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Tanzania restores power in parts of country after nationwide outage

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania’s power utility said on Friday it had started to restore electricity to parts of the country after the East African nation was hit by a country-wide blackout on Thursday morning.

“Efforts are ongoing to make sure that power supply is restored to all parts of the country,” the state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) said in a statement.

TANESCO apologised for the power outage, but did not explain what caused a “technical glitch” in the national power grid that left the region’s No. 3 economy in a blackout that lasted more than 12 hours on Thursday.

Power was restored in many parts of commercial capital Dar es Salaam late on Thursday.

TANESCO said it had also restored electricity in the administrative capital Dodoma, as well as Iringa region in the centre and Tanga in the north east.

Partial blackouts occur regularly in Tanzania, which relies on hydro, natural gas and heavy fuel oil to generate electricity. Many businesses use power generators as backups, pushing up their operating costs.

Tanzania’s energy infrastructure has suffered from decades of underinvestment, neglect and corruption allegations, and investors have long complained the lack of reliable power hurts business there.

President John Magufuli is pushing a major hydropower project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve to help tackle chronic electricity shortages.

The project would more than double the country’s current power generation capacity of around 1,500 megawatts (MW). The government has not said how much the project would cost or how it would raise financing, but wants it completed within three years.

Tanzania aims to boost power generation capacity to 10,000 MW over the next decade by also using some of its vast natural gas and coal reserves.

 

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Potter)

 

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Eskom says rolling cuts unlikely despite coal supply fall

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Environment, Infrastructure

By Nqobile Dludla and Mfuneko Toyana

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African utility Eskom said on Thursday rolling power cuts are unlikely despite coal supply possibly falling below a 20-day requirement at its Hendrina power station.

On Thursday investigative news outfit AmaBhungane reported Eskom may be forced into nationwide electricity cuts after a coal mine linked to the Gupta family threatened to halt supply.

Eskom has been at the heart of allegations of illegal contracts and undue influence in awarding tenders to the Gupta family, friends of South African President Jacob Zuma.

Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe confirmed Eskom had held an emergency meeting last Friday to determine whether strategic coal stockpiles at Hendrina and other stations were sufficient after Tegeta Exploration and Resources threatened to halt supply to Hendrina.

Coal supply at Eskom’s power stations stood at 74 days’ worth in March but had fallen to 25 days’ worth at Hendrina by October and may have fallen below a 20-day requirement since, Phasiwe said.

He told Reuters the company was investigating whether supply at all its 12 power stations complied with regulations requiring at least 20 days’ worth.

South Africa had regular power cuts between 2008 and 2015, hitting key industries and knocking economic growth as demand exceeded capacity.

Quoting sources, AmaBhungane alleged that Tegeta has been exporting coal from its Optimum Coal Mine while limiting supply to Eskom.

“If it happens that for some reason they are unable to supply us with coal then clearly it means that they would have breached the contract and therefore it becomes a legal matter,” Eskom’s Phasiwe said.

A spokeswoman for Tegeta parent company Oakbay, founded by the Gupta family as its main investment vehicle in South Africa, said the company would likely comment on Friday.

The family agreed in August to sell Tegeta but the sale has not been finalised.

The Guptas are accused of using their links with the 75-year old Zuma to wield influence and win state contracts. Zuma and the family both deny any wrongdoing.

($1 = 13.6469 rand)

(Editing by Ed Stoddard and Jason Neely)

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Kenya cuts electricity tariffs for manufacturers to create jobs

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya is cutting night-time electricity tariffs for manufacturers by half to entice investors and boost economic growth and job creation, a top ministry of energy official said on Wednesday.

The East African nation charges firms 15.70 shillings ($0.1522) per kilowatt hour, which is seen as uncompetitive compared with other African nations such as Ethiopia, South Africa and Egypt.

Joseph Njoroge, the principal secretary in charge of electricity at the ministry, said the reduction will apply from 10 pm to 6 am every day to boost usage of electricity when most households and businesses shut down.

