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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 350 | 03 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updates

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

World: The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted all destinations worldwide to introduce restrictions on travel, research by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has found. This represents the most severe restriction on international travel in history and no country has so far lifted restrictions introduced in response to the crisis. Following up on previous research, the latest data from the United Nations specialised agency for tourism shows that 100% of destinations now have restrictions in place. Of these, 83% have had COVID-19-related restrictions in place already for four or more weeks and, as of 20 April 2020, so far no destination has lifted them.

Source: World Tourism Organization

World: The World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat has published a new report on the treatment of medical products in regional trade agreements (RTAs) amid current supply shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report examines the extent medical products are traded among preferential partners and the difference in liberalisation rates within and outside these trade agreements.

Source: World Trade Organization

Africa: The African Union (AU) has raised USD25-million for the COVID-19 Response Fund and an additional USD36.5-million to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, made the announcement during a virtual meeting with Chairpersons of the AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on Wednesday, 29 April 2020.

Source: SAnews.gov.za

Africa: The Secretary-General of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Mr. Wamkele Mene, announced the postponement of the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement scheduled for 1 July 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: This Day

Africa: The second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) which was initially set to take place from 1 to 7 September 2020 in Kigali has been postponed to September 2021 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was reached after consultation by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the African Union (AU) and the Government of Rwanda. The trade fair estimated the signing and execution of deals worth over USD40-billion.

Source: The New Times

Botswana: Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday, 27 April, extended a 28-day lockdown by another week and introduced a gradual easing of restrictions. He announced that the extension of the current 28-day lockdown will be implemented in the following phases: “Phase 1: We will extend the current lockdown period conditions by one week, that is, from May 1st to May 7th, 2020. During this period, we will also develop and finalize regulations for a phased lifting of lockdown rules in low risk sectors. Phase 2: Starting from May 8th to May 14th, we will lift in a phased manner, some lockdown rules while at the same time introducing additional plans for further lifting of the remaining lockdown rules. Phase 3: From May 15th to May 22nd, which will be the final week of the lockdown extension, we will be lifting the remaining rules from the original lockdown rules implemented on March 30th, 2020.”

Source: Mmegi

Cape Verde: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Cabo Verde’s long-term issuer default ratings (IDR) to B- from B and set a Stable outlook. The COVID-19 pandemic will effectively halt Cape Verde’s dominant tourism sector for months. This will put a strain on the island’s fiscal and external accounts and raise the government-debt-to-GDP ratio substantially.

Source: IHS Markit

Cameroon: Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook on Cameroon’s rating to Negative, reflecting mounting liquidity risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp decline in global oi prices. The credit rating agency reaffirmed the rating at B.

Source: IHS Markit

Cameroon: The Cameroon Enterprises President called on the Government to take emergency measures to assist tertiary sector businesses affected by COVID-19.

Source: IHS Markit

Equatorial Guinea: Equatorial Guinea will have to put the bulk of its upcoming upstream projects on hold due to the oil price collapse from the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's minister of mines and hydrocarbons said.

Source: S&P Global Platts

Gabon: The Petroleum Minister announced that due to the COVID-19 crisis, the closing date of the bid for the 12th tender for the acquisition of 35 oil blocks, originally scheduled for 30 April, has been postponed to a later date which will be communicated.

Source: aLibreville.com

Ghana: International ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed Ghana’s long-term local- and foreign-currency issuer and foreign-currency senior unsecured bond rating to B3, but changed the outlook to Negative. Moody’s decision to change Ghana’s long-term local- and foreign-currency issuer and foreign-currency senior unsecured bond rating outlook to Negative reflects the increased risk to debt service capacity and funding constraints, ultimately emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: IHS Markit

Kenya: Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to decelerate substantially in 2020 due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest World Bank Kenya Economic Update (KEU) predicts growth of 1.5% in 2020 in the baseline scenario, with a potential downside scenario of a contraction to 1%, if COVID-19 related disruptions in economic activity last longer.

Source: The World Bank Group

Kenya: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on 29 April 2020, against a backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken by authorities around the world to contain the spread and impact of the pandemic. The MPC noted that the policy measures adopted in March were having the intended effect on the economy, and are still being transmitted. However, in light of the continuing adverse economic outlook, the MPC decided to augment its accommodative monetary policy stance. The MPC therefore decided to lower the Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 7% from 7.25%.

Source: Central Bank of Kenya

Mozambique: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended USD309-million of financial assistance to the Mozambican authorities under the country’s Rapid Credit Facility (RCF). The IMF’s financial assistance awarded to Mozambique under the RCF will be used to meet urgent balance-of-payments and fiscal requirements stemming from the COVID-19 global pandemic. The authorities warn that disruptions to Mozambique’s services, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, communications, and mining sectors are expected to leave the country’s economic growth under pressure during 2020.

