Raw materials could unlock Zambian development

Africa Brief: NewPlat lists in Botswana and more…

NewPlat lists in Botswana

Funds Barclays Africa yesterday listed NewPlat, the world’s largest platinum exchange-traded fund, on the Botswana Stock Exchange. NewPlat will start trading in Botswana on Friday. Already listed on the JSE, their assets under management on the JSE were about R17bn yesterday.

Excerpt from NewPlat lists in Botswana published in Business Day on 28/08/2014 

$60m FBC loan adds liquidity in Zimbabwe

Standard Chartered Bank and Afreximbank have helped Zimbabwe’s FBC Bank secure a $60 million loan facil­ity, which it will use to boost trade and help ease liquidity constraints. Economic activity is slowing down in Zimbabwe and local banks have battled to raise funds for on-lending. International banks have been able to do so by leveraging the financial clout of their parents. FBC Bank is now in a position to earn more interest on this $60m and the loan syndication strengthens the capacity of the country’s trade finance banks to continue their role of fi­nancing trade, can boost domestic liquidity and promote economic growth for the struggling country. Addition­ally, FBC would use part of the money to support projects and programmes in the telecommu­nications, infrastructure devel­opment and education sectors.

Excerpt from $60m FBC loan adds liquidity in Zimbabwe published in The Star, Business Report on 28/08/2014

ALGERIA : Mixed wheat loads rejected

Algeria’s grain agency OAIC has told traders it would reject cargoes containing wheat from different origins after news that France had imported wheat to boost the quality of contracts signed before the harvest. France had imported wheat from Lithuania and Britain to compensate for its poor quality harvest. The OAIC’s tender and contract rules prohibits mixes of wheat – it must come directly from the country of origin.

by Reuters published in The Star, Business Report on 27/08/2014

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ETHIOPIA : Impacts of dam to be discussed

Water ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are discussing studies to determine what impact an Ethiopian hydropower dam being built on the main tributary of the Nile River will have on the two downstream countries, with a panel of experts likely to be formed.

by Bloomberg published in The Star, Business Report on 27/08/2014

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Intra-Africa trade Hurdles: beyond politics

Among Africa’s policy wonks, un­derperforming trade across the continent within the region is a favoured subject. The debate rages as opportunities and hindrances are discussed at conferences. The problem is partly the mismatch between the high political ambitions African leaders hold and the harsh economic realities they face. Regional institutions remain weak, performing mainly administrative functions. Trade flourishes when countries produce what their trading partners want to buy With a few exceptions, this is not yet the case with Africa. Inter-regional trade is between 10-12 percent of total Africa trade, contrasted with 40% in North America and 60% in western Europe. Some experts however say a big chunk of trade is conducted informally and across porous borders. The number (14) and complexity of trading blocs within Africa is not helping the trade situation. An example of the failure is the SADC which launched a free trade area in 2008. Despite SADC’s decision to remove trade re­strictions some coun­tries had not eliminated tariffs as stipulated by the agreement. Lack of progress in implementing agreements along with the absence of reli­able transport, energy and in­formation technology infra­structure make regional integration a difficult process.

by Masimba Tafirenyika published in The Star, Business Report on 27/08/2014

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Investment in Zimbabwe has halved

FOREIGN investment in Zim­babwe more than halved in the first six months of the year as the country seeks to fight the negative perception that is scaring off capital. This news comes as President Robert Mugabe kicked off a trip to China aimed at luring investment in the nation’s stagnant economy. In the first six months of 2014, the country received $67m (R717m) compared to $165m dur­ing the same period in 2013. In the face of Western opposition Mugabe began a ‘look East’ policy, forging new ties and buttressing existing ones with east Asian countries, including China. Zimbabwe has recently slashed its growth forecast for the year from 6.1 % to 31% due to weak economic activity.

Excerpt from Investment in Zimbabwe has halved published in The New Age on 27/08/2014

Malawi: Ministers’ pay hike shot down

Malawian President Peter Mutharika had shot down a proposal to hike cabinet ministers’ pay to almost triple his own salary, amid austerity measures following foreign aid flight. The cabinet secretary had asked for a six fold increase of the 20 ministers’ salaries to $8 800 a month to cover the higher cost of living, but the president has found this proposed increase to be unethical.

by SAFA-AFP published in The Star, Business Report on 27/08/2014

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Zambia: Rule on import papers waived

Zambia planned to waive a rule requiring mining companies and other exporters to produce import certificates from destination countries because it was impractical. The ministry planned to negotiate a staggered repayment of the $600 million in VAT it has withheld from copper mining firms due to failure to produce import certificates.

by Reuters published in The Star, Business Report on 27/08/2014

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Ebola delays African ministers’ meeting

A meeting of African health ministers scheduled for early next month in Benin has been post­poned because of the Ebola epidemic. Benin had planned to host the 64th session of the World Health Organ­isation’s committee of African health ministers from September 1-5, with delegates from over 40 African countries expected to attend. Meanwhile a Royal Air Force aircraft recently carried the first Briton who contracted the virus back home from Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Excerpt from Ebola delays African ministers’ meeting published in Business Day on 25/08/2014

Pick n Pay chain opens R48m store in Harare

Pick n Pay’s jointly owned TM Supermarkets in Zimbabwe has opened a new megastore a few kilometres east of Harare’s central business district after spending $4.5 million (R48m). Th company is expected to spend more in upgrades in the country. PnP has a 49% holding in TM Supermarkets, which has 53 branches throughout the country. It is strengthening its opposition against OK Zimbabwe and Spar-franchised operators by opening the megastore. $3m was spent on refurbishments while the remainder was spent on re-stocking the megastore. Experts however claim that the retail industry continues to struggle with margins decreasing to 5% from between 15 and 20% during the past 3 years. Consumer demand has decreased as a liquidity crisis has crippled the economy, forcing it into deflation. The TM Supermarkets divi­sion had turnover of $334m in the year to March.

by Tawanda Karombo published in The Star, Business Report on 25/08/2014

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David Okwara

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