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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 347 | 12 Apr 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

A non-exhaustive list of recent measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Africa: A World Bank Group report recommends that countries in Africa should strive to maintain trade flows during the crisis to secure access to medical goods and services, and food and other essential items such as farm inputs. This requires keeping borders open to the largest extent possible and avoiding measures such as export bans or taxes. Countries should take action to reduce taxes and duties on trade, to streamline trade procedures and to support transport and logistics services in maintaining cross-border and international value chains.

Source: World Bank Group

Africa: Numerous competition authorities in Africa are aware of the effects of unjustified price hikes and excessive pricing on already vulnerable economies. They have responded by establishing specialised investigation teams, refocusing existing resources to COVID-19 specific complaints and introducing new competition regulations. African competition authorities have further noted that collaboration between themselves and consumer protection authorities, as well as between competing essential service providers, is essential in order to enable countries to adequately respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Source: IOL

Africa: The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has announced the creation of the COVID-19 Response Facility to assist regional member countries in fighting the pandemic. The Facility is the latest measure taken by the Bank to respond to the pandemic and will be the institution’s primary channel for its efforts to address the crisis. It provides up to USD10-billion to governments and the private sector.

Source: ESI Africa

Southern Africa: The Council of Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held their emergency virtual meeting on 6 April 2020, where, among others, the Ministers adopted the regional Guidelines for the harmonisation and facilitation of movement of critical goods and services across SADC during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives of these guidelines are to: limit the spread of COVID-19 through transport across borders; facilitate the implementation of transport related national COVID-19 measures in cross border transportation; facilitate interstate flow of essential goods such as fuel, food, medicines and agricultural inputs; limit unnecessary and mass movement of passengers across borders; and balance, align, harmonise and coordinate COVID-19 response measures with the requirements for trade and transport facilitation.

Source: Southern African Development Community

Southern Africa: The Directors of National Private Sector Apex Body and Regional Business Body Associations in the SADC region held an online meeting on 1 April 2020 to discuss and exchange notes on the regional and national preparedness and responses to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the SADC region, as well as recommendations on government and private sector interventions at national and regional level to minimise economic impact during the COVID-19 emergency and support the quick recovery of businesses post the COVID-19 emergency.

Source: SADC Business Council

Equatorial Guinea: The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons recommended oil firms use local workers in the absence of expatriates who are currently at home due to COVID-19, and agreed to exempt service companies from ministry registration fees.

Source: IHS Markit

Ghana: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo says local industries are to scale up the production of medical goods and equipment for the containment of COVID-19. Addressing the nation on steps government was taking to contain the coronavirus, he said the government was actively engaging local industries in the production of face masks, head covers, surgical scrubs and gowns to compliment imports which are dwindling.

Source: Ghana Business News

Kenya: Importers are grappling with a sharp rise in freight charges as cargo operators hike the cost to compensate on reduced consignments and empty flights coming in from Europe and Asia to pick shipment in Africa. For instance, a trader importing cargo now would now have to part with KES1 000 from KES200 for a kilo of freight transported by flight from China to Nairobi.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Monday, 6 April 2020, announced new stiffer measures were to be enforced to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic was contained. He announced the cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties for a period of 21 days.

Source: Kenyans.co.ke

Madagascar: President Andry Rajoelina lifted travel bans for domestic flights and special regional land transport from 7-9 April 2020 amid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: IHS Markit

Malawi: The decision by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to slash the Liquidity Reserve Requirement (LRR) has instantly made available MWK12-billion into the banking system. The Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) says the development will ease liquidity pressures on banks, making more funds available to them.

Source: The Nation

Malawi: The Ministry of Industry and Trade has challenged local manufacturers to rise to the occasion by engaging in import substitution amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has affected regional and global trade. In an interview, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Ken Ndala said local manufacturers have opportunity to produce for the local market, especially when the raw materials are sourced locally.

Source: The Nation

Mauritius: An announcement made by The Stock Exchange of Mauritius Ltd (“SEM”) and the Central Depository & Settlement Co. Ltd (“CDS”) confirmed that on April 3 2020, the Financial Services Commission (“FSC”) revoked the order of 2 April 2020 for the temporary cessation of the operations of the SEM. Trading and settlement activities on SEM and CDS will, therefore, resume on Monday, 6 April 2020 after the SEM and the CDS have provided additional measures so as to operate in the current environment of total lockdown

Source: ENSafrica 

Mauritius: In light of the widespread impact of COVID-19, various tax measures that companies and individuals should be aware of have been announced by the Mauritius authorities. These include the waiver of interests and penalties for late filings or late payments and tax relief for contributions/donations made to the COVID-19 solidarity fund.

