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Feb 17, 2015

The Government is expeditiously aligning laws with the new Constitution to deal with corruption cases that have reached alarming levels, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.Addressing students of the Joint Command and Staff Course Number 28 at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare last week on the Zimbabwe Constitution, VP Mnangagwa said the new Constitution has enough provisions for combating corruption. "Chapter 13 of the Constitution further establishes institutions to combat corruption and crime," he said.

"Of note is the establishment of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. It can be conceded that the prevalence of corruption and fraudulent activities in our society is unacceptable and can only derail the efforts that are in place to achieve the goals set out in the Constitution."

VP Mnangagwa, who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said it was imperative that all sectors of society work together to bring an end to corruption and to safeguard the economic interests of Zimbabwe.

He said the new Constitution has provisions for the establishment of the National Prosecuting Authority, an independent institution tasked to undertake criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State. "It is common place that criminal behaviour should not be tolerated in any society and thus the need for an independent institution to attend to the prosecution of criminal behaviour," VP Mnangagwa said.

The enactment of the new Constitution in May 2013 ushered in a number of new obligations on the State.

VP Mnangagwa said the Electoral Amendment Act, the National Prosecuting Authority Act, the Sovereign Wealth Fund Act and the Finance Act had already been signed into law, while the Gender Commission Bill and the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill are at an advanced stage of alignment.

Various other drafts of priority laws such the Local Authorities Bill, Land Commission Bill, the Public Debt Management Bill, the Public Sector Corporate Governance Bill, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill and the Joint Venture Bill have already been drafted.

VP Mnangagwa said when the new Constitution was signed, all line ministries were expected to immediately identify laws under their respective portfolios for review and also formulate new policies that would lead to the enactment of new laws.

 

Source: The Herald Zimbabwe

Feb 17, 2015

Bharti Airtel Africa in collaboration with US-based mobile chip maker Qualcomm Tuesday launched its first pan-continent smartphone, Airtel Red, as it looks to increase 3G data adoption in the region. 

"Industry research shows that data is playing a vital role in growing the smartphone uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa and more so in the 17 countries where we operate. We are focused on migrating existing and new customers from the traditional feature phones to android smartphones to take ad .. 

 

Source: Economic Times India

Feb 17, 2015

UK private equity group Actis has plans to establish a $1.9 billion (ZAR23 billion) renewable power company in Africa. Named Lekela Power, the objective is to utilise the continent’s abundant resources and deliver reliable power to meet increasing demand.

A joint venture with wind and solar developer Mainstream, Lekela will take 60% equity up to a maximum of $220 million (ZAR3 billion) and Mainstream the other 40%. The balance of the funding will be provided as debt by South African banks and development finance firms, Financials UK reported.

The venture includes the development of several power projects with a combined generation capacity between 700-900MW. While interest in Africa is increasing, there is still a lack of funds on the continent.

“At the moment, commercial bank interest in the rest of Africa [outside South Africa] is more patchy, so we will work with multilaterals and development finance institutions”, Lucy Heintz, head of renewable energy at Actis said.

 

Northern Cape wind farms

Lekela is in the process of developing three wind farms in the Northern Cape of South Africa which are to commence construction next month. Once fully operational, the wind farms will have a total generation output of 360MW.

 

East African power

Heintz said east Africa was generating investor interest as a renewable power hub.

“There is a lot [happening] in solar in Kenya, Uganda. Ethiopia is an interesting market that we are watching — it has been very active on the state-procurement side in energy. We’ll see whether that market evolves towards more private sector participation”, Heintz commented.

 

Source: ESI-AFRICA.COM

Feb 16, 2015

Ghana will receive two electricity generating vessels from Turkey in March next month to produce the equivalent of more than one fifth of Ghana's energy power. The two temporal power stations will operate from Tema and Takoradi ports and produce up to 450 megawatts of power to Ghana's national electricity grid.

The Turkish "Karpowership" Ghana Company will be supporting the Electricity Company of Ghana. The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, will providing crude oil to Karpowership to deliver fast-track electricity to meet the country's high energy demand.

