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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 348 | 19 Apr 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

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

Africa: In a statement issued on 13 April 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board announced that it has approved relief on debt service for 25 member countries that are eligible for support from the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT); a further 4 countries are expected to request such relief in the coming weeks. The approval enables the disbursement of grants from the CCRT for repayment of total debt service falling due to the IMF over the next six months, with potential extensions, up to a maximum of full two years from 14 April 2020, subject to availability of sufficient grant resources. The initial relief provided to these countries amounts to SDR157.1-million (USD213.4-million). 19 African countries will receive immediate debt service relief, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Source: International Monetary Fund

Africa: Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and is forecast to fall sharply from 2.4% in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1% in 2020. This will be the first recession in the region over the past 25 years, according to the latest Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank’s economic update for the region.

Source: ESI Africa

Africa: The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, noted that “the region’s economy is projected to contract by −1.6 percent this year – the worst reading on record, a downward revision of 5.2 percentage points from our October 2019 forecast. Across countries, the less diversified economies will be hit the hardest, reflecting the impact of lower commodity prices and containment efforts. Among the non-resource-intensive countries, those that depend on tourism are expected to witness a severe contraction because of extensive travel restrictions, while emerging market and frontier economies will face the consequences of large capital outflows and tightening financial conditions.”

Source: International Monetary Fund

Africa: The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have agreed to work closely to advance renewable energy across the continent to bolster Africa’s response to COVID-19.

Source: ESI Africa

Africa: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is providing support to 14 countries situated in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. It is offering diagnostic kits, equipment and training in a nuclear-driven diagnostic technique called real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Source: ESI Africa

East Africa: The East Africa Business Council (EABC) has recommended to governments of the East African Community member states to take financial measures that will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the community member states. In its recommended measures, the council requested central banks in the EAC region to restructure loans by allowing a considerable period for Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) and prioritise payment of domestic debts. EABC also asked central banks to extend lending facility to commercial banks, to consider lowering the repo rate and reserve requirement ratio and to review existing treasury Bonds/Securities rediscount (Open Market Operations) through buying back bonds at the prevailing market rate.

Source: KT Press

Angola: The President of Angola joined the group of African and European leaders who signed a document calling for a moratorium on debt and the granting of programmes of economic and health assistance, due to the new COVID-19 pandemic. The signatories underline the need for an immediate moratorium on all payments of bilateral and multilateral debt, both public and private, until all outbreaks of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are under control. The Angolan President is the 18th head of state to sign the document, of which Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mali, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also signatories. The African Union, the European Commission and the European Council have also given their support.

Source: Macauhub

Angola: The Government re-imposed restrictions on travel between provinces, from 14-25 April 2020, following a three-day suspension on restrictions.

Source: IHS Markit

Angola: The Website for Economic Relief (https://alivioeconomico.org/), recently launched by the Ministry of Economy and Planning of Angola, is a digital tool that outlines the measures taken by the government to alleviate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy. Angolan state newspaper Jornal de Angola reported that the website provides information on a variety of subjects, including tax relief, social security requirements, financing packages and some current expenditure to be carried out.

Source: Macauhub

Burundi: The government of Burundi has reopened its borders for goods transiting from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, after two weeks of blockage on the country's northern and western borders.

Source: The New Times

Burundi: The World Bank pledged to provide a USD5-million grant to support Government in strengthening public health preparedness in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: IHS Markit

Cabo Verde: The Government of Cabo Verde will favour companies that fulfil their obligations “and not those that do not comply,” in relation to access to the credit line established to help overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the deputy prime minister and minister of Finance.

Source: Macauhub

Djibouti: Djibouti has announced 82.5% reductions in port tariffs for Ethiopia’s exports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Port Djibouti currently accounts for more than 95% of Ethiopia’s imports and exports.

