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Displaying items by tag: Angola

Angola’s President João Lourenço annulled the winning tender for the country’s fourth telecoms operating license and ordered it be re-run to ensure “a clean and transparent process,” his office said.

The move comes less than a week after an unknown Angolan company, Telstar Telecomunicacoes, won the tender first announced shortly after Lourenço’s inauguration in 2017 and heralded then as part of an opening up of one of Africa’s most closed economies.

 

- Reuters

Published in Telecoms

Much has been made about China’s role and profile in Africa and the factors underlying its activities on the continent. Less debated is the spread and depth of Russia’s contemporary presence and profile in Africa.

There was a strong Russian influence in Africa during the heyday of the Soviet Union. The post-independence governments of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Benin at some point all received diplomatic or military support from the Soviet Union.

But this began to change after the superpower started to collapse in December 1991. More than a quarter of a century later Russia’s President Vladimir Putin seems to have new aspirations in Africa. This is in line with his desire to restore Russia to great power status.

Putin places a high premium on geopolitical relations and the pursuit of Russian assertiveness in the global arena. This includes reestablishing Russia’s sphere of influence, which extends to the African continent.

Like Beijing, Moscow’s method of trade and investment in Africa is without the prescriptions or conditionalities of actors like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Russia is gradually increasing its influence in Africa through strategic investment in energy and minerals. It’s also using military muscle and soft power.

Increasingly, the pressing question is: is the relationship between China and Africa as good for Africa as it is for China? The same question applies to Russia-Africa relations.

Energy and minerals

Interaction between Russia and Africa has grown exponentially this century, with trade and investment growing by 185% between 2005 and 2015.

Economically, much of Russia’s focus in Africa centres on energy. Key Russian investments in Africa are in the oil, gas and nuclear power sectors.

The fact that 620 million people in Africa don’t have electricity provides Russia’s nuclear power industry with potential markets. Several Russian companies, such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are active in Africa. Most activity is in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria and Uganda. In Egypt, negotiations have already been finalised with Moscow for the building of the country’s first nuclear plant .

These companies are mostly state-run, with investments often linked to military and diplomatic interests.

Moscow’s second area of interest is Africa’s mineral riches. This is particularly evident in Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and the Central African Republic.

In Zimbabwe, Russia is developing one of the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metals.

Russia has also been reestablishing links with Angola, where Alrosa, the Russian giant, mines diamonds. Discussions between Russia and Angola have also focused on hydrocarbon production.Uranium in Namibia is another example.

Russia’s current controversial involvement in the Central African Republic (CAR) began in 2017, when a team of Russian military instructors and 170 “civilian advisers” were sent by Moscow to Bangui to train the country’s army and presidential guard. Shortly after that, nine weapons shipments arrived in the CAR.

Interest in the country has focused on exploring its natural resources on a concession basis. The murder of three Russian journalists in a remote area of the country last year focused the world’s attention on what looked like a Kremlin drive for influence and resources.

Military influence and diplomacy

Russia is the second largest exporter of arms globally, and a major supplier to African states. Over the past two decades it has pursued military ties with various African countries, such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Military ties are linked to bilateral military agreements as well as providing boots on the ground in UN peacekeeping operations. Combined, China and Russia outnumber the other permanent members of the UN Security Council in contributing troop to UN peacekeeping efforts.

Russia has also been actively supporting Zimbabwe. Shortly after it was reported in 2018 that China had placed new generation surface-to-air missiles in Zimbabwe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that his country was pursuing military cooperation.

Significantly, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country may need Russia’s help with the modernisation of its defence force during a recent visit to Moscow.

Russia, Africa and the future

Both Russia and China are keen to play a future role in Africa. The difference between these two major powers is that China forms part of the Asian regional economy. This will surpass North America and Europe combined, in terms of global power - based on GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment.

China and India have sustained impressive economic growth over many years. And, their enormous populations make them two world powers of extraordinary importance. Growth prospects for the Russian economy, on the other hand, remain modest - between 1.5% and 1.8% a year for 2018-2010, against the current global average rate of 3.5% a year.

