War in Ukraine puts more pressure on Africa’s grain-importing countries
The war in Ukraine will put further pressure on grain-importing countries in Africa and Asia as a reduced number of vessels for delivering cargoes drives up shipping rates, according to the head of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). About 80-100 ships, mostly bulk carriers, have been unable to leave Ukrainian waters for almost two months due to underwater mines and military blockades, ICS chair Esben Poulsson said in an interview. Trade flows of grains are undergoing significant shifts, he said, and the distance that ships will have to travel to get shipments from the Americas to customers is further than voyages from the Black Sea. “This will have repercussions for poorer countries in Africa, which can ill afford to pay huge amounts more for their grain,” Poulsson said. Russia’s war in Ukraine has thrown the USD120-billion global grains trade into disarray as deliveries from the Black Sea breadbasket region get increasingly complicated. A surge in freight rates could further drive up food costs, piling more inflationary pain on consumers and worsening a global hunger crisis.
AfDB earmarks EUR10-million equity investment to drive technologies in the wake of COVID-19
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved an equity investment of EUR9.8-million to support venture capital investments in African start-ups, from seed to growth stages. Of the equity investment, EUR7-million will be sourced from the AfDB’s own resources; the additional EUR2.8-million represents funds provided by the European Union through a partnership with the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States. The investment will help Cathay-AfricInvest Innovation Fund meet its target of securing EUR110-million to invest in over 20 early-stage ventures across sub-Saharan Africa. The Innovation Fund focuses on financial inclusion (financial technology and insurance technology), retail and planning platforms targeting online and mobile consumers, healthcare technologies, and pay-as-you-go, off-grid energy technologies. More recently, the Innovation Fund has expanded its focus to include start-ups that are harnessing new digital opportunities created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or with high potential to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
SACU investment roundtable targets accelerated recovery
The first ever Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Investment Roundtable event was successfully hosted by Botswana under the theme: “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African continent and beyond”. The investment seminar was held on 12 and 13 April 2022 in Gaborone, Botswana and aims to achieve accelerated industrialisation and pave the way for economic recovery among SACU member states. The objective of the gathering was to showcase investment opportunities in selected priority sectors across the SACU region, targeting textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and essential oils, as well as agro-processing, specifically leather and leather products, meat and meat products, and fruits and vegetables. These sectors offer extensive opportunities for the development of regional value chains across the SACU region. Furthermore, recent events served as a platform for intensifying engagement and development of partnerships among policymakers, the private sector, academia, researchers and other key stakeholders to promote the SACU Investment Strategy at national and regional levels.
Source: New Era Live
Burundi set to establish Financial Intelligence Unit
Burundi is set to join the global agenda cracking down financial crimes, including money laundering by creating its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Towards this goal, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is supporting the country to conform to the international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in line with Burundian needs. Recently, Burundi FIU Board officials comprising of security and customs officers undertook a benchmarking tour of the FIU in Mauritius. The trip was sponsored by the COMESA Regional Maritime Security (MASE) programme, which covers Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region. A similar trip is planned to the Uganda Financial Intelligence Authority towards the end of April 2022. The core functions of FIUs are receipt and analysis of suspicions transaction and activity reports identified and filed by reporting entities and disseminate the intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other FIUs, upon request. The FATF is the global money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing watchdog and sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Two-month window for Kinshasa to align budget with EAC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has only two months to align its budget with that of the East African Community (EAC) following its formal entry. President Felix Tshisekedi is also expected to create a ministry – and appoint a minister – that will deal with the EAC matters. These are part of the requirements the DRC is expected to put in place within the six-month period that the EAC has granted to the DRC, to undertake internal and constitutional processes to ratify the EAC Treaty and submit it to the EAC secretary general. “They have to quickly formalise membership in the various organs following the signing of the EAC Treaty of Accession recently in Nairobi,” said Johnson Weru, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Trade. “First of all, they have to normalise their budget preparations and reading in readiness for the new financial year that begins on 1 July, as per the requirements of the EAC budget,” said Mr Weru. “They will also be required to contribute to the budget of the EAC by August 2022.”
