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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 381 | 06 Dec 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

World: The financial technology (fintech) market has continued to help expand access to financial services during the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly in emerging markets – with strong growth in all types of digital financial services except lending, according to a joint study by the World Bank, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, and the World Economic Forum. The study, which gathered data from 1,385 fintech firms in 169 jurisdictions from mid-June to mid-August, showed most types of fintech firms reporting strong growth for the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. On average, firms in areas including digital asset exchanges, payments, savings, and wealth management reported growth in transaction numbers and volumes of 13% and 11%, respectively. Digital lending slumped 8% by volume of transactions, while also suffering a 9% jump in outstanding loan defaults. Regionally, the Middle East and North Africa saw strongest growth, up 40%, sub-Saharan Africa and North America, both up 21%. In general, emerging markets and developing countries experienced faster growth than developed markets.

Source: World Bank

Africa: Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and artificial intelligence (AI) offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts said. “Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,” said Dr Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, during the opening session of a virtual workshop. The workshop, held on 3 December 2020, was organised by the African Development Bank under the theme, ‘African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the aviation sector in Africa’. Discussions touched on a number of challenges, including the urgent need of African airlines for government-supported loans, and other financial assistance in the short term, as well as the imperative to ensure that public health is a factor in efforts to build the sector back better and more competitively. Underpinning much of the discussion was the need to make public health and security a central element of the post-COVID-19 recovery, as a path to restoring confidence.

Source: AfDB

Africa: African countries that heavily depend on the tourism industry face a difficult recovery period after COVID-19, which continues to wreak havoc on global economies. Economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Renaissance Capital are projecting that countries with sizeable agriculture sectors and low exposure to tourism will recover quicker from the economic crisis fuelled by the pandemic. According to the IMF, the largest impact of the COVID-19 crisis on economic growth has been for tourism-dependent economies such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Comoros and the Gambia, although commodity-exporting countries have also been hit hard. Despite a global recovery across many sectors, tourist inflows are not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

Source: The EastAfrican

Africa: African governments should leverage capital, technology and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent, a senior United Nations (UN) official said. Amina J. Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general, said "the private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic." She spoke during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health and gender parity in Africa. More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed 'Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities'. Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the UN Global Compact, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programs that transform local communities.

Source: Xinhua

Africa: The economic and health costs to Africa stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented by any measure. So far, COVID-19 lockdowns have triggered the first continent-wide recession in 25 years, costing Africa an estimated USD115-billion in lost output and pushing up to 40 million additional people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. To recover from the economic damage, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that African governments face a financing gap between now and the end of 2023 of about USD345-billion – the amount that would be needed to cover emergency stimulus packages to jump-start economies, to strengthen national health care systems and to set up social safety nets to cushion vulnerable communities. Such funding could also finance the "liquidity and sustainability facility" which the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has proposed to lower borrowing costs by ensuring that short-term commercial debt obligations can be met and to provide extra liquidity for the private sector. The lack of fiscal space by African countries to tackle the pandemic and its aftermath can be attributed to four challenges, according to the IMF: first, the high debt-to-GDP levels; second, the huge gaps between spending and revenue; third, the high cost of borrowing; lastly, the depreciation of many African currencies against major international currencies.

Source: AllAfrica

Africa: The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a USD20-million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The USD50-million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic. The platform is anchored on a partnership with three specialised energy access fund managers selected through a competitive process: Triple Jump, Lion’s Head Global Partners, and Social Investment Managers and Advisors. The USD20-million concessional envelope will be blended with their own capital and instruments, leveraging USD30-40-million in complementary commercial funding and enabling more affordable debt products. Through these partners, the recovery platform will support energy access companies commercialising and deploying solar home systems, green mini-grids, clean cooking and other decentralised renewable energy solutions. “This initiative underlines the African Development Bank’s commitment to the accelerated growth of Africa’s decentralised energy industry, based on renewables, as a key driver for universal energy access goals,” said Dr Kevin Kariuki, the AfDB’s vice president for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

Source: AfDB

Botswana: Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed hope that the reopening of the southern African country's borders to international travellers will revitalise its tourism industry. Masisi made the remarks on the occasion of the ongoing annual De Beers Diamond Impact Week, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic under the theme: ‘Recovery, Rejuvenation and Growth’. The diamond industry and the tourism sector have a significant close relationship in their respective contribution to Botswana's development agenda, as both sectors are among the top contributors to the country's gross domestic product, Masisi said. However, the two sectors have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. "I am grateful that Botswana is slowly opening up its borders for international travellers, which I believe will resuscitate the tourism industry," said Masisi when encouraging the participants to continue visits to Botswana to support its tourism.