Still, Russia remains a major power in global politics. For African leaders, the key word is agency and the question is how to play the renewed Russian attention to their countries’ advantage, and not to fall victim to the contemporary “geopolitical chess” game played by the major powers on the continent.The Conversation

 

Theo Neethling, Professor and Head: Political Studies and Governance in the Humanities Faculty, University of the Free State

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
Sunday, 25 November 2018 06:57

Portugal to help Angola recover embezzled funds

The Portuguese prime minister António Costa said his country’s authorities will support Angola in fight against corruption, as pledged by the president João Lourenço.

António Costa made the pledge at a joint press conference held at the Palácio da Bolsa in Oporto, Portugal.

The premier said that Portuguese Government position is also shared by the President of Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

In terms of foreign policy, the Government and President of the Republic always think exactly the same thing, he told a press conference, also attended by the Angolan Head of State, João Lourenço.

The head of the Portuguese Government pledged the Portugal’s full cooperation to bring the money back to Angola. António Costa spoke of the need of carrying out the money repatriation process between the two countries, but he cautioned that the process should not undermine the stability of the financial system.

As for the Angolan debts to Portuguese companies, António Costa stated that there are 200 million Euros in certified (identified) debts and 100 million as having been settled. However, he praised the work performed by Angolan authorities focused on solution of pressing issues.

President João Lourenço had last week travelled to Oporto city, as part of his three-day 22-24 November visit to Portugal.

 

- ANGOP

Published in Economy

The operations last week against migrants triggered clashes between Congolese, security forces and local Angolans.

Life fell apart last week for mother of four Dorcas who was among 200,000 Congolese attacked and then forcibly thrown out of neighbouring Angola despite having lived there for a decade.

Speaking in Kamako, a frontier town in southern Democratic Republic of Congo, the woman in her forties said she and her husband had made their lives in the Angolan border town of Lupaca until the nightmare began.

“There were rumours circulating that the Angolan authorities would be expelling foreigners,” from Lunda Norte province which borders on DRC, she said.

Congolese migrants who were living in Angola carry belongings near the Congolese border town of Kamako, on October 12, 2018, after returning to their country following a security crackdown by Angolan authorities. – Angola has returned over 180,000 illegal migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo back across the border since the start of the security crackdown, Angolan authorities saidon October 9.
Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed, though Angolan authorities deny any deaths. (Photo by Sosthene KAMBIDI / AFP)

“Suddenly on Monday (last week) we saw youths from the Tchiokwe community with Angolan policemen starting to burn the homes of those perceived to be foreigners.

“When they came to our house, they attacked my husband with a machete and we were forced to flee taking whatever little we could carry,” she said.

“All our children were born in Angola and only speak Portuguese,” she said.

Angola was a former Portuguese colony while DR Congo was ruled by the Belgians and is a francophone country.

Congolese migrants who were living in Angola stand in truck as they leave the Congolese border town of Kamako, on October 12, 2018, after returning to their country following a security crackdown by Angolan authorities. – Angola has returned over 180,000 illegal migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo back across the border since the start of the security crackdown, Angolan authorities saidon October 9.
Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed, though Angolan authorities deny any deaths. (Photo by Sosthene KAMBIDI / AFP)

Oil-rich Angola attracts hordes of Congolese as it is relatively more stable and offers better employment prospects.

DR Congo has an abundance of mineral wealth but large swathes are rocked by unrest and violence unleashed by rebel groups and militias from within and neighbouring nations such as Uganda and Rwanda.

The operations last week against migrants triggered clashes between Congolese, security forces and local Angolans.

Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed, though Angolan authorities deny any deaths or forcible repatriations.

Lunda Norte’s governor, Ernesto Muangala, on Saturday said that that “more than 200,000 Congolese living illegally in Angola have been repatriated on a voluntary basis.”

Trucks were seen plying incessantly over the weekend taking Congolese nationals to the border from Dundo, the capital of Lunda Norte.

Several Congolese patiently waited outside the Angolan consulate in Kamako, brandishing their Angolan residence permits. The doors of the mission were closed.

“What are we going to do in DRC? We have all lived in Lucapa for 10 or 20 years,” said Daniel Mukenge, a man in his forties.

Congolese migrants who were living in Angola gather near the Congolese border town of Kamako, on October 12, 2018, after returning to their country following a security crackdown by Angolan authorities. – Angola has returned over 180,000 illegal migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo back across the border since the start of the security crackdown, Angolan authorities saidon October 9.
Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed, though Angolan authorities deny any deaths. (Photo by Sosthene KAMBIDI / AFP)

‘We are condemned to death here’

“Our papers are all in order. We have invested and built homes,” he said.