Source: Fana Broadcasting Corporate

Ethiopia: Ethiopia prohibited companies from laying off workers and terminating employment in measures introduced as part of a state of emergency to stop the spread of COVID-19. The rules announced Saturday, 11 April 2020, also ban meetings of more than four people for religious, government and other organisations, including political gatherings, Adanech Abiebie, the Attorney General, said in a statement.

Source: Bloomberg

Ghana: The National Communication Authority (NCA) has granted extra spectrum to MTN Ghana and Vodafone to cope with the heavy traffic generated by the use of the internet due to the ‘Stay at Home’ directive. The move is intended to ease the pressure on their networks and ensure quality service delivery as the nation entered the third week of partial lockdown of COVID-19 hotspot areas.

Source: Ghana Business News

Ghana / Kenya: Redavia, a global supplier of solar power plants, has recently launched the "Covid-19 Resilience Lease". Through this new programme, Redavia will enable corporate clients in Ghana and Kenya to reduce their operating costs through a free six-month lease of solar power plants.

Source: Afrik 21

Kenya: The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will control lending to businesses and homes from its KES41.3-billion cash reserves to ensure the loans are only offered to borrowers affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: The demand for flowers in Europe has started picking up ahead of Mother’s Day next month, raising hope for a sector that has been battered by global restrictions on movement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) says that in the past one week, the country had started witnessing a rise in demand from Europe where sales had declined by 35% over the past month.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: The fight against desert locusts has been dealt a major blow as shortage of pesticides and motorised sprayers grips the market amid supply chain disruption. According to Cyril Ferrand, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) resilience team leader for East Africa, “The biggest challenge is delays in pesticide deliveries due to a significant reduction in global air freight operations”.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: The Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) has directed the 174 licencees handling more than KES766-billion deposits to file daily liquidity reports to gauge the impact of COVID-19. The regulator has also asked Saccos to cut lending using tougher checks “to avert a financial lockdown,” said chief manager Peter Njuguna.

Source: Business Daily

Malawi: Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) has urged the government to involve private sector players when dictating measures to avert possible impacts of COVID-19 on the job market and the economy.

Source: The Times

Malawi: President Peter Mutharika has imposed a nationwide 21-day lockdown which will start from midnight on Saturday, 18 April 2020 to 9 May 2020 at midnight due to COVID-19.

Source: Malawi 24

Mauritius: The Competition Commission of Mauritius (“CCM”) has issued a communiqué on 9 April 2020 stating that, in its capacity as regulator and enforcer, it will not limit or prevent necessary and critical cooperation, provided that these are in the interests of consumers and the public, and does not go longer or further than what is necessary in the current climate.

Source: ENSafrica 

Mauritius: The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the incidental measures adopted by the Mauritian government represent serious potential impact for financial institutions in general. This ENSight  examines the recourses available to borrowers facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and its aftermath. It considers only credit facilities, that is, agreements by which financial institutions advance money to their clients for repayment either in instalments or at term.

Source: ENSafrica

Mauritius: The Stock Exchange of Mauritius Ltd (“SEM”) made an announcement on 14 April 2020 regarding the filing of issuers’ financial statement for the financial year ending 31 December 2019. Given that the government announced the extension of the national confinement and curfew, the SEM decided to further extend the deadlines for the publication of financial statements .

Source: ENSafrica

Mozambique: Chongoene airport, to be built in Gaza province, southern Mozambique, by China Aviation International Construction and Investment Co Ltd, is expected to be completed six months later than planned due to the constraints imposed by the new COVID-19 pandemic, said the provincial director of Transport and Communications.

Source: Macauhub

Rwanda: The national carrier Rwandair and other key businesses will benefit from a government stimulus package to resuscitate the economy and mitigate the impact of the new COVID-19 pandemic when it eventually subsides. This was revealed by President Paul Kagame while addressing over 400 investors from different parts of the globe in a webinar session organised by Invest Africa to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and ongoing measures to sustain the economy.

