Africa Business in Brief | Issue 414| 22 Aug2021

World

World Bank and partners announce new global fund for cybersecurity

On 16 August 2021, the World Bank announced the launch of a new Cybersecurity Multi-Donor Trust Fund under the broader Digital Development Partnership (DDP) umbrella programme. The new fund aims to better define and systematically roll out the cybersecurity development agenda, helping to ensure a more substantial reflection of cybersecurity considerations across World Bank programmes and financing. The work programme will support the development of global knowledge on cybersecurity solutions for low- and middle-income countries. It will fund country maturity assessments, offer technical assistance, and support training and capacity development for cybersecurity staff in World Bank client countries. The launch of the trust fund is made possible with donor contributions from Estonia, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

Source: World Bank

East Africa

EAC secretary general urges private sector to take advantage of bilateral engagements between partner states to unlock trade barriers

The East African Community (EAC) secretary general, Dr Peter Mathuki, is urging the private sector to take advantage of the ongoing bilateral engagements between partner states, to promptly resolve trade disputes so as to increase trade among EAC partner states. Dr Mathuki further called upon the private sector to promptly harmonise their positions on trade agreements at the national level before engaging their counterparts in other partner states to fast track trade deliberations. “Regular consultations and dialogues within the national private sector bodies, is critical in building consensus within a Partner State. Divergent positions within a country will only delay in concluding trade deliberations at the regional level, further delaying implementation of regional trade policies,” said Dr Mathuki. Speaking during a CEOs engagement roundtable with business leaders in Arusha, that was convened by the East African Business Council (EABC), Dr Mathuki called upon the business community to push for public-private partnerships, citing the increased trade flows between Kenya and Tanzania, resulting from public and private bilateral dialogues in the recent months.

Source: EAC

East Africa

EAC, India ink deal to ease business

Traders from the East African Community (EAC) would benefit from faster clearance of their goods and lower costs of running their business following the signing of a Joint Action Plan between the EAC and the government of India. The Joint Action Plan will pave the way for a full Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the two parties. The MRA once realised, will benefit companies under the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) Programme run by the EAC partner states under the coordination of the EAC Secretariat since 2008. Speaking on behalf of the government of India, the chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), Ajit Kumar, emphasised the crucial role of having in place a robust, safe and largely digitised system, on one hand, and a pool of trusted and validated trading entities on the other hand. Kumar said that a fully digitised system and valid trading entities would guarantee security in the entire supply chain in trading across borders, adding that an AEO-MRA agreement was one such endeavour.

Source: The Star

Botswana

Botswana launches online visa application platform

Botswana launched an online visa application platform, E-Visa, on Thursday, 12 August, allowing citizens and tourists to obtain a visa online from their own homes. During the launch of E-Visa in Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, Anna Mokgethi, the minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, said that the new platform will improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and Botswana’s digital footprint. She said that the old system was very time consuming because applicants had to fill out forms, attach other required documents, submit them, and pay the required fee to the nearest immigration office. Additionally, applicants from outside Botswana were required to have aides who would submit application forms and process payments on their behalf. The new digital system will replace the manual system and is expected to reduce the government’s investment in money, time, paperwork, and manpower allocated to visa applications while also better serving its visitors. It is believed that E-Visa moves the entire visa application process to the digital realm.

Source: Xinhua

Ghana

African Development Bank supports efforts to improve domestic resource mobilisation, debt management capacity

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the Ministry of Finance in Ghana have launched a USD7.4-million Institutional Support Project to strengthen domestic revenue mobilisation. The launch follows the signing of grant and loan agreements and the first disbursement of project funds. This will facilitate prudent debt management, deepen financial sector reforms and support capital market development. Specifically, the funds will provide technical assistance and capacity building to improve efficiency in non-tax revenue collection and bolster debt and cash management reforms. The project complements current efforts to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation in Ghana, following the challenges in revenue mobilisation due to supply disruptions caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At the project launch, Mr Emmanuel Fordjour, manager at the Resource Mobilization and Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance, thanked the AfDB for supporting the government. He expressed the Ministry of Finance’s commitment to accelerating the project’s implementation.

