Latest Updates from Reuters

Nigeria planning $25 bil infrastructure fund

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

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria plans to set up a $25 billion infrastructure fund to invest in the transport and energy sectors in Africa’s most populous nation, a spokesman for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Thursday.

Laolu Akande said money for the planned fund would come from local and international sources including Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund and domestic pension funds.

“The vice president disclosed that other sovereign wealth funds have already indicated an interest in the fund, which would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures,” said Akande.

He did not say when exactly the fund would be set up.

The nation of 170 million people is Africa’s top oil producer, but it requires infrastructure development to help boost economic growth.

The West African nation’s economy, the biggest on the continent, has been hammered by the fall in oil prices. The country relies on crude exports for around 70 percent of government revenues.

Osinbajo, who has been asked to oversee economic policy by President Muhammadu Buhari, referred to the infrastructure fund proposals while speaking to diplomats, including ambassadors from Italy and Canada, the vice presidency said in a statement.

Osinbajo also reiterated the administration’s view that Nigeria’s currency, the naira, does not need to be devalued, the statement said.

“It is not a solution. We are not exporting significantly. The way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy,” he was quoted as saying.

His comments come days after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said Nigeria would have to devalue and loosen monetary policy to stimulate its economy.

The naira was officially devalued last November and underwent a de facto devaluation again in February.

Godwin Emefiele, the current central bank governor, has repeatedly said the currency was “appropriately” priced and has ruled out another naira devaluation.


(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Reuters)

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Egypt’s GB Auto says output resumes after 20-day stoppage

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian auto distributor GB Auto said on Thursday that production at some of its factories was halted for 20 days during September and October due to delays in supplies but is now back on track.

“GB Auto factories faced some turbulence in production during September and October due to delays of production input shipments which have led to the halting of production at some factories for 20 days,” the firm said in a bourse statement.

GB Auto said factories were now functioning in a “regular manner” due to the availability of production material.

Egypt is facing a currency shortage which is affecting the ability of businesses to import products.

GB Auto, Egypt’s largest listed auto assembler and distributor and the country’s distributor of tuk-tuks and motorbikes made by India’s Bajaj, has been affected by the currency crisis like many other companies in the country.

In August, the firm posted a 65 percent drop in its second-quarter net profit and said the currency shortage has depleted its inventory of some key models.

GB Auto made 22.4 million Egyptian pounds ($2.79 million) in the second quarter compared with 63.6 million in the same period a year earlier. [nL5N10L2EX]

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, editing by David Evans, Reuters)


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Shell upbeat on Gabon Leopard Marin discovery, sees gas play

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell’s Leopard Marin discovery offshore Gabon may be a new commercial gas field, a senior company executive said on Thursday.

“Leopard is the first potentially commercial multi-TCF (trillion cubic feet) find in a new gas play and I think that is very exciting for us and for the government of Gabon,” Alastair Milne, Shell’s vice president exploration for Sub-Saharan Africa, told an industry conference in Cape Town.

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Burundi’s tea revenues up 64% in nine months to September

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KIGALI (Reuters) – Burundi’s earnings from tea were up by nearly 64 percent in the last nine months as sales volumes and prices increased, boosted by a drop in Kenya’s output, a tea board official said on Wednesday.

Production in Kenya, the world leading exporter of black tea, can influence the regional market, while Burundi exports 80 percent of its tea through a regional weekly auction held in Mombasa.

Burundi’s state-run tea board (OTB) said it earned $27.3 million between January and September, up from $16.7 million in the same period last year and ahead of the $21.3 million it earned in the whole of 2014.

Exports are up at 8,959,321 kg of tea this year from 7,743,972 kg last year.

The tea industry has emerged largely unscathed from several months of political unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s contested third term in office that has affected other sectors of the country’s fragile economy.

Tea is Burundi’s second-largest hard currency earner after coffee and employs some 300,000 smallholder growers in a nation of 10 million people.

“The combination of higher sales and a decline of Kenya’s tea production has boosted prices as well as earnings for Burundi’s tea,” OTB’s head of exports, Joseph Marc Ndahigeze, told Reuters.

The average export price per kg jumped to $3.05 from $2.16 in 2014, OTB said in its report.


(Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana; Editing by Edith Honan, Greg Mahlich, Reuters)

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Mauritius 3-year Treasury bond yield rises to 4.56%

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PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The weighted average yield on Mauritius’s three-year Treasury bond rose to 4.56 percent on Wednesday from 4.51 percent at a sale of a similar bond on Oct. 21, the central bank said.

Bank of Mauritius sold all the 1 billion rupees ($28.04 million) worth of debt it had offered. Bids totalled 2.625 billion rupees, with yield offers ranging from 4.25 percent to 5.14 percent.

The bond has a coupon rate of 3.72 percent and is due on Aug. 21, 2018.


