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Strive Masiyiwa criticizes Serum Institute of India for interrupting COVAX Initiative

The Zimbabwean billionaire is upset with the institute’s plans to extend its pause on COVID-19 vaccine exports.

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Zimbabwean billionaire philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa.

London-based Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has criticized the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, for planning to extend its pause on COVID-19 vaccine exports until the end of 2021. The manufacturer had swiftly made the decision due to an unexpected surge in COVID-19 cases in India.

In a statement on May 18, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla was quoted by The Zimbabwe Mail as saying: “We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritize India. We also hope to start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year.”

The institute chief added: “We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country.”

Responding to the decision, Masiyiwa said he was feeling “beyond anger” with the manufacturer. He also noted that he warned Covax in January “not to put all its eggs in one basket,” and that it should diversify its risk. “They said no, we know Serum Institute, and they’re reliable,” he added.

Serum Institute of India

The Serum Institute of India is the leading producer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (“Covishield”) and the principal source for the COVAX facility worldwide; up to 700 million doses were expected for 2021. 

After initial deliveries to North Africa, West Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East in March and April 2021, Indian officials have begun to limit “Covishield” exports until the end of 2021. This is due to the soaring case numbers in India, which forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to impose a freeze on shipments in March as virus cases surged. Based on the high infection rates in India, COVAX is now projected to only deliver 145 million doses instead of 240 million by May 2021. 

COVAX  

COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for wealthy and emerging countries, directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which was launched in April 2020 by the WHO, European Commission and France.

The initiative heavily depends on the Serum Institute of India for vaccine supplies. The latest decision to extend its vaccine exports to the end of 2021 will significantly hurt countries dependent on the COVAX to launch their COVID-19 campaigns.

Masiyiwa’s role in Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean businessman and philanthropist who plays a critical role in COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs in Africa. When the pandemic hit the global economy last year, many countries (mainly Western nations) restricted the export of COVID-19 vaccines to developing nations, many of which were in Africa. This caused the private sector to establish a body called the Africa Medical Supply Platform (AMSP).

The AMSP is led by Masiyiwa, who is an African Union special envoy, and is supported by private philanthropic partners. It has become a marketplace for linking African governments with manufacturers of COVID-19 commodities, including PPEs, therapeutics, diagnostics, cold chain and vaccines. The initiative allows governments on the continent to pre-order COVID-19 vaccines.

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South African tech tycoon Zak Calisto gains $166 million in four weeks

Calisto is one of Africa’s richest tech entrepreneurs.

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South African tech tycoon Zak Calisto.

As the frenzy returns to equity markets, shares in Karooooo Limited have risen recently by double digits due to sustained buying interest as investors bet on tech stocks trading at all-time lows.

Karooooo Limited is a mobility platform led by South African businessman Zak Calisto.

As a result of the recent market surge, the value of Calisto’s 74.7-percent stake in Karooooo has increased by $166 million in the past 27 days to well above $640 million.

Calisto, who founded Karooooo and grew it into an international provider of smart transportation management solutions, is one of South Africa’s wealthiest men and one of Africa’s richest tech entrepreneurs.

As of press time on Aug. 10, the company’s shares were trading at $27.85 per share, up from their opening price of $26.98 per share earlier this week. The Singapore-based mobility platform’s market capitalization is presently $860 million.

The company’s shares have increased from a price of $20.65 to $27.85 at the time of writing this report, representing a 34.87-percent gain for patient investors since July 14.

The market value of Calisto’s shareholding in Karooooo has increased from $477.6 million on July 14 to $644.1 million at the time of writing, representing a $166-million gain for the tech tycoon.

The renewed buying interest in Karooooo’s shares can be attributed to investor reactions to the company’s double-digit increase in earnings in the first quarter of its 2023 fiscal year.

According to its recently published first quarter results, the Singapore-based global mobility SaaS platform’s profit increased by 44 percent to R156 million ($9.37 million), up from R108 million ($6.48 million) in the first quarter of 2022.

