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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 377 | 08 Nov 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

Africa: The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) founding partners have approved the postponement of the 2020 Africa Investment Forum to 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The annual three-day investment marketplace was initially scheduled for November 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The decision follows a careful evaluation of the impact and evolution of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the attendant risk of a possible second wave, and its associated effects on global travel, investments, as well as social distancing rules. The Forum will continue to curate new deals, track investments and advance the financial closure of transactions and existing deals through its innovative digital platforms. At the 2019 Africa Investment Forum, 57 deals valued at USD67.7-billion were tabled for discussions. Fifty-two deals worth USD40.1-billion secured investment interest.

Source: AfDB

Africa: The ‘skills crisis’ in Africa is not unique to the continent or to the pandemic: the oil and gas industry has long been struggling to recruit the next generation of workers in a way that preserves talent and prioritises gender-based diversity. In addition to an ageing workforce, of which an estimated 71% is above the age of 50, the oil and gas industry is experiencing significant structural changes. The replacement of aging assets with modern, technologically advanced systems and machines has created an environment where not only high skilled labour is in short supply; but also, the demand for an entirely new set of technical skills has been created. For its part, COVID-19 has only intensified this dynamic: the severe contraction of the oil and gas sector has discouraged job seekers from entering the industry. Within the oilfield services sector, increased operational costs, reduced demand and lower profits per employee led to the loss of more than one million jobs in 2020. Rapidly advancing technologies and remote work setups accelerated by COVID-19 have disrupted traditional job markets and the skillsets needed to compete in them, requiring employers to both re-skill and up-skill employees to generate new solutions in a post-COVD-19 landscape. Oil and gas firms are facing increasing pressure to develop company cultures that align with a younger ethos – one that accounts for environmental, cultural and social disciplines; that grants autonomy to employees to work independently and/or remotely and that creates enabling environments for young, skilled and diverse talent that can compete with in-demand jobs in information technology (IT), healthcare and finance. Last but not least, a critical step toward generating a more dynamic workforce will be gender-based diversity and inclusion.

Source: Africa Oil & Power

Botswana: Botswana has approved a wage subsidy for the tourism industry, the country's most ailing sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism on Tuesday, 3 November announced that the government has approved an extension of wage subsidy for the tourism sector for another five months from July till December. "The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) is processing payments for all licensed tourism operators who have fulfilled the requirements which were previously posted," said Onalenna Mokgachane, spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. Botswana had extended a three-month wage subsidy to private sector companies, across all sectors in April during the country's first nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19. Botswana tourism sector is one of the most hard-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic and Germany recently donated EUR4.8-million to support the local tourism sector.

Source: Xinhua

Burundi: The Burundi government on Tuesday, 3 November announced that it would reopen Melchior Ndadaye International Airport on 8 November 2020. Burundi closed its airspace in March this year following the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide. A statement read on Tuesday by government spokesman Prosper Ntahorwamiye stated that strict measures will be put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. “Travellers entering or leaving Burundian territory must provide proof of testing negative for COVID-19,” it said. They will be required to have taken the tests 72 hours before boarding the plane. Travellers will meet the cost of the screening tests and quarantine. On 26 October 2020, the government announced that foreigners would pay USD100 for screening tests while nationals would pay USD30. According to Burundian authorities, tests for departures will be free of charge but travellers will pay USD4 for the certificate.

Source: The EastAfrican

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, 4 November ignored the pressure to reintroduce stiff restrictions to curb the new surge of COVID-19 cases and opted for measures with limited disruptions on businesses. The President had been widely expected to impose a longer curfew, order closure of bars, and set travel restrictions as recommended by, among others, county governors. But faced with an economy that shrank by 5.7% in the three months to June when businesses shut and people stayed at home, Mr Kenyatta allowed bars to operate, increased the daily curfew by an hour, allowed public gatherings to continue under strict health guidelines and set dates for reopening of schools. President Kenyatta cut the start of the daily night curfew by an hour from 22:00 to 04:00 from the earlier 23:00 and the restriction will last until 3 January 2021.

Source: Business Daily

Madagascar: On Wednesday, 28 October the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved support for Madagascar’s industrial and financial sectors with a loan of EUR14.52-million through the African Development Fund, the Bank's concessional-rate loan arm. The Industrialization and Financial Sector Support Project (PAISF) will bolster Madagascar’s industrial sector, with the aim of reducing poverty by creating decent employment and promoting investment. The project will also support the financial sector and help small and medium-sized enterprises more closely integrate into the industrial value chain. State institutions in Madagascar will be the main beneficiary of PAISF, through the capacity building of bodies responsible for promoting industrial development and private investment, including those in charge of public-private partnerships.

