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Angola president continues central bank shakeup, replaces deputy governors

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

LUANDA (Reuters) – Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos replaced two deputy central bank governors on Wednesday, his office said in a statement, the latest round of shake-ups at the bank as the oil-rich African country seeks assistance from the IMF.

Dos Santos in March appointed little-known Valter Filipe da Silva as Angola’s new central bank governor after José Pedro de Morais resigned.

His office said Gualberto Manuel Amaro Lima Campos and Cristina Florencia Dias Van-Dúnem had been dismissed and replaced by António Manuel Tiago Dias and Suzana Maria de Fátima Monteiro Camacho.

The economy of Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil exporter after Nigeria, has been hammered by the oil price fall, and the government is in talks with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund about possible financial assistance.

Three directors of the bank’s board were also dismissed and replaced.


(Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Dominic Evans)

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Egypt says foreign reserves rise to $17.011 bln at end-April

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

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s net foreign reserves rose to $17.011 billion at the end of April, the central bank said on Wednesday.

Reserves stood at $16.561 billion at the end of March.

Egypt had roughly $36 billion in reserves before an uprising in 2011 overthrew Hosni Mubarak and ushered in a period of political turmoil that scared away tourists and foreign investors, key sources of foreign exchange.

Last month the United Arab Emirates pledged $4 billion to Egypt, half in investments and the rest as a central bank deposit to support cash reserves.


(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Tunisia’s central bank holds key rate unchanged at 4.25%

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

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 4.25 percent, the spokesman of bank said on Friday.

The bank last cut its main interest rate in October, from 4.75 percent, in a bid to boost economic growth as inflation fell. Inflation was 4.9 percent in 2015, down from 5.5 percent in 2014.


(Reporting By Tarek Amara; editing by Patrick Markey)


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Kenya central bank to help banks that face liquidity pressure

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

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s central bank will provide a facility to any bank or microfinance institution that faces liquidity problems through no fault of its own, starting on Monday, Governor Patrick Njoroge said on Sunday.

Njoroge said the facility, for which he did not give the amount but said had no upper limit, would be available for as long as necessary to provide a sense of calm and reiterated that the financial sector was stable.

“From Monday, we will avail a facility to any bank or microfinance institution that comes under liquidity for no fault of its own. We will avail this facility for as long as is necessary,” Njoroge told a news conference.

Last week, the central bank put Chase Bank Kenya into receivership after its gross non-performing loans rose sharply last year.

The mid-sized bank was the third lender to be taken over by the central bank in nine months, fuelling worries over the health of the sector.

On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he supported central bank Njoroge’s actions to protect depositors’ money.

“We are really dealing with any fear, anxiety that is out there,” Njoroge said.


(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Zimbabwe’s central bank says excessive demand causing cash crunch

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

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s banks are limiting withdrawals as an excessive demand for cash has lead to shortages, the central bank chief said on Friday.

Zimbabwe ditched its currency in favour of the U.S. dollar after hyper-inflation scaled 500 billion percent in 2008, leaving it unable to print its own money.

A shortage of notes surfaced at the beginning of March, which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) initially said was caused by financial institutions underestimating demand and failing to improve distribution to branches.

On Friday, RBZ Governor John Mangudya told a parliament committee that the government had injected $145 million worth of cash into the financial system between Jan. 1 and April 6, while banks had imported $118 million.

“We don’t think the money is circulating … that money is not there in the banks,” Mangudya said. “There is excessive demand for cash. The appetite for holding cash in this country is very high.”

Banks have been limiting withdrawals to as low as $200, causing frustration among customers and discouraging deposits.

Most Zimbabweans earn a living in the informal sector and prefer cash transactions. Confidence in banks was also dented after hyper-inflation effectively wiped out savings.

In February Mangudya said companies and individuals in Zimbabwe had illegally exported $1.88 billion last year. He capped daily withdrawals at $10,000, saying amounts above that would require central bank approval.

Besides the U.S. dollar, Zimbabwe also allows use of South Africa’s rand, pound sterling, the euro and China’s yuan.


(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa and Janet Lawrence)

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Ghana presidency appoints Issahaku as new central bank governor

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

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s presidency appointed Abdul Issahaku as governor of the central bank on Monday, promoting the deputy governor to replace Henry Kofi Wampah, who is ending his four-year term early, a statement said.

The bank has worked to reduce inflation that has been persistently above government targets, just one of the problems facing a country following an International Monetary Fund aid programme to stabilise its economy.


(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Ghana central bank governor says he will retire end-March

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

ACCRA (Reuters) – Bank of Ghana governor Henry Kofi Wampah will retire at the end of March, he told Reuters on Tuesday, cutting short a four-year term during which he struggled to rein in inflation and stem the decline of the cedi currency.

Wampah, whose term officially ends on Aug. 5, said he had informed President John Mahama of his intention to leave early, adding that it would give his successor time to settle in before presidential and parliamentary elections planned for November.


(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Joe Bavier)

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Egypt bank CEOs purged as central bank sets 9-year term limit

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

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s central bank put a time limit on the tenures of CEOs of commercial lenders on Thursday, launching a purge of several top executives that puts it on a likely collision course with the country’s banking sector.

