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issue 333 | 02 Dec 2019

Africa Business in Brief



Diversifying trade in Africa: new strategy approaches for the African Continental Free Trade Area

The report – Diversifying trade in Africa: new strategy approaches for the African Continental Free Trade Area – examines 181 strategic African trade and development documents that are included in the International Trade Centre (ITC) Trade Strategy Map database. The analysis presented in the report aims to help African policymakers navigate the complexity of existing strategic arrangements in Africa by providing insights for new regional trade strategy initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The report suggests that African trade policy considerations should take into account the following trends: While Africa’s regional strategy discourse is on manufacturing and industrialisation, its national trade strategies continue to focus on agriculture and primary products. Agriculture accounts for less than 20% of the continent’s GDP but more than 60% of the priority sectors in African trade strategies. With almost half of the world’s regional trade strategies, Africa is a champion of regionalism. Close to 80% of existing trade strategies in Africa identify trade integration and regionalism as crucial policy areas.

Source: International Trade Centre 


Africa Finance Corporation secures Korean loan facility

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the Lagos-headquartered development finance institution (DFI), has secured the close of a USD140-million South Korea-focused loan facility, which it will use for general investment. Launched for general syndication on 16 September, with the loan agreement signed on 14 November, the Kimchi Loan Facility is the first such facility launched by the DFI to focus on South Korea but is not its first to focus on Asia. September this year saw the close of the Samurai Term Loan Facility, a dual-currency facility made up of USD233-million and JPY1-billion, organised through the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM). CEXIM also provided loans worth USD300-million to AFC in 2018. AFC also sold USD244-million in Eurobond issuances to Asian investors this year, and has received investments totalling USD1.2-billion from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Source: African Law & Business

East Africa

EAC citizens get access to lucrative forex market

The possibilities in income generation in the online forex trading market is now a click away, thanks to Scope Markets, a licensed foreign currency trading platform now live, and citizens of East Africa have actively begun trading in it. That was said in Nairobi by Scope Markets Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kevin Ng'ang'a, adding: "We want to lead the way in the online forex trading space as an income-generating scheme and a means of job creation for the youth in the digital economy. "We need to give Tanzanians and Africans in general, a safe, secure and regulated platform that they can relate to and easily walk up to and carry out online forex trading. The biggest gap in the trading space is the lack of information, and we as Scope Markets are dedicated to closing this gap through training and capacity building through mentorship." SCFM Limited (trading name: Scope Markets), a non-dealing online foreign exchange broker, which is licenced by the Capital Markets Authority, wants to create a digital workforce built on a community of online traders. Scope Markets also targets to train about 50,000 novice traders in currency dealings in the next two years as part of the company's plans to integrate more East Africans into the fast-growing digital economy.

Source: Daily News


Angolan Government considers draft amendments to several Codes

The Angolan Economic Commission of the Council of Ministers examined the draft law amending the General Tax Code, a document aimed at ensuring greater efficiency by the Tax Administration, according to a statement issued at the end of the meeting held in Luanda. The statement said that the law will allow, among other things, the review of the deadlines of the tax procedure, the reduction of the fine imposed in tax infringement proceedings and the elimination of some criminal provisions.  The Economic Commission also considered the draft law amending the Income Tax Code. This law is intended to alter the tax rate applicable to incomes, allowing for the exemption of lower incomes, keeping the tax burden of middle incomes unchanged and progressive rates on higher incomes. The purpose of the draft law is to eliminate the schedular tax system on income, to introduce a more integrated and simplified taxation model, such as the universality of taxation and the ability to pay. Among the changes included in the draft law amending the Industrial Tax Code are the widening of the tax base and greater coherence and harmonisation of the Angolan tax system.

Source: Macauhub

Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire joins the World Bank’s scaling solar programme

The World Bank Group, through its Scaling Solar programme, and the government of Côte d’Ivoire have signed an agreement to help the West African country develop its supply of affordable, reliable clean energy. Côte d’Ivoire has plans to reach at least 42% of its power from renewable sources by 2030. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed the agreement with the government of Côte d’Ivoire to help the country, one of West Africa’s largest economies, develop 60MW of grid-connected solar power through two public-private partnership (PPP) projects, which will power thousands of homes and businesses in the country. Under the agreement with Côte d’Ivoire, Scaling Solar will support the development, tendering, and financing of two utility projects in the country, which has West Africa’s third-largest electrical system with an installed generation capacity of 2,200MW. The planned utility-scale solar photovoltaic installations will complement other planned solar projects to help Côte d’Ivoire achieve its goal of generating 400MW of solar power by 2030, contributing to climate change mitigation.