Source: The EastAfrican
NBE knits new directive to place IT at banks’ core operations
The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has put in place a directive that will see core banking services receiving mandatory information technology (IT) support. The directive that is set to take full effect in two-years’ time as of 1 April, sees the regulator setting the standard to strengthen the core operations of banks. Similarly, bankers have openly welcomed the new directive citing that it will boost the banking industry as it prepares for stiff competition when it opens its doors to other international banks. Experts explained that thus far, the banking industry was, in part through its due diligence, pushing for excellence to modernise its operations and business, though it was not a requirement by the NBE. Bank presidents like Asfaw Alemu, president of Dashen Bank, which is one of the strongest when it comes to technology investment in the financial sector activity, said that the new directive of the regulatory body is beyond core banking implementations that the financial sectors conducted in the past. He said that it is pivotal for banks to invest in IT. “Banks have different investments on IT to which the new directive will give the required framework for their investments and brings them to the standard on the sector.”
Businesses urged to comply with Beneficial Ownership Transparency initiative
The Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency at the Presidency, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, has urged businesses, especially those in the extractive sector, to fully comply with the Beneficial Ownership Transparency (BOT) initiative that Ghana has signed on to. He said the existence of quality and timely beneficial ownership (BO) data is important to improve natural resources governance in the country. The government in September 2021, committed to the implementation and acceleration of BO disclosure and data use by joining the Opening Extractives (OE) programme, which is a global initiative aimed at transforming the availability and use of BO data for effective governance in the extractive sector. Speaking in an interview with the Graphic Business, Dr Osae said BOT, which helped to ensure transparency over who ultimately owned and controlled companies, was an important intervention to reduce corruption by preventing companies from hiding revenues that could be taxed.
Source: Graphic Online
Economy beats forecasts with 5.4% growth
Ghana’s economy expanded at a faster rate last year than the government and international bodies had anticipated. The economy grew by 5.4% in 2021 above the government’s forecast of 5%. Last year’s growth rate is also healthier than 0.5% revised growth rate recorded in 2020, data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has showed. The data indicated that the economy is now worth GHS459.13-billion compared to 2020 when it was valued at GHS391.94-billion. The higher-than-projected growth rate for last year strengthens hopes that the country is on its way to full recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s growth rate was driven by strong growth in the services and agricultural sectors. It showed further that the industry sector contracted on the back of a 12.1% contraction suffered by the mining and quarrying subsectors. The government had projected to grow the economy by 5% in 2021 although that forecast was later revised to 4.4% in the 2022 Budget Statement. The provisional growth rate has also surpassed the growth estimates from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Source: Graphic Online
IMF to Guinea-Bissau: Quit relying on cashew nut, diversify exports
Guinea-Bissau's economy is excessively dependent on the production and export of cashew nuts, leaving the country highly exposed to fluctuations in international prices and local weather conditions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. As a way out, the IMF suggests that diversifying its output and exports can contribute to higher and more sustainable growth. Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has the vital cashew nut crop as its main source of foreign exchange that provides a modest living for most of Guinea-Bissau’s farmers. The West African country has a massive foreign debt and an economy that relies heavily on foreign aid. “Opportunities lie in a range of areas such as agriculture, processing industries, natural resources and tourism,” the IMF said. “Taking advantage of these opportunities requires addressing constraints that have hindered diversification to date.” Some of the actions that IMF is taking include addressing human capital needs, improving the regulatory environment, encouraging financial deepening, removing infrastructural bottlenecks, and maintaining political stability.
Source: The EastAfrican
New reporting standard raises capital costs for insurers in Kenya
Kenyan insurance firms will face high costs to meet the conditions for reporting rules as the global standardisation policy for underwriters comes into effect on 1 January 2023. The implementation of the accounting standards was delayed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The requirements include that insurers double their capital and shift all non-quoted investments into a holding company. The Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI), the industry’s lobby, has hired a consultant to conduct a survey on the level of preparedness of Kenyan insurers to comply with the requirements of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS 17). The new rules will affect the financial statements and key performance indicators of all firms that issue insurance contracts or investment contracts with flexible participation features. For these, the insurer must share the performance of underlying contracts with the policyholders, such as in life insurance or investment policies like unit trust investments.
