European Union pledges EUR74-million funding for AfCFTA to support small and medium enterprises, says AAASME secretary general
The European Union (EU) has pledged EUR74-million to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said the secretary general of the All Africa Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (AAASME), Ebiekure Eradiri. He made the disclosure on Thursday, 19 August at the end of a three-day micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) consultation on the AfCFTA in Dakar, organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and AUNIQUEI Communication Company, with financial support from the EU. ”I hope this information can help ignite your commitment towards ensuring that the AfCFTA does not fail,” said Mr Eradiri who sought the continent’s patronage for the SMEs’ goods and services. “Let us build Africa, grow Africa, and buy Africa,” he said. The goal of the hybrid forum was to give an insight into the challenges the AfCFTA poses to the MSMEs, find solutions to them, and encourage them to build networks across the continent. On the issue of improving skills in the sector, Mr Eradiri said the enterprises should scale up their skills and competences to be in tune with present realities.
EAC member states in pilot project for cross-border COMESA digital payments
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is recommending adoption of a digital payment system that supersedes similar systems adopted in the bloc to avoid disputes arising from overlapping systems. Plans are ongoing to introduce the payments platform for informal cross-border trade in the COMESA bloc, with East African Community (EAC) members Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda on board. A public-private partnership dialogue is underway to discuss a draft model policy for the COMESA platform and specifically designed to benefit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) under the bloc’s Digital Financial Inclusion Project. The aim of the platform will be to further integrate informal traders into formal markets through better access to digital finance systems which are fast becoming the global norm. The envisaged common regional scheme will be geared towards facilitating bottom-of-the-pyramid informal traders (cross-border and domestic) to carry out transparent, affordable and secured digital transactions. Progress has been made in reaching an agreement on rules and guidelines for the platform and the adoption of a COMESA Digital Integrated Common Payment Policy and Framework for MSMEs.
Source: The EastAfrican
East Africa’s tourism sector loses USD4.8-billion, two million jobs due to COVID-19
East Africa’s tourism sector lost more than USD4.8-billion and two million jobs in 2020 amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) curbs, according to a report released Wednesday, 25 August. The tourism sector contributes about 10% to East African Community (EAC) partner states’ gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for 17% of export earnings and about 7% in terms of jobs, according to official data. The report by the East African Business Council (EABC), a bloc of private businesspeople in the region, showed that 4.2 million foreign tourists were not able to travel to their preferred EAC destinations. Ridded with uncertainty, the impact was felt across affiliated industries and other sectors of the economy. “It is estimated that tourism jobs in the region dropped from about 4.1 million to 2.2 million,” said EABC chief executive officer John Bosco Kalisa. “Visitors to national parks declined significantly by about 65% and, therefore, negatively affected wildlife conservation efforts in the region.” The majority of the tourists originate from Europe, the United States and parts of Asia.
Source: Anadolu Agency
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Inga II hydroelectric plant to power Kamoa-Kakula copper mine
Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines, has decided to pursue an existing financing agreement with the Société Nationale d’Électricité (SNEL) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ivanhoe Mines Energy will rehabilitate turbine 5 of the Inga II hydroelectric power plant to supply the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Lualaba province in the south of the DRC. Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC has already appointed a consortium for the rehabilitation of turbine 5 of the Inga II hydroelectric power plant. The consortium led by German hydro specialist Voith Hydro also includes Stucky SA, a company based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Voith Hydro will act as the project contractor. Stucky will provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services. Voith Hydro and Stucky have commenced an engineering assessment to define the scope of work and associated cost estimates. The turbine is expected to have a capacity of 162 megawatts (MW) when completed, and the work will also include upgrading the terminal equipment on the Inga-Kolwezi transmission line to increase its transfer capacity by a minimum of 200 MW.
Source: AFRIK 21
Government to target major potential taxpayers who are non-tax compliant – Bawumia
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia on Wednesday, 25 August launched the Revenue Assurance and Compliance Enforcement (RACE) initiative to enhance the government’s revenue mobilisation drive. The RACE is a multi-agency initiative to identify and eliminate revenue leakages while reinforcing the culture of compliance by taxpayers. It has especially targeted players in the petroleum bunkering, gold and minerals export, port operations, transit goods, warehousing and free zone operations. The initiative would empower the efforts of the government to stay the course in terms of its economic targets and to return the Ghanaian economy to a path of fiscal sustainability by 2024. Vice President Bawumia said the implementers of the programme would devise a strategy to target major potential taxpayers who were non-tax compliant. The effectiveness of RACE, Vice President Bawumia explained, depended on the ability to leverage on technology and to integrate the rich databases from the Ghana-Card, the Tax Identification Number, Digital Address System, Passport Office, and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, among others.
