What the A-League Expansion Process can learn from the MLS

With the botched and stalled A-League expansion process currently going nowhere and with a lot of expansion bids seemingly in limbo watching potential capital investment into the game fly elsewhere; it is worth looking at the MLS Expansion Process for some blue Sky potential. 

Undoubtedly, the A-League could learn from the American process as could the local bids (and potential bids) learn from the expansion entries in the MLS.

For the A-League bids that don't currently have identified capital partners (eg. those bids that aren't the Sunshine Coast, Southern NSW, Canberra, Tasmania and Brisbane City); it's more than clear that certain disclosures around capital would have to be met in order to be considered real by any serious football board.

However, without the FFA willing to get their house in order, this is difficult. We know as advisory consultants in this space that potential investors will not invest without a clear pathway and some confidence set by the governing officials. 

We have seen from the MLS the benefits of a clear expansion platform to attract new investment into the league. There have seen a number of expansions with the MLS over the years.

Yet, in this round the MLS Commissioner has confirmed that teams 25 and 26 will be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017, at an expansion fee of $150 million each, and will begin MLS play by 2020. Teams 27 and 28 will be announced at a later date, at a price delivered in conjunction with the timeline. 

The league acknowledged ownership groups from 10 markets that have publicly expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Three key aspects are considered top priorities when reviewing candidates: 

  • A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market.
  • A market that has a history of strong fan support for soccer matches and other sporting events, is located in a desirable geographic location and is attractive to corporate sponsors and television partners.
  • A comprehensive stadium plan that ensures the club will have a proper home for their fans and players while also serving as a destination for the sport in the community

The Stadium proposition has already been passed with the bid from the Tampa Bay Rowdies via a public referendum. On the other hand, St. Louis will remain a two-sport town after voters defeated a measure that would have helped pay for a stadium as part of an effort to lure a Major League Soccer franchise. City voters turned down Proposition 2 on Tuesday by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote. It would have provided $60 million from a business use tax to help fund a soccer stadium.

The MLS effort in Charlotte, which was among the favourite thanks to the city’s size and importance in a growing area of the country, is on life support after the city declined to approve the funneling of tax revenue earmarked for tourism toward a portion of a stadium.

In Indianapolis, an effort to get the state legislature to pass a bill allowing taxes generated at and adjacent to a new soccer stadium to be spent on its construction has gone nowhere. 

The first teams to enter the MLS in the 21st Century were Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA for which they paid $7.5 Million to enter. These bids will be paying $150 Million entry fee.

In the A-League, there are no local ownership requirements. This means that any serious capital investor and those seeking to bring a bid together really need to be a homogenous working unit. This is required in terms of PR, engaging with the three tiers of government and with the FFA authorities. 

The importance of a quality investor group has already been shown in the MLS expansion bid process. On the one hand, we see the Nashville bid bringing in the owners of the Minnesota Vikings into their bid consortium. Mark Wilf, his brother Zygi, and cousin Leonard, in their 13th season as majority owners and of the Minnesota Vikings, has signed on as a minority owner of Nashville Soccer Holdings, the business enterprise led by billionaire Nashville businessman John Ingram.

This is not to say any expansion process is smooth sailing.

The Sacramento bid, which had been considered a slam dunk for entry, have fallen into disarray with the addition of Meg Whitman (Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Mitt Romney Presidential Backer) into the ownership group.

One would have thought a press release would have been forthcoming from the club, but one never appeared, even on the club's website. A press release instead emerged from an entity calling itself Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings. Now there are disputes about whether or not the bid will be the Sacramento Republic or not.

We would also note that the right ownership group should not be a substitute for a corporate partner structure that works. Any bid that can show good governmental and corporate buy-in to the bid, will have a leg up in this process. The A-League simply can not afford another team that has a revenue base that is too narrow without local corporate buy-in to the brand. 

If we look at the FC Cinncinati bid for the MLS expansion, a year before they played their first game in the USL (the American 2nd tier), the club had 17 corporate sponsors signed up. Toyota is the USL jersey sponsor. 

The fact is, the expansion process in the A-League will need some components which the FFA will have to include when they finally get the house in order. These are:

  • Stadium
  • Catchment Area
  • Capital Requirement
  • Local Talent Depth
  • Support History

Therefore, there are a lot that bids, or potential bids, can do to prepare to enter the FFA process in a serious way.

Firstly, there is the private sector capital backer. The backers will need to be somewhat flexible with the components they will need to invest in, the total sum of the capital investment and be prepared to invest long term in the bid as there is no 'end date' for this process as such. Sports investment exit strategies are not comparable to almost any other investment.

This is shown by the divisions with the Sacramento MLS bid intrigue around their ownership structure and whether or not the Republic name will be used if granted one of the spots in the MLS when the MLS goes to 28 franchises. For more information about this, click here

  • Stadium: There are many bid proposals that have been declared/are being contemplated that will need an agreement on a stadium. This could require receiving funding commitments from a local council, state or territory government or getting an agreement with the owning level of government to receive private sector investment. 
  • Catchment Area: If you don't have a catchment area of around 500,000 the bid won't be commercially viable. Now, there are some bids that are pushing the limits to make their bid catchment areas appear bigger. The catchment area also needs to be around the 500,000 mark to ensure that the bid can prove localised support for the game.
  • Local Talent Depth: This is a subjective criterium. However, the bid needs to have a real and in deep pitch in this space. This also needs to be about ensuring that the bid is backed by the State FA and the junior clubs in the region. 
  • Support History: This all comes back to community engagement. If the bid is based off an existing team, the figures from that team come into figuring. However, as a bid, you need to engage in a solid community engagement campaign to engage your catchment in the bid and bring a level of 'hype' behind your bid. 

Don't underestimate the value of bringing a derby to the table as well. If we look at what makes the A-League sizzle, look at the Sydney derbies, Melbourne derbies and Central Coast-Newcastle rivalries. Even the rivalries that Brisbane Roar have had with the now defunct Gold Coast and Northern Fury sides were commercial gold for the league. This immediately brings into focus the prospects from Southern Syndey, Woollongong, South Melbourne, Brisbane City, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich. 

This is actually one of the big drawcards for bringing St. Louis into the MLS. St. Louis also helps MLS fill out the midwest U.S.—the league cares about geographic coverage—and instantly creates a couple of promising potential rivalries. An I-70 derby with Sporting Kansas City could become one of the league’s premier showdowns, while the enmity Blues and Cardinals fans traditionally have for their rivals in Chicago could form the basis of another run rivalry. 

The geographic coverage argument from St. Louis also provides the basis for arguments for bids from places such as Tasmania and Canberra.

However, for any prospective bid, the best thing we could do is show a living exemplar of a side to model a bid on: Atlanta United FC. 

Before they started, they had 24,000 season tickets sold; outdoing the top attendance rates of the MLS. 

Atlanta United's inaugural season may still be far from over, but already the club is on the road to becoming MLS's most successful expansion team.

The team is performing well in their first season, reaching for the playoff stages. The average attendance for the team is around 44.000 spectators, which are more than good numbers. If we look at how the first squad was built, we won’t find stellar European signings, like most of the franchises, do as a marketing tool in their first years. The squad is built around young players with some experienced ones from the MLS and some interesting young foreigners. 

They hired Gerardo Martino as their first manager (originally from Barcelona) and are also heavily invested in the youth development in their catchment area.

All of this is part of a long-term project, and it’s exactly what the A-League should be seeking for the new teams. For a franchise to be successful (and in the end, the league depends on the success of the franchises), it needs to be self-sustainable for the most part.

The main difference between traditional clubs and franchises is that sentiment of 'belongingness' that a club has: people will always belong to their club, no matter who’s the newest signing or in which position or division they’re in. 

The A-League are still a long way off creating any environment of belongingness for new entrants. The wait continues.

 

Kenyan Election Update: Extra Ballots

Thirdway Party Presidential candidate, Dr. Ekuru Aukot, accompanied by his running mate, Emmanuel Nzia, addressed the media at Ridgeways Baptist Church, Kiambu County on Sunday 30th of July 2017. The candidate accused the IEBC of printing extra ballot papers beyond the 1% contingency provision made for spoilt votes. 

Dr. Aukot added that the 5.7% extra ballots should be a cause for concern. 


"IEBC must now turn its attention to the KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Elections Management System) to ensure that voting is credible. Used, unused and spoilt ballot papers must be reconciled properly and results tallied transparently and transmitted without any hitches," he said. 

The electoral commission said the one per cent additional ballot papers were meant to cater for ballots that were reported as spoilt before they are cast. The commission explained that the ballot papers are bound in booklets, each booklet having 50 papers, hence the commission's decision to round off the number to 50. 

The IEBC communication manager, Andrew Limo said that for uniformity purposes, the commission had to round off to 50 because there was no way to print unmatched numbers for different counties. 

Via Twitter on Saturday, the electoral agency said they had printed 416,360 booklets of 50 ballot papers each, thus totalling 20,818,000 papers. This is to cater for 19,687,563 registered voters, meaning there is an extra 1,130,437 papers.

National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders on Monday 31st July claimed that the printing of additional papers could be another plan to rig the General Election. 

The Orange Democratic Movement's National Chairman, John Mbadi, the Secretary General, Agnes Zani, and the Wiper Vice Chairman, Mutula Kilonzo Jr, asked the IEBC to explain the extra ballot papers and warned that this could affect the credibility of the polls. 
"Does this then mean ballots for the other positions will not be spoilt? Why only the extra for the presidential (ballot papers)?" asked Dr Zani. She faulted the electoral body for not involving all stakeholders before deciding to print extra ballot papers. 