Source: The EastAfrican
UFAA to spare firms KES50 000 daily pay in idle assets search
Holders of idle assets will be spared from paying up to KES50 000 in daily fines if parliament ratifies changes to the law aimed at encouraging the surrender of the unclaimed cash shares and dividends to the state. The relief is contained in the Finance Bill, 2022 and will apply to all idle assets that should have been declared and surrendered to the state before the end of the current financial year. The law slaps a fine of between KES7 000 and KES50 000 for each day a report on idle assets is withheld or the duty is not performed. Holders also pay a fine of 25% of the value of the asset when they fail to surrender it to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA). The Treasury says that the punitive fines have discouraged state agencies, insurance companies, banks, pension schemes, law firms and mobile phone money wallets from declaring and surrendering the idle assets. Idle assets are under the law supposed to be declared and surrendered to the UFAA on or before 1 November every year. Holders file nil returns if applicable. Unclaimed assets include money in bank accounts that have been dormant for more than five years, bankers' cheques not cashed and contents in safe deposit boxes unclaimed for more than two years.
Source: Business Daily
Kenya / Uganda
Kenya, Uganda traders sign deal to end barriers
Kenyan and Ugandan traders have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help end continual tiffs on non-tariff regulations. In a joint communique, the two sides pledged to harmonise policies on agriculture to reduce delays and cut down on bureaucracies in doing business. “The signing of this MoU will enhance agricultural trade between Uganda and Kenya, improve interdependence of agro-based industries in the two countries. The document will advance and actualise the resolutions arrived during September 2021 at a trade symposium in Mombasa,” read the joint communique. The business associations, seen as the most affected by the non-tariff barriers (NTBs), say having common standards of safety, sanitation and the list of documentations would help reduce unnecessary delays. The traders intend to file their proposals with respective export departments for agreeable standards.
Source: The EastAfrican
PPPC progresses on Mpatamanga project
The Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) says the next phase of negotiations on the 350 megawatts (MW) USD1.1-billion (about MWK905-billion) Mpatamanga Hydro Power Project will be concluded next month. In a recent interview, PPPC chief executive officer Patrick Kabambe said they are now in the process of negotiating the agreement with the investors. He said: “We need to understand that a project of this magnitude and highly technical needs very detailed scrutiny so that both parties are sure that it is a win-win solution.” “We, therefore, needed input from specialists such as engineers, lawyers, finance specialists to comb through all the documents. We had a good team of advisers on our side, and we are confident that it is going to be a success.” Kabambe said apart from sorting out the energy challenges, the project will boost investor confidence and open up Malawi to other investment opportunities. Earlier, PPPC said it had shortlisted two international energy firms, SN Power Invest of the Netherlands and Electricite De France SA of France, to work as a consortium for the project expected to be completed in the next four years.
Source: The Nation
Nyusi urges businesses to invest in Mocuba
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi recently invited Mozambican and foreign businesses to exploit the multiple advantages of investing in Mocuba district, in the central province of Zambezia. At a ceremony where he inaugurated a new courtroom for Mocuba, Nyusi declared there is strong potential for investment in the textile industry, the construction of a dry port, the processing of minerals, agro-business, logistics and services. He declared that industrialisation could drive the development of Mocuba as a district that plays a connecting role between the southern and northern regions of the country. “Mocuba covers a range of potential for the social and economic development of Mozambique, notably agriculture as the galvanising factor and main source of income for the rural population,” said the president. “It is an area that offers opportunities for investment in manufacturing industry, logistics and services, notably the possibility of installing a dry port, while we await construction of the port of Macuse (on the Zambezia coast) capable of driving the development of this region.” He added that, because of its enormous potential, Mocuba was declared a special economic zone and an industrial free zone in 2014, with a range of customs and tax incentives to attract more investment.
Source: Club of Mozambique
Mozambique / Botswana
Mozambique to export electricity to Botswana
Mozambique's publicly owned electricity company, Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM), will provide 100 megawatts (MW) of non-firm power to Botswana, under a contract, valid for a year, signed recently between EDM and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). The capacity agreed under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) seeks to help meet the growing demand for electricity in Botswana. But the supply of power by EDM will be subject to a request by the BPC, and the availability of surplus power from the Mozambican grid. At the signing ceremony in Gaborone, EDM chairperson Marcelino Alberto stressed the new opportunities for the energy market of the Southern African Development Community, which will be created when the new gas-fired power station at Temane, in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, begins to operate. President Filipe Nyusi laid the first stone for the construction of this power station in March. The combined cycle Temane power station, fired by Mozambican natural gas, will generate 450 MW, making it the largest new source of electricity in Mozambique since independence in 1975.