Source: AfDB

Kenya

Kenya Airways, Embraer sign deal to launch flying taxis in Nairobi

Nairobians are on the verge of experiencing flying taxis after the national carrier and Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer signed an agreement that would spearhead this innovation in the market. The taxis are expected to cut travel time from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to the city centre to six minutes. The Brazilian company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya Airways, through the national carrier’s newly established subsidiary Fahari Aviation, to establish Electric Vertical Aircraft (EVA) starting 2025. Fahari is the Kenya Airways wing that deals with drones and has already opened an unmanned aerial vehicles school to train interested Kenyans. EVAs carry a load of 250 kilograms at 400 kilometres (km) per hour with a range of 250 km. The aircraft is completely autonomous as it does not require any human pilot intervention as it flies under the control of automatic systems such as radar, lidar and 12 camera sensors. But according to the company, EVA will begin as a manned aircraft (with one pilot).

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

MPs reject push to make NHIF compulsory for every adult

Parliament has shot down a proposed law that had sought to make it compulsory for every Kenyan above 18 years to contribute to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), handing a reprieve to poor households. The government-backed National Hospital Insurance Fund (Amendment) Bill had proposed that all adults be compelled to pay KES500 monthly in a remodelled universal health coverage (UHC) scheme for outpatient and inpatient services, including maternity, dialysis, cancer treatment and surgery. The Bill also proposed that the membership of the fund be ranked equally with other state documents such as Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and that any Kenyan without proof of NHIF enrollment be locked out of government services. The National Assembly Committee on Health, however, rejected the proposal for compulsory NHIF contributions and instead suggested that the national and county governments foot the bills for the 5.1 million poor households across the 47 counties. The committee also rejected the proposal to compel business owners to match workers’ monthly contributions, saying that it would hurt the wage bill of the companies and their ability to create jobs.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

Treasury loses bid to hire staff for Tax Appeals Tribunal

Parliament has rejected a bid by the Treasury to hire staff of the Tax Appeals Tribunal and set their pay, terming it a threat to the arbitrator’s independence from the executive. The National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning rejected the recommendations of the Tax Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2021, which had sought to transfer the hiring and remuneration functions of the tribunal staff to the National Treasury. The Committee said doing so would compromise the tribunal’s independence and maintained that its staff, budget and remuneration be handled by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The state-backed Tax Appeals Tribunal Amendment Bill 2021 was brought to parliament after a court ruled in favour of activist Okiya Omtata to move the appointment of tribunals from the executive to the judiciary. While the law transferred membership of the tribunal to JSC, Treasury sought to retain control of staff recruitment through the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the budget which would be submitted by the cabinet secretary for parliamentary approval.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya

Win for firms as Kenya Power tender nullified

Local firms have scored big in their quest to secure contracts in the construction of power lines and other related jobs. This is after the Procurement Administrative and Review Board (APRB) ruled in their favour, directing Kenya Power to re-tender the contracts. The board also ordered Kenya Power to give preference to local contractors. “The procuring entity’s (Kenya Power) bidding document… in respect of procurement of plant, supply and extension of lower voltage lines – Last Mile Connectivity issued on May 18, 2021, be and is hereby nullified and set aside,” said the APRB in its July decision. The board directed Kenya Power to prepare fresh bids within a month of issuing the ruling and re-tender them within 45 days. “The procuring entity is hereby directed to unbundle the tender into reasonably smaller lots and to apply preference margins in compliance with African Development Bank (AfDB) rules for procurement of goods and services, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015,” said the board.

Source: The Standard

Mauritius

Mauritius intends to set up a pharmaceutical plant for COVID-19 vaccines

Mauritius seeks to set up a pharmaceutical plant for the production of vaccines against COVID-19. The minister of Land Transport and Light Rail and minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo, made this statement recently, following his intervention via videoconference, at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers, held in Malawi. Minister Ganoo expressed Mauritius’ interest to venture in the local production of COVID-19 vaccines for countries in the region. This, he said, is in line with the objective of the African Medicines Agency to facilitate access to safe and affordable medicines for African countries.

