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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 344 | 22 Mar 2020

Africa

Importance of gas for African energy transformation highlighted at IP Week

Government cooperation is important but the private sector is expected to lead the way in boosting access to energy - this was the message from an African panel session at IP Week, held in London. Mr William Pollen, programme director, Invest in Africa, told delegates that in the gas sector, Invest in Africa has been active in facilitating investment in gas-to-power and LNG projects as well as renewable energy. This has been bolstered by significant gas discoveries in Senegal, Mauritania and Mozambique. He said it was important for the private sector to play a leading role as waiting for governments to catch up can take too long. Ms Khady Dior Ndiaye, regional vice-president and country manager, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, Kosmos Energy, said “willingness” is needed on the part of the private sector if they are to play their role in energy transformation “in an economically viable way”, and countries “can't rely on the government to do all” in relation to meeting the UN's Sustainability Development Goals. The importance of infrastructure was raised, particularly in regard to pipelines, many of which are on the drawing board in Nigeria. Mr Wale Olafisan, GMD, Amni International, said the whole African value chain needs to be developed to ensure access to energy is achieved.

Source: Oil Review Africa

Angola

Angola’s National Statistics Institute launches 2019 inventory of companies and establishments

The World Bank has provided USD5-million for the completion of the Inventory of Companies and Establishments (REMPE 2019), to identify all companies and their establishments in Angola, said Mr Camilo Ceita, director-general of the National Statistics Institute (INE). Mr Ceita, who spoke at the launch ceremony of REMPE 2019, also said that the inventory will involve around 500 employees comprising 250 field agents, 60 field supervisors, 22 provincial supervisors, and 9 national supervisors. He noted the importance of carrying out REMPE 2019 at a time when it is necessary to understand the country’s business structure, both formal and informal, including large taxpayers. The technical coordinator of REMPE 2019, Adão Fernando, noted that the inventory will provide precise indicators on the number of companies, providing the INE and the state access to reliable data. Fernando said that the country’s capital, where the first stage of the inventory began, involves 150 field agents and 30 supervisors. The process will start simultaneously in the other provinces of the country within two months, the technical coordinator said.

Source: Macauhub

Ivory Coast

Côte d'Ivoire allowing interoperability for greater financial inclusion

The government of Côte d'Ivoire is seeking to increase the usage of mobile banking in the country by allowing interoperability between different digital financial services. Ecofin Agency reported that the government anticipates a boost to mobile money subscribers and therefore transaction volumes if customers of different providers are able to transfer money between platforms. As part of this effort, the government will open up the base level USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) standard to companies other than mobile operators, which have previously held an effective monopoly on the technology. The government hopes that this move will result in more players entering the financial services space. In addition to encouraging money transfers between consumers, the government also aims to expand digital access to its own services, with the goal of allowing citizens to access 80% of its services via their mobile devices.

Source: Developing Telecoms

Ghana

11 anti-corruption agencies sign MoU to share information

Eleven Key Accountability Institutions (KAIs) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Accra to exchange information and collaborate in the fight against corruption and crime in Accra. They are the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Parliament of Ghana, Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO). The rest are the Ghana Audit Service, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Narcotics Control Board (NaCoB), Internal Audit Agency, Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), Ghana Police Service and Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP). The Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ Mr Richard Ackom Quayson, giving an overview of the MoU, said it was the latest in a line of measures being instituted by CHRAJ to aid in the fight against corruption in the country. He stated that the objective of the MoU was to further foster better understanding and cooperation among the KAIs and to promote synergy and better coordination of activities among them. “It will also enhance the capacities of KAIs to address emerging methods of corruption and crime and to minimise the potential for mandate overlaps,” Mr Quayson added.