The electoral commission on that Monday released a document detailing the packaging of the presidential ballot papers. The document lists each of the 290 constituencies, their respective total number of registered voters, and number of ballot papers to be delivered. It further detailed the number of ballot booklets to be delivered to all the polling stations spread across the country and how the commission reached the rounded off figures.

Commissioner Roselyn Akombe said the ballot papers and result forms have been customised for each polling station, making it impossible to use those not meant for a particular polling station.
 

Kenyan Election Update: Ballot Paper Dispute

On Friday, July 7th 2017, the High Court nullified the tender for the printing of presidential ballot papers for the August 8, 2017 presidential election to, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench hearing a judicial review filed by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct adequate public participation in the tender process, a move that they said goes against constitutional requirements. Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.

The court ordered the IEBC to commence the procurement process afresh.

NASA had also argued that President Uhuru Kenyatta has a relationship with Al Ghurair, which  influenced the award of the tender to the firm. The court ruled that the evidence provided to support this claim fell short of the evidentiary standard required to prove it.

High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga and John Mativo found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections.

In response to the court ruling, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the Judiciary against what he considered a plan to frustrate the IEBC in order not to conduct the General Election on August 8th.

The President said Kenyans would not accept any attempt to postpone the polls from the date specified in the Constitution.

Speaking at a rally in Baringo County on Sunday, 9th July, President Kenyatta said the Judiciary should not take them for fools for being silent as the courts make decisions that could lead to the postponement of the elections.

(On NTV's talk show 'Press Pass' the next day, commentator Patrick Gathara pointed out that the 2013 General Elections were not held on the day specified in the Constitution, but on a day set by IEBC following a court ruling.)

"I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools.
We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC," said the President.

The President said it was strange that the IEBC had been allowed to go ahead with printing ballot papers for other elective positions but not for the president.

Chief Justice David Maraga, in his Twitter handle on the same day, termed the President's accusations as unfortunate.

"I would not ordinarily respond to statements made by politicians in the course of campaign activities, but these accusations are particularly unfortunate, based that they are on completely wrong premises."

The CJ said that he had at no time asked the IEBC not to proceed with the printing of ballot papers, contrary to statements by Deputy President William Ruto in Baringo on that Sunday.

"The comments I made in Mombasa and elsewhere, which were either deliberately or inadvertently taken out of context, were in reference to the courts' efforts to expeditiously clear the numerous petitions arising from the party primaries in order not to inconvenience the printing of ballot papers," said Maraga.

He added: " I have always been at the forefront of defending the cardinal principle of decisional independence of judges, and at no time have I ever directed any judge or judicial officer on how to determine the cases before them."

On Monday 10th July, Jubilee Party leaders accused judges who handled the tender case of conflict of interest.

The Jubilee leaders said that Judge Odunga’s wife is Siaya Senator James Orengo’s niece while Judge Ouko is related to NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga's wife, Ida.

Speaking at the party’s headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, the leaders led by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that Judges George Odunga and William Ouko should have recused themselves due to conflict of interest.

The IEBC appealed the High Court decision on the ballot paper printing tender, arguing that the judges erred in finding that public participation is a mandatory precondition to direct procurement conducted as provided under the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act. 

On Thursday, the 20th of July, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgement and allowed the IEBC to proceed with the printing. 

The Court of Appeal said the High Court decision did not take into consideration the constitutional timelines within which General Election must be held. The five-bench judge also ruled that public participation is not a requirement in direct procurement, which was the procedure used by the IEBC in awarding the contract to Al Ghurair. 

The appellate judges did, however, agree with the High Court that newspaper cuttings are insufficient proof of a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Al Ghurair bosses and that such a meeting influenced the award of the tender.
 

The Future of South Africa

Open any South African newspaper or visit any South African news website and things do not look good.  On every page, there is something depressing and with an initial glance, one would assume things are getting worse.

But, are things getting worse in South Africa?

The answer is “yes” but it will not stay that way.

The Guptavisation of South Africa

Perhaps the most prominent name in South Africa today is that of Gupta. The Gupta’s are a family who arrived in SA in the late 1990’s with nothing, made friends in the right places and rose to become one of the most influential business families in the country.  For many years their business efforts and now exposed, alleged dodgy dealings were of little concern, until a Gupta owned Jet landed at the Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria full of guests for a wedding, a wedding too that has since come under the spotlight funded by corrupt, government money.

A flurry of media activity around the jet soon began to unearth the shadier side of the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma and a gravy train of ANC Politicians and heads of state owned enterprises. In recent weeks the so-called #GuptaLeaks emails have shed further light on the shady dealings of the Gupta Family and their associates of influence in Government and cast a shadow over the once valiant, now deemed corrupt, ANC.

The political space in SA is alive and a young democracy is showing it can work. However, weak leadership in the ruling party and mounting allegations of corruption are putting the democracy to the test. Recent downgrades in the South African currency, the Rand, are in many ways a result of the now political infighting and the results of poor decisions, lack of investment partly due to corruption and the lack growth that stem from this.

President Jacob Zuma is considered to be at the very heart of problems South Africa is facing, and his party, the ANC, is divided over his role as president and this too is beginning cause challenges in the country. There are calls for Zuma to fall with a growing list of over 700 accusations of fraud that the president and his cronies are fighting to keep out of court to enable corrupt gains to continue, and yet time and time again the “Teflon President” still remains in his seat.

Things will get better

Despite the political turmoil and the ever-deepening piles of emails and documents that sway the argument that corruption is rife and state capture has happened, there is hope. This hope is what makes South Africa the country it is and it is this hope that any investor in SA needs to appreciate.

In the middle of the 1980’s the escape out of Apartheid seemed impossible; in 1994, the dream came true. The people rose up and made South Africa new, or as new as they could. This fighting spirit remains in South Africa today, 2019 sees a general election and recent politics and the truth coming out about corruption are reasons for a change in SA.

The ANC, as it stands at this moment, has little chance of securing a majority and should corruption charges against many ANC Members be proven people should think twice about their vote. The rhetoric from other parties is becoming a powerful “don’t vote ANC” with both the DA, the official opposition and EFF, a breakaway from the ANC each gaining significant ground in recent municipal elections with major cities changing hands. These changes have unearthed appalling levels of mismanagement that are being put right, this is something any investor must acknowledge as a sign of things to come.

The view of SA for investors is clouded by smoke from the political situation. However, SA is a place where long term investment will yield good returns and shrewd investors will reap a just return with the right financial, social and humanitarian strategy behind their investment. The Rand, despite plummeting in recent months due to crazy political decisions should not be the deciding factor on investment; it is in fact fairly stable despite its value. One needs to look at the stability of the country outside the world of politics and that there is a nation hungry for jobs and a better country.

A change of government may not necessarily be the panacea investors are seeking to the problems in SA, nor is it something that can be assured of, and one needs to consider much more. The corruption in South Africa is now known to exist and people are aware of it, this will be further addressed as the democracy matures and those at the heart of it are ousted. Right now, is a time where clever money will receive a long-term reward while some of the problems are being fixed, now is the time to get a head start and have some patience.

Structures need to be put in place, the power utility, for example, has to turn itself around along with good governance and either investment or privatisation. South Africa cannot survive at all without this and many other current State Owned Entities that have been milked through corrupt dealings. There comes a point, and many will say it is coming soon, where the people of South Africa will have to rise up, bring the change they want and grow the country again as they did in 1994. Any investment will surely understand the importance of that.

Many lessons have been learnt in the last twenty plus years, these will be used to move forward and that makes South Africa a place that will be hungry for investment especially from investors with a heart for change not just profit.

 

 

Nawaz Gone: What's next for Pakistan?

The morning of July the 28th will be long remembered as a real watershed in the history of Pakistan’s politics. After having kept the country’s Prime minister waiting for months on scaffold, the Supreme Court- country’s apex judicial body- has finally decided to disqualify him on account of corruption. Nawaz Sharif, one of the most powerful premiers ever, was just months away from completing his 5-year tenure to become the first elected Prime Minister ever in the country’s history to serve a complete term in office. The decision was largely hailed by the opposition parties and the people alike. Since the verdict was announced, the country’s atmosphere has been rife with sanguinity that the decision marks the beginning of accountability process for all and sundry, even the oligarchs.

But is it really that simple?

The ruling party has tried to dispel the impression that this move is yet another assault on the nascent democratic process which has been hardly allowed to strike root. Former cabinet colleagues and party loyalists have also recorded strong reservations against the entire investigation process and the judgement itself. The opposition parties, however, are contending amongst themselves to take credit for the decision. Each one of them claims that the movements led by their party culminated into PM’s disqualification. Nevertheless, it’s PTI, led by Nawaz’s arch rival Imran Khan, who bags the maximum credit in terms of popular opinion.

The whole episode started with Panama Papers leaks which stated the Prime Minister’s children held offshore companies and properties in London and British Virgin Islands. Petitions were filed in the apex court demanding probe into the matter which the court rubbished, calling the petition ‘frivolous’. Only two months later, as the momentum against the Premier started to build up, the court decided to take up the case. After listening to the arguments from both sides, the court, in April, decided to order a probe into the matter by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The JIT presented its report three months later, in July, and after a few final hearings, the verdict was announced.

Although a popular one, the verdict still raises serious questions regarding the efficacy of the judicial system.