Source: KT Press

Senegal: The government announced that USD128-million would be allocated to the tourism and air transportation sectors from Force-Covid-19, the response and solidarity fund established in the context of the pandemic. VAT payments for companies in the tourism and air transportation sector will also be deferred.

Source: IHS Markit and aDakar.com

Seychelles: In a national address on Tuesday, 14 April 2020, President Danny Faure announced that from Friday, 17 April 2020, there will be further restrictions on the movement of people from 7 p.m. in the evening until 6 a.m. in the morning. This measure will stay in place until 29 April 2020.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Tanzania: Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) on Sunday, 12 April 2020, announced a suspension of all international passenger flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cargo flights are exempt from the suspension, the TCAA said.

Source: PML Daily

Uganda: After collecting views from about 1,400 members, manufacturers under Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), have drawn a raft of proposals that they say will help to resuscitate the sector from the effects of COVID-19. The measures, among them, relaxing access terms to raw material, settlement of domestic arrears, loans restructuring and refund of value added tax and withholding tax, UMA says, will help to lubricate the economy as well as allow businesses to have sufficient cash flow.

Source: Daily Monitor

Uganda: The COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent lockdown will certainly have an impact on a number of commercial relationships, including that of landlord and tenant. This ENSight  examines issues that are likely to arise. It recommends that both landlords and tenants review the terms of their agreements to determine what rights and obligations are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and or the lockdown and where performance of their obligations becomes difficult or unprofitable, the parties can have discussions to vary/renegotiate the agreements to try relieve the burden.

Source: ENSafrica

Zambia / South Africa: Zambia and South Africa have formed a private sector working group to create a framework that is targeted at ensuring the smooth flow of essential goods and services during the COVID-19 lockdown of most SADC countries.

Source: Zambia Reports

Zimbabwe: Government gazetted the legal instrument that allows the importation of essential goods to fight COVID-19 into the country duty-free. The regulations, which are effective 30 March 2020, were contained in Statutory Instrument 88 of 2020 that was published in the extraordinary Government Gazette.

Source: The Herald

Africa

UN tour body urges Africa to woo travellers

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has urged African states to formulate strategies on how to woo travellers within the continent to spur its hospitality and travel sectors. The UNWTO Executive Council says its high time the region reflected and developed intra-Africa tourism and open-sky policies to ensure affordable flights. Mr Najib Balala, the UNWTO executive council chair and Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, was speaking during an interview with a local FM station on how the sector can revamp after the COVID-19 global pandemic that has hardest hit tourism worldwide. He said Africa should encourage intra-Africa tourism. However, he cited challenges such as passport and visa, lack of infrastructure including poor road and train network that will affect the sector.

Source: Business Daily

Africa

AfDB’s SEFA grants USD760,000 to develop small-scale renewable energy projects across sub-Saharan Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) - managed Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), has approved a USD760,000 grant to Empower New Energy AS (EmNEW), to develop at least eight small renewable energy projects with capacity ranging from 1-10 MW, towards bankability and construction. The grant will support a broad range of project preparation and development activities, including technical feasibility studies, legal due diligence, environmental and social impact assessment, quality assurance and risk management. Through its Empower Invest fund, EmNEW invests in small and medium-scale renewable energy projects in Africa, with a focus on solar power, hybrid, and hydro technologies. Drawing on high-quality local partnerships in Africa, EmNEW invests in renewable energy projects through competitive equity to small and medium scale projects which helps to reduce the time and resources required to finance projects while delivering environmental and social impact.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Angola

Angola’s national bank restates instructions on payments abroad

Payments abroad, under Contracts for the Provision of Foreign Technical Assistance or Management Services, covered by Presidential Decree No. 98/20, of 9 April 2020, does not require prior licensing, the Angolan National Bank (BNA) said once again. The Angolan central bank noted in a statement issued on its website that these types of payments, which previously involved its own banking branches, should be dealt with by commercial banks, according to the procedures laid down in Notice No. 2/2020, of 17 January 2020, which establishes the rules and procedures for Conducting Foreign Exchange Current Invisibles Operations by Companies. Thus, the document said, these operations are exempt from any prior licensing procedure, either by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, or the National Bank of Angola, payment of services abroad, under the terms of contracts covered by the abovementioned legislation.

