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Africa Business in Brief

 

issue 433 | 30 Jan 2022

East / Southern Africa

COMESA Business Council pushes for business continuity

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC) says it has put in place measures to ensure continuity of its business operations, including addressing policy and trade facilitation issues for its members amid the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC second vice-president James Chimwaza, who is also Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president, said in a written response that the council will continue to promote the continued flow of goods and services within this period in view of trade restrictive measures that countries are applying. “CBC through various engagements with its members and associations developed a position report, which presented a declaration and recommendations addressing some of the existing challenges in the facilitation of movement of essential goods and transit cargo and treatment of truck drivers along the borders,” he said. Chimwaza said the guidelines are a useful tool for ensuring harmonisation of approaches and facilitation of the speedier movements of goods. He said the CBC is also creating a digital payment platform for micro, small and medium enterprises in the COMESA region to facilitate cross-border payments.

Source: The Nation

East Africa

EAC rolls out plans for USD900-million fruit and vegetable exports

The East African Community (EAC) has unveiled a strategic plan to double its fruit and vegetable exports to USD900-million in the next eight years. In the 2021-2031 strategic plan that was unveiled late last year, the region plans to increase the area under fruit production by 5%, to 10 million hectares, with an eye on the global export market. If implemented, the intra-EAC trade in fruit and vegetable products would increase from the current USD9.9-million to USD25-million by 2031. The region also plans to increase vegetable production by 5% of area cultivated, to 45 million hectares from 32.8 million hectares, with productivity increasing by at least 3%. “The F&V sector is important to the region due to its multi-sectoral nature of contributing to food security, nutrition and economic development through value addition,” said Christopher Bazivamo, the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of Productive and Social Sectors. The European Union (EU) accounts for the largest share, at 49% of fruits and vegetables imported from the EAC. While East Asia provides a significant market share, at 34%, and the sub-Saharan market is at just 12%. The trade in fruits and vegetables between the EAC and EU is estimated at 187 000 tonnes per year and valued at around USD455.9-million.

Source: The EastAfrican

Botswana

A tender for the construction of six solar power plants in PPP

Botswana wants to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. The southern African country is launching a call for expressions of interest for the development of a project to build six solar photovoltaic plants. The plants will be built through public-private partnerships (PPPs) involving independent power producers (IPPs) and the state-owned Botswana Power Corporation. The Botswana authorities have not provided further details on the project, including the total capacity expected. But IPPs interested in the deal have until 25 March 2022 to come forward. The implementation of this project is in line with the Botswana government’s goal of increasing the country’s installed capacity to meet domestic demand and reduce electricity imports. With an installed capacity of 450 MW, Botswana imports an additional 150 MW from South Africa. Power Africa estimates national demand at 550 MW.

Source: AFRIK 21

Ethiopia

Ethiopian coffee brands launch on China’s largest e-commerce platform

Imagine using one second to sell more than 11 200 bags of Ethiopian coffee. That is what happened on 19 January 2022, during the Ethiopian Coffee Brands launch on China’s largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba (Tmall Global), in a joint effort with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Ethiopian government. “Success recorded in exporting Ethiopian coffee to China will provide a roadmap in leveraging export potential for other 10 African countries, where UNECA is working this year, to provide more export potential from Africa to China,” said the United Nations under-secretary-general and executive of UNECA, secretary Vera Songwe. “This launch demonstrates the benefits that, not only Ethiopia, but Africa can reap in harnessing digitalisation,” stated Gebremeskel Chala, Minister of Trade and Regional Integration, Ethiopia. UNECA has joined efforts with Alibaba Group, and the government of Ethiopia is to bring more quality African products to one of the largest markets in the world today – the Chinese online market. Through this partnership, the electronic World Trading Platform (eWTP) has successfully on-boarded three Ethiopian coffee brands, namely Wild, Arada and Hedero.