 The fact of the matter is that the court has not unseated the Prime Minister on account of corruption or money laundering. In fact those cases against the Prime Minister and his children have been transferred to National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has been advised to file the references in an accountability court. The Premier is disqualified, however, on account of concealment of ‘assets’. The country’s law sanctions the declaration of sources of income and assets of persons who want to run for the parliament. But the law does not define what an ‘asset’ means. In Sharif’s case, the assets turned out to be his unwithdrawn salary of merely AED 10,000 which he had to receive from a Dubai-based company where he had served at a ceremonial post. To fetch this definition of an ‘asset’, the Judges made recourse to Black’s Law Dictionary which said ‘receivables’ also are tantamount to assets. The court even went further to define the terms ‘receivables’ and thus established that an unwithdrawn salary amounts to assets.

The Prime Minister was thus found guilty of concealment of assets, but perhaps the most damning thing about the verdict was that the court found the Premier not ‘honest’; Article 62 of the Constitution demands that the parliamentarians shall be ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’. This was the article which was ridiculed by the same court during the hearings of a petition in 2014, citing that ‘honest’ and truthful’ are vague terms and if they are applied in their stringent meanings they could lead to the disqualification of the entire Parliament. Even the PTI leader Imran Khan has said similar things in the past, but he won’t have scruples celebrating the same clause if it serves his own political ambitions.

The kind of love this nation has for conspiracy theories have encouraged some of the politicians and journalists to once again point the fingers towards the Army; the difference between the civilian and military’s outlook on Afghan and Indian policies being the rais onde Tre. It is a fact that the country has a long history of Army rule. It is also true that every putsch was backed by the supreme judiciary. But mere speculations cannot help reach the judiciary’s contention to pass such a stringent verdict.

It is too early to say how significant an impact this decision can cast on the voter base of the party, especially in the bellwether state of Punjab. It will depend largely on how successfully the ruling and the opposition parties can present their case in front of the people. Needless to say, the ruling party’s argument that this decision is a blow to democracy is a bit too overstretched to comprehend; in fact it can be a blow to dynastic politics. Having a majority in both the houses, the ruling party has enough choice to pick the Premier of its choosing, and the democracy can move forwards.

In run-up to the elections which are due next year, it is unlikely that there is a discontinuity in government policies; domestic and foreign. According to one argument, the Punjabi business interests have also grown too strong in recent years to let the ruling party change course abruptly. The military establishment might have a bargaining leverage in foreign policy if the incoming PM failed to assert himself. However, there is no significant change in the domestic policies expected in the foreseeable future.

Whether the judiciary has finally taken a decisive step to hold the political elite accountable or has it proved itself to be a media-courting agency, yet again, which could give in to public pressure? The answer to the question can perhaps be better sought once free trails in relation to graft and money laundering against the accused are conducted and the culprits are brought to the book.

From corporate boardrooms to cagefighting, not your average consultant

From corporate boardrooms to cagefighting, not your average consultant

 

Corporate advisors and backroom strategists tend to conjure images of suits and ties, boardrooms and coffee; yet at least one Australian based strategist has long cultivated his professional edge in a very unlikely arena, combat sports.

Australia has recently experienced somewhat of a purple patch with regards to sports of the more combative variety. Jeff Horn recently claimed the WBO welterweight title in sensational fashion and only one week later Robert Whittaker became the first Australian to win a UFC title.

One keen spectator of both events was Senior Partner of Gravis Insights Australia, Ben Scott. As a professional strategist who has advised multinationals, captains of industry and politicians he is perhaps not the first person you would expect to find inside a cage or boxing ring, yet it is precisely this arena that Mr Scott cites as a ‘laboratory of sorts’ for his professional career.

He has trained at Jeff Horn’s West End based boxing gym and also personally with UFC champion Robert Whittaker but what is it exactly he takes away from the ring and into the boardroom?

“Essentially the discipline, mindset and resilience you develop in combat sports and martial arts, be it training or competing, is very adaptable to everyday life,” Mr Scott said. “In terms of business, leadership, strategy applications, it doesn't matter, you will find the benefits are widely applicable.”

“For me, I am a strategist at heart and I also advise clients in the corporate world, mostly as strategic counsel, so the principles of strategy in sports like boxing or Jiu Jitsu are ones I really enjoy. They are not the only aspects of martial arts I take into boardroom and of course not everything is transferable, obviously the physical aspects of combat sports are not too applicable in the boardroom but many clients may have quietly hoped they were at times (laughing).”

Whilst beating up the competition in a boardroom might be more metaphorical than physical Mr Scott explains that in the sometimes hostile environment of mergers and politics the mindset of a martial artist has come in handy.

“Oh we have worked in some very hostile environments. Personally, I have been in and around political strategy as an adviser for a number of years before entering the corporate sector and that world is a blood sport to be honest.

“For example, our firm was the only Australian outfit engaged in the US presidential contest and to be honest that was one of the more savage and brutal contests, be it business or politics, I have personally ever been involved with.”

Much of the work Mr Scott does as a Partner with Gravis involves global trade and investment activity, conducting early due diligence on projects for larger players whilst also providing strategic counsel on competitors and emerging markets.

“The nature of our work at Gravis is very multi-disciplinary but essentially we often are at the pointy end of the spear for a company or private investor on a significant transaction or evaluating a potential investment opportunity in global markets. 

"We are often required to tell people things they do not want to hear or engage with competitors of a client who can be less than welcoming at times.

“So the concepts in martial arts and combat sports, not forgetting that some of these concepts are as old and established as civilisation itself, can be very handy and more than anything are very effective for personal development in addition to professional applications. It may sound counter-intuitive but a very significant benefit you develop from martial arts and combat sports training are virtues such as patience and presence of mind.

“Some of the most lethal people I have ever met are also some of the most placid, respectful, unassuming and modest folks you would ever meet.”

The idea of martial arts principles finding their way into the boardrooms of corporate Australia is actually not without precedent. One of the more lesser known facts about Jeff Horn is that his head trainer, Glenn Rushton, is a highly successful investor and businessman.

"I really respect Glenn Rushton both as a martial artist and a businessman. Having trained at Dundee's (Jeff Horn's West End gym) in the past it is not hard to see why Jeff has such a great attitude." 

Whilst the perception of sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts can be one of brutality, Mr Scott says it really is something anyone can at least train and study.

"Anyone can train in these disciplines and learn from them for sure, even my mother trains at Dundee's (Jeff Horn's West End boxing and conditioning gym)," he revealed laughing. 

Mr Scott's journey in combat sports has taken him ringside at several UFC  and boxing events where he has also worked as a professional combat sports reporter for media outlets, such as Ninemsn and Wide World of Sports.

Having trained in a number of martial arts he says that the mind and body principles he has learnt will stay with him forever, just don’t expect to find him in a boxing ring under lights any time soon.

“Many corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are fond of quoting self-help gurus and books like Sun Tzu’s Art of War, for example, but really how many people comprehend it and apply it effectively? It has really become nothing more than a cliché. I’ve found that training in an artform such as jiu jitsu or boxing embeds strategic and leadership concepts very effectively. Perhaps I’m just more of a tactile learner (laughs).

“Without getting too hippy about this, the mind and body benefits of martial arts become embedded pretty deeply and it is not just combat sports, actually, I also highly recommend activities such as yoga and meditation to any corporate, any leader, or any individual for that matter, who is seeking to progress as a human being.

“I am by no means an elite fighter or martial artist, my interest continues to be in the personal development aspects I gain from the training more than anything. I’m not going for prize fights at this age (laughing).”

And what of Australia’s recent success in the combat sports arena? He is not surprised. 

“Having trained at Jeff’s boxing gym in the past and also with Robert personally in the past, I couldn’t be happier that Australian martial artists and athletes, because they are the most elite athletes around, are obtaining the rewards for the years of hard work they’ve put in.

“I would happily have Jeff, Glenn or Rob present a session on concepts like strategy and resilience in a boardroom over any other corporate consultant or self-help guru you will find on any corner.”

“The business world, government, political leaders, they could all learn a great deal from them.”

Kenyan Election Update

Speaking at a political rally in  Kajiado on 15th June 2017, National Super Alliance (NASA) Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, said that the people of Kajiado sometimes felt compelled to sell parts of their land, not out of their own desire, but because of poverty. He said that NASA would change that, so that people do not sell their land. He also asked why the land buyers were coming from their places to the sellers' area and that those would-be buyers should remain in their areas. 

Video clips of part of his speech were shared on social media and Jubilee leaders and supporters alleged that Raila was calling for the eviction of 'outsiders' from Kajiado. President Kenyatta pointed out, at a subsequent rally, that the Constitution allows any Kenyan to buy land and settle in any part of the country. Some leaders called upon the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Directorate of Public Prosecution to probe Raila for incitement.

Mr. Odinga and NASA officials said that the presidential hopeful had said nothing wrong, and that he had only said NASA would end poverty so that people do not sell their land. Mr. Odinga further added that President Kenyatta's Jubilee administration must implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation's Commission's report on land injustices.

Just days after Mr. Odinga's remarks, leaflets calling for certain communities to leave Kajiado County by the 7th of August 2017 - the day before the elections - were found in circulation. Kajiado County Commissioner Harsama Kello said the government was seriously investigating the matter.

Presidential poll results for each constituency will be announced at constituency level, the Court of Appeal ruled on 23rd June, upholding an earlier ruling of the High Court.

The Court of Appeal said that it was hypocritical for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to doubt the honesty of its own staff to give this as the reason for the Commission 'verify' the results from the constituencies that it receives in Nairobi.

This matter was brought before the Court of Appeal by the IEBC after the electoral body disputed the ruling made in April by the High Court which stated that results announced at constituency tallying centres would be used to determine winners. 