Karpowership Ghana Company Limited, a subsidiary of Karadeniz Energy Group, the energy wing of the Turkey-based Karadeniz Holding, signed a ten-year power purchase agreement in June with the state-run Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

According to Ebenezer Baiden, a member of the tariff team at ECG, the company will build two floating power stations at a total estimated cost of $1.2 billion. The cost of a ship is $600 million, but this has been pre-financed by Karpower because it is an independent power producer

Ghana will only have to pay them every month when they start generating power from May 1, 2015. ECG, which does not generate power and depends on various state-owned and private power producers, has made a $50-million commitment to the deal.

It is collateral to say that when they sail from Turkey to Ghana, we will not relent on the deal, Baiden explained. We produced the bank guarantee to Karpower to prove our commitment. The deal is believed to be the largest Turkish investment project in Ghana.

Karadeniz is the developer, owner and operator of a fleet of power ships with an overall capacity of more than 1,100 megawatts. It currently has three ships in Iraq, two in Lebanon, one in Pakistan and one in Dubai. The company reportedly supplies 10 percent and 20 percent of Iraq's and Lebanon's respective electricity needs.

The power ships will dock at Tema and Takoradi Ports, Ghana's two port cities near suitable grid interconnection points. They will contribute up to 450 megawatts (MG) of power to Ghana's national electricity grid. It is projected that with the two power ships, Karpowership Ghana will eventually supply 21% (percent) of the country's power generation.

Karpowership Ghana said the deal would be an economical solution to Ghana's existing electricity supply which relies on expensive crude oil, while providing employment and attracting badly needed foreign direct Investment in Ghana. With the use of low-cost fuel, the power ships will deliver a total cost of electricity into the grid that will enable a competitively priced tariff to deliver savings for the government.

The company's manager added that the power ships would initially use economic and abundant Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to generate electricity, with transition to natural gas during the project's second phase.

Baiden, the Ghanaian official, said the power ships would run on HFO for the first five years, switching to natural gas in the sixth year. While the ships are running on HFO, Ghana will pay $0.19 for each unit per kilowatt. When they start running on natural gas, the cost will fall to $0.15.

Edward Bawa, an Energy Ministry spokesman, said the power ships would help improve the West African country's energy situation and there is also an issue where the load demand is almost the same as the amount of power available, so the reserve margin is non-existent. Technically, we are supposed to have about 20 percent of our installed capacity being our reserved margin.

According to Edward Bawa with this facility, anytime we have a challenge with any of our internal plants, we can rely on it. So this will come in to plug that gap of deficit that we have.

 

Source: FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg - Germany)

Feb 16, 2015

Arguably, one of the factors responsible for Africa’s improved trading over the past decade has been the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a piece of legislation that was approved by the U.S Congress in May 2000. It was granted to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa grow economic relations with the world’s greatest economy.

The act facilitates duty-free entry into the U.S for certain goods, and the result had been an expanded access mostly for textile and apparel goods and a surge in foreign exchange earnings. It was initially set to expire in 2008 but, again, the U.S Congress extended the Act till 2015.

Last year, at the U.S-Africa Leaders’ Summit, a number of African heads of state pushed for the pact to be extended by a further 15 years and suggested that the range of products covered by the act be expanded to include agricultural products. The rationale for this is clear; U.S bound exports from sub-Saharan Africa under the AGOA totalled about $26.8 billion in 2013 alone according to Reuters. This fulfils the exact reason the act was enacted in the first place.

Lesotho and Kenya can be said to be the biggest beneficiaries of the deal as their economies have been diversified and strengthened largely as a result of the trading opportunities created by the act. Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, has also seen trade flows blossom to $18 billion since the act enactment.

South African President Jacob Zuma, at the summit, emphasized the need for another extension, saying; “Almost 95 percent of South African exports receive preferential treatment under AGOA. We strongly believe that by endorsing the extension of AGOA, the U.S. will be promoting African integration, industrialization and infrastructure development – I’m sure the Americans would not want to lose this opportunity.”

Diverse criticisms have emerged over the years from elements in the United States. Their main argument being that a further extension could damage America’s interests in the long run.

Dr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, explains the points-of-view of the critics in a 2013 article, in which he wrote; “The Act’s opponents argue that Africa’s impressive growth in the 21st century means the continent no longer needs special treatment. They also claim that it is China and other countries who have been investing in Africa which have been the main beneficiaries from the removal of restrictions and that, in some cases, they are simply re-exporting their own products through African countries.”