“It is about, how do we create jobs for our people? How do we grow as a country? How do we move from an agro-based to an industrial-based country so that we can be able to enhance our GDP,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference.

During his inauguration for a second term, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he planned to increase the share of manufacturing to annual economic output to 15 percent from 9 percent.

The government has been trying to boost investments in the sector in recent years with modest success, including the opening of light vehicle assembly plants by Peugeot and Volkswagen.

Taxes account for about a third of electricity tariffs and Njoroge said they will consider whether some of the charges can be reduced.

Kenya has an installed electricity capacity of 2,336 megawatts (MW) with maximum demand of 1,727 MW, Njoroge said. It has increased the share of the population with access to electricity to 70 percent in the last four years from 30 percent.

 

($1 = 103.1500 Kenyan shillings)

 

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri, editing by Louise Heavens)

 

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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe is gone, but political kow-towing still abounds

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Politics

HARARE (Reuters) – Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule may be over, but a culture of political fawning by the Zimbabwean state media and fear of those in authority still flourishes.

The Herald newspaper and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation – state and ruling ZANU-PF party mouthpieces – routinely heaped lavish praise on the 93-year-old Mugabe and his wife Grace in sycophantic articles and commentaries.

With the sudden change of guard, Zimbabwe’s official media is having a hard time shaking off old habits and is now tailoring its eulogies to fit Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor.

State radio intersperses programmes with martial music from the war of independence in honour of Mnangagwa’s war veteran allies and the army.

One morning talk show host spoke glowingly on Tuesday of seeing the presidential motorcade at 0645 GMT. This, he said, signalled the new leader was keeping his word to hit the ground running.

“The president is showing the way so get to work on time,” he said.

Mnangagwa, 75, a close Mugabe ally for several decades, took power after the military takeover on Nov. 15 following a succession battle that split the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“Comrade Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, (is) a true son of the soil who sacrificed his entire life to serving Zibmabwe as evidenced by the role he played in the liberation struggle as well as after independence up to this day. We are blessed to have you as our leader,” an advertisement by the ministry for women affairs, gender and community development gushed in the Herald.

 

PERSONALITY CULTS

Not all within the ruling party are comfortable with the trend though.

Justice Wadyajena, a Mnangagwa admirer and outspoken ZANU-PF parliamentarian, reminded his Twitter followers of the dangers of personality cults.

“Those falling all over each other pledging loyalty to President ED are just brutes playing meek,” Wadyajena wrote, referring to Mnangagwa by the initials of his first and middle names.

“If you really are principled, there’s no reason to bootlick, your conduct should speak for itself. We’ve seen the danger of personalizing governance and gatekeeping a NATIONAL FIGURE!!”

Mnangagwa, who served Mugabe loyally for 52 years, is expected to form a new cabinet this week. Zimbabweans are watching to see if he breaks with the past and names a broad-based government or selects figures from the Mugabe era’s old guard.

 

 

(By Emelia Sithole-Matarise. Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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S.Africa’s Zuma calls for action after S&P downgrade, rand up on Moody’s reprieve

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma called for concrete measures to boost growth after S&P Global Ratings downgraded the local currency debt to sub-investment grade, while foreign currency debt was pushed deeper into “junk” territory.

The rand recovered on Monday from steep falls suffered late on Friday after the downgrade, taking some relief from Moody’s decision to only place South Africa on review for downgrade.

A cut to “junk” on the local currency debt by both S&P and Moody’s could have seen South African debt lose its place in Citi’s World Government Bond Index (WGBI), the biggest of the global benchmarks and tracked by about $2-3 trillion of funds.

Zuma directed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Monday to finalise proposals for expenditure cuts amounting to 25 billion rand ($2 billion) and revenue boosting measures totalling 15 billion rand – including through taxes.

A proposal by a presidential commission to introduce free higher education should also be implemented in a “fiscally-sustainable manner”, the statement from Zuma’s office said.

Gigaba in October unveiled a gloomy outlook for the economy as he flagged weaker growth expectations, wider budget deficit estimates and rising government debt.