A three-judge bench of the High court ruled that presidential election results announced at constituency tallying centres would be final in respect of the constituency and could only be questioned by the election court. The IEBC argued that the Constitution gives it powers to collate the presidential votes from the constituencies before they are pronounced as final. It also argued that IEBC had a responsibility to verify the results since only one court — the Supreme Court — can hear presidential election disputes.

The case in question was filed by human rights activists Maina Kiai, Khelef Khalifa and Tirop Kitur against the IEBC and Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Section 39 of the Elections Act and Regulations 83(2), 84(1) and 87(2)(c) of the Elections (General) Regulations 2012 that essentially granted IEBC powers to confirm, audit or even verify presidential election results sent by a Constituency Returning Officers.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga had welcomed the April ruling saying that the results at the polling stations can be picked up and relayed to the public by the media and that this is the norm in other jurisdictions around the world.

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001235500/court-now-strips-iebc-boss-power-to-change-constituency-results
https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001236476/why-high-court-got-it-wrong-on-presidential-tallying-case
http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2017/06/23/win-for-nasa-as-appeals-courts-rules-for-constituency-presidential_c1585138
https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001244632/court-presidential-results-at-constituency-level-final
==========================

Kenya is to hold General Elections on August 8th 2017. The Kenyan polls body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), awarded a tender to print about 120 million ballot papers, election results forms and poll registers for the elections to a Dubai firm, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC. 

The National Super Alliance (NASA) on Thursday 22nd June filed a lawsuit against the IEBC to block the tender. The suit seeks to cancel the tender on account of alleged fraud and lack of consultation with the main political parties. Presidential candidate Raila Odinga accused IEBC of ignoring voices of suspicion and fear over the involvement of the firm in the electoral process and alleged links to the President Uhuru Kenyatta's family.

On Friday, Justice Odunga asked the Chief Justice to constitute a three-judge bench to hear the dispute over the ballot papers.

This tender has not been without controversy. In October 2016, IEBC awarded the tender to Al Ghurair but the decision was nullified by the High Court in February 2017, following a suit filed by the opposition's Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) (CORD later joined others to form NASA). 
In its suit, CORD argued that the ballot papers tendered for were not in compliance with the amended Election Act which requires the papers to be in conformity with the integrated system. Judge George Odunga directed that the tender process start afresh.

Citing time constraints, the electoral commission opted to use restricted tendering where select firms were invited to bid but that also ran into trouble weeks later, when the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board nullified the process on grounds of faulty tender papers. The Board also accused the Commission of blatantly violating the law.

But later, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the IEBC would go for direct procurement after consultation with stakeholders.

On June 9th IEBC said it had taken into consideration several issues before settling on Al Ghurair. Among the considerations are the capacity of the firm, history of work done in Africa and the region, logistics and pricing.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga denied that the opposition was consulted.

Opposition leaders said senior Jubilee officials are involved in the Sh. 2.5 billion tender.

Chebukati announced that the IEBC will sponsor representatives of stakeholders to travel to Dubai and witness the printing of the materials.

NASA lawyers said their coalition would not honour IEBC’s invitation to accompany them to Dubai to witness the ballot printing process, maintaining their call that the tender should be awarded to another firm. Jubilee leaders also said they would not be part of the trip.

Thirdway Alliance Party of Kenya also called on the IEBC to cancel ballot printing tender to avoid chaos in the country. Party leader Ekuru Aukot asked for the tender to be awarded to an independent printing firm that has no links to any party contesting in the August elections. The party proposed that the United Nations supervises the tender process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party claimed that the Opposition was frustrating the process so the tender could be given to a South African company of their choice. Jubilee has also accused the Opposition of plotting to have the elections postponed.

On Friday June 23rd, Chief Justice David Maraga, as requested by the High Court, named Justice George Odunga, Justice Joel Ngugi (presiding) and Justice J.J. Mativo to form a three-judge bench to hear the case. Maraga authorised the judges to sit beyond working hours, if necessary, in light of the matter's urgency.

NASA lawyer, who is also the Senator for Siaya County, James Orengo, said that the remaining six weeks before the polls were enough for another firm to print the ballot papers.

"Printing ballot papers is not rocket science. We even print money here in Kenya," he said.

He added that in previous elections, nominations used to be done three weeks before the polling day and the polls body still managed to have ballot papers printed in the UK.

The anti-politician is now mainstream and politics has an authentic deficit disorder

With Teresa May heading to the Queen to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) it follows one of the worst election campaigns ever seen from the UK Conservatives.  

This was a campaign where the Conservatives blew a 20% lead at the start of the campaign and wound up losing their majority. 

It has been another example illustrating that without the influences of run-off voting systems or proportional voting systems (aka France and Holland); yet another leading campaign has run into a cocktail for political disaster, complacency, expectation management failure and authenticity deficit disorder.

The fundamental premise of this campaign, from the framing right through to execution, was that the Conservatives couldn’t lose. When they realised they could lose, the scare campaign was ramped up. Yet this was far too little and late to stem the bleeding.

However, whilst Corbyn has picked up a bit over 30 seats, he is still well short of a majority in the House of Commons. Despite increasing Labour’s vote share and adding millions of extra votes to the Labour tally, there is still a fundamental weakness in the Labour vote; a fundamental inability to take out marginal tory seats and to capitalise on the poor campaign of the Scottish Nationalists. In summary, the Labour vote was coming off a low base.

This election saw a pitch for a 'strong and stable' government fall flat.

The anti-establishment nature of the referendum campaign has scrambled the foundations of British politics. May was intitially a ‘remainer’ now advocating for a tough line on Brexit (or ‘hard brexit’ as many describe it). Jeremy Corbyn is an acolyte of Tony Benn, the leader of the hard left-wing of the Labour Party through the 1970s and 1980s and Michael Foot, the author of the manifesto which became known as the ‘Longest Suicide Note in History’. Corbyn was an early supporter of a Brexit, then campaigned in the referendum for ‘remain’ and now supports a Brexit once again.

On the backdrop of this scrambling was a Conservative campaign that refused to engage in TV debates, ran a campaign that wasn’t based on connecting with the mainstream and often appeared aloof. This was followed by a manifesto which attacked the Conservative base voters (see social care funding, ending the pension ‘triple lock’ and the famous ‘dementia tax’) that was never going to be rewarded.

Labour’s gains are also even more interesting, considering that the Corbyn campaign was often attacked for not doing enough to win back marginal seats.

Britain has seen a referendum campaign end their membership of the European Union and effectively seen the end of ‘New Labour’ all in the space of two years. Yet, what is again being missed in the majority of post-mortem conversations is that the trend is global and there are lessons for the future. But what is 'the trend'?

There is a global trend (and there has been for at least seven years) amongst western electorates, which don’t have proportional election systems, to now back to the ‘anti-politician’ politician regardless of political philosophical divides. The 'anti-politician' often taps into a resentment of existing institutions. Also known as 'anti-establishment' politics. In electorates where authenticity has been a perceived problem, the ‘standard’ campaign based on presentation, photo opportunities and three word clichés are not working (note ‘Strong and Stable’ and ‘Jobs and Growth’)

This is also prefaced on the fact that the ‘anti-establishment’ politician needs to rise inside the framework of establishment parties. This can be seen most recently with a Donald Trump Republican presidency. This is not as easy nor as random as it may seem.

For example, Jill Stein can’t mobilise a Sanders-style movement in the American left. Likewise, Hanson and Bernardi won’t be able to lead parties of government in the Australian mainstream system and the best that New Zealand First and Winston Peters can hope for is a role as a ‘support party’ (again) to a National Party government.

It is very important to also note that there is a difference between ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘populism’. The concept of politicians using budget measures to ‘buy’ support well and truly pre-dates the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ concept.

In the United States, we witnessed Hilary Clinton be attacked on two flanks - one from the philosophical left and one from the philosophical right. In the Democratic Primaries she lost 22 states to Bernie Sanders; a Corbyn-esque, dedicated Socialist independent Senator from Vermont who energised a base and built an engaged movement. Not unlike the ‘momentum’ movement behind Corbyn.

Despite Clinton surviving the challenge on her left, she failed to stave off Trump, perceived to be on her right, who perfected the anti-politician image, turned out his voters; but more importantly her campaign failed to bring out the voters mobilised by first Obama, then Sanders; Millennials, Latinos and African-Americans. Her turnout fell dramatically which allowed Trump to win.

In this new political reality, however, Clinton was a career political professional attempting to fend off two anti-politician campaigns that were always going to cannibalise her vote regardless of which traditional philosophical divide they may have been perceived to represent. 

In Australia, Barnaby Joyce will get some enjoyment to see that the electorate has finally caught up with him. He has been prosecuting this argument well before the rise of the ‘anti-establishment’ politician around the world. Australia is full of politicians trying to bring this together; between Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi, Bob Katter and Derryn Hinch; they all don’t get anywhere near the standard of Barnaby Joyce and his ability to do this, despite being the junior Coalition partner in an unpopular government.

However, if Anthony Albanese wins the leadership of the Labor Party in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull would almost be electorally unable to win. Albanese has figured out how to master this on the left in the Australian context, without the status of trying to do this from inside a minor party.

If the Coalition doesn't recognise and get across this anti-politician trend with effective strategies, they won’t win in 2019. If the Nationals in New Zealand don’t see the events of the UK and US as something that can manifest itself in New Zealand too, they will see a much larger New Zealand First and a more powerful Winston Peters.

Welcome to the mainstream where the anti-politician rules. 

Kenyan Elections 2017

Kenya's General Elections for President and other positions will be held on Tuesday August 8th 2017. Excitement and tension is building up towards that day, especially with regard to the Presidential election. 

The incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta will be vying for a second term. Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2013 elections, after his main rival at the time, Raila Odinga, disputed the results of those elections and filed a suit in the Supreme Court of Kenya. The Supreme Court upheld the declaration of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President a few weeks later. 

President Kenyatta is running on the recently formed Jubilee Alliance Party - a party formed out of the coalition of parties under which he vied for presidency in 2013. Mr William Ruto, the Deputy President, will be his running mate once again.

Before the 2013 elections, the current opposition formed the CORD coalition (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy). The principals of this coalition were Mr Raila Odinga, who was then Prime Minister and is the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, who was then vice-president and is the leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement and Mr. Moses Wetangula, who is currently the Minority Leader in the Senate and is also the leader of the Ford Kenya party 

Mr Odinga was the presidential candidate of the CORD coalition and Mr Musyoka was his running-mate.

A few notable political leaders have now teamed up with the CORD coalition to form what they have called the National Super Alliance (NASA). 'Nasa' also means 'to seize' or 'capture' in Swahili, Kenya's national language, and the opposition has declared their determination to capture the Presidency this year. 

One of the NASA leaders is Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, 56, the leader of the Amani National Congress, who was also a presidential candidate in 2013 and came third in those polls.

A recent addition to the NASA coalition is Mr Isaac Ruto, the current governor of Bomet County, and former member of the URP party that was part of the Jubilee coalition. His entry to NASA is seen by some as a blow to Jubilee and a boost to NASA, at least in terms of perception and possibly in terms of votes as well.

The NASA coalition has publicised an agreement on positions that each principal will get if they win the Presidency and form the next government.

As many people expected, once again, the 72-year-old Raila Odinga will again be running for president this year - for the fourth time. Mr. Musyoka will once again be his running-mate.

Mr. Musyoka served as Vice-President of Kenya from 2008 to 2013. He was a presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, and after those elections, he was appointed Vice-President, even as the country was engulfed in violence as the opposition disputed the election results that declared Mr, Mwai Kibaki the winner of the Presidential race. 

This violence eventually led to the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his Deputy, William Ruto, (the two being in opposite political camps at the time) being brought, with others, to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. The cases against them were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Mr. Odinga, who believes he was the actual winner of the 2007 elections, was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008 in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Odinga was Prime Minister until 2013.

The fact that Mr. Odinga and Mr. Musyoka were in government between 2008 and 2013 is often cited by Jubilee and their supporters when pointing out perceived failures of the administration of that time, and by extension, the failures of the two, though these supporters often don’t also point out that their own leaders were also in the same government.

Officially, there are 18 people in total who have registered with the IEBC as presidential candidates. Only a few are comparatively well known such as Dr. Ekuru Aukot, former member of the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review that worked on Kenya's 2010 Constitution and Mr Peter Ondeng’, who is expected to get at least some votes from evangelical Christians. The effect of these less prominent candidates on the presidential vote and if they might cause a run-off is yet to be seen.


Kenyan politics, to a significant extent, is based on tribal affiliations. Presidential candidates usually get major support from the areas largely inhabited by their ethnic communities. It is likely that tribal arithmetic – the number of voters from each tribe and their turnout at the polls - will play a significant part in the 2017 elections, but there are also emerging voices of opposition to this approach. A number of people in their forties and younger, are declaring that supporting a candidate based on tribe does not benefit them in their personal lives, and they would rather vote in competent leaders from whichever tribes. 

For example, there was a strike by doctors serving in public hospitals, which resulted in their union leaders being jailed for a few days (for failing to call off the strike). The fact that the doctors come from various ethnic backgrounds and they stood together for their cause may be seen by some as an indication that the tribal mindset may be weakening, at least among the younger generation.

Corruption in government will certainly be among the top issues harped upon by the opposition. USAID recently withdrew funding for government health projects citing corruption and the opposition will likely point this out as an example of government corruption being visible even to outsiders.

The current rising food prices will also likely be raised and the opposition will probably cite this as an example of failure by the government and probably also state that this failure was deliberately orchestrated to allow well-connected cartels to sell food to the public at exorbitant prices.

The Jubilee response to these accusations seems to be that the food shortage is caused by drought and that is beyond the government’s control. Some supporters also say that there was a similar hike in food prices when many of the opposition leaders were in government, so food shortage and high prices are not something new.

The opposition has often said that the Jubilee government has recklessly borrowed money, especially from China, and indebted the country beyond reasonable levels. They have also claimed that a lot of this money is then misdirected to individuals after it is received. 

The incumbent side usually responds by saying that the borrowed money has been used to start long-term projects that will lay the foundation for the country’s future growth and prosperity. The Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) project is one of the main projects that the Jubilee administration proudly takes credit for. It is supposed to ease transport of goods and services between the port town of Mombasa and the interior of Kenya and has created jobs for those working on the project. 

However, some claim that the cost of the SGR project was inflated and that it did not yield good value for money, when compared to a similar project in neighbouring Ethiopia, for example.

Apart from the polls themselves, IEBC, the body mandated to manage the elections, has been under criticism about its preparedness. In 2013, the polls faced challenges of failure of its machines and officials were later accused of negligence in procuring equipment. The commissioners of that time were compelled to resign following pressure by the opposition and new commissioners were selected and sworn into office. The IEBC recently admitted that it had as many as 128,000 records with shared details in its voter register. This register is currently undergoing audit by an independent audit firm.

In elections like Kenya, predicting elections isn't a straight forward business; but we will be keeping our eyes on the campaign and the results and the opportunities that can come from it it to engage with this part of Africa.

Sierra Leone: The Future

Sierra Leone has witnessed a mixed bag of fortunes in recent years. Between 1991 and 2002, the country witnessed a Civil War that killed thousands. However after the war, the country had witnessed impressive growth based largely on mining exploration. In 2013, the economy grew at 20%, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.


Unfortunately, in May 2014, the Ebola virus broke out in the country. It took advantage of the underdeveloped health care system and misconceptions about the disease to spread. The virus killed over 3,000 people in the country. But thanks to domestic and external forces, the virus was defeated, and Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in March 2016.


The post-Ebola Sierra Leone provides a new opportunity for strategic planning and investment in the country. The government has declared the Economic Recovery Strategy that would shore up investments in critical areas and infrastructure. Other actors such as the mining industry have also reopened for business. In 2016, the IMF believed the economy would grow by 4.3% as business reopened.


Yet, the investment climate in Sierra Leone is still fraught by challenges, most predating the Ebola outbreak. First, despite years of consistent growth, more than half the population remain in poverty and large number of youths are unemployed and unskilled.
Second, Sierra Leone’s economy is highly reliant on the mining for export revenue and growth. This makes the country extremely vulnerable to price shocks whenever global commodities prices decline. A phenomenon it presently faces as Chinese demands for commodities has declined since 2014. This reduces foreign exchange, increases inflation and causes reduction in government spending.


Third, the World Bank ranked Sierra Leone 147 among 189 countries for the ease of doing business in 2016. This ranking was influenced by challenges such infrastructural dearth as road networks remain underdeveloped, low electricity generation, difficulty in accessing credits, high interest rates, and difficulty registering property. 


Fourth, corruption remains widespread in the country, and little government efforts have been made to curb it. In 2015, a report by the country’s Auditor General showed that the country had failed to properly account for large sum funds allocated to fight Ebola. A lack of transparency also in the mining sector, the country’s most important sector, threatens the credibility of negotiations and contracts.


Despite these challenges, Sierra Leone offers great investments opportunities. Its domestic political system has remained stable since 2002, thus providing a peaceful environment for business. Also, the fact that many resources remain untapped provides interesting investment opportunities. Sectors such as agriculture, tourism and natural resource exploration are yet to be fully harnessed. But most importantly, Sierra Leone’s location, and its membership of the 300 million ECOWAS body, grants it huge access to the economies of other West African nations. And through the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and the Everything But Arms Initiative, Sierra Leone is granted duty-free access to the US and EU economies respectively.


Summarily, the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 was a huge setback to Sierra Leone’s development. However, the country, with foreign support has been able to wither that crisis, and has since resumed economic growth. However, like most developing countries, doing business with the country is not without challenges. Nevertheless, Sierra Leone does have some important advantages investors would be wise to key into in the post-Ebola world. 
 

French Presidential Election

In the aftermath of Brexit and the tensions caused by the Dutch elections and Geert Wilders, The French Presidential Campaign will catch everybody’s attention and it will be the second of three big challenges European Union will face in 2017.

With regard to migration, the rise of nationalism or populism in several European countries in the last couple of years has concerned European leaders for eventual harms it could do to the European project and single market. For French people, nationalism is not something new. In fact, the radical right-wing party National Front (Front Nationale in French) has been participating in every French electoral campaign since its founding in 1972, however, their national relevance in french politics was very residual until the 2002 Presidential campaign of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked all critics and media when he assured a 2nd round with Jaques Chirac against all the experts' expectations who thought 2nd round would be Chirac facing Lionel Jospin. 

This result made the French parties to announce their vote preference in Chirac. As a matter of fact, 2nd round was too easy for Chirac. Besides the support of all moderate and progressive parties, Chirac had media and syndicates on his side, and so it became quite predictable his victory. In the end, Chirac’s won with 88% of the vote.

From that moment until 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen kept his position as President of National Front and competed in all French and European elections; however, he never reached the heights of 2002.There were many reasons for the decline of the radical right-wing party such as the modification of the regional electoral system to contain the influence of National Front in some regions; party faced a financial crisis and forced the party to make a restructuring to solve it.