Source: UNECA

Kenya

Kenya delays commissioning of USD3-million cruise terminal over COVID-19 disruption

Kenya will have to wait until August to commission the USD3-million new cruise ship terminal at the Mombasa port as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the global cruise industry. The ultra-modern terminal, which was completed about two years ago, was built to attract more cruise lines and spur growth in the vital tourism industry which accounts for 4.4% of the country’s GDP. The East African nation is the third largest travel and tourism destination in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria. “With the current government’s efforts to curb infections with numbers going down and compliance by the locals, we are optimistic to begin voyages by August when seasons begin,” said Haji Masemo, the Kenya Ports Authority communication officer. Located at berth 1 at the Mombasa port, the terminal includes duty-free shops, restaurants, conference facilities and offices with a capacity to handle 2 000 passengers. The terminal is supposed to position Kenya as a top cruise tourism destination and enable the country to compete with the likes of South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Cape Verde and Zanzibar.

Source: The EastAfrican

Kenya

Kenya evaluates FDP for USD3.4-billion Lokichar oil project

The government of Kenya is in the process of evaluating the final field development plan (FDP) for Tullow Oil’s USD3.4-billion Lokichar oil project. The final field development plan was submitted in December and includes details of the project. The oil pipeline is part of a larger project to develop and export oil from oilfields in Kenya’s South Lokichar Basin. The pipeline will pass through Lamu, Meru, Isiolo, Garissa, Samburu and Turkana counties. Already two designs for the project were presented by British firm Wood Group Plc. They have a price variation of USD122.2-million. The East African country can opt for a pipeline with onshore storage facilities that would cost USD1.2-billion to build or one with floating storage facilities at a cost of USD1.1-billion. In both cases, the proposals indicate that the construction of the onshore pipeline will cost USD568.2-million, pump stations USD164.4-million with the difference mainly being in the marine terminal that will cost USD145.9-million for onshore and USD45-million for floating storage. The pipeline would carry up to 120 000 barrels of crude oil per day upon completion.

Source: Pumps Africa

Kenya

Kenya Power to start smart meter rollout for businesses

Kenya Power and Lighting Company PLC (Kenya Power) will roll out a smart meter project for 55 000 customers in the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in the East African country. Kenya Power owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution system in the country. The USD11 012 173 (KES1.25-billion) World Bank-funded project is part of the Kenya Electricity Modernisation Project. The plan is to have all the smart meters rolled out by 30 June. These particular smart meters are part of Advanced Metering Infrastructures that will facilitate two-way communication between the company and customers. In case of any outages, the smart meters are able to communicate directly with the company’s National Contact Centre. This direct communication facilitates immediate resolution and enhances efficiency as the Kenya Power teams are promptly alerted. The smart meter will also send a notification to the customer via SMS. Bernard Ngugi, Kenya Power managing director/CEO said “[t]hese combined benefits of error-free data, prompt network problem identification, and audit of energy consumption will go a long way in enhancing service delivery to our customers in the SME sector.”

Source: ESI Africa

Namibia

DBN loan book hits NAD8-billion mark

The Development Bank of Namibia's (DBN) loan book has now hit the NAD8-billion mark. Chief executive officer Martin Inkumbi says the financial institution has also secured about NAD450-million to assist companies that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was speaking on Desert Radio on Tuesday, 25 January. Inkumbi reiterated that the bank is now adequately capitalised to sustain its operations. “The bank is adequately financed and has enough liquidity, and for the time being it's not a question of money, we actually have enough money that we want to give to potential businesses. What we are looking for are bankable plans,” he said. He said the bank has worked hard to maintain a positive reputation and image through the implementation of adequate corporate governance policies. The DBN has also managed to secure NAD4.5-billion from the African Development Bank, and the money has been channelled in the Namibian economy. He added that the bank is working in partnership with other developmental financial institutions in Africa and the world, to deal with bigger loan requirements.

Source: The Namibian

Nigeria

IMF raises Nigeria’s growth projection to 2.7% as MPC retains rates

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its forecast on Nigeria’s output growth this year to 2.7%, from 2.6% projected in October. The new projection is contained in its January World Economic Outlook Update released on 25 January 2022. It kept the 2021 full-year GDP unchanged at 3%. Nigeria is expected to see an average growth of 2.7% through 2023 amid concerns over sluggish COVID-19 vaccination, inflation pressure and “limited fiscal space”. The IMF is rather more bullish on Nigeria’s growth prospect than the World Bank, which maintains an estimated growth rate of 2.5% for the world. The Bretton Woods institutions’ forecasts are more conservative than the 4.2% growth estimate captured in the 2022 budget. Nigeria’s growth estimate for 2022 is one percentage point less than that of sub-Saharan Africa and 1.4 percentage points higher than the global growth projection.

