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issue 369 | 13 Sep 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: The real estate sector is likely to see an increase in supply heading into 2021 as developers and occupiers look to liquidate their property to raise funds to keep their businesses afloat, potentially depressing selling prices further. A survey by Africa Property Investment (API) Summit and Standard Bank on the impact of COVID-19 on African real estate shows that the pandemic has aggravated the liquidity crisis in the sector, hence an increase in sale and leasebacks. The survey was done in seven countries including Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Nigeria. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the liquidity crunch in countries such as Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria among others. As such, we expect an increase in occupiers seeking to monetise their owned real estate assets and inject much needed liquidity into their businesses,” the survey report stated.

Source: Business Daily

East Africa: The East Africa Community (EAC) Secretariat and its partner states held a virtual roll out event to mark the technical completion and development of the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS). RECDTS is designed as a mobile phone application and will enable the issuance of the EAC COVID-19 digital certificates that are mutually recognised by partner states, thus eliminating need for multiple testing as well as contributing to alleviating ongoing congestion at East Africa border crossing points. RECDTS provides a surveillance system to monitor long distance truckers crew health and enables contact tracing. It allows partner states to electronically share truck drivers’ COVID-19 test results; therefore, minimising the need for multiple COVID-19 tests in a single trip.

Source: EAC

Kenya: Jambojet has increased fares on domestic routes by 37%, signalling rising demand for travel after the easing of COVID-19 lockdown. The carrier, has increased fares in five of its domestic routes including Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Malindi and Diani, in what appears to boost its revenues. Passengers travelling to Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret, and Malindi are paying a one-way minimum fare of KES6,600 up from KES4,800 on the routes from its hub in Nairobi, reflecting a 37.5% increase.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: Kenya's manufacturers on Wednesday, 9 September launched a policy toolkit to aid the recovery of the sector from the COVID-19 pandemic. Mucai Kunyiha, chairman of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), told a virtual meeting that the industry has experienced a significant reduction in output, decreased liquidity as well as logistical challenges since the outbreak of the pandemic. "The toolkit highlights overarching interventions needed to aid in the recovery of the manufacturing sector and economy, as businesses try to navigate different challenges brought about by the pandemic," Kunyiha said. The strategy also recommends a number of robust actions that stakeholders in the manufacturing sector need to undertake in order to be in a position to stay resilient during this crisis and beyond.

Source: Xinhua

Mozambique: President, Filipe Nyusi has declared a state of national public calamity to last for an indefinite period of time, maintaining, in general, restrictions, but defining the phased resumption of economic activities in the country. “The situation of public calamity starts at 00:00 on 7 September, for an indefinite duration, as long as there is a risk of the spread of COVID-19”, declared President Filipe Nyusi, in a communication to the nation.

Source: Club of Mozambique

Namibia: A second-round survey released on Thursday, 10 September by Namibia's Statistics Agency (NSA) shows that 87.8% of businesses are adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the 96.5% that was reported in the first round of the survey released in May. Statistician-General Alex Shimuafeni said the slight change is attributed to the opening up of the economy following the lockdown period that was covered in the first round of the survey. "The survey indicated that almost half of the businesses (48%) continued to trade partially as compared to 50% that operated partially during the first round of the survey," he said. The first round of the survey covered the period between 30 April 2020 and 11 May 2020, while the second round of the survey was conducted in the period between 27 July 2020 and 7 August 2020. A sample list of 619 formal businesses across 16 sectors of the economy was used for this survey.

Source: Xinhua

Nigeria: Activities were resumed at the international wing of Nigeria's ever-busy capital airport on Monday, 7 September as the country recorded its first batch of scheduled flight operations at the facility after about six months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local aviation industry experts and officials have described the resumption of international flights as a huge breakthrough in the aviation industry in the most populous African country. The country's ministry of aviation said in a statement that about 1,280 passengers would be allowed into Abuja and Lagos airports on a daily basis

Source: Xinhua

Rwanda: The National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) released the half-year Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Statement (MPFSS) 2020, which looks promising in the financial sector despite multi-sectoral shocks due to COVID-19. The statement released on Monday, 7 September indicates that Rwanda’s Economic growth averaged 7.4% (in the last five years) and Real GDP by 3.6% in Quarter 1, but key sectors and development drivers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, except a few like the services and financial sectors. “The service sector was most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through its negative effect on trade services, passenger transport services and tourism services, which also had negative spillover on financial services,” BNR said. Though the financial services experienced a drop, an assessment of the statement indicates that sector had highs, lows and generally performed better as a result of many factors, including growth in cashless transactions.