Furthermore, the beginning of the 21st century was a time of some prosperity for both European countries and European Union. The European currency “Euro” had a bright start and it gained a very good reputation in the international markets, which gave some credit to the European project. The Euopean project was at an all time high of popularity in its member states.

After the results in 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen retired from the Presidency of National Front and there was an internal run between his daughter Marine Le Pen against the vice-president Bruno Gollish. In January 2011, Marine Le Pen was elected president of National Front and with her presidency, National Front was able to win 24 seats in the European Parliament.

This year, eleven candidates are running for President, but only 4 have any real chancey to get the final two places for a run-off election. What has changed the dynamic of the election is that both the Socialist candidate for President (Benoît Hamon) and Republican Candidate and Former French Prime Minister under former President Nicholas Sarkozy; Francois Fillon have both had lacklustre campaigns which have also seen Fillon has stubbornly resisting calls to step down after revelations he paid his wife and children government salaries, though they apparently did little or no work in return. He has not denied the payments but insists he did not misuse public funds.

Most French voters are not vindictive with regard to such minor instances of corruption, and given the other choices may decide to forgive Fillon because of the experience, demonstrated competence and sheer gravitas he would bring to the presidency.

Opinion polls show around a third of France's 45.7 million voters might abstain, an unprecedented number in a country with a long tradition of high turnouts. Even among those who intend to vote, about one-third have yet to make up their mind on how to cast their ballot.

When Fillon won the Republican Primary election in November, he proved that he was a strong finisher and will be betting that he gets a good split of the 30% undecided factor in recent French polling.

Heading into March, this race looked like it would have been the first election in French post- war history where there was not a major party candidate in the run-off election; which Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron being the likely candidates. Le Pen and Macron had 25% and 24% taken at the end of March by PrésiTrack OpinionWay / ORPI for Les Echos and Radio Classique.

While Fillon is attacking Macron as a closet Socialist too close to the unpopular Hollande Government, Le Pen has her vulnerabilities as well. Le Pen relies on support among young and working class voters, two groups where abstention is forecast to be high. 

According to the dutch Investment bank Rabobank, Emanuel Macron is the most likely candidate to succeed Holland in the presidency. According to the last polls Macron and Marine Le Pen are tied with 23%, followed by François Fillon and Mélenchon (Communist) with 18% each. 

This has been backed up by the latest Ifop-Fiducial poll on 12 April showed Le Pen winning 23.5 percent in the April 23 first round, one point ahead of centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Both Le Pen and Macron's support dipped by half a point from Tuesday while conservative Francois Fillon was stable on 19 percent and Melenchon unchanged on 18.5 percent.

The top two candidates go through to a run-off on May 7, where polls say Macron would easily beat Le Pen.

Mélenchon has surged in recent weeks with some good debate performances, in a field where enthusiasm is low (outside of Le Pen), however, his platform by many is seen as far too left wing even for left of centre voters who are gravitating to Macron's campaign as the only 'viable' opposition to Fillon or Le Pen. 

With Mélenchon and Le Pen rising in the polls; until the elections are over, the financial markets will see unrest as both want to put the EU membership of France to a vote and Le Pen wants to take France out of the Euro.

However, we predict that if Le Pen is in the final run-off election; she will lose. Le Pen, just like her father will galvanise all of the other parties against her (providing Mélenchon doesn't make the run off, which we see as unlikely). It is predicted that Macron, as the most likely to run against Le Pen would receive the endorsement of the Socialist President Hollande and the Republican Party through its standard bearer Fillon. 

This prediction is not only based in history when the same phenomenon saw Jacques Chirac receive the support of every other party to block Jean Marie Le Pen but in every head to head poll completed this cycle shows Le Pen losing to either Fillon or Macron.

Indian Super League

The Hero Indian Super League, more commonly known as the Indian Super League (ISL), is a men's professional football league in India. Founded in 2013, the goal for the league was to elevate football into one of the top sports in the India, and to create a system which could better organically increase India's participation on the football scene worldwide.

Building on the success that the Indian Premier League (IPL) -- the professional Twenty20 cricket league in India -- enjoyed, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) envisioned a football version of said league. In 2010, the AIFF signed a 15–year, 700–crore deal with Reliance Industries and the International Management Group of the United States, giving the tandem the exclusive commercial rights to sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, video, franchising, and overall creation of such a football league.

Between the combination of the grassroots effort to grow the sport within the second most populous nation in the world, and the potential business returns that could be had if the league were to achieve a similar level of success as the IPL, the bidding process for the eight franchises that would be formed at the onset of the league drew significant interest from major corporations, Bollywood stars, IPL teams themselves, and other various consortiums of potential owners. When the first eight cities/states -- Bangalore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune -- were announced as having been awarded franchises, the list of individuals who won the bidding for these franchises was a veritable "who's who" of Indian star power. Indian cricket superstars Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Bollywood superstars like Salman Khan, John Abraham, and Ranbir Kapoor were among the league's initial franchise owners.

Official statistics for the cost of each of the league's eight franchises are hard to come by, but according to recent estimates, each team has paid as much as Rs. 55 to 60 crore to cover operating costs including license fees, player acquisition, training and management, and promotions. These costs are in total for the entire franchise, meaning those teams owned by a multitude of individuals would split said costs between them. Further, like any major football or sporting league around the world, the league has also signed a bevy of sponsorship deals, and relies heavily on the revenue generated from these deals. The revenue earned from said franchising deals is believed to offset some of these operating costs that owners would otherwise have to solely bear. Hero Motocorp was the league's first title sponsor, and three-year deal signed by the company is said to have paid somewhere in the neighborhood of Rs 20 crore per year.

When the league officially began play in 2014, it was received with tremendous excitement, fanfare, and pomp and circumstance. The inaugural match took place in Kolkata, often referred to as "India's Mecca of Football." That match packed in over 65,000 fans into Salt Lake Stadium, and set a precedent for an incredible first year of league play. The initial match, and subsequent matches, generated tremendous buzz on the web, with search engine hits skyrocketing and league chatter on social media chatter dominating many of the usual sites. In the first week alone, the league generated a viewership rating of just under 171 million people, trailing only the IPL nationwide.

Only a few weeks into its inaugural season, the ISL was reported to be the fourth most popular football league in the world, leapfrogging Italy’s Serie A in terms of average attendance. The average attendance was reportedly more than 24,000 fans per match, which put the league just behind that of Germany’s Bundesliga, the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga. With the league off to such a fast start, then-FIFA chief Sepp Blatter was said to have called India "the sleeping giant of football."

But after completing three seasons of play, there appears to be a mixed outlook on the future viability of the league. Three years after that raucous crowd of 65,000+ packed Salt Lake Stadium to watch Atlético de Kolkata defeat Mumbai City, Kolkata now fails to fill their new 15,000-seat Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, where they currently play. Some of the premier rivalry matches used to draw crowds over of over 25,000 fans; many of those same matches now draw as little as half that number.

Along with the backing of big-name owners, the Super League banked on the idea that luring well-known football stars, including Nicolas Anelka, David Trezeguet, Robert Pires, Luis Garcia, Roberto Carlos, Lucio, Helder Postiga, and Florent Malouda in the first two seasons alone. However, the appeal of the Indian population being drawn to watch these stars up close has not gone as planned.  Anecdotally, Indian football fans look at these acquisitions more as "has-been" players looking into cashing in their final paychecks. Those same football fans are still captivated by the stars who play in the European Premier League, or other top football leagues. Indian football purists complain that the level of play in the Indian Super League doesn't possess nearly the same style, flair, and grace of the other top leagues. They view the Indian league as being too slow, methodical, and error-prone.

Still, there remains a great deal of optimism around the potential of the league. India's booming economy and rapidly-progressing quality of life should continue to be able to potentially draw stars from other countries to come and play in the Super League. 

ISL viewership and attendance spiked back towards positive levels in 2016, growing as much as 41% in some areas from the previous year.  Analysts point to the fact that the cumulative viewing number of Indians residing in rural areas within the country as over 100 million people, touting this number as a sign of increasing interest in the league. Those same analysts believe that the league will become the country's top football league as early as 2018, overtaking the nine-team I-league formed in 2007 (who is also struggling with their own attendance and interest-level issues). 

If those numbers continue to grow later this year, it could establish the Indian Super League as one of the dominant sports leagues in the world, for many years to come.
 

Tech in Politics

Politics and media are both fields that are constantly in a state of flux, growth, and change. A brief re-cap of the history of digital electoral campaigns provides a useful starting point for exploring the role that social media plays in political campaigns. Political use of the internet in electoral campaigns started in ninety’s, however, from the year 2000 onwards, the increasing prevalence of the internet was the catalyst for a new level of electoral tactics in social media. With millions of internet users around the world, various countries started to consider the use of social media much more prominently in their political campaign strategies. 


In 2008, campaign for the United States presidency marked a significant shift in the importance of social media in electoral campaigns. When Barack Obama ran for president, social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were at the center of a huge investment in his strategy. Robertson, Vatrapu, and Medina conducted an in-depth examination of campaigns of presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, and John’s Facebook walls and what individual users wrote. The study concluded that President Obama had significantly higher engagement than his counterparts. It is clear from this study that the level of followership significantly increased engagement, which in turn helped to secure the win. 

Since then, monitoring boom of social media began on the back of evidence from political and communication strategies around the world that showed the contribution that social media could add to campaigns. Tools that are available to these politicians to carry out social media analysis play very important roles such as; they are predictive rather than reactionary, and they are far more accurate. These tools have the ability to help politicians by raising awareness of their campaigns and establishing a platform for dialogue. In addition to that, social media also may have the ability to predict the actual outcome of an election. A study by Tumasjan, Sandner & Welpe (2010) examined several key ideas such as Twitter as a reflection of political sentiment and whether Twitter could predict the results of the election, which demonstrates that the number of mentions the party received matched very closely with the results of the election polls.


