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UN agency calls for more inclusive and caring economies

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa

on  Thursday, September 14   2017 at  19:29

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Thursday launched a new report calling for more inclusive, sustainable and caring economies.

The Global New Deal, launched in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, said the Recovery with Regulatory reforms and Redistribution policies (3Rs) were as relevant today as they were at the launch of the the New Deal in the 1930s.

According to the report, good lessons can be obtained from the previous successful global deals that followed the World War II, such as, the Marshal Plan and the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

"We received your message on global new agenda for the 21st Century global economic recovery, reform and redistribution,” said Mr Albert M. Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Development at the African Union.


“We are not too hopeful here. This is because the key players in the global economy are either not sending out clear messages on the future direction of the global economy or promising us isolationism,” he said.

The new report states that wrong footed macroeconomic policy and corporate rent-seeking behaviour, among others signalled for the need for a Global New Deal.

“For us in Africa, we welcome initiatives to create a fairer and inclusive world order. But we are in the meantime, going ahead in creating our own future. We are inter-alia, harnessing our demography as a source of competitiveness by investing in our youth since Africa has the youngest population in the world,” Mr Muchanga said.

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Ethiopian Airlines confirms bid for Nigeria’s Arik Air

Posted ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa

on  Wednesday, August 30   2017 at  18:19

Ethiopian Airlines is negotiating with the Nigerian government to take over the bankrupt Arik Air, a senior official confirmed in Addis Ababa.

The Director of International Service at the Ethiopian Airlines Group, Mr Esayas Weldemariam, Wednesday said they were expanding their presence in western Africa.

“Following the bid opened by the Nigerian government, we are negotiating to secure management contract of Arik Air,” Mr Esayas said, responding to the rumours about the impending deal.

The negotiations

“Based on the terms and conditions set by the Government of Nigeria, Ethiopian Airlines has submitted its offer to take over the management of Arik Air… We are bidding with other airlines, if we agree on the negotiations, we are ready to go and take over the management,” he said.

Arik Air, which is one of the largest private airlines in Nigeria, has been serving as the de-facto national carrier for the most populous state in Africa.

Following the failure to service its debts and pay employees’ salaries, Arik Air was last February taken over by the government.

Ethiopian Airlines also manages Asky Airlines in Lome, in a joint ownership with the Togo government, and the Malawian Airlines, also jointly with the government.

Business wings

The airline, which began operations in April 1946, was in 2014 ranked the largest in Africa in revenue by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Ethiopian Airlines Group, which has several related business wings, envisages becoming a $10 billion revenue generating company by 2030, with a total of 140 aircraft, according to Mr Esayas.

It currently has a fleet of 92 aircraft, flying to 104 international 19 local destinations.

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Massive losses as fire guts Zambia market

Posted MICHAEL CHAWE in Lusaka

on  Wednesday, August 30   2017 at  12:37

Hundreds of traders are counting their losses after a market was burnt to the ground in Ndola, Zambia's second largest city.

The tragedy on Tuesday started past midnight when traders had closed their operations.

Merchandise worth millions of Kwacha have been burnt to ashes at Kapalala Market in Ndola after fire swept through the market, destroying over 3,000 stands," reported state radio.

"....marketers were found wailing and watching helplessly as their goods went up in flames," it said.

The inferno

Fire fighters had a rough time fighting the inferno, due to restricted accessibility.

Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.

Local media quoted one of the trader, Ms Cecilia Chitafu, who recounted that all her merchandise had been burnt to ashes.

About 6,000 people were estimated to be doing business at the market at its peak,

Supply lines

Ndola is located in the Copperbelt Province, north of Lusaka.

In July, the country's largest market, Soweto, was partially gutted, an incident that prompted President Edgar Lungu to invoke the emergency powers to deal with "acts of sabotage".

The relatively calm southern African state experienced "rising cases of politically motivated fires and vandalism of vital electricity supply lines", which government alleged was being perpetrated by the opposition.

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Tanzania mulls higher petroleum levy to fund budget


on  Tuesday, August 29   2017 at  18:33

Tanzania’s Petroleum Bulk Procurement Agency is seeking permission from the energy regulator to increase fees for oil marketing companies to help plug a $9.8 million (Tsh2.2 billion) budget deficit for the 2017/18 financial year.

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) said it had received the proposal to raise oil marketers’ fees from Tsh0.50 to Tsh3 per litre.

The petroleum agency (PBPA), set up in 2015, took over the activities of the Petroleum Importation Coordinator Ltd in January 2016, to oversee importation of refined fuel through the Bulk Procurement System in a competitive bidding.

Upon review of the application and stakeholders’ comments, Ewura will submit the recommended fees to the Minister of Energy.

A public hearing

Ewura’s acting director-general Godwin Samwel said the agency was collecting and collating the views of the Government Consultative Council, Ewura Consumers Consultative Council, and other groups, prior to a public hearing in Dar es Salaam on August 30.

The petroleum importer is funded through various sources, including oil marketers’ fees at a rate of Tsh0.50 per litre.

