07 Feb

Congo Seeks More Control of the Cobalt Market

The Democratic Republic of Congo will seek greater control of the global cobalt market by engaging directly with car and battery manufacturers, according to its largest state-owned mining company.

“I find it scandalous that when cobalt is discussed, and the explosion of electric vehicles, only the traders and consumers are referenced and Congo and Gecamines are not cited,” Gecamines Chairman Albert Yuma said in an interview in Cape Town.

The market seems to think that “the future of cobalt is in the hands of Glencore, Trafigura and CMOC but not the Congo or Gecamines,” Yuma said. “We legitimately want to control the cobalt market because it is ours.”

Congo accounts for about two-thirds of global cobalt supply and spot prices for the metal more than doubled on the London Metal Exchange last year.

The country isn’t benefiting from rallying copper and cobalt prices and plans to renegotiate partnerships with international mining companies, Yuma said earlier Monday.

Gecamines has already held a discussion with one large Chinese battery producer about establishing a joint venture to develop the state-owned miner’s cobalt concessions, Yuma said. It is also planning discussions with a Chinese car manufacturer, he added, declining to identify either company.

Consumers want to secure, stable, long-term supply and, unlike traders, don’t speculate on price, he said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-05/congo-seeks-more-cobalt-market-control-as-batteries-drive-boom

17 Jan

Mauritius Battens Down as Cyclone Heads for Island Nation

Mauritius closed its main airport and stock exchange as the Indian Ocean island nation braced for the arrival of a cyclone packing winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.

Tropical cyclone Berguitta is situated about 300 kilometer (186 miles) northeast of Mauritius and heading toward it at a speed of about 7 kilometers per hour, the country’s meteorological services said in a statement on its website.

The storm is forecast to make landfall overnight, it said. “Berguitta represents a direct threat to Mauritius,” the service said.

The tropical cyclone is the third this month to form in the south-west Indian Ocean. Tropical Cyclone Ava battered the island of Madagascar on Jan. 5, leaving at least 42 people dead and 150,000 others displaced, according to country’s disaster-management office.

The Red Cross activated its disaster response team for Mauritius and La Reunion, a French-administered island 227 kilometers southwest of Mauritius that is also threatened by the storm.

“This dangerous cyclone puts at risk hundreds of lives in Mauritius and La Reunion,” it said. “Our teams in both countries are prepositioning relief items to support communities who may need food, shelter and first aid services.”

Mauritius’s Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport was shuttered from 7 a.m., state-owned Airports of Mauritius said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius said Tuesday it would remain closed Wednesday if the storm warning was upgraded to Class III.

SBM Holdings Ltd., owner of Mauritius’ second-biggest lender, switched off automated teller machines from 8 p.m. on Tuesday, citing the weather.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-17/mauritius-shuts-down-as-cyclone-warning-upgraded-to-class-3

15 Jan

H&M Condemns Racism After ‘Monkey’ Ad Sparks Protests in Africa

Hennes & Mauritz AB went into damage-control mode over the weekend after a controversial advertisement sparked protests in South Africa.

The Swedish clothes retailer closed its South African shops after some outlets were trashed in an anti-racism protest against an online ad by H&M, featuring a black child modeling a hoodie with the text “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

“H&M is aware of the recent events inside several of our South African stores,” the company said in a statement on its website. “What matters most to us is the safety of our employees and customers” and “we have temporarily closed our stores in South Africa.”

Read More: H&M Caught in Controversy Over Black Child in ‘Monkey’ Hoodie Ad

 H&M was last week forced to apologize for the image after it caused a social-media storm and prompted Canadian artist The Weeknd to end his collaboration with the Stockholm-based company. H&M, which said it agreed with those who were upset by the image, pulled the garment in question from its stores. Over the weekend, the company took further steps to reject all forms of racial slander.
“We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable,” H&M said. “We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”
To read the full article, click here. 
09 Jan

Zuma to Face Ouster Bid at South African ANC Meeting

South African President Jacob Zuma will face a fresh bid to force him from office when the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership meets this week for the first time since he relinquished control of the party to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee in the southern city of East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity. Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC.

The NEC’s 86 voting members are divided into two loose factions — one that backed Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as party leader at the ANC’s national conference last month and another that’s allied to Zuma and favored his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

Ramaphosa won the contest with just 52 percent of the vote, giving him a tenuous hold over the party, and it remains unclear where exactly the balance of power lies within the panel, which usually takes decisions by consensus.

“Given Cyril Ramaphosa’s emphasis on renewing the ANC, doing things afresh, it makes all the sense that the matter should be a priority agenda issue,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone.

“If it is raised and the motion is defeated, then that is a serious worry. It would be indicative that he does not have everyone behind him. It would make him a very weak president.”

