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REPORT OF LAST WEEK (from 05/08/13 to 09/08/13)

by Dario Galluccio

Ghana: Gold Fields Ghana invests US$2.8m in infrastructure projects

Gold Fields Ghana, one of the country’s leading mining companies has invested over US$2.8million in infrastructure projects in some communities in the country. The company said the projects are currently at various stages of execution.
Some of the projects the company has invested in this year include, connection of electricity to Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal Education office, the construction of 8 Seater WC facility at Huniano, supply of furniture to various schools in Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal and Prestea/Huni-Valley District Assemblies, and the extension of Small Town Water Supply Systems in New Atuabo and Pepesa. The rest include, the construction of Community Center at Kyerekyerewere, construction of Early Childhood Development Center at Huni – Valley, Tarring of 3km Samahu-Pepesa Road (Phase 3) and the 1.5km UMAT Junction-Brahabobom Road and Construction of JHS at Pepesa.

West Africa: Experts discuss ECOWAS rail project

‘Today’s meeting is to discuss the initial arrangements needed to bring full realization of the proposed West Coast Speed-Rail Project,’ the Country’s Representative of Hammcobtb Engineering International Incorporation-Canada, said in a statement to welcome delegates from ECOWAS countries including, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire.
Broadly the project is to transform the Region’s transportation system by launching new high speed passenger and goods rail services. It is also to facilitate major industrialization of countries, improve transportation of agricultural produce, and create immediate political awareness for further economic emancipation of the people.

Nigeria: Foreign Direct Investment now U.S.$8.9 billion

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, Thursday told the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the foreign direct investment (FDI) into Nigeria rose significantly to $8.9 billion at the end of 2012.
The amount, he said was far higher than the $6.1 billion realised by the country in 2010. He also said at the end of 2012, Nigerians in the Diaspora contributed over $15 billion to the economy. Also, the minister of foreign affairs told the PDP NWC members that there were over 9,500 Nigerians in foreign prisons.
Giving accounts of his stewardship, Ashiru cited the United Nation’s World Investment Report, which stated that the total FDI into Nigeria was $8.9 billion. This, he said was far above the 2010.

Rwanda: Nigerian Bank acquires a 70 Percent stake in Fina Bank

Balivada Rao, the managing director of Fina Bank Rwanda, a subsidiary of the Kenyan-based lender, confirmed the development in a phone interview on Thursday, saying the deal was subject to regulatory approvals. Rao said the buy-out would greatly benefit both the bank and its clients in terms of products and service delivery.
“GTBank is a well capitalised, technologically advanced and customer-focused bank. So, once they acquire the 70 per cent stake, they will enable us roll out better products and services and put us in a better position to get funding from foreign development finance institutions,” explained Rao. The deal is worth about $100m (Rwf65.1b). Rao said GTBank was a key player in the West African market, where it operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast, as well as in the United Kingdom. At the end of 2012, the bank had a total asset base of $11.1b, shareholder funds of over $1.8b and earned $558.9m profit after tax. GTBank is listed on both the Lagos and London stock exchanges.
If the deal is approved, GTBank will join a list of other West African banks, including Ecobank and Access Bank, which have ventured into the region to tap into its fast-growing economies and immense opportunities, especially in oil and gas.
Fina Bank Group has total assets of $338m. Its loan book was $184m in the first quarter of this year. The bank operates 38 branches across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Ghana: $1 billion Eurobond cash will arrive on August 7th

Government is set to receive the Eurobond cash of $ 1 billion on August 7, 2013. It follows a successful bond sale which was over subscribed.
‘The cash comes in nine days from the deal. The deal was done on the 25 July, 2013 and per the deal which is Trade day plus nine working days, it then falls on 7 August, Deputy Finance Minister Kweku Ricketts Hagan said. With a 10-year grace period, the bond will mature on August 7, 2023, he added.
Out of the $1 billion raised, $300 million is expected to be used for the refinancing of expensive domestic debt. $250 million will also be used to retire part of the $750 million Eurobond which was floated in 2007. Ricketts Hagan stated that $300 million will also be invested in capital projects, which are self-financing.

