The World Bank said on Thursday it had given Kenya a $1 billion concessional loan for energy, transport and water infrastructure projects in poorer regions in its north and northeast.
These regions have benefited little from Kenya’s strong economic performance, the World Bank said. The East African economy is seen growing 5.8 percent this year, after electoral turmoil and drought cut last year’s expansion to the lowest level in more than five years.
Most of the money will be spent in the counties of Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir, and West Pokot which fall below national averages on development indicators, the World Bank said in a statement.
“These infrastructure investments are laying the ground for additional operations that will enable sustainable livelihoods with targeted support to farmers and pastoralists in the region and expanded support to the most vulnerable households through regular cash transfers,” the Bank said.
The funding will go to six projects including an off-grid energy access initiative worth $150 million that the World Bank says will provide electricity to 1.2 million people and contribute 96 megawatts to the national grid.
A further $500 million will go towards a 740 km stretch of the Isiolo-Wajir-Mandera road corridor in the northeast and enhance internet access there.
The average poverty rate in the regions named stands at 68 percent compared with a national average of 36 percent, the World Bank said, while electrification rates there is only 14 percent compared with an estimated 44 to 70 percent nationally.
The new loan is in addition to $1.4 billion the World Bank has already invested in the region in the areas of health, transport, agriculture and social protection.
“Given the significant needs, more needed to be done in a targeted and coordinated manner if the Bank was to support the Government of Kenya in its efforts in the north and northeastern region,” the World Bank said.
Typically, World Bank concessional loans have zero or very low interest rates and have repayments periods of 25 to 40 years, with a five- or 10-year grace period.
Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by George Obulutsa and Hugh Lawson (Reuters)
Tanzania has approached the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance a 2,100-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site renowned for its animal population, despite concerns from conservationists.
The East African nation considers the project at Stiegler’s Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve to be vital in its bid to diversify its energy mix and end chronic electricity shortages.
The project would more than double the country’s power generation capacity.
But critics say securing financing for it could prove difficult because construction of a dam on a major river that runs through the Selous Game Reserve could affect wildlife and their habitats downstream.
Tanzania’s finance ministry said in a statement on Saturday that President John Magufuli, who is personally pushing the long-delayed project, made the financing request to AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina during talks in Tanzania’s administrative capital Dodoma over the weekend
The AfDB confirmed that it was reviewing Magufuli’s request but did not say how much the project would cost.
“President Magufuli is very committed to ensure that the country industrialises, but you cannot industrialise unless you have access to electricity,” Adesina told journalists on Saturday after his talks with the president.
“The president is very keen to talk to us about the Stiegler’s Gorge project ... he mentioned that to us and we are going to be looking at that with him and the government, but we are also very keen to look at other alternative sources of energy.”
Adesina said the AfDB plans to work with the Tanzanian government to develop integrated power projects with the private sector.
Tanzania’s Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango said on Saturday that East Africa’s third-biggest economy was also seeking a $200 million loan from the AfDB to build a new airport in Dodoma, and additional financing for the construction of roads.
The government invited bids in August for the Stiegler’s Gorge project and hopes construction work will begin as early as July.
Covering 50,000 sq km, the Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, according to UNESCO. It is known for its elephants, black rhinos and giraffes, among many other species.
Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Bolton (Reuters)
Kenya’s energy minister ordered the energy regulatory commission to review electricity tariffs after consumer complaints that monthly bills from Kenya Power had jumped in the second half of last year.
Kenya Power is state-controlled and it is the sole electricity distributor and the bulk of its power comes from Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). The commission, which is the independent regulator for the sector, sets tariffs for Kenya Power.
Energy Minister Charles Keter, whose ministry is represented on the board of Kenya Power, told a news conference that the company was ready to be audited. “We are open for any scrutiny from any quarter.”
A group of Kenyan electricity consumers filed a class action lawsuit against Kenya Power in January, saying that their monthly bills jumped, some tripling, in the second half of last year. A court hearing is set for May.
Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Alison Williams (Reuters)
Global audit firm KPMG has urged Ivory Coast to introduce a spot sales system for local cocoa exporters who were responsible for defaults on 148,000 tonnes of contracts in the last growing season.
The world’s top producer sells forward the bulk of its anticipated harvest to be able to set a minimum price for farmers at the start of its October-September growing season.
But world market prices fell 40 percent over the course of the 2016/17 season and exporters were unable to honour their commitments to suppliers, forcing Ivory Coast’s cocoa marketing board (CCC) to resell their contracts at a loss.
In a report submitted to the government in March and seen by Reuters on Friday, KPMG said the PMEX/COOPEX exporter group, which includes more than a dozen local export companies, was responsible for two-thirds of the 222,000 tonnes of contracts in default during the 2016/17 season.