“Now the authorities are refusing to recognise the documents that they themselves delivered. We are now asking our authorities to intervene so that the Angolan authorities buy our houses otherwise we are condemned to death here,” he said.

An Angolan official at the consulate meanwhile told the group: “The solution does not lie here.”

And an Angolan immigration official at the Kamako border outpost feigned incredulity.

“How can these people refuse to go back to their country? It makes me laugh,” he said.

The Congolese authorities say they are struggling to cope with the returnees, with up to 1,000 arrivals every hour.

Congolese migrants who were living in Angola carry belongings in the Congolese border town of Kamako, on October 12, 2018, after returning to their country following a security crackdown by Angolan authorities. – Angola has returned over 180,000 illegal migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo back across the border since the start of the security crackdown, Angolan authorities saidon October 9.
Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed, though Angolan authorities deny any deaths. (Photo by Sosthene KAMBIDI / AFP)

“At this rate we cannot register them,” said Mahieu Boma, a local official from the national commission of refugees.

In Kamako, the new arrivals take shelter wherever they can — under mango trees, in schools and churches.

Sunday mass in many churches began late as a result of the influx.

“For the present, there are 750 families of between three and four people each who are sheltering in our facilities,” said Father Crispin Mfamba from the local Saint Gabriel parish.

Dorcas meanwhile has lost track of one of her four children during the move.

“We are here in Kamako without money,” she said. “We are selling what little we have so that we can eat.

“My four-year-old child has disappeared and I sold my dress for $1.20 to pay for a radio announcement to help find my child,” she said.

 

Source: AFP

Published in Economy

An accountant walked up to a teller at a suburban London branch of HSBC Holdings PLC and asked to transfer $2 million to Japan. The teller pulled up the account and stared at her screen. There was $500 million in the account.

After asking the accountant some questions, she told him she couldn’t make the transfer. Then she filed a report to her superiors.

HSBC quickly found out where the money had come from. Three weeks earlier, in mid-August of 2017, officials at the central bank of Angola had sent $500 million of the country’s reserves to a company registered to the accountant’s modest storefront office between a cafe and barber shop in a gritty London neighborhood.

Authorities in Angola now allege the $500 million transfer was illegal, part of a convoluted plot to defraud the southern African country in the final weeks of President José Eduardo dos Santos’s 38-year rule. If Angolan prosecutors are right, the HSBC teller had helped thwart one of the biggest attempted bank heists ever.

Investigators unraveling the transaction for Angola have identified a cache of forged bank documents and an “Ocean’s Eleven”-style cast of characters, including a smooth-talking Brazilian based in Tokyo and a Dutch agricultural engineer. Their alleged plan, said Angolan government officials in court documents and interviews with The Wall Street Journal, was to siphon fees and cash from the central bank while pretending to set up a $35 billion investment fund.

The group convened in glamorous spots in London, a coastal resort in Portugal and Angola’s capital, Luanda, with at least one meeting attended by President dos Santos. The money trail they left led investigators to international banks, shell companies and a Japanese firm whose mission is described on its website as “assets liberation.”

“One looks at this and thinks, ‘Wow, what’s going on here?’” says José Massano, Angola’s new central-bank governor, who is trying to piece together how his bank almost lost a chunk of its foreign-exchange reserves. “It is the kind of thing that shouldn’t really happen.”

Last month, prosecutors in Angola announced a variety of criminal charges against a son of Mr. dos Santos, the former central-bank governor and two others in relation to the alleged fraud. In the U.K., Angola has sued four men, including the Brazilian and the Dutch engineer, to recover €25 million the central bank paid to set up the multibillion-dollar fund, which never materialized.

The defendants in the U.K. civil case deny wrongdoing and say they did legitimate work on an investment fund, under contract, for which they received fees. After being named a suspect by Angola prosecutors in March, Mr. dos Santos’s son said he is cooperating with the investigation, and the former central-bank governor couldn’t be reached for comment. One of the other two men charged denied wrongdoing; the other couldn’t be reached for comment.

Angola’s lawyers say the country may have fallen victim to a decades-old type of get-rich-quick scheme, typically used to defraud individuals or companies, not sovereign states. Investors are told they can make huge returns through a private market in “bank guarantees.” There is no such market, and the U.S. Treasury Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have warned that such offers are always fraudulent.