Source: IHS Markit

Nigeria: The Bank of Industry on Monday, 27 April, said it has reduced the interest rates on all its funded projects from 10% to 8% per annum. The bank said the decision, which took effect from 1 April, had been communicated to customers and partnering commercial banks. It said in a statement that the move was in line with the Presidential directive on loans moratorium due to the challenging times individuals and businesses were facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission

Nigeria: The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Nigeria’s request for emergency financial assistance of SDR2,454.5-million (USD3.4-billion, 100% of quota) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF financial support will help limit the decline in international reserves and provide financing to the budget for targeted and temporary spending increases aimed at containing and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and of the sharp fall in international oil prices.

Source: International Monetary Fund

Rwanda: Addressing a virtual press conference that brought together members of the local and international press corps on Monday, April 27, the president said that opening up the economy from the ongoing lockdown will be a phased exercise.

Source: The New Times

Rwanda: Rwanda is seeking for the suspension of its debt repayments for at least two years in order to deal with the economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Officials from the G20 countries have already announced plans to suspend both principal repayments and interest payments on loans for the world’s poorest countries. The waiver will last up to the end of the year.

Source: The Kenyan Wallstreet

Uganda: As government is still contemplating the post COVID-19 economic recovery plan for the country, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSF-Uganda) has made a number of proposals to government that they believe will help resuscitate the economy. Sectors such as manufacturing, banking, construction, tourism, trade, transport and generally the service sector are facing a recession and strategic mitigation measures are needed to rescue the situation to avoid total collapse.

Source: Daily Monitor

Uganda: The Ugandan Cabinet has agreed to lift, in a phased manner, the lockdown which started on 1 April aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday, 28 April, the Cabinet agreed that each sector of government will develop a plan for the phased reopening of the country.

Source: The EastAfrican

Angola

Informal traders in Angola authorised to use automatic point of sale terminals

A new simplified bank account system has been set up by the Bank of Angola for residents that do not have access to alternative accounts, under the terms of Notice 12/2020 of 27 April, alongside Instruction No. 08/2020 of 28 April. Under the new scheme, it will be possible to open accounts for personal or commercial use without providing an identity card (other identification documents can be used) or registration with the General Tax Authority. As part of this decision, which aims to increase the levels of financial inclusion, micro-entrepreneurs will also be allowed to use automatic point of sale (POS) terminals. In this case, micro-entrepreneurs must be in possession of a valid identity card and hold an authorisation from the local administration to carry out their activity at the point of sale, at a municipal market, for example. With this Notice, the central bank said it had taken another step towards increasing the number of citizens that have a more secure income, reducing the need to use cash almost “exclusively” in commercial transactions that occur in informal markets regulated by the municipal administrations.

Source: Macauhub

Angola

Cabinet Economic team approves rural trade

The Economic Commission of the Council of Ministers approved the action plan of the Integrated Program for the Development of Rural Trade for 2020, which provides for experimental actions in seven of the 18 provinces of the country. Approved in a session headed by the Head of State, João Lourenço, the document points out that for the experimental actions the provinces of Malanje, Cuanza Norte, Cuanza Sul, Bié, Huambo, Benguela and Namibe are indicated. This recent session also approved the creation of the Single Investment Window, which is a mechanism for facilitating investment. This mechanism, through the Agency for Private Investment and Export Promotion (AIPEX), will concentrate all the operations inherent to investment. The intention is to simplify the life of the investor in the implementation of the projects according to the conditions and deadlines provided for in the respective execution schedules.

Source: EIN News

Angola

Angola’s Sonangol sells shareholdings in nine more companies

Angolan state oil company Sonangol has launched an international public tender for the sale of its stakes in nine companies, according to information published on its website. Sonangol intends to sell 30% of its stake in Petromar, as well as 51% in companies Sonatide Marine Limited and Sonatide Marine Angola Limitada and 40% in Sonamet Industrial and Sonarcergy – Serviços e Construções Petrolíferas, Lda. The sale of the stakes is part of the privatisation programme and also covers the sale of 10% of the share capital of shipyard company Porto Estaleiros Navais (Paenal), 33.33% of SBM Shipyard, 30% of Sonadiets Limitada and 30% of Sonadiets Services. Sonangol requires that the parties provide qualification documents under the terms of the tender, as well as a provisional bond of between USD7,000 and USD15,000 or the equivalent in kwanzas, at the exchange rate of the National Bank of Angola. The deadline to submit applications, in the case of Petromar, is 30 May 2020, with the presentation of the proposals scheduled for 23 July. Applications for Sonatide Marine Limited and Sonatide Marine Angola Limitada are scheduled for 15 May, and the submission of proposals for 15 June. As part of the privatisation programme Sonangol has a total of 54 stakes to be sold in Angola and abroad.

