Items filtered by date: Monday, 12 November 2018

The longest suspension bridge in Africa, the cross-sea Maputo Bay Bridge with its link roads in Mozambique, was officially open to traffic on Saturday.

The three-kilometer twin-tower suspension bridge extends with a main span of 680 meters over the Maputo Bay of the Indian Ocean. The bridge is part of the Maputo Bridge and Link Roads project built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, with Chinese financing and standards.

Speaking at the inauguration, President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi said that the project will facilitate transport and connectivity between the country with other parts of the African continent.

The president expressed his gratitude to the government and friendly people of China for the support in funding this infrastructure and care given to the project.

Nyusi also highlighted that the bridge has fulfilled the wish of the people, with its potential to contribute to the sectors of tourism and logistics, the national economy and the global idea for regional integration.

Chinese Ambassador Su Jian said the project is a remarkable mark in the development process of Mozambique and it has potential to promote social and economic development by forming a transport artery from south to north across the country.

The ambassador also noted the project's domestic contribution, including jobs creation, transfer of technology to local people and auxiliary projects such as building classrooms for local schools, houses for resettled families and actions for environment protection.

Maputo-Catembe Bridge impact on South Africa

The Maputo-Catembe Bridge is guaranteed to cut travel time between Maputo in Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs confirmed that this development, which involved South African engineers, would stimulate trade and tourism between the two countries, saying:

“The road will see the travel time between Maputo to Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal’s East coast border post, drastically reduced, from 6 hours to 90 minutes.

This is a huge achievement. It will boost trade and tourism between South Africa and Mozambique.”

 

Credit: Xinhua

Published in Engineering
Monday, 12 November 2018 09:04

How intra-African trade can grow

With an estimated volume of trade between countries in Africa currently valued at about $1 trillion every year, Executive Vice President, African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Amr Kamel, says there were prospects for growth if identified barriers were removed.
 
Mr Kamel who is in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking, was speaking on Friday at the opening of the AFREXIMBANK Annual Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance (ACDICOG) Forum in Casablanca, Morocco.
 
He identified key constraints to intra-African trade to include dearth of strong corporate governance and due diligence practices among operators.
 
Besides, he said the problem could be attributed to over-estimation of African risks, which tend to be much bigger than the actual.
 
To ignite intra-African trade and drive economic growth, Mr Kamel emphasised the need for structures to re-establish correspondent banking facilities to boost the continent’s risk profile.
 
Concerns about limited capacity to finance and sustain trade, he noted, has resulted in the exodus of large global banks and financial institutions with capacity to finance trade in Africa.
 
To redress Africa’s trade finance needs, Mr Kamel told participants in the forum AFREXIMBANK has undertaken a number initiatives that would enable it fill the existing gap.
 
“We (AFREXIMBANK) have a number of programmes and initiatives to bring together African financial institutions, corporate entities and regulators on customer due diligence and corporate governance to learn from best practices, reposition the continent and improve its risk profile,” he said.
 
The initiatives include the African correspondent banking initiative, to expand African banks’ access to correspondent banking facilities tailored to suit their needs.
 
The initiative, he added enables participants from across the continent to deliberate on the effectiveness of current measures and to assess whether these are adequately promoting good governance and due diligence practices.
 
It provides a platform for sharing ideas and for the implementation of best practices in addition to paving the way for a collaborative approach to de-risking issues affecting Africa.
 
The theme for this year’s forum was “Developing Capabilities to Minimise Negative Perception about Correspondent Banking in Africa: Enhancing Compliance, Governance and Financial Inclusion”.
 
 
Source: Premium Times
Published in Opinion & Analysis

A former senior executive of the scandal-ridden VBS Mutual Bank has revealed that a branch manager was ordered to make a R3 million payment to fund the national congress held by the SA Communist Party (SACP) last year, allegedly in exchange for the party’s silence on the bank’s relationship with the controversial Gupta family.

City Press can reveal that Vele Investments, which is the majority shareholder of the soon to be defunct bank, used one of its subsidiary companies to pay the SACP’s R3 million bill for the use of facilities at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

The senior executive, who was at the centre of the bank’s activities and has requested anonymity, has told City Press how Vele Investments – VBS’s parent company – conspired to use a subsidiary company account to conceal the link to the SACP payment.