This account of the case is based on interviews with Angolan officials, bankers, people involved in the legal cases and documents related to the U.K. lawsuit, including sworn statements and a judicial ruling.

In June of last year, a letter marked “confidential” arrived at Angola’s finance ministry for then-President dos Santos, 76 years old, who was preparing to step down after elections that August. Angola was reeling from double-digit inflation, and its currency had plunged since the 2014 oil bust.

The letter, bearing a BNP Paribas SA logo and the signature of the French bank’s chairman, made a compelling proposal. BNP and other European banks would help Angola create a $35 billion fund, refinance debt and get hard currencies for imports.

The letter named two deal coordinators: Hugo Onderwater, a Dutch agricultural engineer living in Portugal, and Jorge Pontes Sebastião, a childhood friend and business partner of President dos Santos’s son. Mr. Pontes, 40, a slim man whose bodyguard carries his briefcase to meetings, was until recently president of an Angolan bank; Mr. Onderwater, 55, tall and sandy-haired, has a business converting waste to energy, according to U.K. court filings by the two men. The two had met in 2016 to discuss financing for an Angolan government food-quality agency, then broadened the idea into an Angola investment fund, according to a court statement by Mr. Pontes.

Days after the letter arrived, Angola’s finance minister and central-bank governor flew to a meeting in Cascais, near Lisbon. The president’s son, José Filomeno dos Santos, then in charge of Angola’s sovereign-wealth fund, came with them to represent the state, according to a U.K. court filing. His father had approved looking into the project, according to Mr. Pontes’s statement.

In a seaside hotel, Mr. Onderwater, the Dutch engineer, and Mr. Pontes presented slides for a new fund to help diversify Angola’s economy, to be managed by a “qualified trust company” in London, according to excerpts from the presentation in U.K. court documents. A slide listed banks said to be supporting the project, including the European Central Bank.

The ECB says it was never involved in the project, and BNP Paribas says the letter with its logo and chairman’s signature was forged.

Mr. Onderwater later told the U.K. court the banks mentioned were merely examples of possible participants, and that he only saw the BNP Paribas letter during court proceedings.

Angola’s finance minister, Archer Mangueira, was skeptical of the plan. His department questioned the experience of the two deal coordinators and wondered about the project’s “true developers.”

Nevertheless, in July of last year, the central-bank governor, Valter Filipe da Silva, signed an agreement with Mr. Pontes to set up the fund.

That same month, the central bank started transferring €24.85 million ($28.9 million) from its Commerzbank AG account in Frankfurt to an account of Mr. Pontes at Banco Comercial Português SA in Lisbon, for fees due under the agreement, U.K. court documents show.

Mr. Onderwater received €5 million of that money, using some to buy property in Lisbon and rural Devon, England, investigators for the Angolan finance ministry found.

Another €2.4 million went to a Tokyo company called Bar Trading, headed by another alleged participant in the plan, 51-year-old Brazilian Samuel Barbosa da Cunha. His role was to act as “trustee” of Angola’s $500 million seed money for the new fund, in charge of obtaining the “bank guarantees” and financial instruments that were supposed to transform the country’s money into $35 billion, according to Mr. Pontes’s testimony and other U.K. court filings.

Mr. Pontes told the U.K. court Mr. Barbosa was brought into the deal by Mr. Onderwater, a claim Mr. Onderwater denies. Lawyers for Mr. Onderwater said recently in a written statement that the bank guarantee was “solely an internal Angolan matter.”

Balk and hulking, Mr. Barbosa described himself as an expert in buying and selling such guarantees on his company website and in correspondence with clients reviewed by the Journal. His LinkedIn biography says he has 30 years of financial experience and an economics doctorate from Boston University. The school’s library has no record of a dissertation, and a spokeswoman for the school couldn’t confirm his attendance or a degree after searches by his name, hometown and birthdate.

At the end of July 2017, Mr. Barbosa headed for London. First, he touched down in Riga, Latvia, where he boasted to a friend that he was working on a big deal with Angola’s central bank, the friend says.

Mr. Barbosa and the friend had teamed up before, persuading retirees in Florida and Canada and an Australian company to invest in bank guarantees promising up to 550% monthly returns, according to people who gave them money and documents they provided to those people, which were reviewed by the Journal. A representative of the Australian company filed complaints about the friend and Mr. Barbosa to U.K. authorities, alleging fraud, according to the documents.

