Africa Brief

Africa Brief: Mwana Africa mulls restarting diamond mine, Farming output key to African progress and more…

Mwana Africa mulls restarting diamond mine

Mwana Africa was studying the viability of restarting under­ground operations at the Klip-springer diamond mine in South Africa as it broadened its resource portfolio and expanded its gold and nickel operations in Zimbabwe, the company said yesterday. The company has now put its focus on restarting operations at the previously high-value Klip-springer diamond mine. Mwana Africa bought the mine in 2007 after SouthernEra Resources stopped operations in 2004.Kalaa Mpinga, the chief executive of Mwana Africa, said that the company was now evaluating the restart of underground mining operations at Klipspringer, which was currently under care and maintenance. An evaluation of the property currently under way was expected to help determine profitability prospects for resuming under­ground diamond mining.

by Tawanda Karombo published in The Star, Business Report on 10/07/2014

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Ghana : Inflation rate climbs to 15%

Ghana’s annual consumer price inflation rose to a four-year high of 15 percent last month from 14.8 percent in May, the national statistics office said yesterday The rise pushed the rate further past Ghana’s target for the year of 9.5 percent plus or minus 2 percentage points. The main inflation driver was the housing, water, electricity gas and other fuels category which recorded an annual rate of 53.6 percent, chief statistician Philomena Nyarko said. The government cut fuel and utilities subsidies last year. Transport costs rose 24.6 percent, and non-alcoholic cold beverages rose 21.7 percent.

by Reuters published in The Star, Business Report on 10/07/2014

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Ivory Coast : Moody’s gives debut rating

Moody’s Investors Service has assigned Ivory Coast a first-time credit rating of B1 with a positive outlook, citing high growth prospects but also flagging its low per capita income and weak governance indicators. The credit rating agency said on its website late on Tuesday that it had assigned the same rating, which ranks Ivory Coast four notches below investment grade, to the country’s planned $500 million (R5.3 billion) euro bond. The country is awaiting a second rating from Fitch. Ivory Coast is emerging from a decade-long political crisis that ended in a brief 2011 civil war and its economy is reviving, with gross domestic product expected to grow about 9 percent this year. President Alassane Ouattara is investing heavily in renewing infrastructure.

Excerpt from Ivory Coast : Moody’s gives debut rating published in The Star, Business Report on 10/07/2014

Nigeria : Infrastructure fund seeks cash

Nigeria’s ARM Infrastructure was close to raising $250 million (R2.6 billion) in the country’s first infrastructure fund, to invest in the transport, energy and utility sectors across West Africa, with much of the money coming from pension funds, its managing director said yesterday. ARM said the fund was expected to close by mid-August and was at the documentation stage with various investors including some Nigerian pension funds and other institutional investors, such as the African Development Bank, Opuiyo Oforiokuma said. Nigeria requires around $50bn a year for the next decade to develop infrastructure, especially for power, roads and water, to help boost economic growth.

by Reuters published in The Star, Business Report on 10/07/2014

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Farming output holds key to African progress

The recent African Union (AU) summit in Equatorial Guinea concluded with a “unanimous” call for agricultural transforma­tion to drive development in Africa. Heads of state and other African leaders called for increased investment in agriculture, new technology, better access to land and inputs, and peace and security to allow markets to expand unhindered. Investment in agriculture would increase wages, reduce poverty and inequality, and reduce Africa’s reliance on food imports. The Africa Progress Panel was right in its recent report to say that Africa has the potential to feed not just itself, but the world. If successful, this African green revolu­tion would have substantial spillovers for other sectors of the economy. Agropro­cessing would drive skilled employment, and increase income and foreign exchange, which in turn could be invested to help domestic players overcome the barriers that prevent them from compet­ing globally. A revolutionised agriculture would expand the markets for inputs and consumer goods and services in non-agricultural sectors. If we can realise this opportunity, Africa’s natural resource abundance will benefit all Africans, particularly the poorest and most vulner­able. It is a goal worth aiming for.

by Yaw Ansu published in Business Day on 10/07/2014

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Leading Zimbabwe lender CABS to rebrand, update branches

OLD Mutual’s unit in Zimbabwe, the Central Africa Building Society (CABS), will undergo a rebranding and refurbishment of its centres across the country in a bid to mod­ernise operations.The refurbishment exercise, which would be rolled out this month, would give the country’s largest mortgage lender an opportunity to enhance “customer expe­rience” at its centres, CABS MD Kevin Terry said. Backed by the strong liquidity position of insurance giant Old Mutual, which is also a blue-chip stock on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, CABS is in the coveted league of the top five banks in Zimbabwe. The rise of mobile money plat­forms has put Zimbabwe’s tradition­al banking methods under pressure, providing fodder for clashes between banks and mobile operators.