Source: Xinhua

Central African Republic: According to the latest economic update for the Central African Republic (CAR), which was published on 30 November 2020 by the World Bank, the country’s pace of economic growth for 2020 will have slumped to between 0% and -1.2% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic following five years of robust growth (4.1%, on average). In 2019, although the country’s growth rate slipped to 3.1%, it was still higher than the rates recorded by neighbouring countries that are facing a similar situation of fragility, conflict, and violence. Entitled ‘The Central African Republic in Times of COVID-19: Diversifying the economy to build resilience and foster growth’, the update notes that the global slowdown has not spared CAR, where production of its main export products, such as coffee and cotton, has plummeted. The health crisis has weakened public finances and deepened the country’s balance of payments deficit. A number of recommendations are made in the report for spurring economic recovery and boosting the country’s potential growth rate.

Source: World Bank

Kenya: Kenya Airways has resumed direct flights to New York from Nairobi after a nine-month hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. The carrier will initially fly on Tuesdays and Saturdays, down from a frequency of five flights before the COVID-19 outbreak that forced it to ground its fleet. The airline, which resumed the non-stop flight to the United States on Sunday, 29 November, says it will offer discounts to customers who book tickets before 10 December 2020. The national carrier suspended all its operations in March after the government closed the country’s airspace in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in Kenya and other parts of the world.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched a three-year post-COVID-19 socioeconomic recovery strategy for county governments. The KES132-billion (USD1.19-billion) recovery plan prioritises agriculture, water and sanitisation, urban development and housing, transport, tourism, health, education, social protection, and gender and youth as anchor sectors that will help counties to recover from the effects of COVID-19. Wycliffe Oparanya, chairman of the Council of Governors said the financing of the USD1.19-billion strategy will largely be drawn from budgets of the County Government over the next three financial years, supplemented by resources from development partners. Kenyatta rallied governors to focus their collective efforts in implementing the strategy, saying Kenyans are counting on them to deliver the country from the socioeconomic disruption brought about by COVID-19. The president pointed out that the strategy is expected to drive real growth and economic rebound in the counties as the national government rolls out similar initiatives aimed at reviving the economy.

Source: Xinhua

Malawi: The COVID-19 pandemic could push down tax revenue by up to 8.4% or about MWK94-billion (about USD123-million) in the financial year 2020/2021. In its ‘Short-Term Impacts of COVID-19 on Malawian Economy 2020-2021’, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that government tax revenue would decline by between 4% and 8.4% in the faster and slower scenarios. “This translates into USD83.8-million [about MWK62-million] to USD178.1-million [about MWK133-billion] of lost revenue in comparison to the no COVID-19 case,” reads the report in part. IFPRI observes that continued easing of restrictions in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2020 and cumulative gross domestic product gains will turn positive by the third quarter of 2021 under the fast recovery scenario, with real GDP gains of USD178-million (about MWK132-billion) by the end of 2021.

Source: The Nation

Uganda: Uganda is so far succeeding in safeguarding financial stability, although risks remain as the east African country battles the economic effects brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the central bank said in a recent report. Decisive monetary and macro-prudential policies have reduced short-term risks to financial stability, according to the Bank of Uganda (BoU) financial stability report for the third quarter. The report shows that since June, the central bank has maintained an accommodative monetary policy stance, with its rate maintained at 7.0%. This has continued to support loan repayments and private sector credit growth. Through the quarter, liquidity conditions in the banking system continued to improve, partly supported by the BoU's policies and strong growth in deposits. The report warned that as banks move to digital or electronic transactions, including mobile money, to avoid the spread of COVID-19, there is a higher potential for cyber risk, fraud and operational risk. The BoU said it will continue to engage banks to ensure that they implement enhanced risk management and contingency plans in a bid to address the operational and cyber risk.

Source: Xinhua

Zimbabwe: A Statutory Instrument issued by Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe's Vice President and minister of Health and Child Care, said that with effect from 1 December 2020, all the ports of entry or exit between Zimbabwe and all neighbouring countries would be re-opened and goods and people shall be allowed into the country should they meet the specified conditions. People entering Zimbabwe and who are not citizens or returning residents must "exhibit a COVID-19-free certificate issued not earlier than the previous 48 hours and not present with symptoms of COVID-19.

Source: Xinhua

Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwean government has limited the number of people permitted at any public gathering to 100 to avoid confusion and violation of COVID-19 restrictions. The government had specified different numbers for various types of public gatherings as a way to control the spread of the pandemic. But addressing a post-cabinet media briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the different numbers were causing confusion and violation of COVID-19 restrictions. "Accordingly, henceforth, the number of people permitted at any gathering is restricted to 100, irrespective of what the gathering is being convened for," she said.

