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issue 357 | 21 Jun 2020

Africa Business in Brief

 


Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

Africa: African hotel development had returned to growth at the start of 2020, with more than 78,000 rooms in 408 hotels in the pipeline, according to the 12th annual survey by W Hospitality Group. W Hospitality Group’s managing director, Trevor Ward, said: “However, our industry has been devastated by the impact of COVID-19, possibly more so than most other economic sectors, mainly because of the almost total shutdown of borders and of the aviation sector – no flights means no guests.” This year’s African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline survey covers 35 international and regional hotel contributors across the 54 countries in north and sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Indian Ocean islands.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Africa: The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) adopted as a single online marketplace to enable the supply of COVID-19-related critical medical equipment in Africa was developed under the leadership of African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo on behalf of the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other leading African and international corporations, institutions and foundations. The AMSP unlocks immediate access to an African and global base of vetted manufacturers and procurement strategic partners and enables African Union member states to purchase certified medical equipment such as diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment and clinical management devices with improved cost effectiveness and transparency. The platform serves as a unique interface enabling volume aggregation, quota management, payment facilitation as well as logistics and transportation to ensure equitable and efficient access to critical supplies for African governments. The Afreximbank will facilitate payments while logistics partners including African national carriers, global freight forwarders will expedite delivery.

Source: APO Group

Africa: With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crippling economies the world over and set to trigger into motion Africa’s first recession in 25 years, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and its partners teamed-up to produce a new report which proposes several interventions to promptly and effectively address COVID-19 challenges on the continent at the urban level. The report titled: ‘COVID-19 in African Cities: Impacts, Responses and Policies’, analyses the current situation within the African continent and efforts channeled at mitigating the global pandemic within the context of cities in the region.

Source: APO Group

Africa / China: To defeat COVID-19 through greater solidarity and cooperation, and to highlight an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future, Chinese and African leaders convened an Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 via video link on 17 June 2020. The Summit is a joint initiative between the People's Republic of China, the Republic of South Africa in its capacity as the Chair of the African Union (AU), and the Republic of Senegal in its capacity as the Co-Chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Source: tralac

West Africa: West African government ministers have proposed re-opening borders between their countries in the first half of July and allowing in travellers from other countries with low or controlled levels of COVID-19 spread by the end of July. Countries across the 15-country ECOWAS trade bloc have imposed varying levels of travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many shutting their borders entirely. The new proposal, contained in an ECOWAS summary of a virtual meeting of foreign ministers and trade ministers, called for coordinated efforts to re-open cross-border trade that has been crippled by COVID-19 restrictions.

Source: Reuters

Ghana: The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has directed its Customs Division at the port to resume normal operations, as their shift system which was put in place due to measures to check the spread of COVID-19 has been cancelled. The move is part of urgent steps being taken by the GRA to ensure that the backlog of goods that have not been cleared at the port, due to challenges faced with the newly introduced Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) managed by UNIPASS, is handled quickly.

Source: GhanaWeb

Kenya: Efforts to speed up cargo movement in the region received a major boost on Tuesday, 16 June after the European Union (EU) signed a deal with Trademark East Africa (TMEA) to fund safe clearance at the ports and border points. Under the KES602-million (EUR5-million) emergency trade programme, mobile testing labs will be provided at Mombasa port and key border crossings, including Busia and Malaba. The programme to be rolled out under public-private partnership will also provide personal protective equipment to port and border point workers to cushion them from COVID-19 spreading at these trade hubs.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: Kenya Power and Lightning company has issued a profit warning for its financial earnings closing on 30 June 2020, saying its earnings will be much lower than those of the previous year. The electricity distributor has attributed the projection to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it has adversely affected business operations leading to slow growth in electricity sales. Additionally, the virus has led to an increase in financing costs, resulting in reduced earnings.

Source: Capital FM

Kenya: The government is betting that its spending running into a total of KES3.2-trillion in the fiscal year starting 1 July will be enough to keep the economy from falling into a recession by countering the contractionary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Treasury projects that GDP will grow at a slower 2.5% in the upcoming financial year and thereafter rebound to 5.8% in the subsequent year.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: The government has bowed to pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and agreed to do away with income tax, value-added tax and sales levy cuts that were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani told Parliament that once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, the government will have to review the tax breaks so as to close the gap between the budget and expected revenues estimated at KES840-billion.