U.K. regulators declined to comment. Mr. Barbosa didn’t respond to requests for comment, and the friend denied working with Mr. Barbosa or any involvement in the alleged fraud.

One day in August of last year, Messrs. Onderwater and Pontes sent instructions to the central-bank governor to transfer $500 million to the trustee, Mr. Barbosa, according to evidence cited by the U.K. court. They provided the details of an HSBC account of a company called Perfectbit Ltd., registered to the London accountant’s storefront office and listed on Bar Trading’s website as an overseas subsidiary.

Two days later, central-bank officials entered Perfectbit’s account details into the Swift network, a bank-owned consortium that handles millions of daily payment instructions. The money moved from the central bank’s Standard Chartered PLC account in London to Perfectbit’s HSBC account. The transaction didn’t prompt any extra checks by either bank, people familiar with the matter say.

“There is a hole in the international finance system that allows for transfers to be made with minimal information,” says Shane Shook, a cybersecurity consultant.

The central bank’s Swift message code indicated—inaccurately—that the money was for intrabank business with HSBC rather than headed to an HSBC customer, according to bank documents reviewed by the Journal. HSBC noticed the discrepancy later, when it started probing the transfer.

Once the $500 million was in Perfectbit’s account, the accountant made Mr. Barbosa and an associate owners of the company. The accountant, Bhishamdayal Dindyal, kept signing power on the HSBC account.

Over the next few weeks, the accountant and an associate of Mr. Barbosa’s each visited HSBC branches trying to access the cash, unsuccessfully, according to Angola’s U.K. court claim. The associate said in a later court statement that $26,999.99 from the HSBC account was paid as a fee for Perfectbit’s work on the fund.

After the alert teller in the suburban London branch filed a report about the enormous balance, HSBC suspended the account for review.

In Angola, a power shift was under way. President João Lourenço, inaugurated in September 2017, launched an anticorruption drive, and his finance minister, Mr. Mangueira, still suspicious of the central bank’s new investment fund, started an investigation.

Seeking answers, Mr. Mangueira took the central-bank governor, Mr. da Silva, to London again to meet with the three organizers of the deal—Messrs. Onderwater, Pontes and Barbosa. The former president’s son, Mr. Filomeno dos Santos, came along, too, this time in support of the deal organizers, U.K. court filings show.

In an hourslong meeting at the elegant Cavalry & Guards Club, Mr. Barbosa batted away questions about his and his colleagues’ qualifications. He said a European bank had guaranteed Angola’s $500 million, according to a U.K. court filing. That day, a letter was sent to President Lourenço saying Angola’s $500 million was guaranteed by Switzerland’s Credit Suisse AG, and had swelled to $2.5 billion from transactions by the trustee.

Credit Suisse says it didn’t guarantee the money and documents in its name were forged.

As he listened to Mr. Barbosa, Mr. Mangueira recalled in an interview, he became convinced the Brazilian was the mastermind of a fraud. He had the air of a “vendedor da banha da cobra,” Mr. Mangueira said—Portuguese for a snake-oil salesman.

Back in Angola, President Lourenço gave Mr. da Silva, the central-bank governor, 24 hours to get the $500 million back, according to U.K. court filings. That didn’t happen, and he resigned without any public explanation.

With the deal collapsing, Perfectbit wrote to HSBC last Nov. 9 asking the bank to return the nearly $500 million in its account to the central bank, according to a U.K. court statement from Mr. Barbosa. He said Perfectbit was asked to make the request by the company owned by Messrs. Pontes and Onderwater that had hired Perfectbit to act as trustee.

Eight days later, Angola’s finance ministry filed the U.K. lawsuit against the three organizers of the deal—Messrs. Pontes, Onderwater and Barbosa—and Mr. Barbosa’s associate. A judge froze the $499,972,438 remaining in the HSBC account. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency, an entity akin to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, opened a criminal investigation.

A few days later, Mr. Barbosa’s associate was arrested by police at Heathrow Airport and released under investigation. He denies wrongdoing.

The accountant, Mr. Dindyal, who isn’t a defendant in the lawsuit, was arrested at home in December and also released under investigation. He declined to comment.