Source: Government Information Service, Prime Minister’s Office

Mozambique

Export of gold and gems to be subject to certificate of origin

All exports of precious metals and gemstones mined in Mozambique will be subject to the issuance of a certificate of origin, with effect from Friday, 20 August. Castro Elias, executive secretary of the Kimberley Process Management Unit at the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, told ‘Noticias’ that the introduction of the certificate and packaging regime is in compliance with the regulation on the marketing of diamonds, precious metals and gemstones approved through Decree No. 25/2015 of 20 November. The introduction of the certificate seeks to conform transactions in these national products to international practices. “The Certificate of Origin identifies the product as being from Mozambique, but it also assures buyers that the product was extracted taking into account all environmental requirements and human rights, and does not come from smuggling, because it is the government that is issuing the document,” Elias explained.

Source: Club of Mozambique

Namibia

BIPA calls on business owners to improve compliance

The Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) has now streamlined its business registration services to ensure that clients seamlessly submit their annual returns and pay their annual duties; and in doing so, benefit from national economic opportunities. Since its establishment in 2016, BIPA has experienced various challenges in respect of annual duty collections from established businesses, however the current processes of issuing statement of accounts monthly to business entities makes it easier for such businesses to effect payment against the invoiced amounts. In further efforts to improve customer education, BIPA launched its yearly Annual Duty Campaign for 2021 entitled ‘Good Standing makes Good Business’. The objective of the campaign is centred on improving compliance by business owners and ensuring such entities remain in good standing. “We urge business owners to act promptly when they receive their statement of accounts to avoid compounded penalties and even prevent de-registration of their hard-earned business brands” said Vivienne Katjiuongua, BIPA chief executive officer.

Source: Namibia Economist

Namibia

Namibia telco MTC to list on country’s stock exchange

Namibia’s largest telecommunications company, MTC, said on Friday, 20 August that its application for primary listing on the main board of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) has been approved. This is the largest proposed listing by a Namibian company since the establishment of the NSX. According to MTC chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs officer Tim Ekandjo, 49% of the ordinary shares in MTC will be made available to the general public during the public offer, with Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings Limited retaining a minimum of 51% of MTC post-listing. He said it is anticipated that the prospectus will open on 20 September and that MTC will be listed before the end of November 2021. “We take great pleasure to invite you to share in the prosperity by subscribing for shares in this truly Namibian company,” Ekandjo said. With the listing, MTC will become the first state-owned enterprise to list on the NSX.

Source: Xinhua

Nigeria

Nigeria projects about 40,000 bpd from Total’s Ikike field in Q4

The country’s oil production capacity is expected to receive a boost of about 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) from TotalEnergies’ Ikike field set to become operational by the end of this year and early 2022. The French company made a final investment decision (FID) on Nigeria’s Ikike project in January 2019 and hopes to reach its first oil target late this year. The field will be tied back to the existing Amenam field. Furthermore, the field is expected to help the firm and country reduce the volume of gas flared from its facilities. Addressing journalists, the deputy managing director, Deep Water District, Victor Bandele, stated that the Ikike project affirms the company’s resolve to remain in Nigeria, as the field will sustain the OML 99 plateau and also help to sustain Total’s zero-gas flaring agenda. According to him, we need to burn less carbon and be very passionate about the environment, adding that the oil firm wants to reduce the greenhouse gas emission with a target to end routine flaring by 2030. Having reduced gas flare volumes by 75% to date, he explained that 45% of routine flaring would be ended by 2029 and less than 0.4 MSm3 per day by 2025.

Source: The Guardian

Nigeria

Nigerian government signs groundbreaking Petroleum Industry Bill into law

Nigeria’s groundbreaking Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has officially been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, ushering in a new wave of investment and positioning the country as a global energy competitor. The PIB comprises a complete legislative restructuring of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, providing a comprehensive framework that emphasises coherency and transparency. With twenty years of deliberation and revision behind it, and insight from international oil companies and government representatives, the final implemented PIB is expected to enhance regulatory certainty and administrative efficiency in the country’s oil and gas sector. Comprising 16 petroleum laws, the national oil company’s restructuring, and the provision of improved fiscal terms, the PIB aims to enhance the sector’s attractiveness to international investors, particularly in a post-COVID-19 reduced capital expenditure climate. In addition to unlocking additional investment, the PIB includes a strong environmental and social component – emphasising local capacity, community interests and environmental safeguarding – setting a high standard for other African countries seeking progressive regulatory reform.