Source: Business Daily

Malawi: The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has recommended that the country’s airports should open for international flights from 15 July. Flights in Malawi were put on hold from the 1 May in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: BusinessMalawi™

Mozambique: A total of 1,007 Mozambican companies have asked the National Social Security Institute (INSS) to waive fines and interest charges in the context of COVID-19 impact relief, the minister of Labour and Social Security has said. Margarida Talapa told the daily ‘Notícias’ that the INSS had granted 366 requests for waivers of fines and interest on arrears, with other companies’ requests still under review. The requests come in the context of measures set up by the government to deal with the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Talapa said.

Source: Club of Mozambique

Nigeria: About 20 operators in the aviation sector, including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, have submitted their operational restart plans to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as the country prepares to reopen its airspace to commercial flights from 21 June 2020.

Source: Economic Confidential

Sudan: The Sudanese government on Wednesday, 17 June decided to extend the full curfew in Khartoum State for 10 more days starting Friday, 19 June to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Security and Defense Council announced. "The Council has approved the recommendations by the Higher Committee for Health Emergencies to extend the curfew from June 19 to June 29," the Council said in a statement.

Source: Xinhua

Rwanda: Rwanda’s National carriers, Rwandair has announced a prolonged suspension of commercial flights into the country despite a recent cabinet meeting opening tourism and hospitality activities including holding meetings in hotels. The cabinet on 16 June reopened domestic and international tourism. However, international tourists allowed are only those on charter flights. The airline said that Rwanda’s airspace remains closed to commercial flights in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 into the country.

Source: KT Press

Rwanda: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board on Thursday, 11 June approved the disbursement of the funds bringing the total to IMF COVID-19 support to Rwanda to USD220.46-million.

Source: The New Times

Tanzania: In a week that the region’s governments were unveiling their annual budget for financial year 2020/21, the World Bank has forecast Tanzania’s economic growth to slow down sharply in 2020 to 2.5% from last year’s 6.9% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis.

Source: The EastAfrican

Africa

Increase climate resilience of African hydropower – IEA

With Africa projected to experience increasing climate hazards for the remainder of the 21st century, and hydropower generation needed to enhance the continent’s resilience to climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new report entitled ‘Climate Impacts on African Hydropower’. These increasing climate hazards are likely to pose a challenge to hydropower generation in Africa, IEA says. Resilient hydropower can play a key role in allowing Africa to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), implement clean energy transitions and adapt to climate change. This report aims to enhance the climate resilience of African hydropower through a climate risk and impact assessment and by introducing potential resilience measures. Hydropower accounts for 17% of the electricity generation in Africa on average. In some countries – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia – the share of hydropower in electricity generation exceeds 80%. This overall share may potentially increase to more than 23% by 2040, as part of the ongoing effort toward clean energy transition and universal energy access in Africa.

Source: ESI Africa

Africa

AfCFTA delay presents new opportunities for construction, manufacturing

The delay in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which was scheduled to launch in July this year, could provide much-needed breathing room for Africa’s manufacturing and construction sectors. This is according to Duncan Bonnett, director Market Access & Research at Africa House. Bonnett says several sectors now have an opportunity to better prepare for the implementation of the AfCFTA. The implementation pushed out until 2021 because of the impact of COVID-19, could have the potential to increase growth, raise welfare and stimulate industrial development, according to studies by the likes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). However, there have also been concerns that some countries could suffer revenue losses and other negative effects from premature liberalisation. African companies – particularly in key east and west African markets – now have a real opportunity to position themselves to compete globally and build resilience into the pan-African supply chain, he says.