Source: KT Press

Seychelles: Private-sector startup airline Seychelles International Airways (SIA) announced the commencement of operations on 10 September 2020 as a cargo-only carrier, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will initiate its services with a four-engined Airbus A340-600, it announced in a press conference, the Seychelles News Agency reported. “We are not focusing on passenger flights at the moment unless there is a demand or a chartered flight, which will follow all procedures of the health department,” said SIA’s Robert Marie. “We are focusing on bringing cargo into the country as we feel and have evidence that Seychelles needs cargo.”

Source: Engineering News

Uganda: Uganda said on Thursday, 10 September that it would reopen its sole international airport to commercial flights on 1 October, more than five months after its closure as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the East African nation. The move is the latest in a series of steps by the government of President Yoweri Museveni to gradually lift one of Africa’s tightest lockdowns and rejuvenate the economy, badly hurt by the shutdown. Spokesperson for the country’s state-run Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Vianney Lugya, said a raft of new procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the airport were being worked on ahead of re-opening but that among them, arriving passengers would be required to have a COVID-19-free certificate from their countries of origin obtained 72 hours before travel.

Source: Reuters

Africa

Actis eyes Africa power projects after USD1-billion of investments

London-based private-equity firm Actis LLP is looking at African energy projects to add to the USD1-billion it has already invested in the sector on the continent. “We’re seeing some new opportunities that we’ve not yet approved,” Neil Brown, a partner and head of the Investor Development Group at Actis, said in an interview. Investments will probably be spread across East and North Africa and also in South Africa, although no commitments have been made. Actis has investments in about 25 power projects in countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique and Cameroon.

Source: Bloomberg

Africa

Africa commits to peaceful uses of nuclear energy

Leading nuclear energy organisations in Africa have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support regional efforts in the area of using nuclear science and technology applications for peaceful purposes in the continent. The African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN) witnessed the signing ceremony of MoU between African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA). A media statement explained that the major thrust of the MoU is to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the AFCONE and AFRA in the areas of advancing, promoting and improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of peaceful nuclear applications and nuclear science and technology implementation in the African region, including nuclear safety and security. Director for the Division for Africa at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Shaukat Abdulrazak, highlighted the challenges facing the African continent, which include 30% of the population that does not have access to clean water and 64% that is without access to electricity. He further elaborated on how nuclear technology, which is uniquely placed to support the socio-economic development of Africa, can help address these challenges.

Source: ESI Africa

Angola

Fitch downgrades Angola’s credit risk rating to CCC

International ratings agency Fitch Ratings has downgraded Angola’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating from B- to CCC on a sizeable increase in the government’s debt burden combined with falling external liquidity. Fitch has not assigned an outlook to the rating. Debt sustainability in Angola has deteriorated, Fitch warns, with the sharp depreciation of the kwanza’s exchange rate and low GDP growth weakening debt dynamics regardless of primary fiscal surpluses achieved in recent years. In 2020, Fitch expects that the combination of lower global oil prices and production cuts under the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) agreement will lower the Angolan government’s oil income by 3 to 4 percentage points of GDP. Consequently, the fiscal deficit is expected to widen to 4.3% of GDP, from 3.5% in 2019. Lower capital spending and cutbacks in non-health-related current government expenditure will not be enough to offset a rise in debt servicing cost, Fitch warns. Debt servicing costs are expected to take up 48% of government revenue in 2020. Public-sector debt could reach 129% of GDP or 850% of government revenue by the end of 2020.