Source: Energy Capital & Power

Rwanda

Central bank confident on economic recovery

The central bank has reassured economic recovery following the 2020 recession which was Rwanda’s first since 1994. The recovery is driven by sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture which have a trickle-down effect across the entire country, allowing resumption of activity. In 2020, Rwanda’s economy contracted by 3.4% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to curb it. Following the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank chaired by governor John Rwangombwa, the committee exuded confidence on economic recovery, citing agriculture, industry and manufacturing as key sectors. “The recovery in the first quarter of 2021 was mainly driven by a faster recovery in the agriculture sector… The recovery is expected to continue at a higher pace, as evidenced by the Composite Index of Economic Activities – a high frequency economic indicator – which rose by 32.4% in 2021 Q2 from 12.7% in 2021 Q1,” the committee noted. Speaking to The New Times after the meeting, Rwangombwa said that they project recovery across the year buoyed by sectors such as manufacturing, construction, telecommunication services and financial services, as well as the agriculture sector. Growth of credit to the private sector was another indicator of the expected recovery.

Source: The New Times

Rwanda

IFC, Rwanda Capital Markets Authority and central bank join forces to boost access to long-term finance for small businesses

To support the development of Rwanda’s capital markets, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the National Bank of Rwanda and Rwanda’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) have announced a four-year partnership that will help expand access to long-term local currency finance in Rwanda for key sectors such as housing, agribusiness and smaller businesses. Liquid, diverse and well-regulated local capital markets are an essential source of local-currency financing for the government, financial sector participants, and end users such as small businesses. Under the Rwanda Capital Market Development project, the IFC will advise the National Bank of Rwanda, the CMA and other key stakeholders on increasing secondary market liquidity in the government debt market, increasing the supply and issuance of non-government bonds, and developing a professional investor base. The IFC will also provide advice on adopting appropriate investment guidelines and help assess the potential for alternative investment vehicles and instruments to mobilise long-term financing for key sectors.

Source: IFC

Seychelles

IFC supports Intelvision to strengthen Seychelles’ broadband internet network

Broadband network and digital services offered in Seychelles will get a boost from a new cable system that will be leased by Seychelles-based telecommunications provider Intelvision, with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). IFC’s support to Intelvision, which provides data, internet, and internet-based voice services as well as pay-TV, includes an up to USD10-million loan from its own account and an additional loan of USD10-million mobilised from partners under the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP). The funding will enable Intelvision to lease a new cable being built by Vodafone Carrier Services as a branch of the 2Africa cable network, one of the largest subsea projects in the world, spanning over 37,000 kilometers and connecting 26 countries around the world. The new cable will complement the existing Seychelles East Africa System and is expected to lower the cost of connectivity for telecommunication operators on the islands and increase competition for fixed broadband and mobile data services.

Source: IFC

Tanzania

Liquefied petroleum gas imports soar in energy shift

Importers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) should be sitting pretty after the market maintained double-digit growth for three consecutive years, thanks to Tanzanians increasingly shifting to cleaner domestic energy options. Imports by LPG marketing companies (LMCs) grew by 12.9%, up from 107,083 tonnes in 2016/17 to 120,961 tonnes in the 2017/18 financial year. Imports also grew by 20% in the following year, reaching 145,800 tonnes, then recorded a massive 30% growth, reaching 190,248 tonnes in the 2019/20 financial year, data from the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) shows. This indicates that there is a continuous growth of the LPG market in the country, driven by people’s shift from traditional cooking energy to LPG for clean cooking, according to the EWURA acting director general, Mr Godfrey Chibulunje. “A significant increase in LPG imports during the period under review is the outcome of our (EWURA) increased awareness campaigns on the use of cooking gas,” Mr Chibulunje told The Citizen.

Source: The Citizen

Tanzania

Next Parliament sitting set to ratify Africa’s trade treaty

Tanzania is waiting for the September House to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is touted as a game changer in the continent’s trade. Industry and Trade deputy minister Exaud Kigahe told The Citizen that the cabinet had recently approved the document, ready for taking the same to Parliament slated to kick off on 31 August 2021. The question of the AfCFTA, the agreement which focuses on removing non-tariff trade barriers in the continent, he expounded, would be on top of the list of agenda in the August House. The deal, signed by 54 of the African Union’s (AU) 55 member states, commits countries to 90% tariff cuts within a five-year period. So far, 37 countries have ratified the treaty, with Tanzania being among those which were yet to ratify the pact aimed at creating a free trade area with more than 1.2 billion people. “If all goes as planned, we expect to ratify the pact as soon as possible because that is our priority as a country,” insisted deputy minister Kigahe. On why it took long for Tanzania to ratify the agreement, he said, the government had to prepare the private sector for competition ahead.