Source: Macauhub

Kenya

Financiers appointed for 15 MW Kaptis hydropower project

The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and Finnfund have been confirmed as senior debt lenders to conduct due diligence for the 15 MW Kaptis run of river hydropower project in Western Kenya. Ninety One SA (Pty), formerly Investec Asset Management, a duly authorised agent for the Private Infrastructure Development Group’s (PIDG) Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), will act as Mandated Lead Arranger for the financing of the Kaptis project, which is sponsored by Tembo Power, Metier and WK Power. The project will require USD30-million in debt financing to bring it through the final design, planning and construction phases, with a targeted commercial start date in the third quarter of 2022. Tembo Power, together with its partners Metier and WK Power, will inject approximately USD14-million in equity. Finnfund’s objective is to develop, finance and operate power generation assets in sub-Saharan Africa according to the same financing model. Tembo Power is currently raising equity financing for a portfolio of 10 projects, totalling 186 MW, across Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Source: ESI Africa

Mozambique

Mozambique launches foreign trade website

Foreign trade operators in Mozambique and the public in general will have access to all the information required for the process of importing, exporting and transit of goods through a new website specifically designed for the purpose, officially launched in Maputo. The External Trade Website is easy to access and brings together information from various public institutions involved in this activity and private service providers that play an important role in this area. “Essentially, the website will give foreign trade operators access, comprehensively and in good time, to basic information for the implementation of import and export operations,” said a statement from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The External Trade Website contains, among other information, procedures for the import, export and transit of goods, including the forms required, rates of customs duties levied on imports, procedures for appeal or review and agreements or parts of agreements on preferential access to markets of any country. The launch of the External Trade Website follows the creation, in 2017, of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation, which is intended to coordinate, supervise and monitor the implementation in Mozambique of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Source: Macauhub

Mozambique

Mozambique collects information on national industrial base

The survey of Mozambique’s industrial base, which is intended to identify areas that require investment or support, is at the conclusion stage, the minister of Industry and Trade said recently in Maputo. Carlos Mesquita said that this process will boost the industrial potential of the country, with a focus on some border areas, which many grains produced locally pass through on their way to markets in neighbouring countries like Malawi. The Government has recently completed a study to set up industrial parks in three provinces of the country, as an incentive to production and an opportunity to restructure the local economic sector. The parks will be located in the districts of Moatize, in Tete, Dondo, in Sofala and Báruè, in Manica province, where industrial units will be established. Feasibility studies for the establishment and development of other industrial parks in other parts of the country have yet to be conducted, such as in Mocuba, in Zambezia province.

Source: Macauhub

Tanzania

Wind energy in Tanzania, first wind farm in May

Tanzania is expected to celebrate the opening of its first wind farm next month, when a 2.4 MW wind power facility should finish testing and begin supplying the customers of a rapidly expanding private rural grid network. The wind energy project is being financed with a USD1.2-million (EUR1.1-million) loan from the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) that is supported by the United Kingdom government. The wind farm will consist of three 800 kW Enercon wind turbines, which just recently arrived at the site in Mwenga in the Mufindi District of Tanzania’s Iringa region. Their installation and testing is expected to be concluded by early May. Upon completion, the new wind farm will complement an existing 4 MW hydropower plant that has been powering the rural grid network since 2012. It supplies electricity to over 4,500 homes and businesses across 32 villages, with surplus power sold to Tanzania Electric Supply Co Ltd, better known as TANESCO. Rift Valley Energy is the developer and operator of the private rural grid network and it plans to connect a further 1,500 customers over the next two years.

Source: REVE