The total value of the contract defaults was 399 billion CFA francs ($719.3 million) and the Ivorian government lost 199 billion CFA francs reselling them, the report said.
The defaults came about when PMEX/COOPEX members tried to compete with larger multinational firms and boost revenues by speculating that global cocoa prices would rise rather than locking in contracts, it said.
“Their difficulty getting export permits leads them to take risks,” the report said, adding that PMEX/COOPEX members went from buying 11 percent of forward sold contracts in 2014 to 23 percent in 2017.
It recommended that Ivory Coast no longer sell forward cocoa contracts to small exporters and instead limit them to buying on spot markets, where speculation is limited, sales or in partnership with multinational companies in which they export the beans but the partner buys the contract.
The exporters would earn smaller margins on these kinds of sales, requiring action by the government to boost their access to international contracts, the report said.
CCC officials declined to comment on the report. PMEX/COOPEX members declined to speak on the record but some said on condition of anonymity that they welcomed the report’s recommendations.
“We are in favour of that. We are at 200,000 tonnes currently (of international contracts) but if the government can raise this to 400,000 tonnes, it will allow us to boost local players,” the director of one company said.
“Certain (small exporters) do excellent work ... and show that small local operators can be reliable if they have the chance,” the manager of another company said.
Ivory Coast, which accounts for about 40 percent of global cocoa supply, expects total production for the 2017/18 season of around 2 million tonnes, similar to last season’s record output.
($1 = 554.6900 CFA francs)
Editing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Dale Hudson (Reuters)
All activities pursued by a company are inherently risky, although to varying degrees. Decisions made at present will show their full consequences only in the future and are affected not only by the behaviour of competitors, customers, suppliers or regulators, but also by the state of nature. Even the best-evaluated decisions can lead to losses in unforeseen circumstances (Alfon and Andrews, 1999).
Risk is at the core of corporate activities, and that is why insurance companies have to ensure that they can bear the risks they are facing. With capital, a company is only forced into financial bankruptcy if the losses exceed the capital held. As losses are related to the risk of a company, it becomes apparent that capital and risks are closely related with each other.
In 2016, the Bank of Ghana announced a new capital requirement of 400 million cedis for banks in Ghana. That represented an increase of 233.3 percent from the previous 120 million cedis. The new capital requirement is expected to protect depositors from unforeseen circumstances that may result in a loss of funds for banks.
With the same idea of protecting depositors of banks, policyholders of insurance should also be protected. Since 1989, a series of adjustments have been made to strengthen balance sheets of insurance companies. The idea is to make the insurance companies go beyond just adjusting capital, and also look for more sophisticated ways of approaching stability and soundness in order to withstand heavy shocks. Upward revision of capital requirement will have a sound influence on the economy and also help insurance companies to absorb industry risks.
The most important questions we have to consider are: How much capital does an insurance company need for a given risk or, equivalent? How much risk can it take with a given capital? Why the need to increase capital requirement? This is why capital adequacy has become increasingly important, primarily in the regulation of financial activities of insurers.
Insurance companies are required to exhaust all available local capacity before recourse to overseas reinsurance. Nevertheless, insurance businesses still end up overseas due to the lack of capital. The capital inadequacy in the insurance industry has resulted in low premium retentions and high demand for overseas reinsurance, leading to excessive premium flight which runs into millions of Ghana cedis every year.
In 2013, out of total non-life premiums of GH¢583million, only GH¢204 million was reinsured, and less than that number was reinsured locally. With revision of capital requirement, insurance companies will have the capacity to cover major risks. Local insurance companies can co-insure major risks without recourse to overseas reinsurance.
The more capital insurance companies have, the stronger they will be. And that will make international companies do businesses with them. The more overseas reinsurance is reduced, the more money will be retained in the country. The more capital a company has, the stronger the company is – and the more willing international companies are ready to do business with it. An insurance company cannot be effective or go international when it has small capacity to insure higher risks.
Risk adequate premiums
Insurance companies need to sustain higher revenue than expenses in order to stay viable. Insurers make money from the premiums customers pay, but also lose money when they fulfil their obligation to pay for their customer’s losses and damages. They also have a host of operating expenses to pay, including agents and brokers’ commissions.
Unfortunately, many insurance companies undercut premiums. There are standard calculations that insurers are to follow to arrive at the right premiums and quotations for the various insurance policies. Because of competition and the struggle for business, some companies undercharge premiums so they can win business to underwrite.
