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Africa Business in Brief


issue 403 | 06 Jun 2021

Central Africa

African Development Bank grants approximately USD1-million to strengthen the regional financial market

On 28 May in Abidjan, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) signed a grant agreement to support the unified financial market support project of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). This funding of USD994,638 comes from the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, financed by Japan and Austria and hosted by the AfDB. It is in addition to resources already made available by the AfDB in support of the regional financial market. The support provided by the AfDB will make it possible to implement three main components: boosting the public securities market, supporting the stock exchange and supporting project management. The project will stimulate the deepening of the regional financial market through a series of reforms aimed at further developing the market for public securities, encouraging the growth of long-term domestic savings. Specifically, the project will support insurance companies through the Inter-African Conference on Insurance Markets by promoting the collection of reliable, automated, available and coordinated insurance market data and the compliance of the regulatory framework with international standards.

Source: AfDB

East / Southern Africa

Regional ministers urge member states to scale up infrastructure programmes

Ministers of infrastructure have called on regional states to scale up programmes to upgrade and maintain infrastructure and facilities, and adopt and implement the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) transit instruments to improve transport corridors’ efficiency. In their 12th joint meeting conducted virtually on 2 June 2021, the ministers responsible for transport, energy, and information and communications technology acknowledged the huge infrastructure efficiency gap across the region as a pressing policy priority. Estimates by the African Development Bank (2018) place the annual infrastructure funding gap at between USD68-billion and USD108-billion across the continent. In their communique, the ministers invited member states to take up the financing, technical assistance and capacity building opportunities available under the Regional Infrastructure Finance Facility (RIFF) of the World Bank and other development partners to help address the gap. The RIFF is one of the latest major infrastructure financing facility signed in August last year, aimed at expanding long-term finance to private firms in selected infrastructure sectors in eastern and southern Africa.

Source: COMESA


IMF Executive Board concludes 2021 Article IV consultation with Botswana

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Botswana. The country entered the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis with larger buffers than most countries but was already contending with structural challenges. The pandemic caused a 7.9% contraction in gross domestic product, due to heavy reliance on diamonds and contact-intensive services, while the unemployment rate reached 24.5% in the last quarter of 2020 – the highest in the last three and half decades. The authorities have taken decisive measures to limit the health and economic fallout of the pandemic. The Botswana economy is expected to recover in 2021, with growth projected at 8.3%, driven by improvements in the global demand for diamonds, the easing of restrictions on mobility, and the expansionary fiscal stance. The recovery is expected to be uneven across sectors, depending on improvement in both the domestic and external environment. The growth outlook is subject to high uncertainty.

Source: IMF

Burundi / Kenya

Burundi, Kenya business lobbies sign deal for trade and investments

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) has signed a deal with its Burundi counterparts that will increase trade and investments between the two countries. The deal will see Kenyan traders take part in the annual Burundi trade fair and spur investments in sectors including energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and logistics. KNCCI president, Richard Ngatia, said the agreement will ease access for traders banking on the vast population that offers huge market opportunities. Exports to the landlocked nation marginally grew to KES6.73-billion in 2019 from KES6.59-billion in 2015, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. “The private sector is the key to driving the growth that will deliver jobs, transform labour markets and open up opportunity. Kenya has the companies that can invest in and trade with Burundi to do just this,” Mr Ngatia said. The deal will help the local private sector to increase and diversify their presence in Burundi, a nation that has not seen significant investments relative to Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Under the agreement, KNCCI will also send a trade delegation to Burundi with the aim of opening up more opportunities as part of the two chambers to increase job opportunities.

Source: Business Daily


Eswatini looks to renewables to reduce electricity imports

The Kingdom of Eswatini is seeking to reduce its energy dependency from neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa through renewable energy plants. The country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy through the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA) recently issued an intention to award three 15 megawatt (MW) solar plants to a consortium of Globeleq and Sturdee Energy Southern Africa, and ACED. Globeleq and Sturdee won a total of 30 MW of capacity. The 10 MW Lavumisa solar plant is also close to completion. The facility, when completed, will be the country’s first utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) plant. The total cost of the project is SZL255-million (USD18.4-million / EUR15-million). The country is also developing three other projects that will inject 40 MW of solar and 40 MW of biomass power capacity.

Source: The Electricity Hub


Ethiopia updates travel advisory, requiring AU COVID-19 pass for entry, exit

The Ethiopian government on Wednesday, 2 June 2021 announced an updated travel advisory, which necessitates an African Union (AU) COVID-19 pass for entry and exit. According to the updated travel advisory, all travellers exiting, entering or transiting via Ethiopia are required from 7 June 2021 to present a digital negative COVID-19 certificate at all ports of entry based on the AU's Trusted Travel platform and the United Nations Development Programme-sponsored Global Haven. The Ministry of Health said paper certificates shall cease to be acceptable and only AU Trusted Travel or Global Haven COVID-19 test certificates shall be allowed for exit, transit and entry purposes starting from 1 July 2021. The requirement for digital certificates has become necessary due to the alarming increase of fake health documents and rising incidents of forgery detected since the onset of the pandemic.

