issue 391 | 14 Mar 2021
AfricaEngineering firm to tackle Africa’s water infrastructure shortfall
The United Nations warns that the world could face a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, with Africa – which already suffers from greater levels of water stress than other regions – likely to bear the brunt. The economic impact of the shortfall in water infrastructure and supply is already severe. Sub-Saharan Africa currently loses an estimated 5% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) due to poor access to clean drinking water and sanitation, 5-25% of its GDP to droughts and floods in affected countries and 40 billion hours of otherwise productive time annually, collecting water. Having delivered on sustainable water supply projects in the Southern African Development Community region, South African-based construction and engineering firm, Khato Civils, has announced its intention to expand across the continent and play its part in tackling Africa’s infrastructure shortfall. Khato Civils chairman, Simbi Phiri, said the “AfCFTA gives us a chance to have a business without borders. We will now be able to go into places like Zimbabwe, Zambia and other countries to compete. It also gives us a chance to compete with multinationals from India and China in other African countries.”
Source: ESI Africa
Southern AfricaNotable progress for SADC interconnector
A project which will connect Angola, Malawi and Tanzania to the Southern African Power Pool, is seeing notable progress, according to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Among the priority energy interconnector projects, the Zambia-Tanzania interconnector is divided into several components, with construction on both sides and the two transmission lines designed to converge near the Nakonde Border by 2022. Another project, connecting Angola and Namibia is at feasibility study stage and will likely be commissioned by 2022. According to a release from SADC, in 2020 “the Mozambique-Malawi interconnector attained financial closure and is at construction stage. The project is expected to be commissioned in 2022”. Pre-feasibility studies are being undertaken for the Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo interconnector. The Secretariat is advocating for the development of the western transmission corridor along Angola, Botswana and Namibia, and the central transmission corridor along Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Plans are also underway to develop eastern corridors along South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. SADC said ministers responsible for energy approved the market and investment framework for SADC Power Projects as an instrument to guide investors who want to venture into power generation and transmission projects.
Source: ESI Africa
BotswanaUNECA assists with Africa trade agreement implementation
Government has secured support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to develop Botswana’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) national implementation strategy. This was said by President Mokgweetsi Masisi when giving a keynote address at the 2021 Africa private sector summit held virtually. He said the strategy would enable the country to harness competitive advantage for sustainable beneficiation under the AfCFTA agreement. President Masisi said Botswana was also at an advanced stage in developing an e-commerce strategy which would facilitate trade using digital platforms. President Masisi said Botswana’s geographic location, coupled with an integrated transport network and information and communication technology also presented opportunities under AfCFTA. He stated that the recently completed Kazungula Bridge linking Botswana and Zambia over the Zambezi River would contribute immensely towards trade facilitation in the whole region. Meanwhile, President Masisi has urged the African Union Commission to fast-track finalisation of the AfCFTA protocol on investment aimed at harmonising policies to remove trade barriers.
Source: Daily News
Cameroon / United KingdomUK and Cameroon sign economic trade agreement
On 9 March 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement with Cameroon. The trade deal, which will support jobs and build future prosperity, was signed by International Trade minister Ranil Jayawardena and High Commissioner of Cameroon to the UK, H.E. Albert Fotabong Njoteh in London. The deal provides certainty for British and Cameroonian businesses, ensuring that they can continue to trade as freely as they do now without any additional barriers or tariffs. The UK-Cameroon trade was worth around GBP200-million in 2019, and this deal lays a foundation to extend their trading relationship in the future. The UK market accounts for 12% of total exports of bananas from Cameroon and this agreement will maintain tariff-free market access to the UK. It also guarantees continued market access for UK exporters, who sold GBP50-million in goods to Cameroon in 2019. The signing comes after the agreement to roll over current European Union-Cameroon trading arrangements from 1 January 2021 concluded at the end of December.
Source: Business Leader
EthiopiaAfDB approves USD2.33-million grant to support the modernisation of electronic payments infrastructure
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a grant of USD2.33-million to EthSwitch Share Company, an initiative led by the National Bank of Ethiopia, for the modernisation of its payments infrastructure. The grant is resourced from the special fund of the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). The project, that entails procurement and implementation of the required payment system, will facilitate design and use of different digital financial services (DFS), including digital distribution of payments such as social benefits, pensions and other government payments, e-commerce, transport systems, and utility bills. Legally established in 2011, EthSwitch S.C is jointly owned by all the commercial banks in Ethiopia and the National Bank of Ethiopia. Non-banks will be allowed to participate on a case-by-case basis as approved by the National Bank of Ethiopia. The EthSwitch project will be implemented over a three-year period with ADFI and EthSwitch working closely with strategic industry experts and players.
