Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 08 August 2017

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has experienced capital flight during the year to July 31, as foreign sales amounting to $60,9 million outweighed foreign purchases of $33,5 million, resulting in a net capital outflow of $27,4 million.

Participation on the local bourse by foreigners has however, been generally lower compared to last year, registering 33,8 percent of the trades in the seven months to July 31, down from the 62,36 percent achieved in the same period last year.

Total foreign purchases amounted to $33,5 million compared to $48,7 million recorded in the same period last year, while equity disposals as of July 31 equalled $60,9 million relative to $77,4 million achieved in the comparable period last year.

Foreign portfolio flows, from equity purchases by foreign investors, provide both liquidity and stability on the market which is positive for not only listed firms but the country at large, but now the market seems to be dominated by local investors, as foreigners lose appetite for local shares.

A leading research firm and stockbroker, MMC Capital, in its latest economic report this week, expressed concern over capital flight , which has become a characteristic of the local bourse. “The difficulty in remitting sale proceeds, driven by Nostro pressures, resulted in some foreign investors opting to sell and reserve better positions in the remitting queue. The trend is worrying given that attracting foreign capital inflows has an overall positive impact on economic growth,” MMC Capital said.

MMC Capital said the current bull run on the ZSE is driven by local institutional investors who a opting to hold equities in order to hedge their investment portfolios from inflationary expectations.

“Our view is that the surge in equities has largely been driven by local institutional investors seeking real growth component (inflation hedge) that is provided by equities. Monetary developments namely; increasing RTGs balances relative to USD cash and Nostro balances, which have pushed up premiums on USD notes, continue to drive inflationary expectations,” MMC Capital added.

The research firm also said that equities are presenting attractive returns relative to other investment alternatives. “Given the minimal investment asset classes on the local market (equities, fixed income and real estate), equities remained the better asset class, given unattractive returns in the other asset classes,” MMC Capital said.

MMC Capital said according to their valuation metrics, the local bourse is currently overvalued and also prime for a reversal, but the growing premium between the greenback and the RTGs defies the odds. “Despite the overvaluation picture that is being postulated by the RSI and the P/E valuation metric, the growing premium between the USD notes and RTGs premium points to a persistent rise in equity prices,” MMC Capital said.

In a year to date, both the industrial index and the mining index advanced 42,05 percent and 24,99 percent to 205,3 points and 73,13 points respectively.

The central bank is establishing a Zimbabwe Portfolio Investment Fund to the tune of $5 million , to facilitate the efficient repatriation of portfolio related funds to foreign investors invested specifically on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).

In his mid-term monetary policy last Wednesday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya said the central bank is very concerned over delays in repatriation of foreign exchange for securities related transactions processed by banks, despite such transactions being on the first category of the priority list for the allocation of foreign exchange.

As at June the country had a backlog of $75 million in dividends and proceeds from sales that are owed to foreign investors. “The Bank shall place an initial seed capital of $5 million in this Fund to kick-start the repatriation mechanism and improve investor confidence,” Mangudya said.

The fund will focus on the collection and repatriation of foreign funds related to portfolio equity purchases and sales, with the scope of the fund to include the repatriation of dividends at a later date, Mangudya said.

The fund shall be put in place with effect from September 1, with the central bank having an oversight role for monitoring purposes and maintaining integrity and transparency in the functioning of the fund.

Two commercial banks shall be used to ensure that all incoming and outgoing portfolio funds, shall be collected and pooled into the fund, with payments made on a first-in-first-out basis and, if required, on a pro rata basis in line with funds available in the fund post contribution. Excess funds raised will be allocated to clear the backlog with capital gains prioritised over dividends.

 

- The Source

Published in Business

A recent commentary published in the British Medical Journal reignited the debate on whether patients should stop antibiotics when they feel better rather than following instructions to finish the course.

So why all the fuss? And is it safe to stop early?

The reason for the fuss is that the world is facing a public health crisis because resistance to antibiotics is on the rise.

As to the second question: based on current evidence, no it’s not.

But first to the fuss. Bacteria that were once easily treated with antibiotics are now increasingly able to resist their action so that they no longer work. The situation has become so serious that we are literally running out of antibiotics that still work for many common bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections and infections acquired in hospital. For some, no antibiotics are left that will kill the bacteria causing the infection.

This has profound implications for the treatment and prevention of common bacterial infections, particularly in patients more likely to get them. These include people undergoing surgery and those whose immune systems are weakened by chemotherapy, HIV, diabetes, chronic diseases and transplantation. It puts these groups at greater risk of severe illness and death.

As to why you should finish the course: there are three reasons why you should, based on the fact that one size doesn’t fit all and that a subjective feeling of “being better” doesn’t necessarily mean that the infection is adequately treated.

Firstly, not all bacterial infections are created equal. Based on our current knowledge, some infections caused by bacteria can be treated with short courses of antibiotics, but others have a much higher return of the infection if not treated with a longer course. Secondly, not all antibiotics are created equal. There are a number of different types which doctors use to treat the same types of infection, and some require longer courses than others.

