Africa
Category

2017 Top African Finance Ministers

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Politics

finance

Economic and finance ministries from West and East African have set the standard for 2017’s API. Ten countries from the region have mastered macroeconomic balance with growth rates above 5% that outpace their demographic growth. Burkina Faso topped the list with 53%, followed by Senegal with 52%, Tanzania with 48%, Ethiopia with 47%, Kenya with 46%, Rwanda with 45%, Niger and Guinea with 43%, Cote d’Ivoire with a 42% growth rate, and Togo with 41%.

The API was extended in 2017 to include all African countries, instead of only those in the CFA zone, or the central and west regions, as was the case in previous editions. API 2017 also saw the inclusion of a new category for evaluation: the digital financial infrastructure worth 40% of a country’s mark, along with endogenous factors 30%, and institutional and fiscal frames, worth 30%. Although growth was substantial last year, financial website Financial Afrik warns that unless African countries can maintain growth of over 10% for over a decade there will not be any major development in the country.

Leading the pack

Topping the list of Africa’s best finance ministers is Burkina Faso’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Development Rosine Sori-Coulibaly. In office since January 2016, Sori-Coulibaly has been working to reduce the weight of current expenditure in the state budget, and has also allowed the public greater access to small business loans. She is joined by Senegal’s Amadou Ba, who brought about an increased cycle of growth garnered by the country since 2014. Third on the list is Philip Mpango, the appointed minister of finance in Tanzania since 2015. Mpango continues to create structural reforms in the country to finance free education and complete the nationalization of precious stones.

Other ministers of note include Ethiopia’s Abraham Tekeste, who is in charge of the implementation of a five-year-plan in the country to display a GDP growth of 11% per year. Over this period, industrial growth is set at 24% per year. Minister of Finance in Kenya Henry K. Rotich is at the root of several in-depth reforms in the East African country. Advocating for diversification, Rotich faces the challenge of financing Kenya’s public external debt. Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete has distinguished himself in the rationalization of current expenditures, the implementation of innovative policies and the facilitation of procedures for economic operators.

Implementing policies

Rounding out the top ten is Niger’s Hassoumi Masaoudou, who has been minister of finance since 2016 and has the challenge of financing the Economic and Social Development Plan for Niger from 2017 to 2021. In a tense security environment Financial Afrik reports the first year of the plan has been quite successful. Guinea’s Malado Kaba has inherited several major infrastructure projects and is the first Guinean appointed minister of finance to obtain satisfactory results in regard to funding. Former head of the Ivorian Treasury, Cote d’Ivoire’s Adama Kone has reconciled the imperative of controlling the budget with the need for growth. The current cocoa crisis has not broken this balance and Ivorian fundamentals remain strong. Minister of Economy and Finance in Togo since 2015, Sani Yaya’s great challenge remains to restructure the country’s debt and to mobilize funds for development programs. In the two years as finance minister, Yaya’s results have awarded him respect.

Digital Financial Infrastructure

The API identifies four determinants that favor the construction of digital financial infrastructure in African countries. Innovation centers, the organization of public dialogues on financial and regulatory technologies, a national tool for digital verification of identity and the creation of a digital environment secure enough to experiment with the offer of innovative financial services. Both Kenya and Senegal scored highly in this area with both countries developing incubators of technological innovation, such as, spaces for co-creation between entrepreneurs and accelerators of enterprise. Also standing out in this area are Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo, thanks to the organization of public dialogues on the future of finance, financial regulation and inclusion.

According to Financial Afrik, Africa is improving in terms of economic and political governance, however in terms of transparency and institutional communication efforts must be made. Ministries of Economy and Finance are responsible for strengthening competitiveness between domestic and foreign companies, but at the same time, they need to ensure consumers are protected.    

Read more

Zimbabwe’s mining minister says lithium biggest draw

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has the potential to be a leading producer of lithium, which has so far attracted more interest than any other of its minerals, Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando said on Tuesday.

