China has said it seeks more crude oil exports from Nigeria in spite of the recent changes in oil prices.
Zao LingXiang, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja. The total amount of export to China was only about one million barrels in 2015 that was just 1.3 per cent of Nigerian annual oil export.
"In my opinion, it really doesn't matter whether Iran comes back or not; Chinese companies want to import more crude oil from Nigeria," he said. He said that current trade volume between both countries stood at $14.94 billion in 2014 making Nigeria third largest trade partner of China in Africa.
The economic counsellor added that Nigeria's trade figure was 8.3 per cent of China's total trade volume with Africa and 42 per cent of the total trade volume between China and Africa. He said that China also sought to explore other areas of cooperation with Nigeria which he noted would be of benefit to both parties.
"China is the largest developing country in the world and Nigeria is the largest developing country in Africa and both countries have complementary advantages in natural and human resources, funds and markets.
"Right now, the Nigerian Government is trying to diversify its economy which is fully in line with the 10 China-Africa cooperation plans announced at the summit on China-Africa trade in Johannesburg in 2015. "There are great potential for cooperation between China and Nigeria in the fields of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure construction, financial services, trade and investment facilitation, among others."
He, however, added that both countries had made "remarkable achievements" in the areas of infrastructure cooperation. He said that the coming visit of President Muhammad Buhari to China in April would facilitate the implementation of agreements reached at the 2015 China-African summit in Johannesburg.
The economic counsellor further added that the president's visit would also deepen cooperation between both countries. Mr. LinXiang explained that the total investment volume between China and Africa exceeded $100 billion in 2015 in spite of the decline in imports from Africa.
He also assured that Africa remained China's largest trade partner despite recent changes in that country's economy. "The amount in import from Africa to China declined but did not decline remarkably. "Moreover, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa is not only about trade but technical cooperation as well.
"China's total investment volume in Africa last year increased by 100 times more in a short span of 10 years, which shows that cooperation between both parties is moving to a new level," he said.
The cedi is expected to remain flat this week on an expected central bank dollar sale, while the Zambian kwacha is expected to marginally firm, supported by dollar inflows from companies making tax payments.
Ghana's cedi is expected to remain flat this week on an expected central bank dollar sale to offset increased demand as businesses mobilise funds for their end-of-quarter import bills, analysts said.
The local unit weakened nearly 4 percent in January on seasonal high corporate dollar demand, but it has since recovered the losses. It was trading at 3.8450 to the dollar by 1120 GMT on Thursday, up from 3.8900 last two weeks and down 1.2 percent year-to-date.
"There is a growing (dollar) demand towards end of quarter commitments that could put pressure on the cedi, but this is likely to be counter-balanced by expected central bank sales," said Accra-based Dortis Research analyst Joseph Biggles Amponsah.
The kwacha is expected to marginally firm this week, supported by dollar inflows from companies paying taxes due today March 14.
At 1242 GMT, the commercial banks quoted the currency of Africa's second-biggest copper producer at 11.370 per dollar, the same level from a week ago. "We might start seeing some activity as we head towards mid-month as corporates start converting to meet mid-month obligations," analysts at BancABC said in a note.
The Nigerian naira is seen flat against the dollar on both the parallel and official interbank markets this week, as buyers continue to resist further depreciation of the local currency on the black market and central bank maintains control over the currency.
The local currency was quoted at 320 to the dollar at the end of last week, broadly flat compared with the 310 to the dollar in previous week on the parallel market. The naira was trading around the peg rate of 197.5 to the dollar on the official window. "The recent gains in oil price at the global market has raised hope that the local currency may no longer be under much pressure, staving off devaluation threat," one trader said.
Traders said most currency buyers are not willing to pay higher for the dollar at the black market because of the government stands on devaluation and possible support for the naira by rising global oil price.
The Ugandan shilling could strengthen a little over the week, helped by thin corporate demand and the central bank mopping up liquidity. At 1043 GMT commercial banks quoted the shilling at 3,345/3,355 stronger than last Thursday's close of 3,360/3,370. A trader from a leading commercial bank said the shilling would oscillate between 3,325-3,375, though tending toward a stronger side.
