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issue 358 | 28 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: During the virtual launch of the Africa Communication and Information Platform for Health and Economic Action (ACIP) on 23 June 2020, Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said “With this platform, we have the possibility of reaching between 600 million and 800 million mobile subscribers in Africa.” ACIP is a mobile-based tool for two-way information and communication between citizens and governments. It furnishes national and regional COVID-19 taskforces with user-generated survey data and actionable health and economic insights that will enable authorities to better analyse pandemic-related problems and implement appropriate responses. 36 African member states are already part of the initiative. The platform will also allow COVID-19 taskforces to deploy health and economic resources to mitigate the pandemic’s impact.

Source: Economic Commission for Africa

Africa: The World Bank has said a significant post-COVID-19 recession looms in sub-Saharan Africa. From the 1.6% rate previously announced by the IMF, the continent will experience a further contraction in its gross domestic product by 2.8%, according to the latest World Bank report.

Source: Africanews

Southern Africa: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) extra-ordinary Council of Ministers Meeting held virtually on 23 June 2020 has approved the Revised Regional Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Cross Border Transport Operations across the Region, and Regional Standard Operating Procedures for the Management and Monitoring of Cross Border Road Transport at Designated Points of Entry and COVID-19 Checkpoints. The approved guidelines aim to first and foremost, balance, realign, harmonise and coordinate COVID-19 response measures with the requirements for trade and transport facilitation; secondly, to promote safe trade and transport facilitation for economic growth and poverty alleviation in the SADC region; and thirdly, to facilitate the adoption and implementation of harmonised standard operating procedures for management and monitoring of cross border road transport at designated points of entry and COVID-19 checkpoints.

Source: tralac

West Africa: In the face of economic turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from West Africa’s four producers have shown some resilience, an analysis of S&P Global Platts Analytics data shows. Total LNG exports from the four exporting countries in the region – Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon – so far this year are broadly in line with volumes supplied in the same time frame last year, the data show. That is despite sharp falls in LNG utilisation rates in other parts of the world, particularly in the United States, while spot-exposed Egypt has halted LNG exports altogether.

Source: S&P Global Platts

Angola / Mozambique: China’s debt relief efforts have the potential to add support to a number of emerging markets under pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic-related shock, says Fitch Ratings. Angola and Mozambique are among countries to benefit. The Chinese government has committed to participate in the G20’s debt service suspension initiative (DSSI), which provides for temporary suspension of debt repayments for 77 developing nations due between May-December 2020. The International Institute of Finance (IIF) estimated in May that China accounted for over 25% of the total external debt of DSSI-eligible countries, making it their single largest bilateral creditor. Fitch-rated sovereigns that have a significant share of their external debt owed to China and are eligible for DSSI include Kenya (B+/Negative), the Maldives (B/Negative), Ethiopia (B/Negative), Cameroon (B/Negative), Pakistan (B-/Stable), Angola (B-/Stable), Laos (B-/Negative), Mozambique (CCC), Republic of Congo (CCC) and Zambia (CC).

Source: CLBrief

Guinea: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has endorsed USD148-million in emergency credit to Guinea to boost its economy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the global economy. The fund would help to revive the economy after a hard blow from the pandemic that is crippling its mining sector.

Source: Ventures Africa

Kenya: The High Court has cleared private companies to hold virtual annual general meetings (AGMs), putting them at par with listed firms that were allowed to hold remote meetings following the ban on mass gatherings in the wake of COVID-19. Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) had applied for court clearance given that holding physical AGMs has been rendered impossible by COVID-19 and related public health regulations issued to contain the spread of the virus.

Source: Business Daily

Malawi: The Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife has said only licensed tourism units will qualify for a financial boost from the special fund meant to cushion industry players from effects of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has so far, affected almost all the sectors of the country’s economy with the tourism sector being among the worst hit alongside aviation.

Source: BusinessMalawi™

Rwanda: Commercial banks have restructured loans amounting to RWF647.3-billion in a bid to cushion Rwandans from making monthly payments, according to the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR). This is part of the series of measures in place that is expected to shield hundreds of Rwandans with existing loans from adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: The New Times

Senegal: Woodside notes recent media reports stating that Senegal has been forced to delay its first oil and gas projects by up to two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Woodside reiterates that first oil from the Sangomar Field Development Phase 1 remains on track for 2023, in line with previous guidance.

Source: Woodside

Uganda: Following the guidelines from the Bank of Uganda (BoU) on loan restructuring due to the current impact of COVID-19, the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) has said loans worth UGX2.028-trillion have been restructured.