Source: ENSafrica

Mozambique: The final investment decision for the Rovuma LNG natural gas project, in Mozambique, which was scheduled for this year, has been postponed, announced US group ExxonMobil, on announcing the measures to respond to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group, in a statement, added that the Coral LNG development project continues as planned. The group’s board decided to reduce investment spending by 30%, or USD10-billion, a measure related to the low prices of energy products as a result of the fall in demand.

Source: Macauhub

Nigeria: The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has aligned with the federal government to provide a two-month period of free electricity supply to all customers nationwide. ANED’s executive director in charge of research and advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, explained that the gesture was to help reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on Nigerians.

Source: ESI Africa

São Tomé and Príncipe: The new restrictive measures adopted by the government of São Tomé and Príncipe in response to the appearance of the first cases of COVID-19 in the archipelago come into effect on Thursday, 8 April 2020, according to a statement issued on Monday in São Tomé.

Source: Macauhub

São Tomé and Príncipe: The Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe has launched a series of measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, including a drop in the rate of the marginal lending facility from 11% to 9.5%, the governor of the central bank Américo Barros announced on Monday in São Tomé. Citing decisions by the bank’s Monetary Policy Commission, the governor also announced the reduction of “minimum cash reserves from 18% to 14% in national currency and 21% to 17 % in foreign currency.”

Source: Macauhub

The Gambia: The National Assembly of The Gambia has approved the extension of the state of public emergency across the country to 45 days to allow the government to put up measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. President Adama Barrow declared a state of public emergency on 27 March 2020 throughout the country for 21 days to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: CGTN Africa

Uganda: Uganda Tourism Board (UBT) has asked government to consider tax reliefs for players in the tourism value chain to help them deal with the effects of COVID-19. Among the relief considerations, according to UTB, is tax deferrals for at least 12 months and a 40% reduction in utility bills, especially for the hotel sector.

Source: Daily Monitor

Uganda: The Ugandan Minister of Health has issued the Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (No. 2) Rules, 2020 (“the Rules”) in addition to the previously published statutory instruments (discussed here). The Rules put into effect the additional guidelines and restrictions announced by the President in his address to the nation on 30 March 2020. These Rules are to remain in force until 14 April 2020. However, the Minister of Health may extend the duration of these Rules.

Source: ENSafrica 

East and Southern Africa

COMESA develops regional grading and classification system for livestock trade

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has developed a Manual for harmonised regional grading and classification system of beef cattle, goats and sheep. The Manual will be launched at the next meeting of Ministers of Agriculture and Livestock later this year. It will be used across COMESA member states to facilitate trade between livestock buyers and the sellers. Under the system, livestock importers from one country can make orders in another, based on the classification. According to Senior Livestock Officer at COMESA Secretariat Dr Yoseph Mamo, the system will create opportunities for long distance trade deals without the need for buyers and sellers to be physically present in the same market. In developing the grading and classification system, member states that export and import beef cattle, goat and sheep played a key role including its validation in July 2019. Dr Mamo described the Manual as an essential tool for stakeholders to enhance their capacities for cross-border trade.

Source: Africa Business Communities

West Africa

ECOWAS countries sign up for cleaner vehicles

Ministers of Environment and Energy of the fifteen countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted in February 2020 in Burkina Faso, regulations to introduce cleaner fuels and vehicles in the West African region. This initiative will reduce the level of air pollution in cities in the region. From 1 January 2021, all fuels imported by ECOWAS countries will have to have a standard of 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur for petrol and diesel. Currently, some countries in the region still have fuel standards that allow diesel fuels up to 10,000 ppm to be imported. Local refineries have until 1 January 2025, to upgrade their operations to meet the new requirements and comply with other fuel parameters, including benzene and manganese. These new standards will improve air quality in the region. Only 20% of the region’s fuel needs are currently refined locally, while 80% is imported. In addition, all imported vehicles, both new and used, as well as petrol and diesel, will have to comply with a minimum EURO 4/IV vehicle emission standard from 1 January 2021. These decisions will be submitted to a Council of Ministers to be held in June 2020 for formal adoption. Once adopted, the legally binding regulations will enter into force no later than 1 January 2021.