Source: The Citizen

Uganda

Stanbic Bank the most traded stock in Uganda

Stanbic Bank Uganda maintained its position as the most-traded stock on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) in July, amid liquidity drought on the bourse. While the USE has 17 listed companies – seven domestic and nine cross-listed – 14 counters remained dormant as investors shifted capital into short-term asset classes. As a result, the liquidity woes pulled down the USE traded value by 31% month-on-month to UGX2.4-billion (USD679,738) in July, from UGX3.5-billion (USD991,554) in June. The USE trading highlights, however, show the market turnover for July is on a significant recovery trajectory, driven by Stanbic Bank, Umeme and Uganda Clays stocks, compared with UGX271.7-million (USD76,963) registered in July 2020. “Stanbic Uganda Holdings Ltd dominated activity, taking up 90.9% of total market turnover – UGX2.17-billion (USD615,065.18),” said Salama Nakiboneka, USE business development manager. The high liquidity on the Stanbic counter saw its share price increase by 15.2% to UGX23 (USD0.0065) at the beginning of this year. The current share price of Stanbic Bank Uganda is UGX26.50 (USD0.0076). Experts rank the bank stock fifth on the USE in terms of year-to-date performance.

Source: The EastAfrican

Zambia

Zambia, COMESA sign MoU to construct cross border market

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat and government have signed a EUR920,544 sub-delegation agreement for the construction of a cross- border market at Mwami border post between Zambia and Malawi. The market project which is located in Chipata district in Eastern Province on the Zambia side, is funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI). According to an assessment carried out at the border, the availability of market infrastructure near borders will increase the connection between traders and customers leading to reduced losses in perishable stock. Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Industry principal secretary Mushuma Mulenga thanked the European Union for the financial support. Mr Mulenga also assured COMESA of full cooperation, in order to ensure full completion and use of the market once construction is finalised. COMESA secretary general, Chileshe Kapwepwe noted during the signing ceremony that the modalities of implementing the sub-delegated activities, provides an opportunity for Zambia and its key stakeholders to take ownership and lead in the implementation of the activities and final management of the market.

Source: Lusakatimes

Zambia

Zambian mines look to new leader to unlock USD2-billion investment

Copper producers are ready to start expansion projects worth USD2-billion in Zambia next year if the industry can reach an agreement on royalties with President-elect Hakainde Hichilema’s new administration. Companies including First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and EMR Capital are ready to raise funding for the projects, while other producers need to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” in capital that they had held back since 2019 because of tax changes that deterred investment, the Zambia Chamber of Mines said. Despite Zambia’s copper production edging higher to a record last year, output has largely stagnated over the past decade because of the industry’s hostile relationship with outgoing President Edgar Lungu’s government. In 2010, Zambia produced nearly twice as much of the metal as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the north. By last year, Zambia’s output was almost half that of the DRC’s, limiting the benefit of record prices. “The president-elect has reset the tone to one of rebuilding confidence and spurring growth,” Chamber of Mines president Godwin Beene said in response to emailed questions on Thursday, 19 August.

Source: Lusakatimes

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s EU exports surge to USD398-million

Zimbabwe’s exports to the European Union (EU) have risen to USD398-million, local trade lobby group, ZimTrade has said. The trade promotion agency reports that following the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2009, export volumes to the EU have been rising significantly. “Zimbabwe’s exports to the EU have been on an upwards trend, from around USD282-million recorded in 2009 to USD398-million recorded in 2020.The country’s products to the EU continue to enjoy the privileged duty-free, quota-free access. This presents a great opportunity for the Zimbabwean business community,” said ZimTrade. The EPA targets removal of tariffs and other trade restrictions on qualifying goods between the EU and Zimbabwe. The tariff offers for Zimbabwean exporters include the gradual opening of their markets to EU imports over a 15-year period. “As such it is important that local exporters keep abreast with trade requirements in the EU for conformity, particularly buyer requirements and statutory obligations.

Source: New Zimbabwe

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