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Africa Business in Brief


issue 355 | 07 Jun 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

World: The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released a set of guidelines to help tourism sector emerge stronger and more sustainably from COVID-19. The guidelines highlight the need to act decisively, to restore confidence and, as UNWTO strengthens its partnership with Google, to embrace innovation and the digital transformation of global tourism. The guidelines were produced in consultation with the Global Tourism Crisis Committee and aim to support governments and private sector to recover from an unparalleled crisis.

Source: World Tourism Organization

Africa: COVID-19 is bringing unprecedented changes to the world. One of the sectors that will see significant challenges is the oil sector, globally and in Africa. For African crude oil exporting countries, the expected fall in demand means that exports of crude oil in 2020 will be down by at least 10% on average compared to recent years. Prices are also expected to fall. At USD40/barrel or lower, the value of African oil exports could fall to levels last seen 20 years ago. These lower prices coupled with reduced output could see Africa’s larger oil producers facing USD20-billion or more of lost oil value in 2020. For consuming countries, the low per capita consumption of oil for transportation in many African countries will not significantly gain from lower prices which limited by low demand and a very likely limitation on storage.

Source: African Energy Commission

East / Southern Africa: Member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) developed and adopted Guidelines to facilitate the movement of goods and services across the region during the COVID-19 pandemic, without amending or replacing any provisions of the COMESA Treaty.

Source: Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Southern Africa: Specialised Exhibitions, a division of the Montgomery Group and organisers of Southern Africa’s leading mining, manufacturing, automation, electrical, and power trade exhibition, Electra Mining Africa, has announced that the 2020 show will now take place in 2022. Electra Mining Africa, which was due to take place from 7-11 September at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next edition of the show will be held from 5-9 September 2022 at the same venue.

Source: ESI Africa

Chad: As part of fight against COVID-19, the government decided to extend the curfew for two weeks from 26 May in provinces of Logoné, Mayo Kebbi and N'Djamena.

Source: IHS Markit

Ethiopia: The National Bank of Ethiopia announced that it has made ETB2-billion in financing available to micro and small financial institutions by the Development Bank of Ethiopia.

Source: Fana Broadcasting Corporate

Guinea-Bissau: Authorities extended the State of Emergency, for a fourth time, for another two weeks until 10 June.

Source: ANG

Kenya: About 75% of Kenya’s small and medium-sized businesses face collapse if they fail to get fresh funds from banks or equity partners by end of next month, a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) survey reveals. Citing a study conducted in April, CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said the small businesses surveyed had said that without help they would close by the end of June because they lacked credit buffers and other resources to survive the slowdown caused by COVID-19.

Source: Business Daily

Malawi / Zambia: Malawi and Zambia recorded reduced trade flows in March and April according to the latest report from the COMESA Statistics on ‘COVID 19 Impacts on Trade’.  These were the first two months in which COVID-19 spread to the countries.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Mozambique: The Mozambican Minister of Economy and Finance said that the country has already received USD309-million from the International Monetary Fund, a figure that represents half the amount requested to face the COVID-19. In total, the country asked for USD700-million (EUR636-million) from international partners to cover the budget deficit in the face of the pandemic, with USD400-million going to the social area.

Source: Club of Mozambique

Mozambique: The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, announced the second extension of the State of Emergency in the country for another 30 days, until 29 June 2020, to prevent COVID-19.

Source: Notícias ao Minuto

Nigeria: As part of its continued effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on households, businesses and regulated institutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has reduced interest rates on its facilities through participating Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) from 9% to 5% per annum for one year effective 1 March 2020. The Bank, in a circular signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo, and issued on Wednesday, 27 May 2020 in Abuja, also announced that CBN intervention facilities obtained through participating OFIs - Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks, and Institutions, among others - will be given a further one-year moratorium on all principal repayments, also effective 1 March 2020.

Source: Proshare Nigeria

Nigeria: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Central Bank of Nigeria has reduced Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), to 12.5%. This is the second MPC meeting in a row that will be held under COVID-19 protocols. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said the MPC resolved to retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30%, Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) at 27.5% and the asymmetric corridor at +200/-500 basis points around the MPR.

Source: The Nation

Rwanda: Delegations from Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo have met to enhance trans-border cooperation in order to strengthen COVID-19 surveillance and trade between the two countries. Both parties met to discuss and agree on concrete measures to control COVID-19 spread especially with their cross border trade activities.

Source: KT Press

Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni said the nationwide curfew will continue from 19:00 until 06:30 for another 21 days until 23 June 2020.