Source: ESI Africa


Ethiopia, Alibaba Group sign agreements to establish eWTP Ethiopia Hub

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, and Alibaba Group Director and Ant Financial Services Group Chairman and CEO Eric Jing witnessed the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding between the Ethiopian Government and Alibaba establishing an electronic world trade platform (eWTP) Hub in Ethiopia. Speaking after meeting with him, Prime Minister Abiy indicated that the platform will support the country’s national digital transformation strategy, the Prime Minister’s Office said. The eWTP Hub is intended to enable cross-border trade, provide smart logistics and fulfilment services, assist Ethiopian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach China and other markets, and provide talent training. Ethiopia is the second country in Africa to establish an eWTP hub, and this new partnership builds upon the success of other eWTP partnerships in Asia (China and Malaysia), Europe (Belgium) and Africa (Rwanda) over the past two years. As the number of eWTP Hubs increases, it is hoped that trade will increase between the Hubs, providing new opportunities for their merchants in the global economy.

Source: Walta  


Petroleum Commission to revoke licenses of local companies fronting for foreigners

The Petroleum Commission has served notice that it will revoke the licenses of local companies that front for foreign firms in the petroleum sector. The practice where local companies assume corporate images of foreign ones, to enable them access to some incentives for their operations, has been cited as a major challenge for operators in the petroleum sector. The development has also made it difficult for some local companies to access contracts and other opportunities in the petroleum sector. Speaking at the 2019 Local Content Conference and Exhibition in Takoradi, the CEO of the Petroleum Commission, Egbert Faibille Jnr., said the decision to sanction defaulting companies should eliminate the practice. The annual Local Content Conference and Exhibition by the Petroleum Commission was instituted to periodically access the gains and challenges of the 2013 Local Content and Local Participation LI 2204, which came into effect in 2014. Addressing the 2019 conference on the theme, “Maximizing in-Country Value Addition: The Role of indigenous Ghanaian Companies and Joint-Ventures in the Upstream Petroleum Sector”, Egbert Faibille Jnr. said a lot of gains have been made, including the approval of USD420-million of contracts with USD77-million going to indigenous Ghanaian companies.

Source: GhanaWeb


80% of registered indigenous petroleum companies not active

Despite the Petroleum Commission’s claim that local content participation in Ghana’s oil and gas sector is improving, it says more than 80% of indigenous companies registered with the Commission are currently not operational due to limited capacity. Speaking to Citi Business News on the sideline of the Local Content Conference in Takoradi, the Business Advisory and Enterprise Development Manager at the Petroleum Commission, Kwasi Senya, said out of the 771 registered companies with the Commission, 82% are indigenous, but majority are not operational. In 2018 alone, the Petroleum Commission approved USD420-million worth of contracts; but only USD77-million went to indigenous Ghanaian companies, which basically represents less than 30% of the total contract sum. The Local Content and Participation Regulation, LI 2204 of 2013, demands the establishment of a Local Content Fund to support the capacity of locals.

Source: GhanaWeb


KRA and KEPSA sign agreement to ease tax burden

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) have signed a joint communique aimed at increasing revenue collection and expanding the tax base without overburdening current taxpayers. The 11 point communique further aims at establishing partnerships and improving compliance. This will also enhance regional and cross-border trade competitiveness juxtaposed against emerging opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and newly negotiated agreements within other bilateral and multilateral bodies such as East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu said the deal will create changes within the current tax regimes and structures to accommodate and support Small and Micro Enterprises development and growth. According to the communique, the private sector has committed to support efforts to broaden the tax base and the integration of technological applications to facilitate tax compliance including the use of AI and block chain solutions.

Source: The Star


Partnership to improve trade opportunities between Kenya and UAE

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with Sharjah chamber of Commerce and Industry has signed a MOU to open a satellite trade office in the United Arab Emirates. The agreement signed on Monday will enable and provide strategic bilateral cooperation between the business communities in Kenya and UAE with an objective to foster cooperation in trade, investment, joint activities, information and trade policy support programmes. Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCCI) National President Richard Ngatia said the MOU will not only boost investment but also leverage the high growth rate of Kenyan economy and bolster the priority sectors within the economic agenda of the Government.

Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation


Slow response to investment

Malawi’s investment inflows continue to move at a snail’s pace with figures showing only 35 companies out of 105 2018 investment pledges have materialised, a move Malawi Investment Trade Centre (MITC) has linked to a challenging business operating environment. Available figures indicate that MITC received investment pledges worth USD1.4-billion (MWK1.083-trillion) from 105 companies in 2018 and USD234.7-million (MWK175.5-billion) investment pledges at August this year. But in a written response to an emailed questionnaire, MITC public relations manager Deliby Chimbalu was upbeat that the remaining companies would soon take off as most firms are completely new and are still setting up to operationalise their investments. According to Chimbalu, out of the 105 companies, some were already operating but were only expanding their investments which means that group of investors made up close to 16% of the total investment pledged figures for 2018 and it is these that are fully operational.

Source: The Nation


Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Mauritius: Key Repo Rate unchanged

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Mauritius (Bank) has, by majority vote, decided to keep the Key Repo Rate (KRR) unchanged at 3.35% per annum at its meeting on 27 November 2019. The MPC noted that the risks to the global economic outlook continued to tilt to the downside. The IMF has again revised down its global growth projection for 2019 to 3.0%. However, it projects growth to recover modestly to 3.4% in 2020 due to continued macroeconomic support and higher contribution from emerging market economies. The OECD, on the other hand, has forecasted that the global economy would grow by 2.9% in both 2019 and 2020. Inflation is projected to increase from 1.5% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2020 for advanced economies and from 4.7% in 2019 to 4.8% in 2020 for EMDEs. The domestic economy maintained its growth momentum in 2019 Q2, as key sectors continued to grow. However, since the last MPC meeting, economic developments, both on the international and domestic fronts, have been less favourable than expected and downside risks to the growth outlook have increased. Based on latest available information, Bank staff is projecting real GDP growth at 3.7% for 2019 and maintained its forecast for 2020 at about 4%.

Source: Government of Mauritius


Vale Group plans to increase coal production in Mozambique in 2020

The Vale mining group intends to produce 15 million tonnes per year at the Moatize coal mine, Tete province, Mozambique, in the second half of 2020, the Brazilian group said in a statement announcing USD3.2-million in impairments. The statement on impairments in the base metals and coal segments said that Moatize mine operations will undergo maintenance in 2020 for a period of three months, while a new operating model will be applied to increase productivity and yield. The group, which mines coal through its own operations or partnerships in Australia, China and Mozambique, has announced impairments in this segment of USD1.6-billion, which will be recorded in the accounts for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Source: Macauhub


Economy attracted USD19.67-billion investments in nine months – NBS

Between January and September this year, the Nigerian economy attracted a total of USD19.67-billion worth of investments, figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have revealed. The NBS in its capital importation report, said the investments were from various sources. They are Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) made up of equity; portfolio investment made up of bonds and money market instruments; and other investments made up of trade credit, currency deposits and other claims. A breakdown of the USD19.67-billion investments showed that USD8.48-billion was attracted into the economy in the first quarter. This was made up of USD243.36-million from the FDI, while portfolio and other investments attracted USD7.14-billion and USD1.09-billion respectively. “The largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 55.88% (USD2.99-billion) of total capital importation, followed by other investment, which accounted for 40.39% (USD2.16-billion) of total capital.

Source: The Punch


Electricity: AfDB approves USD210-million power projects in Nigeria

The board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved the Transmission Company of Nigeria’s, TCN’s, NTEP -1 projects in a board resolution in Abidjan. The NTEP is one of the projects under TREP financed by the AfDB that is targeted at rehabilitating and expanding parts of the transmission grid in the North-West, South-South and the South East. The project would reconstruct old transmission lines and build new ones as well as construct new substations, contributing to further increase in TCN’s transmission capacity. In a statement made available to Vanguard by the General Manager (Public Affairs), Ndidi Mbah, it stated that, even though the approval has just been given, the company had already concluded environmental studies including resettlement action plan in which people that would be affected by the acquisition of the Right of Way (RoW) for the proposed transmission lines were identified, the report had been submitted to AfDB.