Source: IHS Markit

Botswana

Solar and thermal power plants planned for construction by 2026

Four new solar and thermal power plants are planned for construction by the government of Botswana within the next six years. The new facilities will bring into the Southern Africa country energy mix a combined capacity of approximately 610 MW. This plan is a part of the government’s energy policy and it will enable Botswana to fully satisfy its demand for electricity while diversifying its sources of production. The country’s minister of Energy Mr Lefoko Moagi explained that the government will launch a call for tenders at the beginning of 2021 for the establishment of a 200 MW solar power plant which should be completed by 2026. He also said that the construction of a 10 MW coal-fired power station will also be launched during the same year and will be completed in 2025. Under a 20-year resource plan approved in August, procurement is also underway for a 100 MW solar photovoltaic plant that will come online in 2022 and a 300 MW coal plant expected to be operational by 2026. The government of the Southern Africa country is looking to incorporate a number of private investors at various stages of setting up coal, gas, and solar power projects, while retaining the power distribution prerogative to the state-owned Botswana Power Corporation (BPC).

Source: Construction Review Online

Burkina Faso

SONABEL launches a call for tenders for four 9 MWp solar power plants

Photovoltaic solar energy projects are in the pipeline in Burkina Faso. They involve the construction of four photovoltaic solar power plants. The government of this West African country through the National Electricity Company of Burkina Faso (SONABEL) has launched a call for tenders to recruit a company to carry out an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for these facilities. SONABEL has set 5 October 2020 as the deadline for receipt of bids from companies interested in building the four 9 MWp solar photovoltaic power plants on several sites. The first two solar power plants will be built in the locality of Dori, in the north-east of Burkina Faso. They will have a production capacity of 6 MWp. The other solar power plants will have 2 MWp and 1 MWp and will be located in the towns of Diapaga in the east and Gaoua in the south-west of the country, respectively. The overall objective of the new solar energy project is to increase Burkina Faso’s power generation capacity while reducing the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Source: AFRIK 21

Mauritius

P2P lending now has its own specific licence

On 31 August 2020, the Mauritian Financial Services Commission (FSC) published the licensing criteria for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending. Prior to this, P2P operators were operating under the regulatory sandbox licensing. The Financial Services (Peer to Peer Lending) Rules 2020 came into force on 15 August 2020. P2P lending is an emerging Fintech practice that enables a person to lend funds through an online portal or electronic platform, whereby a P2P operator facilitates the access to finance by matching borrowers and lenders on its online platform. The three important pillars of P2P lending are: a platform, operated by a P2P operator that is a corporate body established in Mauritius; a borrower with a detailed project that needs financing; and a lender agreeing to provide funds in its own name.

Source: ENSafrica

Namibia

Public contractors to be monitored

The Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) is monitoring and evaluating all contracts it awarded to ensure completion; that no substandard work is done; and that work is not abandoned midway. Board spokesperson Johanna Kambala told The Namibian that the monitoring and evaluation unit has been operational since June this year. Kambala said the monitoring unit will conduct regular site visits to monitor and review the progress on the projects against work schedules stipulated in the procurement contract(s), as well as the specifications prescribed in the standard bidding documents. She said the unit will enable the CPBN to achieve transparency and accountability through a systematic way to monitor, review, assess and evaluate the public procurement and asset disposal system. There has been a number of reports and complaints from the public regarding contractors who delivered substandard and incomplete work. The monitoring unit will compile reports on whether the projects are on schedule and whether they follow established standards and requirements. Kambala said the reports will be shared with stakeholders, including the particular public entity whose project is being monitored

Source: The Namibian

Nigeria

NNPC invites bidders for crude oil contracts for 2021

Nigeria’s state-owned hydrocarbon company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) launched a tender for the purchase of Nigerian crude grades on Wednesday, 2 September. The Corporation has invited local and international companies to submit bids to lift Nigerian crude and condensates for the year 2021. Successful bidders will be awarded with contracts valid for one year, and the deadline for submission of bids is 15 October 2020 at midday (Nigerian time). Refineries, companies forming part of a government-to-government arrangement, global crude oil traders, and Nigerian companies engaged in oil and gas downstream activities will be eligible to apply in different capacities. According to the tender, the crude will continue to be sold on a Free On Board basis, subject to the execution of a sales and purchase agreement with selected buyers. The current 2018-2020 crude term contracts held by over 60 recipients, which were expected to expire in mid-2020, will be rolled over until the end of the year.

