August 26, 2022 - 5 minutes read

26th August 2022 Trade & Financial Services Round Up

By Amrit Labhuram
KENYA

NHIF drops bid to have top earners pay more monthly

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has dropped its bid to have workers earning more than Sh100,000 pay more in monthly contributions, easing the financial strain on top earners and their employers.

The State-backed health insurer has committed to keeping the monthly premiums unchanged in response to a parliamentary petition opposing the planned increase of monthly contributions for top earners.

The NHIF had earlier published fresh regulations that indicated that workers earning more than Sh100,000 monthly would pay 1.7 percent of their gross salary to the fund.

This was a shift from the present model where employees earning over Sh100,000 pay a fixed monthly contribution of Sh1,700 to the NHIF.

Lobbies led by the Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) opposed the planned increase, arguing that premiums should be pegged on factors like age, past medical history, occupation and smoking habits.

“Imposing a higher premium for people with higher income, therefore, overlooks this fact (premium for health insurance is not and must not be solely determined by the income of a contributor) and will unfairly deduct high and unjustified premiums for people with higher incomes without the assurance of better quality care,” KHF said in the petition.

This forced the NHIF to climb down and the fund is now targeting additional resources from the new membership under the law, which makes it compulsory for all adults to join the State-backed health insurer.

(Source: Business Daily)

TANZANIA

39 percent of Tanzanians do not want to pay tax

Despite the tax education provided to the public, 39 percent of Tanzanians don’t want to pay taxes because they believe the rates are high and a burden for them, a new Twaweza survey shows.

The report also found that many citizens are not aware of how 42 percent of the tax is spent comparing to 38 percent who are aware of the tax expenditure.

Unveiling the report dubbed ‘Uchumi na Tozo’ (Economy and Levies report) Twaweza Executive Director Aidan Eyakuze said the report is based on data collected from citizens.

He said 20 percent of Tanzanians say they are paid low salaries while 15 percent feel that taxes are not used properly.

“Nine percent is a general culture of tax evasion, six percent see that the punishment is not enough, five percent see that there is a small possibility of being caught and eight percent do not know,” Mr Eyakuze told reporters in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.

The findings further reveal that the most mentioned projects are education at 26 percent, health services at 25 percent and road infrastructure at 21 percent.

Furthermore, the reports reveal 56 percent of Tanzanians when asked in November 2021, said the cost of living has risen when and when asked in July 22, 48 percent said the same thing.

(Source: The Citizen)

UGANDA

Offshore investors shifting to long term govt debt  

Offshore investors in Uganda’s debt market have triggered a shift from shorter government Treasury Bills to longer term Bonds while a number of them are seeking to sell off their holdings. 

This, experts say, has been due to an increasing desire by some offshore investors to shift their investments to safe havens such as the US, which has experienced a raise in interest rates.  

Responding to Monitor’s questions on Monday, Mr Allan Muhinda, the Stanbic Bank director for global markets, said there has been elevated uncertainties in the economy, characterised by unprecedented levels of inflation that have affected financial markets, forcing the foreign investors to transfer their investment from least developing countries in dollar terms to safe havens. 

Additionally, he said, the decision by central banks in advanced economies as well as in developing countries to control inflationary pressures has seen the cost of financing surge thus reducing the number of portfolios while others have shifted to longer term securities of five to 20 years. 

Recently, Bank of Uganda noted that an increase in exit of offshore investors from government debt had put pressure on the shilling, noting that withdrawals of $52m had been observed in the second half of the 20221/22 financial year.   

Mr Muhinda said because the dollar had strengthened the number of portfolio investors in the Uganda debt market had reduced, moving to safe havens.

In its monetary policy report, Bank of Uganda noted that during the period ended June, yields on the Treasury securities had eased at the short end and edged up at the longer end of the curve. 

(Source: The Monitor)

RWANDA

Rwanda’s Internet Capacity Tripled in Two Years – RURA

Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA) has revealed that the country’s internet capacity went up by three-folds in just two years, implying that internet connectivity also tremendously increased.

Speaking at the ongoing 11th edition of the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) that brought together key players in the internet sector on the continent, the acting Director General of RURA, Deo Muvunyi, said that Rwanda had to make enormous investments to achieve a triple increment in internet connection.

“In Rwanda, the international bandwidth capacity almost tripled. In the first quarter of 2020 we had 63 Gbps while in the first quarter of 2022 we had 156 Gbps,” said Muvunyi.

International internet bandwidth refers to the total used capacity of international internet bandwidth. Used international internet bandwidth refers to the average traffic load of international fibre-optic cables and radio links for carrying internet traffic.

By law, RURA is mandated to establish an effective framework for the proper management and functioning of internet exchange points in the country.

In February 2014, RURA and Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA) entered into an agreement that gives RICTA the mandate to manage, operate and develop the Rwanda Internet Exchange Point (RINEX).

RINEX is an interconnection point of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), data centres, and Content Service Providers in Rwanda.

So far, 14 Service Providers, Data centres, and Content Service Providers are connected to RINEX.

“RURA and RICTA have undertaken a program aiming at modernising National Internet Exchange Infrastructure. The program focuses on facilitating access to Internet exchange points, enabling domestic bandwidth utilisation, encouraging the development of local content and web hosting, and attracting international content providers to locate their servers in Rwanda and promote internet broadband access,” said Muvunyi.