GabonGabon launches an ecotourism project to monetise its rich biodiversity
Luxury Green Resorts is back in the spotlight as it presents its first project. The joint venture, owned by the Gabonese Strategic Investment Fund (FGIS) and the Singaporean hotelier Amanresorts, wants to implement a project called "African Ecotourism Safari". The initiative aims at the conservation and construction of several eco-lodges in the network of national parks in Gabon. Initially, it will involve setting up a multidisciplinary research centre, focused on the conservation and construction of several eco-lodges in the network of national parks, notably Loango in the south of the country, Moukalaba Doudou in the south-west, Lopé and Ivindo in the east, and Pongara in the west of the country, near Libreville. The establishment of the Luxury Green Resorts joint venture was already discussed between the Gabonese government and Amanresorts in 2012. Thanks to this project, the Central African country, where tourism is still in its infancy, expects to attract 100,000 visitors per year in the medium and high end of the market. Ecotourism is one of the pillars of the emerging Gabon Strategic Plan. The country expects to generate F.CFA25-billion (about EUR38-million) by 2025.
Source: AFRIK 21
GhanaCOVID-19 pandemic costs Ghana GHS25.3-billion – Akufo-Addo
President Nana Akufo-Addo said the country lost more than GHS13.5-billion in revenue in 2020 because of the economic shocks induced by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In his state of the nation address to Parliament, the president said with additional expenditures related to stemming the tide of COVID-19, estimated at GHS11.8-billion, the combined effect of the pandemic amounted to GHS25.3-billion or 6.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). He said the resultant fiscal deficit for 2020 was, thus, revised from 4.7% to 11.4% of GDP to reflect the impact of the pandemic. The president said the fiscal responsibility rule of keeping a deficit within a threshold of 5% of GDP and a positive primary balance for every year was suspended in 2020 to enable fiscal operations to accommodate the impact of the pandemic. “We expect gross domestic product growth to rebound strongly this year to nearly 5%, above the IMF’s 2021 January projection of 3.2% growth for sub-Saharan Africa for 2021,” said President Akufo-Addo. The president added that the establishment of the National Development Bank, under the Ghana CARES programme, would provide support to Ghanaian businesses.
GhanaGovernment settles on banks to help raise USD5-billion in Eurobonds
Government has commenced the processes for the 2021 International Capital Market (ICM) Funding Programme. Government is expected to raise up to USD5-billion and the funds will be used to support growth-oriented expenditures in the 2021 Budget as well as to conduct liability management of both Eurobonds and domestic bonds. According to a statement from the Finance Ministry, Bank of America, Citi Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Standard Bank have been pencilled down as lead managers for raising the Eurobonds. The statement further said the programme instruments consist of Eurobonds, diaspora bonds, sustainable bonds and syndicated / bridge loans. “One of the key mandates of the banks is to advise the government on various alternative funding structures and options, especially for the Eurobond, that would best fit Ghana’s funding requirements and provide the fiscal capacity to further support economic revitalisation and recovery at this time”.
Ghana / Rwanda / ZambiaAfDB provides USD1-million for AI-based national customer management systems
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a grant of USD1.024-million for artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled systems to process customer complaints on behalf of the Bank of Ghana and Bank of Rwanda and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of Zambia. The grant resources are from the special fund of the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). The project will establish a complaints-handling system for the financial regulators, using multilingual chatbots and AI that will interface with key financial service providers in the three countries. The project is expected to yield three results: improve the tracking of customer complaints made to financial services providers; strengthen the support for marginalised groups, which will build confidence in the use of financial services; and improve the collection of consistent data to be used for the development or improvement of consumer-protection policies. The system will be developed by Sinitic Africa in collaboration with BFA. The Sinitic solution will be deployed in the three target countries in the following languages: Kinyarwanda, Swahili, French and English in Rwanda; English and Nyanja/Chewa in Zambia; and English and Twi in Ghana.
