SELECTED MEDIA UPDATES
09 MAY 2018
AFP – A third of the 18,6 million people of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries of the world, will experience food insecurity this year, Agriculture Minister Niouga Ambroise Ouedraogo has warned. He blamed a 11% slump in the grain harvest, affecting 22 out of the 45 provinces. The government has said it will sell 110 000 tons of cereal at a subsidised price to help meet needs
Reuters – Even by its own standards, Ethiopian Airlines’ recent growth has been fast – so fast that it revised the ambitious 15-year strategy set in 2010 and plans to buy more planes to step up its expansion. Its plan had been to more than double its fleet to 120 and become Africa’s biggest airline by 2025, but it already has 100 planes flying to dozens of destinations from Asia to South America, including four U.S. cities. The state-owned carrier has also outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association. In its 2016/17 financial year Ethiopian Airlines generated $2.7 billion in revenue, up more than 11 percent from the previous year. Passenger numbers climbed by more than 18 percent to 9 million while net profit was $233 million, up from a little more than $220 million.
Bloomberg – Africa’s leading online shopping platform, Jumia, wants to make Egypt its biggest market on the continent, and it’s turning to an unexpected corner for help: the country’s vast network of unlicensed vendors.
Often touted as Africa’s answer to online retail giant Amazon, Jumia wants 10-fold growth in revenue from Egypt and six-fold growth in the number of products offered on its platform to 12 million by 2021. To help achieve that, Jumia Egypt’s Chief Executive Officer Hesham Safwat says he’s urging the government to regulate informal retailers by offering them tax incentives and cheap loans that would allow them to market their goods online.
Reuters – Kenya’s budget deficit is expected to drop to 5.7 percent of GDP in the 2018/19 (July-June) fiscal year from 7.2 percent this fiscal year, estimates sent to parliament by the Treasury showed. The East African nation has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund and other bodies to cut its budget deficit, which peaked at 9.1 percent of economic output in 2016/17. “This reduction will strengthen our debt sustainability position. We have carefully evaluated our external and domestic debt to ensure that we are in a position to service the same,” the Treasury said in the estimates.
Reuters – Kenyan lawyers have filed a lawsuit halting a government initiative to fast-track land titles by processing them online, which they say has been launched without proper consultation. The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) sued the land ministry after it issued an order on April 8 to digitise land documents in registries across the country to make it easier to provide ownership titles, especially on communally-held property. The LSK argued that the process risks being corrupted, as well as reversed by subsequent governments unless it is backed by legislation, and unless consultations are carried out with lawyers and surveyors.
Reuters – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Britain to see his doctor, he said yesterday in a surprise announcement that could renew concern about whether he is well enough to run for a second term at an election next year. He spent five months in Britain last year for treatment for an unspecified illness, an absence that prompted many to question his fitness to run a country that is Africa’s top oil producer and one of its biggest economies. Buhari, 75, was military ruler between 1983 and 1985 and returned to power after winning an election in 2015. He said in April that he would seek a second term, though his candidacy depends on party approval.
New Times – President Paul Kagame has advocated for the advancement of an African single digital market which he said ought to be viewed as a facilitator of economic integration. President Kagame was speaking yesterday at the Transform Africa Economic Forum, a side event of the Transform Africa Summit 2018. The forum, came out of a proposal made last year by President Kagame and Zimbabwe-born businessman, Strive Masiyiwa. Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet, a global telecommunication company. This was suggested with the intention to create a conversation between government and private sector leaders on leveraging the power of technology to drive the continent’s development agenda. Kagame said that integrating the continent’s digital technologies will among other things have positive impact on countries’ development as well as business climate. Speaking at the summit, Masiyiwa said that promoting integration in its various aspects across the continent would drive prosperity in the continent. “We want free trade in Africa. But who trades? Business people. It’s time for our people to start trading freely across the continent as Citizens of the continent. This is why we need free movement of goods, people, services and capital,” he said.
Reuters – South African police clashed yesterday with residents in the township of Soweto who staged a protest after squatters tried to erect shacks in nearby fields – the latest of many flare-ups over the vexed issued of land distribution. The central province of Gauteng, which includes Soweto, has witnessed several land grab attempts this year. Those responsible have been quoted by local media as saying they are fed up with unfulfilled government promises to build houses for the poor. Millions of mostly black South Africans remain landless and homeless despite a house-building drive, fanning social tensions at a time when the ruling ANC party has signalled its intention to also seize white-owned land without compensation to redress racial imbalances.
Reuters – Farmers in South Africa have filed a complaint with the country’s competition watchdog about Anheuser-Busch InBev’s decision to change its pricing formula for buying malt barley, a key ingredient in beer making. The farmers lobby group Grain South Africa believes AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, has contravened one of the conditions set when the country’s competition tribunal approved its $106 billion acquisition of rival beer maker SABMiller.
Reuters – Sudan is in talks with Saudi Arabia for an oil aid agreement that would have the kingdom supply its oil needs for five years on credit, Sudan Oil Minister Abdulrahman Othman said. Othman said the deal would provide about 1.8 million tonnes of oil per year to Sudan, which has been hit in recent months by fuel shortages that have forced people to queue at gas stations for hours. A source in the presidency’s office in Sudan said the final agreement is expected to be signed within days.
Reuters – AngloGold Ashanti remains on track to meet its production targets for 2018 and is in talks with the Tanzanian government regarding policy moves to boost government stakes in mining assets and tax hikes, it said. Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, is seeking to reap more profits from its vast mineral resources by overhauling the fiscal and regulatory regime of its mining sector but the moves have alarmed companies and investors.
Reuters – A Zimbabwean mining company is considering upgrading a local nickel refinery to produce battery grade lithium or alternatively build a new lithium carbonate plant at a cost of up to $150 million, its managing director said. Lithium is in demand globally as a battery metal needed for the shift to electric vehicles and renewable power and Zimbabwe has said it has the potential to supply 20 percent of the world’s lithium. Zimbabwe is one of the top 10 lithium producers but currently produces only a fraction of the worldwide total. John McTaggart, Kamativi Tailings Company managing director, said his company is negotiating with Zimbabwean-listed miner RioZim to upgrade its Empress Nickel Refinery, which is 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital so it can produce lithium carbonate.
Reuters – Zambia concluded audits of mining companies that prompted the nation to slap Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals with a tax bill of over 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha ($8 billion), its revenue authority has said.
First Quantum, which owns two copper mines in Zambia, said in March that Zambia’s tax agency had demanded the taxes, saying they were on import duties, penalties and interest on consumables and spare parts. There are dozens of mining companies operating in Zambia, mainly extracting copper.