The senior executive’s revelations are the first to draw the SACP national office into the VBS saga after it fiercely denied any links to the bank.

 

The ANC has already admitted that it received R2 million from VBS, and has undertaken to pay the money back.

The senior executive alleged this week that a senior SACP official demanded a R3 million payment from former VBS chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi to stop making “noise” about VBS’s relationship with the Gupta family.

In January last year, almost a year after the country’s four major banks closed the accounts associated with the Guptas, VBS announced that it was following suit after discussions among the bank’s bosses.

Months later, the SACP learnt that VBS had allowed Gupta entities to open new business accounts.

The senior executive detailed how Matodzi ordered the branch manager to make a R3 million payment a day before the start of the SACP’s national congress.

“On July 6 2017, he [the branch manager] got a WhatsApp message from Matodzi saying that he must make a payment of R3 million for the SACP national congress.

"Matodzi told him that he was getting pressure from SACP leaders to have that payment done because the SACP congress was starting the following day.

“He was instructed to move R4 million from Vele Investments’ bank account to MML Food Services’ bank account.

"From there, R3 million was directly transferred into the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre’s bank account with the reference of the SACP. This was done to ensure that it cannot be traced.”

MML Food Services is a subsidiary of Vele Investments, which was a majority shareholder in VBS. Matodzi, who was the chairperson of both VBS and Vele, is the central character in the VBS scandal.

Matodzi and his associates have been positively identified as the main beneficiaries of the massive fraud at VBS.

In the explosive forensic report released by the SA Reserve Bank last month, which was authored by Advocate Terry Motau, MML Food Services is mentioned as one the companies that received a R19 million deposit and a R17.5 million facility from sister company VBS.

Matodzi declined to comment yesterday, saying: “I have no comment on anything that has to do with VBS.”

The chief executive officer of MML Food Services, Ronald Letsoalo, and Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre director Jazzman Mahlakgane ignored repeated requests for comment.

The senior executive also revealed that the system had to be programmed to allow the R3 million to go off and be available in the next bank immediately.

“We had to make the payment with RTC [real time clearance]. The intention was to silence SACP leaders from exposing Gupta accounts with VBS,” the senior executive told City Press.

According to the senior executive, a branch manager has the authority to make a payment of up to R1 million.

Any amount above that has to be authorised by the senior executives at the corporate office level.

Another insider within VBS said it appeared that the SACP leaders and VBS executives reached an agreement that R3 million would be paid to cover the costs of the SACP’s national congress.

“It means that there was a prior arrangement. Delegates at the SACP congress enjoyed water and food paid for by VBS,” the insider said.

The senior executive said all the transactions done by the branch manager were ordered by Matodzi.

“He would say to the branch manager via WhatsApp or telegram [a secure communications mechanism]: ‘Pay this much to this account.’ All the things the branch manager had paid for were because he got an instruction from Matodzi.”

The senior executive said the branch manager told investigators about the payment that was made on behalf of the SACP.

“They interviewed him. He told them about the payment he was ordered to make on behalf of the SACP. They omitted to mention that SACP benefited from VBS in the report.”

However, SACP national spokesperson Alex Mashilo denied that the party received money from VBS or Vele Investments.

When asked yesterday about the sponsors of the SACP’s national congress last year, Mashilo said: “It comes across as a generally fishing question to ask who has ever made a donation to the SACP.

“At its special national congress held in July 2015, the SACP published a financial report for the period dating back to its 13th national congress held in July 2012.

"The report published a number of details, including an assessment of SACP membership fees and levies. It also identified a number of donors, of whom the core are trade unions.

"The next financial report, which was made available at the 14th national congress of the party in July 2017, categorised the sources of income received with due regard to the rights of all parties.”

Mashilo said that the party’s record spoke for itself.

“It is utterly unfair to make a sweeping allegation against SACP leaders. The SACP has many leaders. The allegation is obviously senseless 
and dismissed with contempt.

"The SACP is on record [as saying] that, should any incontrovertible evidence of corruption involving the complicity of its members emerge in any scenario, the party will take decisive against that member,” he said.