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Total to resume South African offshore drilling next year

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – French oil major Total is expected to resume drilling offshore South Africa in the second half of 2016, part of a broader campaign to explore in Africa, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Total last year stopped drilling off the southern coast of South Africa after experiencing mechanical problems with its rig during high winds and rough seas in the Outeniqua Basin, about 175 km (109 miles) off the southern coast of South Africa.

“Our plan is to drill next year but only if those conditions are met. I think it is better to think second half than first half,” Kevin Mclachlan, Total’s senior vice president for exploration told Reuters on the sidelines of an African oil and gas conference in Cape Town.

Total is the operator of Block 11B/12B, where it holds a 50 percent stake in the field with equal partner CNR International, a subsidiary of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

Mclachlan said the company planned to drill between 10-15 wells over the next three years across the continent, including in Africa’s top two oil producers Nigeria and Angola.


(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia, Reuters)

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EgyptAir to launch 10-year restructuring plan

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DUBAI (Reuters) – EgyptAir, the state-owned flag carrier, is in final stages of launching an overhaul and expansion plan that will reverse its downturn and propel it towards growth, its chairman said on Tuesday.

“We’re developing a 10-year restructuring plan, which should be finalised by mid-December,” Sherif Fathi Attia, chairman and chief executive of EgyptAir Holding told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Abu Dhabi. Attia is optimistic the plan will get government approval.

The plan includes a network and fleet expansion and Attia said the airline could place aircraft orders in the first quarter of 2016. He said wide-body aircraft would account for 20 to 30 percent of its total order.

The airline has struggled to make a profit, facing setbacks during the 2008 financial crisis, which was followed by the turmoil after the overthrow of then-president Hosni Mubarak.

EgyptAir reported an annual loss of 2.20 million Egyptian pounds at the end of June 2011, the last results the group published since the revolution.

The turnaround project, that could see changes in middle-management, aims for profitability at the end of the current fiscal year.

Attia ruled out initial public offering for the company, which had previously been under consideration.

EgyptAir is part of a group of seven companies which includes EgyptAir Cargo. It currently has a fleet of about 66 aircraft and flies to about 162 countries.

(By By Nadia Saleem, Reuters)

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Kenya’s Housing Finance Jan-Sept pretax profit up 7%

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kenya housing finance

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan mortgage lender Housing Finance Group posted a 7 percent rise in nine-month pretax profit on Tuesday, helped by growth in net interest income.

Pretax profit rose to 1.1 billion shillings ($10.8 million)for the nine months to Sept. 30. Net interest income rose 24 percent to 2.72 billion shillings, it said in a statement.

Housing Finance said net loans and advances to customers rose to 51.71 billion shillings from 43.27 billion shillings, with net non-performing loans falling by a fifth to 2.7 billion shillings.

Housing Finance’s earnings per share fell to 2.98 shillings from 4.15 shillings in the same period last year. It declared a dividend per share of 0.65 shillings, down from 0.75 shillings.

It did not give a reason for the fall in earnings per share, but it conducted a rights issue in March in which it offered 116.67 million new shares, raising 2.95 billion shillings.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Anand Basu, Reuters)

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South Africa’s rand firmer after weak U.S. data, stocks fall

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand recovered from three week lows on Monday, aided by a weak greenback after softer than expected U.S. new home sales dropped to near one-year low while stocks fell, led by telecommunications provider MTN.

At 1500 GMT the rand firmed 0.23 percent to 13.6080 per dollar, after touching its weakest since October 6 on Friday as upbeat manufacturing data from the United States put bets of a rate hike there back on the table.

Yields on government bonds were down across the curve, with the benchmark paper due in 2026 shedding 0.5 basis point to 8.345 percent.

The greenback dipped as a steeper-than-forecast drop in new home sales stirred doubts about the U.S. economic recovery ahead of a two-day policy meeting of the Federal Reserve, where policy makers are expected to keep rates unchanged.

While there has been an improvement in risk appetite in the near term, traders warned that the rand could be under pressure no matter what the Fed decides with plenty of local negativity available for investors to latch on to.

“Unfortunately, rand strength will be limited. There might be some after the Fed comes out with a no hike in interest rate but it’s probably going to be short lived,” said Ion de Vleeschauwer a chief forex dealer at Bidvest Bank.

“The rand has got its own problems,” he said citing South Africa’s strained economy. “You need economic growth for people to invest in your economy and if you don’t have it, they will disinvest.”

On the stock market, the blue-chip Top 40 index fell 0.47 percent to 48,569 points while the All-share index slipped 0.27 percent to 54,150 dragged by telecommunications provider MTN.

Shares in Africa’s largest mobile operator fell more than 15 percent but closed 12.49 percent lower at 167 rand, after its Nigerian operation was fined $5.2 billion for failing to disconnect subscribers with unregistered and incomplete SIM cards.

“Whenever the Nigerian regulator steps up enforcement, MTN takes a hammering,” Africa Analysis telecoms analyst, Dobel Pater said.

MTN said it was in discussions with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to resolve the matter.

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Cameroon inflation rises but can still hit 3% target

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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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