Source: ESI Africa

Africa

African Development Bank joins Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network

Nasdaq has announced the inclusion of the African Development Bank, one of the world's largest issuers of social bonds, in the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network (NSBN). The NSBN is a global and publicly available platform designed to improve transparency in the market for green, social and sustainability bonds. Ten Bank bonds were added to the platform, including its landmark USD3-billion Fight COVID-19 Social Bond launched in March 2020, the largest Social Bond ever launched at the time in international capital markets. Fight COVID-19 remains today the largest dollar-denominated Social Bond. It aims to help alleviate the economic and social impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and Africa's economies. By joining the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network, socially responsible issuers are provided a unique opportunity to bring attention to their concrete actions in terms of financing climate change and green growth.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Africa

Lagos, Victoria and N’djamena are Africa's most expensive cities for expatriates, Mercer survey

According to Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey, majority of African countries have risen in ranking in terms of expenses and cost of living for expatriates. This year, Victoria, Seychelles (14) takes the lead as the most expensive city in Africa while Ndjamena, Chad (15), dropped four places from last year’s ranking as the most expensive city. Tunis in Tunisia (209) again ranks as the least expensive city in the region and globally. In comparison with last year’s report, Lagos, Nigeria (18) rose seven places due to high cost for rent and high prices for groceries, followed by Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (24) which dropped two places. Accra, Ghana moved from 63 to 57, while Nairobi, Kenya, moved from 97 to 95 and Casablanca, Morocco moved from 128 to 121. Luanda, Angola (115) dropped significantly, moving from 26 in 2019 to 115, this year. Mercer’s 26th Cost of Living Survey finds that specific factors such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and instability of accommodation prices, are essential to determining the cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Africa

Africa Finance Corporation issues USD700-million 5-year Eurobond

Africa infrastructure solutions provider Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has announced the successful issuance of a USD700-million Reg S Eurobond, maturing 16 June 2025. The USD700-million Eurobond is AFC’s first bond issuance in 2020 and carries a coupon of 3.125%. The bond received strong global interest across Europe, Asia and the Middle East despite the challenging global economic backdrop, leading it to being three times over-subscribed. The order book, which reached over USD2.1-billion, comprised of high-quality fixed income investors that are seeking exposure to a high-quality investment grade issuer like AFC. The investor base for the Eurobond reflects the geographically diverse funding opportunities for AFC. The distribution breakdown of the order book saw Asia (11%), Middle East and Africa (30%), off-shore US (4%), the United Kingdom (18%), Switzerland (16%), Germany (13%) and other Europe regions (8%) all partaking, demonstrating a keen appetite for African investment from around the world.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Africa

Organization of Africa's oil producing countries relocate headquarters to Congo Brazzaville

The African Petroleum Producers’ Organization (APPO) agreed to relocate the temporary Headquarters of the APPO from Abuja, Nigeria to the permanent Headquarters in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The Council of Ministers further took a decision, in view of the global COVID-19 pandemic to postpone the planned first ever Summit of the Heads of State and Government of APPO member countries earlier scheduled to be held in Brazzaville in 2020, to 2021.

Source: Africanews

Angola

Angolan government’s commitment to diversify the economy continues to offer investment opportunities in power sector

The government’s push to increase production nationally and hence reduce imports, especially food imports, consists of a number of initiatives that include major investments in power infrastructure. According to H.E. Joao Baptista Borges, Angola’s minister of Energy and Water, the government is prepared to invest around USD500-million over the next two years in solar energy projects in the country as part of a strategy to increase clean energy generation, and bring electricity to the entire country. Additionally, Angola expects to implement a USD400-million two-phase project in the clean energy segment, funded by the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD). Business Opportunities in the power sector are expected to increase given that 50% of the Angolan population still does not have reliable access to electricity. According to Minister João Baptista Borges, the Angolan Electricity Sector Development Plan and the Energy Security Plan point to the construction of a capacity of about 600 MW of solar energy in the country by 2022, with the installation of about 30,000 individual photovoltaic energy production systems, in line with the country´s National Development Plan 2018-2022. In order to achieve this goal, the minister notably stressed that the government will open up the sector to competition from the private sector, both national and international.