Source: AfDB

Malawi: The Ministry of Transport has announced plans to re-open Chileka International Airport for commercial flights on 9 November 2020. Government ordered shutting down of the country’s airports from 1 April 2020 in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19. After noting a slowdown in registered cases, the government ordered the re-opening of the airports, starting with the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) on 1 October 2020. Speaking in an interview, the ministry’s spokesperson, Andrew Mthiko said an assessment of trends at KIA has necessitated the reopening of the Chileka Airport. He said the ministry has since completed all COVID-19 prevention requirements at the airport and is waiting for an approval from the Ministry of Health through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

Source: BusinessMalawi.com

Namibia: Taxpayers in Namibia with outstanding balances can breathe a sigh a relief as the Finance Ministry will write off 95% of the interest balance and reverse all penalties for taxpayers who settle the capital amount within three months from 1 February 2021, an official said on Wednesday, 4 November. The relief is aimed at supporting Namibian citizens and businesses facing hardship and cash flow problems exacerbated by COVID-19, Finance Ministry chief public relations officer, Tonateni Shidhudhu said. "Taxpayers who settle their capital before the commencement date and only have an outstanding interest will also benefit," he said, adding that the ministry will write off 75% of the interest balance and reverse all penalties for taxpayers who settle the capital amount within a period of 12 months from 1 February 2021. According to Shidhudhu, no capital amount owing to the Inland Revenue Department shall be written off and consequently, taxpayers who fail to settle the outstanding capital will not benefit from the program. Furthermore, he said, penalties and interest settled or set off prior to the effective date of the relief program shall not be refunded or credited to the account. The relief program does not suspend the taxpayers' obligation to pay taxes on time, Shidhudhu said.

Source: Xinhua

Rwanda / Democratic Republic of the Congo: Rwandan authorities on Thursday, 5 November partially reopened the western border crossings with the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Rubavu District, over seven months after Rwanda closed borders in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although the Rwandan government reopened airports in August, land borders remain closed, except for goods and cargo, as well as returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents. The partial reopening of the two border crossings in Rubavu, Western Province, is going to facilitate the movement of people such as students, teachers, medics, holders of small-scale trader passports and those with temporary regional travel permits used to travel in the region, Governor of Western Province, Alphonse Munyantwari told reporters in a news briefing in Rubavu.

Source: Xinhua

Africa

Africa’s energy masterplan takes shape as AfDB and AUDA-NEPAD release key report

The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have released recommendations of a baseline study that looked into the development of a continental energy grid and market. The study, supported by the European Union, is the first step in an ambitious project to create an efficient, competitive energy sector that helps to serve Africa’s vast non-connected population, which is key to the continent’s economic prospects. The recommendations were discussed at a roundtable meeting between the partners, organised by the AfDB on Wednesday, 28 October. The baseline study constitutes the first of two phases of the masterplan. The next phase entails the development of the plan itself. The baseline study goals included: a review of the existing masterplans developed by each of the five regional power pools in Africa; to identify power generation capacity and power demand up to 2063; and to develop the terms of reference for the second phase.

Source: AfDB

Africa

New partnership to expand e-logistics technology solutions across Africa

Provider of integrated market access and logistics solutions, Imperial has announced an investment in, and partnership with Lori Systems to expand its e-logistics technology solutions across Africa. This strategic partnership is the first of its kind at this scale and scope on the African continent. The partnership between Imperial and Lori Systems will provide additional support in Lori’s established East and West African markets and facilitate Lori’s expansion across Southern African markets. It will also join Lori’s technology and Imperial’s expertise in logistics to drive similar efficiencies in Southern African markets. The Imperial Venture Fund, managed by Newtown Partners - a United States venture capital firm - recently concluded an investment in Lori Systems to support its growth in East and West Africa. The Imperial and Lori Systems partnership in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region will help develop and enhance Africa's road freight industry through digital innovation and enablement.

Source: Bizcommunity

Southern Africa

Sasol invites interested parties to partner for the development of carbon offset projects

In an effort to realise its ambition towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals, Sasol is placing a request to the market to collaborate with experienced carbon offset project developers. The aim is to determine the ability of the South African market and South African Development Community (SADC) to generate and make available carbon credits. To progress its climate change ambitions, Sasol is inviting interested parties to participate in a Request for Information (RFI) for the development and implementation of carbon offset projects based in the South African and SADC regions. The closing date for parties to express their interest in writing is Friday, 13 November 2020. The RFI will then be published on Sasol’s Ariba platform the following week. Sasol wants to identify partners that are involved in carbon offset projects at any stage of the development process in the specified regions. Projects must focus on generating emission reductions in sectors that would otherwise not have been incentivised to do so; for example, in domestic energy efficiency, waste and agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sectors.