To help modernise the sector and “inject new blood”, chief executives of public and private banks as well as the heads of foreign banks operating in Egypt would have to step down after nine years, the central bank said in a statement.

The decision is the latest surprise by Tarek Amer, a central bank governor who has moved aggressively to bring dollars into a banking system starved of foreign currency and slow the rapid fall of the Egyptian pound on the black market.

The black market rate hovered at just below 10 Egyptian pounds to the dollar on Thursday compared with the official rate of 8.78 pounds per dollar.

Amer surprised markets in recent weeks by removing dollar deposit and withdrawal caps, devaluing the currency by 13 percent in a single day, declaring a more flexible exchange rate and injecting hundreds of millions of dollars despite critically low reserves.

The decision to cap CEO terms caused consternation among bankers who described it as an unexpected overreach into the private sector’s affairs.

“It’s going to have very bad consequences,” one senior finance official, who asked to be unnamed, said.

The rule will force eight top executives to resign their positions, a senior banking official told Reuters. They include Commercial International Bank’s Hisham Ezz al-Arab and Arab African International Bank’s Hassan Abdalla.

Shares in CIB were down 1.7 percent at 1126 GMT.

There was no immediate comments from the country’s leading banks on the measure, which drew criticism from Hany Tawik, head of Egypt Private Equity Association, a group that represents business community interests.

“This is interference in an essential right of the general assembly to appoint someone that is best suited for them. It’s my right as a shareholder to choose the head of the bank,” he said.

Others such as Angus Blair, the chief operating officer of Pharos Holding, said the move was positive.

“I like the new rule for bank CEOs since it should foster younger talent and help improve institutionalisation.”

The central bank’s foreign reserves have tumbled to $16.5 billion in February from around $36 billion before the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time leader Hosni Mubarak.

His fall from power and the political unrest that followed drove away tourists and foreign investors that were key sources of foreign currency.

Around 40 public and private sector banks operate in Egypt.

Both consecutive and non-consecutive CEO terms will count towards the nine-year limit, the central bank said.


(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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Nigeria central bank raises benchmark interest rate in surprise move

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

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s central bank unexpectedly raised the benchmark interest rate to 12 percent from 11 percent on Tuesday, changing gears to curb galloping inflation after cutting the rate only four months ago.

The bank also raised the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for commercial banks to 22.5 percent from 20 percent and it held the liquidity ratio at 30 percent, Governor Godwin Emefiele said.

Emefiele said after a meeting of its monetary policy committee that the central bank would keep the naira foreign exchange rate stable despite a sharp fall of the currency on the parallel market due to shortages of dollars.

Africa’s biggest economy is going through its worst economic crisis in years due to a slump in crude prices. Oil exports account for around 70 percent of national income.

Emefiele attributed the rate hike to the state of the economy and rising annual inflation, which hit 11.4 percent in February, a three-and-a-half year high and well above the central bank’s target band of 6 to 9 percent.

“The committee noted that excess liquidity in the banking system was contributing to the current pressure in the foreign exchange market with a strong path through to consumer prices,” he told reporters.

But some analysts saw the tightening of monetary policies as a signal that the bank would devalue the naira eventually. The currency has fallen some 40 percent on the parallel market as import firms struggle to get dollars from official channels.

“This definitely reflects a departure from policy in recent months and we interpret this as a leading indicator for a possible naira devaluation later down the line,” said Cobus de Hart, analyst at NKC African Economics.

“This may signal that the central bank is starting to lean towards tightening policy in anticipation of higher inflation following a devaluation,” he said.



Eighteen of 20 analysts polled by Reuters had expected the central bank to hold interest rates steady at 11 percent.

Alan Cameron, an economist at brokerage Exotix, said the central bank had raised the benchmark rate as the previous loosening of monetary policy had not given a fillip to the economy.

“I think there is a realisation the liquidity they have been injecting wasn’t turning into overall lending in the economy because the confidence is not very high, so it made sense to withdraw that.”

Emefiele also called for swift approval of the 2016 budget, which on Tuesday was put on the agenda of the upper house of parliament for debate.


(By Camillus Eboh. Reporting by Ulf Laessing, Alexis Akwagyiram, Chijioke Ohuoha and Oludare Mayowa; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Rwanda’s economic growth to slow to 6.3% this year

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

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda’s economic growth is likely to slow to 6.3 percent this year from an estimated 7 percent last year, mainly due to smaller expansions in the agriculture, construction and services sectors, the central bank chief said on Thursday.

Governor John Rwangombwa told a news conference the slower rate of expansion was partly due to the effects of El Gino rains.

“Agriculture has a big hand in that slight reduction from 7 percent to 6.3 percent,” he said, putting growth in the sector, one of the main drivers of the economy, at 5.1 percent this year compared with a projected 5.5 percent last year.

Rwangombwa said the service sector was expected to expand 7.1 percent this year after growing 7.3 percent in the first three quarters of last year.

He added the construction sector was also seen slowing compared with last year.

He said inflation was expected to remain within the 4.5 and 5.5 percent range during the year.

Rwanda’s urban inflation rate, a key indicator for the central bank, was unchanged at 4.5 percent in January compared with the previous month.


(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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