Zimbabwe: Mining sector in dire need of FDIs

Governement has to be consistent in its polices to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the mining sector, permanent secretary for Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Desire Sibanda has said. Sibanda said FDIs remained a key ingredient for rapid economic growth but there was competition globally for investment inflows.
“Competition for FDI is fierce on the continent and is expected to intensify. It is therefore critical to note that the policies and approach to attract FDI has to be smart. There is need to demonstrate policy consistency and stability,” said Sibanda.
He also said the country’s mining sector was in dire need of investments, especially its infrastructure.
“What has been undermining Zimbabwe’s rich mineral wealth have been challenges such as inadequate infrastructure development, perceptions of corruption to unfair licensing practices, political risks and the high capital costs associated with establishing or expanding a mining venture,” he said.
“To attract more FDIs, Zimbabwe needs to improve the doing business indicator,” he said.
Sibanda said the turbulent political environment in the last decade and poor perception of the country from potential investors had negatively impacted on the country’s economic growth. He said government recently floated a US$32 million tender for an aeromagnetic mineral exploration exercise in the Eastern Highlands to determine the quantity of minerals.
“The exploration will help to comprehensively determine the extent of the country’s mineral wealth and have adequate information to lure investors,” said Sibanda. “Plans are in place to set up an exploration company to identify mineral deposits throughout the country.” He said the mining sector continued to grow and this was attributed to positive performance in diamonds, chrome, nickel, platinum and palladium.

Ghana: Ghana Water and Ghana Urban merger complete

Transitional arrangements for the merger of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Ghana Urban Water Limited (GUWL) into a single national utility company have been completed with the introduction of a new administration to manage the company. The new administration is to be headed by a managing director, two deputies and chief managers who will head the various regional offices of the company.
Before the merger, the two companies had been solely responsible for water services in urban areas throughout the country. To facilitate the government’s plans of merging the two companies, a 14-member committee was inaugurated to oversee the reform of the water sector.

Africa: West Coast High Speed rail project consultants meet beneficiaries

Consultants working on the 1,178 kilometre West Coast High Speed rail for the West African sub region Sunday presented technical details of the project to representatives of the beneficiary countries in Accra. The work, which has received the sanction of ECOWAS, will start from Nigeria through Benin, Togo, Ghana and end in Cote d I’viore.
The consultants of the project, HammcoBTB Engineering International Incorporated of Canada, met with representatives from Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cote I’dviore and Nigeria to brief them on the extent of work. Ghana has already expressed interest, but it is left with the commitment from the governments of Benin, Ivory Coast and Nigeria for the commencement of work.

South Africa: Nedbank posts solid interim results

South Africa’s fourth biggest bank, Nedbank, on Tuesday said it had posted a solid set of results in the six months to June this year, thanks to strong revenues derived from fees. But the lender’s share price remained unchanged on the JSE’s early trade as these results were said to be in line with expectation.
A subsidiary of Old Mutual, Africa’s biggest insurance company and an international wealth manager, Nedbank posted a 13 percent surge in interim profits.
Profits were made better by the company’s robust growth in revenues from fees, with headline earnings a share soaring to 831 cents during the period under review.
In the six months to June this year, Nedbank announced a half year dividend of 390 cents. This is 15 percent higher than the previous comparable period. Nedbank is also in a tactical joint venture with West Africa’s Ecobank, which has opened the JSE-listed lender to many Africa countries.

South Africa: Delta’s property portfolio will surge after acquisitions

Delta Property Fund is poised to inject a huge chunk of the R2 billion ($203 million) it plans to raise for acquisitions of buildings across South Africa. The firm, which leases office complexes to the South African administration, believes prospects are great in renting office space to government.
Bronwyn Corbett, the CFO of Delta, identified Telkom SA, electricity utility, Eskom, and ports-to-rail utility, Transnet, as state-owned companies that had all the likelihood to be its customers. The firm is going to obtain money for these acquisitions through debt markets in the wake of good financing rates, Corbertt said. Delta is set to escalate the worth of its real-estate collection to R7 billion ($710 million) in 2017. The portfolio will surge from R4.4 billion ($447 million) as demand for government offices increases. The firm rents almost 75 percent of its office complexes to government ministries and state-owned firms with nine-year-long leases.