Source: Daily Monitor

East Africa

GRMF call for applications to finance geothermal projects

The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility for East Africa (GRMF) has just launched its sixth round of applications for the financing of geothermal projects in East Africa. Developers of geothermal projects in East Africa have until 15 July 2020 to express their interest. The sub-regional organisation is becoming more and more important with the beginning of the exploitation of the geothermal potential of the East African sub-region, mainly in Kenya, Ethiopia and very recently in Zambia and Djibouti. The call for applications is open to public or private organisations and independent power producers (IPPs) that sign public-private partnerships (PPPs) in East Africa. The organisation, whose aim is the development of geothermal energy along the Rift Valley, has been hosted and managed by the African Union Commission (AUC) since its creation in 2012. The mechanism is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU Africa ITF) through the German development agency KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Source: Afrik 21

West Africa

Call for consultants to vie for WAPP NorthCore Project

The governments of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger are on a search for consulting services for updating inventories and censuses in the right-of-way planned for lines and substations under the WAPP NorthCore Project. The services essentially include the inventory of individuals, communities and cultural goods or assets affected because they are located in the right-of-way of the line and posts. As part of this consultation, the NorthCore Project PMU intends to hire a national study office with relevant experience in similar studies. The WAPP NorthCore Project invites eligible consulting firms to express their interest in providing the services. Interested consultants must provide information indicating that they have the required qualifications and relevant experience to perform the services. Consultants can partner with other firms to form a joint venture to increase their chances of qualification, but must clearly indicate whether the association is a joint venture and/or a subcontractor.

Source: ESI Africa

West Africa

Hydro to support solar and wind in smart renewable grid

A new study has mapped the potential of solar-wind-water strategies for West Africa, a region where power grids are anticipated to greatly expand in the coming years. The study, Smart renewable electricity portfolios in West Africa, published in the scientific journal Nature Sustainability, explores how hydropower plants can support solar and wind power’s unpredictable and intermittent nature in a climate-friendly manner. The study demonstrates the importance of the West African Power Pool, a regional interconnection of national power grids. Countries with a tropical climate, such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast, typically have a lot of potential for hydropower and quite high solar radiation, but hardly any wind. The drier and more desert-like countries, such as Senegal and Niger, hardly have any opportunities for hydropower but receive more sunlight and more wind. The potential for reliable, clean power generation based on solar and wind power, supported by flexibly dispatched hydropower, increases by more than 30% when countries can share their potential regionally, the researchers discovered. All measures taken together would allow roughly 60% of the current electricity demand in West Africa to be met with complementary renewable sources, of which roughly half would be solar and wind power and the other half hydropower – without the need for a large-scale battery or other storage plants.

Source: ESI Africa


BPC will designate an IPP for its 100 MWp solar PV project in September

In Botswana, the results of the tender for the 100 MWp solar project will be made public by September 2020. The first agreements for the project will be signed in November of the same year. The results have been eagerly awaited for almost a year now. The public company Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) had launched this call for tenders for the construction of two solar power stations of 50 MWp each, in September 2019. This followed the cancellation of a previous call for expressions of interest, the objective of which was to recruit a company to form a joint venture with BPC to develop this solar photovoltaic project. The call for tenders for the recruitment of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) attracted the attention of at least 166 companies. The selected IPPs will sign development agreements with BPC. If on schedule, construction of the two solar power plants will begin in June 2021.

Source: Afrik 21

Central African Republic

MPs adopt law against non-biodegradable packaging and bags

The Nation's deputies voted by acclamation on 25 May 2020, the law prohibiting the production, import, marketing, distribution and possession of non-biodegradable plastic packaging and sachets in the Central African Republic. It was during the ordinary session from 2 March to 30 May 2020 that the President of the National Assembly, Laurent Ngon Baba chaired the plenary. According to the minister, mismanagement of plastic bags creates climate change that causes global warming, flooding, and many other environmental disasters. Therefore, this adopted project proposes the promotion of a new generation of so-called plastic bag packaging; biodegradable and any other type of innovative ecologically acceptable packaging and sachets.



World Bank approves USD25-million to help Djibouti grow economy and improve access to services

The World Bank approved two new projects totaling USD25-million in credit from the International Development Association (IDA). The new financing will help Djibouti address vulnerability, foster inclusive economic growth and improve service delivery. The first operation, the USD15-million Economic Management and Statistics Development for Policy Making project, will support the Government of Djibouti to fill data gaps, improve the quality and reliability of key official statistical products and processes, make data more accessible and enhance dissemination practices, and contribute to strengthening the institutional and technical capacity as well as the infrastructure of the National Institute of Statistics of Djibouti (INSD). The World Bank’s portfolio in Djibouti consists of 14 IDA-funded projects totaling USD209-million. The portfolio is focused on education, health, social safety nets, energy, rural community development, urban poverty reduction, modernisation of public administration, governance and private sector development, with emphasis on women and youth.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Ethiopia / Morocco