"Generally low demand and the central bank taking out of excess liquidity will feed a bullish bias for the (local) unit," the trader said, referring to Bank of Uganda's 408 billion Ugandan shillings repurchase agreement (repo) on Thursday.
The Tanzanian shilling is expected to strengthen slightly against the dollar in the days ahead, helped by a slowdown in demand for the U.S. currency from importers. Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 2,184/2,194 to the dollar on Thursday, unchanged from a week ago.
"We expect the shilling to gain strength as we are approach the end of the first quarter," said Hakim Sheikh, head of trading at Commercial Bank of Africa Tanzania.
Kenya's shilling is expected to remain stable against the dollar this week, boosted by interest in a bond sale. "The shilling will be well-supported," said one trader at a commercial bank, saying the shilling was likely to remain in a range of 101-30 to 101-80. By 1043 GMT on Thursday, the shilling was quoted at 101.30/50, compared with previous week of 101.30/40.
Kenya's central bank will receive bids for re-opened 10-year and 15-year Treasury bonds worth 25 billion shillings ($246.79 million) between March 4 and March 15, and auction them on March 16.
World Bank has announced that it will release MK3billion ($4million) to fund Community Savings and Investment Promotion (Comsip) in Malawi for the next two years from 2016 to 2018.
The bank’s Senior Operations Officer, Ivan Drabek said after assessing some of the projects the bank is funding in Malawi that he was satisfied to see lives of people transforming through services offered by Comsip and other organizations.
Despite little resources the organization was using for the services, the work on the ground is very great and it is beyond our expectation, he said. He assured government and the people that the bank will continue to support the country’s projects which are meant to alleviate poverty.
Comsip Executive Director Tenson Gondwe commended the bank for the support it renders to uplift the living standards of people of Malawi. Many lives of people in rural areas have been transformed for the better through various programs offered by Comsip he said.
The organization which is the umbrella body of all cooperatives in the country is implementing programs in economic empowerment, nutrition, health and value addition.
- Star Africa News
The city of Yaounde is set to host the Nigeria-Cameroon Economic, Financial and Cultural Show (NICAMEX) from 12 to 19 July, its organizers confirmed to APA on Friday.
The exposition is geared toward promoting Made in Cameroon products and accentuating the country’s claim as a fine destination for investors emanating from its great neighbour.
The Africa Business Club, the organizer of the exposition said 2,000 participants will be drawn from the two countries, crammed in a total of 250 stands; strengthened by the presence of over 25,000 visitors. NICAMEX 2016 will include a series of â€˜Business to Government (B2A) meetings for direct talks with the highest Nigerian administrative authorities, and Business to Business (B2B) sessions for face-to-face encounters between importing partners or trademark representatives.
The itinerary of the exhibition will also include Business to Consumer (B2C) meetings to allow companies to reassert their reputation to their customers and visitors.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Finance, in 2014, Nigeria was Cameroon’s leading trading partner in West Africa, accounting for 42 percent of its exports and 61 percent of imports, followed by Ivory Coast (28 percent).
Nigeria, holding 11.5 percent of global trade, was also Cameroon’s second largest bilateral trading partner after China and ahead of Spain, France, India and the Netherlands. In terms of the overall balance of payments, it was in deficit with Nigeria (-CFA 570.7 billion) from CFA 414.2 billion in 2013.
As for key suppliers, Nigeria also ranked second behind China and ahead of France. Significantly, Cameroon and Nigeria are currently waging a joint military campaign against the Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose fighters have been very active on both sides of their common border for more than three years.
- Star Africa News
Kenya Airways expects to report an improvement in operating profit and narrower losses for the year ending in March because of savings made by reducing the size of its fleet and lower fuel costs, its chief executive officer said.
Mbuvi Ngunze also told Reuters that the airline expects to receive the second $100 million tranche of its $200 million bridging loan within a month, part of a broader plan to keep the carrier flying after three and a half years of financial losses.
