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Covid-19 in Tanzania: Is it time for lenders to be counted?
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Sadock Dotto Magai*

Sadock Dotto Magai

The world is in economic lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  No good news is coming out of any media whether mainstream or social media. Never in our lifetime have we witnessed such a magnitude of business and border closures, from developed to developing countries. It is a global problem and therefore, its effects should be measured globally. The coverage of this pandemic by the global and local media clearly indicates the economic problems ahead not only for individuals but also for businesses at large. This calls for a reflection of the effect of this pandemic on the financial sector in Tanzania given the current global and local environment.

A summary of the financial sector in Tanzania shows a composition of thirty commercial banks, six community banks, five microfinance banks and two development finance banks (collectively lenders). The primary function of these lenders is to acquire liabilities through deposits and assets by lending to businesses and individuals. When lending, lenders assume investment risk, but expect returns by way of revenues through various charges, interest rate levies and the repayment of the principal amounts. Banking laws in Tanzania require loans to be adequately secured, although there are unsecured loan portfolios as well. Irrespective of the collateral taken by lenders to secure their loans, these repayments are expected to come from revenues generated from operational businesses. Collateral realization is the last resort.

It is because of their special place in the economy that lenders should actively engage their borrowers (i.e. customers) at a very early stage to protect their assets and the economy as a whole, in an effort to mitigating any foreseeable defaults.

The financial sector is highly regulated, including by the Bank of Tanzania Act, the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, the Foreign Exchange Act, and regulations, directives and circulars made thereunder. It would be naïve to suggest that lenders are not aware of the risk posed by COVID-19, as they are required to have in place management of risk assets policies as part of their modus operandi in line with the banking laws in particular the Banking and Financial Institutions (Management of Risk Assets) Regulations and the Risk Management Guidelines issued by the Bank of Tanzania as the licensing, regulator and supervisor of these institutions. As the regulator of the financial sector, the Bank of Tanzania’s primary concern is to make sure that these lenders operate in a financially sound manner, in that they have adequate credit by way of proper capitalization; good investment policies that among others identify, measure, monitor and manage the risk arising from their businesses aimed at ensuring timely and adequate measures or actions are taken on problematic assets. This is geared towards promoting and maintaining public confidence in the financial and banking sector.

Given that loans are assets, they must be repaid or secured. Repayment is normally expected as already argued to come from business revenues. When there is disruption to businesses, the borrower’s capacity to pay is impacted negatively thus necessarily affecting performance of the lender’s asset, which eventually leads lenders to resort to the unpalatable action of collection by either managing the business (if it is found to have been mismanaged), to generate enough revenue to repay the loan or by resorting to disposal of the security. Loan agreements foresee challenges that may incapacitate a borrower to repay the loans and provide for default clauses. Given this unprecedented pandemic, it is important that commercial lenders be on the alert to manage these possible defaults by borrowers in order to minimize statutory provisioning for losses. For example, it is time for lenders to closely monitor the economic trend affecting their customers to understand the extent of the financial difficulties they are facing right now.

In most loan agreements borrowers are required to submit monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual reports to lenders. The primary purpose of these reports is to inform a lender of the financial status of the borrower, market conditions and other operational issues so that a lender can make a reasonable assessment regarding the ongoing nature of the business. It is also a signal to the lender to assess the solvency or otherwise of the business. COVID-19 has resulted in a world-wide pause to business. There is complete unprecedented lockdown of business both local and international. Borders have been closed, production suspended, travel grounded, hotels and tourism sector completely shut down. The pandemic does not call for legalese thinking such as the possibility of invoking force majeure by borrowers (which has rarely been upheld by courts when it comes to defaults in the banking business or the concept or doctrine of frustration of a contract – which is not the ambit of this brief), but rather a practical and realistic approach to dealing with borrowers, the regulator, creditors and shareholders.

With the loss of business due to COVID-19, borrowers face loan defaults. In our view, lenders should attempt to take a pragmatic approach to the problem, by assisting their customers to survive the pandemic if at all possible. Considerations such as waivers of certain charges, interest rates (both current and penal) and restructuring options to give relief to borrowers should as far as practicable be considered. Lenders should take pains to assess the financial capacity of their borrowers, given the revenues from the businesses and based on the financial capacity of the business, agree on the amount that can be paid. This calls for lenders to approach this in line with the Management of Risk Assets Regulations and their own credit risk management policies. 

It should be borne in mind that during this trying time, it is important for lenders to engage with the regulator (the Bank of Tanzania) with a view to consider either temporarily suspending the statutory provisioning requirements and consultation with the Revenue Authority through the regulator to waive penalties on the anticipated tax revenues from interest charged and other charges if waived. In addition, lenders ought to fear engaging the regulator on the financial stimulus package. In this respect, it is important to engage the regulator as an industry and not as individual lenders by bringing to the regulator’s attention measures taken in other jurisdictions including in the region to ensure the survival of the banking industry. Silence and non-action is detrimental to the economy and the banking business. By actively engaging now with customers and the regulator, the industry can mitigate the risk of heavy provisioning for losses. It is a time for the banking industry to act collectively, borrow a leaf from other jurisdictions and actively suggest solutions to the regulator that will mitigate the anticipated loss of business and build confidence in the industry while reassuring customers that the banking industry is there for them.