The income will be generated from marketing firms’ fees, pre-qualification fees, tender participation fees, membership joining or renewal fees and penalties for late opening of letter of credits.

Other sources

The fee payable at the current rate of Tsh0.50 is estimated to contribute Tsh2.4 billion ($10.7 million) to the annual budget for 2017/18 while other sources will contribute about $5.8 million (Tsh1.3 billion).

Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Tanzania’s Ewura set monthly maximum prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene.

Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, increased petrol’s by $0.03 (Ksh3) per litre in 2015.

The money

Kenyan consumers will bear the burden of oil marketing companies, recovering money due to the ERC’s change of tack to vary its decision contained in Kenya Gazette Notice No. 2824 of April 19, 2016. RML in 2015 rose by Ksh3 ($0.03) to Ksh12 ($0.12).

The ERC acting director general, Mr Pavel Oimeke, said $5.9 million was due to petrol cargoes discharged from July 17 to August 9, 2015 to compensate for increase of RML (Imposition of levy) (Amendment) Order of 2015.

Oil marketing companies argued they incurred losses by paying a higher levy and not being allowed to recover the money from consumers.

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Foreign investor returns in major rise at Nairobi bourse

Posted CHARLES MWANIKI in Nairobi

on  Monday, August 28   2017 at  18:00

Kenya’s stock market has become increasingly profitable for foreign investors, with the annualised dollar-adjusted return on the 15 largest companies rising to 29.5 per cent from 7.1 per cent three months ago.

The latest African Alliance analysis of African bourses shows the dollar return on the FTSE NSE 15 index — which tracks the 15 largest listed firms by market capitalisation — is higher than that of the NSE peer bourses of Nigeria (19.7 per cent), Morocco (13 per cent) and Tunisia (9.4 per cent).

Share prices at the stock exchange have gone up in recent weeks — and with the shilling also starting to gain on the dollar, foreign investors are bound to earn more upon conversion of their sales proceeds to hard currency when exiting a stock.

Value traded

As a result of the higher share prices the foreign investors have been net sellers on the market for the past two months, booking profits on stocks they had accumulated during the two-year bear run.

“The average weekly value traded in the last six months is Sh3.5 billion ($33.8 million).

The FTSE NSE Kenya 15 is up 30.4 per cent year-to-date (29.6 per cent US dollar),” said African Alliance in its latest Africa weekly report.

The NSE index’s dollar return is also higher than that of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which stood at 14 per cent last week.

Strong inflows

It, however, trails Zimbabwe stock exchange’s 47.5 per cent, although the country uses the dollar as part of its basket of official currencies.

Should the trend be sustained, the higher returns on offer in Kenya would be expected to act as a catalyst to attract back strong inflows into the market, once the investors taking profit take a back seat.

Local investors have also returned to active trading at the NSE, having kept in the background during the past two-and-a-half years when stock valuations were plummeting.

The NSE’s overall traded turnover in the first half of the year rose 11.4 per cent to Sh82 billion compared to the same period in 2016, with the NSE All share index 26.5 per cent up since January.

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South Sudan mulls currency change to fight graft

Posted JOSEPH ODUHA in Juba

on  Thursday, August 24   2017 at  11:20

South Sudan is considering a currency change to help fight corruption.

A technocrat in the National Assembly, who preferred anonymity, said the House was appalled by a recent Central Bank report about cash shortage in the banks, blamed on some corrupt politicians and military generals.

The report said the culprits had stashed the money in their homes as opposed to the financial institutions.

Some of the corrupt generals and politicians, the report claimed, had buried the money on their compounds, making it impossible to pay civil servants on time.

Hoarding money

The report has prompted the National Assembly to look for alternatives to deal with the corrupt elites.

The Nation Assembly technocrat said the change of currency could force those who were hoarding money in their homes to take it to the banks, and be forced to account for it.

"Yes, when you change the currency, you give the time frame to collect the old notes and it should be a bit shorter time, so that it puts pressure on those who stock large sums of cash in their homes to surrender the money to the Central Bank," he said.

He added that it would be another way of regulating cash transfers from the Central Bank, allowing it to accumulate sufficient amounts to regularly pay civil servants.

The war continues

However, a human rights defender, Mr Peter Gai Manyoun, faulted the currency change strategy, saying it was not the best way to fight corruption.

He said peace and stability should be a priority for the war on graft to succeed.

"Even if the government changes the currency a million times, it will not end corruption in South Sudan if the war continues," he said.

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Zimbabwe and South Africa resolve flights row

Posted PETER DUBE in Pretoria

on  Tuesday, August 22   2017 at  11:39

The deadlock between South African Airways (SAA) and Air Zimbabwe has been resolved and all flights schedules are back to normal.

Thousands of travellers flying between Zimbabwe and South Africa were left stranded as civil aviation authorities from both countries grounded flights following a dispute over permits.

But SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed both airlines had been able to supply outstanding documents and flights resumed.
“It doesn’t matter how many times the issue is being raised.