Source: Ghanaian Times

Kenya

Banks offer relief to borrowers as traders warned on hiking costs

Borrowers can sigh in relief as banks take new measures to cushion individuals and businesses that find themselves in financial distress as a result of the fast-spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). In meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House on Wednesday, 18 March, Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor, Patrick Njoroge said the deal reached with commercial banks will help reduce the economic pressure that individuals and businesses may encounter due to the coronavirus threat, which has already slowed down trade. Lenders and other financial institutions are expected to restructure their loans with customers in cases where borrowers are not able to honour their obligations on time, Dr Njoroge said. Under the deal, the banks will offer short payment holidays or reschedules on loans payments of up to one year. Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) chairman, KCB chief executive Joshua Oigara said personal customers affected by economic fallout from COVID-19 will be allowed payment breaks or flexible arrangements on home and other loans. President Kenyatta said more fiscal measures are expected to be rolled out in the near future to cushion Kenyans against the economic pressure brought about by the outbreak.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya / Tanzania

Kenya, Tanzania seek to eliminate trade barriers

Kenya and Tanzania are seeking to eliminate at least 10 nontariff barriers that hinder cross border trade between the two countries. A second trade mission in the coming months will focus on Dodoma the new capital in central Tanzania and Zanzibar to ensure Kenyan products are available in the superstore. Kenya High Commissioner to Tanzania Dan Kazungu says a trade delegation from the two states will meet in April to hold discussions on the trade barriers with a view of increasing “made in Kenya products” on Tanzanian shelves. Kazungu also says exports to Tanzania rose KES5-billion to stand at KES38-billion, a figure attributed to the resolution of 25 non-tariff barriers last April, from 37. Tanzania remains one of Kenya’s largest trade partners in the region. Already the Kenyan Government has sent a High-level trade delegation to Tanzania for two months to engage all business distribution channels to ensure Kenyan products are available on Tanzania shelves. The delegation under the Brand KE consortium is touring Moshi, Arusha, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam, and Mbeya the southern capital.

Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

Kenya / US

Trump Administration notifies Congress of intent to negotiate trade agreement with Kenya

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, United States (US) Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, on 17 March, notified Congress that the Trump Administration will negotiate a trade agreement with Kenya. “Under President Trump’s leadership, we look forward to negotiating and concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional trade agreements across Africa. Kenya is an important regional leader, a strategic partner of the United States, and a commercial hub that can provide substantial opportunities for U.S. trade and investment,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. In officially notifying Congress, the US Trade Representative is following the procedures set out in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 – often referred to as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – which requires ongoing consultations with Congress. USTR will also publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting the public’s input on the direction, focus and content of the trade negotiations. In accordance with TPA, the US Trade Representative will publish objectives of the negotiations with Kenya at least 30 days before formal trade negotiations begin.

Source: tralac

Malawi

EU drills private sector on trade negotiations

The European Union (EU) last week trained local industry players on best practices for formulation, negotiation and implementation of bilateral and regional trade agreements. Knowledge acquired would help the private sector to clinch best deals with foreign counterparts. The EU delegation, through a consulting firm, Cowi Belgium SPRL, is supporting Malawi in building the capacity on negotiation and implementation of bilateral and regional trade agreements. It is targeting trade deals in line with the Economic Partnership Agreement, Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the Tripartite Free Trade Area, the Southern Africa Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. The workshop was organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Spokesperson in the ministry, Mayeso Msokera, said trade negotiations are complex and broad, requiring technical expertise and analytical skills. “It is, therefore, our expectation that the workshop has provided the country’s trade negotiators the necessary tools and techniques needed for the effective management of future bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.”

Source: BusinessMalawi™

Malawi

Intra-Africa trade costly—Report

Malawi’s intra-Africa trade, agricultural trade in particular, is costly when compared to countries outside the region due to non-tariff trade costs, a new United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has revealed. The revelations come at a time businesses in Malawi have singled out both non-tariff barriers as one of the key challenges in intra-Africa trade, ultimately affecting business profitability and revenues. The report titled Non-Tariff Trade Cost of Intra Africa Trade 2020 indicates that for Malawi, intra-Africa goods merchandise is more costly with countries in East and West Africa and in most cases, trade with these countries is more costly with Europe, the United Kingdom (UK) and in some instances even China. “The bilateral intra-Africa non-tariff trade cost for most African countries is higher for trade in agriculture products than for trade in manufactured goods. Agricultural trade with Europe, China and the UK is less costly for Malawi than trading with countries in the same geographical grouping,” reads the report. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism is optimistic that non-tariff barriers will ease going forward thanks to the newly-established online platform, tradebarriers.africa, which allows traders moving goods across the continent to instantly report non-tariff challenges.