Messrs. Pontes, Onderwater and Barbosa all say their companies operated under contracts with the central bank or each other and deny wrongdoing.

A judge in the U.K. civil case said in a written April ruling that Mr. Pontes and his company “appear to contend (in effect) that they are victims of a fraud perpetrated by Mr. Onderwater. Mr. Onderwater appears to contend (in effect) that he is a victim of the fraud of Dr. Barbosa and Dr. Pontes.”

U.K. authorities returned the $500 million to the Angolan central bank, but prosecutors in Angola are proceeding with their criminal fraud case.

They charged Mr. Filomeno dos Santos, the former president’s son, and Mr. Pontes with money laundering, criminal association, falsification of documents, influence peddling and stealing through fraud.

Mr. da Silva, the former central-bank governor, was charged with criminal association, embezzlement and money laundering. The fourth man, a central-bank employee, was charged with criminal association and embezzlement.

Mr. Filomeno dos Santos was dismissed from the sovereign-wealth fund this year. He hasn’t commented since the charges were announced. In a previous statement to Angola state television, he said he was cooperating with the investigation.

Mr. Pontes denies the criminal charges. In an email statement through his lawyers, he said Angola’s €24.85 million was voluntarily returned in June as part of negotiations to settle the U.K. civil case, and that he will “continue to act in good faith in his commercial dealings.”

The former central-bank governor, Mr. da Silva, hasn’t commented publicly and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Messrs. Onderwater and Barbosa likely will keep their payments unless Mr. Pontes takes his own legal action against them, according to people familiar with the U.K. civil case, which remains open.

In June, several photos appeared on Mr. Barbosa’s Facebook page. One shows him puffing on a cigar, another grinning from a business-class cabin.

 

Source: 

Published in Bank & Finance

Sluggish expansion in Nigeria, Angola and South Africa – Africa’s three largest economies – is expected to dampen the growth prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa to 2.7 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank which has also warned of increasing public debt in the region.

The World Bank says it now expects Sub-Saharan Africa economies to grow by 2.7 percent in 2018, lower than the 3.1 percent it had projected for the subregion earlier in April.

The World Bank notes that Sub-Saharan African economies are still recovering from the s2015-2916 slowdown, but growth is still slower than expected.

“The slower pace of the recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.4 percentage points lower than the April forecast) is explained by the sluggish expansion in the region’s three largest economies, Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa,” the World Bank said in the Africa Pulse published on Wednesday ahead of the Annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank scheduled to begin in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, October 8.

The estimated 2.7 percent average growth rate in the region is however, a slight increase from 2.3 percent recorded in 2017.

“The region’s economic recovery is in progress but at a slower pace than expected,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

“To accelerate and sustain an inclusive growth momentum, policy makers must continue to focus on investments that foster human capital, reduce resource misallocation and boost productivity. Policymakers in the region must equip themselves to manage new risks arising from changes in the composition of capital flows and debt.”

According to the World Bank, Slow growth is partially a reflection of a less favorable external environment for the region.

Global trade and industrial activity lost momentum, as metals and agricultural prices fell due to concerns about trade tariffs and weakening demand prospects. While oil prices are likely to be on an upward trend into 2019, metals prices may remain subdued amid muted demand, particularly in China.

Also, Financial market pressures have intensified in some emerging markets and concern about their dollar-denominated debt has risen amid a stronger US dollar.

Besides, Lower oil production in Angola and Nigeria offset higher oil prices, and in South Africa, weak household consumption growth was compounded by a contraction in agriculture. Growth in the region – excluding Angola, Nigeria and South Africa – was steady.

The Bank further notes that Several oil exporters in Central Africa were helped by higher oil prices and an increase in oil production.

Economic activity remained solid in the fast-growing non-resource-rich countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Rwanda, supported by agricultural production and services on the production side, and household consumption and public investment on the demand side.

“Public debt remained high and continues to rise in some countries,” the World Bank further notes – amid heightened concerns that about 40 percent of low income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa region are already in debt distress or in high risk of debt crisis.

The IMF for instance worried that for low income countries, including Nigeria, governments have embarked on excessive borrowing to fund development, especially as incomes dwindled for commodity prices- and is now strongly advising on an aggressive tax mobilisation.

“Vulnerability to weaker currencies and rising interest rates associated with the changing composition of debt may put the region’s public debt sustainability further at risk,” the World Bank says in the latest report.