Source: Energy Mix Report

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Africa Oil & Power launches DRC investment report, aligns with upcoming Summit

Africa Oil & Power has launched the ‘Africa Energy Series (AES) Special Report: DRC 2020’ to identify and promote bankable opportunities across oil, gas and power sectors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on the back of growing investor interest from the United States, China and other global players. The AES Special Report: DRC 2020 serves as a comprehensive tool for investors to analyse the country’s energy landscape; ascertain key governmental objectives, including National Strategic Development Plan targets; and identify high potential opportunities, primarily in hydropower generation, electricity transmission and infrastructure development. The digital report is launched in line with the first-ever DRC Energy & Infrastructure Investment Summit 2021 (21-22 September), organised by Africa Oil & Power in partnership with the African Energy Chamber, which serves as the country’s leading event for energy and infrastructure investment.

Source: Africa Oil & Power

Eswatini

Call for tenders for a solar power plant at Lubombo airport

The Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority (ESWACAA) has launched a call for expressions of interest for the construction of a solar photovoltaic power plant in BOOT (build, own, operate, transfer), a form of public-private partnership (PPP). The plant will be located at International Airport III, in the Lubombo region, east of Eswatini. The 850 kWp capacity plant will be connected to an 11 kV underground cable distribution system. Independent Power Producers (IPPs) interested in the project have until 22 December 2020 to apply. The selected IPP will sign a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the ESWACAA. The company will be responsible for financing, building, owning and operating the future solar power plant. According to the tender document, at least 15% of the total value of the labour during the construction of the plant will have to come from Eswatini; as well as 10% of the materials used in the solar project.

Source: AFRIK 21

Gabon

Gabon’s key energy facts

Gabon is one of Africa’s pioneers when it comes to oil exploration and production. A new oil and gas code was adopted in 2019 and well-received by the industry due to its incentives for both major foreign operators as well as local players. With 12 production sharing contracts signed in the last two years and many expressions of interests, Gabon’s hydrocarbon sector is set to heighten in the short term, leading the entire economy upwards with it. Gabon plans to increase hydroelectric production from the current 711 MW to 1,200 MW by 2022. A number of dam projects are currently producing electricity, including the Grand Poubara Dam in the Haut-Ogooué region built by Chinese power company, Sinohydro. To reach its ambitious hydropower goals, the country’s renewable energy development company is working on a number of hydroelectric dam projects. The Ndjolé power plant is the first of a series of hybrid plants driven by Gabon’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC).

Source: Africa Oil & Power

Ghana

Parliament passes Air Navigation Services Agency Bill

Ghana’s Parliament on Wednesday, 4 November, passed the Air Navigation Services Agency Bill, creating an autonomous and independent entity out of the current Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The separation of the air navigation and regulatory functions of the GCAA is in line with international best practice in aviation and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure that the GCAA does not act as an operator and regulator at the same time. Aviation minister, Joseph Kofi Adda moved for the Bill to be passed by Parliament and chairman of the Roads and Transport Committee, Mr Ayeh-Paye seconded the motion and presented the report to the House. The third reading and the passage of the Bill was done on Tuesday, 3 November, setting the final stage for the decoupling awaiting the President’s assent.

Source: GhanaWeb

Ghana / Rwanda

Rwanda forges strategic, win-win partnership with Ghana

Rwanda has officially opened its High Commission in Ghana in a strategic partnership that will see the two progressive African nations deepen their long-standing friendship and to explore areas of mutual interest for the social and economic advancement of their people. Prior to the opening, the two countries had already signed a joint cooperation agreement to enhance collaboration in some key areas of mutual interest including trade and industry, tourism and education. They are also working to conclude bilateral agreements in finance and trade, which will soon be finalised to help unlock and increase the number of potential business opportunities between the two countries. Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister Dr Vincent Biruta, speaking at the opening ceremony, said the occasion was a significant milestone in the excellent relations with Ghana borne out of both nations’ desire to better the lives of their people through enhanced bilateral relations. In a countermeasure, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs minister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, disclosed that Ghana’s honorary consulate in Kigali will soon will be upgraded to a full embassy.

Source: GhanaWeb

Kenya

Kenya set to shift to e-visa services in 2021

The Kenyan government on Tuesday, 3 November announced a shift to e-visa services effective 1 January 2021. The Department of Immigration Services said passengers from countries requiring a visa to enter Kenya are expected to have the document before boarding a plane. "We wish to inform you that the 100% e-visa will be effected from 1 January 2021. Therefore all passengers from countries that require an e-visa to enter Kenya shall be required to apply and obtain an e-visa before boarding an aircraft," deputy director of immigration services, Alicent Odipo said in a statement. The Department of Immigration Services said it has put in place a system for online application, payment and issuance of e-visas for visitors coming to Kenya. Upon successful completion, the applicant will receive an e-visa via e-mail. Upon arrival in Kenya, the traveller should show the e-visa to officials at the port of entry where a hard-copy visa will then be endorsed in the passport. The latest move comes as airports across the world are upgrading their technological solutions to ensure biometric check-ins of travellers in the near future.