Revising the capital requirement will compel insurers to uphold best practices and charge risk-adequate premiums. Companies will not undercut quotations and premiums in order to underwrite high risks with low premiums. Revised capital requirement for insurers will help bring sanity into the insurance industry, and also create healthy competition wherein risk-adequate premiums will be charged by insurers in order to sustain their capital and meet financial obligations.
A very effective way to increase insurance penetration is through inclusive insurance promotions. There is a need for the insurance to commit time and money to research and create useful, affordable insurance products aimed at other markets in the economy where insurance coverage is very low. Insurers can provide insurance to the agricultural sector and promote access to insurance for the under-served and low-income earners. Increasing capital requirement for insurers will make them discontented with the few businesses they are underwriting, and rather delve into other markets where insurance is under-served. The contribution of insurance to the country’s GDP is still below 2%.
As part of the measures to boost confidence in the insurance sector, adequate capital will strengthen insurance companies in the area of claim payment. The major reason many Ghanaians are not motivated to purchase insurance products is the failure to honour claims by insurers. Delays and non-payment of claims have been a major problem between insurers and policyholders.
However, adequate capital for insurers will give companies the financial strength to pay valid claims promptly. This will even give the regulator enhanced tools so that it is better placed to protect policyholders and ensure insurance companies are also safe.
In the latter part of 2017, Regency Alliance and NEM insurance merged to become RegencyNem Insurance. This was because one company was struggling with the current minimum capital requirement, which is GH¢15million. With upward revision, more insurance companies will be expected to merge. It is time for some insurance companies to merge, since there are even too many insurance companies with low capacity in the country. Nigeria’s GDP is US$405.10billion, but it has twenty-eight licenced general insurance companies. Ghana’s GDP is US$47.81billion, with twenty-seven general insurance companies. On the other side, when two or more companies merge their resources are increased and they are able to compete effectively.
The Insurance industry plays a significant role in the economy, in terms of providing indemnification of risks faced by both individuals and companies – in addition to being an institutional investor. Recapitalisation will ensure that insurance companies have sufficient capacity to undertake the intermediation function necessary for the economy’s development. Also, well-capitalised insurance companies are able to undertake greater business expansion and allocate resources in order to develop capacity to compete more effectively in this more liberalised environment in the country.
The writer is with Tri-Star Insurance Services Gh. Ltd.
Source : thebftonline.com
South Africa’s headline consumer inflation slowed to 3.8 percent year-on-year in March from 4.0 percent in February, the lowest figure since January 2011, data from Statistics South Africa showed on Tuesday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices to quicken to 4.1 percent on a year-on-year basis.
On a month-on-month basis inflation slowed to 0.4 percent in March from 0.8 percent in February.
Core inflation, which excludes the prices of food, non-alcoholic beverages, petrol and energy, was flat at 4.1 percent year-on-year, while on a month-on-month basis it slowed to 0.7 percent from 1.1 percent previously.
Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Joe Brock (Reuters)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a team of business and finance experts on Monday to hunt the globe for 100 billion rand ($8 billion) in investment to boost the ailing economy.
The team of economic envoys includes two former finance ministers - Trevor Manuel and Pravin Gordhan, who now holds the state firms portfolio - as well as a former top banker.
Ramaphosa became president in February after winning the leadership of the ruling African National Congress last year on promises to revive the economy and crack down on corruption.
Monday’s appointments to the team also include economist Trudi Makhaya, who becomes special economic adviser to the president, former Treasury Director General Lungisa Fuzile, ex-Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former Standard Bank chief executive Jacko Maree.
“These are people with valuable experience in the world of business, investment and finance and they have extensive networks across a number of major markets,” said Ramaphosa before leaving Johannesburg for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
Ramaphosa said the envoys would travel to Europe, Asia and across Africa to build an “investment book” to help plug a substantial shortfall of foreign and local direct investment.
“We are modest because we want to over-achieve,” Ramaphosa said, explaining why the government was targeting 100 billion rand rather than a much larger sum.
Political and policy uncertainty damaged investment and business confidence during nine-year presidency of Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, when South Africa’s credit rating was slashed to junk by two of the top three agencies and economic growth slowed to a crawl.
The tide has begun to turn under Ramaphosa, with Moody’s last month keeping the country at investment grade and changing the outlook to stable from negative.[nL8N1R8111]
The economic outlook has also improved, with the World Bank raising its 2018 growth forecast to 1.4 percent this month from 1.1 percent forecast in September, a touch below the Treasury’s projection of 1.5 percent.[nL8N1RN2AF]
Ramaphosa has sacked or demoted a number of ministers allied to his scandal-ridden predecessor, and reinstated Nhlanhla Nene as finance Minister after Zuma fired him in 2015.
($1 = 12.0525 rand)
Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; editing by David Stamp (Reuters)
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)