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Africa Brief 28 Oct 2019


Doing Business 2020: Two sub-Saharan African countries among most improved in Ease of Doing Business

Economies in sub-Saharan Africa continued to improve their business climates, with the region’s largest economy, Nigeria, earning a place among the year’s top global improvers alongside Togo, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business study. Economies of the region enacted 73 reforms in the 12 months leading to 1 May, down from a record high of 108, and the number of countries implementing at least one reform fell to 31 from 40. The regional average ease of doing business score was 51.8 on a scale of 0 to 100, below the OECD high-income average of 78.4 and the global average of 63.0. The region conducted the most reforms in the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits and getting credit, with twelve reforms in each. Thanks to initiatives led by the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, getting credit became easier in several economies in the region.

Source: The World Bank Group


Gender Summit to tackle USD42-Billion women financing gap

The 2019 Global Gender Summit due in Kigali next month is expected to devise comprehensive strategies to bridge the USD42-billion financing gap facing women in Africa, organisers have said. That is the evaluation of the gap between men and women in terms of access to finance, according to Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society at African Development Bank (AfDB). They were speaking on Friday during a press conference held in Kigali ahead of the summit that will take place from November 25 to November 27, 2019, at Kigali Convention Centre. The main objective of the summit – expected to attract more than 800 participants including Heads of State, First Ladies, and Heads of Governments – is to share best practices and catalyze investments to accelerate progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa and around the world. It is co-hosted by the AfDB and the Republic of Rwanda, and it is the first time it is going to take place in Africa.

Source: The New Times


Russia sets up USD5-billion trading platform in Africa

An agreement has been reached at the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi to establish a mechanism for funding trade deals. It is aimed at giving Russian exporters access to the African market. “The deal is designed to develop cooperation with African states by arranging mechanisms of issuing loans for joint foreign trade projects,” the Russian Export Center (REC) said. It explained that the deal opens up opportunities for increasing the volume of Russian exports to Africa, including to Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and other states. With a volume of more than USD 5 billion, the platform will enable risks related to trade with African countries to be absorbed. According to REC Director Andrey Slepnyov, Russia will “attract at least 10 countries and literally open a trade corridor to the African continent.” That will create “a unique opportunity for Russian businesses to systemically expand presence in the region and consolidate on one of the most promising and dynamically developing global markets opening it for high-tech domestic export.”

Source: RT


African Development Bank funds Angola initiative to improve business environment and diversify exports

The Angolan Government has launched a study funded by the African Development Bank through the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) trust fund to support the improvement of export diversification and the business environment. Opening the session, the Minister of Commerce, Joffre Van-Dúnem Júnior, highlighted the government’s commitment to improve Angola’s business environment and enhance international competitiveness, while attracting increased investment for domestic and exportable products. Furthermore, the Secretary of State for Economy, Sérgio dos Santos, also noted that the study supports the government’s programme for domestic production, export diversification, and import substitution (PRODESI). “Export diversification will allow Angola to integrate into the regional markets under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and at continental level.

Source: African Development Bank Group


Bank of Ghana adopts new guidelines on repo agreements

The Bank of Ghana has adopted a set of guidelines to help facilitate the short-term trading of government securities between dealers as well as investors. Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, who announced the new Guidelines for Repurchase Agreements at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, USA, said it would help facilitate the flow of cash and securities in financial markets. Typically, a repurchase agreement (repo) is a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. In the case of a repo, a dealer sells government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day at a slightly higher price. Dr. Addison said the adopted guidelines were based on the standard 2011 Global Master Repurchase Agreement (GMRA). “The introduction of the Guidelines is expected to deepen the financial markets in Ghana through the promotion of a more vibrant and liquid secondary bonds market,” he said in a statement issued by the Bank of Ghana.