KCB Group completes acquisition of Banque Populaire du Rwanda
KCB Group PLC has completed the acquisition of Banque Populaire du Rwanda Plc (BPR) from Atlas Mara Mauritius Limited and Arise B.V. This follows the securing of the requisite regulatory approvals in Kenya and Rwanda in what makes KCB Group the majority shareholder in BPR, Rwanda’s second biggest bank, with effect from 25 August 2021. In a statement released on Wednesday, 25 August, KCB Group CEO and MD Joshua Oigara, said that the completion of the transaction in Rwanda will give the group a stronger edge in deepening the ongoing group strategy to scale regional presence. “The combined history of BPR and KCB will take the Group to greater heights, giving us a stronger edge to play a bigger role in driving the financial inclusion and economic empowerment agenda in the East African region,” Oigara said. Adding, “This will increase our scale and improve our operating leverage by enabling us to deliver our existing retail and wholesale offerings to a wider base of customers in Rwanda while positioning the bank for sustainable growth in the long-term.”
Source: The Star
State removes title deed hurdles for developers
The state has sealed a legal loophole that risked blocking investors from phased development of high-rise buildings on parcels of land where some complete units had been sold and titles transferred to owners. A newly published policy by the Lands and Physical Planning ministry will see the Sectional Properties Act 2020 amended to allow for a phased and mixed development of properties. “Increasingly there is a need by developers to develop their pieces of land in phases. If the land is under one title it presents a problem under [the] Sectional Properties Act since the head title cannot be surrendered until the entire land has been developed,” the policy says. “There is, therefore, need to ensure that the land can be subdivided into phases to allow for separate head titles to be surrendered and thus allow for the application of [the] Sectional Properties Act.” With these changes, the developers will now be able to issue separate ownership documents for units of buildings sitting on one title deed even when the entire land is not fully developed.
Source: Business Daily
Supported by IFC, Kenya launches web portal to boost investment in special economic zones
With support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Kenya’s Special Economic Zones Authority, on 23 August 2021, launched a one-stop-shop web portal to boost communication, transparency, and service provision for current and potential investors in special economic zones (SEZs), a pillar of the country’s industrial policy. The web portal, found at www.sezauthority.go.ke, will help the authority adapt its investor outreach, retention, and after-care strategies to an interactive online platform, supporting investment, growth, and job creation in Kenya. SEZs are demarcated areas with unique rules of business. They provide private firms with quality, cost-effective, reliable infrastructure, efficient customs services, regulatory predictability, and even fiscal incentives. Kenya has about 10 SEZs. Through SEZs, Kenya aims to boost competitiveness by ensuring regulatory and administrative predictability, quality industrial infrastructure and market access.
Kenya / Tanzania
Kenya, Tanzania set December deadline to remove trade barriers
Kenya and Tanzania have set December as the target time when the two neighbouring countries will have resolved most of the non-tariff barriers affecting cross-border trade. The decision came out of a meeting of the Joint Commission on Cooperation (JCC), a bilateral organ comprising officials from the two countries created to resolve issues affecting areas of cooperation. The five-day meeting held in Nairobi, which ended on Tuesday, 24 August, indicated that nearly half of the barriers that have consistently plagued trade between the two countries have been resolved and that the remaining would be ironed out within the next four months. “On trade, the JCC took note of the progress made by the Joint Trade Committee in addressing 30 out of 64 challenges facing bilateral relations and urged the resolution of the remaining 34 issues before the end of December 2021,” a joint dispatch from the JCC said on Tuesday. The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Affairs ministers Raychelle Omamo of Kenya and Tanzania’s Liberata Mulamula, while the trade committee was led by Trade ministers Betty Maina of Kenya and Tanzania’s Prof Kitila Mkumbo.