IMF upgrades Nigeria’s growth projection to 3.4%
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently raised Nigeria’s growth projection for the year by 0.7 percentage points on account of rising oil prices. In its April’s World Economic Outlook, the IMF projected the country’s output to grow at 3.4% this year as against 2.7% forecast in January. It also raised the 2023 growth prospect by 0.4 percentage points to 3.1%. The latest 2022 forecast is also higher than the October projection by a similar margin. The IMF has, in October projected the country’s economy to grow at 2.7 percentage points. It also raised the average growth of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) for the year to 3.8%, a percentage point higher than 3.7% it envisaged in January while it keeps the 2023 growth at 4%. Notwithstanding the optimism, the institution warned that Africans’ purchasing power could be subdued by rising prices of food this year. It pointed out food as the most potent channel of transmission of the current geopolitical tensions and other global economic challenges on the continent.
Source: The Guardian
WASAC, Singapore’s national water agency sign partnership agreement
The Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) has signed a partnership agreement with Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) National Water Agency to exchange technical skills on water management systems and distribution in communities. The partnership agreement coincided with the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW)and was signed by Gisele Umuhumuza, acting chief executive officer of WASAC, and Ng Joo Hee, chief executive officer of PUB, Singapore’s national water agency on 1 April in Singapore. The SIWW is a global platform for sharing and co-creating innovative water solutions. The event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap into business opportunities. Both institutions have the mandate of extending clean water to communities, despite the existing challenges including climate change, water pollution, population increase, and recurrent water price fluctuations. The agreement aims at exchanging technological know-how, water quality, water channels management, and water quality inspection.
Source: KT Press
Tanzania's mining sector to benefit from TZS30-billion EU funding
Tanzania is among four countries that will benefit from the EUR11-million (about TZS30-billion) European Union (EU) funding that targets the mining sector. The funding was directed to the 79-member Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), but only four members were selected. The so-called OACPS-EU Development Mineral Programme aims at improving the mining environment and empowering small-scale miners, especially young people and women in the sector over a period of three years from 2022 to 2024. The decision was announced by the OACPS secretariat headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Apart from Tanzania, the other three African, Caribbean and Pacific Community countries that have been selected for the second phase programme are Burkina Faso, the Republic of the Congo and Suriname. “The implementation of this programme will encourage the mining industry in OACPS countries to make a significant contribution to increasing the value chain of minerals, job creation and economic growth and development in general,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African cooperation said in a statement.
Source: The Citizen
Government signed new loans worth USD628.8-million in first half of 2021/22
Government signed new loans worth USD628.79-million (UGX2.2-trillion) in the first half of the 2021/22 fiscal year, a Ministry of Finance report shows. The loans from different creditors seek to support government fulfil planned budget programmes, among which include public sector transformation, climate change and water management and human capital development. A report by the Ministry of Finance, which highlights management of public debt, guarantees, financial liabilities and grants, indicates that government as of December 2021, singed new loans with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Italy and Spain, among others. Afreximbank constituted the biggest portion of the signed loans, accounting for 64% followed by IFAD, which contributed 16%. Loans from Spain and Italy constituted 5% and 2%, respectively.
Government to establish digital transformation centres across Zambia
The government has announced plans to establish digital transformation centres across the country to enhance access to information and communications technology (ICT), especially among rural communities. SMART Zambia Institute National Coordinator, Percy Chinyama, said this is to ensure that members of the public utilise and appreciate the Government Service Bus (GSB) initiative. Mr Chinyama explained that to achieve this, the government intends to deploy wider area network coverage in all parts of the country, starting with 50% of the districts that are situated in the remotest parts of the country. He was speaking when he visited the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), Registrar of Societies and the Patent and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) offices in Lusaka recently. He said to this effect, SMART Zambia Institute will engage other stakeholders such as the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) and mobile service providers to address issues of poor internet and reduce the cost of connectivity.