Graft Charges

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him. He’s spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

To read the full article, click here.

05 Dec

How world leaders reacted to Nelson Mandela’s death four years ago today

Four years ago today, South Africa lost its greatest citizen. Nelson Mandela’s fight against the apartheid regime is revered as one of the greatest triumphs in history, and many world leaders were quick to say so back in 2013.

His refusal to give in – based on the foundations of courage, iron will, and a belief that all peoples should be treated equally regardless of skin colour – transformed the political and social landscape of this country forever.

We remember Madiba not with a heavy heart because he is gone. But with smiles on our faces, because of his legacy. His life lessons and inspirational quotes are perhaps more important in SA than they have been since he left office.

How the world paid tribute to Nelson Mandela:
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny

“The name Mandela stirred our conscience and our hearts. It became synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe.”

“We ask that his spirit continues to inspire, guide and enlighten us as we strive to bring freedom and dignity to the family of man, our brothers and sisters, across the world.”

Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General:

“Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration. Many around the world were greatly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways.”

Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron:

“A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I’ve asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.”

Cuban leader Raul Castro:

“Mandela will not go down in history for the 27 years he spent behind bars… but because he was able to free his soul from the poison that such unjust punishment can cause.”

To read the full article, click here.

28 Nov

South Africans to be hit with a R30 billion tax hike in 2018

Whether the ANC are pursuing free higher education like kamikaze pilots, or trying to add another room on to Nkandla, the party are now pushing for a huge tax hike to fill the holes in our economy, according to a report in Business Tech. 

There is a R40 billion gap in the country’s revenue, as identified by Malusi Gigaba in his mid-term budget speech. The government’s failure to stop tax dodgers – complimented by rampant corruption and lax regulations against avoidance – is now set to hit ordinary taxpayers right in their pockets.

They’ve effectively punctured their own tyres, and are now asking us to forfeit our own just so the ANC can continue their journey over the edge of a cliff.

Why a tax hike is planned for 2018

In total, they are looking to plug this rand black-hole over the next two years. South Africa’s shortfall actually stands at R80 billion. There is an expected R50 billion to come in expenditure cuts too.

This would equate to annual cuts in expenditure amounting to about R25 billion as well as revenue-enhancing measures amounting to about R15 billion, including where appropriate, tax measures, the presidency said in a statement.

A huge spanner in the works is the near-suicidal attempt to force through a free-fees plan for higher education. The Zuma regime are desperately trying to implement cost-free higher education. It’s noble in theory, but devastating in practice.

Areas facing cuts:
  • Social grants payments
  • Reducing the rollout of RDP houses
  • Freezing government wages
  • Halving the military budget

Tax hikes in the last two years have failed to deliver any expected revenue increases. 2015/16 failed to raise the predicted R18 billion, just as 2016/17 failed to earn the R28 billion it was forecast.

But, the third time is a charm right? Here’s the problem. Raising taxes has little-to-no effect on those that are causing the issue. If you aren’t cracking down on those avoiding tax, how are you going to get them to pay an increase?

Source:  https://www.thesouthafrican.com/south-africans-to-be-hit-with-a-r30-billion-tax-hike-in-2018/ 

28 Nov

Kenya Is Said to Seek Proposals for $2 Billion Eurobond Sale

Kenya’s government is seeking proposals from banks about a possible $2 billion Eurobond offering in the first quarter of 2018, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The East African nation’s Treasury asked banks for pitches on how to structure the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 29, they said.

Kenya’s return to international capital markets would mark its first sale of foreign debt since a debut Eurobond in 2014. The Treasury is seeking to plug a budget deficit that’s forecast to narrow to 6.4 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year through June from 8.5 percent last year.

The government plans to re-enter the Eurobond market before the end of the current budget year, though a placement is likely from February onward as funds are required for spending purposes, the people said.

Proposals from banks must outline the costs of either a five- to 10-year issue to be repaid in bullet form, or 12- to 15-year securities amortizing in the final three years, the people said. A government roadshow is expected to start in January, said one of the people.

Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge didn’t respond to two text messages and four calls to his mobile phone seeking comment.

To read the full article, click here.

24 Nov

African nations are powering up the business rankings. What lessons can we learn from them?

The World Bank Group recently launched its annual Doing Business report. In its 15th edition, the report investigates regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it in 190 countries. These regulations include starting a business, obtaining construction permits, availability of electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

As has been the case in the last several years, African countries were among the most improved nations on the list.  Djibouti, Zambia and Malawi were amongst the top-10 reformers in this year’s edition. Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy, but currently facing strong economic headwinds) moved up 24 places to the 145th position, and so is by default a case study for this year’s report.

Why are the Doing Business rankings so important?