Other domestic risks include fiscal slippage, conflicts, and weather shocks. Consequently, policies and reforms are needed that can strengthen resilience to risks and raise medium-term potential growth.

This issue of Africa’s Pulse highlights sub-Saharan Africa’s lower labor productivity and potentials for improvement

“Reforms should include policies which encourage investments in non-resource sectors, generate jobs and improve the efficiency of firms and workers,” said Cesar Calderon, Lead Economist and Lead author of the report.

 

- Businessday

Published in Economy

Even the toughest critics of Angola’s government say that in just more than a year, President Joao Lourenco has accomplished more to stop corruption than any previous Angolan administration.

Lourenco took power last September after the retirement of longtime president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, whose cronies and family members are alleged to have controlled every important company and source of wealth in the country.

But in the year since the transition, Lourenco has swept away an impressive number of allegedly corrupt top officials who, under dos Santos, were considered untouchable. Most notably, the ex-president’s son Filomeno, who ran the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, was arrested this week on allegations of money-laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.

Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques, who was arrested and put on trial for his corruption exposés during the dos Santos era, says the new president deserves praise.

“I would give Lourenco an eight out of 10, simply because he inherited a country where corruption was so ingrained, so institutionalized, that it became the institution itself,” he told VOA. “The government itself was corruption. I think he’s done that with - and deserves great credit for - what he’s done in terms of also letting the judiciary have the power to indict and arrest some of these most notorious, corrupt officials.”

And the purge has been rewarded, says Alex Vines, who heads the Africa Program for research group Chatham House. The nation’s biggest investors, international oil and gas companies, have decided not to pull out of the resource-rich nation. But, he says, more needs to be done to rebuild the country.

“This is a transition process still, it will progress in fits and starts, but I think we are beginning to see that these reform efforts aren’t just about the consolidation of power from dos Santos to Lourenco, but is beginning to become a bit more equitable,” he said.

Lourenco, he notes, is a shrewd politician, having risen to prominence within the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola in 1984. He now has to gird his party for its next challenge, Vines says.

“Mr. Lourenco, I think, has bought himself a couple of years of credit with the reforms that are going on,” he said. “The honeymoon period is over. But he will be severely tested, I think, in 2020, with the local elections, the first eve in Angola’s history, and the MPLA is worried that in certain districts in Angola, it might do poorly. And so, these reforms are really all about the MPLA and about renewal. And that is really what this is all about, I think.”

But Marques says for the party to pull ahead, it needs to improve the economy and ensure millions of unemployed Angolans can find jobs.

“He continues to have a very, an extremely, incompetent economic team,” Marques said. “And these measures will not yield great results in terms of changes in the public life if his government is not competent enough to turn around the economic situation, create jobs for the economy and economic growth.”

 

- voanews

Published in Economy

South African mobile group MTN will compete for the fourth telecom operator license in Angola, the group’s chief executive told South African daily newspaper Financial Mail.

“Angola has started the formal process of granting a fourth license and we are participating,” said Rob Shuter, according to whom it is a process that “will still take some time.”

Angolan newspaper Novo Jornal reported that the MTN group, founded in 1994 and present in 24 countries, has joined the Vodafone group in the race to become the fourth telecommunications operator in Angola.

In Angola, three global operators are licensed to provide voice, data and Internet services: Angola Telecom, Unitel and Movicel.

At the end of November 2017, the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, said the fourth operator would not only for mobile telecommunications, but would be granted a global license, which would allow other services, such as pay-TV.

The minister said that the decision aims to improve the efficiency of the sector by introducing more competition that could bring gains for potential users of these services. Carvalho da Rocha said earlier this month that the valuation of Angola Telecom’s assets for the privatisation of 45% of its share capital is in the final phase.

The minister added that the government intends to start the process of partial privatisation of Angola Telecom as soon as the winner of the tender for the fourth mobile operator is announced.

 

(macauhub)

Published in Telecoms
Sunday, 19 August 2018 14:02

Angola and Zambia Sign Visa Waiver Agreement

Angolan and Zambian held the symbolic launch of the visa-free agreement for ordinary passports holders of both countries.

The ceremony held in Luanda, presided over by the Secretary of State for Interior, José Bamóquina Zau, was attended by the Zambian ambassador, Lawrance Chalungumona, and Foreign Affairs Secretaries, Tete António, and Tourism, José Alves Primo.