Earnings increased by double digits due to the higher revenue generated during the period, as the company’s total subscriber base surpassed 1.5 million, up from less than 1.4 million a year ago.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s net worth slumps by $400 million as rand tumbles

Despite his declining net worth, Motsepe remains one of South Africa’s richest men.

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Patrice Motsepe. ©Billionaires.Africa

South African billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe’s net worth has plummeted by millions of dollars since the start of the year due to a decline in the value of the South African rand against the U.S. dollar.

The tumbling of South Africa’s national currency has significantly impacted the market value of Motsepe’s mining and financial services companies.

One of Africa’s richest businessmen and the wealthiest Black billionaire in Southern Africa, Motsepe has seen his net worth fall by $400 million since the year began — from $3.1 billion to $2.7 billion at the time of writing.

The majority of his net worth is derived from his 39.7-percent stake in African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), a South African mining company he founded in 1997. Motsepe also owns a substantial shareholding in Ubuntu-Botho Investments and African Rainbow Capital.

Motsepe’s stake in the mining firm, which has positions in a variety of mines including iron, coal, copper, gold, and other precious metals, was valued at $1.16 billion at the close of trading on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Tues., Aug. 9, significantly lower than its value of $1.3 billion at the start of this year.

His recent wealth loss puts him in the ranks of those African billionaires whose net worth has dropped by more than $300 million this year, including Ethiopia’s richest man Mohammed Al-Amoudi, South African billionaire Johann Rupert, Zimbabwean tech tycoon Strive Masiyiwa, and Swazi billionaire businessman Natie Kirsh.

The sharp depreciation of the rand, which has impacted the market valuation of his companies, most of which are based in South Africa, comes on the heels of a recent surge in demand for the U.S. dollar, as investors seek the safety of the greenback in an era of high economic uncertainty.

Despite his declining net worth, Motsepe remains not only one of South Africa’s richest men, but also one of the continent’s wealthiest billionaires.

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Namibian tycoon Quinton van Rooyen’s Trustco wins round in court against JSE

Shares in the group rose 35.56 percent as a result.

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Quinton van Rooyen.

Trustco Group, an investment holding majority owned by Namibian businessman Quinton van Rooyen and his family, has won a round in court against the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The Pretoria High Court ruled that the company may not be suspended from the JSE until the hearing of its review application in September.

The presiding judge, Nicoline Janse van Nieuwenhuizen, pre-dismissed every argument made against Trustco. The judge issued a decision, in which she ordered the JSE to be interdicted and restrained from suspending Trustco shares from trading on the local bourse.

“The grounds of review are all deserving of a proper hearing in due course, and I am satisfied that Trustco has asserted a prima facie right to fair and just administrative action,” she said in her decision.

In response to the news, shares in the group rose 35.56 percent to R0.61 ($0.0367), from a price of R0.45 ($0.0271) at the start of trading this morning.

The increase in Trustco’s share price pushed its market capitalization above R985 million ($60 million) and the value of van Rooyen’s 63.94-percent stake above R630 million ($38 million).

The court also prohibited the JSE from implementing or attempting to implement the decision that Trustco restate its annual financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, as well as the interim results for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2019.

The legal battle between Trustco and the JSE began on Nov. 11, 2020, when the exchange’s authorities claimed that the company had not met the listing requirements for its 2019 annual financial statements and 2020 interim results.

As part of the allegations, the JSE accused Trustco of violating international accounting standards by misrepresenting features of two loans and reclassifying land that it owns.

Trustco questioned the JSE’s authority to order corporations to amend their financial statements. It claimed that only boards have that authority and stated that all transactions had been “exactly accounted for, reported, and disclosed.”

Amid the legal battle between Trustco and the JSE, wary local bourse investors sold their stakes in the company, fearing a potential delisting of its shares, which caused the share price to crash to an all-time low in July before rebounding recently by double digits.

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