He said he had last week reached a deal with a small listed company, which was expected to generate revenue of $1.4 billion over eight years from a lithium project.

Chitando took office after Emmerson Mnangagwa became president in November 2017 when the military took charge and Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in office.

To lure foreign investment into a mining sector that he says is under-capitalised and under-explored, Chitando has announced changes to mining laws, limiting indigenisation rules that mandate majority ownership for the state to just diamonds and platinum.

“Most of the enquiries have been about lithium,” he said on the sidelines of a mining conference in Cape Town. He added he could not give details of the deal signed last week until an official stock market announcement was made.

Lithium is in demand as a battery metal needed for the shift to electric vehicles and renewable power, although some analysts say the market could become oversupplied as the pipeline of projects builds up.

“Zimbabwe will become a very significant producer of lithium,” Chitando said. He added that he was not worried about oversupply of “the mineral of the future”.

Other minerals attracting interest are gold, as well as coal and coal-bed methane, which miners pursue as cheap sources of power, he added, noting that the biggest problem for mining is the lack of capital.

Zimbabwe’s economy is suffering acute shortages of cash dollars, increases in prices of basic goods, high unemployment and low levels of foreign investment but President Mnangagwa last month promised to safeguard all investments in the country.

On its website, Zimbabwe’s mining ministry says the country has “huge mineral potential characterised by about 60 economic minerals whose commercial profitability has been proven”.

Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke – a roughly 300 mile long rock formation which bisects the country from north to south – holds the world’s largest high-grade chrome resources and the world’s second largest resource of platinum group metals. Zimbabwe also has significant reserves of copper, nickel and lithium.

Many companies have said they are very interested in Zimbabwe and compare the country’s Great Dyke to South Africa’s mineral-rich Bushveld complex, but they are also waiting for policy certainty and say bureaucracy needs to be simplified.

Apart from meeting investors in Cape Town, Chitando said Zimbabwe, once one of Africa’s most promising economies, will host a mining conference at the end of this month.

 

(By Barbara Lewis. Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

 

Read more

TV5Monde Afrique Launches Digital Offer for 25th Anniversary

Comments (0) Africa

tv5monde afrique

As part of the network’s 25th anniversary, TV5Monde Afrique has launched a free digital offer on online and mobile programs, specifically for African users. With 1.2 billion inhabitants, 362 million internet users, 150 million social network users and 220 million Africans aged between 15 to 24, the region is becoming a hot spot for telecom investors and TV5Monde is keen to take advantage.

TV5Monde’s digital director Helene Zemmour said the growing mobile market in the African continent meant the network had to find a way to move with user habits and rethink their offer for mobile. Consisting of a new website, mobile app and offline content, TV5Monde will broadcast programs based on the centralised theme of Africa, such as, the daily Africa Journal, as well as, movies, series, game shows, sport, documentaries, and magazines. Officially launched in Kigali, Rwanda in October, it will launch from Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire on November 27th, Dakar in Senegal on December 5th, and Paris, France on December 11th. TV5Monde’s move to mobile, aims to confirm the network’s position on the continent and stay in touch with Africa’s increasing mobile consumption.

Mobile Consumption in Africa

According to the London research and consulting firm Ovum, over a billion Africans will be connected online by 2020, and this is due to the growth and influx of affordable smartphones. According to Ovum’s statistics, there are currently 419 million people online in the region, which is set to more than double over the coming five years to 1.07 billion people, by 2022. Ovum’s research shows Africa to be the fastest growing mobile market in the world and mobile data will be the main driver of growth. Researchers suggest this increase in data connectivity will also bring rising data revenue for operators, and create new platforms for digital services.