“Evidence, however, shows that while African countries have certainly gained, as intended, the most from AGOA, the benefits have not by any means been all one-way. In the first decade since it came into force, US exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripled to $21 billion. As the US commerce department estimates that 5,000 American jobs are created or sustained for every $1 billion worth of exports, this trade is helping support over 100,000 jobs in the US. The US trade department has also insisted that proper safeguards are in place to prevent abuse of the rules,” he added.

This is a win-win for both regions, making the case for further extension all the more necessary. Apparel and footwear companies continue to champion the largest support as several hundred thousand jobs were created via AGOA. But, with the uncertainty surrounding the renewal of AGOA, further investments will be likely stall and the already created jobs may be in jeopardy.

If the extension succeeds, it will benefit both regions. American exports and jobs will increase as African countries develop their economies in new sectors. This will bolster the US’s global influence eve more.

The European Union, keen to escape its present economic uncertainties has already set up an Economic Partnership Agreement with 35 African countries. This is essentially a framework for free trade agreements. If this materializes and the AGOA fails to scale, the United States may remain at a permanent competitive disadvantage with respect to Africa, which happens to be the new investment frontier for global businesses.

In the run up to current AGOA expiry date of September 30, the world will be watching to see how the US treats its growing ally.

 

 

Source: Ventures Africa

Feb 15, 2015

Mobile money providers will earn an estimated USD 1.5 billion in fees from such things as bill payments and sending money to relatives in sub-Saharan Africa by 2019, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Although mobile financial services are emerging all over the world, sub-Saharan Africa’s unique circumstances, a combination of a mostly “unbanked” population and heavy mobile-phone penetration, have turned the region into an early adopter of mobile banking and a test bed for the technology’s potential.

Eight of the ten countries that make the most use of mobile financial services are in Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of active accounts (43 %). Revenues will grow as Africa’s “unbanked” use their phones to pay bills, save money, and take out loans. As this trend takes hold, there will be opportunities for banks and MNOs. Africans are looking for more-secure ways to borrow and save money and are open to other financial products delivered using mobile phones, including loans and insurance.

With the population in sub-Saharan Africa growing and becoming wealthier, the number of people aged 15 or older with an individual annual income USD 500 or more will rise to more than 460 million by 2019. This trend is likely to strengthen as governments in sub-Saharan Africa increasingly focus on their education, health, and security systems, enhancing the potential for long-term economic growth in their countries.

According to BCG, there will be some 400 million mobile-phone subscribers and almost 150 million traditionally banked sub-Saharan Africans by 2019. This will leave about 250 million people aged 15 or older who have incomes of USD 500 or more and mobile phones but no traditional bank account. To succeed, banks and MNOs will need to invest in infrastructure, business capabilities, and governance.

 

Source: telecompaper.com

Feb 15, 2015
Mr Zuma's government is under pressure to put more land in the hands of South Africa's black majority. Reuters

Foreigners will be banned from owning land in South Africa under new proposals outlined by President Jacob Zuma. Locals will have limits set on the size of their farms under the proposals. 

Mr Zuma first announced them in a state of the nation speech on Thursday overshadowed by violence in parliament. Two decades after the end of apartheid, land is still concentrated in the hands of a largely white minority, and remains a sensitive issue.

The government is under growing pressure to put more land in the hands of the country's black majority. "Land has become one of the most critical factors in achieving redress for the wrongs of the past," said Mr Zuma, elaborating on the plans on Saturday.

"In this regard, the regulation of land holdings bill will be submitted to parliament this year." In the future, foreigners will only be allowed to lease land, not to own it, he said, adding that local farmers would not be able to own more than 12,000 hectares.

That is presumably aimed at white farmers who still own much of the best farmland a generation after the end of racial apartheid, says the BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg. There are many reasons for the slow pace of change in the country, says our correspondent, and these new proposals will face strong legal challenges from farmers who argue that smaller plots will not be commercially viable.

But the governing African National Congress is looking for votes, and is wary of being outflanked by more radical voices calling for white-owned land to be seized without compensation, he adds.

 

Parliamentary brawl

On Thursday, parliament descended into chaos as leftist MPs scuffled with security during Mr Zuma's key annual speech. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by Julius Malema, repeatedly interrupted Mr Zuma, demanding answers over a spending scandal.

The speaker of parliament then ordered their removal, prompting scuffles. The EFF used President Zuma's annual State of the Nation speech to question him about a state-funded, multi-million dollar upgrade to his private residence.