The third reason is science isn’t up to speed on how long courses should be. This is because knowledge about how particular antibiotics deal with particular bacteria in particular infections, and how those bacteria respond, is work in progress.

Concern has also been raised that stopping early may lead to people keeping unused antibiotics to use in the future without direction by a doctor or nurse, or sharing them with family or friends when they are sick. Each of these scenarios could lead to harm to the person and increase resistance rates through unnecessary use.

Closing the gaps

To address the crisis of increasing bacterial resistance, we need to understand and act on the main factors that are driving unnecessary use of antibiotics. About 50% of all antibiotics are estimated to be unnecessarily prescribed.

Chief among these drivers is prescriptions given to people who go to a doctor with symptoms like a cold or “flu”. These illnesses are caused by viruses, against which antibiotics have no effect. Simple pain killers or decongestants and cough mixtures are all that are needed.

The misuse of antibiotics is partly driven by people asking for them from doctors for the wrong reasons. A World Health Organisation study done in 2015 showed that South Africans believed that antibiotics could treat viral infections such as colds, flu, measles and HIV, as well as ailments like body aches and headaches.

So where else can we make gains at decreasing the use of antibiotics, other than preventing unnecessary use?

One area is in how long we treat bacterial infections that do need antibiotics. This is still an area of study, with new developments, insights and breakthroughs expanding our understanding all the time.

Wherever possible, treatments prescribed by doctors should be based on evidence from randomised controlled clinical trials that prove the treatment works and is safe.

Doctors treating patients with different types of bacterial infection have long suspected that we are using antibiotics for too long a duration. This has generated a number of excellent trials proving that shortening the duration of treatment has the same effect as longer treatment, and is safe. For example, a recent study showed that treatment of infection of the bones of the spine can safely be reduced from 12 to six weeks.

Similarly, doctors used to treat pneumonia for one to two weeks with antibiotics. But we now know that five days is sufficient for most types of pneumonia, and some studies are starting to show that three days may even be sufficient.

We need more of these studies across the whole range of bacterial infections for which antibiotics are used to inform our practice, and to safely shorten the number of days antibiotics are taken. So, is there good trial-based evidence to prove that stopping antibiotics when you feel better rather than finishing the course is safe and effective?

Missing evidence

The answer is no. The evidence we have is largely anecdotal, based on the fact that if you ask almost anyone, they’ll tell you that they don’t generally finish a course of antibiotics.

But remember that an extremely large percentage of people taking the antibiotics didn’t have a bacterial infection in the first place. And we also don’t know how many of those who did have a bacterial infection – and therefore needed an antibiotic – had a return of their symptoms which then required more antibiotics.

Trials need to be done that focus on two groups (randomly chosen). Both would be made up of people who have a common bacterial infection. But one would be made up of people who had completed the course, the other with people who have stopped because they were “feeling better”. What “feeling better” actually means would need to be pinned down. Although hard to perform, once we have the evidence from such studies, we will be in a position to give clear advice.

Until then, despite the opinion of many experts that stopping antibiotics when the patient feels better may reduce the overall use of antibiotics and therefore reduce development of resistance in a safe way, this advice remains just expert opinion – the lowest form of evidence.

Reopening the debate on how long an antibiotic should be given is a good thing. But this is a question that can only be answered through the proper scientific method of carefully constructed clinical trials.

Until then, stopping antibiotics when you feel better is not ready for prime-time. And could do you more harm than good.

 

Marc Mendelson, Professor of Infectious Diseases, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
Tuesday, 08 August 2017 11:30

Kenyans vote in tight, tense elections

Kenyans began voting Tuesday in general elections headlined by a too-close-to-call battle between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga, sparking fears of violence in east Africa's richest economy.

Long lines of voters snaked outside of polling stations around the country, many of them camping out from before midnight, under heavy security. Voting got underway shortly after 6am and all eyes are on an electronic voter identification and tallying system whose success is seen as crucial to a smooth. 

In Nairobi's largest slum Kibera, an opposition stronghold, angry shouts rang out due to a 15 minute delay, but calm swiftly returned as polling stations opened. "I voted Raila, because he will be so much better to us. But if he does not win, it's ok. It's a democracy after all. Really, there's no need for violence," said Tom Mboya, 43, who works in construction. 

Tensions soared in the last days of the campaign with the murder of a top election official and opposition claims that one of its vote tallying centres was raided by police, heightening a feverish atmosphere of conspiracy and suspicion.

The polls are seen as a litmus test of Kenya's progress since a disputed 2007 election sparked violence which left more than 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced. Odinga, 72, flagbearer of the NASA coalition, is taking his fourth and likely final stab at the presidency.

He claims elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him and right up until the eve of the vote, insisted that Kenyatta's Jubilee Party planned to rig Tuesday's presidential election. Elections in 2013 were marred by the widespread failure of the electronic system, forcing officials to revert to manual counting of the vote. However Odinga took his grievances to the courts instead of the streets, where he lost. 