Fostering partnerships in the renewable energy sector

Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Sileshi Bekele, and Morocco's Minister of Energy, Minerals and Environment, Aziz Rabbah, recently discussed perspectives for bilateral cooperation between their two countries in the field of renewable energy. The authorities of the two countries discussed the possibilities of accelerating the implementation of the Coalition for Sustainable Energy Access, in order to improve the capacity of the electricity sector. Ethiopia and Morocco formed the coalition at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019 in New York, United States. The initiative aims to ensure 100% access to electricity in least developed and developing countries by 2030. Ethiopia and Morocco have recently made great strides in the renewable energy sector. Currently, several projects are under way in both countries. In Ethiopia, the latest is an ongoing project to install 25 mini-hybrid mini-grids financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB). This project aims to provide access to electricity to all Ethiopians by 2025. Morocco, for its part, aims to increase the share of renewable energies in the energy mix to 52%.

Source: Afrik21


Bill ties economic blocs to trade, use of local resources

Counties seeking to form economic blocs will have to prepare deeds encouraging intra-regional trade and prioritising the use of local resources under a legal framework tabled before Parliament. If enacted into law, the Bill will require county governments inside a bloc to avoid competition among themselves but instead expand free trade and develop their resources “through such actions as the counties shall consider appropriate”. Kisumu Senator Rose Nyamunga, who published the Bill, said the principal objective of the proposed law is to ensure that counties make maximum use of the resources in their location. The counties have over the past seven years formed blocs largely due to their historical, political and economic similarities but such partnership have been without legal backing. The Bill stipulates that an economic bloc shall take the form of a written agreement. The Bill places an obligation on every county government to carry out formal assessments of the resources within their territories, and include them in their integrated development plans as per the requirements of the County Governments Act, 2012.

Source: Business Daily


Construction of KES62-billion Nairobi expressway starts

The construction of the dual carriage Nairobi expressway has begun, signalling a possible end of traffic jams in the city. On Wednesday, 3 June, excavators, rollers, graders, loaders and bulldozers were busy doing preliminary groundwork on the area between the dual carriage of Mombasa Road. Dozens of heavy-duty tippers were parked at an already cleared area near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as drivers took a rest over lunch hour. The Chinese-funded project is financed through a Public-Private Partnership and had been delayed after attracting divergent opinions. The KES62-billion expressway is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 development programme. It starts at JKIA and terminates at James Gichuru junction along the Waiyaki Way in Westlands. The project is intended to ease traffic, hence reduce the energy and fuel costs associated with traffic snarl-ups.

Source: The Star


Macharia invites project managers for talks on defects laws

Built environment experts have been invited for talks on the controversial defects liability regulations gazetted last week that apportion blame for poorly built properties to project managers. Transport and Urban Development Secretary James Macharia vouched for a consultative process to review the controversial law. Institute of Construction Project Managers in Kenya (ICPMK) chairman Tom Oketch said they would advocate the inclusion of new rules giving them overall responsibility in the implementation of projects, improving grip on all activities in a given public or private project. Earlier, ICPMK and other construction sector professionals said the gazetted National Construction Authority (defects liability) Regulations 2020 undermined the role of architects as supervisors during projects and was bad for business. ICMPK’s letter to Mr Macharia called for degazettement of the regulations to facilitate fresh talks, saying it had created confusion in the construction sector. Mr Oketch said delays in issuing a certificate of completion would derail the release of payments to contractors, making them shy away from new projects.

Source: Business Daily


Bank of Africa gets KES535-million in IFC loan loss cover

The Kenyan branch of Bank of Africa (BOA) is set to receive USD5-million (KES535-million) worth of insurance against loan defaults from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). BOA intends to expand its lending to small and medium-sized firms by up to USD10-million (KES1-billion) and will get guarantees on half the amount from the international financier. The discussions with IFC come at a time when the bank has registered losses, forcing it to reduce lending amid breach of critical capital buffers. “The proposed risk-sharing facility (RSF) will be up to USD5-million (KES535-million) and will cover credit risk taken by BOA on its portfolio of SME loans which can amount to up to USD10-million (KES1-billion) in local currency equivalent,” IFC said in its investment disclosures. Firms that are expected to benefit from BOA’s new loans are those fitting IFC’s set criteria such as having between 10 and 300 employees or annual sales of KES10-million to KES1.5-billion. The loan size per borrower will range from KES1-million to KES200-million.

