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Moroccan inflation eases to 1.6% y/y in September

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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

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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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12 African Countries In Top 20 Affordable Luxury Real Estate Markets

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According to a September study by the German real estate portal Lamudi, twelve African countries are among the Top 20 emerging markets where luxury real estate is most affordable. Ethiopia topped the ranking in a total of 32 emerging markets in the recent Lamudi results. Luxury real estate in Ethiopia now costs an average of 396.58 € per square meter. To put this in perspective, luxury Paris property such as the Place Vendôme, Tuileries, and Palais Royal real estate commands 13,000 € per square meter, according to This Paris Life. To extend the frame of reference, Global Property Guide reports an average cost of over 6,000 € per square meter for “affordable luxury” land throughout France. Amazingly, therefore affordable luxury real estate in France is roughly 15 times more expensive than luxury real estate in Ethiopia!

Out of phase with the Lamudi study, however, Global Property Guide reports that all land in Ethiopia is owned by the government of the country, and can only be leased. With continuing border disputes, and weak enforcement of property rights, it is not clear how investors can securely exploit this appealing valuation of real estate for commercial purposes in Ethiopia. And recent drops in currency values of many African countries already discourage investment. However, the broader picture is more appealing in some of the other countries featured in the Lamudi report.

Côte d’Ivoire’s real estate market has grown rapidly since 2011

Côte d’Ivoire is now in full economic takeoff following a political and military crisis. Luxury real estate here is at an average price of 427.65 € per square meter, according to the Lamudi classification, which was made on the basis of average prices gathered from several thousand real estate sales advertisements. After ten years of sluggish economic growth, Côte d’Ivoire’s construction industry now claims double-digit growth in the most recent three years, according to the Oxford Business Group. Côte d’Ivoire’s real estate market has grown rapidly since 2011. Private initiatives thrive and the market is seeing significant development. A number of unique sources contribute to these especially attractive property prices. Substantial support by international donors in Côte d’Ivoire has artificially subsidized the markets and the country is now open to global construction firms, and boasts diversified investment sources.

Tanzania took third place in the Lamudi ranking with prices at 486.03 € per square meter. With an average price of 850.54 € per square meter, Kenya claimed sixth place on the list, following Mexico and Colombia. These figures are meticulously mined by Lamudi, a portal launched in 2013. The clearinghouse is a global property portal focusing exclusively on emerging markets. The Lamudi platform is available in 34 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and includes in excess of 900,000 real estate listings throughout its global network.

Nigeria, with a per square meter price of 856.29 €, was followed closely by Kenya, according to Lamudi. Meanwhile Tunisia at 885.52 € appeared in the ninth slot, just ahead of Ghana (1,035.75 €), and Morocco (1,144.25 €). Rounding out the African countries featured, Uganda (1,597.22 €) occupied 15th place, ahead of Algeria (1,766.53 €), while Angola (3,965.52 €) closed the top 20 list.

Marrakech a top investment choice

Target cities to watch in the emerging luxury real estate market include Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech holds strong growth prospects, favorable political stability, and an enticing environment for foreigners. Marrakech was recently named by Financial Times property experts as a top investment choice for 2014.

Lamudi’s focus on raw price may not be a representation of true property values. While luxury real estate property values in Morocco may be nearly four times those of Ethiopia, both are relatively cheap on a global scale, especially with regard to developed countries. For this reason, other criteria such as governmental and economic stability, environmental quality, and effectiveness of law enforcement may be more important determining factors than the price of land when comparing the featured countries for the purpose of luxury real estate investment. Furthermore, the unpredictable political climate and economic instability in these areas guarantees that these prices will fluctuate dramatically in relatively short periods of time.

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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

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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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Mali to miss cotton crop target due to late rains: CMDT

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali will miss this year’s cotton production target of 650,000 tonnes as late rains in the Sahel region have struck the start of the harvest, the head of the state-owned CMDT cotton company said on Monday.

Kalfa Sanogo said the heavy rains were damaging stocks of picked fibre and cotton still in the fields. The cotton harvest began last week in the West African country, which ranks as Africa’s second-largest producer behind Burkina Faso.

Mali had targeted production of 650,000 tonnes of raw cotton for the 2015-2016 season, up from output of roughly 550,000 tonnes the previous year.

“We have a serious problem: the rains are continuing at a time when they should stop,” Sanogo told Reuters. “The forecast of 650,000 tonnes will be revised down.”

He declined to provide a revised forecast for national production.

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South Africa’s Woolworths says strike won’t affect operations

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Workers at a distribution centre for South African retailer Woolworths are on strike over pay, the company said on Monday but the high-end grocery and clothing seller said the strike would not affect operations.

“We can confirm that the National Union of Food Beverage Wine Spirits and Allied Workers at our Midrand Distribution Centre have embarked on protected strike action,” the firm said.

“Business continuity plans are in place for continued operations and our customers should not experience any disruption in the supply of goods to stores.”

The union was demanding wage increases of 110-130 percent for its members, Woolworths said.

Shares in Woolworths were flat at 102.28 rand by 1316 GMT compared with a 0.8 percent fall in the general retailers index.

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