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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 410 | 25 Jul 2021

World

OPEC+ agrees to increase oil output by 400,000 bpd

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies on Sunday, 18 July agreed to increase global oil production by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd). OPEC and its Russia-led oil-producing allies, OPEC+, agreed to unleash barrels of bottled-up crude over the next two years by committing to restore all of the cuts they made at the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The oil cartel announced the new development as economies pick up and crude demand recovers across the globe. In a statement issued at the end of the 19th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting on Sunday, 18 July 2021, the oil cartel said the new adjustment will take effect from August until December 2021. “In view of current oil market fundamentals and the consensus on its outlook, the meeting resolved to reaffirm the framework of the Declaration of Cooperation, signed on 10 December 2016 and further endorsed in subsequent meetings, including on 12 April 2020,” OPEC said.

Source: Premium Times

Africa

Fitch affirms triple A rating of the AfDB, outlook stable

Global credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) credit rating at ‘AAA’, with a stable outlook. Fitch said the triple A rating was driven by the ‘extraordinary support’ of the Bank’s shareholders. Fitch views the Bank’s risk-management policies as ‘conservative’ and assesses them as ‘excellent’, in line with AAA-rated peers. “Concentration risk is 'low', with the bank’s five largest exposures accounting for 32% of total banking portfolio at end-2020.” The global ratings agency assesses the AfDB’s overall exposure to risks as “'Low', balancing 'Moderate' credit risk with 'Excellent' risk management policies, 'Low' concentration, and 'Very Low' equity and market risks.” The AfDB was recognised by Global Capital in 2020, for its highly successful USD3-billion fight COVID-19 social bond, one of the bank’s many initiatives to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on African lives and economies.

Source: AfDB

Angola

Angola signs deal with Switzerland to speed up asset recovery

Angola and Switzerland on Monday, 19 July in Luanda, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual legal and judicial assistance in criminal matters, which should give “greater speed” to asset recovery by the Angolan state. The MoU is an “instrument of common interest”, mainly due to the “simplification of legal assistance procedures, standardisation of working language and the option for direct contact instead of compulsory diplomatic channels”. The document was signed on behalf of the Angolan state by the Attorney General (PGR), Hélder Pitta Grós, and on behalf of the Swiss Confederation by its Ambassador to Angola, Nicolas Herbert Lang. According to the PGR, the MoU is the result of “careful work between the parties, motivated by the desire to strengthen cooperation relations in the criminal field, relations that until now have been based on friendship, reciprocity and mutual recognition between states”.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Angola

Angola’s ANPG receives 45 proposals for the tender cycle of nine onshore oil blocks

Angola, which had previously launched an onshore tender cycle to reverse the downward trend in oil production and boost gas production, has expressed interest from several companies. The National Agency for Oil, Gas and Biofuels (ANPG) announced that following the launch of the international call for tenders for nine onshore blocks, located in the Bas Congo and Kwanza basins, it received 45 proposals from 15 different companies. The files are thoroughly reviewed by the ANPG technical teams and the final official results are expected to be announced on 25 August 2021. “Based on the first data available to us, we strongly believe in the potential of the proposed 9 blocks. We look forward to finding the right partners to explore them at the end of this process. We very much hope that these blocks will play an important role in increasing Angola’s oil production in the future,” said Natacha Massano, executive director and member of the Board of Directors of the petroleum agency in charge of the negotiations. This high participation can be partly attributed to ANPG’s efforts to streamline bidding requirements and reduce barriers to entry, by eliminating the USD1-million entry fee for companies wishing to bid.

