African electricity data transparency is rather limited and low quality
While data on Africa’s electricity systems is improving as new or updated national data sources are developed, Ember’s African Electricity Data Transparency report shows current data is limited. The independent climate and energy think tank put together the transparency report as a reference guide of national sources of electricity data on the continent. The report looks at where national electricity data can be found and evaluates the quality and usability of available data. As Ember puts it, timely, reliable and publicly available data will be critical to inform and track Africa’s electricity transition. Robust data can support efforts to ensure that project demand growth is met by clean generation as the reliance on fossil fuels is lessened. Thus, the current situation needs to change to foster transparent decision-making accountability by African electricity planners. The think tank found that while national electricity data is available in many countries in Africa, the quality is generally low, with long lag times and inconsistent public frequency being an unfortunate hallmark. Of the 54 countries evaluated, 23 (42%) had only very old national data available, or nothing at all.
Source: ESI Africa
Airlines risk hefty fines for delays in returning lost baggage, withholding refunds
Airlines operating scheduled passenger flights within the East and Central Africa region risk paying up to 10% of their turnover generated within the bloc in fines if found culpable for breaching customers' rights. The competition watchdog of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) said initial investigations have found some airlines in the region are culpable of engaging in anti-competitive practices. The COMESA Competition Commission began the probe early this month after it established that some airlines were refusing to reschedule passenger tickets at no additional charges even if the rescheduling is not a passenger's fault. Some airlines operating within the region have also been refusing to compensate passengers for loss or damage of their luggage, which is contrary to the COMESA Competition regulations. “The Commission wishes to advise the airlines operating in the region to refrain from such conduct as it is contrary to COMESA Competition regulations,” said the agency’s CEO, Willard Mwemba, in a letter dated 7 February.
Source: The EastAfrican
East / Southern Africa
COMESA signs AU Protocol to consolidate relations
Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe has signed the Protocol on Relations between the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) meant to consolidate relations with the mother body. Witnessed by the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and East African Community secretary general Dr Peter Mutuku Mathuki, the signing ceremony took place on Friday, 4 February 2022 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. The Protocol aims to among other things; formalise, consolidate and promote closer cooperation among the RECs, and between the RECs and the AU through coordination and harmonisation of their policies, measures, programmes and activities in all fields and sectors in line with the principle of subsidiarity and complementarity. Other RECs that have already signed the Protocol include the Economic Community of Central African States, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States and the Southern African Development Community. This Protocol entered into force on 10 November 2021 after being signed by the chairperson of the commission and three chief executives of three RECs.
Botswana launches wildlife project to prop up agro-tourism
Botswana has embarked on a project to offer start-up wildlife stock to farmers, for keeping within their agricultural holdings. Tuduetso Pretty Nkunyane, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism recently said the animals will remain government property. "And after successful breeding of the animals, the applicant would be expected to donate to another authorised farmer or government, the same number of animals that they would have received as start-up animals," said Nkunyane in a statement. She said the transactions would be authorised and supervised by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and only permissible after written approvals. "Each applicant will be given no more than five animals per species in their permit," said Nkunyane. According to the government the species to be availed under this start-up support scheme are limited to impala, gemsbok and zebra, eland, and warthog. The dispensation is open until 31 July 2022, and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks urges the nation to take advantage of the programme to enhance their tourism services and contribute to development of associated wildlife value chains.
COVID-19 spending pushes Botswana budget deficit to 5.1%
Botswana's 2021/22 budget deficit has widened to 5.1% of GDP as the country uses funds to finance its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Peggy Serame said on Monday, 7 February, adding however the economy's rebound remained strong. While the BWP10.1-billion (USD869-million) deficit was lower than the BWP16-billion seen in 2020, it was wider than an earlier estimate of 3.7% made last year. "The government will incur another budget deficit this year to support economic recovery stimulus," Serame said in her annual budget speech. "Economic recovery continues to be strong, underpinned by a successful vaccinations campaign," she continued, adding however there were risks to the outlook such as the emergence of new COVID-19 variants. The country forecast economic growth of 9.7% in 2021 and 4.3% in 2022. The deficit is expected to fall to BWP6.98-billion or 3.2% of GDP in 2022/23. Serame proposed a significant cut in recurrent expenditure, such as a reduction in the wage bill, to manage the 2022 deficit, though overall spending will increase slightly as the government ups finance for new and existing infrastructure.
