19th February 2021 Trade & Financial Services Round Up

February 19, 2021 - 5 Minutes Read - By Mutindi Muema

The World Bank has named Senegalese national Makhtar Diop as the new managing director of its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation effective March 1 2021. He becomes the first African to head the institution. Mr Diop, a former Minister of Economy and Finance in the West African country, is currently serving as World Bank’s vice president for infrastructure, overseeing the lender’s work across energy, transport, and digital development sectors.

  • Safaricom has made it to the shortlist of six firms that have been cleared to bid for one of two Ethiopian telecoms licenses scheduled to be offered this year. Safaricom’s Chairman said the Ethiopian Communications Authority has already whittled the list down from a consortia of 12 that had expressed interest in entering the country’s telecommunications market. 
  • Pragma Investment Advisory announced its partnership with Nigeria-based firm Specific Tools & Techniques with the aim of contributing to Ethiopia’s ambitions in building a world-class telecom sector. 
  • Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has availed over ETB 6 billion (approx. USD 151 million) loan for members of taxi owners seeking to change their old ‘Lada’ with new cars. The announcement was made during a signing ceremony between Addis Ababa Lada Taxi Associations and Elauto Engineering and Trading.
  • The World Health Organization and Canada signed an agreement to ensure functional health services in the context of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, the UN agency said.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonen has called on Indian business people to increase their investment in Ethiopia.
  • At a virtual meeting held with French investors, Finance State Minister Eyob Tekalign briefed the investors about the measures being taken by the Ethiopian government to correct macroeconomic imbalances and to encourage the private sector to take up key roles in Ethiopia’s economy.
  • The National Assembly has put out a call for public comments on the ICT Practitioners Bill.  
  • The KICA amendment Bills providing for a split of mobile money services from telecommunication services is expected to be debated by the House in its current sitting session. 
  • The Treasury has drawn Sh5 billion from the Central Bank of Kenya’s cash reserves, barely five months after receiving a dividend cheque from the banking sector regulator. CBK announced on Wednesday that it had credited the National Treasury’s account with Sh5 billion out of its surplus funds, marking its latest contribution to the government’s coffers. The lender of last resort has now given the government a total of Sh14.8 billion since last year including a Sh2.5 billion dividend on its results for the year ended June 2020 and Sh7.3 billion gained from the cancellation of the old Sh1,000 notes.
  • South Africa’s Standard Bank has been given more time to buy an additional 14.8 million shares with a current market value of Sh1.2 billion in its Kenyan subsidiary Stanbic Holdings .The multinational started accumulating more shares in the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm in July 2018 and had raised its stake in the lender to 71.16 percent as of November last year. Standard Bank has been buying the shares in the open market through its investment vehicle Stanbic Africa Holdings Limited (SAHL). It is targeting to grow its holding to 75 percent and has received regulatory exemption from making a full takeover offer to Stanbic Holdings’ minority investors.
  • The Judiciary is considering fully resuming operations with acting Chief Justice saying courts cannot remain closed to physical hearings much longer.
  • The Judicial Service Commission has shortlisted 10 people, among them five judges, for the position of Chief Justice to replace David Maraga who retired in January.
  • Kenya has dropped three places in Africa on facilitating online shopping after the score on security of  servers dropped marginally, pointing to rising risks of cybercrime such as hacking.
  • They laying of 500km of ICT cabling in Konza city has been done, stepping up efforts to open up the technopolis for private companies seeking to set up in the Greenfield city.
  • Nairobi Securities Exchange has joined a global club seek companies to increase the share of women in boards and top management by at least a third.
  • Safaricom, BAT Kenya and East Africa Breweries accounted for 92 percent of the increase in investor wealth at the Nairobi Securities Exchange since the start of the year, exposing the distortion of the bourse’s performance by the blue chip stocks.

Rwanda’s economic managers face a daunting task in the coming months to find new sources of growth to revive the economy, which is currently in recession.