This week, the SACP in Limpopo suspended its provincial secretary and former Capricorn District Municipality mayor Gilbert Kganyago, whose council illegally deposited R60 million into VBS when he was in charge.

Mashilo said the party had been consistently vocal against the Guptas.

“It is common knowledge that the SACP has been consistently vocal and mobilising against the Guptas’ capture of state authorities in particular and capture of the state in general. The party will not stop, but deepen this just struggle,” Mashilo said.

Matodzi, along with his co-directors and his friend Robert Madzonga, stands accused of facilitating the looting of nearly R2 billion at VBS.

ANC leaders, notably ANC Limpopo deputy chairperson and Vhembe District Municipality mayor Florence Radzilani and treasurer Danny Msiza were also implicated in the Motau report into the VBS scandal.

Radzilani is mentioned in the Motau report as having complained that she “only” received R300 000 for ensuring that millions deposited by the Vhembe District Municipality into VBS were not withdrawn.

Radzilani wrote to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule last week to deny any involvement in the VBS investment.

Msiza is challenging the report in court.

 

Source: News24

Published in Bank & Finance
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said money alleged to have been diverted from the dividend from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company was a revolving loan to fund subsidy payments.
 
According to the NNPC, the $1.05bn revolving loan obtained from the dividend of the NLNG prevented petroleum products’ chaos in the country, adding that the loan was used to subsidise the cost of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, in 2018.
 
The corporation also said that it was unfortunate for the National Assembly to commence a probe into the use of the NLNG dividend.
 
It would be recalled that the Senate, on Tuesday, commenced an investigation of the alleged diversion of $1.05bn from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas dividend account by the NNPC.
 
The Group General Manager of NNPC, while commenting on the development on Saturday in Abuja, said the probe by the Senate was wrong as the $1.05bn loan saved Nigeria from chaos.
 
He said: “The Senate got it wrong. Based on newspaper reports, the Senate said it was $3.5bn subsidy fund, whereas we do not have anything like subsidy fund. What we have is that we sourced for revolving loan based on the Nigeria LNG dividend to NNPC.
 
“And this is because NNPC is a major shareholder in NLNG and inter-party agencies are managing this and the figure is $1.05bn. There is nothing like $3.5bn because anything subsidy must be appropriated by the National Assembly.
 
“Now, it is important to state that if we didn’t source for that revolving loan, the nation would have been in chaos. They are not looking at that but claim we spent $3.5bn when there is nothing like that. You can’t place something on nothing.
 
“If we wanted to play safe, we would just appear before the Senate and when they say what of the $3.5bn, we will say nothing like that and that will be all. But for the sake of responsibility, we went further to clarify issues and told them what we have.”
 
Ugbamadu insisted that there would have been crisis across the country if the NNPC had not taken the step.
 
He said further: “So, the investigative panel, set up by the Senate on the Nigeria LNG dividend, is unfortunate because NNPC is the major shareholder and we utilise the dividend paid to the NNPC for importation of products and it is a revolving loan.
 
“Meaning – the NNPC is going to pay it back and if we didn’t obtain that and if the National Assembly has a leeway, it should recommend to the NNPC on what should be done because the price of petrol at N145 per litre is fixed.
 
“Major and independent marketers are not importing and you expect the NNPC to concentrate on the importation of products, which is not our core business! And if that is not done, the entire nation will be in chaos; you and I will be affected, including members of the National Assembly.
 
“It was the same National Assembly that said NNPC should do everything within its reach to ensure that the last fuel challenge is wiped out and that is exactly what we have done.”
 
Ugbamadu however said he could not provide the exact amount the NNPC is currently incurring as ‘under-recovery’ on petrol.
 
“The point is that I don’t have the figures here, but you know it varies depending on the international price of products. Except I source the figures from the PPMC (Pipelines Product Marketing Company).
 
Ughamadu said, “It is for a year. It is for 2018. That is another reason why we are not going to see queues during the Yuletide and beyond because we are augmenting what is imported with our local production. So, Nigeria will not experience fuel shortage this festive period.”The corporation’s spokesperson said it was unfortunate for the Senate to set up an investigative panel on the NLNG dividend as the NNPC controlled the largest stake in the gas company.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in Bank & Finance

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