"It seems almost inevitable that whoever loses will question the result. The question is not whether or not they will accept the result but what they will do when they don't accept it," said Nic Cheeseman, professor of African politics at Birmingham University in England.

In a bid to ease tensions Kenyatta addressed the nation Monday night, urging citizens to vote "in peace". Former US president Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, led a chorus of international calls on the eve of the vote for a peaceful election.

"I urge Kenyan leaders to reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people," Obama said in a statement. At Moi Avenue Primary School, the largest polling station in the city, voter Calvin Otieno, 27, joined the queue shortly after midnight. "Everyone has a right to vote and we should all be ready to accept the results. There is no need to fight because of elections. We are all Kenyans irrespective of tribe. If we fight, will any of the candidates come to bring us food in our houses?" he said.

In Kenyatta's home town Gatundu, north of Nairobi, a voter who identified herself only as Gathoni arrived early to "vote for my favourite president", who will himself cast his ballot at the polling station later in the morning.

There are more than 19 million registered voters in the nation of 48 million. Half are aged under 35. More than 150,000 security forces — including wildlife, prison and forestry officers — have been deployed for the vote, which ends at 5pm (1400 GMT).

Kenyans will vote in six different elections, choosing governors, lawmakers, senators, county officials and women's representatives in local races also rife with tension. However all eyes are on what is set to be the last showdown of a dynastic rivalry that has lasted more than half a century since the presidential candidates' fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga went from allies in the struggle for independence to bitter rivals.

The men belong to two of the country's main ethnic groups, Kenyatta from the Kikuyu, the largest, and Odinga from the Luo. Both have secured formidable alliances with other influential communities in a country where voting takes place largely along tribal lines.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking re-election after a first term in which he oversaw a massive infrastructure drive and steady economic growth of more than five percent. However he is also criticised for soaring food prices — with prices jumping 20 percent year-on-year in May — and massive corruption scandals on his watch.

 

Credit: NATION MEDIA GROUP

Published in Economy

South Africa's assets gained on Monday with the rand surging as much as 1.7 percent in part because a parliamentary speaker allowed a secret ballot in Tuesday's vote of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

The prospect of a secret ballot raises the chances of the departure of Zuma, which traders see as a net positive for the rand.

At 1502, the rand firmed 1.17 percent to 13.2625 per dollar, giving up some of the gains after strengthening to 13.1825 shortly after National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete announced the decision.

The decision could embolden members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote against Zuma and puts him in a precarious position as he struggles to fend off opposition accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy.

"I still think the vote will fail, there is maybe a 30 percent chance of success, but it won't be truly secret and there will be intense pressure on MPs. Ultimately a secret ballot wouldn't have been offered unless Zuma was

confident of wining," said Nomura emerging markets economist Peter Attard Montalto.

On the bourse, banking stocks rose, extending gains after news that critics hoped would paved way to oust Zuma - who is widely blamed for South Africa's loss of highly prized investment grade sovereign credit rating.

The banking index rose 1.1 percent, outpacing a 0.5 percent in the blue-chip Top-40 index, with Barclays Africa up 1.8 percent at 149.17 rand and rival Nedbank rising 1.7 percent to 229.71 rand.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 was down 5 basis points at 8.570 percent.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg (Reuters)

Published in Economy

Tink Labs Limited, one of Hong Kong’s most successful startups that revolutionize travel and tourism, has announced its partnership with Ghanaian hotels to offer its mobile travel solution called, handy.

The device, first launched in September 2012, helps travelers meet their unlimited demand for Internet connection services in and outside the hotel room and at the same time serving as a tailored travel guide for tourists and integrating with hotel services.

“Our belief is that it’s not about where you travel, it is how you travel and the experiences you have at the end. We have a vision to make travel in Africa as easy as going to London or Hong Kong.” said Steven To, thehandy Managing Director for Africa.

Handy is not only focused on helping hotel guests, it is also focused on how to make all of its partner hotels increase revenue and stay ahead of competition by providing services that enrich visitor experience.

Handy has been available in Ghana since the month of June and is signing on more hotels as partners.

One of the first partners of handy in Ghana, Mr. Sajid Khan, General Manager of Tang Palace Hotel, said “we are delighted to partner with handy to provide this complementary service to our valued guests to ease the

troubles they face during their trips, especially with connectivity and the ease of enjoying Accra during their stay here''.

This complementary service enables visitors to travel like locals through the provision of updated information on places of interest in their destinations and seamless connectivity.

Travelers can explore customized city guides on handy, curated by an experienced content provider to discover new Ghanaian experiences anytime, anywhere.

Visitors can also stay connected with free unlimited local and international calls, free internet access, speed dial to hotel services, and local emergency and essential travel information.

Currently, handy is available in Accra, covering over 1,000 hotel rooms and over 200,00 hotels rooms worldwide and is promised to help millions of global travelers to stay connected. The service is a trusted partner of

other leading hotel groups including Ritz-Carlton, Intercontinental, Sheraton, and more.

Published in Travel & Tourism

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