KenyaState to lift mining permits freeze as survey ends June
The conclusion of a survey to map Kenya's mineral deposits in June will pave way for the lifting of a moratorium on exploration licences, the Mineral Rights Board says. Kenya is seeking to determine the quantity of its underground minerals. The Mining Ministry earlier said it plans to spend KES3-billion on the first phase covering, among others, Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega and Busia counties. The survey, which was set to be concluded late last year, is being conducted jointly by the ministries of Interior, Defense and Mining. "Once the areas' survey has been completed, the moratorium can be lifted," Stephen Kuria, the chair of the Mineral Rights Board told the Business Daily in an interview. Kenya has not renewed or issued any new mining licences since 2015 when then Mining cabinet secretary Najib Balala revoked the licences of 65 companies, forcing mining firms to operate under a gazette notice.
Source: Business Daily
KenyaTough terms as Kenya lifts Tanzania, Uganda maize imports ban
Kenya has lifted the ban on imports of Ugandan and Tanzanian maize with strict conditions on exporters as the country seeks to curb shipping in of the cancer-causing aflatoxin on imported crop. The Ministry of Agriculture said that all stakeholders dealing in maize imports would be required to be registered, the consignments coming in must be accompanied by a certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels, and that traders have to issue details of their warehouses. The certificate of conformity should indicate that the aflatoxin levels comply with the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion. In a statement read by Agriculture chief administrative secretary Lawrence Angolo, Kenya said the move is aimed at addressing the safety of consumers and that the country will not compromise on that.
Source: The Citizen
KenyaTreasury plans wealth tax to fix July budget
The Treasury is considering imposing higher taxes on Kenya’s super-rich and high-income earners in the new budget starting July as part of a broader strategy to raise revenues that have dropped amid the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Treasury principal secretary Julius Muia told the Business Daily in an interview that the possibility of introducing a wealth tax was among reforms being discussed. “We are looking at fiscal changes that will go into the Finance Bill and we are in discussions over the wealth tax among many other fiscal reforms to boost revenues," Dr Muia said. The push to make wealthy individuals pay higher tax rates gained momentum in 2018 but the idea was ultimately dropped. The Finance Bill, which expresses Treasury’s plan for new taxes, duties and relief for the year, is set to be tabled in Parliament next month. The shape of the planned increased taxation of wealthy individuals is not clear, and comes in a period when the number of Kenya’s super-rich has dropped as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted businesses and hammered most asset classes across Africa. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has stepped up efforts to collect more revenue from the rich through investigations. It recently said it had identified wealthy individuals and companies from whom it could collect up to KES250-billion worth of unpaid taxes.
Source: Business Daily
Malawi‘Economic outlook remains murky’
Economic prospects remain mixed and murky, with chances of recovery highly dependent on COVID-19 vaccine roll-out effectiveness and the impact of the commencement of the agricultural marketing season, a recent Market Intelligence report from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has shown. The report says, on one hand, the continued shortage of supply of foreign exchange is expected to trigger a further depreciation of the exchange rate in the near future, thereby raising non-food inflation through high costs of imported goods, including fuel. “On the other hand, as the country approaches the agricultural harvest season, food price pressures are expected to remain subdued due to increased supply of maize and other cereals. Furthermore, the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in Malawi could help to contain infections, thereby allowing the economy to recover as some restrictions are expected to be eased,” reads the report. During January, the Kwacha depreciated by about 1.0% against the United States Dollar. Headline inflation also registered a marginal increase to 7.7% in January 2021 from 7.6% the previous month. Delivering his Mid-year Budget Statement, Finance minister Felix Mlusu projected that the economy would grow by 3.5%.
Source: The Times
MauritiusStrategy Paper 2021-2025 will speed up energy transition
Mauritius has one of the most dynamic economies on the African continent. However, the economy has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly disrupting the tourism sector, which is the country’s third largest source of income after manufacturing and agriculture. In the Mauritius Strategy Paper 2021-2025, the African Development Bank (AfDB) plans to support the economic resilience of this island country. The AfDB will build on the 2014-2018 Strategy Paper, the final report of which has just been published. This roadmap “rests notably on two pillars: the development of infrastructure and public-private partnerships (PPPs), as well as capacity building and technology development. This was necessary to boost the country’s growth and help it achieve its ambition to become a high-income country,” explains the pan-African financial institution.
Source: AFRIK 21
NamibiaLocals to own 15% stake in new mines
From 1 April this year, all applications for a mining licence in Namibia must have 15% local owners, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has announced. The move to localise ownership of Namibian mining licences follows the completion last year of a review of the Mining Act which covers prospecting and mining activities. The ministry announced in a press release that all “applications by Namibian nationals for the transfer, cessation and assignment of mineral licences to foreign companies or persons may be granted provided 15% interest in the company is retained locally”. The latest economic outlook by the Bank of Namibia predicts that the mining and quarrying industries will record a 5.4% growth this year. Most of this growth is expected to come from diamond production, but uranium is still expected to post negative growth this year. The ministry also announced that the suspension on accepting and processing of new applications for retail and wholesale petroleum licences has now been lifted.
