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Tunisia raised fuel prices on Saturday for the second time in three months in an effort to rein in its budget deficit, one of a series of reforms the country’s international lenders want.

The price of a litre of petrol will rise about 3 percent, from 1.80 dinars to 1.85 dinars, starting Sunday, the ministry of energy said in a statement. The last increase was also by about 3 percent, in January of this year.

The International Monetary Fund approved last week the payment of a $257 million tranche of Tunisia’s loan programme and urged it to go ahead with more reforms.

The IMF said in statement that among the priorities for 2018 are to strengthen tax collection, not grant new wage increases unless growth surprises on the upside and enact quarterly price increase for fuel.

Fuel subsidies will rise from the 1.5 billion dinars expected this year to a 3 billion dinars with the rise of world oil prices, Minister of Reforms Taoufik Rajhi said.

Tunisia has forecast that the budget deficit will fall to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, from about 6 percent in 2017.

Reporting By Tarek Amara, editing by Larry King  (Reuters) 

Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $46.2 billion as of March 28, up 8.8 percent from a month earlier, central bank data showed on Saturday.

Successful debt sales, including a eurobond offering last month, have helped the government accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves, although they remain far from the peak of $64 billion in August 2008.

The government raised $2.5 billion in Eurobonds in February and expects more to follow. Nigeria’s foreign exchange buffer has climbed 53 percent since March 2017 when it stood at $30.30 billion.

Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; editing by Jonathan Oatis (Reuters) 

The economy of Mauritius is expected to grow by 3.9 percent this year, down from a previous forecast of 4.0 percent in December, due to an expected slowdown in agriculture and fishing activities, the statistics office said on Friday.

The Indian Ocean island economy expanded by 3.8 percent in 2017, lower than the previous estimate of 3.9 percent.

Statistics Mauritius said agriculture would expand by 1.1 percent this year instead of 2.0 percent, due to no growth in sugarcane and lower growth in other agricultural activities.

Mauritius, which markets itself as a bridge between Africa and Asia, has been working to shift the economy from reliance on sugar, textiles and tourism towards offshore banking, business outsourcing, luxury real estate and medical tourism.

Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Maggie Fick and Edmund Blair (Reuters)

South Africa will speed up visa processes and lure major conferences in an effort to boost foreign arrivals by 40 percent by 2021, its tourism minister said on Friday.

The new measures are part of a goal to attract five million additional travellers – four million international tourists and one million extra local holiday trips and will help limit the “blip” a major drought is having on South Africa’s top tourist draw card, Cape Town, said minister Derek Hanekom.

“I am bullish because there is huge growth potential,” Hanekom told Reuters in an interview.

“On the international front conditions are very much in our favour so its going to be easier to achieve the four million part than the one million,” he said.

Tourism, which contributes more than 400 billion rand ($34 billion) to Africa’s most industrialized economy, or around 8 percent of GDP, is seen by government as key to help drive growth and reduce a stubbornly high unemployment rate.

South Africa emerged from a recession last year but is struggling to grow its economy and less disposal income means locals are hesitant to travel.

However, the long-haul destination still provides good value for money for foreign tourists attracted to its white beaches, iconic Table Mountain and wildlife safaris.
Earlier this month, the World Travel and Tourism Council said travel and tourism would contribute around 424.5 billion rand to the overall economy in 2018, before rising by 3.5 percent a year to 598.6 billion or 10.1 percent of GDP in 2028.

Besides establishing a fund which is geared to help South Africa win more global conferences and exhibitions, Hanekom said home affairs officials were also developing online visa applications, as well as possibly producing them for tourists on arrival at airports.

“Of course the first prize for us and the easiest is when visitors from particulars countries don’t need visas at all,” he said.
Hanekom said discussions with home affairs and foreign relations departments would consider granting more countries visa waivers for short trips, following success with visitor numbers from Russia which increased 57 percent last year.

Tourism officials said current visa processes were putting off tourists from China, India and Nigeria, some of the world’s largest outbound travel markets.
($1 = 11.8239 rand)
Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle (Reuters) 

Ghana scooped all 1.57 billion cedis ($356.3 million) tendered for a three-year domestic bond on Thursday and will pay a yield of 16.5 percent, joint transaction arrangers said.

Initial guidance for the bond, open to non-resident Ghanaians, was in the range of 15.5 percent and 16.5 percent. The government was hoping to raise 900 million cedis from the sale.

($1= 4.4057 cedis)

Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Joe Bavier (Reuters)

Barclays Kenya launched an app on Friday to allow customers to borrow up to 150,000 shillings ($1,484) for 30 days using their phones.Barclays, a unit of South Africa’s Barclays Africa Group, wants to attract at least five

million new customers in the next five years, up from around half a million, through mobile phone-based lending, Chief Executive Jeremy Awori said.

Kenyan lenders have been turning to technology in response to competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform.

Pressure to use mobile channels to cut costs increased when the government capped lending rates in September 2016, crimping profit margins.

“Our focus is to use innovation and technology to develop products that are more relevant to the emerging needs of our customers,” Awori said.

Known as Timiza, Swahili for “Achieve”, the new app’s competitors include KCB Group’s KCB M-Pesa and CBA Group’s M-Shwari, both operated in partnership with Safaricom.

Equity Group, another top-five lender, offers mobile financial services through its telecoms subsidiary, Equitel.

Awori said the app will allow users, who will access it by dialling a short code and do not have to be Barclays clients, to buy insurance and to hail rides through a partnership with local ride-hailing company Little.

($1 = 101.1000 Kenyan shillings)

Reporting by Duncan Miriri; editing by Dasha Afanasieva (Reuters)

A flight attendant who fell from the emergency door of a parked aeroplane in Uganda's Entebbe airport has died, the BBC has learned.

The woman, whose nationality has not been revealed, was rushed to Kisubi hospital 16km (10 miles) away but died soon after, a spokesperson said.

Reports say the Emirates Airline employee was preparing the flight for boarding when the incident happened.

Uganda's aviation authorities say they have launched an investigation.

It said in a statement that the flight attendant "appeared to have opened the emergency door" and unfortunately "fell off an aircraft that had safely landed and parked".

Kisubi hospital's spokesperson Edward Zabonna told the BBC that the crew member had injuries "all over her face and knees".

He said that she had been "unconscious but alive" when she arrived at the hospital on Wednesday evening but died soon after.

News agency AFP quotes a statement from Emirates Airline as saying: "A member of our cabin crew, unfortunately, fell from an open door while preparing the aircraft for boarding".

The Dubai-based airline promised its "full cooperation" with the investigation. Source: BBC

Seven firms have submitted bids to buy a majority stake in Zambia’s sole 24,000 barrel per day Indeni Petroleum Refinery, an executive at the agency handling the bidding said on Saturday.

Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) procurement specialist Mwila Kapita said Glencore Energy UK Ltd, Vitol SA, China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation and Philia Trading were among the firms that had submitted bids.

The others are Joint Stock Company Global Security of Russia, Sahara Energy Resources Limited and a consortium of Beijing Huiersanji Green Chem Company Limited and AVIC International Holding.

Zambia is looking for a strategic partner to work with Indeni Petroleum Refinery, built in 1973. The oil company is currently 100 percent owned by the state-controlled Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Limited.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Mark Potter (Reuters) 

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