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South Africa’s central bank has fined China Construction Bank (CCB) 75 million rand ($6 million) for non-compliance with the country’s financial intelligence act, it said on Friday.

“It should be noted that the administrative sanctions were not imposed because CCB was found to have facilitated transactions involving money laundering or the financing of terrorism but because of weaknesses in the bank’s control measures,” the central bank said in a statement.

The regulator said 20 million rand of the fine would be suspended pending the Chinese Construction Bank’s compliance with conditions imposed.

($1 = 12.0685 rand)

Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by James Macharia (Reuters)

Global e-commerce and m-commerce giant, Mall for the Africa has announced its expansion into 11 new countries in Africa. In response to increased demand for its patented platform, the app will now be available in Angola, Chad, Guinea, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

The award-winning app offers billions of items from more than 250 of the best US and UK retailers—stores that would otherwise be inaccessible to its customers. By managing every aspect of the order and return cycle, the app offers its customers a simple, secure and convenient solution to online shopping directly from many of the best brands in the world.

“This is an exciting time for Mall for Africa as our rapid growth will afford millions of new customers the opportunity to shop from the most desired retailers,” said Chris Folayan, CEO of Mall for Africa. “Current customers in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda love our platform which is why we are rolling out in 11 additional countries and will continue to expand our platform to meet the needs of customers worldwide.”

According to Statista, global retail e-commerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion by 2021, a 246.15% increase worldwide from 2014. This is in result of shopper’s looking beyond borders when shopping online and 57% made a purchase from overseas retailer within the past six months. Last year’s Nielsen’s Connected Commerce report found that online is the favorite shopping destination for some categories, with one-third saying they purchase beauty and personal care online and more than two-thirds purchasing travel products or services online.

South African cement maker PPC Ltd said on Friday group revenue improved in the nine months to December 31 despite a lag in its home market.

“The lack of large infrastructure projects continues to hamper cement volume growth in South Africa,” it said.

In Rwanda it grew volumes by 20 to 30 percent and in Zimbabwe by 30 to 40 percent, it said.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were hurt by corporate action and other costs, PPC said in a statement, without giving details.

PPC, which has operations in six countries, spent most of 2017 in merger discussions with cement and investment suitors including local rival AfriSam, Nigeria’s Dangote Cement and Irish building materials group CRH.

In December it concluded that it was no longer interested in selling or buying assets, ending talks about a possible takeover by Swiss group LafargeHolcim.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by Jason Neely  (Reuters)

Rising exports are expected to help Rwanda’s economy to soon expand by its long term annual average of about 8 percent, its finance minister said on Wednesday.

Claver Gatete said the economy had expanded by an average of 8 percent per year since 2000, but it had dipped to an estimated 5.2 percent last year due to sluggish growth in the construction sector and other challenges.

“We want to go back to the high growth of 8 percent,” he told Reuters, citing last year’s third quarter growth, which was 8 percent. “We are coming out of the woods.”

The International Monetary Fund said last November it expected Rwanda to grow by around 6-7 percent this year.

Gatete said exports jumped 43.7 percent in the first 11 months of last year, while imports declined 1.4 percent, leading to a 21.3 percent reduction of the trade deficit.

“There is a trend ... We are seeing the economy going the right direction,” he said.

Tax collection improved by 14.8 percent to 582.7 billion francs ($694.41 million) in the second half of last year, the revenue authority said on Wednesday.

($1 = 839.1300 Rwandan francs)

Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Alison Williams (Reuters)

Consumer confidence in South Africa improved slightly in the fourth quarter, reflecting stronger-than-expected economic growth in previous quarters, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The consumer confidence index, sponsored by First National Bank (FNB) and compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research, improved to -8 from -9 in the second quarter.

“The improvement in consumer sentiment regarding South Africa’s economic prospects correlates with the stronger-than-expected rebound in real GDP growth during the second and third quarters of 2017,” Jason Muscat, senior economic analyst at FNB, said.