South Africa: Nedbank allies with Bank of China for deals and trade

South Africa’s Nedbank Ltd said on Tuesday it had entered into an alliance with Bank of China to target trade and investment between Africa and the world’s second-largest economy.
“The alliance will provide Nedbank with access to new clients and new markets, and will facilitate both parties’ lending, trade finance and transactional banking businesses across Africa,” Nedbank CEO Mike Brown said in a statement.

Ghana: Subsidies on all petroleum products to be scraped by end of year

Consumers of Petroleum products should by the end of this year be prepared to pay the real price of petroleum prices on the world market. This is because government is working to completely remove subsidies on all petroleum products.
Government has already taken off subsidies on petrol, diesel and LPG, but is still subsidizing the other products, like Premix , Kerosene and marine gas oil. Edward Bawa who speaks for the Energy Ministry said the subsidy removal has been necessitated because the targeted poor was not benefiting even though it had a huge impact on government expenditure.

Ghana: Banks increase assets

Total assets of the banking industry as at the end of June 2013 increased to GH¢30.6 billion compared to GH¢24.6 billion in June 2012.
This was driven mainly by advances which accounted for 44.7 percent of the total assets.
Dr. Kofi Wampah, Governor of Bank of Ghana (BoG), who made this known at the close of a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Accra, said the asset growth was mainly funded by deposits which recorded an annual growth of 13.3 percent to GH¢20.4 billion at the end of June 2013. He also said Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio in the banking industry decreased to 12.8 percent in June 2013 from 13.2 percent in June 2012, adding that the ratio, excluding the loss category, also declined to 4.7 percent from 5.9 percent in the same period.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wampah said Annual growth in private sector credit slowed to 33.5 percent in nominal terms at the end of June 2013 from 39.0 percent in June 2012. “Similarly, annual growth of real private sector credit was 20.1 percent in June 2013 down from 27.0 percent in June 2012,” he added.

Nigeria: Bourse records stellar performance

The Nigerian bourse continued its march towards new heights and outperformed other African markets by the end of July 2013.
Nigerian equities, among the best performing markets in 2012, have recorded a growth of about 35 percent by the end of July 2013. It managed to outperform other major African markets such as South Africa, Egypt, Zambia, Mauritius and Kenya. It trailed only Ghana, which achieved an impressive return of around 61 percent. During the same period, Mauritius, South Africa and Egypt posted returns of 7.9 percent, 5.2 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.
In the first seven months of 2013, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) has increased from 23,488.79 to 38,424.34 points. Its market capitalization has also surged from N7.476 trillion ($46.8 billion) to 12.169 trillion ($76 billion). Compared to the same period last year, the Nigerian market rose by 63 percent.
Market analysts believe that the Nigerian market will be able to maintain its positive momentum and continue to attract investors in remaining part of the year. The market is expected to benefit from result announcements by major companies in the second quarter of this year. Even though bearish trend prevailed in June, the market still offers attractive returns in under-priced stocks.

Africa: World Bank commits record US$14.7 billion

World Bank Group committed a record US$14.7 billion to support economic growth in Africa in the 2013 fiscal year (July 2012 to June 2013). The move is also intended to help improve the development prospects of the continent despite uncertain economic conditions in the rest of the global economy.
In a report from the bank Mr Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, said: ‘The region has shown remarkable resilience in the face of a global recession and continues to grow strongly.’
‘Africa is at the centre of the World Bank Group 2030 goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, in an environmentally, socially, and fiscally sustainable manner’, he added.
The World Bank Group continued its strong commitment to Africa by approving US$8.25 billion in new lending for nearly 100 projects in the fiscal year under review. These commitments include a record $8.2 billion in zero-interest credits and grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Banks fund for the poorest countries. This is the highest level of new IDA commitments by any region in the banks history, the report said.

Ghana: Abokobi Rural bank posts over 500 % profit

The Abokobi Area Rural Bank, a pioneer rural bank in Ghana, made a whopping 519.99 per cent increase in profit before tax in 2012 after it plummeted into a loss in 2010. The bank closed the financial year with a profit position of GH¢306,108.00 from GH¢58,868.00 in 2011, which the ARB Apex Bank, the umbrella body of rural banks, had attributed to effective and efficient management of its resources.
In the near future, the bank intends to open more branches, expand its microfinance programme, repackage its Susu scheme, provide mobile banking service, intensify loan recovery and build the capacity of its staff

Ghana: ‘Banks Must Issue Public Bonds’

The First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Millison Narh has raised concerns over the lack of interest by private financial institutions to issue public bonds in the country. He said findings of the bond market committee revealed more privately placed bonds than public listed bonds on the market.
He said bond issuance plays a critical role in resource mobilization by providing medium to long-term funds in financing investment. He also attributed the lack of willingness on the part of private users to issue public bonds to transparency, transaction cost, micro-economic uncertainty and lack of clear guidelines on corporate bond issuance.