Kazungula Bridge rakes in millions for BURS
The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) has raked in BWP18-million in toll fees since the opening of the Kazungula Bridge nine months ago, BusinessWeek has established. The revenue come as more long-haul traffic uses the new bridge built as an economic corridor connecting southern parts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to the northern parts of the region and beyond. The 923-metre bridge is a one-stop border post that has significantly reduced the amount of time cross-border traffic takes to pass between Botswana and Zambia, over the Zambezi River. Commissioner general Jeanette Makgolo said the BURS anticipates collecting around BWP2.5-million in toll fees per month on average, helping to boost the country’s revenues. At present, BURS charges between BWP60 and BWP1 000 to cross the bridge, depending on the classification of the vehicle. The bridge can handle an estimated 200 trucks per day, a huge improvement on the previous pontoon boat service that could carry only two trucks at a time. The completion of the bridge has been hailed as a milestone for SADC’s regional integration and industrialisation endeavours as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area which aims to boost intra-Africa trade.
EU lifts sanctions on Burundi after seven years
The European Union (EU) has announced that it would lift sanctions on Burundi that were imposed in 2016. In a communiqué, the EU said this follows a peaceful political process that started with the general elections of May 2020 and opened a new window of hope for the population of Burundi. “Since the 2020 elections, the EU has acknowledged the progress made by the Burundian government with respect to human rights, good governance and the rule of law, as well as commitments taken in its roadmap (feuille de route) towards further improvements in those areas,” the statement says. In 2020, Burundi witnessed its first democratic transition of power from the late President Pierre Nkurunziza to the incumbent Evariste Ndayishimiye. President Ndayishimiye praised the EU decision, saying, “I salute the wise decision of the European Union and its member states for having taken the step of lifting with immediate effect the economic sanctions against my country. Burundi is ready to cooperate with all partners. Together, anything is possible.”
Source: The EastAfrican
Ethiopia shields M-Pesa from licence freeze
The suspension of bidding for a second telecommunications operator permit in Ethiopia will not derail the introduction of an M-Pesa licence in the populous nation, clearing the way for Safaricom to launch the mobile money service this year. The Safaricom licence, which was offered last year, was to be upgraded to include mobile financial service after completing bidding for its second telecommunications operator permit. This was thrown into disarray after Ethiopia suspended bids for a second telecommunications licence. Dr Eyob Tekalgn Tolina, the State Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance, told the Business Daily that it has delinked the M-Pesa permit from the second operator’s licence. He said Ethiopia will keep its promise to Safaricom to give the Kenyan telecommunications giant an M-Pesa licence by May. “The second operator licence is still in the making but we have delayed it because of the current situation [as] we felt we will not get the right competitors now. We have pushed it by a few months,” Dr Tolina said in an interview with the Business Daily. “That has nothing to do with the financial services licence, Safaricom will get that because that was part of the promise we made to give it this year.”
Source: Business Daily
Afreximbank signs MoU with NBE to support Ethiopian commercial banks, corporates, public sector entities
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to harmonise their efforts for the promotion of trade and investment flows between Ethiopia and other African countries. The MoU was signed on Tuesday, 8 February, in Addis Ababa by Professor Benedict Orama, president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank and Dr Yinager Dessie, governor of the NBE, in the presence of the chairman of the Ethiopian Bankers Association, NBE executives as well as CEOs and chairpersons of Ethiopian commercial banks. Afreximbank and NBE have identified 10 areas of collaboration, including support to the private sector and commercial banks through the provision of lines of credit of up to USD500-million to support trade activities under Afreximbank’s Africa Trade Facilitation Programme. Indeed, under the terms of the MoU, the two institutions will also collaborate under the Afreximbank’s Central Bank Deposit Programme, which aims to attract a portion of the reserves of African central banks to support trade and economic activity.
Branch acquires majority shareholding in Century Microfinance Bank
Branch International Limited (Branch) has become the first mobile digital lender to acquire majority stake in a banking institution more than a month since the law regulating digital lenders came into force. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced on Tuesday, 7 February, that Branch, a digital credit provider has acquired 84.89% stake in the microfinance lender for an undisclosed fee effective 1 January 2022. The deal had received the banking regulator’s node on 30 December 2021 and National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukuru Yatani on 7 January 2022. The transaction comes on the backdrop of the Central Bank of Kenya (Amendment) Act 2021, a law which has been introduced to regulate the digital lending space. According to the CBK, Branch which was incorporated in Kenya on 2 April 2015, is wholly owned by Branch International Holding Limited based in Mauritius. The Mauritius parent company is fully owned by Branch International Inc., a company incorporated in Delaware, United States of America. “Branch is one of the largest mobile application-based lenders in the country and brings financial services to the emerging markets by leveraging on the powers of technology. Branch’s total assets stood at KES1.1-billion as at 31 December 2020,” the CBK said in a statement.
Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
Lending rate stuck at 12% as banks await CBK’s nod
Average bank lending rates remained flat last year despite demand for credit going up as the economy rebounded, with banks unable to get regulatory approval to raise rates on riskier borrowers. Lenders charged 12.1% on average for loans last year, compared to 12% the previous year. While demand for credit has gone up in the personal and household, trade and manufacturing segments, growth of lending to the private sector has been largely muted. It stood at 8.6% at the end of last year compared to 8.4% in December 2020. Lenders have cited delays in the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) approval of their applications to raise the cost of loans, saying that doing so without authorisation will attract reprisals from the regulator. On its part, the CBK has said it has examined the new loan pricing models presented by banks and found them wanting, sending the lenders back to the drawing board. “We required banks to redo their business models so as to deliver on this. They have been discussing with us what their modelling is and how they will implement it,” said CBK governor Patrick Njoroge in a briefing at the end of January.
Source: Business Daily
MPs back Bill forcing Saccos to list loan defaulters
Parliament has backed a Bill that will compel savings and credit co-operative societies (Saccos) to share information with credit reference bureaus in what promises to expose hundreds of thousands of defaulters. The Sacco Societies (Amendment) Bill sailed through the second reading in parliament on Wednesday evening, 9 February. The proposed law was among 23 Bills that the High Court in 2020 declared unconstitutional for having been passed by the National Assembly without the input of the Senate. Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya told the House that the republication of the Sacco Societies (Amendment) Bill is meant to comply with the court order. A three-judge bench on 29 October 2020, ruled that the Senate’s role in legislation is not optional and that it was illegal for the National Assembly to “ignore” the Senate. “This Bill has been republished to comply with the court order. It has gone through all processes and we should pass it before being forwarded to the Senate for input,” Mr Kimunya said. The Bill seeks to overhaul how Saccos operate. It aligns the Sacco Societies Act 2008 with the Banking Act and the Microfinance Act 2008, bringing credit information sharing under a single regulatory framework.
Source: Business Daily
Kenya / Ethiopia
Kenya, Ethiopia reach new power purchase deal
Kenya has reached a new agreement with Ethiopia in a bid to further expedite purchase of hydro-processed cheap power from Addis Ababa. The new arrangement was reached after an Ethiopian delegation, led by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign, visited Nairobi from 2-4 February 2022. The two nations deliberated on previously signed Power Trade Agreements, finalisation and operationalisation guidelines and procedures, as well as agreements on the interconnection of power systems in light of progress made on each side. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement seen by The EastAfrican, the new deal made in Nairobi intends to “realise the aspirations of both countries’ respective people for regional economic integration and sustainable development.” During a 4 February meeting with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Dr Monica Juma, Mr Eyob said the close relationship between Kenya and Ethiopia would help spur economic growth. He said the two countries are nearing the conclusion of the interconnector, and they need to review the status of the project.
Source: The EastAfrican
Mandatory certification of bottled water in the works
All over the world, certification is a quality process which producers implement voluntarily. However, in some cases, the government can make the process mandatory, especially when public health is at risk. It is in this context that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, through the National Institute for Standardization and Quality (INNOQ), in coordination with the Ministry of Health, is preparing to introduce mandatory certification of all bottled water – mineral water, and purified and mineralised water – intended for human consumption. According to INNOQ director general Geraldo Albasini, all producers or companies which bottle water for consumption in the country must comply with the certification standard on a mandatory basis. Under normal conditions, all goods whose consumption is likely to affect public health should be certified, but this is not always the case. Where certification is voluntary, some producers decline to comply, in the end supplying products which are not fit for human consumption.
Source: Club of Mozambique
Mozambique / United Arab Emirates
UAE signs agreement on mutual promotion and protection of investments with Mozambique
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), signed an agreement to promote and protect mutual investments with the Republic of Mozambique. The agreement, which was signed on Monday, 7 February, at the MoF’s headquarters in Dubai, comes as part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and activate means of economic and investment cooperation with various countries of the world. The agreement protects both nations’ investments from all non-commercial risks, covers transfer of profits and revenues, and facilitates resolving disputes. Mohamed Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, signed the agreement on behalf of the UAE, while Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita, Minister of Industry and Commerce, represented Mozambique in the signing, in the presence of Abdullah Ahmed Al Obaidly, Director of Relations and International Financial Organisations and senior officials from the MoF. Al Hussaini stressed on the importance of signing an agreement to promote and protect mutual investments with the Republic of Mozambique in contributing to strengthening bilateral relations and expanding means of cooperation across various economic and financial sectors.