Source: Daily Monitor

Zambia: Zambia’s cabinet approved a ZMW8-billion (USD439-million) economic stimulus package financed through a COVID-19 bond in an effort to alleviate the pandemic’s impact. The proceeds from the bond will go towards needy areas, including payment of retirees, contractors and suppliers, which have been hit by reduced liquidity due to COVID-19, the presidency said.

Source: Africanews


S&P Global affirms African Development Bank’s AAA rating, with stable outlook

Ratings agency S&P Global affirmed its 'AAA/A-1+' long- and short-term issuer credit assessment of the African Development Bank (AfDB) with a stable outlook. The rating agency positively assessed the Bank’s very strong financial risk profile, very strong capital adequacy, strong funding and liquidity, extraordinary shareholder support and adequacy of its governance and management. “We are therefore affirming our ‘AAA’ long-term issuer credit rating on the AfDB,” S&P Global stated. “The stable outlook reflects our expectation that, over the next two years, AfDB will prudently manage its capital while maintaining solid levels of high-quality liquidity assets and robust funding,” S&P Global said in a statement. S&P expects that “shareholders will remain supportive by providing timely capital payments”; the Bank “will continue benefiting from preferred creditor treatment (PCT); and “prudently manage growth in private-sector lending in a way that’s aligned with its mandate.”

Source: African Development Bank Group

East / Southern Africa

New COMESA plan set to ease movement of goods

Kenya is among 15 African states that have agreed to pilot a new project seeking to ease movement of goods within the region’s trading bloc. The Electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO) System, developed under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) digital free trade area will fast-track movement of goods, enhancing intra-regional trade. Other countries involved in eCO are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Adoption of eCo that replaces manual certificates follows increased restriction on movement of cargo across borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new plan will do away with registration, application and submission of certificates for post-verification of goods. Certificates of origin are issued to exporters within the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) to confer preferential treatment to goods originating from an FTA member state. Truckers issued with eCO certificates will no longer stop to undergo an audit of their cargo via a manual verification process.

Source: Business Daily


Botswana grants first ever generation licenses to IPPs

Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) has allotted generation licenses to three Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for the construction of power plants with an 827 MW generation capacity. The licence has a term of 15 years, the three IPPs include the Gaborone based Energy & Natural Resource Corporation and Sese Power, which is based in Francistown, as well as listed stock exchange company, Tlou Energy. Energy & Natural Resource Corporation has been granted authority to construct a 600 MW coal-fired power station north of Morupule Colliery in the Central District. According to Botswana Daily News, the company is expected to export the generated electricity to the Southern African Power Pool, ZESA and Eskom. Sese Power will construct a 225 MW coal-fired power station east of Makomoto village, near Tonota, and is expected to export electricity to mining companies in Zambia. Lastly, Tlou Energy will generate 2 MW of coal bed methane gas and solar power at the Lesedi project to Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) at the approved BPC tariff, as well as a series of standard conditions.

Source: ESI Africa

Cameroon / Chad

IDA finances regional interconnection project in Central Africa

The World Bank has approved USD385-million in International Development Association (IDA) financing to promote regional power interconnections and to allow Cameroon and Chad to increase their electricity supply. The Cameroon-Chad Interconnection Project (CCIP) aims to interconnect the southern and northern power systems of Cameroon, enable electricity trade between Cameroon and Chad, and to increase access to electricity in N’Djamena. The CCIP has been identified by both countries as a priority project to help them address their key challenges in their power sectors. It will finance the first high-voltage interconnector in Central Africa, enabling clean electricity supply available in the south of Cameroon to reach its northern region and Chad, thus allowing millions of people in both countries to have access to reliable and affordable electricity. The CCIP will provide central Africa with its first transmission backbone. As such, its significance will span beyond Cameroon and Chad, providing lessons and incentives to other countries that may well benefit from power trade, and eventually driving a stronger consensus towards regional power system integration.

Source: ESI Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

AVZ Minerals opens infrastructure tender packages for Manono

ASX-listed AVZ Minerals has issued a number of pre-mining infrastructure tender packages as it moves towards the development of the Manono Lithium and tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The tenders, which will be awarded once AVZ makes a Final Investment Decision to mine the Manono Project – are estimated to be collectively worth about USD300-million. The request for tenders includes: process plants EPC package, Kabondo Dianda intermodal staging station, diesel storage facilities and supply package, site buildings, and enterprise resource systems. AVZ also advises that it has obtained preliminary iTSCi membership with an application for full membership to be lodged before 30 June 2020. AVZ has been advised it will take about two months for a full iTSCi membership to be awarded. The iTSCi programme is focused on “3T” minerals (tin, tantalum and tungsten) to practically assist upstream companies to implement OECD guidelines, thereby enabling continued access to international markets and economic and social development for miners and communities across large areas of central Africa.

