEST 3.0

Nigeria: Third edition of the Kaduna economic and investment summit KADINVEST 3.0

The theme of the third edition of the Kaduna economic and investment summit held 4-5th April 2018 was partnerships for development. The leadership called upon private sector, development partners, financial institutions, civil society to work with government so as to enhance service delivery to its citizens as well as invest in human capital. The Kaduna Infrastructure Masterplan was launched and outlines the key projects in education, health, water, transport and agriculture sectors with the aim of attracting investors in the public private partnerships space.

Read the Kaduna State Infrastructure Master Plan: 2018 – 2050.


Third edition of the Kaduna economic and investment summit KADINVEST 3.0 was launched formally by the Governor of the State

Third edition of the Kaduna economic and investment summit KADINVEST 3.0 was launched formally by the Governor of the State

Africa and the One Belt One Road Initiative

Africa and the One Belt One Road Initiative

The “One Belt One Road” approach by China is aimed at strategically positioning it as one of the world’s strongest economic powers.

China hopes to lead the world by pushing its comparative advantage in cutting edge technology, Made in China 2025; and Bio-technology.

Infrastructure Development from high-tech engineering designs, consultancy, and contractors to financing is at the core of this strategy and has taken Africa by storm. Chinese state owned enterprises like CCECC, Power China and others are criss crossing the continent looking for infrastructure projects.

It is therefore imperative for African governments, private sector, bankers and others to understand the modus operandi of the main Chinese owned companies.

A few things to note include the following:

  • EPC exclusivity that means that the Chinese take the lead for project development including principal contractor, feasibility studies (on a selective basis) and financing assistance;
  • Governments are required to provide sovereign guarantee and counter part funding of at least 15% of the project cost;
  • Chinese financing is both concessional from China EXIM and commercial from financial institutions like the ICBC and the China Construction Bank;
  • Different Chinese companies focus on different sectors but most in energy and transport. They also tend to work in joint ventures with smaller Chinese companies normally subsidiaries to the parent company.

Many African governments have focused on infrastructure development as a priority and some are setting up support mechanisms as is the case in Nigeria that announced a stand-alone infrastructure fund of USD 25 billion in 2014. Others like Zimbabwe have taken a more pragmatic approach by including a budget line item for project development within the general budget so as to ensure that the financing of feasibility studies for key projects is sustainable.

Africa must rise to the occasion and seize the opportunity provided by the One Belt One Road initiative by improving its state of readiness.  Many of our ministries of transport, energy/power, and aviation are weak and poorly organised. Greater coordination between line ministries and agencies is critical so as to enable effective negotiation with the Chinese state owned companies.

There are enough African engineers, economists, accountants, lawyers and other professionals to call upon to support local project development and get viable and bankable infrastructure developments done. Some argue that it is not the lack of Finance but rather the lack of coordination and good financial and technical proposals that hold back infrastructure development.

Our own institutions like the Africa Finance Corporation and the African Development Bank are making a difference in this area. However stronger partnerships and flexibility with member countries will achieve greater heights.

Africa Rising! This should become a reality…


Image Credit: Amajambere Iwacu Community Camp

Societal Transformation for a Better Future

Strategic visioning and scenario planning is one of the public policy advisory services that we provide. This is done in partnership with a Cabo Verde based firm — BONAKO– www.bonako.com

This work focuses on enabling countries to design and implement participatory strategic planning exercises over the long term for societal transformation. Countries like Cabo Verde, Kenya , South Korea provide good lessons for setting future visionary and strategic agendas.

Bonako builds customised apps for monitoring and evaluation of the country specific programs while Imara Africa consulting works with clients to set up performance delivery units . Together they forge a formidable partnership of solid technical expertise in the design and facilitation of visioning/scenario planning exercises.

Through this strategic foresight for transformation exercise, home-grown development programs are nurtured.