Source: Club of Mozambique
Namibia to further exploration activities after deep water oil discovery
Namibia is gearing to conduct further exploration activities in order to determine the size and recoverable potential of hydrocarbons, said its Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo. Alweendo confirmed in a ministry statement that there had been a discovery of light oil in the Orange Basin offshore Namibia by a joint venture at the Graff-1 prospect some 250km offshore Namibia. "I congratulate Shell, Qatar Energy [and the] National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) on their recent oil discovery offshore Namibia. It gives us a clear shot at reimaging our economy. When the time comes, we would need to think boldly in structuring a recovery model that is in the best interest of all stakeholders," said Alweendo. Meanwhile, Namibia's Petroleum Commissioner, Maggy Shino echoed Alweendo's sentiments, saying that the discovery signalled a milestone achievement. "The Namibian government is excited to enter this new era in the oil and gas exploration sector. A great milestone has been achieved within the Orange Basin with this significant offshore discovery. We are looking forward to boundless cooperation(s) with the joint venture partners, to optimally progress this discovery," said Shino.
IMF urges Nigeria to scrap fuel subsidies, target poor with support
Nigeria should remove untargeted fuel subsidies and channel resources to the poor, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said, warning that the budget deficit was expected to widen in 2021 despite a recovery in international crude prices. With an election set for next year, Nigeria's government last month rowed back on a promise to end costly subsidies of petrol by the end of June, a decision that has in the past led to violent protests. The IMF said despite a recovery in oil prices, the fiscal deficit was expected to widen to 5.9% of GDP in 2021, partly due to the subsidy on petrol. That compares with 5.7% in 2020. "Directors also urged the removal of untargeted fuel subsidies, with compensatory measures for the poor and transparent use of saved resources," the IMF said. Nigeria's economy was projected to grow by 3% this year, above initial IMF forecasts of 2.6% in November. The IMF said Africa's largest economy should increase its value added tax, which at 7.5% remains one of the lowest in the world, and improve tax compliance to improve revenue collection. Nigeria should also move towards a unified market exchange rate, it said, adding that this should be accompanied by policies to contain double-digit inflation and structural reforms to improve transparency.
Rwanda budget goes big in bid to clear debt, pay COVID-19 bills
Rwanda plans to increase its 2021/2022 spending by USD608.7-million to USD4.2-billion as government plans for debt repayment and COVID-19-related expenditure, including vaccine rollout. The country’s overall budget for the current fiscal year will rise from the initial USD3.6-billion under the changes tabled in parliament for approval. Debt servicing takes a big chunk of the additional spending at USD327.6-million. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, told parliament that debt repayment will absorb a total of USD734.1-million on account of the 2013 Eurobond redemption and the RwandaAir debt servicing. The government has also earmarked USD4.7-million additional allocations to expenses related to its Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022. The summit, which was postponed twice due to the global pandemic, will now be held in the capital Kigali starting the week of 20 June 2022, according to a joint announcement recently released by the government of Rwanda and the Commonwealth secretariat.
Source: The EastAfrican
Seychelles / Mauritius
Seychelles and Mauritius agree on new terms for sustainable fishing
Seychelles and Mauritius have extended an existing bilateral fisheries agreement for 60 days that will see an increase in licence fees and a new environmental and research fee, said a top government official on Tuesday, 8 February. The extension of the agreement is one of the outcomes of a five-day meeting between Seychelles and Mauritius. The meeting was headed by the two countries' fisheries ministers, Jean-Francois Ferrari from Seychelles, and Mauritius' Sudheer Maudhoo. The extension of the existing agreement was needed to ensure fishing activities being carried out by either Seychelles or Mauritius in the other party's waters are not interrupted. The current agreement which was signed in 2005 will expire on 19 February. The bilateral sustainable fishing agreement was the first between the two island nations allowing them to fish in each other's territorial waters. Seychelles' Fisheries Minister, Jean-Francois Ferrari, said the additional 60 days gives the two countries more time to discuss further points for a new agreement. Under the interim agreement, there will be a 30% increase in existing licence fees for purse seiners, longliners and supply vessels of either country when operating in the other party's waters.
Source: Seychelles News Agency
East African Crude Oil Pipeline enters fundraiser phase
After announcing the final investment decision (FID), the shareholders of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) now turn to looking for money to conclude the deal for financing of the project, which is expected mid this year. The EACOP is a key infrastructure project that will transport Uganda’s oil to export markets, hence a major component in the commercialisation of the Lake Albert oil resources. The 1 443km pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to the Indian Ocean port of Tanga in Tanzania, will cost USD5-billion – a jump from the original cost of USD3.5-billion due to the increase in prices of key inputs such as steel, cost of shipping as well as the cost of loans. “Fully loaded, we are looking at a cost of USD5-billion,” says John Bosco Habumugisha, general manager, Uganda National Pipeline Company (UNOC). According to Proscovia Nabbanja, the CEO of the state-owned UNOC, the shareholders are expecting financing offers from a number of Export Credit Agencies from Europe and China. “The financial closure is not yet achieved, we are hoping to reach it latest mid this year,” she told journalists during a press conference after the FID announcement on 1 February.
Source: The EastAfrican