Source: Afrik21

Angola

Angola raises USD34-million from privatization of seven companies

Angola has raised AOA19-billion (USD34-million) from the privatization of seven agro-livestock and agro-industrial companies to five private Angolan companies, after the official contracts for this process were signed in Luanda. The contracts were signed by the chairman of IGAPE, Patrick Vilar, and by representatives of the purchasing companies, Pérola do Kikuxi, Telegest, Sociedade Agro-pecuária do Bailundo and the Edson Droves and FF Empreendimentos groups. The awards are the outcome of a public tender launched in June 2019 for the privatisation of public companies, an operation which, in August, saw the opening of tenders extended to October, when the results were announced. IGAPE said that these companies had received bids or proposals that were below stipulated values, and which were not accepted by the Negotiating Committee appointed to guide the process.

Source: Macauhub

Ethiopia

Ethiopia signs PPA for Corbetti Geothermal

The Corbetti Geothermal project is seeing new life with the signing of a new power purchase agreement (PPA). The Ethiopian government and Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) signed the agreement with developers including Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd, Iceland Drilling Co Ltd, the Berkeley Energy-managed African Renewable Energy Fund and InfraCo Africa. An implementation agreement was also signed. The geothermal project will have a capacity of 150 MW. According to InfraCo Africa, Corbetti Geothermal will be one of the first pair of privately developed, owned and operated geothermal IPPs in Ethiopia. Corbetti will be developed in two phases over a five-year period.  The first phase will drill four to six exploratory wells, with support from the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility, to raise debt finance to drill a further four to seven wells and build a 50 MW power plant, which is expected to become operational in 2023. The second phase will consist of an additional 100 MW power plant and facilities. Whilst the overall size of the project has been reduced; totaling 150 MW, the full Corbetti program will enable the GoE to meet 18% of its 2025 geothermal generation target.

Source: Alternative Energy Africa

Ghana

Government to power airports with solar energy

Ghana’s airports will soon go green thanks to a government project that aims to equip every airport in the country with solar power plants to supply electricity. In order to implement this project, the Ghanaian government has sought Indian expertise. It is within this framework that Joseph Kofi Adda, the Ghanaian Minister of Aviation recently received the Indian High Commissioner to Ghana, Sugandh Rajaram. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the progress of the Ghanaian government’s project. The authorities of this West African country have already signed a partnership agreement with Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala. This is the world’s largest and first airport powered solely by solar energy, with a 40 MWp photovoltaic solar power plant. “A team from Cochin International Airport came to Ghana and assessed the country’s airports to determine the cost of the project and the amount of an Exim Bank of India financing facility of about $10 million that would be used to convert all the country’s airports to solar power,” said Ghana’s Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda.

Source: Afrik21

Kenya

Kenya shields dairy farmers with import levy

Kenya has introduced a 10% import levy on dairy products to protect the industry from unfair competition. The Ministry of Agriculture published dairy industry regulations that introduce stringent conditions for the importation of dairy products to stop dumping, particularly from Uganda. Recently, milk imports from Uganda have been impounded at the border. The regulations are a departure from the controversial draft published last year, which was shelved after farmers termed it punitive and draconian. In the revised regulations, milk processors in Kenya will no longer set and adjust farm gate prices at will, which they apply when there is either a shortage or a glut. The government also plans to introduce price controls to protect farmers from exploitation by processors. According to the new regulations, the Agriculture cabinet secretary in consultation with the Kenya Dairy Board will determine the minimum farm-gate prices based on factors such as cost of production, transport and statutory deductions.