Source: APO Group

Cameroon

Quest for expression of interest: Gas thermal power plant in Cameroon

Cameroon has launched a call for expression of interest to pre-qualify partners for the study, construction, and operation of a gas-fired thermal power plant under a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement in Limbé. With a production capacity of 350 MW, the Limbé gas-fired power station is expected to improve the supply of electricity in the Littoral, West, and South-West regions, a statement by the Ministry of Energy noted. The Limbé power project is expected to include the conversion to natural gas of an existing 85 MW heavy-fuel-oil-fired reciprocating power plant and the addition, at the same site, of 265 MW of new-plant capacity. The new construction will be a combined-cycle, gas-fired plant. Bidders have until 10 July 2020 to submit bids for this project, which must be completed by 2024, according to the government’s timeline.

Source: ESI Africa

Ethiopia

Ethiopia unveils its 10-year Development Plan

Ethiopia has unveiled its 10-year development plan themed ‘Ethiopia: An African Beacon of Prosperity’. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said the 10-year plan aims to bring quality based economic growth; increase production and competitiveness; build a green and climate resilient economy; bring about institutional transformation; ensure fair and equitable opportunities for women and youth; and guarantee private sector-led growth. “With a five pillar focus area serving as foundation for the effective development of other sectors, the plan sets out to capitalise on our existing strengths and abundant resources”, the Premier noted. Key factors for the Federal and regional governments to enable successful implementation of the 10-year plan include ensuring the impact of projects and investments undertaken add value to GDP, focusing on quality of projects.

Source: Fana Broadcasting Corporate

Ethiopia

Helios Towers eyes Ethiopia amid expansion plans

Having newly generated USD450-million in funding, Helios Towers has underlined its intention to increase its footprint across Africa. Speaking to Bloomberg, the tower firm’s CFO Tom Greenwood said that Ethiopia was a highly attractive market to Helios to the extent that it had already approached possible partners to discuss a move into the market. Ethiopia’s government is breaking up the long-held monopoly of the state-owned incumbent Ethio Telecom by selling a 40% stake in the operator to foreign investors, as well as putting two new licences up for auction. Safaricom recently confirmed its intent to bid for one of these permits. In addition to Ethiopia, the company is weighing its options in Egypt, Madagascar and Morocco.

Source: Developing Telecoms

Gabon

Gabon prepares to open oil, gas and power opportunities

Gabon Oil & Power, taking place from 15-16 March 2021, in Libreville, will be the leading investment platform for Gabon’s oil, gas and power industries. The conference will showcase the country’s investment appeal which includes a long-established history of oil discoveries, a renewed and attractive petroleum code and a new push for power generation projects. The event will gather stakeholders and investors to promote the development and expansion of Gabon’s energy sector as a pillar of economic development and a means to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Gabon Oil & Power 2021 is one of a series of country-specific and industry-wide conferences organised by Africa Oil & Power (AOP) throughout the continent, including events in Angola, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan, Senegal, Mozambique and Nigeria. AOP will work with all actors in the Gabonese oil, gas and power sectors, from government officials to private sector players, to define opportunities and help new and existing investors find success in the market.

Source: CNBC Africa

Gabon

Gabon to develop full-fledged tertiary processing industry 

Gabon wants to reduce exports of raw wood and increase the production of finished and semi-finished products for export. Through this new dynamic, the Gabonese authorities hope to diversify the country's economy, increase state revenues and create more jobs for young people within the next five years. Successfully making the transition to a “third transformation” industry will enable Gabon to diversify its economy. According to the Gabonese minister of Water, Forests, Sea and Environment, Lee White, several mechanisms will be put in place to develop the “third transformation” industry in Gabon. These include a reduction in exports of planks and an increase in the quantity of furniture, finished products and semi-finished products exported. Gabon will also need natural resources. A forest plantation project is underway in the country. Among other things, it will increase the contribution of the forestry sector to GDP over the next five years.

