TotalEnergies launches sale of stake in Nigerian oil joint venture


The TotalEnergies logo sits on the company’s headquarter skyscraper in the La Defense business district in Paris, France, March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

has launched the sale of its 10% stake in Nigerian joint venture SPDC, with Canada’s Scotiabank leading the sale as financial adviser, a sale document tendering for interest showed.

TotalEnergies announced the sale in late April.

Scotiabank declined to comment. TotalEnergies declined to comment on the financial adviser.

TotalEnergies confirmed it was selling its interest in 13 onshore fields and three in shallow water, producing over 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The sale includes infrastructure such as 3,500 km of pipelines connecting to two key crude export terminals, Bonny and Forcados.

The French company will keep OMLs (oil mining licences) 23 and 28 and its interest in the associated gas pipeline network that feeds Nigeria LNG.

Big oil companies have been progressively exiting Nigeria’s onshore production due to years of sabotage and theft that has degraded assets across the oil-rich delta region.

SPDC is a joint venture in which Shell (SHEL.L) holds a 30% working interest, NNPC holds 55% and Eni (ENI.MI) has 5%. Shell is also selling its stake in SPDC but these efforts have been held up by a court case.

StanChart Kenya Q1 2022 pretax profit up 16%


A man walks past a logo of the Standard Chartered Kenya bank in their main office in Nairobi, Kenya September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

Standard Chartered Bank Kenya (SCBK.NR) posted a 16% rise in pretax profit to 3.93 billion shillings ($33.81 million)in the first quarter of this year, helped by rising interest income and a drop in loan impairments.

The lender, which is controlled by Standard Chartered Plc (STAN.L), said in a statement late on Tuesday its net interest income rose 7% to 4.92 billion shillings, while loan impairments fell 121% to 86 million shillings.

($1 = 116.2500 Kenyan shillings)

Mozambique detects polio case after Malawi outbreak


Mozambique has detected its first case of wild poliovirus in three decades, following an outbreak in neighbouring Malawi in February, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday.

The case was diagnosed in a child in the northeastern province of Tete.

“The detection of another case of wild poliovirus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi,” WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said.

Poliomyelitis, the medical term for polio, is an acutely infectious and contagious viral disease that attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children.

Wild polioviruses are viruses that occur naturally in the community and typically spread when the faeces of an infected person contaminate water or food.

Africa was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in August 2020 after no polio cases had occurred on the continent for the previous four years.

However, unvaccinated people are still at risk if the virus enters their country from one of the few places in the world where the disease is still circulating.

The WHO said lab tests showed that the Mozambique case was linked to a strain that had circulated in Pakistan and led to the case reported in Malawi.

The outbreak in Malawi has prompted southern African countries to launch a vaccination blitz.

Malawi and its four immediate neighbours — Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe — plan to immunize 23 million children aged five years or below. Mozambique alone hopes to vaccinate 4.2 million youngsters, the WHO said.

“As long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease,” the UN agency says on its website.

“The poliovirus can easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly amongst unimmunized populations.”

Togo reopens its borders after two years


The West African state of Togo said it would reopen its land borders on Tuesday after closing them more than two years ago to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The country recorded only 32 cases so far this month, with zero deaths.

“Considering the slowdown in cases of COVID-19, all of our land borders will reopen starting on Tuesday 17 May at 00:00 GMT,” the government said in a statement late on Monday.

“Free movement can resume as long as travellers present a proof of vaccination,” it added.

Togo’s neighbours are Burkina Faso to the north, Ghana to the west and Benin to the east.

The authorities called however for “vigilance” and “continued adherence to preventive measures.”

The government also said the vaccination campaign, which started in March last year, should continue.

At the end of April, 32 percent of the country’s adult population was fully vaccinated according to official data.

Civil society groups and opposition parties had been calling for a relaxation of measures in recent months, as the number of COVID-19 cases plummeted.

Togo’s land and air borders were closed in March 2020, although the air borders reopened in August that year. The sea borders were never closed.

Last August, some youths protested at the border with Ghana, asking for borders to reopen and trade to resume.

Since the start of the pandemic, Togo has recorded 37,023 cases of which 273 were fatal.

Nigeria’s inflation surges in April as companies feel pinch


A woman stands at the check out counter after shopping at Cherries Hypermarket in Abuja, Nigeria March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nigeria’s double-digit inflation climbed in April to 16.82%, rising for a third straight month, the statistics office said, a reading that could prompt a central bank rate hike next week and further squeeze companies already struggling with high costs.

Muhammad Abba, a small bakery owner in Abuja, said she cut nearly half of her workforce to seven due to lower margins as input costs soared since this year.

“Our overheads are getting higher,” she told Reuters by phone.

