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Cameroon inflation rises but can still hit 3% target

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s inflation rate rose to 3.4 percent in the first half of the year but the country can still hit its full-year target of 3 percent, the national statistics bureau said on Monday.

Inflation rose due to increased transport costs and the impact of the country’s fight against Boko Haram, which has driven up prices in the Far North region where the Islamist militant group has staged dozens of attacks.

Cameroon is participating in a regional task force led by neighboring Nigeria against the group.

“The overall rate during the last twelve months is largely due to the surge of 14.5 percent in prices of transport, 5.2 percent for restaurants and hotels and 4.1 percent for alcohol and tobacco,” a statement said.

In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised Cameroon’s 2015 growth forecast up to 6 percent, saying it could be higher but for a drop in oil prices and the Boko Haram operation.

The IMF said inflation would remain below 3 percent in 2015.

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Kenya’s Equity Bank Group says Jan-Sept pretax profit up 14%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s Equity Bank Group posted on Monday a 14 percent rise in pretax profit for the first nine months of the year to 18.14 billion shillings ($177.58 million), helped by higher interest income.

Equity, which focuses on the lower-income part of the Kenyan market and also operates in Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, said interest income rose 21 percent to 31.60 billion shillings, while customer deposits rose 30 percent to 317 billion shillings.

Equity group’s ratio of bad debts to total loans rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in the first nine months of 2014, James Mwangi, its chief executive officer told an investor briefing.

Its total loan portfolio rose by 27 percent to 263.4 billion shillings from 206.7 billion shillings, while total assets rose to 445.8 billion shillings from 339.44 billion shillings.

In May, Equity Bank – which wants to increase operations to 10 more African nations by 2024 – bought a 79 percent stake in ProCredit Bank Congo, the seventh biggest lender in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Equity Bank launched its own mobile phone service – known as Equitel – in July and has 1.3 million users.

Mobile banking is seen as the future of the sector, with more people accessing financial services on their phones and other portable devices, spurring lenders to partner with telecom firms to offer services.

 

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South African rand hit by student protest outside presidential offices

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand touched a 3-1/2 week low against the dollar on Friday as investor sentiment soured over the two week long student protests over tuition fees that have hit universities countrywide.

By 1412 GMT the rand was trading 1.26 percent down at 13.5740, reversing earlier gains as a stronger dollar also weighed down the local currency.

“The student protests doesn’t reflect well to offshore investors and the fact that the government is already under pressure from a fiscal perspective and the situation adds to pressure going forward,” said Ricardo Da Camara, market analyst at ETM Analytics.

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Moroccan inflation eases to 1.6% y/y in September

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s consumer price inflation eased to an annual 1.6 percent in September from 1.7 percent in August as non-food prices dropped, the High Planning Authority said on Thursday.

Food inflation rose slightly to 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent in the 12 months to August. Non-food price inflation eased to 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent in the previous month.

Transport costs fell 4.7 percent, while hotels and restaurants were 2.3 percent more expensive, the agency said, without elaborating.

On a month-on-month basis, the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in September, compared to 0.1 percent in August. Food price inflation was steady at 0.2 percent on the month while non-food inflation eased to 0.1 percent.

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Anglo American defers platinum investment decisions, cuts diamond output

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Mining group Anglo American said on Thursday it was postponing major project investment decisions at its platinum unit until at least 2017 and had cut diamond production in the face of soft demand.

In its production report for the three months to the end of September, the company said Anglo American Platinum’s output rose 14 percent to 614,300 ounces compared with 541,000 ounces in the same period last year, when many of its mines were rebooting after a five-month strike.

The decision to defer any major project plans for platinum until at least 2017 comes after the company reached an agreement to sell its labour-intensive South African assets to Sibanye Gold and as the white metal’s price trades near seven-year lows.

Anglo American, like its peers, is grappling with sliding commodity prices across the board, and exploration and evaluation spend for the quarter was down 34 percent to $70 million.

“Diamond production decreased by 27 percent to 6.0 million carats, following the decision to reduce production to better reflect current trading conditions,” the company said.

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South Africa could delay carbon tax implementation beyond 2016

Comments (0) Africa, Latest Updates from Reuters, Politics

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa will publish a draft carbon tax bill for further comment next week, keeping the door open to delay its controversial implementation for the second time beyond 2016, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday.

The carbon tax, part of government efforts to reduce harmful emissions in Africa’s worst polluter, was postponed two years ago to 2016 after alarming industry it would further erode profits amid a global commodities slump and higher electricity tariffs.