Source: Macauhub

Angola

Angolan National Bank plans to introduce mobile and instant messaging transfer system

Angola’s National Bank (BNA), by September 2020, plans to announce the name of the company that will be responsible for the Mobile Transfers and Instant Messaging system to be introduced throughout the country, according to a request for information published on 26 April 2020. “As there is already a well-consolidated mobile telecommunications network in the Angolan market, the BNA intends to introduce a system of Mobile Transfers and Instant Messaging (STMI), which will be available in the entire country and accessible to the whole population, commonly known as Mobile Money,” said the Central Bank. The opening of the requests for information is intended for drawing up a request for proposal (RFP) to select a technological operator for the entity that will be responsible for the technological management of the system, which will be a payment system operator based in Angola. Interested entities must respond to the request for information from the BNA by 10 June 2020, the request for proposals will be launched on 24 June with a response deadline of 31 July. In August there will be on-site visits and demonstrations, and the final decision of the selection process is scheduled for September 2020.

Source: Macauhub

Angola

Angolan Central Bank boosts requirements for financial institutions

The Angolan National Bank (BNA) has altered the system for special registration of entities such as banks, branches and representative offices in the country, intending to “make requirements and procedures more rigorous,” and strengthen “reputation requirements”. Notice No. 11/2020, of 21 April 2020, lists the requirements for special registration of financial institutions under the supervision of the Central Bank, as well as applications for authorisation to manage and supervise banks, manage branches and representative offices. In the document, published in the Diário da República official bulletin, the BNA noted it had added to the requirement for compliance with the requirements of good repute, professional qualifications, independence and availability of members of governing bodies and members with relevant management roles, all of these parameters that the Central Bank considers, “indispensable to the authorisation procedure for operations.” The BNA presented the attachments that institutions must submit for registration, including statements of conflict of interest, independence and incompatibilities, reputation, qualifications and professional experience, a collective assessment by the institution of its management and supervisory bodies, as well as a checklist of the authorisation procedure for operations.

Source: Macauhub

Botswana

Botswana expects 13.1% GDP contraction in FY 2020/21 driven by sharp mining-sector downturn

Botswana's finance and economic development minister, Thapelo Matsheka, announced on 24 April 2020 that the government expects the economy to contract 13.1% during FY 2020/21 (1 April–31 March). This represents an estimated massive growth markdown from the 4.4% expansion set out in the current budget and a sharper fall than the 5.4% decline recently announced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to the government, the economic slump will be driven by a 33% contraction in the mining sector owing to faltering diamond mining production. Indeed, Botswana’s leading diamond miner, Debswana Diamond Company, recorded a 5% fall in production in the first quarter of 2020, with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak containment measures and the suspension of diamond sales due to the travel bans set to be felt the most in the second and third quarters of 2020. The other major sector expected to weigh on growth due to the COVID-19 containment measures is the hotels and restaurants segment, in which activity is anticipated to fall 32.2%. Manufacturing is also expected to weaken, by 10%. The expected economic downturn has also seen revisions made to the FY 2020/21 budget’s revenues and expenditures. Revenue projections have been cut from BWP62.4-billion (about USD5.09-billion) to BWP48.8-billion, while expenditure has been revised down to BWP59.6-billion from BWP67.2-billion. The government now expects to post a fiscal deficit of BWP10.8-billion for FY2020/21, from the initial BWP5.2-billion shortfall projected in February. The government stated that the deficit will be financed either by tapping into the domestic debt market or funding from the IMF and/or other multilateral institutions.

Source: IHS Markit  

Ethiopia

MoMP, GreenCom sign agreement to build gas plant

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) has signed a joint study agreement with GreenCom Technologies to build a gas processing plant in Ethiopia. The agreement is aimed at building a gas processing plant that also produces petrochemicals and other industry inputs out of natural gas. The plant to be built based on the study agreement will also produce industrial inputs used for producing petroleum gas, aviation fuel, and beauty products. The gas processing project, which is to be implemented jointly by the US- based GreenCom Technologies and Hyundai Engineering and Construction, needs more than USD3.6-billion to be implemented upon the completion of the study. Out of the total budget needed to run the project, USD70-million will be covered by GreenCom technologies, it was learned. The statement from Ministry of Mines and Petroleum indicates that the agreement signed includes development of 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from six potential areas including Calub and Hilala gas reserves sites in Ogaden, Somali regional state.

