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Zimbabwe aims to supply 10 percent of the world’s lithium and could reach 20 percent, the mines minister from Africa’s top producer of the alkali metal used in batteries for electric vehicles said on Wednesday.

“We believe we have the potential to actually account for 20 percent of global demand when all known lithium resources are being exploited,” Winston Chitando told a mining investment conference in the capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe is a top 10 of lithium producer but currently produces only a fraction of the worldwide total.

Prices for lithium have more than doubled in the past two years on forecasts for massive demand from the electric vehicle industry. That has sparked work on a flurry of new mines and expansion plans for existing ones.

Zimbabwe, where investor sentiment has been lifted by the ousting last year of former president Robert Mugabe after almost four decades in power, is keen to attract fresh capital to its mining sector and is pushing lithium as a major draw. (Reuters)

Nigeria’s economy grew 1.92 percent in the last quarter of 2017 compared with a 1.73 percent contraction in the same period of the previous year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
The OPEC member’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.83 percent in 2017 as a whole after shrinking by 1.58 percent in 2016, its first annual contraction in 25 years.

Oil production rose to 1.91 million barrels a day (mbpd) in the last quarter of 2017 compared with 1.76 mbpd in the same period of 2016, the statistics office said.

The recession in 2016 was largely caused by low crude oil prices and militant attacks on energy facilities in the Niger Delta. Crude sales make up two-thirds of government revenue.

Africa’s biggest economy returned to growth in the second quarter of 2017 but the recovery has been fragile since it is largely due to higher oil prices. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in December that the economy remains vulnerable. (Reuters)

South Africa’s incoming Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Tuesday that the budget tabled last week by outgoing minister Malusi Gigaba, which featured the first VAT hike in over two decades, might not prevent more credit ratings downgrades.
Nene was asked during a radio interview whether the budget would stave off downgrades that could make it more costly for South Africa to borrow.

“I wouldn’t say that yet,” Nene told Talk Radio 702.

Nene’s return to the finance ministry comes two years after his sacking from the same role triggered a party revolt that eventually ousted former president Jacob Zuma, who was replaced two weeks ago by Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa late on Monday announced Nene’s return in a reshuffle that also saw new faces and the removal of some ministers allied to Zuma, who was ordered by his own African National Congress party to step down.

Nene, a soft-spoken technocrat who is respected by the markets, told 702 that he had learned of his reappointment on Monday and that his reaction was “mixed.”

“What superseded my reaction was when public service calls, all other things are no longer a priority,” he said.(Reuters)

South Africa’s Bidvest Group on Monday named Mark Steyn, the financial head of its freight business, as the next group chief financial officer after the trading, services and distribution firm posted a 12.5 percent rise in first-half earnings.

Steyn will replace Peter Meijer, who is retiring on Wednesday after 28 years with the company.

Steyn, who will take over from March 1, joined Bidvest in May 1997 and has held various financial positions within Bidvest Freight.

Bidvest, which is also involved in financial services, said headline earnings per share in the six months to Dec. 31 rose to 574 cents from 510.3 cents a year earlier.

The services, freight, and office and print divisions were the outstanding performers, with trading profit climbing 24.3 percent, 18 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively.

“This performance again demonstrates the benefits of our robust and diverse operating units, which collectively serve many key sectors of the South African economy,” group Chief Executive Lindsay Ralphs said in a statement.

The group declared an interim gross cash dividend of 255 cents per share, up 12.3 percent from 227 cents a year ago. (Reuters)

The ECOWAS Commission has signed a trade and investment cooperation agreement with the Republic of Turkey as part of efforts to deepen economic cooperation between members of the Sub-regional body and Turkey.

Signing the ‘Turkey-ECOWAS Trade and Investment Cooperation Agreement’, is seen as a principal step toward institutionalising relations between Turkey and the ECOWAS Commission.