As more and more people use social media to communicate their view and perception of elections, researchers have increasingly been collecting and analyzing data from social media platforms. When a political party engages its constituent using social media channels, they would be benefited by gauging whether the policy idea works immediately. They will know instantly the climate of those conversations, they can see how successful their message was delivered and how it got their constituents engaged in conversation. Once they have determined that, then they can craft next strategy according to what was popular and what was not.  


Last but not least through monitoring social media one can access the data collected using third party cookies of the audience producing a demographic report. This report can give valuable information about audience’s gender, age and most vital their interest of helping politicians orient a successful campaign. 
 
 

MLS: The Future

When Major League Soccer, the men's professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, first began play in 1996, the league only had a total of 10 teams, all based in the U.S. The league added its first two expansion teams in 1998, the Miami Fusion and the Chicago Fire, but with the struggles that the league faced in its early years, the league contracted back down to 10 teams, and its overall viability seemed to be in serious doubt. The MLS had lost an estimated $250 million during its first five years, and would end up losing more than $350 million between 1996 and 2004.

However, the league's downward trajectory seemed to change directions in 2002, thanks to the performance by the United States in the 2002 World Cup, and the aggressive marketing undertaken by the league, to highlight the talent of its American-born players. Between 2002 and 2009, the league added five more teams, and made moves to resolve many of the financial losses they were taking overall. After adding four more teams between 2009 and 2012, which include the league's further expansion into Canada (after creating a franchise in Toronto in 2007), MLS commissioner Don Garber raised the stakes for the now-booming league, stating in 2013 that the MLS will expand to 24 teams by the year 2020.

In December of 2015, the MLS actually expounded on that previous statement, announcing plans to grow to 28 teams. The first round of expansion included placing franchises in Atlanta and Minnesota, giving the league 22 clubs, effective as of the 2017 season. The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) would join the league in 2018, and plans were laid to create an expansion team in Miami, beginning play in 2019, and raising the number of clubs in the league to 24.

Minnesota, whose team name is the Minnesota United FC, actually played their inaugural game on Friday, March 3rd, featuring the debut of the #1 overall SuperDraft pick (Abu Danladi), two club idols and USMNT hopefuls (Christian Ramirez and Miguel Ibarra), a selection of northern European imports and a handful of experienced MLS alumni. Unfortunately, they didn't quite get the results they were looking for; it was quite the opposite, actually.  Minnesota lost to the Portland Timbers by the score of 5-1, marking the biggest loss by an MLS expansion team making its debut. Prior to that game, no MLS expansion team had lost by more than two goals in their first game. Atlanta, whose team name will be the Atlanta United FC, will play its games in the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opens later this year. They clearly hope to have a better debut than Minnesota did.

In 2017, the MLS has plans to announce the cities which will be awarded the 25th and 26th teams, with two more winning bids revealed thereafter. The 12 cities in contention for the next four teams are: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis and Tampa/St. Petersburg. Tampa previously had an MLS team -- the Tampa Bay Mutiny -- which played from 1996 and 2001, and former American soccer star Landon Donovan is a member of the ownership group trying to bring the MLS to San Diego.

African Tourism Industry - The Future

The tourism industry of any country always has a great contribution in running its economy smoothly and efficiently. But the African tourism industry doesn’t have a same successful story. Before 2005, the tourism industry of Africa was abruptly damaged because of some political and managerial issues. After that era, the tourism industry had a little uplift in the graph before people started to explore more and more about the weather and people of Africa. Tourists were also inclined towards the wildlife of Africa. Many television serials/shows were recorded in the planes of Africa.


In 2013, the whole scenario was changed. The Africa was feeling the successful lift in the tourism industry in 2013 and many governmental and private organizations started to take interest in it. That’s the reason why Chief Economist Mthuli Ncube has thrown light on the issues that were associated with the African tourism. The first and the most important issue was the investment for improving the overall infrastructure sectors.

African tourism industry is elevating day by day, so the African soil is playing the role of ‘investible’ asset for the private sectors to invest. Surprisingly, the 49 million tourists arrivals were recorded in the 2010 and the figure was 50 million in 2012. I would like to mention Africa, a kind of un-harvested region with a lot of minerals where you can grow anything because you already have the minerals. All you need to do is to take a step forward and invest in the following list of great investment sites. So, let’s get started with the first one!

Uganda: Uganda is commonly famous due to the Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is actually comprised of hundreds of bodies of water. These water bodies haven’t yet exploited, so they can be a perfect spot to make some ‘serious’ investments. A luxurious cruise and balloon flights can become perfect investment plans.

Tanzania: Tanzania follows the Uganda in terms of beauty and successful tourism spot. Many attractive national parks are the vital spots for the tourists but most of them aren’t reachable due to bumpy roads and other traveling burdens. Arusha National Park is the best example of such national parks. The increase in the air flights will only make the burden on Dar es Salaam and associated cities. The investment in such sectors will return productive dividends as the prices will skyrocket in shape of limited offers. Investment in hotel operators and tour operators will be the best place to invest in Tanzania.

Angola and Nigeria: Angola has been known best for the agricultural yields for the country. Angola contributes most of the agricultural sector of the Africa and naturally, this region is well suited for the crops. Due to little know-how about the scientific procedures and technical tips needed for the agriculture, Angola hasn’t been producing what it should produce. Same is the case with Nigerian industry. Most of the industrial states of Africa are based in Nigeria. A Little know-how and fewer mechanical power lead to the destruction of the industrial sector. Minerals like gold, zinc, bauxite, coal, iron ore and tin are the common minerals that can be caught just by little investment. Investment in this sector will also be as productive as it is in the Uganda. 

 

InvestKenya 2017

Kenya has been encountering consistent development for a long while now. The financial figure has been sure with the World Bank anticipating a development rate of 6.6 percent this year and 7 percent come 2017. This force is being fueled by enormous interests in framework and employments, ventures to enhance the business atmosphere, and a lift in fares.

Kenya has one of the best vehicles to promote new investment into Kenya called KenInvest which is the branding for the Kenyan Investment Corporation. Here are 9 macro-reasons to invest:

  1. Tax Treaties and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements: Kenya is a signatory to a large and growing number of tax treaties and investment promotion and protection Agreements such as the Multilateral Trade System (MTS) ACP Cotonou Agreement, and the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act. This allows exports from Kenya to enjoy preferential access to world markets under a number of special access and duty reduction programmes.
  2. Stability: Since independence, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system Since the re-emergence of multiparty democracy and promulgation of a new constitution in 2011, Kenyans have enjoyed an increased degree of freedom.
  3. Regulatory Reforms: Kenya is making efforts to lower the cost of doing business by conducting extensive business regulatory reforms intended to substantially reduce the number of licensing requirements and to make the licensing regimes more simple and transparent and focused on legitimate regulatory purposes.
  4. Access to Large pool of Highly Educated and Skilled Work Force: Kenya prides itself in its large pool of highly educated, skilled and sought after work force in Africa, trained from within the country and in institutions in around the world.
  5. Strategic Location: As the leading economy in East Africa, Kenyas’ strategic location and its well developed business infrastructure make it a natural choice for investors and many international firms have made it their regional hub. This grants investors access to the larger East African Community and regional markets with access to over 385 million consumers. Nairobi is also a major transport Hub in East Africa with Connections from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Major Destinations around the world. All these are coupled with a convenient Time zone of (GMT +3).
  6. Highly Developed Social and Physical Infrastructure: Kenya affords a pleasant and quality standard of living with its spectacular and diverse natural resources. Ranging from wildlife and sceneries. Including the world famous Maasai Mara. The country also boasts of high quality social amenities such as restaurants, hospitals and Entertainment spots. A good reason why the country has the highest number of Expatriates living and working in Kenya.
  7. Fully Liberalised Economy: Kenya fully liberalised its economy by removing all obstacles that previously hampered the free flow of trade and private investment. These includes exchange controls, import and export licensing, as well as restrictions on remittances of profits and dividends.
  8. Preferential Market Access: Kenya is signatory to a number of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements as part of its trade policy. Kenya is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) making her products access more than 90% of world markets at Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment. In addition, Kenya is member to several trade arrangements and beneficiary to trade-enhancing schemes that include the  Africa Growth and opportunity act (AGOA);  ACP-EU Trade Agreement and Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
  9. Well Established and Vocal Private Sector: Kenya has a very substantial private sector, including a significant number of foreign investors and is touted as one of the most resilient in the world. The country has always been a market economy. Key players in voicing private-sector concerns include, The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Futhermore, the government frequently conducts regular policy dialogue with private sector players through the Prime Minister Round Tables.

Here are a few parts that could give beneficial venture openings in Kenya:

Agriculture: Farming is the backbone of the economy, giving vocation to around 75 for each penny of the populace. There is impressive degree for broadening and extension of the horticultural division through quickened nourishment trim generation, handling and advertising. There are additionally open doors for development in innovative foundation, for example, bundling, hoarding, and transportation. Escalated water system and extra esteem included processing are fine zones for profitable investment.

Manufacturing: Kenya has a very much created development industry. With growth in populace, openings exist in the development of private, business and mechanical structures, including pre-assembled minimal effort lodging. Broad open doors for venture exist especially in the territory of redesigning ghettos and casual settlements, urban restoration, development of center and low pay lodging, fabricate and supply of building materials and parts.