South Africa’s economy grew more than expected in the third quarter as the agricultural sector continued to recover from a severe drought while mining and manufacturing also improved, lifting hopes the country may avoid further credit downgrades.

Economic growth in the second quarter lifted the country from its first recession in nearly a decade.

However, Muscat added the “bleak outlook” for government finances remained one of the greatest risks to consumer spending in 2018.

The International Monetary Fund cut South Africa’s economic growth forecast for the next two years last week, citing rising political uncertainty that has dented investor confidence.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter (Reuters)

China and the African Union dismissed on Monday a report in French newspaper Le Monde that Beijing had bugged the regional bloc’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

An article published Friday in Le Monde, quoting anonymous AU sources, reported that data from computers in the Chinese-built building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.

After the massive hack was discovered a year ago, the building’s IT system including servers was changed, according to Le Monde. During a sweep for bugs after the discovery, microphones hidden in desks and the walls were also detected and removed, the newspaper reported.

The $200 million headquarters was fully funded and built by China and opened to great fanfare in 2012. It was seen as a symbol of Beijing’s thrust for influence in Africa, and access to the continent’s natural resources.

As in the Ethiopian capital, China’s investments in road and rail infrastructure are highly visible across the continent. At a 2015 summit in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in aid and investment to the continent, saying it would continue to build roads, railways and ports.

Chinese and African officials gathered in Addis Ababa for the bloc’s annual summit both denied Le Monde’s report.

China’s ambassador to the AU, Kuang Weilin, called the article “ridiculous and preposterous” and said its publication was intended to put pressure on relations between Beijing and the continent.

“China-Africa relations have brought about benefits and a lot of opportunities. Africans are happy with it. Others are not.”

Asked who, he said: “People in the West. They are not used to it and they are simply not comfortable with this.”

Asked about the report, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who assumed the African Union chairmanship this year, said he did not know anything about it.

“But, in any case, I don’t think there is anything done here that we would not like people to know,” he told reporters after a meeting of African heads of state.

“I don’t think spying is the speciality of the Chinese. We have spies all over the place in this world,” Kagame said. “But I will not have been worried about being spied on in this building.”

His only concern, he said, was that the AU should have built its own headquarters, instead of China. “I would only have wished that in Africa we had got our act together earlier on. We should have been able to build our own building.”

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; writing by Maggie Fick; editing by Mark Heinrich (Reuters)

PSA Group’s Opel plans to start exporting cars to Tunisia and Morocco from its European plants, its chief executive told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in an interview.

France’s PSA agreed in March to buy Opel from General Motors in a deal valuing the business at 2.2 billion euros ($2.73 billion). The move was aimed at helping the group to challenge European market leader Volkswagen.

PSA has given Opel until 2020 to return to profit as part of a recovery plan aimed at shifting the brand’s model line-up onto PSA’s production platforms.

“We see good opportunities for us overall,” Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller was quoted as saying of its African prospects in a summary of an FAZ article to be published on Monday.

The Opel chief said he was not concerned that the sale of Opel cars in Africa could cannibalise sales of parent PSA.

“There are buyers who consciously choose a French brand and there are those who consciously pick a German brand,” he told the paper.

He also said that Opel was making progress with its cost-cutting efforts.

($1 = 0.8052 euros)

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Goodman (Reuters)

South African utility Eskom will publish interim financial results on Tuesday, the company said, in time to meet a Jan. 31 deadline set by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which had threatened to suspend trading in Eskom’s bonds.

Eskom is the sole power supplier in Africa’s most industrialised economy and delayed publication of its results late last year. The firm has been embroiled in a governance crisis and has been at the heart of allegations of undue influence in awarding tenders during President Jacob Zuma’s time in power.

International ratings agencies have regularly cited Eskom as a threat to South Africa’s strained public finances.

Earlier this month the government named a new Eskom board and told the company to remove executives facing allegations of “serious corruption and other acts of impropriety”.

Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by James Macharia (Reuters)

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