Source: Vanguard


Networking initiative connecting 50 million women entrepreneurs to take off in Kigali

A new Pan-African networking platform to connect 50 million African women in business will be launched in Kigali next week during the upcoming Global Gender Summit. This year’s Global Gender Summit, is hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the government of Rwanda and supported by other multilateral development banks as key partners. The 50 Million African Women Speak (50MAWS) is a digital platform, which is available via web and on mobile devices as an app. It is intended to economically empower millions of women in Africa to start, grow, and scale up businesses by providing a one-stop-shop for their specific information needs. The initiative’s content will be accessible online and will be implemented by the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The digital platform will allow women in 38 African countries to find information on running businesses, accessing financial services, create business opportunities online and access training resources, ultimately contributing to their economic empowerment.

Source: The New Times


Why liquefied natural gas project faces delay in Tanzania

The envisaged liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant project could be delayed further following the temporary suspension of talks on the Host Government Agreement (HGA). The HGA is a legal agreement between a foreign investor and the local government which is designed to reduce financial and political risks posed to investors by sudden changes in national law. The HGA outlines issues pertaining to tax and other revenues to be accrued from the project, participation of Tanzanians in the project and how to deal with various challenges that may emanate during the implementation phase of the project. Initially, the HGA was to be negotiated between April and September 2019. The LNG project manager from Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), Mr Felix Nanguka, told The Citizen earlier in the week that the temporary suspension of the negotiations was meant to pave the way for completion of a review of the production sharing agreements (PSAs) of existing contracts. “Some PSA issues seemed to contradict or overlap with other contracts, so Parliament was tasked with forming a special team to review them before proceeding with the HGA negotiations,” he said.

Source: The Citizen


Tanzania government wants greater role for local banks in mega projects

The government said yesterday it wants greater involvement of local financial institutions in major infrastructure development projects in the country. Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango said the government will sign an agreement with local and international lenders before the end of next month for a USD1.46-billion (about TZS3.35-trillion) financing arrangement for the Morogoro-Makutupora-Singida section of the standard gauge railway (SGR) project. "Some banks have shown their willingness to lend to us. We expect to sign a $1.46 billion loan facility for financing the Morogoro-Makutupora-Singida section of the SGR project before December 17," Dr Mpango said during the 19th financial institutions meeting coordinated by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA). The SGR, the USD2.95-billion (TZS6.6-trillion) Rufiji Hydroelectric Dam and revival of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) are some of the mega projects the government is currently undertaking in its endeavour to build the foundation for an industrialised economy.

Source: The Citizen


Museveni launches Uganda's first phone manufacturing plant

President Yoweri Museveni launched Uganda's first mobile phone manufacturing and assembling plant. The plant by Chinese firm, Engo, in Namanve in the capital Kampala, will produce SIMI-branded handsets. At full capacity, the factory will run three production lines; each line with daily production of 2,000 feature phones, 1,500 smart phones, 800 laptops, 2,000 chargers, 4,000 USB cables and 4,000 sets of earphones and directly employing more than 400 staff. “I am very happy with the Chinese solidarity with Uganda and Africa. Uganda is moving very well, the economy has grown to USD35-billion using the normal method of calculating GDP,” said President Museveni. Earlier, the State Minister for Investment and Privatisation, Evelyn Anite said that manufacturing the phones locally will reduce the country’s import bill.

Source: The EastAfrican


BNC issue caution to shareholders ahead of new ownership

Listed nickel producer, Bindura Nickel Company (BNC) has warned its shareholders over trading of company securities on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange ahead of imminent takeover of controlling stake by a new investor who have just concluded the deal.
London based, Asa Resources sold its 74.73% stake in BNC to a local firm with interests in the mining and production of ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals and precious metals. "Shareholders are referred to the Cautionary Statement published on 29 October 2019 advising that the ultimate holding company of BNC – Asa (currently under Administration) and a third party had entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement ("SPA") in relation to the 74.73% shareholding held in BNC by Asa and that the transaction involving the sale of these shares to the above-mentioned third party had been successfully concluded," BNC board chair, Muchadeyi Masunda said in a statement. The company said the transaction by the new controlling shareholder may have a material effect on the price of the company's securities. "Accordingly, Shareholders are advised to continue exercising caution when dealing in the Company's securities until a full announcement is made in due course," further read the statement.

Source: 263Chat