Both S&P and Moody’s cited deterioration in South Africa’s economic growth prospects and public finances.

As of 1527 GMT, the rand was trading at 13.7625 per dollar, 2.86 percent firmer than its New York close on Friday, when it had tumbled 2 percent following S&P’s announcement.

“The market is finding some relief in the fact that Moody’s has chosen to give us basically till February before they change our rating, if they do change our rating,” said Shaun Murison, currency strategist at IG Markets.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond was down 9 basis points to 9.245 percent, also recovering after rising as much as 11 basis points earlier in the session.

Moody’s said the review will allow it to assess the South African authorities’ willingness and ability to respond to the rising pressures through growth-supportive fiscal adjustments that raise revenues and contain expenditures.

“The review period may not conclude until the size and the composition of the 2018 budget is known next February,” Moody’s senior analyst for South Africa, Zuzana Brixiova, said in a statement.

Moody’s rates South Africa’s foreign and local currency debt on their lowest investment grade rung of Baa3.

VOLATILITY

S&P’s decision will see South Africa excluded from the Barclays Global Aggregate index, whose inclusion criteria requires investment grade rating on its local currency debt from any two ratings agencies.

Fitch already rates South African debt as “junk”, and affirmed the rating on Thursday.

If nothing changes, the country will be downgraded to “junk” by all ratings agencies and the WGBI dream will be no more, at least for many a year, said Standard Bank chief trader Warrick Butler in a note.

“What this means, in terms of the currency, will be increased volatility.”

Falling out of the WGBI could have led to a larger sell-off in bonds, even though rising yields could present a buying opportunity for some yield-hungry investors.

“If you look at some of the metrics the real yields are among the highest in EM, the domestic curve is extremely steep, the current account is in better place than it was three to four years ago and the rand is quite competitive against likes of (Russia’s) rouble or Brazilian real,” said London-based Paul Greer, senior trader at Fidelity International.

“On the local side the real yield and steepness of curve look attractive from tactical perspective.”

Analysts said an exclusion from the Barclays index would lead to outflows of about $2 billion, compared with more than $10 billion if South Africa was to fall out of Citi’s WGBI.

South African debt was dropped from one the widely used global bond indexes, the JPMorgan Emerging Market Bond Index Global in April after S&P and Fitch downgraded foreign currency debt to sub-investment grade.

On the stock market, the Top-40 index was 0.35 percent lower at 53,810 while the broader all-share was down 0.28 percent at 60,157.

($1 = 13.7678 rand)

(Additional reporting by Sujata Rao in London; Editing by James Macharia/Mark Heinrich)

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Zimbabwe’s economic situation “very difficult”: IMF mission chief

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s economic growth is threatened by high government spending, an untenable foreign exchange regime and inadequate reforms, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said.

Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but suffered decades of decline as former President Robert Mugabe pursued policies that included the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms and money-printing that led to hyperinflation.

Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday after nearly four decades in power following pressure from the military, the ruling ZANU-PF party and the general population.

New ZANU-PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president on Friday.

Zimbabwe has not been able to borrow from international lenders since 1999 when it started defaulting on its debt, and has $1.75 billion rand in foreign arrears.

“The economic situation in Zimbabwe remains very difficult,” Gene Leon, IMF’s mission chief for Zimbabwe said in a statement to Reuters late on Wednesday.

“Immediate action is critical to reduce the deficit to a sustainable level, accelerate structural reforms, and re-engage with the international community to access much needed financial support.”

Leon said Zimbabwe should resolve arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank, among other reforms, for the IMF to consider future financing request from the country.

Zimbabwe should also be ready to implement strong macroeconomic policies and structural reforms to restore fiscal and debt sustainability, Leon said.

 

(Reporting by David Lawder in Washington and Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo in Johannesburg; Editing by James Macharia)

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Facebook to open Nigerian hub next year in African tech drive

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Technology

LAGOS (Reuters) – Facebook will open a “community hub space” in Nigeria next year to encourage software developers and technology entrepreneurs and become the latest technology giant to pursue a training programme in fast-growing Africa.

