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Africa Business in Brief


issue 448 | 15 May 2022

West Africa

ECOWAS rallies members on gas supplies, utilisation as price soars

As the geo-politics of crude oil and gas aids soaring prices, energy ministers across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) converged in Abuja to address gas pipeline infrastructure challenges in the region. At a time when Europe and Russia are at loggerheads over gas supply, just as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is reviving the Nigeria – Morocco pipeline project, energy ministers in the region also said there is an urgent need for leeway on the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) Project. Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva said there is more to be achieved on the project, although a level of success has been recorded. According to him, the region is determined to get to the zenith of projected targets, which are to deepen gas supplies and utilisation within the ECOWAS sub-region. Alluding to the changing socio-political landscape occasioned by the Russian-Ukrainian war, Sylva said the project originated from the ECOWAS Energy Policy and aimed at fostering economic development and promotion of integration among ECOWAS states through cross-border natural gas transportation.

Source: The Guardian

West Africa

WAEMU – Financial Sector Assessment Programme and Financial Sector Stability Assessment

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on 27 April 2022, without convening formal discussions. The Financial Sector Stability Assessment (FSSA) report was completed on 13 April 2022. The report is based on the work of joint IMF/World Bank FSAP virtual missions to the WAEMU, completed between January 2021 and February 2022. The FSSA concluded that the WAEMU’s financial system functions within an improved regulatory framework. Furthermore, despite political instability in several member states, the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been effective. Banks have withstood the crisis well, helped by liquidity support from Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) and policies to support domestic demand. The report found that the banking sector is largely resilient to macroeconomic shocks. Yet vulnerabilities remain. 

Source: IMF

Côte d’Ivoire

AfDB Group chief calls on Ivorian president

African Development Bank (AfDB) Group president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina recently met with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. It was a routine visit for the bank chief to take stock of cooperation between the AfDB Group and the government of Côte d'Ivoire. Discussions covered the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the AfDB Group’s concessional lending arm to the continent’s low-income countries; a major bank-financed reforestation programme; the construction of the Lagos-Abidjan highway; and the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, taking place in Abidjan from the 9 to 20 of May. Adesina reassured President Ouattara of the bank’s commitment to Côte d’Ivoire, announcing a USD746 500 package to support the COP15 conference in Abidjan. He said a further USD500-million would go toward the Abidjan Legacy Programme, a project that will restore forest and degraded lands in Côte d'Ivoire.

Source: AfDB

Côte d’Ivoire

VINCI to upgrade Côte d’Ivoire’s coast road ahead of Africa Cup

Vinci Construction (VINCI), through its subsidiary Sogea-Satom, was selected by the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Equipment and Road Maintenance to restore a stretch of the coastal road between Dabou and Grand Lahou, connecting the country’s two main port cities, Abidjan and San Pedro. The aim is to reduce congestion between the two cities, as San Pedro prepares to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2023. The EUR97-million project involves restoring 93 km of road, widening a 10 km section before Dabou, and improving the drainage and wastewater network to reduce flooding. Wells drilled in the project will later be connected to the public water system serving the town of Toupah, Vinci said. The project will last 15 months, involving on average 450 people, half of whom will be local. Sogea-Satom has extensive experience in Côte d’Ivoire, delivering among other things an upgrade to the fishing port in Abidjan and to the city’s water distribution system, and building the Yamoussoukro stadium, where games of the Africa Cup tournament will be played.

Source: Global Construction Review

Democratic Republic of the Congo

IMF staff completes 2022 Article IV and programme review mission to the DRC

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mercedes Vera Martin visited Kinshasa from 27 April to 9 May to conduct discussions on the 2022 Article IV consultation and the second review of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) economic and financial programme supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. The DRC’s 36-month ECF arrangement for SDR1 066-million (100% of quota, about USD1.52-billion) was approved by the executive board on 15 July 2021, to help meet financing needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The first review was completed mid-December 2021. At the end of the mission, Ms Vera-Martin issued the following statement, in part: “The IMF staff team and the Congolese authorities reached a staff-level agreement for the second programme review. This staff-level agreement is subject to IMF management approval. The board is expected to meet on this review and Article IV consultation in late June 2022. Real GDP growth, estimated at 6.2%, rebounded in 2021 supported by mining and services, while inflation stood at 5.3% at the end of 2021. The current account deficit narrowed to 1% of GDP, thanks to high mining exports.” 

Source: IMF


UNCDF launches digital financial services working group in Ethiopia

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has launched a digital financial services (DFS) working group in Ethiopia. The DFS working group is aimed at collaborating and networking, capacity building, and policy advocacy as well as lobbying. It will also provide an appropriate forum for industry-level dialogue where DFS stakeholders such as government, mobile network operators, banks, microfinance institutions, development partners engage regularly. UNCDF East and Southern Africa Inclusive Digital Economies regional manager, Mike McCaffrey told ENA that the working group will have a significant role of coordination that can support the development of digital financial services. The digital financial service not only enables low-income and rural people to participate in that economy, but also to own it and engage, he said, adding that this is a critical component to put in place.