*DLA Piper Africa Tanzania Member Firm, IMMA Advocates

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A shift from coal mining is urgently needed to protect the lives of rural communities in Nigeria
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Lagos, Nigeria – A study commissioned by the international movement, 350.org has shown that coal mining in Nigeria’s Kogi and Gombe states has led to extensive environmental degradation including the contamination of air, water and soil which continue to negatively affect the health of local communities.

The coal miners fingered in the study are Aliko Dangote’s Dangote Cement, ETA Zuma’s Zuma 828 Coal Limited and Lafarge’s Ashaka Cement. The three companies despite stating lofty “green” and environmental sustainability positions on their websites and investor documents including annual and sustainability reports, continue to practice coal mining in a way that totally disregards the health and livelihoods of local communities and its effects on the global climate crisis.

Landry Ninteretse, the 350.org Africa Managing Director said: 

“It is already well known how dirty coal as a source of energy is, so it was particularly surprising that our study revealed that a company as large and respected as Dangote Cement went ahead to undertake coal mining through Dangote Coal without conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is a mandatory requirement in Nigeria. It is therefore clear that Dangote is mining coal illegally in Kogi State.

We would like to urge the Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria to immediately carry out an environmental audit of all the coal mining sites in Nigeria. Furthermore, we would like to urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately investigate and correct the human rights violations in coal mining communities in Nigeria particularly in Maigaga, Itobe, Onupi, Awo Akplokuta, Awo Ojuwo, Awo Ate, Ajobe Afeanyaka and Utala communities.

All mining operations especially those undertaken by multinational companies such as Lafarge and Dangote should adhere to the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights.”

David Michael Terungwa, the Executive Director of GIFSEP said:

“What has been witnessed in Kogi and Gombe states is that fossil fuel companies and large corporations when in need of natural resources, initiate talks with the local community and consequently enter into agreements whose benefits are heavily skewed against the local people. These companies are benefiting greatly from the goodwill of the local community and are not honoring the agreements entered into. 

There is an urgent need to review the Community Development Agreements signed between the coal mining communities and the companies in this case Ashaka Cement (Lafarge), Dangote and ETA Zuma.”

The Federal Government of Nigeria has made commitments under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which are reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where all countries that signed the UNFCCC were asked to publish their commitments to fight climate change. In order to reduce carbon emissions, Nigeria should therefore ensure the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions starting with the phasing out of coal-fired plants.

Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa should be a beacon for other African states by accelerating its national plans that would see a rapid, just transition towards 100% renewable energy for all Nigerians. 

*Source 350Africa.org

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2020 Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands Highlights
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments
  • AFRICAN BRANDS DROP TO ALL TIME LOW 13%
  • NON-AFRICAN BRANDS ACCOUNT FOR 87% OF THE TOP 100 BRANDS IN AFRICA
  • NIKE RETAINS #1 IN AFRICA FOR THIRD YEAR IN A ROW
  • AFRICAN BRANDS DROP BY OVER 60% IN 10 YEARS
  • OUT OF THE TOP 100 BRANDS IN THE 2010/11 RANKINGS, ONLY HALF REMAIN IN THE TABLES DUE TO MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND OBSOLECENSE
  • EUROPE RETAINS CONTINENTAL LEAD WITH 42/100 (+5%), NORTH AMERICA WITH ALL-USA BRANDS 29/100 (+3,5%) AND ASIA WITH 16/100 (-6%)
  • DANGOTE AND MTN RETAIN RANKINGS AS AFRICA’S MOST ADMIRED AFRICAN BRANDS.
  • MTN IS #1 BRAND RECALLED AFRICAN BRAND SPONTANEOUSLY RECALLED AMONG THE TOP 100.
  • DANGOTE IS #1 AFRICAN BRAND WHEN CONSUMERS ARE PROMPTED TO RECALL AN AFRICAN BRANDS.
  • CHINA’S ALIBABA (92) AND USA’S AMAZON (#56) ARE THE MOST HIGH PROFILE TECHNOLOGY/E-COMMERCE NEW ENTRIES.
  • MTN (SOUTH AFRICA), DANGOTE (NIGERIA) AND SAFARICOM (KENYA) ARE THE HIGHEST BRANDS LISTED ON THE LEADING SUB-SAHARAN BOURSES, THE JSE, NIGERIA STOCK EXCHANGE AND NAIROBI SECURITIES EXCHANGE.
  • SOUTH AFRICAN (5), NIGERIAN (6), KENYAN(1) AND ETHIOPIAN (1) ARE LEADING COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN FOR AFRICAN BRANDS.

Today Brand Africa announced the 10th anniversary rankings of Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, the pre-eminent survey and ranking of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. The rankings were announced in a novel global virtual event that incorporated the market openings of Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. The rankings will be published in the June issue of African Business magazine and can be downloaded here.

American sports and fitness giant, Nike takes the top spot for the third year in a row. MTN and Dangote are the most admired African brands recalled spontaneously and when prompted, respectively. Nigeria’s GT Bank returns to the top spot in financial services and the United Kingdom’s BBC retains its media category ranking as the most admired media brand in separate category sub-surveys of the most admired financial services and media brands in Africa. African brands only occupy 13 of the 100 entries, 7 less from last year.

