12th February 2021 Trade & Financial Services Round Up

February 12, 2021 - 5 minutes read
KENYA

Safaricom biggest winner in Sh1.6bn network upgrade

Giant telecommunications firm, Safaricom is among five firms that have been awarded a Sh1.57 billion deal to build base transceiver stations to boost network connectivity in 101 remote sub-locations across the country.

The telcos will set up their networks in unserved areas and expand voice services in a bid to improve communication for residents in 15 counties in partnership with the Communications Authority (CA).

Ngene Gituku, chairman of the Communications Authority(CA) board, said the five firms including Safaricom PLC, Airtel Networks Kenya Ltd i, Seal Towers Ltd, ATC Kenya Operations Ltd and Alan Dick and Company (East Africa) will handle the project.

Source: Business Daily Africa

Kenya Power enters solar to curb consumers switch

Electricity distributor Kenya Power is set to join the solar business, hoping to stay relevant and protect its long-term revenues increasingly threatened by a fast uptake of home solar panels by its main customers.

The utility firm — eager to cash in rather than lose out on the millions of solar kits being mounted on the roofs of homes and business premises around the country — plans to install panels in private houses and office blocks with the promise of cheap uninterrupted electricity.

Households and heavy-consuming industrialists in Kenya have over the past five years turned to solar, seeking reliable and cheaper supply—a move that has upset Kenya Power in the wake of its reporting lower sales and losses.

Source: Business Daily Africa

Kenya directs money to boost economy, jobs and firms

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Ukur Yatani is working on a spending plan for the 2021/2022 fiscal year with a focus on jump-starting an economy weighed down by the Covid-19 pandemic, declining revenue collection, growing expenditure needs, swelling debt levels and the rising political temperatures ahead of the referendum on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Mr Yatani through the 2021 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) said the focus of this year’s budget is to formulate policies aimed at providing an enabling environment for economic recovery to safeguard livelihoods, jobs, businesses and industrial recovery.

Source: The East African

Treasury targets Sh18bn in February bond tap sale

The Treasury has opened a tap sale on the undersubscribed February bond issue, seeking to raise an additional Sh18 billion.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) which is the government’s fiscal agent, said the tap sale will run until February 17, but can be closed earlier of the government hits its intended target before that date.

The bond’s initial sale that closed on February 2 raised a total of Sh32.12 billion out of a target of Sh50 billion, with the government now looking to make up the difference through the tap sale.

The dual tranche bond, consisting of a reopened 15-year paper first sold in 2013 and 20-year paper first issued in 2012, will pay investors 11.78 percent and 12.59 percent respectively, with these being the average rates on the initial sale from earlier this month.

Although liquidity has improved in the market since the initial sale—ideally helping the tap sale hit its target—analysts said that the issues that made the first sale unpopular remain, mainly the saturation of the market with bonds of the seven to eight year tenor.

Source: Business Daily Africa

CAK relaxes business competition rules to spur COVID-19 recovery

Companies will be allowed to temporarily collaborate in their business operations to aid recovery from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) said it would relax its laws on restrictive trade practices to spur recovery in certain critical economy sectors including manufacturing, private healthcare and research services, horticulture, aviation and tourism. Section 30(2) of the Competition Act allows for exemptions from restrictive trade practices with the approval of the Finance cabinet secretary. CAK said it has prepared Draft Block Exemption Guidelines for the post-COVID-19 economy and eyes approval by the cabinet secretary. Under the stop-gap deal, firms in the manufacturing, healthcare, logistics and aviation sectors will be able to share strategic market information, carry out joint distribution and supply agreements, marketing, sales and research into new markets.

Source: Business Daily

New dairy rules to set minimum farmers price

Dairy farmers are set to enjoy better returns from their produce following the adoption of the regulations that will set a minimum price for their produce, denying processors the liberty of lowering prices at will. Agriculture cabinet secretary, Peter Munya said the draft regulations have been completed and are now in the office of the Attorney-General waiting to be gazetted. Processors are currently paying on average KES40 per litre, with Mr Munya saying the prices are good and were arrived at in a bid to control the influx of the commodity from neighbouring countries. The cabinet secretary added that under the new regulations, the minimum price of milk will be reviewed every six months to ensure farmers get the most from their enterprises. Other reforms introduced by the dairy regulator include capping the amount that cooperative societies can deduct from farmers to KES2 per litre to protect producers’ earnings.