Source: ENA

The Gambia

Gambia secures USD20-million development policy grant to strengthen fiscal resilience

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved the Gambia Second Fiscal Management, Energy and Telecommunications Reform Development Policy Financing (DPF). The DPF will support the Gambia’s effort to improve debt and public investment management, financial viability and service delivery in the energy and telecommunications sectors while enhancing the transparency and governance framework of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This financing, in the amount of a USD20-million development policy IDA (International Development Association) grant, for the second and last operation in the programmatic series will support the government's inclusive growth agenda by contributing to its efforts to create fiscal space as well as enhance service delivery in key infrastructure sectors. “The reforms that will be addressed under the DPF are very important in supporting the country’s economic recovery and addressing macroeconomic vulnerabilities within in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and global instability,” said Feyi Boroffice, World Bank resident representative. “When addressed, they will help diversify economic growth and generate fiscal space for investments in human capital and physical infrastructure to spur growth and accelerate poverty reduction over the medium term.”

Source: World Bank

The Gambia

World Bank Group launches new Country Partnership Framework for Gambia

The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors has discussed a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for the period of 2022-2026 to support the Gambia’s development priorities. “The Gambia is at a critical juncture in its development trajectory having made headway on key reforms and service delivery but still facing challenges in its emergence from fragility. This CPF will help accelerate the country’s transition and support the government’s vision for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive growth,” said Nathan Belete, World Bank country director for the Gambia, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal. Building on past and ongoing assistance, the CPF aims to scale up World Bank Group assistance and increase engagement from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in support of three CPF Focus Areas: Strengthening Transparency, Accountability, and Effectiveness in Governance; Enabling Inclusive and Resilient Private Sector Driven Job Creation; and Enhancing Human Capital Investments to Develop a Productive Workforce.

Source: World Bank


Support SMEs to enhance regional economic integration – EBID president urges

The president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank for Investment (EBID), Dr George Agyekum Donkor, has called for the implementation of measures to give companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a modicum of predictability and certainty when entering international transactions. He said regional economic integration would not be successful unless the legal challenges posed by doing business across countries, which were making it difficult for the sub-region to attract investments, were resolved. “The legal framework rests at the core of business risk calculations, making it a key factor in the success of business initiatives and in the long-term, economic growth, and it is imperative that we develop solutions to the issues that plague it,” Dr Donkor said. Dr Donkor was speaking at an International Conference being hosted by the ECOWAS Court of Justice at Praia, Cabo Verde to discuss the legal climate in the ECOWAS.

Source: News Ghana


CMA sets tough rules for small firms issuing bonds

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has set tough conditions for small businesses seeking to raise below a quarter of a billion shillings in Kenya’s capital market. The small businesses will have to be in operation for two years, have a minimum issued share capital of KES10-million, and can only borrow four times the level of its shareholders' funds. The small and medium-sized (SMEs) seeking to list debt securities must also provide approvals from the regulator in their sector, audited financial reports, and must have both executive directors, and non-executive and independent directors with untainted histories. The regulator draft regulations, however, will allow small companies that cannot satisfy these conditions to issue capital market debt if they can provide guarantees from a bank or insurance firm. “Where the issuer does not satisfy any of the requirements under this Schedule, it may obtain a credit enhancement to have the securities it seeks to issue guaranteed,” the draft Public Offers Listing and Disclosures Regulations reads. The CMA is setting up the new SME Fixed Income Securities Market Segment for the listing of debt securities between KES20-million and KES250-million.

Source: Business Daily


IFC acquires 6.71% of Kenya’s Equity Bank

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, has acquired a 6.71% stake in Kenya’s regional lender Equity Bank, officials said recently. Mohamed Gouled, the vice president of risk and finance at the IFC, said in Nairobi that the investment makes the financial institution the second-largest shareholder of Equity Bank. “The investment is IFC’s first in Africa that aligns with the corporation’s approach to increase green equity investments in financial institutions,” Gouled said. Equity Bank has operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan as well as a commercial representative office in Ethiopia. Gouled noted that the sale agreement requires Equity Bank to commit to zero lending for coal-related projects including the development or expansion of coal-fired power plants, coal mines, transportation assets used exclusively for coal or infrastructure assets exclusively dedicated to supporting coal mines and coal transportation.

