Africa Brief: Zimbabwe tries to keep rules, manufactured goods exports, AU ban on NGOs at summit and more

Zimbabwe tries to keep to rules

Zimbabwe was trying to reach an agreement to distribute its stones directly to China, Dubai and Israel without violating rules against the sale of gems from the Marange fields. The proposal would not violate Kimberley Process rules because Zimbabwe outside of Marange was certified compliant in 2010. Zimbabwe produced 8 million carats of diamonds worth $865 million (R8 billion) last year to be the seventh-largest producer. Its output this year is expected to double to 16 million carats. Diamond mining in Zimbabwe was initially confined to central and southern parts and expanded to the eastern district of Marange after the discovery of alluvial diamonds, boosting production since 2006.

For the full story, read Zimbabwe tries to keep to rules by Bloomberg, published by The Star, Business Report on 17/05/13

Manufacturers rely on African markets

Africa is emerging as a prime destination for South African manufactured goods exports. Because of the weakening rand and export demand from Africa, manufacturers said sales – both domestic and foreign -“were by and large good”.About 36 percent of surveyed firms reported that their export sales grew by more than 5 per­cent in the first quarter, up from 33 percent of respondents in the last quarter of 2012. Only 26 percent experienced a decrease in export sales, compared with 35 percent in the previous quarter.As exports to Africa grew, more than half of the manufac­turing firms said they did not export to regions including Europe, the Americas, China, Japan and India.

This shows that contrary to the belief that we are export­ing more to Europe and other Western markets, we are rely­ing mostly on the domestic market and African exports,”

said Coenraad Bezuidenhout, an executive director at the Manu­facturing Circle.The Manufacturing Circle surveyed 50 manufacturers with a turnover of less than R300 million and employing 500 or fewer workers. The circle’s members include large firms like Aspen, Arcelor Mittal South Africa and Bell Equipment.

For the full story, read Manufacturers rely on African markets by Londiwe Buthelezi, published by The Star, Business Report on 17/05/13

Dlamini-Zuma confirms AU ban on NGOs at summit

African Union (AU) Commis­sion chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirmed yester­day that civil society organisa­tions, partners and delegations will, for the first time, be denied access to the AU conference cen­tre during a summit this week.The gathering will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor

Nongovernmental organisa­tions (NGOs) are concerned about being locked out when critical discussions on Vision 2063 — a blueprint for the continent’s development over the next 50 years — are due to take place.

Civil society should have as much access as possible to the discussions of our political leaders on the future of our continent,”

Winnie Byanyima, the new exec­utive director of Oxfam Inter­national, told Business Day.

Doing otherwise will send a wrong signal, symbolically, that the African Union is closing space to civil society. That is not a signal that I think the member states want to send to African people.”

Ms Dlamini Zuma told Busi­ness Day that the decision to exclude civil society and non-AU observers was intended to put an end to fringe meetings which it is felt distract leaders and ministers from the summit agenda. “We have to be allowed to do our work in an efficient way,”. There is some sympathy for this position but the decision for a blanket ban is considered to have been too extreme. Despite Ms Dlamini Zuma’s assertion that “there is no confusion” there is a lack of clarity as to who will be able to attend the summit and when.

For the full story, read Dlamini-Zuma confirms AU ban on NGOs at summit by Elissa Jobson, published by Business Day on 20/05/13

Somali central bank chief has experience of troubled jurisdictions

When the District of Columbia was in a financial crisis in the 1990s, Somali-born Abdusalam Omer joined a team that turned its “junk” bonds into investment grade paper. Now, as the new gov­ernor of the Central Bank of Somalia, he wants to transform a “failed” state. “We have to build brick by brick and person by person,” Mr Omer said at the smartly painted central bank, which stands out against the shattered remains of the former Banca di Roma, Com­mercial Bank of Somalia and other institutions.

“The task is so daunting,” said Mr Omer, a dual Somali-US national who left Somalia at 16 and returned this year. Mr Omer aims to issue licences to commercial banks by the year end, a new currency to replace the tattered Somali shilling may be on the cards, and data is being gath­ered to build a picture of prices and other indicators to chart the informal economy that has emerged in the anarchy. Mr Omer’s decision to take the central bank job is one more sign of a delicate recovery under way in the Horn of Africa state since its new parliament elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud last year. Success is not assured. Islamist al-Shabaab militants con­tinue to launch attacks from rural strongholds, clan divisions run deep and the government has lim­ited control beyond Mogadishu’s boundaries. But creating a new economic order is seen as vital to shoring up the shaky peace. “The absence of commercial banks is a major hindrance … to any reconstruction and develop­ment,” said Mr Omer.

For the full story, read Somali central bank chief has experience of troubled jurisdictions by Edmund Blair, published by Business Day on 20/05/13

David Okwara

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