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Africa Business in Brief


issue 409 | 18 Jul 2021


Africa’s potential in the blue economy highlighted in the World Water Congress

Thirty-eight countries in the African continent are bordered by the ocean or the sea, but for 70% of them, their maritime exclusive economic zones are largely under-exploited. The maritime zones under African jurisdiction cover some 13 million square kilometres (km2) and some 6.5 km2 of continental shelf. In a video broadcast on 1 June during the Digital World Water Congress, organised by the International Water Association (IWA), the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, extolled the continent’s potential in the matter of the blue economy. The Digital World Water Congress is a conference which assembles professionals and decision-makers working in the water sector at the global level. The participants discussed the management of water services, waste water management, drinking water and its re-use, planning and operations, communication, partnership and communities, water resources and large-scale management. Africa’s potential in the sphere of water remains largely under-exploited, although its contribution to the inclusive development of the continent no longer needs demonstrating.

Source: AfDB

West Africa

West Africa positioned as major cashew nut exporter through US government investments

West Africa is poised to be the next largest exporter of cashew kernels to the United States (US) market through a USD3-million co-investment partnership between the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) and Red River Foods (RRF), a leading global supplier of plant-based food. This partnership builds on the US government’s Prosper Africa initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa, as nearly USD32-million in exports are anticipated from activities to boost the production and processing of this valuable commodity. According to RRF, which sources cashews from West Africa, the region currently produces 1.8 million metric tonnes annually. While this figure may be impressive, it is still below the volume of cashews grown and processed in Vietnam and India, whose economies have benefited significantly from meeting the rising global demand for cashews. Nevertheless, West Africa has the capability to compete with the other world leaders thanks to its growth potential and strong labour force.

Source: BusinessGhana


Tender for investment in Lobito refinery project in Angola launched

The government of Angola has launched a tender for investment in Lobito refinery. Oil minister Diamantino Azevedo, officiated the launch and said interested parties have four months to present their proposals to the National Fuel Society (Sonangol). The country is looking to break its dependence on oil imports. In 2019, Angola imported USD1.7-billion worth of fuel. Angola currently has a daily production of 1.2 million barrels of crude oil, a volume that could change in the near future as new fields come on line. Lobito refinery, located in Benguela province has been at a standstill since 2016. So far an economic feasibility study, the dredging of Lobito bay, preparation of terraces, heavy load road pipeline and some support infrastructures have been carried out. The project is expected to process up to 200,000 barrels per day when completed. It will further provide 8,000 direct and indirect jobs in the construction phase and other 4,000 in the production phase, thus contributing to the reduction of the unemployment rate in the country. According to the proposed corporate governance structure, private investors will own 70% of the company, with state oil firm Sonangol controlling 30% stake.

Source: Pumps Africa


Botswana begins first iron-ore mining project

Botswana has begun work on its first iron-ore mine, a senior government official said on Tuesday, 13 July 2021, as the country seeks rapid diversification from diamond mining. The African nation's heavy reliance on diamonds, which account for a fifth of Botswana's gross domestic product (GDP) and more than two thirds of its foreign exchange income, was exposed last year as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis unfolded. The pandemic curbed demand for diamonds and pushed down prices, with the country's economy shrinking by almost 8%, having achieved up to 4% growth before the pandemic. Botswana has since tried to exploit its vast natural resources by granting licences to mine commodities such as coal, copper and iron-ore. The Ikongwe iron-ore mine, owned by a unit of India's Yashomann Industries, was recently granted a licence to develop the project. "The mine is also looking at processing some of the run-on-mine material for local steel production. This will revive the local steel industry," said Lefoko Moagi, minister for mineral resources, green technology and energy security.