The airline, one of Africa's biggest carriers, is also considering cutting the number of staff after a review of staffing needs, he said without giving details.
Kenya Airways, which is 26.7 percent owned by Air France KLM, reported a pretax loss of 29.7 billion shillings ($293 million) for its financial year to end of March 2015, the third straight year of losses. But losses narrowed in the six months to September.
"The loss will reduce but we will of course have some big hits," the CEO said in an interview, citing the weakening of the Kenyan shilling by more than 10 percent against the dollar last year. Operating profit "will see an improvement this year," he said. "Fuel is a big driver clearly but we have also been working a lot on cost reduction, we have cut back capacity."
Last year, the airline drew down $100 million of a bridging loan from Cairo-based Afreximbank. Ngunze said the airline was in final discussions to release the second tranche. "In the next month we should be able to draw down," he said.
Ngunze said he expected transaction adviser PJT Partners to outline a plan for new debt and equity funds by the end of April, with cash raising to take six to nine months after that.
- Reuters News
The country has a squeaky-clean image outside its borders, with Accra recently making the New York Times’s list of top destinations in the world. But, as the country marks 59 years of independence, some local activists and others hold a different view. The New York Times’s Lydia Polgreen reported in 2008 that although Ghana is an example since its transition to democracy in 1992,
some people here worry that the country’s image as a bastion of peace and democracy is merely a sign of the low expectations outsiders have for Africa.
There is a perception among many Ghanaians of corruption and growing inequality. Tangible evidence of progress remains elusive for nearly half the population.
There can be little doubt that Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana played an inspirational role in Africa and among pan-Africanists such as WEB Du Bois and Malcolm X when it became the first sub-Saharan colony to gain independence, on March 6 1957.
It is unsettling today to listen to Nkrumah’s speeches of the early 1960s. One is forced to recognise just how much he understood about the complex political terrain at that critical juncture in modern African history, as well as the challenges he faced at home and abroad.
Nkrumah’s vision of national liberation was of a united and prosperous Africa. This would present the greatest obstacle to European influence by lessening territorial disputes and ensure individual nations did not become subject to external manipulation.
He took bold action as a statesman, calling on the United Nations to urge all European nations to decolonise Africa by December 31 1962. To break the chains of imperialism, Nkrumah thought that Africa needed unfettered capacity to develop its own strong industrial power. In this way it would avoid falling into the trap of supplying Europe with cheap natural resources. He appealed to leaders of independent African nations not to become pawns in the game of Cold War “diplomacy”.
Unfortunately, Nkrumah’s dream soon soured. Despite his attempts to industrialise and diversify the economy, his government found it difficult to solve the economic, political and social problems that were the legacy of colonial rule. In addition, poorly executed plans to build an industrial economy drained the country’s treasury and hobbled its growth.
In only a few years, his popularity waned due to economic pressures, external interference and his own increasingly corrupt dictatorship. After 1961 there were several assassination attempts on Nkrumah and in 1964 he banned all opposition parties. The economy collapsed after multiparty democracy gave way to single-party rule.
In 1966 Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by a military coup, reportedly carried out with the help of the CIA. When his calls to overthrow this new military regime went unheeded, Nkrumah went into exile in Guinea, where he died a bitter man in 1972.
One of Africa’s greatest novelists, the Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah, captured the ethos of this disenchantment in his early novels, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) and Fragments (1969). They offer a pessimistic assessment of independence and suggest that national liberation did not deliver meaningful freedom to the majority of Ghanaians.
February 2016, the 50th anniversary of Nkrumah’s overthrow, was dubbed “Marking Ghana’s Day of Shame”, evoking the remorse many Ghanaians feel about Nkrumah’s demise.
There are mixed impressions of Nkrumah as a national figure. They are based largely on ideological differences and regional interests among the educated political and intellectual elite. The anti-Nkrumah group — represented first by the United Gold Coast Convention, then by the United Party — saw Nkrumah’s overthrow as a necessary action in defence of freedom and the rule of law.