Source: The EastAfrican
Industry upbeat as COVID-19 cases ease
The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and the Malawi Tourism Council have asked the government to use the opportunity of a drop in COVID-19 cases to rebuild business confidence. Malawi has recently seen a drop in both COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths. Speaking in an interview, MCCCI president James Chimwaza said the chamber was delighted that cases were dropping and hopes the trend continues. He said the chamber was still working on a document of recommendations to the government on how quickly business could recover from effects of the pandemic. He urged industry players to continue following safety measures while advocating massive vaccination. “We have seen that, for those that have been vaccinated, the situation has been better than [for] those who have not. So, let us build up from what we have so that we maintain the current status,” he said.
Source: The Times
Mauritius central bank sees rates on hold until economy revives
Mauritius’ central bank will keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1.85% until the economy shows signs of a sustained recovery. “The accommodative stance will prevail as long as the economy requires it,” Bank of Mauritius governor Harvesh Seegolam said in e-mailed responses to questions. “Any normalization will take place when we have concrete data to show that economic activities have picked up in a significant and sustainable manner, and have gained momentum for the medium-term.” The central bank expects the tourism-dependent Indian Ocean island nation’s economy to expand 5.5% in 2021. That is down from a February estimate of 7.9%, after a second wave of COVID-19 infections forced the country to impose new lockdown restrictions. Mauritius’ economy shrank 14.9% last year, the biggest contraction in four decades. “When do we start normalizing? It can be as soon as next quarter or next year,” Seegolam said. While Mauritius’ inflation rate rose to a more than three-year high of 6.5% last month, price-growth is still “tolerable,” Seegolam said.
Namibia taps into black gold
Historically overlooked by independent oil companies (IOCs) and considered something of an oil and gas frontier state, Namibia is establishing itself more prominently on the international oil and gas map. The Wingat-1 discovery by HRT in 2013, which encountered rich oil-bearing source rocks in the Walvis Basin, was the start of this change and, in the years since, the country has become a much more attractive proposition for oil exploration. Coupled with favourable fiscal incentives, Namibia has drawn a wealth of oil majors including Tullow, Total, GALP, Shell, ONGC and ExxonMobil. A coming industry boom is anticipated. Namibia’s competitive petroleum exploration scene has helped the state-owned National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) to take a stand in shaping the country’s prospects. With a 10% interest in multiple international companies operating in the country, NAMCOR is ready to help Namibia become one of the leading petroleum-producing countries on the continent. “Namibia’s growing oil and gas sector is likely to transform the country’s economy,” says Ms Maggy Shino, Petroleum commissioner for Namibia.
Source: The Southern Times
NDPHC in Nigeria signs PPA to supply 20 MW to Kano State
The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Limited in Nigeria has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Kano State Government to supply 20 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The power will be used to enhance the operations of the state water board. Executive director for Generation at the NDPHC, Kassim Abdullahi, who led the company’s team, supported by the general manager commercial Mahmoud Wali, disclosed that the company has a total installed capacity of about 4,000 MW in its plants across the country. According to Abdullahi, the capacity of the company was being ramped up with the NDPHC already contributing about 700 MW to the national grid in Nigeria from 10 generation companies and Alaoji power plant, which would supply power to Kano, being one of them. He explained that NDPHC decided to pick Alaoji because of the reliability and availability of power to be delivered under the agreement with Kano State, stressing that the generation company has the capacity to send 500 MW.
Source: ESI Africa
Supported by IFC, Somalia launches trade information portal to boost cross-border trade
To facilitate cross-border trade and provide more transparent trade information for businesses, Somalia’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), launched on 25 August 2021 a trade information portal to lower costs and simplify trade procedures for Somali importers and exporters. The portal, found at www.stip.gov.so, provides a single source for all cross-border trade information. Over 90 laws, regulations, procedures and other trade-related measures from over a dozen government agencies can now be accessed online. Businesses can also access licences, permits and applicable fees. The portal will provide Somalia’s business community with easy access to information on import and export regulations and procedures. Also, it aims to improve the predictability and transparency of Somalia’s business environment and provide foreign and domestic investors with quick and timely access to trade rules and regulations.