Source: Mining Review Africa

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea adopts new petroleum regulation to modernise industry

The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH) of Equatorial Guinea has announced the adoption of the new Regulation of Petroleum Operations. The new Regulation modernises Equatorial Guinea’s existing regulatory framework and is intended to maintain the country’s attractiveness for foreign investors. It notably covers key matters such as the extension of the productive life of mature fields though mechanisms allowing operators to generate greater value from these assets; the exploration of marginal and onshore fields along with investments in deep and ultra-deep water acreages; the monetisation of gas and the development of the petrochemicals industry, along with further integration of the national workforce and local companies across the value-chain. The new Regulation is seen as a pillar of Equatorial Guinea’s recovery strategy post COVID-19, and clarifies several aspects of petroleum operations in the country. It also comes as Equatorial Guinea pushes for additional local participation across the value-chain, and is developing several gas monetisation and downstream projects. The Regulation notably stipulates that refining, petrochemicals and commercialisation activities can be realised under a specific licence granted by the MMH on the basis of technical and financial capabilities notably.

Source: Africa Business Communities


Cocoa Board launches USD600-million syndicated loan facility for industry investment projects

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) officially launched the USD600-million syndicated loan facility which it signed with some Development Finance Institutions (DFI) to provide funding for various investment projects within Ghana’s cocoa industry. The institutions providing the funds include the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Spa (CDP), as well as, commercial finance agencies such as Credit Suisse AG and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited. COCOBOD has earmarked a number of projects along the entire domestic cocoa value chain – from the production of cocoa beans to processing – where the funds will be applied to strengthen the local cocoa industry.

Source: Africa Business Communities


Fitch changes Kenya’s credit risk outlook to Negative

International ratings agency Fitch has changed Kenya’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) outlook to Negative from Stable. The IDR is currently set at B+ (High Payment Risk on the generic scale). A sharp decline in Kenya’s near-term growth prospects, reflected in a deterioration in the budget deficit and government debt-to-GDP ratio, underpins Fitch’s revision of Kenya’s IDR outlook to Negative from Stable. Fitch expects Kenyan real GDP to expand by 1.0% during 2020. COVID-19-related lockdown measures have furthermore accelerated a sharp fall in Kenya’s service sector. For the fiscal year 2020, Fitch expects the fiscal deficit to widen to 8.6% of GDP, the net effect of weaker growth and below-budget government revenues, tax relief measures adopted during the year, and COVID-19 virus-related spending costs (0.4% of GDP). The 2021 national budget has set a target of 7.5% of GDP and allows for spending cuts to offset lower revenue collection. The Finance Bill 2020 also allows for new tax revenue measures and the lowering/removal of some tax exemptions. Downside risks to Fitch’s current estimates stem from the desert locust infestation, political tension, and deterioration in the banking sector’s asset quality and profitability metrics.

Source: IHS Markit


T-bonds see heaviest investors uptake in one-and-a-half years

Investors offered a massive KES105.14-billion in this month's KES40-billion, five and 10-year Treasury bond sale, due to a heavily liquid market and short tenors that presented an attractive investment for bank sector players. This is the heaviest bidding seen on a bond, surpassing the KES101.97-billion investors offered in the January 2019 two- and 15-year papers. The results of the auction show the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) took up KES49.32-billion – less than half of the offered funds – in what reflects the fact that the Treasury has already achieved its domestic borrowing target of KES390-billion for the fiscal year ending 30 June. Analysts at KCB Capital had said in a pre-auction note that the paper would be attractive to banks, which have recently shown a preference for shorter dated paper amid interest rate uncertainty. The oversubscription helped the CBK comfortably cover the June bond redemptions due for a five-year paper issued in 2015, which stood at KES30.96-billion.