For nearly a decade after the United Party assumed power it sought to obliterate memories of Nkrumah. It did so by destroying monuments, burning his books and proscribing any mention of his name. So poisoned was the political climate against him during the Second Republic, which began in 1969, that people could not wear shirts bearing Nkrumah’s name. While this sentiment still exists, many Ghanaians have risen above minority parochial interests.
A shift in public perception began in the 1980s. Nkrumah started to be credited for his visionary leadership. Plans were later made to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth date (September 21 1909). In 1994 he received an official reburial in a purpose-built mausoleum in Accra and his birthday is now incorporated into national rituals of commemoration. It is not uncommon, these days, to hear Ghanaians say that
Nkrumah would be turning and weeping in his grave if he saw us now.
For his supporters, Nkrumah was a visionary whose worst mistake was seeking to drag an unwilling nation to the promised land of economic development and prosperity. Many remember Nkrumah for his improvement of roads, schools, hospitals, factories and building the Akosombo Dam and the Tema Harbour. Some of the infrastructure he provided still serves many sectors of the country’s economy.
Regrettably though, many of Nkrumah’s long-term goals for development and his vision for a unified and prosperous Africa never came to fruition.
And yet, in the years since Nkrumah was deposed, Ghana has outperformed other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the United Nations, all the key human development indicators — life expectancy, income and schooling — have improved since 1980. Nevertheless Ghana was ranked only 140 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Report. Inequality is an issue and poverty remains a big challenge.
The terrain has shifted considerably since Nkrumah’s heyday as the prophet of African national liberation. Still, some aspects of his revolutionary vision appear remarkably clairvoyant, starting with the politics of the foreign extraction of Africa’s natural resources and the need for new industries. This independence anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on how this controversial past continues to have an effect on the present – and on possibilities for charting a new way forward.
Francis Mbawini Abugbilla, a Master’s student (Francophone Studies) at the University of Arizona, contributed to this article.
Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr Ishmael Ackah, is advocating for an agricultural investment plan that will yield meaningful returns to the economy.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum on the 2016 budget allocation to the agricultural sector in Takoradi, he said various allocations to the dominant economic sector has failed to yield the required output due to the absence of a strategic investment plan.
The plan, he said, will also guide the judicious use of resources as well as put to check instances where monies for the sector are pushed into non-agric projects. “The existence of an agriculture investment plan would ensure that resources would be channelled into strategic segments of the sector which would yield fruitful returns.
“In the 2014 agriculture budget for instance, about 70 per cent of it went into the construction of four sea defence wall projects, instead of food crop production, hence the dwindling fortunes in the sector,” he said. The event which was organised by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in collaboration with SEND-Ghana, brought together small-holder farmers from the Eastern, Central and Western Regions who deliberated on the agriculture component of the budget.
Growth in the agriculture sector has declined, recording growth of 7.4 per cent in 2008 followed with 7.2 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
There was a rise 2012 to 2.3 percent, 5 per cent in 2013 and then reverted to its declining trend, recording 4.6 per cent in 2014 and 0.04 per cent in 2015. Dr Ackah said the government should adopt cost-effective measures such as the use of solar panels for irrigation projects in the sector to increase food crop production.
Google South Africa announced that it’s possible to discover more of the beautiful country via an initiative called “South Africa: The Mzansi Experience”.
The project uses Google Street View via Google Maps to let potential tourists to take virtual tours of some of the country’s most appealing sights and locations.
The company made creative use of its Street View Tripod and Trekker technology, and captured 360-degree imagery that lets visitors experience things like seeing a family of elephants in the Kruger National Park, take a virtual walk on Table Mountain and pay a visit to Signal Hill using nothing more than their internet-connected phones, tablets and computers.
Google’s Mich Atagana said of the initiative that “We are launching this imagery on Google Maps as part of a campaign to showcase the beauty of South Africa as a tourist destination for local and international travelers. South Africa is home to some of the top tourist destinations in the world, home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and home to the Kruger National Park – one of Africa’s largest game reserves. This imagery seeks to showcase the beauty of the country to those who are interested in virtually traveling here, and will hopefully to inspire them to visit in person.”
