Namibia expects economy to grow by 1.5 pct in 2021

By XINHUA

Namibia’s central bank expects the economy to grow by 1.5 percent in 2021, a revision from a 1.4-percent forecast in August, the bank said in a statement Friday.

“The projected improvements are mainly due to base effects and better growth prospects for the mining industry and most industries in the tertiary sector,” said the bank.

For 2022 and 2023, the bank forecasts a growth of 3.3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

“Risks to domestic growth remain dominated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also include persistently low international prices for some of Namibia’s export commodities, and climatic swings,” the bank added.

According to the bank, risks to domestic growth are also dominated by travel restrictions that are still in place for many countries exacerbated by new waves of coronavirus infections, and the pace of vaccination in Namibia.

Uganda’s annual headline inflation up to 2.6% in November

By XINHUA

Uganda’s annual headline inflation rate for the year ending November 2021 increased to 2.6 percent from 1.9 percent in October.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) said the difference is attributed to the increase in the prices of commodities.

Core inflation for the period under review increased to 2.6 percent from 2.1 percent in October.

“This is mainly attributed to Annual ‘Other Goods’ Inflation that increased to 3.5 percent for the 12 months to November 2021, up from 3.0 percent in October 2021,” the UBOS said.

The agency also said during the period under review, annual Energy Fuel and Utilities (EFU) inflation increased to 2.0 percent, up from minus 0.2 percent in October.

The increase in the EFU inflation has something to do with annual liquid energy fuels inflation that registered 11.4 percent in November, up from 7.6 percent in October.

Omicron COVID-19 variant raises new fears for pandemic-hit world economy

By AFP

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has led to a raft of new travel restrictions and threatens to deliver a blow to a global economy that is still trying to recover from the pandemic.

First reported to the World Health Organization in South Africa less than a week ago, the new strain has rapidly spread everywhere from Africa to the Pacific, and from Europe to Canada, causing dozens of countries to announce travel restrictions.

The severity of the economic impact will depend on how dangerous the variant proves to be, and how well existing vaccinations stand up to it.

That has meant that even with the most favorable scenarios in mind, economists are already revising their 2022 forecasts downwards.

The International Monetary Fund, which expects growth of 4.9 percent for the next year, has been insisting for months that the coronavirus and its variants remain the main threat.

The economic impact could be “modest,” in the order of 0.25 percentage points on global growth in 2022 if Omicron causes “relatively mild symptoms” and the vaccines are “effective,” said Gregory Daco, chief economist at Oxford Economics.

In the worst-case scenario, in which Omicron proves extremely dangerous and large swaths of the world are in lockdown again, 2022 growth could fall to around 2.3 percent, as compared to the 4.5 percent expected by Oxford Economics before the variant emerged.

And in such a scenario it is not certain that governments, which have stumped up trillions of dollars in aid since the start of the pandemic, would be willing to put in place further fiscal stimulus packages, especially if vaccines are available, Daco said.

Those aspects “are going to be really key to how it affects the global economy and people’s behavior,” said Erik Lundh, an economist at The Conference Board.

Beyond government measures to contain the new strain, fear of infection could lead people to limit their own travel and economic activities, such as going to restaurants and reducing consumption, which will in turn impact growth, Lundh said.

Another risk is the exacerbation of the global supply chain crunch. Lundh pointed out that “a lot of air cargo is stored basically in the belly of passenger planes…It’s not just all sorts of FedEx planes.”

“So if there are cancellations, if there’s a lapse in demand for commercial flights for passengers, it does run the risk of limiting the route of trade,” which could, in turn, worsen inflationary pressures as goods become more scarce.

In addition, a wave of Omicron infections “could cause some workers to temporarily exit the workforce, and deter others from returning, making current labor shortages worse,” said Neil Shearing, chief economist at Capital Economics in a note.

Omicron has sparked more anxiety than any other variant since the emergence of Delta, itself already much more contagious than previous strains. But vaccine manufacturers AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax have expressed confidence in their ability to combat the variant.

Pfizer CEO said Albert Bourla said it will be a few weeks before drug makers know most of what they need to know about the new strain.

FOCAC proves robust platform for promoting China-Africa ties, says Ethiopian finance minister

By XINHUA

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is an efficient and robust means of promoting China-Africa cooperation, Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide has said.