South Africa: Old Mutual boosts offer to UK advisers

Africa’s biggest life insurer, Old Mutual, is set to boost services its Swedish subsidiary, Skandia, offers to financial advisers in the United Kingdom (UK). This emerged after Old Mutual on Wednesday said it had signed a 20-year contract with International Financial Data Services (IFDS) to achieve this.
IFDS is UK’s leading supplier of investor-recordkeeping services and systems to the UK domestic and to the European “offshore” market.

South Africa: Reserves rise in July

The Reserve Bank’s dollar-denominated holdings of gold and foreign assets rose in July from June, amid a rising gold price and currency fluctuations. The Bank said its dollar-denominated holdings of gold and foreign assets rose by $340m to $47.319bn in July‚ from US$46.979bn in June.
The Bank said the increase in the gross reserves mainly reflected valuation adjustments emanating from the significant increase in the dollar price of gold and the fluctuation of the dollar against major currencies.

Africa: Job-hungry graduates moving to Africa to avoid menial jobs in UK

Ambitious graduates are increasingly moving to Africa in a bid to avoid menial jobs in Britain, new research has revealed. The number of university leavers seeking employment in Ghana and other English speaking African countries has almost doubled in the last three years.
While managerial salaries are generally lower than those in the UK, graduate positions in West Africa’s thriving financial and property markets are “significantly” more plentiful. Competition is also less fierce, with African employers receiving an average of 15 applications for every graduate job, compared to around 85 in Britain.

West Africa: To be Africa’s fastest growing region in 2014

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) lead Research Economist, John Anyanwu, said that West Africa would be the fastest-growing region in Africa between 2013 and 2014, with 6.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent economic growth rate.
He said: “West Africa is expected to continue its rapid growth with rates of 6.7 per cent in 2013 and 7.4 per cent in 2014, thereby becoming the fastest-growing region of the continent in the period under review.
“Growth in the region is not only driven by oil and mineral sectors but also by agriculture and services and on the demand side often by consumption and investment.”
Commenting on the continent, he said that in 2012, growth performance varied widely, adding that oil-exporting countries achieved significantly higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth than oil importers.
Anyanwu said that Nigeria’s average growth was expected to continue growing by between 6.7 per cent and 7.3 per cent in 2013 and 2014 respectively, while that of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire would likely exceed eight per cent and nine per cent respectively during the period under review.
In East Africa, he noted, most countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, were on a solid growth path of between five per cent and seven per cent during the projection period. According to him, growth in Kenya, with no major post-election turmoil, is expected to amount to 4.5 per cent in 2013 and to accelerate to above five per cent in 2014. He said that the Sudanese economy was affected by the secession of South Sudan but would witness moderate growth and some acceleration in 2014.
In Central Africa, Anyanwu said that the GDP would likely grow by 5.7 per cent in 2013 and 5.4 per cent in 2014 with above average growth in Chad and in DRC.
On Southern Africa, he said: “The GDP is expected to grow by around four per cent in 2013 and to accelerate to 4.6 per cent in 2014, while Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana growth will remain buoyant.
The report forecast average growth on the continent at 4.8% this year and 5.3% next year.

Ghana: Mine workers threaten strike

The Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has sternly cautioned the Labour Commission not to interfere in matters relating to the payment of their salaries.
They noted that their position to deal directly with the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC) and government to address the huge salary disparities is intact. The GMWU warned that it would embark on an industrial action if the Labour Commission attempts to prevent their migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
The General Secretary of GMWU, Prince William Ankrah noted that “there will be serious repercussions on the labour front if the Labour Commission puts any impediment in our effort to directly jaw-jaw with government on salary inequalities.”
“As a union, we will not tolerate any lukewarm approach of having our grievances resolved by the labour commission but will rather seek to present our case by ourselves to the FWSC, as well as government,” he said.
He added “we will therefore not countenance any attempt to foil our resolve to have our salaries streamlined by government to reflect those currently on the Single Spine Salary Structure.”