Of course, the tech giant couldn’t have done this without the help of SANParks. In a press statement, acting head of communications at SANParks, Reynold Thakhuli, said “SANParks is proud to partner with Google Maps, making use of its technology to improve accessibility to South Africa’s natural heritage. Over the last few months, Google Maps has been collecting imagery in a number of national parks in order to bring a broad spectrum of the public closer to exciting wilderness features than they have ever been before.”
Potential tourists from 66 countries have access to the tours as of today. If you’d like to check it out – and who wouldn’t? – you can find everything you need on Google Streetview
There is no going back on consolidating mining activities at Chiadzwa and a number of concessions in the area have already been registered under the new entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, a Cabinet minister has said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday said companies holding concessions of strategic minerals for speculative purposes would lose them once amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act were approved.
He made the remarks while delivering a lecture on the challenges and prospects of reviving the mining sector at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare. "Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is a company that we registered a few months ago and it is a company under which a number of concessions have now been registered," Minister Chidhakwa said.
"What used to be the Kusena concessions have now been put under ZCDC, what used to be the Gye-Nyame concessions have been put under them and all the other concessions have been registered under them." Government recently ordered the companies mining in Chiadzwa to cease operations and vacate the area within three months. Only Marange Resources, which is wholly owned by Government, was spared.
Minister Chidhakwa said Government was putting in place structures for the new diamond entity. "We have carried out interviews for the five portals that are going to have mining activities for ZCDC and there will obviously be a mine manager and his entire team," he said. "They are not separate legal entities, they are divisions of ZCDC and report directly to ZCDC. I'm happy to report that the activities of Marange Resources are now being incorporated into ZCDC and mining continues. We continue to produce. Yesterday (Wednesday), I went to see the production that has taken place over the last week and I'm reasonably satisfied that we are in the right direction.
"At the end of the month, we will have our next auction, which I believe is going to be a significant size auction and after that we are hoping that our auctions will be bigger." Some of the affected companies such as Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments have taken Government to court, challenging its decision. Said Minister Chidhakwa: "If this economy is going to recover, it will do so because we are selfless. It will do so because we recognise that we exist in a national context; that we have got other people who also have a right to the mineral resources of this country. Not just you!
"That is why we are moving irrevocably towards seeing that the diamonds of this country do not belong to you, to me. They belong to us all and they must be owned by the State. If there is a thinking that we will take a step back, go and tell whoever is dreaming that we will not do that."
He said the proposed Mines and Mineral Act would contain a "use it or lose it policy" to deal with companies holding concessions -- of any strategic mineral for notional purposes.
"We will dismantle structures we inherited from the colonial era," Minister Chidhakwa said. "We have already given notices to the companies that they cannot hold onto land just for speculative purposes. You were given land to mine it, and if you cannot mine it we will take it back. These are the things that will go into the Act so that we democratise access to land for mining."
Minister Chidhakwa said the proposed law would ensure farmers and miners co-existed, while mining companies would also be required to adhere to set environmental regulations. "People are used to digging, get what they want and we handover to the next generation of Zimbabwe a country that has been mutilated," he said.
"We will be putting strong structures that will enable us to cover for the dongas, even if you abandon and run away. It will be mining with rehabilitation this time."
Source: The Herald Zimbabwe
The South African telecom firm, Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN), has proposed a slash of the $5.2billion fine imposed on it by Nigerian authorities to $1.5 billion.
The hefty fine was imposed last year by the telecom regulator, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) after MTN failed to to meet the deadline to deregister 5.1 million improperly registered SIM cards on its network. The fine was cut down to $3.9billion after the firm entered into negotiations with government, but as the deadline to pay up approached, it filed a suit to contest NCC's powers to fine it.
Last week, however, MTN withdrew the matter from court and paid an initial N50billion($251m), and is now requesting that the overall fine be further reduced to $1.5billion, about N300billion.