Established 10 years ago to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the world’s biggest single sporting event, the Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands survey and rankings have established themselves as the most authoritative survey, analysis, and metric of brands in Africa.

It is a consumer-led survey which seeks to establish brand preferences across Africa. The survey is conducted among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, in 27 countries which collectively represent 50% of the continent, covering all economic regions and accounting for an estimated 80% of the population and the GDP of Africa. The 2020 survey was conducted between February and April 2020 and yielded over 15,000 brand mentions and over 2,000 unique brands.

Out of the top 100 brands in 2010/11, only half still appear in this year’s list due to mergers, acquisitions and the obsolescence of many brands. The most prominent changes are in the technology category with the demise Blackberry (#32 in 2010/11), the consolidation of Vodafone (#54 in 2010/11 and now #13 in 2020) which acquired Vodacom in 2008 and rebranded in 2011, Etisalat (#40 in 2010/11) rebranding to 9 Mobile in 2017 and Motorola (#39) being acquired by Lenovo in 2014. Chinese brand, Tecno, has raced up the ranking from #33 to #5 in the rankings – a dominant performance for one of China’s premier global brands that’s not even sold in China.

Computer/electronics (15%), consumer (non-cyclical) (14%), luxury (10%), auto manufacturers (10%), and apparel (8%) make up the top 5 categories.

In the sub-survey focused on financial services, GTBank re-claimed the #1 spot after falling out of the top 5 in 2019. This year’s rankings included a strong presence of payment service brands PayPal, Western Union and Visa, as digitisation and digital-led economies are expected to accelerate more acutely because of the pandemic.

“It’s concerning that in the 10 years since the triumphant FIFA World Cup in South Africa which globally highlighted the promise and capability of Africa, and despite the vibrant entrepreneurial environment, Africa is not creating more competitive brands to meet the needs of its growing consumer market,” says Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership. “African brands have an important role in helping to build the image, competitiveness and transforming the continent’s promise into a real change.”

“The reach and accessibility of mobile across the continent enabled us to survey respondents across a representative sample of countries quickly and effectively, giving us vital and timeous results at a critical time,” said Caitlin van Niekerk, Global Client Development Manager, GeoPoll.

Kantar has been the insight lead for Brand Africa since inception in 2010. Karin Du Chenne, Chief Growth Officer Africa Middle East says, “The complex task of analyzing a vast amount of diverse data, countries and trends over 10 years has given us a deep insight into how brands have changed, adapted and kept in step with the changing African environment and consumer who demands more from their brands.”

The Brand Africa 100 results will be published in the June issue African Business magazine which on sale globally from 2nd May 2020 and is available online to subscribers on www.africanbusinessmagazine.com.

Brand Africa

Brand Africa is an intergenerational movement to inspire a great Africa through promoting a positive image of Africa, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness. It is a brand-led movement which recognizes that in the 21st century, brands are an asset and a vector of image, reputation and competitiveness of nations. Brand Africa seeks to inspire a brand-led African renaissance.
Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands is a Brand Africa initiative to survey, rank and recognize the best brands in Africa.
Brand Africa is an independent Non-Profit Organisation registered in the Republic of South Africa (NPC 2013/146300/08) and a signatory to the Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in Africa (www.governance.org.za).
www.brand.africa

BA 100 Partners

Brand Leadership
Brand Leadership is a pan-African brand development, integrated marketing communications and activation partner for decision- makers invested in Africa. Established in 2002, Brand Leadership has over the years delivered solutions that respond to African conditions, needs and ambitions for brands in the private and public sectors across Africa www.brandleadership.africa

GeoPoll
GeoPoll is a leader in providing fast, high quality market research from areas that are difficult to access using traditional methods. Working with clients including global brands, media houses, and international development groups, GeoPoll facilitates projects that measure ROI of TV advertisements, demonstrate demand for new products, and assess food security around the world. GeoPoll combines a robust mobile surveying platform that has the ability to conduct research via multiple modes with a database of over 250 million respondents in emerging markets around the globe. Strengths lie in GeoPoll’ s ability to target extremely specific populations, deploy surveys remotely, and provide expert guidance on how to collect accurate, reliable data through the mobile phone. www.GeoPoll.com

Kantar
Kantar is the world’s leading evidence -based insights and consulting company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think , feel act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology we help our clients understand people and inspire growth. www.kantar.com

BCW
BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), one of the world’s largest full-service global communications agencies, is in the business of moving people on behalf of clients. Founded by the merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe, BCW delivers digitally and data-driven creative content and integrated communications programs grounded in earned media and scaled across all channels for clients in the B2B, consumer, corporate, crisis management, CSR, healthcare, public affairs and technology sectors.

BCW Africa is a truly African agency with a leading global parent and a 30-year heritage of partnership with clients, staff and its extended team. Johannesburg – based BCW boasts an unparalleled reach across Africa through BCW Africa, our network of affiliates across the continent, and international best practice expertise and a global footprint through BCW globally. Our African network, which covers 50+ African countries, is based on partnerships which span more than two decades with local agencies highly regarded in their markets.