Source: AFRIK 21

Kenya

‘Buy Kenya’ initiative to get legal backing

Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani on Thursday, 11 June said a list of the goods would soon be gazetted making it mandatory for public institutions to source for them from the local market. “To support the recovery and growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, we shall gazette and enforce the list of items for local procurement to promote the ‘Buy Kenya Build Kenya’ initiative,” Mr Yatani said as he presented the 2020/2021 budget in Parliament. This will be the first move to legalise the initiative. For years it has remained just a proposal that did not compel procuring entities to purchase goods from the local manufacturers. The government has been pushing for 40% procurement of goods locally, but has been facing low compliance with President Uhuru Kenyatta last year cautioning private sector players against sabotaging the government’s policy to give priority to locally produced goods in state procurement. Materials used in assembling mobile phones, diapers and those used to manufacture masks and sanitisers will not attract duty while those importing metal, leather footwear, electrical parts as well as paper and paper board products will have to pay higher duty (35%) to cushion those selling the same from the local market and make them competitive.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

KEPSA seeks to halt land system rollout

The business community wants the state to suspend the rollout of the Land Information Management System (LIMS) until a legal framework is prepared to back it up. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has petitioned the Senate to stop the Land Ministry from implementing the system pending the formulation of guidelines and regulations. KEPSA chief executive Carole Karuga has warned that arbitrary closures at the Ministry would hurt Kenya’s overall ease of doing business ranking on access to credit. The Ministry started dry runs on the system, which was expected to go live from 1 April, cutting land registration time to 12 days down from 73. It currently takes developers and landowners nine processes to register property, which forces them to move from office to office. The processes include title search (three days), land rent clearance (19 days), clearance of land rates (five days), consent to transfer clearance (nine days) and requisition of file valuation (four days), the Ministry says.

Source: Business Daily

Mauritius

Mauritius releases guidance for regulated security token offerings

The Mauritian Financial Services Commission (FSC) announced a framework specifically for security tokens. Together with a 15-page guidance document, the regulator said this was the start of a new licensing regime to enable fully regulated security token trading systems in the country. Essentially, the new regime allows a new security token trading systems to become eligible for an FSC license. So far, it effectively authorises a business to put a security token up for sale in an offering, an “STO,” as well as operate a trading house in the jurisdiction. In the pipeline for 18 months, an FSC spokesperson said the guidance was the start of recognising security tokens, and the broader cryptocurrency bucket, as an asset class in their own right. “This was crafted with full collaboration between the industry and the regulator,” said FSC CEO Thakoor Dhanesswurnath. “We already have a growing interest in these specific licenses and are expecting to receive several applications in the upcoming months.” The spokesperson said the new licensing regime will turn Mauritius, which has long presented itself as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction, into a regional hub for security token trading in both Africa as well as in nearby India.

Source: CoinDesk

Mauritius / Madagascar

Benchmarking Madagascar’s Free Zone Competitiveness

The Government of Mauritius is implementing the Mauritius Africa Strategy, which is focused on positioning Mauritius as a bridge for investment and trade in order to open new markets in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A cornerstone of this strategy is sharing the successful experience of Mauritius in providing an attractive business environment bundled with good infrastructure and services in order to accelerate investments in trade, services and manufacturing in SSA countries. This technical note is in response to a request from both the Mauritius-African Fund (MAF) and Government of Mauritius and the Economic Development Board of Madagascar (EDBM) and Government of Madagascar (GoM) for: i) an update of the current status of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) regime in Madagascar i.e. policy, legal, regulatory and institutional framework and current proposals being considered by the GoM as well as opportunities for improvement; ii) benchmarking Madagascar’s main competitors in the global textile and apparel markets (such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya) and comparing their SEZ regimes for textile and garment zones to identify competitiveness strengths and weaknesses and lessons learned; and iii) outline opportunities for successful development of the proposed zone for consideration by both the GoM and the MAF and Government of Mauritius.

Source: World Bank Group

Nigeria

Experts raise concerns regarding local content law amendment

Industry experts have raised concerns over the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 seeking to double the amount operators contribute to the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF), among other proposals. Currently, 1% of the value of all contracts awarded in the upstream sector of the country’s oil and gas industry is deducted and remitted to the NCDF as stipulated by section 104 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, which was enacted in 2010. But an amendment bill, which scaled second reading in the Senate in May, is seeking to increase the contribution by operators to 1%. The bill also said “all operators shall set aside annually and for the purpose of carrying out research and development activities in Nigeria a minimum 0.5% of the gross revenue received by the operator.”