Air service

"Making reference to history, harping on the same point. The reality is that we are providing air service transportation to people who are in need of it between the two countries. I think we should be forward-looking,” Mr Tlali said.

On Saturday, SAA cancelled all its flights after one of its planes was grounded in Harare because it did not have a valid foreign operating permit.

An Air Zimbabwe flight was also prevented from leaving the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, as it carried an expired foreign operators' permit.

The move to ground planes, thought to be “political interference”, coincidentally happened as the South African government was mulling on whether to grant Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe, diplomatic immunity.

Easy decision

Mrs Mugabe allegedly attacked a 21-year-old model at a Sandton Hotel in Johannesburg.

The matter was reported to the police, but International Relations and Corporation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Sunday confirmed that Mrs Mugabe had been granted diplomatic immunity.

The minister said she had “agonised’ over the matter and that it had not been an easy decision to make‚ but that diplomatic immunity was warranted after careful consideration of all the relevant factors.

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13 new hotels to enter Kenya in next five years

Posted DOREEN WAINAINAH in Nairobi

on  Monday, August 21   2017 at  19:24

A total of 13 hotels are set to open their doors in Kenya over the next five years, growing the bed space by more than 2,400 rooms, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Pegged on a growing economy and demand for bed space, the study by the advisory firm indicates the hotels are expected to open their doors in the country by 2021 including additional units by Radisson, Marriot and Best Western brands.

“These developments, along with a stable local economy, are attracting international hotels to Kenya. Sheraton, Ramada, Hilton, Best Western, Radisson, Marriott, and Mövenpick are among the international brands scheduled to open hotels in Kenya during the next five years,” PwC says in Hotel Outlook report.

The growth has been accelerated by the increasing number of domestic and international tourists.

Domestic tourism

“Kenya benefited from the lifting of travel advisories ... and growth in domestic tourism in a strong economic environment, as well as a series of incentives introduced by the government,” reads part of the report.

The incentives include elimination of VAT on park fees, removal of visa fees for children as well as the reduction in park fees by Kenya Wildlife Service.

Others are the waiver of landing fee for charter flights in Mombasa and Malindi.

PwC says guest nights, which declined a cumulative 15 per cent between 2011 and 2015, also rebounded with a 2.9 per cent increase in 2016. The average room rate edged up 2.2 per cent in 2016 and room revenue grew 4.9 per cent.

The advisory firm expects a decline in the occupancy rate over the next two years before a rebound from 2019.

The completion

International hotel management chain Best Western has taken over city hotel Meridian and branded it Best Western Plus.

Lazizi Premier opened its doors in May, becoming the first airport hotel to begin operation.

This is expected to be followed by the completion of Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport and Hilton Garden Inn, which are in the final stages of completion.

This will be the second property by Sheraton which took over management of the Four Point Hurlingham, previously Best Western Premier.

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Alibaba founder talks to Kenya


on  Thursday, July 20   2017 at  17:35

Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, Thursday afternoon delivered a speech at Kenya's pioneer University of Nairobi.

He offered Kenyan youth tips on how to build successful business empires.

Asia’s richest man sand his team of super-rich Chinese, had jetted into Nairobi Wednesday evening, for a packed two-day visit.

Internet tycoon

Mr Ma boasts a fortune of nearly $30 billion or nearly half of Kenya’s economic output.

His entourage include Internet tycoon Bob Xu, Alibaba’s founding partner Lucy Peng, founder and chairman of Mengniu Dairy Niu Gensheng and real estate tycoon Huang Youlong.

The 38 men and women, from the Beijing Chamber of Commerce, are looking to cut multibillion-shilling deals with the Kenya government and local businessmen.

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Former AfDB boss to head Sierra Leone Central Bank

Posted KEMO CHAM in Freetown

on  Thursday, July 20   2017 at  13:01

Former African Development Bank (AfDB) alternate executive director Patrick Saidu Conteh has been appointed Sierra Leone's Central Bank Governor.

President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed Dr Conteh to replace Dr Keifala Marah, who resigned to run for president next year.

Dr Conteh boasts of over 20 years experience in the financial sector.

His approval

He was until his latest appointment the Finance and Economic Development minister.

According to his biography, circulated on Wednesday, following his approval as per constitutional requirement, Dr Conteh served as director at the AfDB with oversight responsibilities for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Sudan and Gambia.

Locally, he worked for the government-owned Sierra Leone Commercial Bank between 1996 and 2014, ending up as managing director.

The new Central Bank Governor has the task of fixing an economy undergoing turbulence after Sierra Leone came out of a two-year devastating Ebola epidemic, which coincided with the drop in iron ore prices, its major export.

The economy

Analysts say the most urgent issue Dr Conteh faces is stabilising the local currency, Leone, which was struggling against foreign currencies, particularly the US Dollar.

And Dr Conteh appears to be well aware of the weight of his task. He was quoted saying that despite recent improvement in the economy, it was moving too slow and needed pushing.

"We are back from a situation where the economy was on a negative growth and now witnessing positive growth. And the growth is a little slow and we need to put in place measures to ensure that growth is fast tracked."