Source: Xinhua

Africa

African states lack funds to provide green energy

With less than a decade to meet global energy goals, sub-Saharan Africa is ways away to providing affordable, reliable, modern energy due to lack of financing, according to the latest United Nations report. The Sustainable Energy for All’s (SEforALL) ‘Energising Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2020 and Energising Finance: Missing the Mark 2020’ report found that most African countries have inadequate finance levels and those with funds are not directing them to the areas of greatest need. The shortage has reached acute levels in many of the 20 high impact countries across Africa and Asia, including Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. As at 2018, the 14 high impact countries in Africa received USD8.5-billion, which is less than 20% of the total USD43.6-billion finance needed. The report indicates that an estimated annual investment of USD41-billion is needed to achieve universal residential electrification, but only one-third of this has been committed.

Source: The EastAfrican

Africa

Local currency financing for off-grid energy solutions in Africa limited, needs scaling up - AfDB report

Although advantageous, local currency financing for off-grid renewables projects and businesses in Africa is still limited, according to a new report released by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The report, ‘Exploring the Role of Guarantee Products in Supporting Local Currency Financing of Sustainable Off-Grid Energy Projects in Africa’, summarises findings of an in-depth study of documents on the off-grid energy and local currency financing sector, as well as interviews of energy stakeholders in the commercial and industrial and mini-grid sectors in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia. Companies that invest in off-grid renewable energy solutions in Africa grapple with limited access to credit as a result of risk profiling that is of concern to providers of local debt financing. Where credits are offered, the interest rates can be extremely high. There are potential advantages in using local currency debt financing for off-grid renewables projects and businesses to mitigate foreign exchange risks on the African continent. With the emergence of leasing and solar-as-a-service providers, there is the need for credit enhancement products to assess the availability of local currency finance for sustainable energy projects in Africa and the obstacles developers face in tapping into local financial and capital markets.

Source: AfDB

Africa

One month to start trading under AfCFTA, where does Africa stand?

With trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, expected to start on 1 January 2021, officials and experts say a lot of ground as regards outstanding negotiations and readying prerequisites to make things work has been covered. The negotiators are still busy trying to wrap up before the beginning of trade. Trading under the AfCFTA was due to commence on 1 July 2020, but due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it was postponed. This gave countries some more time to patch up unfinished work. The negotiations proceeded using online platforms. “Despite COVID-19, the EAC [East African Community] has been able to conclude the first set of negotiations to allow the customs union to submit its schedule of tariff concessions. This was approved on Wednesday, 2 December 2020 at the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade Industry Finance and Investments.” Prudence Sebahizi, chief technical advisor on AfCFTA at the African Union Commission, told The New Times that “much progress has been made” to ensure that trading starts on 1 January 2021. Sebahizi said: “Member States have been able to conclude outstanding negotiations on rules of origin to the level above 80% and tariff offers have been submitted to allow trade in goods to start.”

Source: The New Times

Botswana

Botswana Oil aims for petroleum products security

Botswana Oil remains resolute in achieving security of petroleum products in the country, acting chief operations officer, Mr Mosetlho Kenamile has said. Speaking at a media workshop in Gaborone recently, Mr Kenamile said the recent petrol shortage in the country had necessitated greater investment and participation of locals in the sector, noting that capacities of storage needed to be reached in order achieve security for the country. He said Botswana Oil was embarking on an exercise to source petroleum-based products from other markets to achieve and maintain supply. He also noted that South Africa as the country’s main import partner experienced volatility from time to time which affected supply. Another country they were looking at was Mozambique, which he said had sufficient capacity to export, while in the long term they would begin importing from Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Source: FurtherAfrica

Ethiopia

Authority issues official request for proposals for telecom operators to take part in bidding

The Ethiopian Communications Authority has published an official Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting highly capable and interested telecommunications operators to take part in a sealed bidding process that aimed at issuing licences for two telecommunications companies. As a major development in the liberalisation of Ethiopia’s telecommunications market, the two licences are due to be issued in March or April 2021, it was learned. Briefing journalists, Finance state minister, Eyob Tekalgn said the government has decided to follow the “2 plus 1 market structure” whereby two new operators would be allowed to work with Ethio-Telecom. He added that the official RFP will remain open for three months and close on 5 March 2021. Stating that significant interest has been observed during the Expression of Interest (EOI) from giant companies to enter the Ethiopian market, Eyob Tekalgn added that “we have a strong response from 11 operators but this RFP is open to all others.”