According to Bloomberg’s Matthew A. Winkler, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, hand-held phones are driving economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa as much as the railroad did in the United States of America in the 19th century. Mobile phones are letting people be their own ATMs, Winkler said, increasing economic activity by enabling payments for food, travel, school and business. This transformation is reflected in the more than 1,300 publicly traded companies that make up corporate Africa. According to data collected by Bloomberg, communications firms have increased in the last five years by 25% of the total market capitalization of African companies, up from 16%. Materials and energy, the natural resources the region is known for, diminished to a combined 18%, from 27%, for the same period. With a mere 43% mobile penetration, compared to 65% for the world, it will not be surprising if Sub-Saharan Africa will be most highly favoured region for telecom investors.    

SES-5 Satellite

Taking advantage of the high digital growth forecasts for the region, TV5Monde has also signed a long-term distribution contact with SES to broadcast three channels to French speaking viewers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The SES-5 satellite, which covers Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Atlantic Ocean, will distribute TV5Monde Afrique, the youth channel, TiVi5Monde, as well as, the lifestyle channel, TV5Monde Style HD.

The move to join SES, is also a move to strengthen the use of the French language across Africa. TVMonde’s CEO, Yves Bigot said the agreement would broaden the reach of the French language, which was becoming all the more decisive in a digital world where language is increasingly important, and the CEO of SES Video said the company would be delighted to contribute to the spread of the French language. SES-5 currently distributes over 500 local and international channels to Sub-Saharan Africa, 65 of which, are in French.

Dedicated to the audiences of the African continent and to the diaspora and fans of Africa, TV5Monde’s digital offer hopes to tap into the expanding internet audience, as well as, maintain and possibly grow the French language in the region.

Read more

More work needed before Congo Republic bailout -IMF

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ended a week of talks in Congo Republic on Thursday saying the debt-crippled nation had more work to do if it hoped to gain the lender’s approval for a bailout package.

Like other Central African oil producers, Congo has been hit hard by low crude prices. Government revenues have dropped by a third since 2015. The IMF said in its end-of-mission statement that the non-oil economy was in recession, with a contraction of 9.2 percent expected for this year.

The Fund said it was encouraged by Congo’s draft 2018 budget and added that progress had been made in formulating medium-term macroeconomic and structural policies it could support.

However, it said the government needed to do more to restore debt sustainability, urging it to finalise the hiring of legal and financial advisors. More progress towards strengthening governance was also needed.

Congo is regularly singled out by anti-corruption groups for the opaque management of its oil sector.

The finance ministry acknowledged that “immediate measures” were needed.

“That is why… Congo Republic will open negotiations with its main creditors in the aim of restructuring its debt,” it said in a statement.

Once the Fund’s recommendations were carried out, “a financial arrangement to support Congo’s economic programme would be discussed at staff level before being proposed for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration,” said Abdoul Aziz Wane, who headed the mission.

The slow pace of the negotiations with the IMF, which have been under way for months, as well as continuing legal uncertainties, have compounded Congo’s acute liquidity pressures, according to Fitch.

Unsustainable debt meanwhile had led to high default risks for private creditors, the ratings agency said. ​

The IMF said in October that the country’s public or publicly guaranteed debt totalled $9.14 billion, or around 110 percent of GDP, by the end of July.

Much of that debt is believed to be owed to oil traders, who lent money to the government against future crude shipments.

A construction firm has also filed suit in a French court seeking payment of over $1 billion for public works projects dating back decades. That debt was not included in the IMF’s estimate.

Negotiations to hammer out the terms of an IMF assistance package will continue early next year, the finance ministry said in its statement.

 

 

(By Joe Bavier. Additional reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet)

 

Read more

Investors fear South African market euphoria is overdone

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

LONDON (Reuters) – Businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, the new leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC party, needs to fix a sluggish economy and a deeply divided society. Market euphoria after his election may not reflect the looming slog, fund managers say.

The outcome, announced late on Monday, was widely expected. The rand has rallied 7 percent against the dollar since Thursday, and government bond yields fell 58 basis points over the same period. Credit default swaps, used to price default risks, are down around 16 bps since end-Thursday.