Source: Xinhua


African Development Bank Group supports risk-based supervision for capital markets

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Ghana have launched a USD400,000 project to strengthen the development of Ghanaian capital markets. This follows the signing of a grant agreement to develop a risk-based supervisory solution for the local capital market. The grant, from the AfDB’s Capital Markets Development Trust Fund, will finance the provision of technical assistance and capacity building for the SEC, the markets regulator, and the Ghana Stock Exchange. The project will enhance the SEC’s institutional capacity and readiness to transition from a compliance-based to a risk-based supervision approach for the securities market. It will also enable the development and streamlining of policy and regulatory frameworks for pooled funds, and support the broadening of market instruments through the introduction of products such as asset-backed securities. The objectives of the project align with the priorities of the AfDB’s Country Strategy for Ghana, which envisages measures to stimulate capital market development and unlock financial resources that will advance Ghana’s industrialisation, the private sector and infrastructure development.

Source: AfDB


Digital lenders call for laws that will spur sector growth

Digital lenders have asked legislators and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to enact non-restrictive laws that will spur the growth of the sector. This comes in the wake of the Central Bank of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that seeks to curb high digital lending rates. The Bill, set for debate before Parliament, will grant the CBK powers to regulate digital lending rates in what is seen as a key step to tame an industry that has for years remained unregulated. Online lenders will also be subjected to similar rules to commercial banks, including having to seek the CBK’s approval for new products and pricing if the Bill becomes law. But the Digital Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) proposes to add provisions concerning the non-applicability to digital lenders of other provisions of the Bill than those indicated in the regulations. This is because digital lenders use their own capital as they are non-deposit-taking institutions, and have a limited scope of activities such as granting small loans. DLAK chairman, Kevin Mutiso said applying the same rules to digital lenders as for banks is asymmetrical and would create an enormous regulatory and compliance burden for digital lenders that they will not be in a position to bear.

Source: Business Daily


Kenya, UPU plan to promote cross-border trade

The state-owned Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK) and the United Nations (UN) specialised agency, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), will partner to promote cross-border trade, an official said on Thursday, 3 June 2021. Dan Kagwe, CEO and postmaster general of the PCK, told journalists in Nairobi that the collaboration will promote the movement and delivery of cargo between Kenya and its East African neighbours. According to the PCK, the collaboration with the UN agency will ensure that the postal sector plays a vital role in reducing the cost of cross-border trade by removing existing bottlenecks. Kagwe observed that the cooperation will also ensure a seamless payment system for all international trade transactions. He noted that in the online trade area, Kenya is also cooperating with the UPU which has already established an e-commerce hub in North Africa with Kenya hoping to be the hub for the East African region.

Source: Xinhua


Kenya's Maritime Single Window System goes live

Shipping lines and agents operating in Kenya will now be mandated to use the Maritime Single Window System as the country moves to comply with the International Maritime Organization rules. The system will be used to electronically prepare and submit vessel pre-arrival and pre-departure declarations to the government agencies at the Port of Mombasa. The Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) has partnered with the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) in the implementation of the Maritime Single Window System as an e-Maritime Module of the Kenya TradeNet System, to comply with the International Maritime Organization Convention on Facilitation of Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention). The country is among the 120 member states that have ratified the FAL Convention. The FAL Convention recommends the use of the “Single Window” concept in which the agencies and authorities involved exchange data via a single point of contact, in a move aimed at improving port services and reducing vessel delays, which is expected to save traders from demurrage charges. This is a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed. The new directive took effect on 2 June 2021.

Source: The Star


African Union suspends Mali after military coup and threatens sanctions

The African Union (AU) has suspended Mali’s membership in response to the recent military coup and threatened sanctions if a civilian-led government is not restored, it said in a statement on Tuesday, 1 June 2021. The African Union called for "an unimpeded, transparent and swift return to the civilian-led transition ... failing which, the Council will not hesitate to impose targeted sanctions," the AU's Peace and Security Council said. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali on Sunday, 30 May 2021 and said authorities must stick to a timetable for a return to democracy, but stopped short of imposing new sanctions. Leaders of the 15-member ECOWAS held an emergency summit in Ghana's capital Accra to agree a response to the Malian military's ouster of a president and prime minister for the second time in nine months. In a communique after the summit, ECOWAS said Mali's membership in the bloc was suspended with immediate effect.