Source: Agence Ecofin

Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire to become regional medicine hub with USD300-million IFC loan, PM says

A World Bank programme to help medical clinics in Côte d'Ivoire to procure equipment from General Electric (GE.N) and Philips (PHG.AS) could spur the cocoa-producing country's development into a regional medical hub, Prime Minister Patrick Achi said on Sunday, 18 July 2021. As in other African countries, many smaller clinics in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa producer, struggle to obtain the bank loans necessary to buy or rent essential medical equipment. A USD300-million financing agreement signed by Côte d'Ivoire and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to remedy that situation by providing credit to clinics hoping to get supplies from Philips and General Electric. "If we do not solve the problem of equipping our private clinics and hospitals, this goal of seeing the private (health) sector grow and create jobs will be a failure," Prime Minister Achi told Reuters. The programme is part of the IFC's Africa Medical Equipment Facility, which partners with African financial institutions and global medical supply firms to give local currency loans to small- and medium-sized clinics for equipment purchases.

Source: Reuters

Ethiopia

AfDB Group, Ethiopia, sign USD118-million in grant agreements

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the government of Ethiopia have signed two separate grant agreements for new projects to boost youth employment and electricity trade between Ethiopia and Djibouti. The grants fall under the AfDB Group’s concessional lending window, the African Development Fund, and will go towards the Productivity Enhancement to Support Agro Industrial Parks and Youth Employment Project worth USD47-million, and the USD71-million Ethiopia-Djibouti Second Power Interconnection Project, which aims to boost electricity trade between Ethiopia and neighbouring Djibouti. The industrial parks and youth project will see the development of irrigation and water management infrastructure around the Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks, offering opportunities for graduate “agri-preneurs” to establish agro-related, commercially viable businesses.

Source: AfDB

Ghana

IMF lauds Ghana for exiting FATF ‘grey list’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lauded Ghana for exiting the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) list. Ghana was taken off the FATF’s “grey list” in June this year. The country was added to the FATF’s “grey list” in February 2020, after the global watchdog found that the country’s AML/CTF regime lacked the needed strength to combat the illicit practices. The IMF, in a statement issued after an Article IV consultation between its Executive Board and Ghana, commended the country for the improvements made in the AML/CFT framework that allowed the country to exit the global watchdog’s money laundering and terrorist financing “grey list”. The IMF also praised the government for its proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which it said helped to mitigate the economic impact. It noted that the pandemic had a severe impact on Ghana’s economy, which resulted in slower growth, higher food prices, and increased poverty. “The pandemic had a severe impact on economic activity. Growth slowed to 0.4% in 2020 from 6.5% in 2019, food prices spiked, and poverty increased.

Source: Ghana Business News

Kenya

Firms get more time to install KRA sales monitoring gadgets

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has offered firms more time to comply with regulations that demand the taxman receives real-time data on traders’ daily sales through internet-enabled electronic tax registers. The KRA has given firms until August 2022 to install new electronic tax registers connected to its systems for monitoring daily sales, escalating the war on tax cheats. Initially, traders had up to September according to a directive under the regulations that the KRA published last October. The law requires all businesses with an annual turnover of at least KES5-million to have electronic tax registers. Under the new system, the KRA will receive sales and invoice data from all registered firms and traders daily in a fresh push to boost revenue collections and curb tax evasion. “Kenya Revenue Authority wishes to inform the public that the rollout of the Electronic Tax Invoice pursuant to the provisions of the Value-Added Tax (Electronic Tax Invoice) Regulations 2020 shall commence on August 1, 2022,” said the KRA in a statement.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

Kenya to gain from KES10-billion EU geothermal power fund

Kenya is among countries set to benefit from KES10.2-billion (EUR80-million) funding from the European Union (EU) investment arm to increase geothermal power production. The European Investment Bank (EIB), an investment arm of the EU, recently approved the funding, targeting private sector-led geothermal power projects in East Africa. The funding will benefit projects in Kenya and 17 other countries, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Mozambique and Madagascar. “Eligible projects will typically include greenfield development and brownfield expansions, with proven geothermal resources,” said the EIB. “Investments in geothermal energy will help diversify baseload renewable electricity supply in the region and contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-fuel based alternatives.” The money is part of the global EUR4.1-billion (KES522-billion) that the bank has lined up for the private sector to accelerate renewable energy investment. The funding is a boost to Kenya, which is in the race to cut further the share of expensive geothermal power in the national grid by raising the output of geothermal, wind and hydropower sources.

