South Africa’s Zuma says urgent intervention needed to save mining sector

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

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Consistently low commodity prices and the risk of job losses have forced the government to call an urgent meeting with labour and business leaders in South Africa’s mining sector, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

The mining industry, which contributes around 7 percent to Africa’s most developed economy, is struggling with sinking commodity prices, rising costs and labour unrest, forcing a number of companies into mine closures and layoffs.

“We meet under difficult conditions. The global economy is experiencing a downturn which is posing a challenge for South Africa’s economy, which is a net exporter of key mineral commodities,” Zuma said in opening remarks at the Mining Sector National Consultative Forum in the capital Pretoria.

The meeting comes after a 10-point plan was signed by the mines ministry, labour and industry to stem a wave of job cuts triggered by falling prices and rising costs.

Zuma’s ruling ANC party is facing increasing pressure from the left-leaning parties who accuse him of neglecting the working class ahead of local elections next year.

Mines Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told reporters he wanted to save mines while also conserving jobs and that the meeting with Zuma would hopefully yield solutions to the job losses.

“It is crucial, it is important and we have elevated it to the president’s level and that tells you the importance we have attached to this gathering,” he said.

Ramatlhodi has previously said almost 12,000 mining jobs were on the line in South Africa, which has an unemployment rate of around 25 percent and glaring income disparities.

South Africa sits on close to 80 percent of the world’s known reserves of platinum, a metal used in emissions-capping catalytic converters which is facing depressed demand.


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Smile Telecoms raises $365m to fund Africa expansion

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

Smile Telecoms

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – African mobile internet firm Smile Telecoms has raised $365 million to fund the expansion of high-speed broadband networks, it said on Tuesday, the latest firm to jockey for a position in the continent’s fast-growing mobile consumer market.

Telecoms and Internet companies are expanding in Africa to take advantage of the growing demand for data heavy services as more affordable smartphones encourage consumers to browse the internet, stream videos and download applications.

Mauritius-based Smile Telecoms said it would use the funds to extend its existing 4G LTE mobile broadband network in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda and also launch the network in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016.

The money was raised through a $50 million equity sale to Public Investment Corporation, a South African state-owned firm that manages more than 1.6 trillion rand on behalf of civil servants.

The rest of the funding was raised via debt from a group of investors that included Egypt’s African Export-Import Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Diamond Bank plc and Standard Chartered Bank.

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Glencore reins in debt as commodity price slump persists

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

By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo

(Reuters) – Mining and trading company Glencore acknowledged on Monday the severity of the global commodity market slump as it suspended dividends and said it would sell assets and new shares to cut heavy debts built up through years of rapid expansion.

The London-listed company came under pressure to cut its net debt of $30 billion, one of the largest in the industry, as prices for its key products, copper and coal, sank to more than six-year lows. (more…)

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Ethiopia’s inflation at 11.6 pct year-on-year in August

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

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s inflation slowed to 11.6 percent year-on-year in August from 11.9 percent the previous month, owing to a dip in non-food items, the statistics office said on Monday.

The Central Statistics Agency said non-food price inflation fell to 9.2 percent from 9.7 percent in July.

The food inflation rate rose to 14.7 percent in August from 13.9 percent the previous month.


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World Economic Forum Reveals Morocco as North Africa’s Most Competitive Country

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Preparations Ahead Of The Davos World Economic Forum 2015

According to the latest report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), at 72nd Morocco is the most competitive country in Northern Africa (an improvement from the previous report), and ranked 4th in all of Africa. Above are Mauritius, South Africa and Rwanda at 39th, 56th and 62nd respectively. Morocco is making a transition toward lower, and eventually, elimination of subsidized government spending through collaboration with international lenders, and more toward innovation, education, and free trade leading to overall economic amelioration.


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China’s Development of Ethiopia : Investment in a Country, or in an Industry ?

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Ethiopia, a country of about 90 million people, covers just 1,127,127km2—less than 10% of the territory of China. Despite its comparably tiny size, Ethiopia is proving to be a massively important resource for China’s demand for essential minerals necessary in its insatiable demand for technological goods.

Some experts, British-born Ethiopia specialist Richard Pankhurst, believe that trade between the two countries could date back more than 1400 years. Though China’s demand on Ethiopia has evolved from exotic animals and jewelry to minerals and leather, their trade partnership has an unbroken past.


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Bosch registers sales growth in the Middle East

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The Middle East is proving to be a lucrative market for Bosch, a German multinational company with expertise in engineering and electronics. The company closed the 2014 fiscal year with AED 945 million (approximately USD 257 million) in consolidated sales across 15 countries in the region, representing an increase of seven per cent over the previous year.

Since the opening of its regional office in Dubai a little over ten years ago, Bosch has experienced continued expansion and sales growth in the Middle East. The UAE now accounts for the highest sales in region, with the largest percentage of growth coming from power tools business.


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26 Countries, $1 trillion USD and 600 million people: The World’s Newest (and Biggest) Free Trade Bloc

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 In June, the world’s largest free trade block was signed into existence in perhaps the world’s least likely place: Africa.

Three existing African economic blocks, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), have formed a 26-state free trade block stretching from Cairo to Cape Town. The goal of this enormous free trade zone is to increase the amount of intra-African trade. Currently, the poor quality of roads, railways and unreliable nature of airlines have inhibited trade across the continent.


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Low Oil Prices Raise Concerns over Middle Eastern Sovereign Investments

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Middle Eastern Sovereign Investments

After years of increasing allocations to sovereign wealth funds (SWF), the persisting decline in oil prices has led regional fund managers to prepare for major changes.

As Middle Eastern governments became more dependent on the influx of foreign currency from oil sales, SWFs were set up as an insurance policy against potential decreased revenue streams.

Derived from surpluses in reserves, SWFs provide a means of reallocating income into other investments in order to diversify the country’s revenue. Should funding decline, these investments could be sold on short notice to support economic growth.


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Japan’s Evolving Relationship with Africa

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Shinzo Abe

During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s last visit to Africa, he emphasized, in a press conference in Ethiopia, that Japan’s focus in the continent are “young people,” who will shoulder the responsibility for the future of Africa, and women, who will give life to the continent’s future generations. Japan presents its policies regarding Africa as altruistic and humanitarian but some critics say it is driven very much by Realpolitik. In the past century, Japan’s activities in Africa have ranged from mostly business relationships to what Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls an aid-based diplomacy. What are we seeing now and what are Japan’s true intentions going forward?

Trade relations between Africa and Japan started developing significantly during World War I, with Egypt and South Africa being the main trade partners. Between the World Wars, substantial trade relationships developed between Japan and Uganda, as well as Egypt, both of which supplied cotton for the Japanese textile industry with Japan supplying manufactured goods.


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