Source: Reuters


Trade balance remains in a deficit amounting to NAD2-billion

The country’s trade balance remained in a deficit amounting to NAD2-billion, increasing from NAD1.8-billion recorded in both March 2021 and April 2020, the statistics agency said on 3 June 2021. Despite the increased deficit, the month of April 2021 saw total merchandise trade increase to NAD18.7-billion, an increase of 0.8% and 43.3% compared to NAD18.6-billion and NAD13.1-billion recorded in March 2021 and April 2020, respectively. The Namibia Statistics Agency’s statistician-general, Alex Shimuafeni, in the latest released trade figure said Namibia’s trade composition by partner illustrated that China continued as Namibia’s largest export market while South Africa maintained her first position as Namibia’s largest source of imports. “The composition of the export basket mainly comprised of minerals such as copper, uranium, precious stones (diamonds), fish, non-monetary gold. As usual, fish remained the only non-mineral product among the top five exports. On the other hand, the import basket comprised mainly of vessels, copper, petroleum and petroleum products, motor vehicles and medicaments,” he added.

Source: Namibia Economist


Windhoek municipality approves grant for the upgrading of Gammams waste water treatment plant

The City of Windhoek recently accepted a grant from Kreditanstalt Für Wiederaufbau (KfW) Bank for the upgrading of the Gammams waste water treatment plant. The city at a recent council sitting noted that the grant from the KfW Bank is a non-repayable grant funding of approximately NAD10.96-million for expert services within the framework of the Securing Windhoek Water Supply II project. The Gammams Waste Water Treatment Plant was initially designed for a treatment capacity of 28,000 cubic metres per day, however this capacity has now been exceeded to 50,000 per day during peak time. “Therefore, there is a need for expansion or upgrade to accommodate current demand and future development within its catchment area,” it added. According to the municipality, the design and development of waste water treatment plants is a specialised field and development projects of this nature are limited. A ministerial approval will be obtained in terms of section 30(1)(2)(I) of the Local Authorities Act, 1992, as amended, for the grant financing from KfW Bank before signing the agreement.

Source: Namibia Economist


Grant to improve Nigeria’s inland waterways operations announced

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) have green-lit a joint USD750,000 grant that will bridge the gap in maritime transport infrastructure and improve trade in the region in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. The grant will support the charting of the main channel of the Niger-Benue river in Nigeria, as part of the Regional Sealink Project, which aims to bridge the gap in maritime transport infrastructure and improve trade connectivity in West Africa. Afreximbank provided a grant of USD350,000 to supplement the USD400,000 made available by NEXIM, thus completing the financing of the barthymetric survey and hydrograhic and hydrological studies of the lower Niger-Benue river. The studies will be undertaken under a joint collaboration framework between the Nigerian Navy Hydrography Department, Nigeria’s National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Sealink Consortium Partners.

Source: ESI Africa


USD40-billion investments needed to boost power supply in Nigeria

The federal government has said that there is still a lot of financing gap in the country's power sector, requiring an immediate funding of USD40-billion in the generation, transmission and distribution value chain. The government stated that from all sources, it expects to spend between USD3-billion and USD5-billion to boost power supply in the sector in the next 24 months and eventually free itself from the payment of subsidies. Speaking during a television programme on the challenges and prospects of the power sector, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructure, Mr Ahmad Zakari, noted that the sector is currently bedeviled by three major classes of challenges. He grouped the systemic challenges as regulatory, fiscal and infrastructural, explaining that for years, Nigeria had a situation where distribution companies were buying power at high prices but were only allowed to sell at low prices by the government. But he noted that the current administration has gone a long way to correct the inefficiency by introducing the service-based tariff despite the regulatory gap, which created an investment quagmire wherein any investor who put in money was not able to recover it.

Source: This Day


Rwanda conducts study on how to leverage ports it owns abroad

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has embarked on a study that will guide infrastructure development and other investments at ports that Rwanda owns in Djibouti, Tanzania and Kenya. This land was donated to Rwanda by host governments through different bilateral cooperation agreements signed over different periods of time. Speaking to The New Times, Doreen Ntawebasa, the official in charge of trade and infrastructure investments at the ministry said that the ministry is currently in a procurement process to undergo an intensive feasibility study for all three plots located outside Rwanda. Steven Ruzibiza, the CEO of the Private Sector Federation envisions a wide range of opportunities in those areas depending on the strategic locations of the ports. “Each port has its own business opportunities depending on the investment return. So, each will be assessed and the fitting businesses might be allowed to jet in once the assessments are over,” he said in an exclusive interview with The New Times.