On Tuesday, shares in South African banks – a barometer of economic and political health – jumped 8 percent.

Ramaphosa, likely to become South Africa’s president after the 2019 elections, is considered an improvement on scandal-mired Jacob Zuma. But the good news seems already in the price – a CDS-based model by S&P Capital shows South African foreign debt priced in line with its rating for the first time in 2 1/2 years following the ratings cut in late November.

The country’s domestic bonds have long traded as if its credit rating were a notch lower, the model shows, with yields well above similarly rated countries such as Indonesia.

Many even reckon the market reaction is overdone. JPMorgan analysts see the rand now as 9 to 11 percent “rich”, based on recent moves in other emerging currencies as well as weaker prices for gold and platinum, major South African exports.

“If you look at local (bond) markets, I’d say the market relief was probably not justified by fundamentals. The structural weakness is very entrenched and won’t go away easily,” said Anders Faergemann, senior portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments.

He was citing sub-one percent growth, stubborn inflation, a 28 percent jobless rate, rising government spending and capital shortfalls at state-run companies. Those problems could be tough to fix in 2018, when Zuma will still be president.

“That could lead to policy paralysis, and that is the real risk,” Faergemann said.

The news has not altered the view on South Africa at AXA Investment Managers, where Sailesh Lad, the head of emerging debt, retains an underweight position.

Ramaphosa is not a “game-changer”, Lad said, noting the budget deficit blowout, announced in October by finance minister Malusi Gigaba, remained in place. Gigaba’s budget pencilled in a big increase in borrowing and a deficit increase to 4.3 percent of gross domestic product.

The higher spending had appeared to confirm that the rating on South African local bonds would be cut to “junk” territory by Moody’s and S&P Global, ejecting the debt from key indexes and triggering capital outflows of over $10 billion.

However, Moody’s held off the downgrade last month and Ramaphosa-linked market gains partly reflect hopes it may not do so at its early-2018 review.

If the new ANC leader does implement promised reforms, some hope the country could eventually regain investment grade, as Portugal has just done and Ireland did in 2014.

But most predicted South Africa will be harder to fix, given Ramaphosa’s narrow victory margin, racial divides and entrenched corruption, with his ascent merely having delayed the inevitable to later in 2018.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia reckons, in fact, that with elections looming, the ANC may lurch further to the left, and will not therefore “provide sufficient grounds to reverse ratings downgrades before mid-2018.”

 

(By Karin Strohecker and Claire Milhench. Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Sujata Rao and Ritvik Carvalho, writing by Sujata Rao, editing by Larry King)

Read more

Drought to hit South Africa’s 2018 wine harvest

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Agriculture

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa, the world’s seventh biggest wine producer, is expected to see the smallest harvest in more than a decade in 2018 after drought and lower plantings hit yields, industry experts said.

The winelands are mostly in the coastal Western Cape province which was declared a disaster area in May due to a severe drought that has dried up dams and led to water restrictions for residents and industry.

The 2018 harvest is expected to be much smaller than the estimated 1,434,328 tonnes produced in the 2017 crop, based on a survey conducted in the last week of November by industry body South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis).

Sawis, which will give its final crop estimate in August, did not give a figure for 2018 but said it would likely be less than in 2017.

“If in certain areas we don’t get rain it could end up smaller,” Sawis Chief Executive Officer Yvette van der Merwe told Reuters.

VinPro, an industry body, expects the 2018 crop to be the smallest since 2005, when 1,157,631 tonnes were harvested due to drought and diseases in some production areas.

“This means that wine grape producers’ water resources were cut by 40 percent to 60 percent and they could not fully meet their vines’ water demand,” Vinpro consultation service manager for the wine industry, Francois Viljoen, said in a statement.

South Africa which produces 3.9 percent of the world’s wine, harvests its winelands between February and March.

Western Cape dams were only 34.6 percent full last week compared with 50.4 percent in the same period last year, according to local government statistics that show a steady annual falls from 2014 when they were 90 percent full.