BCW is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company. For more information, visit www.bcw-global.com

African Media Agency
AMA is a multilingual pan-African Communications agency with a deep knowledge and understanding of
the continent. It is recognized as an authoritative source of news for the most influential media houses in every African country. www.africanmediaagency.com

African Business
African Business is the best-selling pan-African business magazine with an award-winning team widely respected for its editorial excellence. It provides the all-important tools enabling decision makers to maintain a critical edge in a continent that is changing the world. African Business special reports profile a wide range of sectors and industries including transport, energy, mining, construction, aviation and agriculture. www.africanbusinessmagazine.com

*AMA

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ON AFRICA DAY, PAN-AFRICANISM AT ALL-TIME HIGH FOR CONTINENT’S YOUTH, NEW SURVEY FINDS
May 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

While Africa Day (May 25th), the official day of the African Union (AU) marking intercontinental unity, takes place solemnly in 2020 on the backdrop of the continued outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), a recent study of Africa’s youth has showcased continent-wide resiliency, institutional trust, cohesion and collective ‘Afro-Optimism’ in facing the challenges ahead.

The results of the inaugural ‘African Youth Survey’ , offer hope that through a growing shared identity found within Africa’s young people and their united, unwavering commitment to overcoming the myriad of obstacles confronting the continent, both new and longstanding, the 21st century will assuredly be the African century.

This Pan-African research project was commissioned by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation (IFF) and conducted by PSB Research, in an effort to help develop foundations for a better global understanding of a demographic that is all too often misunderstood. The 2020 African Youth Survey is a comprehensive study of 4,200 men and women aged 18-24 across 14 sub-Saharan nations; Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its findings suggest the continent’s next generation, collectively forming the world’s largest marketplace, bear striking similarities in their pan-African outlook and the willpower to independently determine their own futures.

Nearly eight in ten (76%) polled agreed that young people in Africa share a common identity, brought forth by common culture, shared history and the values epitomized by Nelson Mandela. This speaks to a palpable sense of a pan-African identity amongst this emerging generation, with highest support in West Africa (78%), Southern Africa (77%) and East Africa (69%). Ghana and Kenya are the strongest supporters of the notion (92%). On average, African youth feel more optimistic about the future of the continent than their own country’s future, with Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa being the most optimistic about Africa’s future.

Looking at the factors that will shape Africa’s identity in the future, 21% of African youth predict that war and conflict will have the biggest impact, but two thirds list positive developments as having the biggest impact. These include the digital revolution (16%), increased freedoms (15%), rise in prosperity (15%) and increased equality (13%).

Pan-Africanism is tempered when respondents were asked about their own identity, with around half identifying by their own country first, 17% by Africa, 17% by their tribe, 13% by race and only 2% by political party. In addition, 60% of all respondents agreed that their local language is central to their identity.

The Survey also finds great trust in the continent’s supranational organizations such as the African Union (AU). Seven out of ten (72%) surveyed are confident that the African Union “…in its current form will be able to facilitate unity across the African continent”. Of these respondents, confidence in the AU was found to be highest amongst Rwandans (93%) and Ghanaians (90%).

Although each nation upon nation across the continent has imposed individual social distancing and travel restrictions in efforts to curtail the further spread of the coronavirus disease, six out of ten (63%) polled believe that in future, African countries are best suited to find common solutions to pressing socioeconomic challenges.

Such Pan-Africanism can also be found at the community level, where young people in Africa are deeply embedded in their local communities, which many nonetheless describe as ethnically, religiously and economically diverse, according to the Survey’s findings. Three-quarters polled (75%) believed that their country belongs to all who reside in it, including refugees, eschewing tribal and other forms of xenophobia and discrimination. Young Africans are committed to their local communities and see a future for themselves on the continent as 69% prefer to stay in their communities instead of moving elsewhere.

This cohesion and commitment to societal growth correlates to a rising sense of ‘Afro-Optimism’ that was found to be a recurring theme throughout the results of the Study, with six in ten (65%) polled believing the 21st century will be the “African Century”.

Industrialist, philanthropist and Ichikowitz Foundation Chairman, Ivor Ichikowitz, stated that, “On this particular Africa Day, it is extremely important to celebrate our continent’s historic, groundbreaking achievements, our respective struggles for independence and those that fought for them, the work of our institutions such as the African Union in their continued drive for greater societal cohesion and socioeconomic development. Working together, we are capable of conquering monumental challenges, including the COVID-19 outbreak. At this time, we must also consider the needs of our fellow Africans, our neighbors; the many who may feel helpless and isolated, providing any support we can to those on the frontlines of this global pandemic.

“United, we will continue to build a stronger, more prominent Africa on the world stage and I have no doubt, our next generation will be leading that charge. The results of the Survey confirm it.”  

About the Ichikowitz Family Foundation

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation is founded upon the belief that Africa’s potential can be unlocked through education, the respect for human rights, a better understanding of Africa’s dynamic history and the conservation of its rich biodiversity. In terms of environmental programmes, the Ichikowitz Family Foundation works to promote personal, communal, and corporate best practice in matters affecting the environment, including the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, conservation of Africa’s unique biodiversity, especially building capacity and support for anti-poaching operations. Ichikowitz Family Foundation initiates, funds and runs its own projects.