With regards to the RINEX performance, Muvunyi said that its peak traffic doubled within the span of two years from 2020 to 2022.

“The RINEX is increasingly becoming a regional hub for traffic exchange between neighbouring countries,” Muvunyi said

(Source: The New Times)

ETHIOPIA

Ethio-Djibouti Railway Launches Shipment of Vehicles Services

Ethio-Djibouti Railway (EDR) Share Company announced the successful arrival of the first Shipment of vehicles by Ethio-Djibouti Railway Share Company.

Speaking at  the launching ceremony,  Ethio-Djibouti Railway Share Company CEO Abdi Zenebe said that the service is preferable in terms of speed, price, and safety of cars among others.

According to him, it would take days to transport vehicles from Djibouti to Addis Ababa by truck, however, the availability of train would take only less than a day.

Using train to transport cargo  has also a reduction of  transport cost by 50 – 70 percent, he added.

In its shipment today, the  Ethio-Djibouti Railway Share Company has a capacity of transporting 240 vehicles with single trip.

The Ethio-Djibouti railway transport, which is managed by the governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti, has a significant contribution in strengthening political, economic and people-to-people relations between the two countries it was learned.

Ethio-Djibouti train transport has been providing shipment for  fertilizer, edible oil and other freight services, he added.

(Source: Ethiopian News Agency)

ERITREA

Call for regular surveillance on prevalence of pests

The Ministry of Agriculture called on the public to conduct regular surveillance on migrating pests in general and that of burnous that could occur with the existing good rainfall season.

Explaining of the prevalence of burnous over 100 hectares of land in the Central Region in July, the Ministry said that as a result of the rapid response taken the pest has been put under control.

The prevalence of the pest in the villages of Weki-Diba and Adi-Hamushte was put under control with strong participation of the residents, agricultural experts as well as adequate supply of pesticides.

Mr. Bereket Ghile and Mr. Nardos Araya, agricultural experts in the region, on their part said that they were well prepared with manpower and pesticides for they had received prior information from the Ministry of Agriculture’s early warning office.

Likewise, according to the information released by the World Food and Agriculture Program on 11 August, with ample distribution of rainfall stretching from Mauritania to Eritrea, a favorable situation could be created for the prevalence of desert locusts.

The Ministry of Agriculture has hence called on the public especially those that live in areas suspected for locust breeding areas to sustainably conduct follow-up and surveillance and inform nearby agricultural offices in case of suspecting the occurrence of the pest.

(Source: Ministry of Information Ertirea)

SUDAN

Sudan offers more oil blocks to Russian company

Sudan has offered more oil blocks to Russia’s Zarubezhneft oil company at the end of a three-day visit of a high-level Sudanese government delegation to Moscow. The two countries also agreed to enhance cooperation and expand trade in several other sectors.  

On Wednesday, Sudanese-Russian technical talks began in Moscow in preparation for meetings of the Russian-Sudanese intergovernmental commission on Friday.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Minerals, Mohamed Saeed Zeinelabdeen affirmed Sudan’s readiness to enter into new partnerships with Russia, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported on Thursday.  

El Tahir Mohamed Abulhasan, Director of the Oil Exploration and Production Administration at the Sudanese Ministry of Oil, said at plenary session of the Russian-Sudanese intergovernmental commission on Thursday that they discussed Zarubezhneft’s proposal for investments in Sudan.

“We previously provided several blocks for development, and now we have added more in regions with gas and oil potential. I think by October we will pass on the necessary information so that they can start looking at these areas,” he stated. At the end of the joint meetings on Friday, he confirmed the deal.

The Interfax Information Services Group on Thursday cited Dmitry Semyonov, head of the Russian Energy Ministry’s International Cooperation Department, who said that “the number of oil blocks for development by our Zarubezhneft company, together with Sudan’s Energy and Oil Ministry and state company Sudapec, was increased.

“We also agreed with companies to discuss expanding cooperation in the oil sector beyond just production, to look at oil recovery technologies, associated gas utilisation, oil refining, petrochemicals and training,” he said.

(Source: Radio Dabanga)

SOMALIA

The United Nations Announced That The Drought In Somalia Is Increasing

The United Nations agencies are warning that the severe hunger in the Horn of Africa region caused by prolonged drought is increasing from time to time, and the most severe areas are in Somalia, which has not been affected for four consecutive years. did not receive the expected rains.

The World Food Organization (WFP) said that about 22 million people living in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are facing severe drought and hunger. They said that the drought has already caused the death of millions of animals, while up to 7 million people have been displaced from their homes in search of food to live on, and that their animals, who are left, have to look for pasture and water.

The WFP warns that the number of people affected by the drought and suffering from severe hunger will continue to increase, as there is forecast to be a lack of rain, which will be the fifth year that the expected rains have not been received.

The WFP said that up to $416 million is urgently needed to provide emergency aid to people affected by the drought, until the end of this year.

The head of WFP in East Africa, Michael Dunford, who recently returned from a visit to Somalia and Northern Kenya, said he is particularly concerned about the drought situation in Somalia which has affected more than 7 million people, which is the worst humanitarian situation he has seen in 21 years of working for WFP.

(Source: Radio Dalsan)

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