Source: Business Daily

UGANDA

MILK WAR: Uganda set for ‘peace talks’ with Kenya

Ugandan Members of Parliament (MPs) are unhappy with government’s failure to resolve a dairy products ban imposed by neigbours Kenya.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked Ugandan dairy sector stake holders to consider legal action, if diplomatic channels have failed, as Trade and Industry Minister Amelia Kyambadde admitted.

“I am concerned about the inability to exercise the principle of reciprocity; the Ugandan government has been slow on acting yet farmers are suffering and there is nothing they are doing about their suffering,” Kadaga said during debate in parliament Wednesday afternoon.

Source: The Independent

We are improving our privacy rules – SafeBoda

Safeboda has said it is improving on its privacy policy to protect users’ rights.

The boda boda ride application, whose parent company had been faulted for failing to secure users’ data, also indicated in a statement that it was working on implementing recommendations highlighted in the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) investigations to enhance user privacy.

“The report adds a number of recommendations for SafeBoda that we are now working to comply with.  Ensuring our staff and the wider team understands the importance of data protection is also paramount,” a statement said.

Source: Daily Monitor

TANZANIA

Zanzibar current account deficit widens

THE Zanzibar current account deficit has increased to 97.1 million US dollars in the period ending December last year from 70.3 million US dollars registered during the corresponding period in 2019.

This is largely attributed to increase in imports of goods and services and decrease in services receipts.

According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review for January, the exports of goods and services decreased to 199.8 million US dollars from 220.9 million US dollars in the year ending December 2019, occasioned by inadequate performance in services receipts, particular from tourism related activities.

Source: Daily News

Quarterly credit by banking system grows 18pc

THE domestic credit by the banking system recorded an annual growth of 17.8 per cent in December last year in comparison to 7.1 per cent in December the year before and manifested in both credit to the Private Sector and central government.

According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Economic Bulletin for the quarter ending December last year, the credit extended to the central government was through auctions of government securities.

Private sector credit maintained a positive growth, increasing by 596bn/-, equivalent to an annual growth of 3.0 per cent, compared to 11.1 per cent recorded in the corresponding period in 2019.

The subdued growth of credit to the Private Sector was partly attributable to the global effect of Covid-19 that affected some activities, particularly tourism-related business.

Source: Daily News

RWANDA

Rwanda ups budget to $3.4b with focus on education, health

Rwanda plans to increase its 2021/2022 budget by Rwf219 billion ($220.8 million) as the government battles shocks from the global pandemic and seeks to revive the economy.

The initial budget of Rwf3,245.7 billion ($3.2 billion) has been revised upwards to Rwf3,464.7 billion ($3.4 billion) as per the proposed changes awaiting approval by parliament this week.

The education sector takes up the largest proportion of the budget followed by the health sector, to enable infrastructure expansion, purchase of equipment and staffing occasioned by the global health emergency.

The budget will be funded largely by domestic revenues projected to increase to Rwf1,784.4 billion ($1.7 billion) from Rwf1,605.7 billion ($1.6 billion) highlighted in the initial budget.

The Treasury projects a rise in both tax revenues and non-tax revenues to Rwf1,579.9 billion ($1.5 billion) and Rwf204.8 billion ($206.5 million) respectively, an upward revision from Rwf1,421.3 billion ($1.4 billion) and Rwf184.3 billion ($185.8 million).

Source: The East African

Investments in Rwanda fall by 47pc

The value of investments in Rwanda fell drastically by almost half from $2.46 billion in 2019 to $1.3 billion in 2020 primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic that affected the economy and investors worldwide.

The new numbers released by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Thursday represent a sharp investment decline of 41 percent, as both local and foreign investors spent less in a year plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign direct investments (FDI) to Rwanda, however, increased by 51 percent of the total investments from 37 percent in 2019.

The figure is a notch higher than the 49 percent fall in global FDI registered in the first half of 2020.

Source: The East African

MTN considers setting up financial tech firm

MTN Rwanda is considering setting up an independent company to take on and operate its financial technology operations.

The development is an attempt by the telecom operator to increase relevance to financial technology which is increasingly characterizing the financial industry in aspects such as inclusion.

MTN Rwanda CEO Mitwa Ng’ambi said that with financial technology fast becoming influential in digital finance, they have been considering setting up an independent subsidiary running financial technology operations.

This would see Mobile Money move from a department within the telecom to a stand-alone company.

Source: New Times

ETHIOPIA

Commission Creates Close to 1.7 Million Jobs in Six Months

Close to 1.7 million jobs were created during the past six months of this Ethiopian budget year, according to the Job Creation Commission.

This was revealed at the performance evaluation of the commission for the first half of the fiscal year today.