Source: The Guardian

Nigeria

Nigeria U-turns on deadline to remove gasoline subsidies as protest threats mount

The Nigerian government will seek to delay a planned move to abolish subsidies on imported gasoline – a key provision of its new oil law – the country's Petroleum Minister Timipre Sylva said on 25 January, as threats mount over a new wave of domestic fuel price protests. The landmark Petroleum Industry Bill – now known as the Petroleum Industry Act, which was signed into law on 16 August 2021, more than a decade after it was first introduced – had provided for unrestricted market pricing for gasoline within six months of its enactment. However, Sylva said the government is seeking to extend the period of implementing this provision because it was not conducive to removing fuel subsidies at the moment. "With assent by the President (Muhammadu Buhari) on 16 August 2021, the PMS (gasoline) subsidy removal was expected to take place effective 16 February 2022," Sylva said at a press conference. "However, following extensive negotiations with all key stakeholders within and outside the government, it has been agreed that the implementation period for the removal of the subsidy should be extended. We are applying to the National Assembly for amendment of the law. We are proposing an 18-month extension," he added.

Source: S&P Global

Nigeria

Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery to come online in Q3 2022

The long-awaited Dangote Refinery is set to come online in the third quarter of this year, representing the largest oil refinery on the continent and the largest single-train refinery globally. Major construction on the USD19-billion refinery began in 2017. According to a recent statement from Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Industries Ltd., the refinery will start by processing 540 000 barrels per day (bpd), before achieving its full capacity of 650 000 bpd by the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023. The downstream megaproject is expected to transform Nigeria into a major refined crude exporter, while meeting domestic demand for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and polypropylene.

Source: Energy Capital & Power

Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo to receive USD455-million IMF loan

The board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a USD455-million loan for the Republic of the Congo with the objective of extending fiscal relief and stimulating re-growth for the hard-hit economy of the central African country. The Republic of the Congo’s economy has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the loan is vital for the country with a 52.5% poverty rate. Under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), the loan structure includes USD90-million allocated immediately, with the remaining balance to be disbursed over a period of three years. Following a virtual mission conducted by a high-level IMF delegation in collaboration with the government of the Republic of the Congo in October and November 2021, a staff-level agreement was reached between both parties to commence a three-year programme supported by the ECF arrangement to aid the country to overcome the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement recommends focusing on social and infrastructure spending in the health, education and agricultural sector to foster “… economic resilience and [enhance] inclusive growth,” parallel to reducing non-priority spending and driving revenue mobilisation.

Source: Energy Capital & Power

Rwanda

Rwanda fish farm solar system project

Africa's appetite for fish is increasing and since supply cannot keep up with demand from an increasing African population, fish has continued to fetch greater prices in African marketplaces. For this reason, FoodTechAfrica Rwanda has partnered with Dutch and Rwandan enterprises to enhance the aquaculture value chain in Rwanda. In conjunction with Akagera Management Company, a fish farm is being developed in eastern Rwanda as part of this public-private partnership financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This demonstration fish farm will act as a regional centre for training and farming inputs for fish producers. Solar energy is increasingly being used in aquaculture due to the benefits of low operating costs, extended life-cycle, environmental friendliness, no CO2 emissions, and little soil contamination. Because of the benefits, several projects utilising solar energy for aquaculture are being undertaken in various African countries. The construction of the fish farm was started in early 2021 and will be completed early 2022. The Independent Energy team will install the solar power plant in February 2022.

Source: Africa Business Communities

Tanzania

Dar port eyes higher goal, ups efficiency

The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) is banking on technology and modern equipment as it seeks to up the efficiency of the Port of Dar es Salaam and turn the country into a logistics hub in East and Central Africa. TPA director general, Mr Eric Hamissi, said that so far, the progress has been encouraging as the vessel turnaround improves significantly at the Dar es Salaam port. “We used to receive a maximum of 50 vessels in the past, but in November, we received 77 of them. The number fell slightly to 67 in December. January numbers are also encouraging [as thus far] already 19 vessels have unloaded [their] cargos and continue with other destinations,” he said. He was speaking in Dar es Salaam when the Deputy Minister for Works and Transport, Mr Atupele Mwakibete, visited the port as part of his familiarisation tour. According to Mr Hamissi, the target is to handle 18 million tonnes of cargo this financial year, out of which, over 50% has already been achieved so far. “We have a target of collecting TZS1-trillion and so far, we have managed TZS508-billion already and we have already handled 9.1 million tonnes of cargo,” he said.