Source: The Namibian
Nigeria‘NNPC can earn more from gas with clear framework’
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has called for a legislative framework with clear fiscal terms in order to tap the full potential of the gas resources in the nation’s deepwater acreages. The Group managing director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, made the call at a one-day public hearing on ‘Inclusion of Gas Terms in Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs)’ organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Gas Resources, Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream). In a statement from the NNPC, the GMD said investors needed clarity on fiscal terms to be encouraged to commit their capital for gas development projects. He stated that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would help resolve issues of fiscal terms in Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) as the PSCs were mainly on crude oil production, making the contract weak for gas.
Source: Daily Trust
NigeriaNigerian Stock Exchange completes demutualisation
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has received final approvals of its demutualisation plan from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), leading to the completion of the exchange’s demutualisation process. Under the demutualisation plan, a new non-operating holding company, the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) has been created with three operating subsidiaries. The subsidiaries are: the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX Limited), which will be the operating exchange; the NGX Regulation Limited (NGX REGCO), the independent regulation company; and the NGX Real Estate Limited (NGX RELCO), the real estate company. Demutualisation of the NSE has been seen as very pivotal because it creates new strategic opportunities that will enable the group to realise its vision of becoming Africa’s leading capital market infrastructure provider. The creation of a holding company and a new capital structure will also enable NGX Group Plc to form new dynamic relationships, drive strategic partnerships and gain capital raising flexibility.
Source: This Day
TanzaniaTanzania to translate over 400 laws into Kiswahili
Tanzania's Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs (MoCLA) has given guidelines to all government ministries and institutions over the translation of 450 laws from English into Kiswahili, an official said. Hassan Abbasi, the government's chief spokesman, said the translation will be completed by December 2021. The MoCLA released the guidelines after the Tanzanian Parliament last month approved Kiswahili as the official language of the laws and the language used in the administration and dispensation of justice. Addressing a press conference in the capital Dodoma, Abbasi said the translation of the laws will go in tandem with the translation of over 15,000 regulations, which is expected to be completed by June 2022. In February 2021, President John Magufuli called for amendments to the laws and regulations to accommodate Kiswahili in the delivery of court judgments.
TanzaniaWhat a 25-year Treasury bond means
The government is targeting long-term financing of its development projects with the introduction of the 25-year bond which is expected to hit the financial market next month. The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) sells bonds of different maturities up to 20 years, and the new bond will be included in the list of existing government securities. “We have been experiencing a continuous oversubscription of the 20-year bond, and that means there is huge demand for bonds with longer maturities,” said Mr Raphael Masumbuko, chief executive officer of brokerage firm Zan Securities. In the latest auction of the 20-year bond on 10 February, this year, the Bank of Tanzania intended to raise TZS136-billion, but investors tendered TZS350.3-billion. However, the central bank accepted TZS249.99-billion which is more than the amount offered. The central bank stated that the bond, with a fixed coupon of 15.95%, is exempted from withholding tax and interest is paid twice annually. It will also be listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange after the primary trading.
Source: The Citizen
ZambiaState ponders issuing SI on AfCFTA trading
Government will soon issue a statutory instrument (SI) under the Customs and Excise Act to pave way for trading following Zambia’s ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Foreign Trade director, Bessie Chelemu, said the SI under the Customs and Excise Act is necessary for the agreement to have the force of law in Zambia and subsequently for the country to begin trading. On 5 February 2021, Zambia ratified the AfCFTA, which opened up for trading on 1 January this year and seeks to ease the movement of goods, services and people across the continent in a quest to boost intra-African trade and economic transformation.
Source: Zambia Daily
Zambia / AngolaZambia, Angola ink agriculture cooperation deal
Zambia and Angola on Thursday, 11 March 2021 signed a communiqué of action plans aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector. The signing was meant to actualise the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding initiated by leaders of the two countries on 2 May 2018. Michael Katambo, minister of Agriculture who signed on behalf of Zambia, said the agreement will help strengthen bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector. The agreement, he added, will also provide exploitation of various opportunities such as crop production, agriculture research and development as well as seed production among others.