Like most other indices, the Doing Business indicators are not comprehensive and have their own limitations. So an important question to ask is: Why then do developing countries, particularly African ones, pay so much attention to them? The first and most important is the universal consensus that private sector development and by extension private sector-led growth is the most sustainable solution to Africa’s development challenges. And the Doing Business indicators, in the absence of other more robust indicators, indeed provide a window through which foreign investors assess the ease of carrying out business activity in any given country. This is even more relevant for certain African countries, for which there may not be readily available information on private sector activity.

It this year’s rankings for African countries different from those of previous years?

First, it is important to state that 264 reforms were implemented in 190 countries this year, and of these, about 83 were implemented in Africa – over a third of the total.

Read more: African nations are powering up the business rankings. What lessons can we learn from them?

16 Nov

What the Fall of Mugabe Means

As rebel, revolutionary, Machiavellian manipulator, and supreme leader, Robert Mugabe has been the face of Zimbabwe for so long that it’s almost impossible to imagine the country without him. Almost. The impossible finally began to happen on Nov. 14, when tanks rolled into the capital, Harare, and the armed forces took custody of Mugabe and his wife, Grace. Military spokesmen said they were “safe and sound and their security was guaranteed.”

Mugabe has ruled for 37 years—the entire existence of Zimbabwe after the downfall of the white minority government of what was then called Rhodesia. In that four-decade period, the economy has deteriorated from resource-rich breadbasket to basket case. Violent repression made Zimbabwe’s leader a pariah to most of the world. Mugabe’s visage became a face loved only by fellow leftist autocrats and the commodity-hungry Chinese government. Indeed, Chinese trade to the southern African nation last year was worth $1.6 billion; Zimbabwe’s military maintains close ties with Beijing’s generals.

More important, despite economic decline and international isolation, Mugabe was the undisputed master of Zimbabwe, outmaneuvering several would-be successors, including the co-leader of the uprising against white rule, Joshua Nkomo. His regime appeared to be getting ready for its third vice president in three years when the military took possession of the streets and the government television station. Mugabe, 93, had been expected to anoint Grace, 52, as the new vice president.

The fall of Mugabe hasn’t led to dancing in the streets. It’s nothing like the developments in the late 20th century that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet bloc or the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, where people power stirred the promise of democratic revival and reform. The military action, which the generals refused to call a coup d’état, is the latest chapter of a bitter fight within Mugabe’s political regime, one that’s resulted in the president being caught in his own web of intrigue and betrayal. The leader of this uprising, GeneralConstantine Chiwenga, commander of the armed forces, is a close ally of Grace’s fiercest rival, the deposed heir apparent, Emmerson Mnangagwa. A comrade-in-arms of the president during the fight against the white regime, Mnangagwa also used to run the country’s fearsome security apparatus. His nickname is “The Crocodile.”

Read more: What the Fall of Mugabe Means

22 Sep

Africa Investment Summit Closes with Major Announcements

Johannesburg, South Africa; New York, London, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, USA; 19 September 2017:

Africa investor (Ai), a leading international investment and communications group, today announced that the 11th Ai CEO Institutional Investment Summit was successfully concluded and hosted a series of market changing announcements and initiatives at NASDAQ and the CFA New York Society in New York.

The Ai Summit was opened by Hubert Danso, CEO and Vice Chairman of Africa investor and Sandy Meyer Frucher, the Vice Chairman of NASDAQ.

The summit which was themed ‘African Regional Growth and the Role of Long –Term Capital’ convened over 150 CEO’s, institutional investors, capital market leaders and regulators to discuss institutional allocations, infrastructure co-investments, initiatives to improve access to data, and support for the emerging investment management industry.

This year, the oversubscribed Ai CEO Institutional Investment Summit hosted the launch of the NEPAD 5% Agenda, a partnership between African Institutional Investors (pension and sovereign wealth funds) and African governments, to mobilise US$30bn, through a new partnership framework, entitled institutional Investor Public Partnerships (IIPP’s). This would facilitate an increase in allocations to 5% of assets under management, (from the current average of 1.5%), to African infrastructure assets within 5 years.

Commenting on the Summit, Hubert Danso, CEO and Vice Chairman of Africa investor stated, “During last year’s summit at the NASDAQ, on the eve of the UN General Assembly, we called on leaders and development finance partners to elevate the African economic development partnership, from trade and investment, to long-term institutional investment. Today we are calling for the widespread adoption and pursuit of institutional-investor public partnerships (IIPP’s) as the framework to govern the relationship, in order to mobilise unprecedented levels of African institutional capital”.

Summit delegates were updated on the Ai Infrastructure Co-investment platform, which is building strong momentum with a projects pipeline counting several billions of dollars of brownfield and green field opportunities.

Read more: Africa investor’s 11th Ai CEO Institutional Investment Summit Closes with Major Announcements in New York