Source: ENA

Ghana

Construction of 107 factories under 1D1F to be completed soon – Bawumia

A total of 76 factories under the One-District One-Factory (1D1F) initiative are in operation while 107 are currently under construction. This was revealed by the vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia yesterday when he took his turn to address the nation on the current state of the Ghanaian economy. Overall, a total of 232 projects have been initiated under the 1D1F initiative. The 107 currently under construction include medium-size agro-processing factories which are aimed at adding value to the raw materials being produced, among others. The Finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, earlier revealed during the 2020 mid-year budget that “12 of these companies have received approval for import duty exemptions to the tune of GHS34-million. A total of 154 districts out of the 260 districts are benefiting from the programme”. The government has made a commitment that it would build on the successes of the 1D1F in strategically anchoring policies to further enhance agro-processing, add value to raw materials and petro-chemicals, and promote labour, among others. The move is expected to enable the Ghanaian public sector to leverage on the opportunities that would be provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Source: GhanaWeb

Ghana

Ghana among top 3 African markets in infrastructure investments – report

A total of USD7.9-billion of investments involving private participation in infrastructure since the year 2000 put Ghana among the top three sub-Saharan African markets, after South Africa and Nigeria. According to Fitch Solutions’ latest appraisal of the Ghanaian economy, considerable public-private partnership (PPP) track record and project pipeline underscore private infrastructure investment opportunities in the country since 2000. “Our positive outlook for private participation in Ghana’s infrastructure sector is underpinned by the country’s considerable PPP track record and project pipeline, with energy and transport being key sectors for private investment opportunities”, it pointed out. Furthermore, it said “according to our proprietary Fitch Solutions Infrastructure Key Projects Database, public-private partnerships (PPPs) account for almost 20% of planned infrastructure projects in Ghana, highlighting that PPPs will continue to play a significant role in Ghana’s infrastructure sector.” The pipeline of planned PPPs, it stressed, underscores the significant potential of Ghana’s power sector, as electricity projects account for the pipeline’s largest share.

Source: GhanaWeb

Kenya

Capital markets regulator to review unit trust laws

Laws governing collective investment schemes are set for a comprehensive review as the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) moves to curb the loss of investor funds due to a lack of transparency. The markets regulator said it had, in partnership with FSD Africa, brought on board a consultant to review the Capital Markets (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 2001 “to make them more robust and facilitative to market dynamics”. Collective investment schemes or unit trusts have come under sharper scrutiny following the loss of client funds in risky investments. The regulator is concerned that schemes are taking on riskier investments in search of higher yields, which have been the main marketing point to attract clients. “The proposed legal framework review is designed to address stakeholders’ concerns with the current framework and facilitate the development of a robust asset management sector,” said CMA chief executive Wyckliffe Shamiah in a statement. “A need has (also) emerged for sophisticated products such as pooled funds that are well managed and currently not available in the existing asset classes. There are also calls for greater flexibility and a risk/investment strategy to determine portfolio allocation among asset classes.”

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

Kenya drops IPPs for KenGen to generate clean and cheap energy

Kenya dropped Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as private project partners in geothermal power production due to their perceived “sluggishness” in supporting government efforts to generate clean and cheaper energy. Energy cabinet secretary charles Keter told The EastAfrican that the government will, instead, work with the state-owned power producer, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) in the second and third phases of the 465 MW geothermal power production at Menengai Geothermal fields, about 185 kilometres northwest of the capital Nairobi. The initial phase involves generation of 105 MW of geothermal power while the second and third phases are expected to add 60 MW and 300 MW of renewable energy to the national grid, respectively. The policy shift comes after the African Development Bank (AfDB) released an assessment report on the status of the Menengai Geothermal Development power project, showing that three IPPs have delayed the production of cheaper energy by more than two years. The three IPPs have failed to set up plants to generate a combined 105 MW of clean energy largely due to delayed fulfilment of the conditions, including securing letters of comfort, carrying out feasibility studies on the availability of steam and failing to reach financial closures with financiers in time.

Source: The EastAfrican

Kenya

Kenya dumps costly syndicated loans to ease debt burden

Kenya will no longer take dollar-denominated syndicated loans arranged by commercial banks as part of the strategy to reduce the cost of debt and lengthen maturity to ease the payment burden. Syndicated loans are provided by a group of lenders, rather than a single financial institution, to spread the risk of default. They are easy to get and require fewer disclosures since they are negotiated out of public scrutiny. However, they are usually short-term and expensive. Finance cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani told the Committee on Finance and National Planning that the Treasury is implementing a new strategy to change the profile of Kenya’s debt from short expensive commercial loans into longer-dated sovereign bonds. He said commercial loans would only come in the form of Eurobonds to roll over principal payments when the debts mature. “The National Treasury has no immediate plans to contract syndicated loans with the Trade Development Bank or any other bank,” said Mr Yatani. “Our projections assume that existing Eurobonds will be rolled over at reasonable prices when global capital markets reopen to frontier market issuers.”