Source: The New Times


Rwanda ICT Chamber and French financier sign pact to boost access to capital

Bpifrance and the Rwanda ICT Chamber have signed an agreement to accelerate the connection between innovative Rwandan companies and French and European investors and businesses, through the EuroQuity digital platform. Bpifrance serves to avail finance for companies - at every stage of their development - with credit, guarantees and equity. Bpifrance supports them in their innovation and international projects. Bpifrance and Rwanda ICT Chamber agreed to initiate their collaboration through a program of joint activities including the creation of a Rwanda ICT Chamber community to bring together the Rwandan ecosystem (entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, accelerators, incubators) and enhance the link between international investors and companies in order to foster access to funding and business opportunities.

Source: The New Times

Seychelles / Angola

Seychelles, Angola sign agreements to launch partnerships, closer relations

Seychelles and Angola will have more cooperation in tourism, agriculture, education and several other fields after the two countries signed their first bilateral agreements on Tuesday, 1 June 2021. The General Cooperation Agreement and the Agreement on the Creation of a Bilateral Commission were signed by Seychelles' minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvestre Radegonde, and newly accredited Angolan ambassador to the island nation, Sandro de Oliveira. The General Cooperation Agreement provides a framework for bilateral cooperation between the two countries and indicates in which sectors and areas. A bilateral joint commission will be established and will be responsible for discussing and monitoring the implementation of specific cooperation between the two countries. "The implementation of these two important instruments will accelerate the exploration of areas for the mutually beneficial cooperation and the materialisation of joint projects, aimed at the sustainable development of our respective economies and the well-being of our population," said de Oliveira.

Source: Seychelles News Agency


Tanzania resumes export of mineral concentrates

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has said that the Government of Tanzania has approved exportation of mineral concentrates after establishing a proper revenue collection system. Mr Majaliwa was speaking in Parliament during the questions and answers session. He made the statement in response to a question by Member of Parliament for Msalala (CCM), Idd Kassim who wanted to know why the government had banned exportation of mineral concentrates and why government had resumed its exportation. Majaliwa said the government had suspended export concentrate since 2017/18 due to allegations of theft and fraud. He said the ban was aimed at conducting a satisfactory investigation and calling for the establishment of a local company where it established the Twiga Company where the government has a joint venture. Majaliwa said a clear permit system has been set up and no container is transported to the port without a permit.

Source: The Citizen


IMF and Uganda reach staff-level agreement on a three-year USD1-billion financing package

A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Mr Amine Mati conducted virtual missions to Uganda from 2 February to 5 March 2021 and from 25-28 May 2021 to discuss a 36-month program under the Extended Credit Facility. In summary, the authorities’ reform program aims at tackling the near-term impact of COVID-19 and helping Uganda’s recovery by safeguarding macroeconomic stability and generating more inclusive growth. Key policy actions under the program include a prudent fiscal policy that creates space for much needed social and investment spending while keeping debt contained, the strengthening of spending efficiency, the enhancement of financial sector resilience and the scaling-up of anti-corruption efforts. This staff-level agreement is subject to IMF management approval and IMF Executive Board consideration, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Source: IMF


Uganda secures USD200-million to accelerate digital transformation and inclusiveness

The World Bank approved USD200-million financing to expand access to high-speed and affordable internet, improve efficiency of digitally enabled public service delivery, and strengthen digital inclusion in Uganda. With USD140-million in financing from the International Development Association and a USD60-million grant, the project will support the implementation of the government’s flagship initiative, GovNet, which contributes to the objectives of the Digital Uganda Vision and the Digital Transformation Program under the National Development Plan III. It will help develop shared platforms for ministries, departments, and agencies to efficiently deliver digitally-enabled public services to citizens and businesses throughout the country. These digital platforms will create the foundations for better resilience and economic recovery by boosting the effectiveness of government e-services that can be delivered remotely, in a paperless and cashless manner, reducing the need to travel for government services.

Source: World Bank


Zimbabwe's gold output declines in Q1

Zimbabwe's gold production declined to 4,311 kg during the first quarter of this year, compared to 6,152 kg produced in the same period last year. The output was also lower than 4,794 kg produced in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a 2021 first quarter Treasury bulletin released on Thursday, 3 June 2021. "The decline was mainly on account of a fall in production from the artisanal and small-scale gold sector," said the quarterly report released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. According to the report, the mining sector registered mixed performance during the first quarter. While on the one hand, firm international prices and resuscitation of closed mines improved performance of the sector, there were major drawbacks from a number of factors such as unstable power supply, heavy rains which culminated in the flooding of shafts, working capital challenges and subdued demand for some minerals, the report said. Overall, platinum, diamonds and coal performed better than the previous quarter while gold, chrome and nickel suffered some declines.

Source: Xinhua