Source: The Citizen

Tanzania / India

Tanzania’s avocados now hit Indian markets

Efforts to find international markets for Tanzania’s avocados achieved a milestone after a maiden consignment was exported to India. This is good news to smallholder growers, traders and the government alike. Tanzania has already secured permits to access India and South African markets and now, Tanzania Horticultural Association and the government are working to open the China avocado market. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture Antony Mavunde said India granted market access to Tanzania’s avocados last November. Mr Mavunde was speaking at the Julius Nyerere International Airport before the Air Tanzania Company Limited’s Boeing 787-8 dream-liner carrying two tonnes of the fruit, took off. “This is an opportunity that we need to capitalise on in order to up our avocado exports,” he said. He said out of 40 000 tonnes of avocados that Tanzania is currently producing per annum, only 9 000 tonnes were being exported. Mr Mavunde said the government had plans to establish a common user facility meant for receiving avocado from farmers, rating and grading them to ensure they meet international standards.

Source: The Citizen

Uganda

Uganda ends curfew after nearly two years, reopening economy

Uganda ended a curfew imposed almost two years ago to contain the spread of COVID-19 by lifting all pending restrictions, including bans on concerts and alcohol sales at bars, according to President Yoweri Museveni’s spokeswoman Lindah Nabusayi. The government of East Africa’s third-biggest economy introduced the curfew in March 2020 and has been criticised for retaining it for almost two years. Schools only reopened two weeks ago for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Uganda has recorded more than 160 000 COVID-19 cases, according to the Ministry of Health. Almost 10% of its 42.7 million people are fully vaccinated and the government is targeting to inoculate 22 million people, the ministry says.

Source: Bloomberg

Uganda

Uganda EPZ earnings hit record USD1.2-billion

Uganda’s earnings from export processing zones (EPZs) grew to a record high of USD1.2-billion in 2020 from USD154-million the previous year, a new report has revealed. The report by the Uganda Free Zones Authority shows that for two years in a row, semi-processed gold was the driver of exports, accounting for 93% of total export earnings at USD1.1-billion. Flower and horticulture exports ranked second, accounting for 3.7% of exports at USD46-million. Tobacco ranked third, accounting for 3.1% of exports at USD38-million, the report shows. Wheat flour exports recorded a 65% decline to USD1-million in 2020 from USD4-million registered in 2019. Sandalwood essential oils earned the country USD730 000 in 2020, an increase from USD299 000 registered in 2019 while cocoa beans exports earned USD160 000. Underground natural calcium phosphates brought the least export earnings at USD5 000. The Uganda Free Zones Authority executive director Hez Kimoomi Alinda said the positive performance in 2020 was driven by increased mineral and tobacco processing and export. Exports to the United Arab Emirates represented 93% of total free zones trade.

Source: The EastAfrican

Zimbabwe / Namibia

Zimbabwe seeks enhanced trade with Namibia

A Zimbabwean business delegation recently visited Namibia to enhance business ties and explore import and export opportunities between the two countries, as well as the storage of products at the Zimbabwe Dry Port. Executives from Bak Logistics, one of the largest logistics service providers in Zimbabwe, conducted meetings with their Namibian counterparts, and toured the Zimbabwe Dry Port, as well as the Port of Walvis Bay and its facilities. “Our aim is to engage the Namibian business community to explore opportunities and the viability of using the Port of Walvis Bay as an alternative, and the Zimbabwe Dry Port facility for exports and imports to and from Zimbabwe. We are targeting increased trade with Namibia through strategic partnerships with local companies in the transport and logistics sector, and we are confident that our engagements will yield positive outcomes,” said Bak's managing director Mary Machingaidze. The CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Hippy Tjivikua said the disruption in the regional supply chain due to security threats and congestion at some ports has created an opportunity to increase transit cargo via the Port of Walvis Bay and the Walvis Bay corridors.

Source: The Namibian