The U.S. social media company said the centre would host an “incubator programme” to help develop technology start-ups, while it will also train 50,000 Nigerians in digital skills.

Africa’s rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones rather than PCs is attracting technology companies looking to attract more users.

Facebook did not provide details of the period over which its planned training would take place in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country with 180 million inhabitants.

“We understand the important role Facebook plays here in Nigeria with developers and start-ups and are invested in helping these communities,” Emeka Afigbo, its regional head of platform partnership, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Facebook said the training – aimed at software developers, entrepreneurs and students – would be offered in cities including the capital, Abuja, Port Harcourt in the south, Calabar in the southeast and Kaduna in the north.

Last year Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg visited technology companies in Lagos and his charitable foundation provided $24 million to Andela, which trains developers.

Google’s chief executive in a July visit to Lagos said the company aimed to train 10 million people across the continent in online skills over the next five years. He also said it hoped to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. [L5N1KH9WQ]

Although Africa may not offer as much opportunity to add consumers as China or India, because large wealth gaps mean that many people in places like Nigeria have little disposable income, Facebook said more than 22 million people already use its social media website every month in Nigeria.

Widespread poverty means mobile adoption tends to favour basic phone models. That, combined with poor telecommunications infrastructure, can mean slow internet speeds and less internet surfing, which tech firms rely on to make money.

 

(Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Alexander Smith)

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Zambia’s central bank says delayed IMF programme affecting kwacha currency

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s central bank governor said on Wednesday the delay in reaching a conclusion for an aid programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was putting pressure on the kwacha currency.

Zambia and the IMF agreed in October to chart a new path towards debt sustainability after the IMF delayed the conclusion of talks with Africa’s No.2 copper producer, saying it was at high risk of debt distress.

The government had said it hopes to get board approval from the international lender by the end of 2017

“It is more of sentiment because the fundamentals point to continued appreciation,” central bank governor Denny Kalyalya told a media conference.

“One of the factors has been that players were looking to the conclusion of an IMF programme before the end of the year.”

The kwacha currency slid to 10.0850 per dollar on Wednesday from about 9.0000 three months ago and traders said it was due to increased dollar demand and short foreign currency supply.

 

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)

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New Reforms in Nigeria to Attract Foreign Investment

Comments (0) Africa, Politics

Oluyemi Osinbajo Nigeria

Foreign investment dropped in Nigeria with the fall of oil prices three years ago, but they have started to return thanks to reforms made recently by the Nigerian government. Earlier this year, Nigerian Vice President Oluyemi Osinbajo, acting for President Muhammadu Buhari during his medical leave, signed several executive orders aimed at improving business processes under the acting authority of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC). As part of a government bid to bring back foreign investment, changes to port procedures, business registration, and certificates for importing capital, have been declared.

Port Procedures

According to the Oxford Business Group, a key factor of the reforms was a move to tighten operations at Nigeria’s ports by reducing the number of agencies needed to clear cargo, creating single checkpoints for goods in transit, and banning non-official workers from the area. In the past 14 agencies were required to clear cargo at the port, but this has been reduced to seven. Now these seven agencies must act as a single task force, at a central location, and payments must be made through the Corporate Affairs Commission website (CAC). Only on-duty personnel will now be allowed in secure areas at ports and airports. The government hopes these reforms will quicken processes at entry points, and curb bribery and corruption.

Business Registration

Another way in which the reforms hope to dissuade corruption in the country is by making processes more transparent. Business registration will now be automated through the CAC website, via an online payment transfer, and all state agencies are required to publish a list of fees and conditions for business registration and license applications online. These agencies must also publish a set time-line for applicants, and if a response is not given in time, the application will be approved by default. In the past, new applications had to be made by visiting the country. These changes to the system mean investors can now register their business without having to come to Nigeria, saving both time and money.  