Source: Business Daily

Lesotho

African Development Fund extends USD4.25-million loan to modernise tax collection, boost revenue in Lesotho

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved a loan of USD4.25-million to the Lesotho Revenue Authority to provide digital tax services, including e-taxation and e-payment that will broaden the country’s tax base and boost government revenue. The funds, to be sourced from the African Development Fund, the Group’s concessional lending window, will go to support the supplemental financing of the Lesotho Tax Modernization Project (LTMP). The project follows the LTMP approved in November 2017, and for which the AfDB Group provided USD7.09-million, in financing. Specifically, financing will be used to procure and install e-taxation, e-payment, and e-invoicing software and hardware and to integrate financial institutions and mobile money providers into e-payment systems. “The project will allow broadening of the tax base through simplifying and streamlining the tax regime and procedures for the small business and informal sector,” said the bank’s director of Governance and Financial Management Coordination, Abdoulaye Coulibaly.

Source: AfDB

Malawi

Malawi losing USD50-million in undeclared exports

The Ministry of Trade said Malawi is losing over USD50-million (about MWK40-billion) of foreign exchange every year due to undeclared exports. This is coming at a time the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) is calling for exporters to register for annual exporters certificates following expiry on 30 June 2021. A press release issued by the centre indicates that the new certificates will be valid for nine months in accordance with the government’s financial year. Under the Export Incentives Act No. 6 of 1988, all registered exporters in Malawi are entitled to a 22% tax allowance on net export profit excluding unmanufactured tobacco, tea, cane, sugar and coffee. MITC Investment Promotion manager and spokesperson Modie Chanza said, in the past financial year, only 26 exporters registered for the certificates. In a separate interview, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said unscrupulous exporters under-declared export proceeds, thereby duping the country of a fortune. He said the problem has largely been exacerbated by informal cross-border trading.

Source: The Times Group

Malawi

Tourism and hotels Act review raises hope

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife is reviewing the Tourism and Hotels Act of 1968 which players in the sector say is outdated to support its growth. In a written response, chief tourism officer Sarah Njanji said having the law concentrated on the hotel industry has posed challenges as the sector has diversified over the years. She said: “This has brought in a challenge for us in terms of listing of properties as some of the booking platforms do not require that these properties be registered and licensed by the authorities. Therefore, the review of the Act will certainly improve the delivery of services within the sector since a Tourism Authority will be created to regulate and promote the sector in a responsive manner. Further, the current institutional framework is inadequate to effectively facilitate implementation of plans and programmes.” The development comes in the wake of declining tourism contribution to the economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism contribution to Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 declined by 50.2%. During the year under review, tourism and trade contributed 3.3% of GDP or MWK207-billion, down from 2019’s contribution of 6.7% or MWK416-billion.

Source: The Nation

Nigeria

Nigeria commissions first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station

The federal government of Nigeria has commissioned the first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station. The charging station, which falls under the Elective Vehicle Pilot Project is an initiative of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC). The charging station is located at the University of Lagos. Speaking while commissioning the project, the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo said the charging station is aimed at promoting applicable local solutions for vehicle electrification in the country. According to him, the project will offer students first-hand experience with the latest innovations in mobility and renewable power technology. The NADDC Board chairman, Senator Osita Izunaso, stressed that the NADDC is committed to promoting the adoption, development, manufacturing and usage of advanced technology in the country’s automotive sector. In February, the minister had unveiled the first Nigerian-assembled electric vehicle, the Hyundai Kona EV. According to him, these developments add Nigeria to the league of nations actively committed to the protection of the environment through zero-emissions vehicles.

Source: ESI Africa

Seychelles

AfDB approves USD20-million loan to support COVID-19 recovery

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved a USD20-million flexible loan to finance Seychelles’ Governance and Economic Reforms Support Program, expected to help drive the island nation’s macroeconomic stability and recovery from COVID-19 in the medium-term. The government program aims to deepen reforms introduced through the bank’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Budget Support Program, approved in June 2020 for USD10-million. These reforms are expected to advance fiscal sustainability, improve the business environment and Seychelles’ climate change and environmental resilience. The bank’s financing will complement funds from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in support of reforms that will benefit Seychelles’ private sector, dominated by small enterprises. The pandemic has severely impacted Seychelles’ macroeconomic performance.