Source: Ghanaian Times


Treasury seeks views on insurance sector

The Treasury has commenced a process of developing a national insurance policy to strengthen related laws, regulations and policies in a bid to improve access to, and usage of, underwriting services. The framework will also increase penetration of insurance, which is currently at about three per cent and has hardly changed for more than a decade. Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia is asking stakeholders in the industry, including policyholders, to respond to a questionnaire that is basically asking about their priorities and challenges. “The government is developing a National Insurance Policy Framework expected to strengthen the policy, legal and regulatory environment in order to improve access, usage and affordability of insurance products and services in Kenya; and facilitate further development of insurance services in Kenya in line with broader public policy objectives of the government,” he said in a notice.

Source: Business Daily


Reserve Bank of Malawi takes cryptocurrency discourse to policy indaba

The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) is expected to take the cryptocurrency discourse to the second Monetary Policy Conference slated for Mangochi on 18 November. This is despite cryptocurrencies or digital currencies which include Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Zcash, Dach and Ripple, remaining an illegal tender for trading in the country. RBM says in a statement that the second monetary policy conference will be held under the theme ‘Cryptocurrency and Monetary Policy in Malawi’. “The conference aims at providing a platform for stakeholders to engage and discuss the evolution of financial technology with a focus on block chain technology, cryptocurrencies, Central Bank digital currencies and their likely implications on monetary policy and financial stability. In addition, the conference is expected to analyse risks and opportunities presented by these innovations,” reads the statement.

Source: The Time Group


Mozambique / Malawi transmission line goes to tender by March 2020

The international tender for the construction of the power line between Mozambique and Malawi is due to be launched by March 2020, Mozambique’s deputy minister of Mineral Resources and Energy said in Maputo. Augusto Sousa Fernando said the start-up of this line is of vital importance not only for Malawi but also for Mozambique, as it will also benefit several communities throughout the Marara, Changara, Moatize districts and the city of Tete along its route. The Secretary of State, quoted by Mozambican newspaper Notícias, said that the result of the public tender will be known by December 2020, and the works should be completed by the end of 2022. With a cost currently estimated at USD 100 million on the Mozambican side, the infrastructure will be funded by the World Bank and the governments of Norway and Germany, in the latter case through the KfW bank.

Source: Macauhub


Rwanda approves nuclear power pact with Russia

The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes,” a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter’s interests in the region. This comes ahead of the first, and upcoming, Russia-African Forum in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials. The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali. The deal was boosted in May when a Russian government nuclear parastatal, Rosatom Global, reached an agreement to set up the nuclear plant by 2024 – that the government says will help in the advancement of technology in agriculture, energy production and environment protection. It has signed similar co-operation agreements with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania even as questions over the appropriateness of the technology loom large.

Source: Energy Mix Report


Uganda sees investors picked for five oil blocks by end-2020

Uganda sees investors lined up for five oil blocks by the end of next year and expects to start producing crude as early as 2023. The landlocked East African nation plans to build a pipeline to export its oil through neighbouring Tanzania, Energy Minister Irene Muloni said in an interview in Dubai, where she is trying to drum up interest in the licenses Uganda is offering. “There is a lot of money that needs to be sunk into exploration and development before you go into production,” she said on Bloomberg Television. “We hope by the end of next year, we will have new investors for these five blocks.” Uganda has some of the biggest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa – 6 billion barrels – of which it has estimated 1.4 billion are recoverable. It cancelled a plan in 2016 to jointly develop an export pipeline to Kenya’s coast in favour of a southern route through Tanzania.

Source: Bloomberg


Government gazettes start of digital tax stamps

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has said implementation of Digital Tax Stamps will go on urging manufacturers to embrace the system that seeks to fight illicit trade and counterfeit. The implementation of Digital Tax Stamps, according to details contained in the government gazette, will start on 1 November and manufacturers will have a grace period of three months within which they must install digital stamp equipment. Speaking in an interview, Mr Vincent Seruma, the URA Assistant Commissioner for public and corporate affairs, said Uganda was not the first in the region to embrace Digital Tax Stamps, noting it has been implemented across the region including in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. The gazette comes amid serious concerns with manufacturers urging government to come out clearly on who will bear the cost of installing digital tax equipment.

Source: Daily Monitor