Source: Energy Mix Report

Nigeria

IMF advocates USD49-billion investment in Nigeria’s power sector by 2030

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advocated USD49-billion investment in Nigeria’s power sector to ensure adequate power supply for the country by 2030. The IMF stated this in a report on Nigeria titled, ‘Additional Spending Towards Sustainable Development Goals’. The IMF said that while Nigeria has made some progress in terms of access to electricity, with the share of population with electricity access increased from 40% in 2015 to 54% in 2020, the country’s electricity consumption still amounts to about half of what would be expected at its current level of GDP per capita. “The electricity supply chain – generation, transmission, and distribution – faces substantial challenges due to years of underinvestment. “Transmission is the system’s bottleneck, dispatching 50% below its nominal capacity – less than 4,000 MW is end-to-end operational through the grid. Of this, about 10% of on-grid electricity demand is unmet,” the IMF said. “To expand installed capacity by 22.4 GW, at a unit cost of USD2,184 per kW (including generation, transmission, and distribution costs), Nigeria will have to invest an aggregate of USD49-billion in 2020-30, which on an annual basis is equivalent to 1% of GDP, including replacement costs”.

Source: Vanguard

Rwanda

KIFC affirms Rwanda’s position on becoming Africa’s financial hub

The UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, CDC Group, has signed a partnership agreement with Rwanda Finance to support the development of a new international financial capital for Africa. The Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) is intended to be a world-class financial hub, designed to promote inward investment and the creation of thousands of highly skilled financial sector jobs for the benefit of Rwanda and the African continent. The finance centre is modelled on Luxembourg and Singapore in the way it will provide a wide range of services for both regional and international clients. Rwanda Finance is mandated by the Government of Rwanda to develop effective frameworks for regulations, tax and capacity-building in the country. The organisation is also set out to promote the KIFC as a jurisdiction which provides a range of professional, business and financial services to international clients. The KIFC will only support transactions that have a substantial business and economic purpose, rather than those that are designed for managing tax liabilities.

Source: ESI Africa

Sudan

Sudan further opens gold trade to private sector

Sudan, a gold producer, has taken steps to open up the trade in the precious metal further to private investors, allowing them to handle all exports and taking the business out of state hands, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported. An approved circular bars government bodies from exporting gold and opens the trade to private firms provided they meet requirements, such as paying taxes and royalties, it said. Sudan has been trying to crack down on gold smuggling and generate more foreign currency. For years, the central bank had a monopoly on exports, buying gold locally at fixed prices at collection sites nationwide, which led to the illegal trade. Sudan produced an estimated 93 tonnes of gold in 2018, Energy and Mining minister Adil Ibrahim said in November, a level that would make it Africa’s third biggest producer after South Africa and Ghana, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Regulations approved in January opened gold exports to private companies but limited private mining firms to exporting 70% of their output with the rest to be sold to the central bank.

Source: Reuters

Uganda

Government increases import duty on agricultural products to 60%

Finance minister, Matia Kasaija has said the government has introduced some taxes to raise revenue and announced that the import duty on agricultural products have been increased to 60% and other products to 35%. Uganda’s total import bill is USD7-billion per year, which leads to outflow of foreign exchange. Presenting his budget speech for 2020/21 financial year at Parliament on Thursday, 11 June Mr Kasaija said: “In order to promote import substitution and the development of local industries, we have increased import duties on goods that are produced or can be produced locally.” The minister further said modest adjustments to tax rates that have been made include the excise duty rate on fuel; and adjustments to improve competitiveness in the region, support compliance, remove ambiguities in the legislations as well as close loopholes that may lead to revenue leakage. Mr Kasaija explained that in order to support agriculture, value-added tax (VAT) on the supply of agricultural equipment will be exempted, adding that the supply of processed milk will also be exempted from VAT to enhance the price competitiveness of milk produced in Uganda. In order to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, taxes on supplies for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of the epidemics, pandemics and health hazards, will be exempt from customs duties.

Source: Daily Monitor