Source: Business Daily


America seeks easy access in new trade pact with Kenya

Government officials are racing to finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) that, if signed, is set to ease the entry of established US companies into the local market. Through the reciprocal trade deal, the US government is seeking unfettered entry for its companies into nearly all segments of Kenya’s economy including the heavily guarded ones. According to its wish list — specific negotiation objectives — unveiled last week, two months after it received go-ahead of Congress to pursue the talks, the US government is pushing to have its agricultural products allowed into Kenya at zero or reduced tariff.  It also hopes to ride on the FTA to ease the entry of its telecommunication firms into Kenya in what signals a shift in competition landscape for a segment currently dominated by Safaricom.

Source: Business Daily


Rand Merchant Bank confirms USD15-billion funding for LNG project in Mozambique

The Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) confirmed that a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique is expected to receive USD15-billion of financing commitments at a signing scheduled for June 2020 - defying challenges in the financial markets and a severe pull back in investment in the oil and gas sector in Sub-Saharan Africa because of COVID-19. The Mozambique LNG project will be led by multinational French oil and gas company Total SA and is expected to generate upwards of USD40-billion in revenue for the government over its lifespan. For RMB, the deal will follow other financing commitments in the Oil and Gas sector in Mozambique. The bank was a co-funder and added to initial commitments for the Coral South floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project located offshore Mozambique, the first FLNG project in Africa.

Source: Africa Business Communities


Government approves USD120-million for Kashimbila multi-purpose dam

The Kashimbila hydroelectric project in Taraba State in eastern Nigeria is progressing. The government of this West African country has just approved USD120-million in funding to complete the construction of this multi-purpose dam. According to African Review’s Sule Mamman, Nigeria’s Minister of Energy has issued a note “revising the total estimated cost of increasing the existing contract to provide an additional 40 MW to the national grid”. The Kashimbila Dam is intended for power generation, drinking water supply and irrigation in Taraba State. In September 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria reported that work on the Kashimbila hydroelectric project site was 90% complete. However, several months later, construction of the dam is still not complete, although it is still eagerly awaited as it is expected to solve many problems in Taraba State. The dam is expected to generate 40 MW of electricity and provide water to 40,000 people. Water from the Kashimbila multi-purpose dam will also feed irrigation systems in Taraba State. According to Nigeria’s central government, the new facility could irrigate 3,000 hectares of plantations, especially during the dry season.

Source: Afrik 21


Government to ban charcoal use in Kigali

The Ministry of Environment is set to ban the use and supply of charcoal in Kigali City as it steps up efforts to protect the environment by reducing the use of wood fuel. The use of charcoal has been cited as the main driver of deforestation and indoor air pollution. And the move could help reduce Rwanda’s reliance on wood fuel from 80% to 40% by 2024. The decision was announced at a press conference in Kigali ahead of World Environmental Day due on 5 June. The Minister of Environment, Dr Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, said that the government will work with different institutions to finance vulnerable families to access gas as an alternative to cooking. The government has developed an intuitive dubbed “Pay As You Cook” that will make cooking affordable to the public. The plan shows that at least USD380-million is expected to be spent on efficient cook stoves as part of reducing firewood and fossil energy consumption for cooking by 2030.

Source: The New Times


RH Bophelo Trades Debut Shares On Rwanda Stock Market

A South African Health Company (RH Bophelo Limited) has cross-listed on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) market trading its first shares at RWF526, alongside other eight companies on the market. This is equivalent to ZAR9.84 on its primary market on Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), where the company is locally listed. RH Bophelo’s cross-listing, makes it the first to be primarily listed outside the East African Community (EAC) increasing the total number of listed companies to the Rwandan stock market to nine. RSE CEO Celestin Rwabukumba said that the cross listing of RH Bophelo in Rwanda is a milestone for the country to have the first cross-listing of a South African company and this will boost efforts in raising money in the economy. Rwabukumba also said that RH Bophelo is expected to release its Initial Public Offer (IPO) in the next six months where it will float its shares to the public. 

Source: KT Press


Vaya Africa launches new fleet of electric taxis

On 28 May 2020, Vaya Africa, a company registered in Mauritius, responsible for the transport of people and goods in Africa and the generation of adjacent revenues in this sector, launched a new product on the Zimbabwean market. It is the electric vehicles called “Vaya Electric”. The electric taxi network was developed by Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, the president and founder of Econet Wireless, a global telecommunications company whose activities include mobile cellular, fixed-line, corporate networks, fiber optic cable and satellite services. The South African headquarters of Vaya Africa has acquired a series of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles and has developed its own solar charging stations. The programme aims to introduce on-demand electric taxi services and offer services in their markets. It is being launched in Zimbabwe as Vaya finalises partnerships to launch electric taxi and on-demand delivery services in markets that could include Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. Vaya Africa’s electric taxis will be recharged using solar energy and the charging stations deployed in Zimbabwe. After Zimbabwe, a southern African country, Vaya Africa plans to deploy the Vaya electric vehicle in West and East Africa.

Source: Afrik 21