Co-operative Bank extends joint venture with South Sudan
Co-operative Bank has extended its joint venture with the government of South Sudan by three years, renewing the parties’ co-ownership of the lender’s subsidiary headquartered in Juba. The partners formed the Co-operative Bank of South Sudan in 2013, with the Kenyan banking multinational taking a controlling 51% stake in the company. The government took the remaining 49% equity which it was to hold in trust and later transfer to the co-operative movement in that country in a few years. Co-operative Bank says the transfer of the minority stake has been delayed by economic and political challenges in that country. “The 49% shareholding held by the government of South Sudan was to be transferred to the co-operative societies in South Sudan but the peace process, the performance of that economy has taken time to stabilise and we have extended that period by another three or so years,” chief executive Gideon Muriuki told shareholders at the virtual annual general meeting held on Friday, 20 August.
Source: The EastAfrican
IMF gives South Sudan additional USD334-million loan
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has granted South Sudan a USD334-million loan to improve its ailing economy, the country’s central bank has said. “The country has been allocated USD334-million by the IMF as part of the general allocation of Special Drawing Rapid approved by the IMF Board of Directors on 2 August 2021. The allocation became effective [Monday] 23rd of August.” “The resources have come when South Sudan is implementing essential economic reforms, including monetary and far-reaching foreign exchange market reforms which involve refraining financing of the deficit,” central bank governor Dier Tong Ngor said in a press statement issued on Tuesday, 24 August. Mr Dier Tong Ngor said the loan will improve South Sudan’s foreign reserves and this “will help build external resilience and sustain current reforms in the exchange market”. “I confirm commitment to transparency, good governance and accountability in the use and reporting of South Sudan’s Special Drawing Rapid allocation,” he said.
Source: The EastAfrican
American firm to buy all processed cashew nuts in Tanzania
Tanzanian cashew nut processors must now up their processing capacity and standards as an American firm has announced that it would buy all the processed and certified cashews from Tanzania. American Company, World Holdings International (WHI), said on Monday, 23 August, that it has secured a firm that would buy the product from Tanzania. WHI CEO Lloyd Ward named the company that will be buying the product from Tanzania to be JF Braun & Sons. Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Monday, 23 August, Mr Ward described JF Braun & Sons as a leading supplier of dried fruits and nuts in the American market. Mr Ward said with its sister companies, the Gellert Global Group, JF Braun imports and sells over USD1-billion of food products to Americans annually. “Our first containers are scheduled to leave Dar es Salaam for America before the end of this calendar year,” he told a meeting that brought together cashew nut stakeholders. Mr Ward said if other factors were to remain constant, the investor would buy a kilogram of processed cashew nuts at about USD6.5 (about TZS14,950), which is above the global market price of USD5.60 (about TZS12,880).
Source: The Citizen
Competition in fuel business intensifies
Competition in the petroleum products business has intensified, with new data showing that five oil and marketing companies (OMCs) control 52.3% of the Tanzanian market. According to statistics for year 2020 released by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), Puma is leading – with 13.6% – followed by Total, with 12.6%. Oryx Energy and GBP are third and fourth, commanding 8.9% and 8.7%, respectively. The top five list is closed by Moil with an 8.5% market share. EWURA acting director general Godfrey Chibulunje attributed the dominance of the market by the five industry players to the investments by the companies in the downstream supply chain, and distribution of petroleum products. He explained that the investments were made in the ownership of storage terminals, retail networks and logistic companies, as well as company branding and/or loyalties. The EWURA report has it that, in the period under review, the importation of liquid petroleum products decreased by 6.1%, dropping to 5.78 billion litres.
Source: The Citizen
CTI develops code of conduct to increase competitiveness
The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) has developed a code of conduct to facilitate the improvement of the business environment in the country and assist Tanzanian’s industrial competitiveness in the regional and global market. This was revealed in Dar es Salaam at a sensitisation workshop on the code of conduct organised by the CTI, which brought together the first batch of members of the confederation. The CTI chairman, Mr Paul Makanza, said that the code is enforceable and binding on all members and their employees and called on the members to be ethical to avoid being sanctioned, not only by the confederation but also the government. “Being ethical when conducting business saves a lot. For example, there are consequences, including many fines if you break the laws of the land. Therefore, having this code of conduct is like having a self-assessment, which is very important,” the CTI chairman said.