*Source Ichikowitz Family Foundation

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Sierra Leone : CGSL Donates Le10m To the Fight Against COVID -19
May 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

CGSL members displaying cheque of ten million Leones as their contribution to government’s COVID-19  fight

One of Sierra Leone’s leading youth organisations , Chozen Generation Sierra Leone (CGSL) has donated ten million Leones to the country’s Covid -19 account at the Bank of Sierra  Leone as their financial support to the government’s fight against the Coronavirus disease.

According to GCSL , apart from the donation, the organization in diverse ways has been engaged in public education – disseminating messages of prevention and control, means to spot fake news and stress management during this period.

GCSL added that the donation is the result of a fundraising event that the organization held in February as well as voluntary contributions from the membership of CGSL, which comprises mostly college students and young professionals stating that  even though the organization is actively involved in public education which is immensely contributing to the fight against COVID -19, the membership, having studied the situation and trends of rising cases of the disease in Sierra Leone, concluded that it should raise some funds to support the government’s effort in tackling the Coronavirus disease and return the country to normalcy.

“This move is about young people stepping forward to help in the fight against the Coronavirus. We can hardly win this fight without the energy and dynamism of young people. This is also a wakeup call to Sierra Leoneans to support the government so that we can swiftly put this disaster behind us. If we must quickly open our country up again for business and get our schools and colleges back to normal, then there is a need for Sierra Leoneans of all ages, ethnicities and political ideologies to support the government in this fight, said CGSL National Coordinator, Joel Abdulai Kallon.

GCSL believed that ,in these tough times, they want to use this gesture as a way of applauding the incredible sacrifices of the frontline fighters and pray for God’s continued guidance and protection adding that they want to encourage them to keep saving lives even as they search for a lasting solution amidst the daily risks involved and the many challenges attached.

 Chozen Generation Sierra Leone is an award-winning youth advocacy and leadership development organization in Sierra Leone that seeks to empower youths nationwide through the provision of relevant training opportunities, mentoring and coaching.

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Liberia:Pres. Weah Extends Restrictions By Two Weeks …Moves “Stay Home” to 6PM
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
President Weah
President Weah

The Government of Liberia has announced an additional two-week extension of restrictions intended to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

During the ensuing period, the public is now required to be indoors at 6pm, instead of the previous 3pm.

President George M. Weah has said the easing of measures became necessary in light of the new global reality and the advice of local health authorities.

Under the updated guidelines, restaurants, stores selling food commodities, dry goods, building materials and electronic appliances, will be allowed to open provided they take in 25% of their full occupancy at a time while observing social distancing.

The President has also instructed the joint security to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks in all public spaces and ensure full compliance. The government will take the appropriate legal action in cases of violation of any these measures.

President Weah has revealed that the new measures will be assessed again in the near future in order to determine their effectiveness and the need for further easing – given the urgency of opening up the economy so that possible shocks from the global pandemic can be mitigated.

Nonetheless, the President also said that the preservation of lives remains the foremost priority of his administration, so any future decisions will be made with that in full consideration.

All other measures and protocols previously announced remain in place.

The government calls for cooperation of the general public as the country grapples with the enormous threat that Coronavirus poses.

Meanwhile, President Weah has named the Ministry of Labour as exempt and instructed the Minister to designate essential staff to report to work immediately.

*Executive Mansion Liberia

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Highlights from Mercer’s Webinar on The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Kenya
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The coronavirus pandemic is a health crisis and human tragedy which has affected thousands across the globe. As a result, economies are charged with providing a response to the pandemic. Some of the challenges countries are faced with include debt increase, oil demand decline, and rising unemployment. 

In this light, Mercer, a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investment held a webinar to discuss what this pandemic could mean for Kenya’s economic landscape. 

According to Francis Omanyala, Associate Consultant at Mercer, Africa has unique challenges in its fight against COVID-19. However it is crucial that organizations better understand some of these issues and redirect their energies in unlocking some of the available opportunities. 

During the webinar, one of the speakers, Lesiba Mothata, Head: Strategic Clients, Alexander Forbes explained that for countries like Kenya, there have been a number of constructive outcomes. One of which is Kenya’s new tax policy that provides full income tax relief for persons earning below the equivalent of $225 per month.  

Agriculture and climate also remain top of mind in Kenya, alongside opportunities provided by digital money, NextGen connectivity and tourism.

Lastly, considering Africa is well on its way to adopting technological advancements, Kenyan regulators might be encouraged to expedite the commercial use of 5G technology to enhance faster mobile connectivity.

How employers in Kenya are supporting their employees ?

Despite having a strong youthful population, who, according to research may be less vulnerable to COVID-19, Africa poses a large threat when compared globally, due to weak healthcare systems and testing capabilities. There is also the challenge of other existing medical battles such as, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Ebola and Malaria. Hence, organizations are tasked with supporting employee wellbeing and safety.

Francis Omanyala stated that in Kenya, there have been cash donations and support from the government, private sector and individuals totaling 1.3billion Kenyan shillings. Some of the other business responses to COVID-19 have been through HMO and government initiatives. These include telehealth assistance, facilitating drug deliveries and donations to health workers’ funds.