Producing part is a territory where speculation openings exist. The division assumes a vital part in increasing the value of horticultural yield.  An extensive variety of chances for immediate and joint-wander ventures exist in the assembling division, including agro-preparing, fabricate of articles of clothing, gathering of car parts and hardware, plastics, paper, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metal and building items for both household and fare markets.

Innovation and IT: Kenya has completely grasped the open doors managed by innovation. The bubbly start-up scene is something to be appreciated. This has been floated by great government approaches, with the extent of the neighborhood ICT advertise now is evaluated at around $500 million. The National ICT Masterplan plans to improve Kenya's aggressiveness through usage of its assets in Business Process Outsourcing and fortifying its abilities to meet future innovative difficulties. The 2030 vision for BPO is for the nation to end up distinctly the top BPO goal in Africa. 

Tourism: Kenya at present brags the most noteworthy impart of populace to access to budgetary administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa (more than 70 percent). This is to a great extent on account of the well-known portable cash exchange benefit M-Pesa. Konza City, a cutting edge techno polis is a venture by the Kenyan government which guarantees to drive considerably more development in the ICT division.

InvestKenya2017

.

NZ South Island Opportunities

New Zealand is full of different resources. New Zealand has some beautiful cities with various types of resources. One of the best cities is South Island. This city is a real attraction for the tourists. In every year, this city receives a lot of tourists from different countries. There are so many sectors which can be developed for the tourists. Geographically this is a perfect place to invest in various sectors. If you are looking for some areas of New Zealand, you should spend in this city. Here I am sharing some of the areas where you can invest without any doubt. You will receive a good ROI for sure.


Tourist Attractions
Tourism sector of South Island is the best way to start investing. There are so many places where every year people come to visit some amazing landscapes. You can invest on the resorts. Some of the resorts are developing newly, and they needed money. You can contact them to know if there is any chance to spend. Most of the resort will give you a particular percentage of the amount of your invested money. Famous tourist attractions of South Island are sightseeing, adventure tourism, such as glacier climbing and Bungee jumping, tramping (hiking), kayaking, and camping. In every section, there is a good chance to invest. In the areas of these tourist attractions, you can invest in the bars, hotels, sports shops, souvenir shops, etc.


Transport
As a tourist city, South Island is also a good place to invest in the transportation. You can spend your money to bring some updated transport system. The South Island has a State Highway network of 4,921 km which is quite large. You could contact the local transport companies if they needed any investment. But if you want to invest for the new transports, you need to get the permit from the authority. For this, you can contact with some legal advisors to know about the rules of transport business.


Real Estate
Real State is another attractive sector for the new investment. There are so many companies in New Zealand. For real estate properties. You can find out some amazing places where you can purchase some land or apartments. You can build resorts for the tourists on your lands. If you are a foreigner and want to invest in the real estate sector, you need to fulfil some requirement at first. If you find the work complex, you can contact the local lawyers to make it easy.


Restaurant Business
The restaurant is always a good business for high ROI. You can invest for the new restaurants in South Island. You can set up a new restaurant in the tourist spots. You can contact with the landowners for setting up a new restaurant. Though there are already some popular restaurants in there, if you can bring some unique items, you can expect a good return on your investment.
 

The need for quality 'oppo'

The need for quality opposition research for entities tendering for government contracts, engaging in new markets and analysing competitors and those going into politics. 

Opposition Research (or oppo as its known); is the formal practice of gathering information that can be used to beat your opposition. Knowing your opposition is critical to engaging in any government, business or political endeavour. In order to get the win you need, Gravis Risk is the solution.

Yes, the old adage is true, knowledge is power.. You can't trounce your recruiting, tendering or political enemy until you thoroughly know everything possible about how your enemy operates. 

There is a easy temptation to consider 'opposition research' as a straight mudslinging enterprise, however, the corporate and government concept is not a crude 'dirt gathering' exercise. Rather, not unlike your typical audit, it is a due diligence measure. Indeed, companies do 'competitor research' regularly as part of their standard business operations.

Simply put, information is the key to ensuring that you are planning to win. The process is quite standard for a political fight, an accurate merger/acquisition strategy or a successful tender.

This is also where counterintelligence to restrict your competitors from learning about your firm is also important. Whether it is shielding your Intellectual Property (IP), your recruiting methods, data programs, strategic or tendering direction. Our Gravis Risk counterintelligence solution uses cutting-edge methods to identify the information in an organisation that is valuable and where an organisation is vulnerable to attack. 

Competitive and business intelligence has become a critical function in all major corporations. But for many, the need to develop a process to formerly gather the intelligence has somehow been either forgotten or sidestepped by corporate leaders.

With experienced competitor researchers with global experience we stand ready to deliver on this vital component of any winning strategy. 

African Investment and Trade: The Future

One would think that on seeing the economic scenario across the developing nations in Africa, investors could not be thinking about zeroing down on Africa as their next destination to strike a deal on investment or trade. Analysts tends to believe that people would rather wait for nations to stabilise before investment or trade will follow. This is a complete misrepresentation of the majority of African states. There are plenty of stable African states that are able to be dealt in straight away and our Gravis Global Invest team are here to help!

Immediately there are 5 major types of trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

These are:

Agriculture: ranking among the business opportunities available to investors and entrepreneurs in Africa, the continent is home to 60% of the world's total uncultivated arable land. As the world's population is now above 7 billion, there must be a systematic approach for producing enough food to feed that many mouths. The challenge in this case has to do with poor connecting infrastructure to facilitate product making it to exit points to enter into markets.  There are also moves with a number of nations to remove trade barriers as well. This allows for agricultural development to support other 'flow on' industries such as fertilisers, pesticides, seeds production and processing and refining businesses.

Infrastructure: this sector is second in importance only to agriculture for investment. Though successive African governments have made efforts to improve infrastructure, a huge deficit in this sector still looms thereby creating bottlenecks in the smooth delivery of trade and investment deals. The World Bank in 2008 estimated that the continent needed US$80Billion annually to cover the infrastructure deficit on the continent. This provides an opportunity for private investors to invest in Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) or Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) deals with governments, especially for infrastructure such as airports, electricity networks, railway networks, roads and airport facilities.

Tourism: Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania have become some of the worlds favourite tourism spots. There have been estimates that up to 50 million tourists per year coming through the continent since 2012 with that number rising year to year. This creates side markets that become investment ready in hotels, resorts, airline business, transport businesses and tourism related tour activities. 

Mining: This is a sector that has been developed in some parts already and has large amounts of Chinese investment. Chinese companies have been buying the world's major miners out of their interests on the continent which is freeing them up to make new investment elsewhere. It also therefore means that there are large Chinese slabs of influence in this sector. There are however nations in the continent with under-developed mining industries where skills shortages and infrastructure shortages have lead to this underdevelopment. 

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG): For the first time 2012 saw African consumer spending go past the one trillion dollars (US$1 trillion). With a population that is one of the fastest growing in the world, a middle class of over three hundred million (300 Million) people, the FMCG sector promises to very profitable in the years ahead. Food, beverages, home and personal care products provide an ample opportunity for new profits as the African middle class grows and expands in more countries on the continent. This is a market though that will work on a 'first come, first serve' basis and will lead to long term market dominance if done properly with a good market entry plan.

Gravis Digital Command Centre

What is the best place to run a campaign for the targeted buyers? The social media, right? Here you can target based on different strings for the maximum ROI. The only thing you need to know who is your potential customer. When you are running a social media ad campaign, you need to scale the investment in every step. Without a proper monitoring, you can’t expect the profit from a product campaign. 

Without the Gravis Digital Command Centre (GDCC) you will not only be missing the tracking capacity but also the resources to engage in the other elements that make a digital campaign a success.

The GDCC is a development from Gravis Insights Australia (GIA) in partnership with our IT partners Knowledge Partner Professionals (KPP) to deliver our clients the 21st century digital 'listening' technology to analyse the sentiments users and the public feel towards their brands. 

Like the other metrics of the audience, social media behaviour is also an important factor for a successful online business. The best part of social media is, you can know the public sentiment and where your audience is going and engaging. 

This solution starts to collect the data how much people are talking about your brand. Is there a lot of praise about your brand or there are some negative comments about your brand. If there are any negative comments, the solutions checks the sentiment and allows for response strategies to overall themes but also alerts the dashboard that there is a response strategy that is required. It is true that you can’t make happy all your audience, but interacting with them will send a positive message to them that you care about them.

This solution acts as a 'command centre' for the entity using it to deliver the following tools to further their brand:

In providing a single view of all conversations relative to electoral issues, candidates, poll stations, voting and political scenarios, enabling them to turn this data into actionable insights

  • Track conversation to find mentions of the brand, products or issues being raised by the public about the brand or products. 
  • With social media command centres, each individual module offers a snippet of valuable data related to the product or business throughout the lifecycle of a campaign; whether that be political, corporate or charitable in nature.
  • Rapid response: Allows for rumours to be quashed, issues to be fixed and status updates to be dealt with in real time. Also allows for the counter attack to be delivered when under attack from Opposition brands.

With the digital space determining the future of brands and being the base to kick-start new ones and instant voter/consumer communication, now mainstream. This is a solution that no business can live without.

Influencer marketing is a form of responsive marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual), rather than the target market as a whole. We identify individuals that have influence over potential buyers or supporters, and orient our marketing activities around these influencers. 

For the full information deck see the slides below.

Pricing is tailored to your company's needs. We, however, structure these for a long term working relationship.

For more information about how this solution can work for you, click here

Gravis Digital Command Centre