Source: The Independent

Kenya / Tanzania

Tanzania’s exports to Kenya hit highest recorded levels since independence

Kenya’s imports from Tanzania nearly doubled from USD242.6-million in 2020 to USD473.9-million in 2021. The improved relationship between Kenya and Tanzania seems to be bearing fruits if the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data is anything to go by. In its Economic Survey 2022, the statistics office indicates that Tanzania’s exports to Kenya doubled in just 10 months, the highest figure recorded since independence. The survey attributed the rise to increased imports of maize and rice from Tanzania. Kenya imported more goods from Tanzania in 2021 than before, despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting trade in the region and globally. The survey revealed that Kenya opened its market to receive agricultural products from Tanzania amid the pandemic that affected its stock.

Source: The Exchange


Government moves on mining ventures

The Ministry of Mining says it expects to finish some mining development agreements negotiations with three mining firms by June this year to resume major mining activities. The resumption of mining activities is expected to create jobs and enhance the sector’s contribution to GDP, which is currently at less than 1%, according to the Malawi Government Annual Economic Report 2022. The ministry’s Principal Secretary Joseph Mkandawire said government is negotiating agreements with three firms that have finalised their exploration works. He identified the firms as Mkango Resources, a dual-listed mineral exploration firm, which has been engaged in exploration of rare earths at Songwe Hills in Phalombe, Globe Metals Limited, which will be mining niobium in Mzimba and Lotus Resources Limited, which acquired Kayerekera Uranium Mine in Karonga recently. Mkandawire said discussions on the agreements are at an advanced stage and will be concluded soon.

Source: The Nation


New rail firm on the cards

The Ministry of Transport has granted a six-month provisional operating licence to African Rail Corporation Limited (ARC Malawi), a newly established Malawian rail firm. The provisional licence was granted after a rigorous assessment of the company’s expression of interest submitted to the Ministry of Transport last year, according to the firm. Once fully operational, ARC Malawi is expected to offer rail freight services on the Nacala-Blantyre-Lilongwe and the Beira-Blantyre-Lilongwe routes, transporting liquid fuels to the country’s major fuel reserves in the country. In a recent interview, ARC Malawi executive chairperson and managing director Davies Lanjesi thanked the Malawi government for positively considering the company’s expression of interest. He said that within six months of the provisional licence, they will be working closely with the Ministry of Transport on technical requirements to ascertain their capacities prior to the consideration for granting a full operational licence.

Source: The Nation


IMF staff completes 2022 Article IV mission to Mauritius

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Cemile Sancak undertook a mission to Mauritius during 27 April to 10 May to conduct the discussions for the 2022 Article IV consultations. At the conclusion of the mission, Ms Sancak issued the following statement, in part: “Mauritius is gradually recovering from the pandemic. The public health impact of the pandemic was well managed, including by a remarkable vaccination campaign covering over 90% of the eligible population by May 2022. Large and comprehensive support measures helped cushion the social and economic impact of the pandemic. While most sectors have returned to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity and the tourism sector is gradually recovering, inflation has picked up substantially. Real GDP growth bounced back to 4% in 2021, from a contraction of around 15% in 2020. Tourist arrivals – at 13% of the 2019 level – were adversely impacted by the full reopening of the border only in October 2021, travel restrictions amid the Omicron variant, and limited flight availability for Mauritius.” 

Source: IMF


IMF executive board concludes 2022 Article IV consultation with Mozambique, approves USD456-million ECF arrangement

On 9 May 2022, the executive board concluded the 2022 Article IV consultation and approved a new three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Mozambique for SDR340.8-million (about USD456-million), or 150% of the country’s quota. The board’s approval allows for an immediate disbursement equivalent to USD91-million, or SDR-68.16-million. A moderate recovery is taking hold. After a real GDP contraction of -1.2% in 2020 – the first in 30 years – growth resumed in 2021 and is now becoming more broad-based. While COVID-19 cases and deaths have been below regional averages, three large waves of infections in 2021 and 2022 moderated the strength of the recovery. After initial supply constraints, vaccine rollout intensified in late 2021, with 46% of the population having received at least one shot (42% fully vaccinated by end-March 2022). The war in Ukraine is pushing up fuel and food prices. Inflation rose to 6.7% year-on-year in March 2022 mainly due to rising global prices but also the impact of tropical storms on local food prices. In response, the Bank of Mozambique raised its policy rate 200 basis points in March 2022. 

Source: IMF


Namibian port grows as alternative trade hub in Southern Africa

Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay has been expanding over the last few years and is set to get bigger with plans by the southern African country to develop its energy sector. The country, famous for its Skeleton Coast strewn with shipwrecks, built out its main port with a USD300-million container terminal project that more than doubled its capacity. That was completed in 2020 while Namibia was still struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other areas of the hub handle flows of salt, copper, coal, mining equipment and fuel. Walvis Bay serves as an alternative to the ports of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Durban in South Africa for delivering the supplies and commodities from the landlocked areas in the southern region. Namibia has added about 2 290 miles (3 687 km) of paved roads in the last three decades, while its rail system has added less than 200 miles of track. The port will see another development following the award of a contract to build a liquid petroleum gas import, storage and distribution terminal, Namibian Ports Authority CEO Andrew Kanime said last month at an oil conference in Windhoek, the capital. “The hub will need to be cost competitive to drive traffic,” he said.