Source: Xinhua

Kenya

Parliament halts legislative business after 23 illegal laws ruling

The National Assembly has suspended passing of laws following a High Court decision that declared 23 laws, including some dealing in taxes, illegal. Speaker Justin Muturi said Parliament has frozen legislative business as it prepares an appeal against the nullification of the laws. The High Court quashed the laws, including the Finance Act 2018, the Tax Laws (Amendments) and the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment), that were passed by the National Assembly without the Senate’s nod. The judges gave lawmakers nine months to ensure that the laws have the backing of the Senate or have them abolished. “In the meantime, no legislative business will be undertaken by the House in the coming days, whether from the National Assembly or the Senate pending a way forward on the decision contained in the High Court’s Judgment, while seeking stay or setting aside of the judgment,” Mr Muturi said in a communication.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya / United Kingdom

Kenya, UK agree on terms of post-Brexit trade pact

Kenya has agreed on terms for a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom (UK), paving the way for the signing of a long-term treaty that will shield East African Community (EAC) exports from tariffs. The two countries announced that they have reached an “agreement in principle” on continuation of duty- and quota-free access of Kenyan exports such as cut flowers and tea after the UK formally exits the 27-member European Union (EU) at the end of the year. Nairobi opened negotiations with London late September after an earlier bid to hold the talks under the six-nation EAC parameters flopped after the majority of the bloc’s partners snubbed the negotiations. Trade secretary Betty Maina said the two countries “have concluded an economic partnership agreement (EPA)” under the stalled EU-EAC EPA’s text which Kenya ratified in October 2016. “We have agreed on a comprehensive package of benefits that will ensure a secure, long-term and predictable market access for exports originating from the EAC Custom Union,” Ms Maina told reporters after the meeting that initialled the trade pact. “Our key exports such as flowers and fresh produce will benefit from enhanced privileges for agricultural goods that confers originating status to EAC exports, even if they pass through EU’s 27 countries.”

Source: Business Daily

Mauritius

Mauritius joins ARIPO

Mauritius is the 20th country to join the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO). On 25 September 2020, Mauritius acceded to the Lusaka Agreement, which is an important step in the country’s goal to harmonise and facilitate the protection of intellectual property in the African region. The Government of Mauritius places a strong emphasis on the importance of fostering creativity and innovation for economic growth and development in the country.

Source: ENSafrica

Tanzania

Government unveils new audit tracking system

The government has introduced a new system for tracking and executing audit recommendations (GARI-ITS) in government agencies, public institutions and organisations to strengthen the management of public funds. Speaking at the new system's launch, the director of reforms at the Treasury Registrar Office, Mr Mohamed Nyasama said trainings to familiarise with the system will be provided to internal auditors, government agencies, public institutions and organisations at the Institute of Accountancy in Arusha. Mr Nyasama who was representing the Treasury Registrar, Mr Athumani Mbutuka noted that the system is set to reinforce the management of internal audit systems at government institutions and agencies. Mr Nyasama urged top executives of government agencies, public institutions and organisations to appropriately supervise the management of public funds. Besides strengthening management of the audit system, the GARI-ITS is expected to enable the government to benefit from investment in those agencies and public institutions, and hence boost quality services.

Source: Daily News

Zambia

Zamtel welcomes BoZ’s plans for Fast Track Court for mobile money fraud

The Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (Zamtel) says it is elated by the news that the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has commenced internal processes that it anticipates will culminate in the establishment of a dedicated Fast Track Court for mobile money fraudsters. Zamtel corporate communications manager, Changwe Kabwe says fast tracking investigations and prosecutions around mobile money scams will undoubtedly help sanitise the mobile money space in Zambia. Mr Kabwe said having a functional Fast Track Court for mobile money fraudsters will also serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders and offer some relief to victims. “With the impressive growth of the digital finance sector, initiatives that seek to provide an added layer of protection for the consumer are welcome,” Mr Kabwe said.

Source: Lusakatimes

Zimbabwe

ZIMRA unveils pre-clearance system

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has introduced a pre-clearance system. Under the latest customs arrangement, import duty procedures are completed before the traveller or the imported goods arrive at a selected port of entry. This is different from a system where the processing of customs documents was done by a traveller or importer upon reaching the respective port of entry. ZIMRA announced the latest development in a public notice. “With effect from 1 November 2020, importers are advised that goods imported by road into Zimbabwe must be pre-cleared before their arrival,” read the notice. “All privately imported motor vehicles driven or transported by car carriers must be pre-cleared before they are dispatched to Zimbabwe”. Providing false information to or failure to pre-clear vehicles with ZIMRA will be treated as an offence under the new regime.

Source: The Herald