He also shed some light on other measures taken by the Kenyan government in the wake of the pandemic. “There have been sensitization programmes geared towards educating people on how to protect themselves. Kenyatta National Hospital has also been expanded in terms of bed capacity, while Kenya closed borders with Tanzania and Somalia to curb the spread of the virus,” he said.

Mercer’s employee support survey also looks at the ways through which companies in Africa are supporting their employees during this outbreak. For instance, 54 percent are allowing employees with children to determine their own work schedule while 43 percent established a private COVID-19 hotline for employees in order to encourage self-disclosure.

The new normal

Going forward from the current reality, many concerns come to mind. What will the new working environment look like? How should companies approach things during this period? Does my insurance at the moment have the adequate cover for COVID-19? etc.

The first step would be for employers to rethink their strategies and working conditions. “We need to be innovative in terms of the solutions we provide for employees while reviewing our strategies ahead of returning to the office. We also need to consider how best to balance between continuously supporting our employees and understanding their needs as we grow our businesses,” said Francis Omanyala.

Additionally, one of the most important things for employers would be hygiene, but in the meantime, HR has to redefine policies like remote working and provide internet access

Secondly, there is a need for organizations to better understand various workforces and how best to move things along. For instance, industries like manufacturing may require different approaches when compared to the financial services sector. 

Productivity and mental health is another crucial factor to consider. In order for organizations to maintain a healthy balance, there is need for compassion and empathy from leaders. Also, considering certain administrative activities may be tedious or unnecessary during this period, other means of managing and reviewing performance should be adopted. 

Overall, there shouldn’t be a rush. The process of resuming regular work activities need to be phased.

Employers may also want to consider enhancing financial support to employees with additional innovative solutions which are emerging during these trying times.

The first 4 points from Mercer’s 10 point Employer Guide are very important, particularly as economies have started getting back to work. This includes employee communication, onsite/ near-site clinic protocols and other support mechanisms. For employees in Kenya who will be returning from heavily infected areas, there needs to be regular testing and other appropriate measures to protect the entire workforce.

While COVID-19 may hit Kenya hard, opportunities abound by identifying the sectors with high growth rates alongside more efforts in the upskilling of labor, the country will be better positioned to cushion the impact of the pandemic.  

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Senegal: A West African Leader on the Rise
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Thomas Hedley*

Senegal has demonstrated strong ambition for economic development and rapid progress towards becoming an attractive investment destination

Although they are located 1,800Km from each other, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal vie for the place of economic leader in West Africa, with a slight advantage for the former which, thanks to its leading economic capital Abidjan, was able to attract many investors, particularly French speaking.

The population of Senegal reached 15.85 million people in 2018 compared to 25 million in Côte d’Ivoire. The same difference can be observed when looking at gross domestic product (GDP) since Senegal reached $25 billion in GDP in 2018, while Côte d’Ivoire reached $43 billion dollars. The competition between the two countries is justified by a recent common history, where Senegal acquired independence from France just two years after Côte d’Ivoire, in 1958 and 1960 respectively.

Both countries are members of the Economic Community of West African States. The diplomatic group is led by Nigeria, which represents the economic engine of the region, followed by Ghana, also an English-speaking country. Next come Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal in third and fourth position.

Thanks to an ambitious economic development plan initiated in 2014, the Senegal Emerging Plan (PSE), Senegal has managed to attract more foreign investors over the years. The objective of the PSE is to proclaim Senegal as an ‘emerging country’ according to the United Nations, which is characterized by a set of criteria making it possible to declare that the country has made decisive progress in terms of economic and social development. The notion of ‘emerging country’ also translates a notion of stronger influence on the international as well as regional community.

Senegal is a country blessed with an excellent geographical location, at the westernmost point of the African mainland, featuring a large Atlantic coastline. Relatively developed transport and hospitality infrastructure translates to a great tourism potential. The Sine Saloum Delta region is the south is globally recognized spot for natural ecosystems and wildlife viewing, while the former capital Saint-Louis, north of Dakar, is praised for its colonial architecture heritage. 1,4 million tourists visited Senegal in 2017, up 40 percent from 2014. The sector generates over 300,000 jobs.

Phase 2 of the PSE, which was launched in 2019, aims in particular to make Senegal independent from an energy point of view and endowed with universal access to electricity by 2025. The plan includes a strong renewable energy aspect. Several solar park projects have come online since 2014 as well as the commissioning of the largest wind farm in West Africa, Taiba N’diaye, whose official inauguration took place in February 2020.

Since the launch of the PSE, Senegal has experienced a sustained and very stable growth rate of around 6% per year. While the COVID-19 epidemic may indeed affect the 2020 targets, the medium-term outlook remains very optimistic. The first productions of the Sangomar and Grand Tortue Ahmeyim fields, respectively of oil and gas, are planned for 2022 and 2023, with final investment decisions signed on the two projects. The Taiba N’diaye wind farm, planned to increase electricity production by 15%, is in operation. The first solar park went online three years ago and five more have been launched since then and two are in the pipeline. In addition, Senegal is part of the Senegal River Development Organization (OMVS) which aims to generate electricity from the Senegal river.