Source: Business Daily


Fitch changes Namibia’s credit risk outlook to Negative

International ratings agency Fitch has changed Namibia’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) outlook to Negative from Stable. The IDR is set at BB (Likely to Fulfil Obligations on the generic scale). Namibia’s poor economic performance during the past four years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to increase the general government’s debt burden and this underpins Fitch’s decision to change the IDR outlook to Negative from Stable. Fitch expects Namibian real GDP to contract by 5% during 2020. The fall in global demand for luxury goods and significant disruption to global gemstone supply chains are expected to curtail Namibia’s exports during 2020. Border closures with neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Angola will hurt Namibia’s tourism and retail sectors, while the reprioritisation of public spending has been detrimental to Namibia’s construction and other domestic sectors. For fiscal year (FY) 2020/21, Fitch expects the government deficit to widen to 12.8% of GDP. A rise in anti-COVID-19 crisis measures will be partly offset by higher transfers from the South African Customs Union (SACU), a second year of public-sector wage freezes, and cuts in the capital-spending programme.

Source: IHS Markit


World Bank approves USD750-million to improve electricity reliability, supply in Nigeria

The World Bank approved the Power Sector Recovery Operation (PSRO) of USD750-million in International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve the reliability of electricity supply, achieve financial and fiscal sustainability, and enhance accountability in the power sector in Nigeria. About 47% of Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity and those who do have access, face regular power cuts. In addition, the economic cost of power shortages in Nigeria is estimated at around USD28-billion - equivalent to 2% of its GDP. Getting access to electricity ranks as one of the major constraints for the private sector according to the 2020 Doing Business report. Hence, improving power sector performance, particularly in the non-oil sectors of manufacturing and services, will be central to unlocking economic growth post COVID-19. The PSRO provides results-based financing to support the implementation of the government’s Power Sector Recovery Program (PSRP). Specifically, the PSRO will ensure that 4,500 MWh/hour of electricity is supplied to the distribution grid by 2022 by strengthening the regulatory, policy and financing framework.

Source: Africa Business Communities


Standards Organisation of Nigeria approves 168 new standards, national standardisation strategy

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Governing Council has approved 168 new Standards for publication and dissemination to various sectors of the Nation’s economy in furtherance of the Federal Government’s economic diversification policy. Rising from its virtual meeting, Chaired from Abuja by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the Council also put its seal on the first ever Nigerian National Standardisation Strategy (NNSS) 2020-2022, developed by SON to identify priority areas to focus on, based on national needs assessment. According to Dr Sani-Gwarzo, the document is accompanied by a National Implementation Plan that gives orientation for national standardisation work within the three years duration. The NNSS, according to him, has identified a total of 658 standardisation projects in key priority areas classified by economic sectors as highlighted in Federal Government’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) and other related national strategic plans. Commenting on the approved 168 Nigerian Industrial Standards by the Council after the meeting, the SON Chief Executive enumerated them as 64 for electrical/electronic products; 53 for chemical technology; 47 for food and agricultural products; 3 for civil/building technology products as well as the reviewed standard for Hotel and Serviced Accommodation Management System and Rating – Requirements and Guidance for Use.

Source: Africa Business Communities


Tanzania to build over 300 new irrigation projects in 5 years

Tanzania's National Irrigation Commission said plans were afoot to build 384 new agricultural irrigation projects worth TZS986.8-billion (about USD426-million) across the country in the next five years. Daudi Kaali, the director general of the commission, said the new irrigation projects will be built in Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Tabora and Katavi regions. Funds for the construction of the new irrigation projects will be obtained under the implementation of the second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Program, he told a news conference in the capital Dodoma. Kaali said the new irrigation projects will enable the country to increase its food security in the next five years.

Source: Xinhua


Regulatory reforms in the Ugandan telecommunications sector

On 8 November 2019, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance (MICT) released a set of regulations providing for a new licensing framework for telecommunications operators and the regulation of previously unregulated areas. The regulations have transformed the licensing and regulatory framework and telecommunications operators will need to put systems and structures in place to effectively transition and adapt. The new licensing regime becomes effective on 1 July 2020. Licences that were previously granted under the existing licensing regime will not be renewed and all licensees whose term expired during this license review period and have been operating on provisional authorisation, will have to apply to transition to the new framework. The regulations were passed with the aim of implementing the National Broadband Policy, 2018. The policy was developed to harness Uganda’s potential to exploit ICTs for economic development through proper planning and infrastructural development in the ICT sector to achieve affordability, digital inclusion and connectivity for all. The policy proposed reforms in a number of areas. The key highlights of the new telecommunications regulations include national and regional licensing, universal connectivity, infrastructure sharing, regulation of cost pricing, and consumer protection.

Source: ENSafrica