by Ray Ndlovu published in Business Day on 10/07/2014

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African oil sector poser

LACK of infrastructure and skills means the cost of oil projects in Africa will be “significantly higher” than in other regions over coming years, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The firm predicts in a report that global refining capital expen­diture will total $333bn between this year and 2020, or an annual average of about $48bn. Expendi­ture in Asia and the Middle East will account for a combined 70% of the world’s total spending.OLD Mutual’s unit in Zimbabwe, the Central Africa Building Society (CABS), will undergo a rebranding and refurbishment of its centres across the country in a bid to mod­ernise operations.The refurbishment exercise, which would be rolled out this month, would give the country’s largest mortgage lender an opportunity to enhance “customer expe­rience” at its centres, CABS MD Kevin Terry said. Backed by the strong liquidity position of insurance giant Old Mutual, which is also a blue-chip stock on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, CABS is in the coveted league of the top five banks in Zimbabwe. The rise of mobile money plat­forms has put Zimbabwe’s tradition­al banking methods under pressure, providing fodder for clashes between banks and mobile operators. Companies with South African ties that are targeting Africa’s oil sector include Johannesburg-based SacOil and American com­pany Camac Energy — which has a secondary listing on the JSE and in which the Public Investment Cor­poration has a substantial stake.

by Nick Hedley published in Business Day on 10/07/2014

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Nampower plans bond issue

Namibia Power Corporation (Nampower) is seeking to sell a bond in the country and SA early next year to raise cash for trans­mission projects and its share of capital in the planned 800MW Kudu gas-fired plant. The southwest African nation’s power utility plans to raise N$5.5bn (R5.5bn) through borrowings, and a bond would be a “significant” part of that, Nam­power chief financial officer Hanri Jacobs said on Monday. FirstRand’s Rand Merchant Bank will arrange the sale.Nampower estimates its fund­ing requirements for the next five at N$16bn.Nampower needs to raise money to finance its share of investments in the planned $1.2bn plant, which will use natural gas from the Kudu fields off Namibia’s southern coast.

by Felix Njini published in Business Day on 09/07/2014

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Listed Wilderness Safaris to open new camp in Zimbabwe

JSE-listed Wilderness Safaris will expand its portfolio in Zimbabwe and open a new tourism facility next May, thanks to a recovery in the country’s tourism sector. Zimbabwe Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi said yesterday that the company’s expansion in Zimbabwe was an expression of confidence in the country as a safe tourist destination. “They are riding on the back of global endorsement of the sector and I am absolutely grateful for this expression of confidence,” he said.Tendai Mdluli, the trade relationship manager in Zimbabwe for Wilderness Safaris, said the company was taking advantage of increased interest in the safari business in the country, hence the decision to add the Linkwasha Camp. “We have seen significant growth in demand for safaris to Hwange in particular on account of the spectacular game viewing in our Wilderness concessions within the park,” he said.The safari business in Zimbabwe is expected to generate nearly $60m in revenue this year, an increase from $45m last year, according to safari tour operators.

by Ray Ndlovu published in Business Day on 09/07/2014

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Zimbabwe pushes to end its power shortage by 2017

Zimbabwe’s power woes, which have crippled the country’s productive sector, were only expected to improve by the end of 2017, the country’s energy and power development minister said, as a Chinese company landed a contract to construct a massive dam that is expected to feed into a new hydro-electric power plant. Experts warn Zimbabwe’s energy constraints and a huge power infrastructure deficit that is taking long to fix are some of the major problems denting Zimbabwe’s potential to attract investments into the country’s productive sectors such as manufacturing, mining and industry. Officials said that the government had lined up vari­ous power development proj­ects to boost the country’s electricity generation capacity. These include about five hydro­electric power plants that have been earmarked for completion by the end of next year. China Sunlight Africa has been awarded a contract to construct the Gwayi Shangani Dam in southern Zimbabwe. The dam would feed into a new 300MW power plant in the same region, officials said. Earlier this year, the African Development Bank granted Zimbabwe a $15m grant for power rehabilitation. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said at the time that “the gestation period [for the energy rehabili­tation projects] is three years” and stressed the importance of having adequate power sup­plies in the country to boost growth in agriculture, industry and commerce.

by Tawanda Karombo published in The Star, Business Report on 09/07/2014

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EU bank to fund Lesotho projects

The European Investment Bank would grant 1.1 billion maloti (R1.1 billion) to Lesotho to improve its water and sanitation infrastructure, EU ambassador to Lesotho Hans Duynhouwer said on Monday. The economic bloc would work with a local committee on allocating funds to various projects to improve service delivery in urban and rural areas, he said after an annual review of the water sector. About 64 percent of the population had access to fresh water and the money would be used to expand supply from the Metolong Dam, Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs Minister Ts’eliso Mokhosi said.

by Bloomberg published in The Star, Business Report on 09/07/2014

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David Okwara

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