Source: Daily News
Tanzania / Kenya
Tanzania, Kenya lead the world in peer to peer crypto trade
Tanzania and Kenya have emerged as leaders in peer-to-peer (P2P) trading of cryptocurrencies more than any other market in the world, a new report shows. Residents of other African countries are jumping at the opportunity to cushion remittances and cross-border businesses from costly transfer fees and the risks of weakening currencies. According to Quartz Africa, internet-savvy Kenyans are leading the world when it comes to using digital currency platforms where individuals trade amongst themselves, a new report shows. Chainalysis, Global Crypto adoption Index 2021 has ranked Kenya the top country in the world in terms of P2P exchange trade, ahead of the other 154 countries surveyed. The index makes adjustments for purchasing power parity per capita and the internet-using population. Also ranked highly in this segment are Togo (2nd), Tanzania (4th) and Ghana (10th). A widespread person-to-person cryptocurrency trade has also been recorded in Nigeria (18th), with South Africa, ranked 62nd. The trend is believed to have been partly influenced by the danger of weakening African currencies due to a resurgence of the deadly virus in the form of the Delta variant, which has jolted efforts to re-open economies.
Source: The Citizen
Uganda cigarette maker’s profit falls 50%
Uganda’s cigarette seller British American Tobacco Uganda Ltd (BAT Uganda) net profits for the six-month period to 30 June declined by 50% over a sharp reduced cigarette sales impacted by illicit cigarettes on the Uganda market and disruptions by COVID-19. The Uganda Securities Exchange-listed tobacco company reported a net profit of UGX3.4-billion (USD965,714) for the half-year to 30 June 2021, a decline from UGX6.8-billion for the six-month period to 30 June 2020. “The COVID-19 pandemic continued to adversely impact the business due to restrictions and the general decline of consumer disposable incomes,” says the company secretary, Nicholas Ecimu. Thus, the Uganda Revenue Authority did not collect as much tax from BAT Uganda during the period under review. “Trade in tax evaded cigarettes estimated at 28% continues to negatively impact industry revenues and deny government UGX38-billion (USD10.7-million) in revenue annually,” Ecimu said, quoting Trade Monitor Quarter 2 2021. Gross revenue reduced by 41% to UGX45.2-billion, driven by a decline in sales volume, compared with UGX75.9-billion in the same period last year.
Source: The EastAfrican
Uganda NSSF members could access savings early as a cushion from COVID-19 blow
Uganda’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is walking a tightrope after the government decided to provide mid-term access to middle-aged struggling savers who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic amid difficult financing choices faced by the fund’s leadership. Under the mid-term access benefits arrangement, NSSF contributors who have saved for more than 10 years, aged over 45 years and have lost their jobs, will be allowed to withdraw 20% of their savings held by the state-controlled social security agency. Whereas President Yoweri Museveni has backed amendments to the NSSF Act of 1985 — that favour mid-term access to benefits for savers below the eligibility age of 55 years — a draft of legal changes related to this law are still being considered by the Attorney-General’s Office before being tabled in parliament for debate. An estimated 100,000 savers out of the two million NSSF contributors are expected to benefit from mid-term withdrawals with a total value of UGX1-trillion (USD281-million). A portion of this, UGX200-billion (USD56.3-million) is attributed to interest earned on members’ accounts, according to NSSF data.
Source: The EastAfrican
Ugandan traders plead for tax relief
Uganda’s business community wants the government to reduce taxes on raw materials and harmonise digital tax stamp rates with its East African Community partners Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. Already, 60,982 workers in the formal sector lost their jobs by 30 June, mirroring the significant uncertainty around the country’s economic outlook. A total of 714,048 Ugandans had formal jobs at the end of May, but with the second COVID-19 lockdown, the formal sector workforce reduced to 653,066 by 30 June, Uganda’s Ministry of Finance data shows. Daniel Musiitwa Ssubi, the chairman of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises Uganda said small and medium-sized enterprises have taken the biggest hit from COVID-19. “The quarantine and lockdown measures imposed by the government [on] March 18, 2020 and June 18, 2021, led to a decrease in demand and caused supply chain disruptions, raw material shortages, transportation challenges and cash flow disruptions,” said Mr Ssubi. The central bank projects that the Ugandan economy will have a sluggish growth.
Source: The EastAfrican