Source: Business Daily

Malawi

RBM explains forex position – The Times Group Malawi

The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has said Malawians should not press the panic button over the foreign exchange (forex) situation in the country, saying reserves remain slightly above the internationally recommended three months’ worth of import cover. This, however, comes as the country has in the recent past seen a decline in forex supply which has in turn put pressure on the country’s forex reserves. COVID-19 has affected supply of forex, with figures from the central bank showing that the country imported goods worth USD2-billion [about MWK1.5-trillion] between January and September 2020 while exporting goods worth USD500-million [about MWK375-billion] during the same time, resulting in a trade deficit of USD1.5-billion [about MWK1.125-trillion]. But in a response to an emailed questionnaire, RBM spokesperson Onelie Nkuna said official reserves remained above the targeted flow of three months of import cover. She, however, conceded that the reserves position is lower this year than the same time last year.

Source: BusinessMalawi™

Nigeria

FCCPC unveils new merger review regulations, ancillary instruments

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has issued the Merger Review Regulations (MRR) 2020 with ancillary instruments. The MRR 2020 establishes a composite framework for the application of rules with respect to notification and review of mergers under Part XII of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018. In addition to the MRR, the ancillary instruments that have also been issued include the Merger Review Guidelines (MRG) 2020 that provide a guidance framework for the procedural and substantive review of notified mergers; Notice of Merger Form (Form 1) with Guidance Notes that explain filing requirements for notifications; and Notice of Merger Form for the Simplified Procedure (Form 2). Consequently, the FCCPC’s previous Guidelines on Simplified Process for Foreign-to-Foreign Mergers with Nigerian Component is now replaced by the new Merger Review Framework.

Source: The Guardian

Uganda

Embedded insurance a game changer to the industry

Embedded insurance model is turning out to be one of the most viable options of selling insurance services to customers as the country strives to increase insurance coverage. People familiar with the industry base their argument on the fact that insurance sold through commercial banks, popularly known as bancassurance, are recording a sharp growth in gross underwritten premiums, barely three years since banks were granted operating licence in 2017. Data from the industry regulator, the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda (IRA), shows that the premiums collected through bancassurance channels increased from UGX26-billion in 2018 to UGX53.6-billion last year. This accounted for 5.5% contribution to the total gross premiums of UGX973.58-billion written that year. For the three quarters of this year ending 30 September, the gross premium written through banks amounted to UGX52-billion amidst the effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has battered many economies around the world including Uganda. This represents a 6.36% of the quarter three 2020 industry gross written premiums of UGX818.7-billion.

Source: The Independent

Zambia

ZRA tightens screws on TPIN abuse

In a bid to plug off abuse of Tax Payer Identification Numbers (TPINs) by some clearing agents, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has tightened screws by implementing the Clearing Agents’ Management Module (CAMM) on the Customs Electronic Licensing System on the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World system. The ZRA acting corporate communications manager, Robert Zawe said the module comes with various benefits to importers and exporters, as well as the ZRA and government. Mr Zawe said in a statement that benefits include mitigating TPIN abuse, reducing customs fraud by unscrupulous persons, reducing debt stock on the part of the ZRA and ultimately reducing revenue leakage. “In the recent past, there has been a lot of cases of TPIN abuse to avoid paying Advance Income Tax and to perpetuate fraud such as smuggling.

Source: Zambia Daily Mail

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe scores high on debt management transparency

Zimbabwe has reasonably high ratings in the region in terms of debt management transparency according to the Open Budget Index (OBI). A country’s budget transparency score, reflected on the OBI, assesses the public’s access to information on how the central government raises and spends public resources. According to the Index, Zimbabwe is rated at about 48%, trailing behind South Africa and Namibia who are rated at about 87% and 52% respectively. The global average transparency score for 2019 is 45%. Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Eswatini, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and Mozambique come after Zimbabwe. In March this year, government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development’s Public Debt Management Office published the first debt bulletin, a trend government has vowed to maintain going forward. This has been described by experts as a milestone towards enhancing accountability and transparency. According to Finance and Economic Development minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, total public and publicly guaranteed debt is estimated at 78.7% of GDP by end of 2020, which is marginally above the Southern African Development Community recommended threshold of 60%.

Source: The Herald