Source: AfDB

Seychelles

Seychelles exchanges USD75-million of treasury bills into bonds, reducing risk

Seychelles has exchanged USD75-million of treasury bills into treasury bonds of varying maturity as part of its recent liability management operation, a top official said on Monday, 19 July. The liability management operation was conducted through a debt restructuring on 14 July where in accordance with section 7 of the Public Debt Management Act, 2008, the government exchanged eligible treasury bills for treasury bonds. "The objective was to convert treasury bill with maturities of 182 days and 365 days to treasury bonds with maturities of three, five and seven years, where the target was to convert an amount of SCR1.2-billion (USD75-million)," the chief debt analyst of the Ministry of Finance, Dick Labonte, told a press conference. Of the treasury bills exchanged during the operation, 25% of the total amount were those with a 182-day maturity, with the other 75% being those with a maturity of 365 days. Most of the bills came from depository institutions such as banks.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Sudan

Sudan plans USD640-million railway revamp as it relinks with world

Sudan is planning a USD643-million revamp of its shattered railway network before connecting it to neighboring countries. The African Development Bank, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. and unspecified Gulf firms have expressed interest in helping restore about 2,400 kilometres (1,490 miles) of currently idled rail-lines, according to the state-run Sudan Railways Corporation (SRC). The government will first spend USD17-million making emergency repairs to parts of the other half of the national network that is already in use. “It’s essential for the economic development of the country,” SRC’s general manager, Waleed Mahmoud Ahmed, said in an interview in the capital, Khartoum. Under the second phase of the railway project to be completed by 2024, Sudan plans to rehabilitate abandoned lines mainly in the country’s south. That will restore links to the cities of Madani, Kosti and Sennar, as well as Nyala in the war-torn western region of Darfur, while establishing a cross-border connection to Wau in South Sudan, according to Ahmed. Part of the financing will be from a USD75-million World Bank grant, he said.

Source: Bloomberg

Tanzania

Mining, gas governance improves – RGI report

The governance of Tanzania’s oil, gas and mining sector has improved but remains weak, a new 2021 Resource Governance Index (RGI) shows. The index published recently rates mining as slightly better governed than oil and gas. Researchers scored both sectors slightly higher than in the last edition of the index, in 2017. Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) experts found that Tanzania’s oil and gas sector, with an overall score of 55 points out of a possible 100, lags its mining sector with 58 points. The slight difference in governance scores is due in part to the absence of a centralised cadaster for oil and gas, as well as a less-established legal framework relating to both pre- and post-licensing round rules. Experts found evidence of strong financial reporting and production disclosures from the state-owned oil and gas company, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC). This led them to conclude that it is better governed than state-owned mining enterprise STAMICO, for which NRGI says governance is “poor”.

Source: Daily News

Uganda

Uganda moves to end monopoly on Kenyan route for oil imports

Uganda is exploring ways to cut its reliance on Kenya for fuel imports, routing shipments through neighbouring Tanzania as an alternative source of supply. The potential move to diversify its imports could jeopardise business for Kenya’s Mombasa port, since about three-quarters of the terminal’s transit cargo is sent to Uganda. Mombasa has already been fighting to stave off growing competition from the Tanzanian ports of Dar es Salaam and Tanga. Uganda Railways Corp. recently began a trial delivery of 500,000 litres of petroleum products across Lake Victoria, resuming shipments after a 16-year hiatus, acting managing director Stephen Wakasenza said by phone. The fuel initially landed in Dar es Salaam and was transported by train to Mwanza port, before being sent onward to Uganda over the giant fresh-water lake. Mombasa also serves South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. The region’s over-reliance on the Kenyan port came into sharp focus in 2007 when post-election violence that rocked East Africa’s biggest economy disrupted supply chains to the landlocked nations.

Source: Bloomberg