White and black frost damage in the Breedekloof, Robertson and Worcester regions could also hurt the 2018 harvest. Paul MakubeSenior, agricultural economist for FNB Business, estimated harvests would be 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes lower in those areas.

South Africa’s wine industry, which exports 440 million litres of wine a year and sells 400 million litres locally, could see higher prices if the crop is significantly decreased.

“If you have a lower crop the prices are going to be higher and it will eventually be passed on to the consumers,” said Makube, saying any price rise would depend on the harvest size.

Global wine production in 2017 is also set to fall to 246.7 million hectolitres – its lowest since 1961 – further supporting prices, after harsh weather in western Europe damaged vineyards, the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said in its estimates in October.

 

(By Tanisha Heiberg. Editing by James Macharia and Edmund Blair)

 

Read more

Morocco should step up structural reforms – IMF

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco needs to step up structural economic reforms and maintain “sound” fiscal and monetary policies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday.

Morocco, the region’s biggest energy importer, has been working with a technical mission from the IMF on liberalising its currency regime after a drop in global oil prices helped strengthen its finances.

“Executive Directors commended the authorities for the sound macroeconomic policies and reform implementation that have helped improve the resilience of the Moroccan economy, upgrade the fiscal and financial policy frameworks, and increase economic diversification,” the IMF said in a statement following consultations.

“To consolidate the gains achieved and promote higher and more inclusive growth, Directors underscored the need to maintain sound fiscal and monetary policies and to step up structural reform efforts,” it added.

The IMF said it supported Morocco’s plans for a more flexible currency and new policies, “which will help the economy to absorb external shocks and remain competitive.”

In July, Morocco’s central bank postponed a planned announcement of the first phase of the reform. The central bank gave no reason for the delay, but officials have since then said the government needed to further study the plan.

 

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Read more

Morocco announces auto industry deals worth $1.45 bln

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Business

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco said on Monday it had signed deals for 26 auto industry projects worth a total of 1.23 billion euros ($1.45 billion) as it seeks to build its position as an international hub for the sector.

The deals include six agreements with French company Renault to expand an “industry ecosystem” allowing the firm to increase local sourcing of car components to 55 percent, according to a government statement.

Renault has a large factory in the northern Moroccan city of Tangiers that opened in 2012, and an older assembly plant in Casablanca.

Another 13 of the new projects are planned as part of a manufacturing hub linked to a PSA Peugeot Citroen factory under construction in Kenitra, north of the capital, Rabat.

That plant is due to open in 2019 and initially produce 90,000 vehicles a year.

The projects announced on Monday are with companies from France, Spain, Italy, China, South Korea, Japan and the United States, and are expected to create more than 11,500 jobs, the government statement said.

Eleven of the companies will be operating in Morocco for the first time, Abdel Wahid Rahal, a senior official at the ministry for industry, investment, trade and digital economy, told Reuters.

On Saturday, officials announced a memorandum of understanding with Chinese automaker BYD to build an electric car plant near Tangier that is expected to create 2,500 jobs. They gave no details on the value of the deal.

Unlike many countries in the region, Morocco has avoided a big drop in foreign investment following the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, partly by marketing itself as an export base for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The kingdom has attracted a number of big auto and aerospace investors in recent years.

 

($1 = 0.8495 euros)

 

(Reporting by Zakia Abdennebi; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Read more

Steinhoff accounting irregularities trigger share crash, CEO exit

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Business

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Steinhoff International shares crashed on Wednesday after it revealed accounting irregularities and its CEO quit, shocking investors who had backed the rapid reinvention of a South African furniture chain into an international retail empire.

The company said late on Tuesday that “new information has come to light today which relates to accounting irregularities requiring further investigation” and that billionaire Christo Wiese, its largest shareholder and chairman, would take charge.