Source: The Nation

Rwanda

Top 6 business opportunities for local investors during CHOGM 2020

With the confirmation that preparations for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) continue as planned despite the ongoing Corona outbreak in optimism that it will have been contained by June this year, what are some of the top business opportunities the meeting will bring? The New Times mapped out a number of sectors that could have the highest revenue streams during the summit as the country hosts about 7000 guests including about 40 heads of states. The meeting will have a number of side events including; Commonwealth Youth Forum, Commonwealth People’s Forum, Commonwealth Women’s Forum and Commonwealth Business Forum. Among the top opportunities include: transport and logistics, aviation, retail, services, hospitality, and tech and innovation.

Source: The New Times

Rwanda

Let all banks offer loans to farmers – agriculture minister

The Ministry of Agriculture has asked parliament to push for the establishment of a farmer’s bank to address the challenge of lack of access to agriculture financing. The national bank of Rwanda Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Statement (MPFSS) 2020 showed slow growth in the agriculture sector against a steady economic growth in 2019. The MPFSS showed that as a result of fluctuation in global market prices export commodities like coffee dropped 10.4% and tea 5.8% but the whole sector was also largely affected by climate change in general. In review of the MPFSS, parliament said that there was evident economic growth but wondered how long issues of climate change and weather will continue to determine Rwanda’s agriculture performance. To get a better solution moving forward, the economic and trade committee said that it will soon summon other concerned authorities (Ministry of Finance and Central Bank) to collect more views to find lasting solutions.

Source: KT Press

Uganda

EU to invest UGX2.7-trillion in Uganda

The European Union (EU) is set to invest some UGX2.7-trillion (about EUR646-million) in Uganda in the next five years. This was revealed by the EU head of delegation to Uganda, Ambassador Attilio Pacific at the first Uganda-Europe Business Forum. Ambassador Pacifici told President Yoweri Museveni that the EU is to invest the finances over the next five years starting in the next financial year. He noted that the EU contributes greatly to the development of Uganda, and that a recent survey carried out by the EU, indicates that as of 2017, there were 107 European investors or firms in Uganda with an investment value of UGX1.99-trillion approximately (about EUR427-million). "Today, we are signing three grant financing agreements worth 85.9 million euros that will support various projects and programs in Uganda. Budget support is 32 million euros, green economy 45 million euros and technical support is 8.9 million euros," said Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance. Kasaija noted that trade and investment were the best ways to support any country. Ambassador Pacifici noted that in the two-day Forum, they focused mainly on how the European Union can invest and work with the private sector to spur development.

Source: The Observer

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe government wants to partner with Invictus Energy on Cabora Bassa gas

The Zimbabwean government plans to sign a production sharing agreement with the Australian energy company Invictus Energy, to develop the Cabora Bassa gas project. For this, a technical committee was set up to undertake negotiations with the exploration firm. “The company has been informed by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that a technical committee has been established by the government of Zimbabwe to enter into negotiations for a production sharing agreement. The Committee held its first meeting last week,” said Invictus in a statement. The government said the agreement should be signed in the short term and will provide a stable and transparent legal and fiscal framework for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Zimbabwe. As a reminder, Invictus has been planning for a few months to attract an investor to the area, in order to share with it the shares and costs related to development. The Cabora Bassa project includes an important discovery of gas called Muzarabani. It is one of the most important prospects for undeveloped natural gas in Africa. The perimeter has recently been classified as a priority development project by the government.

Source: Energy Mix Report

Zimbabwe

Currency chaos chokes Zimbabwe's power producers

The ban on the use of foreign currency in local transactions and the rapid collapse of the re-introduced Zimbabwe dollar has left independent power producers (IPPs) facing viability problems and is stifling investment in alternative sources of energy, it has emerged. IPPs that have set up thriving energy projects across the country made the revelations at the inaugural International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo organised by The Standard in Victoria Falls last week. Nyangani Renewable Energy, Penhalonga Energy, Solar Energy Projects and Centragrid said the currency restrictions had left them unable to service foreign loans and finance new investments. The interbank market, however, has largely been ineffective with only a few companies, mainly in the fuel sector, accessing foreign currency. The reduced power generation has forced Zimbabwe to import electricity from Mozambique and South Africa, but Zesa is struggling to raise foreign currency to pay its suppliers.

Source: The Standard