Source: Engineering News

Democratic Republic of the Congo / Burundi

DRC and Burundi sign trade, development agreements

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi have signed vital agreements aimed at strengthening their ties. On Tuesday, 13 July 2021 Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye and DRC’s Félix Tshisekedi signed the agreements in Kinshasa. Both leaders stressed the necessity of several beneficial projects such as constructing bridges for vehicles and pedestrians on the Ruzizi river, between the provinces of South Kivu and Cibitoke in the DRC and Burundi, respectively; agricultural exploitation in the Ruzizi plain; the rehabilitation and electrification of the Bujumbura-Uvira-Bukavu-Goma road; and the development of the Gitega-Uvira-Kindu standard gauge railway. The agreements also included cooperation on development; maintenance and strengthening of peace, defence and security; trade facilitation; and political and diplomatic consultations. “We have explored ways and means to combine our efforts to face common challenges” for the benefit of our citizens, President Ndayishimiye said. “These agreements will revitalise trade, social, political and diplomatic exchanges between both countries.”

Source: The EastAfrican

Ethiopia / Djibouti

Electricity connection between Ethiopia and Djibouti to expand

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved two grants totalling USD83.6-million to boost cross-border trade in electricity between Ethiopia and Djibouti. The funds are made up of a USD69.65-million grant to Ethiopia and a USD13.93-million grant to Djibouti. Both grants are sourced from the African Development Fund, which is the AfDB’s concessional financing window. The Ethiopia-Djibouti Second Power Interconnection project will see almost 300 kilometres (km) of interconnector lines and 170 km of transmission lines being constructed. A new or renovation of substations for both countries is also included in the build. The Ethiopia-Djibouti Second Power Interconnection project is aligned with the AfDB’s East African Regional Integration Strategy Paper, which is about promoting regional infrastructure for economic transformation. Batchi Baldeh, AfDB director of Power Systems Development, said the first interconnection line is reaching its power transfer capacity because of several developments coming online in both countries, “[s]uch as the industrial development in the eastern part of Ethiopia, the railway line from Djibouti to Ethiopia, powered by electricity and the port expansion in Djibouti.”

Source: ESI Africa


Bank of Ghana to pilot country's first digital currency in September

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has indicated that it will roll out the first of a three-pilot-phased nation's digital currency in September 2021. The first deputy governor of the BoG, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, said the digital currency would be known as e-cedi. He explained that the currency would operate in a sandbox interim hinged on advancing financial inclusion and facilitating trade towards a cash-lite economy. Dr Opoku-Afari said the digital currency, when fully adopted, will outline the use of other digital currencies. "Digital currency is part of the central bank acknowledging the need for digital payment and digital delivery of financial services. By this, the Bank of Ghana will provide a platform on which we can add more value to digital transactions … we have to take out time to design it with all the security features and so have started it in a pilot phase through what we call a sandbox to learn lessons before we open it up to the general public," Dr Opoku-Afari added. He continued, "The central bank's digital currency is FIAT money; it is cash on its own so that financial institutions like banks and FinTechs will be able to create value addition on the digital cash."

Source: Business Insider Africa


Ghana, EU to collaborate for sustainable cocoa production

Ghana is committed to collaborating with the European Union (EU) and other stakeholders to attain a sustainable cocoa production that promotes good forest cover, said the minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. Currently, Ghana exports 80% of its cocoa to the EU, and early this year, the EU said it will contribute GBP25-million to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon – who are the first, second, and fifth-biggest cocoa producers in the world, respectively. Ms Ayorkor Botchwey applauded the launch of the multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Cocoa by the European Commission, which seeks to deliver concrete recommendations to promote sustainability across the cocoa supply chain through collective actions and partnerships. She expressed optimism that the collaboration between Ghana and the EU would eliminate child labour as well as secure the socioeconomic well-being of cocoa farmers and many others engaged in trade, transportation and processing of cocoa.