Source: The EastAfrican

Kenya

Safaricom, Vodacom pay KES1.4-billion for M-Pesa brand

Safaricom and its South African parent company Vodacom have completed the buying of intellectual property rights to M-Pesa service from British firm Vodafone in a deal estimated at KES1.42-billion (USD13.4-million). The two announced that the completion of the deal, first announced last year, will give them full control of the M-Pesa brand, product development and support services. The purchasing of the rights will further yield significant savings in royalties paid to Vodafone and expand the mobile money service to new African markets. Safaricom has been paying 2% of its annual M-Pesa revenue to Vodafone while Vodacom has been paying 5% in an intellectual property fee. Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said the deal will improve operational capabilities of M-Pesa, which is now on its 13th year in Kenya. The acquisition of the IP rights by the new joint venture will allow the partners to develop local products such as Fuliza, an M-Pesa overdraft facility launched in Kenya in January last year.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

Key highlights of the Business Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020

The Business Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020 (the “Act”) was assented to by the President on 18 March 2020, introducing several significant changes to various existing laws, improving the ease of doing business. The various amendments are primarily geared towards Government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country. It is anticipated that transaction costs and timelines will be greatly reduced and Government service delivery will be enhanced. From a broader perspective, the amendments certainly provide timely alternatives in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the various related business disruptions.

Source: ENSafrica

Malawi

Trade openness key in boosting investment – Report

A report on boosting intra-African investment flows towards Africa’s transformation has stressed the need for a more liberalised trade environment in Malawi for greater economic efficiency and meaningful foreign direct investment (FDI). The study, conducted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to establish the impact of FDI’s on economic transformation in 49 African states, ranks Malawi among sought after investment destinations in sub-Saharan Africa. It notes that Southern Africa maintained its status of the most sought-after FDI destination on the continent but suffered a significant drop in the past three years although FDI flows to Malawi strengthened in the period. “The available figures indicate trade openness appears to have a positive and significant impact on investment. From this perspective, Malawi may need to consider that boosting intra-African investment could also bolster the regional integration agenda at the regional economic community level and provide opportunities for alignment with the continental integration agenda,” reads the report in part. The report also indicates that though Malawi’s investment policies have been principally dedicated to trade liberalisation, promotion and facilitation with a few investment conditions so as to reduce restrictions and promote sector-specific liberalisation, more can be done to improve political and policy environment.

Source: The Nation  

Mozambique

Mozambique seeks partners to manage Maputo International Fair venue

The Agency for Investment and Export Promotion (APIEX) of Mozambique is looking for national or foreign partners with ability to design, build and operate the venue for the Maputo International Fair, based on a public-private partnership, announced the institution. This measure is part of the development strategy of the International Centre for Fairs and Exhibitions of Ricatla, Marracuene district, in the southern province of Maputo, which annually welcomes business people from all over the world in to the trade and industry fair. APIEX also said that the initiative intends to bring together economic sectors in the country and abroad interested in building a space for the promotion of meetings between businesspeople from all over the world. It also said that the public-private partnership for this initiative involves drawing up the executive project, based on the strategic guidelines set out for the concession area, and carry out the feasibility study for technical, economic and financial assistance, including the master plan. APIEX said in a statement that the partnership includes structuring and raising finance, managing human, technical and financial resources in order to conduct the executive project under the terms of the master plan as well as to establish agreements for the exploration of infrastructure and to manage the operation.

Source: Macauhub

Seychelles

World-first for Seychelles: IPP to develop largest floating solar plant

In Seychelles, French developer Qair, has been selected to develop the largest floating solar power plant to be installed on saltwater in the world. The 5 MW plant will be the first project led by an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Seychelles. The project, which is anticipated to commence July, will be built on a lagoon on Mahé, the main island of the archipelagic nation. The company claims it will be the world’s largest floating PV project to be installed in a saltwater environment when it is completed by the end of this year. The tender launched by the government in 2018 gave the best technical and financial score to the consortium made of Quadran Seychelles and local solar player VetiverTech. The project is the first solar array to be spearheaded by an IPP in Seychelles, claimed Qair. The solar plant will require 13,500 solar panels, which will be built across 40,000 square metres of water. Upon completion, the installation will account for about 2% of total power generation in the island nation.

Source: ESI Africa

Sierra Leone / Liberia

France's Total sells assets in Brunei, Sierra Leone, Liberia

Total said on Tuesday it had sold assets in Brunei, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which the French energy group said represented a total value of more than USD400-million. In Brunei, Total said it had closed the sale of its wholly owned subsidiary Total E&P Deep Offshore Borneo BV to Shell, while it also signed a deal to sell its marketing and services businesses in Liberia and Sierra Leone to Conex Oil & Gas Holdings Ltd. “In the current context of low oil prices, these transactions support the action plan announced to weather the crisis,” Total Chief Financial Officer Jean-Pierre Sbraire said.

Source: Reuters