Kenya: Old Mutual continues with Africa expansion plan

In an effort to support its growth in the rest of Africa, Old Mutual, Africa’s biggest insurance company, says it is in search of more “suitable targets” to acquire.
According to the insurer, its incorporation, and that of its subsidiary, Mutual & Federal (M&F), in the rest of Africa is currently being executed as the first phase in an attempt forge the amalgamation of its entire property & casualty unit into the Johannesburg-based Old Mutual Emerging Markets (OMEM) business.
Old Mutual made this disclosure shortly after stating that it is ready to lay out its insurance offering in East Africa’s second biggest micro-finance firm, Faulu Kenya. This was after it bought a controlling stake in Faulu, which is based in Nairobi, for an undisclosed sum.
Ralph Mupita, CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, recently told reporters in Johannesburg that this acquisition will give Old Mutual exposure to over 400, 000 Faulu clients.
At the time the deal was announced, Mupita said the acquisition permitted Old Mutual a smooth entry into the mass market.
Old Mutual said the money used to buy the stake in Faulu will come from the R5 billion ($506 million) the firm recently said is earmarked for acquisitions in Africa.
Faulu is the first deposit-taking micro-finance firm to be given the go ahead to operate in Kenya by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). The Kenyan insurer has a distribution network that spreads across Kenya with over 100 branches. Its market is equal to the one that is served by Old Mutual’s Mass Foundation business in South Africa.

Africa: ‘Adopt progressive industrial policies’

Economic development on the African continent would continue to be impeded if leaders do not address the lack of progressive industrial policies, a new report has indicated.
The Aspire West Africa report said major barriers to the growth of businesses include inefficient logistics, the lack of adequate housing for companies and families, the lack of medium and long-term financing, as well as weak private sector and malfunctioning institutions.
It said leaders have not evolved efficient long-term plans to make businesses competitive. Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman indicated that businesses could gain immensely if they work together.
“There are several reasons why firms in Africa should adopt business integration strategies because they will be able to market their products to billions of consumers and be able to use the technical know-how of neighbouring countries to upgrade production.” She said regional conflicts, corruption, bureaucracy and the lack of viable business networks often hinder the process of integration.
Dr. Newman called on policy makers to focus on restructuring industries to become competitive in external markets instead of attempting to establish business conglomerates in particular sections of the continent. Authur Hubert, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Interplast Ghana, also asserted that African countries could deliver quality products in conducive environments.

Zimbabwe: Telecel licence extended for 20 years

Egypt’s cellphone operator, Orascom Telecom, on Wednesday disclosed that Telecel Zimbabwe, its majority-owned subsidiary, has had its mobile business license extended by 20 years. However, Orascom failed to disclose if it had consented to Zimbabwean government’s request that it reduce its shareholding in the operation to at least 40 percent.
Telecel Zimbabwe parted with $137.5 million for the renewal of the contract to operate in the country for another 20 years.

Ghana: To seek more concessionary loans for projects
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has said the government is seeking more concessionary loans to finance some key projects in the country.
The projects include infrastructure, energy, construction of health facilities in the Western and Central regions, building of commercial markets, reconstruction of the Ghana Trade Fair Centre, road construction in the Western and Eastern corridors and the establishment of industrial zones (parks).
The minister, who said this in an interaction with a number of business groups and companies in Turkey during his recent visit to that country, added that the government would also welcome public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to execute those projects, since that formed part of the key policies of the government to get projects done faster.
The minister and his entourage met with Mr Nihat Ergün, Minister of Science Industry and Technology of Turkey, MNG, officials of the Ankara Chamber of Industry, officials of the Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock, Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Test Centre (TAMTEST) and officials of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, National Food Reference Laboratory.
In his meeting with Mr Ergün, the minister recalled the healthy relationship between the two nations and noted that Ghana was interested in improving and strengthening the relation between the two countries to boost and increase trade.
Mr Iddrisu urged the two countries to work together to be able to increase trade between the two nations from the current $500 million to $1billion per annum.

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