Source: Bloomberg


SEC considers new guidelines to digitalise market transactions

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing a new guideline that will fully digitalise capital market operations and enable investors to carry out transactions on internet-enabled appliances. This is contained in a guideline on Minimum Operating Standards for Information Technology for Capital Market Operators (CMOSs) recently made public. According to the SEC, the new regulatory framework undergoing review seeks to mandate compulsory adoption of information and communications technology (ICT), particularly web-based applications and devices, for virtual capital market transactions. By the proposal, all registrars, central securities depositories and clearing houses will be required to digitise their operations as a regulatory requirement rather than an optional service provision – a move that could address issues fueling unclaimed dividends. The SEC stated that the provisions of the document apply to all categories of CMOs unless in sections where reference is otherwise made to specific categories.

Source: The Guardian


ENI joins forces with Rwanda to cooperate in the circular economy and decarbonisation value chain

Eni S.p.A. (ENI) and the government of Rwanda signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to identify collaborative opportunities in the areas of circular economy, agriculture, forestry, innovation and digital information technology. Under the terms of the MoU, the two parties will evaluate the feasibility of circular economy projects focused on collecting used cooking oil and waste oils, waste management valorisation and recycling. The fields of interest also include agriculture, especially bio-feedstock production and the transformation into decarbonised products. This is in addition to forestry, especially forest conservation and generation of carbon credits through a wide range of initiatives, such as reducing CO2 emissions from the wood-fuel value chain and other service activities. Other sectors of cooperation under the MoU include innovation and digital information technology targeting circular economy, agriculture, forestry, off-grid energy, and other business areas, such as sustainability, health, safety, security and environment. The MoU aligns with Rwanda’s goal to fast-track economic development by enabling private sector growth and Eni’s commitment to increase energy efficiency in African countries, leveraging agro-industrial projects in a sustainable framework.

Source: Sustainable Energy


IMF staff reaches staff-level agreement on the second review under the EFF, concludes 2022 Article IV consultation with Seychelles

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Boriana Yontcheva visited Victoria from 26 April to 9 May 2022 to conduct discussions on the second review of Seychelles’ economic and financial programme supported by the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, and the 2022 Article IV consultation. At the end of the mission, Ms Yontcheva issued the following statement, in part: “The Seychellois economy strongly recovered in 2021 with real GDP growing to an estimated 8%, driven by a swift rebound of the tourism sector. Despite the deterioration of the international environment associated with the war in Ukraine, tourism earnings in March 2022 surpassed the 2019 level and GDP growth is expected to reach 7% in 2022. Price inflation rose to 10.1% in December 2021 up from 1.2% in 2020, reflecting the lagged impact of the large depreciation of the rupee in 2020 as well as pandemic-related cost-push factors but declined to 2.2 in March 2022 due to the impact of the 2021 appreciation of the currency. Looking ahead, the surge of global prices is expected to bring inflation to 5.7% at the end of year.”

Source: IMF

Tanzania / Uganda

Tanzania to buy sugar, ARVs from Uganda

Tanzania has pledged to buy at least 10 000 tonnes of Ugandan sugar and an unspecified amount Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARVs) from Cipla Uganda. In a joint communiqué issued by Uganda’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem and his Tanzanian counterpart, Liberata Mulamula, after a meeting between President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the two countries agreed to closer economic cooperation. “The heads of state further agreed on the pathogenic economy and specifically collaboration on the development of vaccines between the two countries. It was also agreed that Tanzania will buy ARVs from Uganda. It was also agreed that Tanzania shall charge USD10 per 100 km per truck from Mutukula to Dar es Salaam starting financial year 2022/2023, effective 1 July 2022. It was further agreed that Uganda shall supply 10 000 tonnes to cover the sugar gap in Tanzania,” the communiqué reads in part.

Source: The Independent


Take trade disputes to COMESA

Attorney-General Mulilo Kabesha says the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Court of Justice provides the best avenue to resolve trade disputes because it has competent judges. He was speaking recently during the official opening of the COMESA Court of Justice retreat. The COMESA Court of Justice was established in 1994 under Article 7 of the COMESA treaty. It presides over trade disputes within the COMESA region and harmonises and interprets the COMESA treaty. The court comprises 12 judges drawn from COMESA member states. Former Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda is the judge president of the court. Mr Kabesha said the composition of judges in the court gives comfort to the litigants of having a fair hearing. He said there is need to sensitise the institution as a destination for trade disputes. “The composition of the court gives comfort that people, the litigants, should for sure come to this court.”

Source: Zambia Daily Mail