Source: GhanaWeb

Ghana / Nigeria

Ghana-Nigeria trade impasse: Speaker Alban Bagbin announces review of GIPC Act

Ghana’s speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has announced a review of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act (GIPC) Act, 2013 (Act 865) that will exempt the capital requirement for Nigerian retailers to trade in Ghana. According to a joint communiqué issued between Ghana and Nigeria, following the Extraordinary Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit, Nigerian retailers will now be exempted from paying a USD1-million capital requirement under the Act to facilitate trade. Making the disclosure before Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Speaker Bagbin said the development will end long-standing retail impasse between Ghana and Nigeria. “… of particular mention is the reconsideration of the USD1-million minimum requirement for trading enterprises under section 28(2) of the Act. This is to facilitate regularisation of the businesses of affected Nigerian retail traders in the trade impasse.” “Equally commendable is the special concession to be applied to a requirement for a payment of 0.5 stamp duty. Our Parliament is working to make sure this does not apply to our brothers and sisters from Nigeria,” Bagbin said.

Source: GhanaWeb


Kenya passport holders banned in 54 countries

Holders of Kenya’s passport cannot access 54 countries in the wake of COVID-19 bans in the global race to protect nations against new variants of COVID-19. The Henley Passport Index, which has been regularly monitoring the world's most travel-friendly passports since 2006, made the revelations that show how the pandemic has affected travel. Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Cambodia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Bulgaria and Singapore top the list of countries that have banned or placed restrictions on holders of Kenyan passports. Others are Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Cameroon, which the Henley & Partners lists as the only African country to place restrictions on Kenya. The highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant may spark a fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months, according to the Health Ministry. The rapidly transmissible strain, first identified in India, is dominant in western Kenya, where it was initially detected in the country.

Source: The EastAfrican


Kenya raises stake in Shelter Afrique to 18.7%

Kenya has injected an additional USD9.2-million (KES1-billion) to become the biggest shareholder in the Pan-African housing finance firm, Shelter Afrique. The additional stake now takes Kenya’s shareholding to 18.72% from 14.87%. Announcing the investment, Transport, Infrastructure and Housing cabinet secretary James Macharia said the released amount is the first tranche of the USD26.9-million Kenya pledged under the 2017 capital call agreement to the institution. Kenya’s recent contribution brings the total amount received in additional capital in the last few years to USD92-million. ''I am happy to report that Kenya has fully met the capital call obligations of 2013 to the tune of USD16.2-million,'' Macharia said. Macharia who chaired the company’s 39th AGM Bureau said Kenya was pleased with the rapid turnaround of the company which posted a profit in 2020 of USD1.85-million and pledged further support. Since its inception, Shelter Afrique has financed 114 projects in Kenya and approved financing in excess of USD225-million. The contribution moves Kenya’s shareholding further ahead of Nigeria and the Africa Development Bank which now own 13.71% and 13.25%, respectively.

Source: The Star

Kenya / Tanzania

Manufacturers call for expedited resolution of non-tariff barriers

Manufacturers from Kenya and Tanzania have called for the expedited resolution of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and the review of the East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC CET). This was during the recent trade investment forum, hosted by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to discuss trade promotion between the two states. Kenya’s exports to Tanzania declined from USD342.9-million in 2016 to USD294.9-million in 2020 while its exports to the rest of the world grew from USD5.7-billion in 2016 to USD6.02-billion in 2020. On the other hand, Tanzania’s exports to Kenya grew from USD126.2-million in 2016 to USD258.2-million in 2020, while her exports to the world grew from USD4.4-billion in 2016 to USD5.2-billion in 2020. Speaking during the forum, the High Commissioner of Kenya to Tanzania, Dan Kazungu noted that in unity, East Africa shall prosper. “The visit by Her Excellency the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, heralded a new dawn in the relationship between Kenya and Tanzania. Let us take advantage of this enhanced friendship to resolve outstanding non-trade barriers that hinder trade between the two countries. A win for our community, means prosperity for us all,” said Kazungu.