Almost simultaneously with the launch of the PSE, an oil exploration team comprised of Australian FAR Ltd and Woodside Energy, as well as the British company Cairn Energy and Senegalese Petroleum Company (Petrosen), announced a large oil discovery off the coast of Dakar in deep waters. A year later, exploration company Kosmos Energy announced a very large gas discovery offshore in very deep waters, straddling the border with Mauritania. British Major BP has acquired operator status on the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim project, which aims to be the fastest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project ever developed. Although the COVID-19 epidemic is threatening what was originally planned, targets remain the same as pre-crisis.

Senegal has decisive key success factors: an attractive geographic position, strong political and institutional stability, a very strong political will towards reform and progress, a flexible regulatory framework for investors and a stable business climate. Since the PSE did not foresee a strong development of the hydrocarbon sector, the discoveries of 2014, 2015 and the following ones constitute an excellent additional growth lever for a highly promising country.

The development policy undertaken by President Macky Sall following his election in 2012 is a long-term policy, aiming the build the foundations of a solid economy, based on key sectors such as industry and energy, including a significant component of local content across the value chain.

*SOURCE Africa Oil & Power Conference
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South Sudan: “City of darkness” no longer, African Development Bank supported electricity project lights up capital
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Araya Hizkias, the owner of a water bottling company in South Sudan’s capital Juba, used to rely on a diesel generator to keep his business going, which gobbled into his profits each month.

But now a city-wide power grid is emerging for the first time, lighting up Juba and promoting security, and transforming lives and businesses.

Implementation of the African Development Bank’s $38 million Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project is  almost completed in the city, Juba, which hasn’t had a stable and reliable electricity supply since South Sudan’s independence in 2011 and has always suffered from regular blackouts.

“Our company used to rely on a 1,500kVA  generator and spent an average of $75 a day on diesel. We bought 45,000 litres of diesel monthly, said Hizkias, the owner of the Juba-based Aquana Water Company.

“Now we rely on public electricity brought to us by this new network. We don’t experience random damages to our machines anymore and things are working easier. We are making more savings and expanding production.”

The Bank and the South Sudan government partially commissioned the power distribution network in November 2019. It has since helped to restore electricity supply in the Central Business District of Juba. Street lamps light up most thoroughfares to ease movement of traffic and pedestrians and  help prevent crime.

Of the 20,000 “last-mile” domestic and commercial consumers targeted in the project,  about 6,131 have so far been connected to the grid.

“We used to light candles and other alternate energy sources. Most people who could afford them, owned generators. The disturbing noise of generators could be heard from many homes and business. We now have enough power for our appliances and businesses have picked up,” said Adak Costa Mapuor, a middle-aged woman who moved to the city in 2006.

The project is funded through a combination of a grant from the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional financing window of the Bank, and a concessional loan from the ADF-administered Transition Support Facility.It has lit up government offices, hotels, and factories and helped to power public services such as water, health and educational institutions.

“It was an embarrassment for Juba, the seat of government, not to have reliable electricity. Juba was once referred to as the city of darkness. This project has changed that and given the city a facelift. The network is reaching the common people, and it has improved small businesses and rejuvenated commercial activities,” said Jacob Deng, Director General, Planning  and Projects at the South Sudan Electricity Corporation.

 “It has also improved security,” he added. “Many businesses now stay open till late as a result of improved security. This is one of the best projects in the country.”

The project is due to be completed at the end of  2020 and will consist of a 145 km medium voltage distribution line and a 250 km low voltage distribution line with 145 new transformers installed. At least a total of 20,000 domestic and commercial consumers will be connected, with access to five new customer service centres.

“The electricity supply situation in Juba was very bad. It comprised a small grid of 6 MW covering parts of Juba. Demand was very high. Things are better now, covering more households. Work is still ongoing, but those connected so far are very happy,” said Michael Wani Aringo, a project engineer who has lived in the city for 10 years.

The Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project is the Bank’s first energy operation in South Sudan and follows years of conflict in the country. The rehabilitation of the electricity sector will unlock economic potential to spur growth and development. The upgrade of the network will gradually be rolled out to other cities and eventually connected to neighbouring countries.

*AFDB

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Zimbabwe: African Development Bank approves $13.7 million to strengthen health system, boost anti-COVID-19 efforts
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
A woman is screened by a healthcare worker before visiting a relative at a public hospital in Harare [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP Photo]

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $13.7 million grant to finance the COVID-19 response in Zimbabwe. The funds will provide an immediate lifeline for targeted frontline responders and health personnel and boost the country’s Global Health Security Index in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Approval for the grant was made on May 13, after a request from the Zimbabwe Government. The funds, from the African Development Fund (ADF) 14 Transition Support Facility, will go to Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 Response Project (CRP), which aims to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a country which is facing many economic and social challenges.

The CRP will focus on 15 high-density urban suburbs in Harare the capital, satellite townships and targeted health facilities in other areas of the country.

Activities under the project include boosting capacity in COVID-19 prevention and management protocols for healthcare personnel and populations in targeted regions, and increasing access to COVID-19 hand washing facilities in Harare, satellite townships and other affected regions.

The project will also supply COVID-19 medical equipment and laboratory test kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs); set up handwashing facilities through rehabilitation/construction of boreholes; and training of healthcare personnel and laboratory technicians at community level on COVID-19 prevention and case management protocols.