Source: Fana Broadcasting Corporate 

Ethiopia

Ethiopia gets step closer to issuing new telecom licences

Ethiopia moved closer to liberalising one of the world’s final frontiers for telecommunications by publishing the final draft of directives that mention spectrum permits will be valid for 15 years. The Ethiopian Communications Authority will hold consultations on the proposed rules for 14 days ending on 11 May, the agency said in a statement on its website. It will review and “consider the comments in adopting the directives” on issues including licensing, consumer rights and dispute resolution. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration wants to offer two new licenses and sell part of the state-controlled monopoly, Ethio Telecom, to help liberalise the economy and attract more foreign capital. Vodacom Group Ltd., MTN Group Ltd., Orange SA and Helios Towers have expressed interest in investing in Africa’s second-most populous nation of more than 100 million people. The communications regulator would need to approve a proposed transfer of stake to an investor already holding, or will get from the deal, 10% shareholding or more in a business, according to the statement.

Source: Bloomberg

Kenya

Coffee, tea auctions ordered to go digital

The Ministry of Agriculture will not renew the trading licences of the tea and coffee auctions if they fail to permanently migrate trading to an online platform in two months. Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya has asked Mombasa tea auction and the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) to move to digital trading, pointing out the current disruption in trading following COVID-19 would have been avoided if the auctions had been automated. Whereas the Mombasa tea auction has indicated it is ready to go online before the end of the ultimatum, the NCE requires KES30-million to automate systems and does not foresee itself moving to the digital platform within the period. Edward Mudibo, managing director of the East Africa Tea Traders Association (EATTA), which manages the auction, says the system is ready and they are conducting tests before the official launch. On the other hand, NCE chief executive, Daniel Mbithi, said it would not be migrating unless the state provides funds. NCE had in 2018 automated its systems but it is yet to go online as it does not have the necessary software for online trading. “We require at least Sh30 million to upgrade our system and go online. We can move to this new platform as soon as we get the funds,” said Mr Mbithi.

Source: Business Daily

Mauritius

Mauritius to construct solar PV plant at AMB in Moka district

The government of the Republic of Mauritius is set to construct a solar PV plant of unknown capacity at the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) located in Moka district in the central plateau of the Indian Ocean Island. This was revealed on a tender notice released by the AMB, which is a state-owned entity controlled by the nation’s Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, inviting bids for the construction of a ground-mounted PV plant on its land under a design-build and turnkey contract. Interested bidders are directed to purchase the bidding documents by paying a non-refundable fee of about USD12.20. They must also pay a sum of approximately USD4,878.9 as a bid security deposit. Any prospective overseas companies are also welcomed to participate in the bidding process. The government of Mauritius is planning to increase the use of renewable sources of energy from the current level of around 22% to 35% by the year 2025.

Source: Construction Review Online

Niger

Government approves ratification of memorandum with Turkey in energy and hydrocarbons sectors

The Government has adopted a bill in the Council of Ministers authorising the ratification of a memorandum of understanding between Niger and Turkey for better cooperation in the field of energy and hydrocarbons. The agreement, signed on 11 July 2013 in Ankara and 25 July 2013 in Niamey, aims to promote cooperation in the field of energy and hydrocarbons according to the expertise and development needs of both sides. "Through this Memorandum of Understanding, the two countries commit to joint activities focused on specialized training programmes, the exchange of information, experience and expertise on the one hand, and on the exploration and exploitation of energy resources and hydrocarbons on the other," the government said. They will also participate in workshops, conferences and fairs aimed at attracting investment in the hydrocarbon industries, and develop renewable energy projects in both countries. In recent years, Niger and Turkey have had a very rich cooperative relationship in the health, transport and training sectors.

Source: Synergy Communication

Zimbabwe

New mining fees announced

Government has gazetted new mining fees that take into account the inflation rate since the last review of the fees. The Mining (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 are contained in Statutory Instrument No. 95 of 2020 and was published by Mines and Mining Development minister, Winston Chitando. Application for an Exclusive Prospecting Order and that for a mining lease have now been pegged at ZWD10,000, with both fees non-refundable. A special mining lease will now cost ZWD25,000, while a special prospecting licence and ordinary prospecting licence will cost ZWD3,750 and ZWD1,000 respectively. The Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, welcomed the new gazetted fees, saying they were in line with the prevailing situation in the economy. “We also think they will go a long way in clearing the backlog that we were experiencing at the provincial and district services as they were waiting for the fees to be gazetted,” she said.

Source: The Herald