Source: Capital Business

Malawi / Zimbabwe

Malawi, Zimbabwe sign bilateral trade agreement

Malawi and Zimbabwe on Monday, 12 July 2021, signed a bilateral trade agreement in order to boost trade between the two countries. Speaking at the event held at Umodzi Park in the capital city, Lilongwe, minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe said the agreement follows up to another agreement which the two countries signed in 1995. At the trade ceremony, Malawi’s High Commissioner Dr Nanzy Saungwenya commended the Malawi government for accepting to re-sign the trade agreement. She said with the agreements in place, Zimbabwean companies can export directly to Malawian companies using distributorship and agents. She encouraged companies to partner with local distributors in Zimbabwe for the benefit of market information trends and consumer buying patterns. She said Zimbabwean companies can now open companies in Malawi and participate in tender bids, adding that there is a need to focus on projects that are in line with the priorities of the governments from both countries. The main trade between Zimbabwe and Malawi as of 2019 include fish; seeds; maize; corrugated paperboard; cement; iron and steel structures; packing containers, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres; rough wood and agrochemicals.

Source: Nyasa Times


Financial services sector stable – Bank of Namibia Macroprudential Oversight Committee

The banking sector is liquid, profitable and well capitalised while the non-bank financial sector is sound with funding and solvency positions above the statutory prudential limits, according to the Bank of Namibia’s newly-constituted Macroprudential Oversight Committee. In a statement signed by the Bank of Namibia governor, Johannes !Gawaxab, the bank informed the Namibian private sector that the committee’s first bi-annual meeting was held on 14 July 2021. The committee concluded that the financial system is resilient, solvent and sound on the basis of the latest information available, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, weak domestic growth and challenging macroeconomic conditions. The banking sector remains liquid, profitable and well capitalised, while the non-bank financial sector remains sound, reporting funding and solvency positions above the prudential limits. The committee also found that asset prices are not subject to undue upward pressure that could impact the stability of the financial system.

Source: Namibia Economist


Power transmission project in Senegal receives a USD35.26-million loan from India Exim Bank

The Export Import (Exim) Bank of India has extended a USD35.26-million loan for the construction of a power transmission project in Senegal. The bank signed a Buyer’s Credit Agreement with Senegal’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Co-operation for the construction and installation of 225 kilovolt (kV), overhead transmission line – which is being built by Mumbai-based Kalpataru Power Transmission – from Tanaff to Ziguinchor. According to an official statement, the funding was provided under the National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) scheme, which provides a safe mode of financing option to Indian project exporters backed by cover from the NEIA Trust. India Exim Bank also funded the construction of a 225 kV transmission line for the Tambacounda – Kolda – Ziguinchor link in Senegal through a Buyer’s Credit facility of USD200-million under the NEIA Program.

Source: Energy Capital & Power


Finally, Tanzania launches UNCTAD trade portal for businesses

Tanzania has finally launched its trade portal that will stimulate and facilitate exportation, importation and transiting of goods. This should increase trade, create more jobs and boost the economy. The launch was in line with implementation of the agreement passed by member states of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2014 that sought to establish a trade portal that would facilitate regional and global trade. Tanzania put the system in trials from 2017 under the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade). Now, Tanzania becomes the fourth East African state to finally launch the portal after Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Speaking after the launch at the ongoing 45th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF), Zanzibar’s Trade and Industrial Development minister Omari Said challenged those tasked with handling the portal to ensure that it remains sustainable and must change with developments taking place in technology to meet market requirements. “I’m informed that during the trial period, the portal attracted 112,787 visitors meaning that it will be of much benefit to local and foreign traders, as well as to both governments as we seek to improve our economy,” he said.

Source: The Citizen


Import bill tops USD2.77-billion

Zimbabwe imported goods worth USD2.77-billion in the six months of 2021 to June 2021, which reflects a 17.6% increase on the external sector payments conducted by the country over the same period last year. The bulk of the imports during the half-year period to June 2021 entailed the procurement of critical raw materials, machinery and equipment as well as consumables required by the country’s industrial sector. Figures from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) show that the payments were made from foreign currency accounts (USD1.66-billion), the interbank market (USD201.5-million) and the auction (USD917-million). While figures on Zimbabwe’s exports during the same period were not immediately available, figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) show that exports totalled USD1.53-billion in the four months to April 2021. In a statement on foreign currency disbursements under the auction system, RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya said the bank was encouraged that 69.3% of the external sector payments up to June 2021 went towards key imports.

Source: The Herald