Steinhoff said chief executive Markus Jooste, who had been at the helm for nearly 20 years and oversaw its expansion to one of the world’s largest household goods retailers, had resigned with immediate effect and consultants PwC would undertake an “independent investigation”.

Steinhoff has been aggressively expanding in developed markets since moving its primary share listing from Johannesburg to Frankfurt in 2015, snapping up Britain’s Poundland, U.S-based Mattress Firm and Australia’s Fantastic.

Steinhoff said Wiese would “embark on a detailed review of all aspects of the company’s business with a view to maximising shareholder value”, but its South African shares slumped 65 percent to an eight-year low of 15.87 by 1120 GMT. Its stock was down in Frankfurt by 66 percent following the news.

Steinhoff has been under investigation for suspected accounting irregularities by the state prosecutor in Oldenburg, Germany since 2015. Steinhoff has said that was a tax case relating to whether revenues were booked correctly, and taxable profit correctly declared.

Reuters reported last month that Steinhoff did not tell investors about almost $1 billion in transactions with a related company, despite laws that some experts believe require it to do so.

It is unclear what accounting irregularities the company was referring to in its statement on Wednesday. A spokesman declined further comment and attempts by Reuters to contact Jooste were not successful.

The development had wider repurcussions too, with the chief executive of Steinhoff African Retail (STAR), part of Steinhoff which includes the control of Shoprite, also resigning on Wednesday and its shares falling 21.5 percent to 19.30 rand by 0855 GMT.

“In light of these developments at Steinhoff, STAR’s existing CEO, Ben la Grange has decided to step down as CEO of STAR,” the company said.

 

TAX RATE QUESTIONS

Analysts have long questioned how Steinhoff managed to achieve such a low tax rate. Its tax rate has averaged 12 percent over the past five years — half the headline corporate tax rate in its main markets and less than half the rates paid by listed competitors including France’s Casino, Germany’s Metro AG and South Africa’s Woolworths.

Experts say such low tax rates can be the result of complex corporate structures which stretch accounting rules and such arrangements are occasionally challenged by courts as unlawful.

“The company recorded a very unusual tax rate of c. 15 percent and also guided that this would be the rate going forward,” Juergen Kolb, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, said in a note, adding that if this tax rate was at risk it could also hit Steinhoff’s cashflow.

Kolb also raised the possibility that as chairman, Wiese’s role could now come under scrutiny too.

Steinhoff did not respond to requests for information about what, if anything, Wiese knew about the accounting problems now being investigated before Tuesday.

Investors also told Reuters they are concerned Wiese may be forced to sell shares he bought last year with borrowed money.

Wiese borrowed 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to buy additional Steinhoff shares through a family trust in September 2016, pledging 3.2 billion euros of his existing holding as security to the investment banks that lent the money.

With the share price plunge taking the security below the value of the loan, Wiese may be required by the financing banks — Citi, Goldman, HSBC and Nomura — to post more shares as collateral, or sell part of his holding.

($1 = 0.8459 euros)

 

(By TJ Strydom. Reporting by TJ Strydom; additional reporting by Tanisha Heiberg, Tom Bergin and Alasdair Pal; writing by Alexander Smith; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Keith Weir)

Read more

African Development Bank gives $148 million to support Namibia’s education, agriculture

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Agriculture, Education

CAPE TOWN/WINDHOEK (Reuters) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a total of 2 billion rand 148 million) in loans to boost Namibia’s education and agriculture sectors, it said on Tuesday.

The funds are aimed at helping reduce youth unemployment by boosting technical and vocational training, and reducing food imports by the South-western African country.

Both the education and agriculture projects will receive additional Namibian government contribution, the AfDB said.

The south-western nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 34 percent of the working population in 2016 from 28.1 percent in 2014, the last time a labour force survey was conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency.

($1 = 13.4738 rand)

 

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf in Cape Town and Nyasha Nyaungwa in Windhoek; Editing by James Macharia)

Read more