The project  which will be implemented by the World Health Organization, with the country’s Ministry of Health and Child Care acting as executing agency, is expected to directly benefit over 680,000 people. It will leverage on planned activities to contribute to strengthening the resilience of the health system, while protecting the livelihoods of the vulnerable population in Zimbabwe beyond the end of the pandemic.

Zimbabwe is currently facing additional vulnerability challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation like many other across the globe, has responded with a raft of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, including restricting movement of people and ordering social distancing in public places like shopping malls and public transport. The country’s current national lockdown includes school closures, restricted movement of people, restricted business operating times and the closure of pubs, restaurants and churches. Public gatherings have been limited to 50 people.

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Madagascar: Government of Madagascar gets Euro 4 million from African Development Fund for Sahofika hydropower project
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Sahofika project is located on the Onive River, 100 km southeast of the capital Antananarivo

The African Development Fund has approved a 4.02 million euro loan with a grant component to finance the Government of Madagascar’s 30 million euro equity investment in the Sahofika hydropower project, which will generate affordable, clean energy benefitting some 8 million people.

The Sahofika project is located on the Onive River, 100 km southeast of the capital Antananarivo. It entails the construction of a 205 MW hydroelectric power plant on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer basis and includes the construction and rehabilitation of 110 km of access roads and construction of a 75 km, 220 kV transmission line. Once commissioned, the Sahofika project is expected to contribute to the avoidance of 900,000 tons of CO2 equivalent annually.

The government has committed to plough back the returns from the project to reduce electricity tariffs for the people of Madagascar.

Additional funding for the project is expected to come from the European Union and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa

“The support to the Sahofika project exemplifies the Bank’s commitment to delivering quality, affordable energy access across the continent for sustainable and inclusive growth, while helping member countries to responsibly harness their vast, yet underdeveloped renewable energy resources. As the largest hydro power project under development in the country, the Sahofika project will unlock Madagascar’s hydropower potential, and diversify its energy mix in favour of renewable at 90%”, said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the Bank’s Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change & Green Growth.

In December 2019, acting as Mandated Lead Arranger, the Bank approved a Partial Risk Guarantee of $100 million towards the Sahofika project to mitigate liquidity risk. The Bank is also supporting the Power Transmission Network Reinforcement and Interconnection Project, aimed at reinforcing and expanding Madagascar’s transmission network in order to  evacuate the additional power generated by this large hydro project.

“The Sahofika project is a cornerstone of the Bank’s strong support to the power sector in Madagascar. The commissioning of Sahofika would enable national utility (JIRAMA) to save around 100 million euros annually in fuel costs, while phasing out the need for state subsidies,” said Mohamed Cherif, the Bank’s Country Manager for Madagascar.

The Sahofika project is aligned with the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, and the Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan, whose collective goals include expanding green energy infrastructure for sustainable and inclusive growth. It is also in line with the Government of Madagascar’s energy policy.

The African Development Fund (ADF) is the concessional financing window of the Bank Group that provides low-income Regional Member Countries (RMCs) with concessional loans and grants in support of projects that spur poverty reduction.

*AFDB
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Kenya: €188m African Development Bank loan to boost COVID-19 response
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and AfDB President Dr. Adesina Akinwumi at the 51st Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank
The loan will extend additional resources to Kenya as the country takes steps to contain the spread of the pandemic and deal with its unprecedented impact

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank today approved an €188 million loan to support the Government of Kenya’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate the related economic, health and social impacts.

The loan will extend additional resources to Kenya as the country takes steps to contain the spread of the pandemic and deal with its unprecedented impact. It follows a request by the Government of Kenya, as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response intervention, to help contain the scourge.

The Bank’s support will strengthen the national health system to effectively respond to the pandemic, build economic resilience and ensure quick recovery. The Bank’s intervention will also be used to support the poor and vulnerable people who have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

“We are very pleased to join other development partners in supporting the Government of Kenya’s efforts in mitigating the financial impact of the pandemic, especially in terms of the country’s expenditure in the health, social and economic sectors. The next step will focus on helping build resilience for post COVID-19,” the Bank’s Acting Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo, noted.

Since Kenya’s first  COVID-19 infection was confirmed on 12 March 2020, cases have risen to over 1,000, while the number of recoveries and deaths are 375 and 50, respectively, as of 22 May 2020. The pandemic is placing significant pressure on an already stretched healthcare system. It has disrupted supply chains and caused job losses in the tourism, hospitality, horticulture and airline industries, among others.

In addition, informal and self-employed workers have also lost their livelihoods due to the impact of the pandemic.

The government’s response to the pandemic has been swift and multi-faceted, covering a range of measures including health-related containment measures, protection of the poor and vulnerable, provision of support to local businesses and to sustaining jobs. The Bank’s intervention, through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Support Program, is designed to support these measures.

As a result of demand and supply shocks, Kenya’s real GDP growth is projected to fall to between 0.6 and 1.4 percent from the initial 2020 projection of 6 percent.

In April, the Bank extended an emergency grant to help countries in the East and Horn of Africa, including Kenya, that are contending with swarms of locusts that are threatening food security. Kenya is facing its worst swarms in 70 years. In Ethiopia and Somalia, the outbreak is the worst in 25 years.

*AFDB
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