The two parties also welcomed the establishment of an ECOWAS-Turkey Joint Commission by signing the Turkey-ECOWAS Trade and Investment Cooperation Agreement.

The development follows talks by representatives of 15 ECOWAS member-states led by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Mr. Kalilou Traore, with the Turkish government represented by the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Turkey, Nihat Zeybekci, at the first Turkey-ECOWAS Economic and Business Forum in Istanbul.

In line with the decisions taken at the first and second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summits, held in Istanbul in 2008 and Malabo in 2014, and the Turkey-Africa Economic Business Forum in 2016, Turkey and ECOWAS decided to jointly organise this business forum to foster closer cooperation between Turkey and West African states.

The business and economic forum brought together more than 500 Turkish and West African businesses which engaged in one-on-one business to business meetings to explore opportunities for business engagement.

In the meeting that led to signing the latest agreement, the parties decided to intensify their collaboration in several identified areas of interest.

They include: Ensuring finalisation of the legal framework for developing and promoting trade and investment cooperation; Increasing the trade volume in a balanced manner; and, Implementation of joint infrastructure and development projects.

Other areas also identified were: developing financing mechanisms for trade and investment; Improving the logistics connectivity between Turkey and ECOWAS member-states; developing trade facilitation in line with WTO Trade Facilitation Agreements.

It was also agreed to establish a dialogue between the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) and Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), and to strengthen relations between private sectors through the establishment of Business Councils at the bilateral level, inter alia.

To achieve these objectives, the Turkish side indicated its readiness to enter into negotiations for Free Trade Agreements, considering the priorities and specificities of the ECOWAS member-states.

ECOWAS, however, indicated it intended to consider the proposal at the appropriate level.

At the Forum, the parties noted with great satisfaction the growing and diversifying Turkey-ECOWAS partnership.


South Africa’s rand hit a fresh three-year high against a weaker dollar in early trade on Monday, amid talk that President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to announce a new cabinet this week.
At 0627 GMT, the rand was at 11.5300 per dollar, 0.11 percent firmer than its New York close on Friday.

The currency hit 11.5100/dollar earlier in the session, its firmest since February 2015.

Ramaphosa has said he is considering a cabinet reshuffle after replacing former leader Jacob Zuma. The former president’s nine-year rule was marred by a series of scandals. Ramaphosa has pledged to fight official corruption.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 fell 4 basis points to 7.995 percent, reflecting stronger bond prices. (Reuters)

Members of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme have reaffirmed their political will to meet the Bloc’s single currency programme deadline by 2020.

They also reaffirmed their commitment to ratify and implement all relevant ECOWAS Protocols and Conventions, as well as a gradual approach wherein member-states which meet the convergence criteria can start the monetary union while other countries join later.

This was in a Communiqué issued at the end of the Fifth Meeting of the Presidential task Force on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme in Accra on Wednesday.

The meeting was attended by President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, President Allasane Outtara of Cote d’Ivoire, President Issoufou Mamadou of Niger, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, and Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigera-representing President Muhamadu Buhari.

The Task Force members expressed concern over the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and called on the African Union to put in place a mechanism to move toward peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The Accra meeting, which comes four months after the last one in Niamey, Niger-on October 24, 2017, was to review progress made by the Task Force – co-chaired by President Akufo-Addo and Nigerien leader Issoufou Mamadou – on the roadmap to attain a single currency for the region by 2020.

Mozambique will present to its creditors the key elements of a debt restructuring proposal and give an update on its fiscal and macroeconomic situation at a meeting in London on March 20, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said on Thursday.

“The government remains committed to finding a consensual and collaborative resolution to the current debt situation through dialogue with the holders of the Republic’s direct and guaranteed external commercial obligations,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.

Debt-ridden Mozambique has been in turmoil since the 2016 discovery of previously hidden loans granted to three state-owned companies, which led the International Monetary Fund and Western donors to halt budget support, triggering a currency collapse and debt defaults as well as hitting economic growth.(Reuters)

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