Inflation, which has been in double digits since 2016, rose by 0.9 percentage points from 15.92% in March, as prices for food and non-food items rise in Africa’s biggest economy, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

Spillover from higher global agricultural prices on the back of the Ukraine war could worsen inflation, coupled with the continued slide of the naira on the black market, Virag Forizs, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

Nigeria imports many key goods and services. Authorities have linked persistent inflationary pressure to structural deficits and not solely to the money supply and introduced restrictions to deal with dollar shortages.

Food price inflation, the major headline component, increased by 1.17 percentage points in April to 18.37%, said the statistics office.

The uptick in inflation could pile pressure on the central bank to reconsider its dovish stance at a rates-setting meeting next week on Tuesday. Four out of 10 rate-setters in March voted to raise rates to curb inflation. read more

“Pressure to tighten monetary policy is mounting but we think that MPC members will stick to their guns and keep interest rates on hold over the coming months,” Forizs said.

South Africa’s Vodacom targets a quarter of group revenue from digital, financial services in medium term


A branch South African mobile communications provider Vodacom in Cape Town is shown in this picture taken November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South Africa’s Vodacom Group (VODJ.J) expects new digital and financial services to generate over a quarter of group service revenue in the medium term, its chief executive said on Monday as the telecom operator reported a rise in full year operating profit.

Vodacom, like its peer MTN Group (MTNJ.J), has been transforming its business from just providing telecom services to building a technology company that now enables its 129.6 million customers to also lend money, make payments, shop online and control appliances at home using smartphones.

It is betting on millions of Africans that still don’t have access to financial services and on the continued growth of smartphone adoption and internet penetration on the continent.

Vodacom’s aggressive focus on new services, which include digital and financial services, fixed broadband and internet of things (IoT) – the concept of connecting household devices to the internet – supported its normalised group service revenue growth of 4.6% to 79.9 billion rand ($4.91 billion) in the year ended March 31.

Revenue from financial services, the largest component of sales of new services, jumped 14.4% to 7.6 billion rand. That growth was driven by strong adoption of Vodacom’s South African “super-app”, VodaPay – which allows users to pay for bills and shop from various online stores in the app using their smartphones – and by continued growth of its M-Pesa mobile money service.

Since its launch last October, VodaPay has attracted 2.2 million downloads and 1.6 million registered users, Vodacom Group Chief Executive Shameel Joosub said in a statement.

IoT was up 32.1%, supported by products in agriculture and smart infrastructure. On aggregate, these new services amounted to 14.3 billion rand and contributed 17.9% to group service revenue, he added. The group is targeting a contribution of 25%-30%.

“Each year we see a step up of the contribution of these new services and part of that will be underpinned by the launch of e-commerce through the super app and capabilities of VodaPay in all our markets,” Joosub told a media conference.

Vodacom is finalising asset acquisitions of Vodafone Egypt from parent company Vodafone (VOD.L) and buying fibre assets in South Africa.

Through a consortium led by Kenyan telecoms operator Safaricom (SCOM.NR), the parties including Vodacom plan to launch in Ethiopia by this year after a delay due to a conflict in northern Ethiopia that broke out in 2020. Vodacom partly owns Safaricom.

“We are quite encouraged by the fact that things are getting better on the ceasefire and so on. We’re busy on the rollouts at the moment and we’ll launch later this year,” Joosub said.

Egypt and Ethiopia, each with populations of over 100 million people, “provide transformational opportunities for financial services,” he added.

Vodacom reported a normalised operating profit of 28.23 billion rand for the year, up from 27.65 billion rand in 2021, while headline earnings per share rose by 3.4%.

($1 = 16.2022 rand)

Zimbabwe rolls out mental health program targeting workplaces

By Jerry Omondi

Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry has partnered with the World Health organization to develop a training program focusing on mental health in the workplace.

Dubbed ‘MH in the workplace’, the program aims to improve and increase access to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in the workplace.

According to The WHO, the program is a tailored brief intervention that has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The agency pointed out that working Zimbabweans spend one third of their life at work, noting that is a lot of time employees are exposed to work-related stresses.

Besides The WHO, the Zimbabwe government is also working on this together with Friendship Bench, an organization that provides community based psychological interventions.

Zimbabwe’s health authorities hope the program will reduce the treatment gap for mental health issues within the Southern African country.

“This program thrives on the Friendship Bench’s community-based problem-solving therapy which will decentralize the MHPSS  to narrow the  treatment gap in the country,” noted MoHCC Mental Health Department Occupational Therapist Brighton Mufakwadziya.

“Mental Health in the workplace is a game changer as it will enable us to reach out to more people who need MHPSS services in Zimbabwe,” said Professor Dixon Chibanda, Friendship Bench Director.

“Through capacity building of lay counsellors who will create space in the workplace for those in need, our three key pillars of Friendship Bench will be utilized: 1) Kuvhura pfungwa (opening of the mind), 2) Kusimudzira (uplifting), and 3) Kusimbisa (strengthening),” he added.

Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry aims to train more mental health champions to ensure the project expands in various organizations across the country. It also aims to continue providing real-time support, supervision, and mentorship to the trained MH Champions to reach at least 3000 clients by June 2022.

Orlando Pirates to play RS Berkane in CAF Confederation Cup final

By David Ochieng Mbewa

South African side Orlando Pirates will play RS Berkane of Morocco in the final of the CAF Confederation Cup despite contrasting results in their semifinal second leg matches on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A picture showing the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Confederation Cup trophy . /Getty Images

Pirates suffered a 1-0 defeat against Al Ahly Tripoli at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg but managed to advance 2-1 on aggregate. Substitute Ali Abu Arqoub came off the bench in the final two minutes of normal time to score the only goal of the game and set up a tense finale.

The other semifinal saw Morocco’s RS Berkane thump TP Mazembe of DR Congo 4-1 in a battle of two former champions at the Stade Municipal de Berkane in Berkane.

Youssef El Fahli scored twice for RS Berkane to add to strikes by Bakr El Helali and Najji Larbi. Phillippe Kinzumbi had leveled for the Congolese side, who also had Tandi Mwape sent off.

Pirates, runners-up in 2015, will be looking to make history by becoming the first South African team to win the CAF Confederation Cup in its current form while RS Berkane will be looking to claim a second title.

The final will be played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria, on May 20.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

Tanzania Raises Minimum Wage by Nearly 25%

FILE – Workers prepare face shields from recycled plastics at the Zaidi Recyclers workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 27, 2020.

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA — Tanzania’s president on Saturday approved a nearly 25% increase in the minimum wage, marking a departure from the policies of her autocratic predecessor amid protests about the high cost of living.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan decided on an increase of 23.3%, while also increasing the salaries of government workers for the first time since 2016, her office said in a statement.

“The salary increment was approved considering the country’s gross domestic product, domestic revenue and developments in both the local and global economies,” the presidency said.

Since coming to power last year following her predecessor John Magufuli’s death, Hassan has attempted to break with some of his policies by reaching out to the opposition and reversing course on his approach to the coronavirus pandemic, which he downplayed.

Magufuli refused to review wages following his election in October 2015, pursuing ambitious infrastructure plans instead by developing ports and railways and reviving the national airline.

Tanzania’s economy slowed to 4.8% in 2020, barely edging upward to 4.9% the following year, as COVID-19 travel restrictions battered the tourism sector, a key earner in the East African country.

Meanwhile, the cost of fuel and food has risen as supplies have tightened following the war in Ukraine.

During Labour Day celebrations on May 1, trade unions and civil servants led demonstrations in Tanzania’s capital Dodoma calling for an increase in wages, with many holding up placards saying: “Better salaries and benefits for workers is our demand.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year loaned Tanzania more than half a billion dollars in emergency financing, saying the country faced “urgent” health, economic and humanitarian costs due to a pandemic-induced downturn.

Under Magufuli, whose uncompromising leadership style earned him the nickname “the Bulldozer,” Tanzania was an outlier in the global fight against the coronavirus and dismissed the gravity of the disease.

Magufuli shunned foreign-made vaccines in favor of the healing power of prayer and dismissed masks and testing as unnecessary.

Hassan has taken a different path, promoting measures to curb the spread of the virus and launching a coronavirus vaccination drive in July.

Namibia’s COVID-19 surge due to Omicron sub-lineage variants: minister


People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at the Windhoek Center in Namibia on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo via CFP)

Namibia’s current upsurge in the number of new COVID-19 cases is being driven by the Omicron variants sublineage BA.2 and BA.4, which have been identified in the country, Namibia’s Minister of Health and Social Service Kalumbi Shangula said Friday.

“It is also suspected that the Omicron sublineage BA.5 is also circulating in Namibia,” he said on the occasion of the 43rd COVID-19 public briefing in Windhoek.

According to Shangula, the characteristics of these sublineages are almost similar.

“The descendants of Omicron variant BA.2 could be more contagious but not cause severe disease. The BA.2 possesses immune evasive properties, which may be the reason why Namibia observed a sharp increase in the number of infections during this week,” he added.

Shangula said although it is no longer a requirement by law to wear a face mask, the wearing of masks is one of the critical interventions in preventing the transmission of infection.

“It is strongly recommended that people continue to wear face masks at public places and at all public gatherings including businesses, workplaces, on airplanes, schools, public and private institutions,” he said.

The minister said to open up the economy and balance lives and livelihoods, fully vaccinated Namibians and non-Namibian citizens will be allowed to enter the country without a PCR test provided they present proof of fully vaccinated status or present a negative PCR test result valid within the period of 72 hours after the specimen was collected if proof of full vaccination status cannot be provided.