However, the Senate Committee on Communication yesterday condemned the manner in which the out-of-court settlement arrangement between the federal government and the (MTN) was being conducted. The Senate also kicked against the alleged exclusion of the Ministry of Communication and the NCC from discussions on the issue.
At an open investigative hearing on the matter convened by the Committee at the National Assembly Thursday, the lawmakers expressed shock that an account in the name of "recovery account" was opened for the N50 billion fine paid by the MTN as part of the negotiation.
The committee was also worried that a proposal initiated by the MTN for the reduction of the fine to N300 billion had been accepted by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation even without recourse to the Ministry of Justice and the NCC. It also emerged at the hearing that an initial 25 per cent reduction of the initial N1.04 trillion fine to N780 billion was on the orders of the president.
A document displayed by the committee regarding the proposal from MTN showed that the telecommunication service provider would pay N300 billion, but in installments. According to the document, the N50 billion already paid is part of this amount. The parties have agreed that the N50 billion paid in good faith and without prejudice by MTN Nigeria on the 24th on February 2016, in order to commence settlement negotiations, will form part of the monetary components of this settlement.
In five equal and annual instalments between the date of execution of this agreement and December 31, 2020, MTN Nigeria shall pay a total of N100 billion by electronic funds transfer to the federal government recovery account of the Central Bank of Nigeria. This payment will commence by 31 December, 2016, and will be made by 31 December of each subsequent year."
The proposal stated that the MTN would buy N80 billion of Nigeria's foreign bond. The proposal, which the committee said it got from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, was admitted by MTN.
It states in part: "As a demonstration of its commitment to, and confidence in the Nigerian economy, and subject to necessary regulatory approvals, MTN Nigeria commits to purchase N80 billion of Nigerian Sovereign Debt issued on international market in 2016 to 2017." The proposal also showed that MTN would provide Nigeria with access to the company's fibre network for the purpose of allowing the federal government to expand its e-initiatives to the tune of N70 billion.
Defending himself on the allegation of opening the recovery account, the accountant-general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, said he acted on the demand of the attorney-general of the federation, adding that he was never aware of what money was going to be put in the account. Representative of the attorney-general of the federation, Mr Dayo Akpata, tried in vain to convince the committee about the wisdom in opening the account.
The committee simply insisted that the attorney-general must appear in person before it within two weeks to explain the action. Chairman of the committee, Senator Gilbert Nnaji, had earlier explained the mission of the committee regarding the investigation.
"As a committee, we find it worrisome, on one hand, that the issue of compliance on the part of MTN could linger till now and, on the other hand, that N50 billion was claimed to have been paid by MTN out of reduced fine of N780 billion.
"Empowered by Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the power of oversight over our nation's telecoms landscape, it becomes imperative for the Committee to wade into the matter with special attention to the controversy surrounding the payment of N50 billion by MTN, which accounts for a paltry 6.4% of the total reduced fine of N780 billion.
"In fulfilling our mandate of oversight, we are shocked to gather from the regulator i.e. NCC, that the Commission neither received the payment of the said N50 billion nor was it notified of such payment There were claims and counter-claims on the pages of newspapers that the Honourable Minister of Communications Technology had acknowledged the payment, while other source claimed that MTN paid the money into Central Bank of Nigeria's Recovery Account.
"This is the crux of today's meeting: to establish the veracity of this payment and to which account was it paid, if paid. This is one transaction that has generated public suspicion compelling the committee to invite all relevant stakeholders to this meeting for adequate clarifications to be made on the issue.
"Issues emanating from the foregoing are: Into which account did MTN pay the N50 billion and which government agency acknowledged the payment? If MTN actually paid, why did it disregard payment into NCC's coffers as statutorily obliged? If MTN paid into CBN's Recovery Account, on whose directive did the network do so and what legal right does CBN have to lodge the money in a Recovery Account?
These and many more are posers that this meeting seeks to unravel for Nigerians to know the true picture of the situation," Senator Nnaji said.
Credit: Leadership Nigeria