The Zambian diplomat declared that the symbolic act represents the opening of the two-way doors for a closer relationship between Zambia and Angola. The implementation of this process, will allow Zambians and Angolans to travel without needing to apply for entry visas, have been created in their country added .

While the secretary, José Bamóquina Zau, recalled the importance of the excellent relations of cooperation between the Ministries of Interior of the two countries, which also extend to the agreement of extradition or exchange of prisoners and others. The bilateral agreement on visa waiver in ordinary passports, signed last May, applies to nationals of both countries for holidays, tourism, family visits, private business, as well as official or transit visits.

The visa waiver agreement allows a stay in the visited territory for a period of 30 extendable days, not to exceed 90 days per year.

- ANGOP

Published in Travel & Tourism
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 10:09

Angola faces currency test in economy shake-up

Luanda - Angolan President Joao Lourenco was elected few months ago promising an "economic miracle".
 
But the path to transforming the oil-dependent country's economy will be long and difficult - as was highlighted by anger over the de facto de-valuation of the local currency.
 
Since January, new central bank governor Jose de Lima Massano has been presiding over something of a fiscal revolution, weaning the local kwanza currency off its artificial peg to the dollar, and phasing in a floating exchange rate.
 
The local unit has been fixed at a rate of 166 to the dollar since 2016, even if the kwanza has changed hands at a rate of more than 400 for a dollar on the black market.
 
"We have an exchange rate that doesn't reflect reality," Massano conceded.
 
Officials are treading cautiously with the reforms.
 
Before the currency is allowed to float completely freely by the end of 2018, the kwanza is now trading between two rates that authorities are for now keeping secret to avoid speculation.
 
The central bank chief justified the move by pointing to the urgent need to stem the "continuing decline of currency reserves".
 
In 2014, Angola - which is Africa's second largest oil producer - was badly hit by the plunge in the price of crude which is by far the country's largest source of income.
 
The decline threw the country into a prolonged crisis.
 
After many years of a centrally-controlled exchange rate, Angola came dangerously close to recession and saw its dollar reserves severely depleted by an unsuccessful effort to prop-up the kwanza.
 
Angola was thought to have had $20bn in reserves at the start of 2017, which had slumped to $14bn by November, according to analysts.
 
"If our foreign currency spending continues at this pace, we run the risk of seeing (reserves) halve between now and the end of the year," warned central bank chief Massano.
 
Such a dramatic evaporation of hard currency prompted the new government to take action.
 
Major global brands such as the Emirates airlines have recently begun to back off from Angola because of the currency crisis.
 
 'Angola has no other choice' 
 
The Gulf carrier has been struggling to repatriate hard currency from its ticket sales to its head office because of strict exchange controls.
 
In September, President Lourenco succeeded long-serving strongman, Jose Eduardo dos Santos who had ruled the country - and its economy - with an iron fist for 38 years.
 
Lourenco has waged a campaign against corruption, notably targeting Dos Santos family members and challenging critics who said he would be puppet of the old regime.
 
His economic plan has been no less drastic, defined by austerity measures, privatisations and efforts to diversify the economy.
 
"Angola has no other choice but to diversify," said Lourenco at a press conference last week."It's absolutely vital - our survival depends on it."
 
The cornerstone of his reforms are efforts to lure foreign investors and their dollars back to Angola - not least through the currency shake-up.
 
The kwanza has lost 18% of its value against the dollar and 25 percent against the euro in just three weeks.
 
 Positive in the long-term? 
 
The shift quickly pushed up prices in the country where inflation officially already runs at 30%.
 
In the capital, where millions live in poverty, prices have fluctuated wildly.
 
"Any products that are imported are more expensive," complained Ibrahim Nour, a retailer in the Palanca district.
 
"This devaluation should have been done before, during the economic boom," argued Precisio Domingos, an economist at the Catholic University of Luanda.
 
"Now it's much harder for the people."
 
To avoid increasing the country's widening deficit, the government is now looking to renegotiate its debts -- a process described by finance minister Archer Mangueira as "a priority".
 
Investors have until now welcomed the reforms of Angola's new order.
 
"Lourenco is using the political capital he got after coming into office to make big strides," said William Jackson, an analyst at Capital Economics.
 
Source: News24
Published in Economy
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