Electronic Certificates

According to Reuters, the central bank of Nigeria recently announced plans to issue electronic certificates for capital imported into the country, which will also save investors a lot of hassle. The electronic certificate will replace the hard copy issued previously, which investors or companies were required to get in just 24 hours, according to a 1995 law. The certificate is a declaration that the company has invested foreign currency in Nigeria and is necessary for the company to repatriate returns on those investments. Investors have complained in the past, that they have struggled to meet the one-day deadline.   

World Bank Doing Business Ranking

With a population of 180 million, Nigeria is still an attractive place for investment, however implementation and operating costs are high, and security within the county remains an issue. The country ranked 169th out of 190, in the 2017 World Bank ‘Doing Business’ survey, an improvement of one place from 2016, but a drop of 50 places in the last eight years. For starting a business, the country ranked 138th, for getting a construction permit, 174th, and for registering property, 182nd. The World Bank listed eight areas for improvement: starting a business, construction permits, getting electricity, getting credit, registering property, trading across borders, paying taxes, and the entry and exit of people across borders.  

Approval for Reforms

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) which said much more needed to be done to raise Africa’s biggest economy out of recession in March, has praised the new reforms. According to the Oxford Business Group, the IMF lauded Nigeria’s commitment to improving business transactions and investment inflows, and noted that the central bank’s foreign exchange trading window was a boon for investors. Investors needing to settle trade-related requirements in US dollars could now do so by phone, and at rates set by the buyers and sellers themselves, rather than by the bank or the market. The IMF said the moves would curb the market premium and push foreign reserve levels above the $30 billion mark. As dollars have been in short supply in Nigeria since the oil price drop, the country has had to look at new ways to attract foreign investment.

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Foloker Folarin-Coker wants to take her Nigerian label global

Comments (0) Africa

Foloker Folarin-Coker is not a name that is as famous as some within the world of fashion, but she has created an African fashion label that has not only proved hugely popular within the continent, but has begun to attract attention from further afield. Folarin-Coker has already achieved many firsts for an African fashion designer, and is determined to build her label into something even greater.

Self-taught Success

Foloker Folarin-Coker was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1974, and at a young age she went to Switzerland and the UK in order to further her education. Folarin-Coker eventually graduated with a master’s degree in petroleum law, and returned to Nigeria in 1996. While her education seemed to be leading to a career in law, her real passion was in fashion, and despite having no background in the competitive industry, she created a small collection of her own designs upon her return home.

By 1998, Folarin-Coker had launched her label, Tiffany Amber, and the label has gone on to become one of Nigeria’s most popular fashion brands. The label’s domestic success led to 4 stand-alone stores in Lagos and Abuja, and Folarin-Coker became the first winner of the “Designer of the Year” award at African Fashion Week in 2009.

However, it is not just in the domestic market in which the Tiffany Amber line has proved popular, as Folarin-Coker was invited to showcase her designs at the New York Fashion Week in 2008. Her collection was met with such praise that she was invited back the following week, becoming the first ever African designer to present a range twice at the prestigious event.

Continued Expansion

Folarin-Coker continued to innovate after her breakthrough into international recognition, and in 2008 she launched two new ranges within her company. TAN by Tiffany Amber is a diffusion line that was launched alongside Folake Folarin, which is a couture line

In 2013, Forbes magazine listed Folake-Folarin as one of Africa’s 20 Young Power Women, and by 2014, the self-taught designer had staged more than 60 fashion shows at home and abroad.

Another line, Tiffany Amber Living, was added to her burgeoning portfolio, and Folarin-Coker says that her success was based on the principle of reinvention without changing the core of the brand. The designer explained, “Continuously reinvent yourself but don’t change the DNA of the brand’ –that’s what I believe, everyone knowing what the Tiffany Amber look is, is what has kept us.”

As the designs continue to prove popular and her range continues to grow, Folarin-Coker is determined to create a brand that remains iconic long after she is no longer around. She has said that her ethos is to work for the future as opposed to the present, and she has a firm belief in the talent within the Nigerian fashion industry.

As she continues to look forwards, Folarin-Coker says that her goal is to “have a presence all over Africa and ultimately every major city of the world.” Only time will tell whether these grand designs for the future are achieved, but thus far her goals have certainly been met with success.

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