Source: Africa Oil & Power

Rwanda

Kigali launches a call for projects for intelligent waste management

While the city of Kigali is experiencing rapid population growth, one of the urgent needs of the Rwandan government is to improve waste management, especially in the capital. The authorities want to implement an intelligent waste management system in Kigali. Thus, as part of a partnership with Smart Africa Secretariat, an organisation of the African Union, the Rwandan Ministry of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and Innovation is looking for a company to set up an intelligent waste management system. In agreement with the municipality of Kigali, the government intends to sign a contract with the selected company to implement its intelligent waste management solution by December 2020. The system, whose pilot phase will cost USD100,000, will collect, transport, treat, recycle and dispose of waste. In concrete terms, the company chosen by the authorities will set up intelligent garbage cans with a real-time monitoring system, which will use sensor technology to alert collectors to waste fill levels. The system will also operate with closed-circuit cameras and a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the security of the waste collection facilities.

Source: AFRIK 21

Rwanda

Public procurement still marred by payment delays

The Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) is pushing contract management to be added to e-procurement in a move it hopes will finally eliminate late payment complaints raised by private contractors hired to execute government projects. According to the RPPA Act, for every purchase exceeding RWF100,000, a public entity is expected to issue a tender notice, inviting contractors through an open bidding process. Goretti Buhiga, the director of the Monitoring and Audit at RPPA explained that the issue of delays in payments continues to haunt public procurement even when the laws are clear. She further explained that to fix the issue, RPPA is currently requesting government institutions to share copies of invoices and details of payment. Buhiga explained that there are ongoing plans to update the system and add contract management among others to eliminate some of the issues that they have. “When that part is up and running, invoices will cease being issued by hand. The system will clearly indicate when the request for payment was made, and reason why if any, there was a delay. We will know who exactly to hold accountable,” she said.

Source: The New Times

Sudan

Sudan announces state of economic emergency to protect economy

Sudan on Thursday, 10 September, decided to reactivate the state of economic emergency and establish joint forces to protect the national economy in a bid to stop deterioration of the Sudanese pound which devalued around 45% in 10 days. "Reactivation of the state of economic emergency includes deterrent procedures and laws to protect the economy and declaration of emergency courts and prosecutions," Hiba Ahmed Ali, Sudan's acting minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said at a press conference in Khartoum. "The insane rise in the exchange price of the US dollar was ... rather a sabotaging process to the Sudanese economy and suffocation to the government," she added. The Sudanese currency continues declining against foreign currencies, mainly the US dollar, as the exchange rate of USD1 hit SDG270 in the parallel market on Thursday, 19 September against the official exchange rate set by the Central Bank at SDG55.

Source: Xinhua

Uganda

NSSF launches online benefits claim - payment to be effected within eight days

Workers saving with the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) will have their claims processed within eight days, and without the need for the claimants to walk to the Fund’s offices. With time, the claims will be processed and paid in one day. This follows the launch of the NSSF Online Benefits Claims system that allows the saver to process their application either using a mobile phone application or their computer. This is part of NSSF’s five-year strategic plan that seeks to among others, process and pay claims within one day. Previous digital developments at the Fund include the remittance of savings via mobile money, by both the savers and the employers, checking balances, registering as a member or amending savers’ details, among others. NSSF head of Communications and Marketing, Barbra Arimi says it is more vital today than ever before that corporations create online solutions as more people are getting adapted to working from home, but adds that the new system also enhances efficiency.

Source: The Independent

Zimbabwe

A law to regulate the installation of solar PV systems is under study

The installation of solar photovoltaic systems will soon be standardised in Zimbabwe. The government is currently reviewing new legislation proposed by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). Various professional bodies and stakeholders have been invited by the government to comment on the new legislation to regulate the installation of solar photovoltaic systems by 30 September 2020. A major focus of the future regulation, under section 65 of the country’s Electricity Act, will be the licensing of technicians operating in Zimbabwe’s solar energy sector, including manufacturers, importers, vendors, contractors and owners of solar energy systems. ZERA said in a recent statement that licences will be issued based on the technician’s ability to fix the solar energy system in terms of power and voltage. The list of certified technicians will be published on ZERA’s website. The public company stresses that any violator of the new law will be subject to penalties. A technician who ignores the measures could, among other things, be blacklisted, have his or her licence revoked or pay a substantial fine.

Source: AFRIK 21