The party has shaken up South African politics with a series of populist proposals to redistribute wealth.

 

 

Source: BBC

Feb 14, 2015

Cocoa purchases declared to Ghana's industry regulator reached 494,960 tonnes by Jan. 29 since the start of the main crop, down 23.9 percent from Jan. 30 last year, industry regulator Cocobod said on Tuesday.

Cocobod is conducting a field trip to assess the crop and will decide in coming weeks whether to lower its annual output target, spokesman Noah Amenyah said.

The purchases, which covered 17 weeks of the main crop season, were lower than the 650,852 tonnes recorded for a period that ended Jan. 30 last year. That period represents the first 15 weeks of last season, Amenyah said.

Total purchases for the 17th week were 7,637.38 tonnes, he said.

Ghana, the world's second-largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, aims to buy at least 850,000 tonnes of cocoa in the 2014/15 crop year which is expected to end in September.

"We have had a strange season this year and we are still working to understand the phenomenon," Amenyah said, adding that besides dry Harmattan winds hitting the crop this year, there could be other factors responsible for the low yield.

 

Source: Reuters

Feb 14, 2015
Pictured on the Sonardyne stand at Subsea Expo 2015 in Aberdeen: Phil Middleton, deputy managing director, Seatronics Equipment Rentals (Right), Barry Cairns, VP Sonardyne Europe and Africa (Left).

Seatronics, UK, is to take delivery of GBP1million worth of its 6G acoustic positioning technology. The contract was placed on the second day of the Subsea Expo 2015 exhibition and conference in Aberdeen, UK. The multi-functional Compatt 6 transponders and Ranger 2 USBL (Ultra-Short BaseLine) positioning systems that make up the order will be utilised for a wide variety of subsea operations including structure installation, pipeline metrology, ROV tracking and touchdown monitoring.

The equipment is headed for West Africa to support the survey and construction phases of a major new field development project. 

The Ranger 2 systems are being supplied with Sonardyne’s high performance Gyro-USBL transceiver. Unlike a conventional USBL transceiver, GyroUSBL can be set to work without the need for a time-consuming calibration procedure to determine the alignment of the ship’s motion sensors to the acoustic transceiver prior to use. Its easy installation and setup features ensure it is always in high demand in the offshore rental market where it is frequently supplied for short term use on vessels of opportunity.

 Commenting at Subsea Expo 2015, Phil Middleton, Seatronic’s Deputy managing director for Subsea Rentals said this equipment adds to the largest rental stock of 6G equipment available globally and is in place to support committed client projects due to mobilise this spring.

 

Feb 14, 2015

The World Bank Group has announced the launch of Scaling Solar at the Powering Africa Summit in Washington DC, a gathering of African ministries, utility companies and the international power community.

The summit was to discuss progress and initiatives to increase access to energy across Africa. Scaling Solar aims to create a viable market for private solar projects in Africa that will help governments increase the supply of energy for millions of residential and commercial consumers across the continent.

The project, which was launched on Thursday in Dakar, Senegal, and Washington DC, United States, is aimed at reducing the development time and uncertainty for bidders and investors, while lowering tariffs for utilities, which ultimately benefits consumers. “The World Bank Group is committed to promoting sustainable universal access to modern energy in Africa, and Scaling Solar is a key step towards attaining this goal,” said Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President for Global Client Services.

“By quickly delivering affordable electricity to previously unreached populations, significant progress can be made on other development goals.” According to Jean Philippe Prosper, Africa has some of the world’s most abundant solar resources, yet more than a third of the population lives without electricity.

Investors developing private solar projects in Africa, he said, are often deterred by a variety of obstacles, including the unique features and structures of the different markets, high transaction costs, heavily negotiated agreements and high-perceived risk and cost of capital. As a result, the region continues to struggle with slow, relatively expensive and ineffective solar development, which impedes access to electricity.

Ejura Audu of Africa Communications International Financial Corporation Nigeria said this to Daily Independent on Thursday through email. He said Large-scale photovoltaic solar power can be quickly and economically developed to increase the supply of electricity to national grids and improve the reliability of power services for households and businesses.

Scaling Solar provides a straightforward package to help countries determine the size and location of projects, then auction them competitively to developers.

 

Source: Daily Independent Nigeria

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