Bonako and Imara Africa consulting have developed a ready to use template that is available on the resources page of our website:  www.imaraafrica.com

How do you think that your country can accelerate societal transformation? Are the current economic policies making a difference by ensuring inclusive growth? Does your country have efficient  delivery of basic social services in health education and water &sanitation? Do the citizens effectively engage government by keeping a scorecard on its performance?

Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page.

Finding the Leader Within

Leadership provides opportunities, throws up the unexpected challenges and also makes you question yourself as you try to curve out your niche. Each one of us has experienced being a leader in one setting or other..

How to run a government
How to win and lose elections
How to gain and lose power
How to manage a business
How to lead an organisation
How to lead your community
How to run your home/household

Leadership is not thrust upon you it is a combination of seizing of opportunities and discovering one’s innate ability….” Leaders are born not made”

Leadership requires knowing oneself, being self analytical, laser focus, charting out your path in the changing landscape of life.

” From the outside, people in leadership look all-powerful; on the inside, the often feel helpless, stretched to beyond breaking point by expectations on one hand and the sheer complexity of the task at hand” and here I am paraphrasing Michael Barber

” How to Run A Government: So that Citizens Benefit”… for those of you that read and intend to serve in public service, international organisations, and take up political leadership this book is not only a MUST READ but an essential reference along your journey.

My experience has been that setting long-term goals and clear time -bound targets is important…even though you may not always fully achieve them. The other important experience is that at each stage do your best and move one….do not linger or get too attached especially as a political leader….TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE.

At the age of 16 my dream was to graduate at Makerere University and do my postgraduate studies at one of the Ivy league universities in Nigeria….I went on to complete my BA degree at Makerere University and graduate studies at University of Glasgow in Scotland in the mid-80s. Almost three decades later I now live in Nigeria…and have since visited the universities that I dreamt of joining back then as a youth full of energy and adventure. I do not think my path would have been any different from what it became as a result of my glaswegian experiment.

At the age of 35 as an adviser to a Minister of Finance….had an interesting conversation with one of the advisers of Clare Short that had announced that she was making her last official trip before her retirement from active public service at the age of 50…I admired her and set my self the same target…but missed it by 2 years and 23 days…retired at age 52 in March this year. I have embarked on a new journey that is the embodiment of transition from a life with clear goals and targets set within societal norms to one where it is an open playing field and involves more of self discovery, soul searching and questioning some of one’s values….have I been useful to my community and how have I contributed to the delivery of the public good? Can I do better?

As young leaders you are agents of change but must be willing to take responsibility and be held accountable for your actions. John Kotter “Our Iceberg is Melting”…. succeeding no matter the circumstances….succeeding by identifying champions of your idea….succeeding by galvanising a team and moving in the same direction.

As a leader you must be realistic and know that each one can contribute to a transformative process…so you must carry everyone along. Seek out the more quiet souls of the team and listen , observe each member of the team and bring out their strong points and comparative advantage…this was my key lesson as a lead economist at the AfDB …it took time for I am naturally a very impatient person…” Hurricane Barbara” was my nick name at the UNDP. You must be willing to make sacrifices, take risks, stand up for your values and beliefs.

To succeed and push the boundary may mean getting out of one’s comfort zone…..comfort zones also evolve…for the past 18 years my comfort zone was international organisations living as an expatriate and diplomat in various countries…my new comfort zone is my own creation ….IMARA AFRICA consulting services where I work from my study at home, my own space…but during a recent visit to my home country Uganda I realised that the only way I could engage is if I either join government or politics…that would be outside my comfort zone…do I have the courage , energy or desire to go that route? Only time will tell whether I will once again push the frontier…

So my parting words to you agents of change, now is your time, I encourage you to take up leadership positions across the spectrum…I would love to see many of you invade the international and regional institutions and lead disruptive innovative processes so that they are nimble and flexible enough to address the many global challenges but most important build and strengthen our regional and country institutions in Africa.