Job Creation Commissioner Nigusu Tilahun said on the occasion that the commission planned to create 1.5 million jobs in the first half of the budget year but succeeded in creating 1,692,910 jobs, which is 56 percent of the annual plan.

Explaining the specific sectors that created the jobs, Nigusu said the service sector created 44 percent of the jobs, agriculture 30 percent, and industry 26 percent.

Source: ENA

Agency Preparing Investment Package for Diaspora with Medium, Low Investment Capacity

Ethiopian Diaspora Agency announced that it is preparing an investment package for the diaspora with medium and low investment capacity.

At the conclusion of a consultative forum that discussed investment alternatives for Ethiopians coming from abroad with medium or low amount of investment assets today, Agency Director-General Selamawit Yohannes said the agency has identified that investment contribution of diasporas coming from Africa and the Middle East has been limited for years.

Source: ENA

AFRICA

4IR a key driver for mining value chain transformation

The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot only benefit mining companies but also small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the entire mining value chain. This was one of the key takeaways from a panel discussion at the ‘Investing in African Mining Indaba’ virtual event. The topic of discussion centred on how African mining can harness technology and automation in a pandemic to help grow economies. It also focused on how labour and industry can work together to ensure that Africa’s mining sector does not fall behind while safeguarding employees. Nicky Black, director of the Social and Economic Development Programme at the International Council on Mining and Metals, stated that technology has innovated the way that companies engage with mining companies during the pandemic. “This has been done in three ways. Firstly, we are seeing mining companies financing state-of-the-art testing facilities… We are also seeing the use of logistics tracking systems for the transportation of medical supplies and also in the sharing of public health messages.” Black concluded that technology is also used to engage communities in consultation, project development and approval processes.

Source: Mining Review Africa

Hawilti launches new gas coalition in partnership with the African Energy Chamber

The African Energy Chamber has announced the launch of the African Coalition for Trade & Investment in Natural Gas (ACTING), a non-profit initiative jointly managed with Hawilti Ltd. ACTING will act as the central platform advocating for natural gas across Africa and will leverage on the core strengths of both the Chamber and Hawilti to promote natural gas as a transition fuel, attract capital in the African gas value-chain and engage stakeholders and societies on the benefits of natural gas consumption. The work of the Coalition will particularly focus on the collection of key market data and the distribution of high-quality information on opportunities, companies and projects shaping up the future of African gas. By offering the most comprehensive platform on African energy, Hawilti will be dedicating a substantial part of its investment research activities to natural gas in West, Central, East and Southern Africa. The Coalition will annually publish a State of Play report providing key market data on African gas. With its partners, it will be supporting a broad range of gas industries, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), piped natural gas (PNG), gas-to-power and hydrogen.

Source: African Energy Chamber

New sanitation and wastewater management benchmark tool highlights opportunities to boost health and economic growth in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and GRID-Arendal have released the inaugural ‘Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa’, a tool to benchmark and propel Africa’s progress towards Sustainable Development Goals on safe sanitation and wastewater management. The Atlas aims to help policymakers accelerate change and investment in the sector. The result of four years of collaboration, the Atlas assesses progress and highlights opportunities where investment in sanitation and wastewater management can improve health and spur economic growth. “In the past 10 years, the African Development Bank has invested more than USD6-billion in sanitation and hygiene improvements, but much more financing is needed from the private sector, development finance institutions, governments and other sources. The new Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas of Africa can inform strategic investment going forward,” said Wambui Gichuri, the AfDB’s acting vice president for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.

Source: AfDB

S&P Global affirms African Development Bank’s AAA rating with stable outlook

Ratings agency S&P Global has affirmed its “AAA/A-1+” foreign currency issuer credit rating of the African Development Bank (AfDB) with a stable outlook. The ratings agency said its outlook reflected the expectation that the AfDB would, over the next two years, “prudently manage its capital while maintaining solid levels of high-quality liquidity assets and a robust funding profile. We also assume extraordinary shareholder support to the bank will remain unchanged.” In a letter, dated 29 January 2021, S&P Global noted the Bank’s USD 115 billion capital increase, approved by its shareholders in October 2019. S&P Global said “Our ratings on AfDB reflect its important role in Africa, marked by a long track record of fulfilling its policy mandate through economic cycles, combined with robust shareholder support.” The ratings agency added: “We expect the capital increase will enable AfDB to continue expanding its reach, particularly in light of the renewed focus on infrastructure financing and private-sector lending. The bank has already been growing steadily over the years. The bank is in a good position to support increasing mobilisation efforts and crowd-in additional private-sector funds.”

Source: AfDB

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