“On any tax proposals we take the trouble of engaging with industry before we can implement,” Nene told reporters ahead of tabling his three-year budget outlook.

“So whether it will be implemented in 2016 as we announced or later, will depend on discussions we are having,” he said.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in 2014 delayed the introduction of a carbon tax by one year to 2016, tweaking its policies to better protect industry from a proposed tax price of 120 rand per ton of carbon equivalent.

The postponement was welcomed by mining and other carbon-intensive companies, such as steel giant ArcelorMittal and petrochemical group Sasol, who have said the new tax will erode profits against a backdrop of rising electricity tariffs and sluggish economic growth.

The tax, expected to be phased in over time, was due to start on Jan 1, 2015 and is one of several green initiatives, including greater vehicles emission taxes South Africa wants to implement to reduce its carbon footprint.

Should the new carbon tax bill, which was approved by cabinet, be sent for public comment, it is unlikely that it would be made law before Nene’s budget policy speech in February, given that the legislative process at parliament was winding down already.

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South Africa to borrow $4.5 billion from international markets – Treasury

Comments (0) Africa, Latest Updates from Reuters, Politics

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa will borrow $4.5 billion from international markets over the medium term with government debt set to rise to nearly 2.4 trillion rand by 2018/19, the National Treasury said on Wednesday.

New bond issuance for 2015/16 would rise to 175 billion rand, marginally up from the 173 billion rand estimated in February.

Treasury said borrowing requirement would rise over the next three years, with borrowing for 2015/16 fiscal year revised to 176.3 billion rand forecast in February’s main budget before gradually rising to reach 186.1 billion rand in 2017/18.

Treasury said it would focus on mitigating the risk of sharp increases in loan repayments, and would continue its program of switching short-dated bonds in exchange for longer-dated ones.

“Further rand depreciation and higher inflation would push up the level of debt and debt-service costs,” Treasury said.

The rand has lost over 13 percent in value against the dollar in 2015 as combination of weak domestic factors and slowing growth globally, particularly in China, have seen the unit tumble to all-time lows.

Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the rise in government debt over the next three years would amount to 600 billion rand, while stabilizing as a percentage of GDP to 49.4 percent in 2018/19.

 

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Morocco subsidy spending to fall to $1.6 billion in 2016

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RABAT (Reuters) – The Moroccan government plans to spend 15.5 billion dirhams ($1.61 billion) on subsidies, down from 23 billion dirhams budgeted for this year, the 2016 draft national budget seen by Reuters showed.

The kingdom expects subsidies of only 14 billion dirham in 2015 – down from budgeted 23 billion – thanks to lower energy prices.

Morocco started to repair its public finances three years ago after huge deficits in 2012 when the government spent billions to calm Arab Spring-like protests.

Morocco has done more than most North African countries to make painful changes required by international lenders to curb deficits, such as ending fuel subsidies and freezing public sector hiring. The government still controls the prices of wheat, sugar and cooking gas.

In another move to step up with the subsidy reform, the government is planning to fully liberalize gasoline and diesel prices on December 1.

The government has said gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 3 percent in 2016, down from an estimated 5 percent in 2015.

The forecast is more ambitious than that of Morocco’s planning agency, which had said the economy would grow by 2.6 percent in 2016 as agricultural output fell from an exceptional 2015.

Agriculture accounts for more than 15 percent of the economy, with this year’s cereal harvest hitting a record 11 million tonnes.

The budget deficit is expected to come in at 3.5 percent of GDP in 2016, down from 4.3 percent in 2015, while inflation is seen at 1.7 percent, according to government estimates.

 

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Sudan applies for OPEC membership

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Latest Updates from Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Sudan has applied to become an OPEC member, the country’s oil and gas minister Mohamed Zayed Awad was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

“We have already applied and are waiting for a decision,” he said without elaborating.

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Ugandan coffee exports jump 38% in September

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KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s coffee exports in September rose 37.7 percent year on year as good prices encouraged farmers to sell, the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said.

UCDA said the East African country shipped a total of 286,322 60-kg bags last month, up from 207,923 bags exported in September 2014.

Uganda exported 3.46 million bags in the 2014/15 (Oct-Sept) crop year, down slightly from 3.5 million the previous year, the regulator said.

“Farm gate coffee prices improved in line with the global prices,” UCDA said, without providing details.

Coffee is Uganda’s leading commodity export and its single biggest source of hard currency.

UCDA said shipments in the 2014/15 crop year earned the country $410 million, up from $394 million the previous year.

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