  • Construction of gold refining machinery worth TZS 8.9 billion (approx. USD 3.8 million) in Mwanza with a capacity to process over 480 kilogrammes per day is complete.
  • The Arusha Airport is now employing the use of catapults to avert bird strike disasters. The Airport’s Management said it has resorted to using slingshots in scaring away birds, thus preventing them from getting sucked by aircraft engines during landing and take-offs.
  • The Tanzania Revenue Authority is taking its education on tax collection and digital garnering models to Mbeya in a deliberate move to boost tax compliance.
  • Parliament has passed the National Social Security Fund- NSSF Bill 2019, giving Ugandans aged over 45 years and those who have saved for 10 years to access 20 percent of their savings.
  • Uganda National Roads Authority has said like all sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected their ability to achieve set targets. “Several of UNRA’s activities such as road construction were affected by the lockdown and partial lockdown during the period,” said Allen Kagina, the UNRA Executive Director in her half year performance report shared with the media.
  • The construction sector seems to be picking up as coronavirus slows down, with the sector-players now rolling out new products to the market.
  • British American Tobacco Uganda has defied the effects of coronavirus pandemic to record a 27 percent surge in net profit to UGX 19.9 billion for the year ended December 2020.
  • Stanbic Bank Uganda will appeal a High Court ruling delivered on Friday 12th February 2021 ordering it to pay UGX 400 million in costs to Macdowel Food & Beverages.
  • Residents who live in the west Gonder areas in Amhara regional state where Sudanese forces have made incursions have expressed their concerns about the border issues and said it needed to be resolved before the coming farming season. 
  • The African Union assigned Mauritanian diplomat Mohamed El Hacen Ould Lebatt to lead mediation talks between Sudan and Ethiopia regarding a border crisis, Mauritanian media reported. Sudan’s Council of Ministers said that Saudi Arabia wants to mediate between the parties in a longstanding dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam project and hold talks with their leaders.
  • FDH Financial Holdings Limited last week committed items worth MWK 34 million (approx. USD 43,595.11) to the government to assist in the fight against the COVID -19  pandemic.
  • Information and Communication Technology experts have punched holes in the Data Protection and Privacy Bill which is expected to be taken to Parliament soon.
  • A recent report from the Malawi Agriculture Policy and Transformation Agenda has shown that the value of food imports more than doubled between 1998 to 2018.
  • GIZ Malawi has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MyBucks Banking Corporation aimed at improving formal agricultural financing for farmers and agri-based enterprises in rural areas in the country.
  • The year-on-year Producer Price Inflation rate for January 2021, was up at 9.1 percent compared to seven percent in December.
  • The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has attributed a majority of the plight that befall importers at the ports of Ghana to ignorance of customs laws and procedures at the ports of Ghana.
  • The Minister-designate for Roads, Kwesi Amoako Attah, has indicated that government will explore the possibility of having a new financial arrangement with district assemblies to bill the cost of roads into property rates to ensure quick construction of inner roads in urban centres.
  • Minister-Designate for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has allayed public fears of Ghana approving and activating the 5G Network by telecommunication companies.
  • The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has emphasized that cargoes that are not cleared at the ports of Ghana within the stipulated 21 days for general goods and 60 days for vehicles are by law forfeited which imply that they are the property of the state.
  • The Central Bank of Nigeria sold a total of USD 10.3 billion at the foreign exchange market in the first half of last year, the 2020 half-year activity report released by the regulator has shown.
  • The Palm Wealth Shareholders Association has instituted a case against the government at Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abeokuta Division, Ogun State, asking the court to void the plan to take over unclaimed dividends.
  • An increasing number of Nigerians count their losses as activities of cybercriminals continue to rise year-on-year basis.
  • The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance, a green financing line for businesses developed by the French Development Agency, has concluded a plan to host an investor’s conference to explore the financing opportunities in the sector.
  • The Federal Government has announced a plan to support over 500,000 employees with an NGN 30,000 (approx. USD 72.76) one-off grant, noting that the initiative is to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the business community.

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