“In the past two decades, the FOCAC mechanism has been proven to be an effective and robust platform in promoting Africa-China cooperation by supporting critical infrastructure development to engender greater connectivity, boosting trade activities, stimulating foreign direct investment and creating an enabling environment to unleash entrepreneurship and new local employment opportunities,” Shide said on Saturday.

The finance minister made the remarks on his official social media account, ahead of the eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC scheduled in Senegal’s capital of Dakar from Nov. 29 to 30.

Shide said that under the FOCAC framework, China has supported Ethiopia in completing several infrastructure projects, with a profound impact on job creation and poverty eradication.

“Ethiopia and China have forged important and unwavering friendship and supported each other in this changing world, including in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shide said.

“With shared belief on mutual benefit, sustainability, inclusive and independent development, I firmly believe Ethiopia-China’s all-round cooperation would get stronger via new forms of cooperation, such as digital economy, green development, aerospace and many more new and exciting endeavors,” he added.

How Covid-19 Jabs Boosted Tourism in Tanzania

Swift action by the Tanzanian government to launch a vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has had a positive effect on tourism, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Damas Ndumbaro has said. Despite being severely battered by the pandemic, the tourism sector recorded a 52% increase in the number of visitors from January to November 2021. This has led to a 69% rise in revenue collection from the tourism sector, as well as the hospitality industry.

In July 2021  the government had down-played the importance of Covid-19 vaccines but decided to adhere to the World Health Organization (WHO) rules.The outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 led to a sharp fall in tourism arrivals from slightly more than 1.5 million tourists in 2019 to about 600,000 tourists in 2020.

The fall in arrivals triggered an even more devastating drop in revenue collections to U.S.$1.7 billion in 2020 from an all time record of U.S.$ 2.5 billion in 2019.

Kenya’s Q3 tourist arrivals surge as sector recovers

By XINHUA

Kenya’s international tourist arrivals through its two major airports surged 489 percent in the 3rd quarter compared to the same period of 2020, with the sector showing recovery amid increased local and global COVID-19 vaccinations, according to data released on Monday.

Kenya’s main international airport in Nairobi, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. /Getty Images

The east African nation received 217,873 tourists through Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi and Moi airport in Mombasa between July and September, up from 36,978 in the same period in 2020, the data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicated.

Najib Balala, the cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, said in a recent interview that the government is encouraged by the rising tourist arrivals amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Most of the tourists arrived in Kenya through the airport in Nairobi as Kenya ramped up its COVID-19 vaccinations and lifted various restrictions.

Kenya on October 20 lifted a dusk-to-dawn curfew and allowed free operation of hotels and other entertainment spots, giving a boost to the tourism sector.

Between January and September, Kenya received 452,919 tourists through the two airports, up from 327,526 in 2020, according to KNBS. Most of the tourists came in the third quarter. The Ministry of Tourism noted that besides the two airports, some tourists also came by sea and chartered flights, but the numbers were minimal.

Kenya aims to vaccinate at least 10 million adults by the end of the year. With the government having lifted COVID-19 restrictions and administered 6.4 million vaccines as of November 20, the country’s prospects have brightened for the tourism sector ahead of the festive season, according to the health ministry.

Kenya’s exports grow amid eased COVID-19 restrictions in destination markets

By XINHUA

Kenya recorded a 15.6 percent increase in total exports for January-August period to 490 billion shillings (about 4.37 billion U.S. dollars) from some 3.78 billion dollars recorded during the same period in 2020, a government agency said in a report released on Tuesday.

Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) attributed the rise in export earnings to the country’s effort to decrease its dependence on volatile agricultural markets.

“The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in our export destination markets has also been a blessing,” said Wilfred Marube, CEO of the agency.

Marube said Kenya has attempted to diversify its exports.

According to statistics released by KEPROBA, key export products include horticulture, tea, apparel and clothing, coffee, mineral ores, petroleum oil products, animal and vegetable fats, machinery and parts, iron and steel products as well as pharmaceuticals.

Some of the top export markets for Kenyan products include Uganda, Britain, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Egypt.

Kenya is banking on the opportunities presented at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

The country is participating in the expo and is showcasing its best in tourism, trade, investments, culture, sports, among other key aspects.

Marube said the expo is Kenya’s gateway to grow exports not only to the Gulf region but to the rest of the world

Tanzania registers $3.5 billion investment projects in seven months

By XINHUA

A general picture shows the skyline of Tanzania’s port city of Dar es Salaam, file. REUTERS/Andrew Emmanuel

Tanzanian authorities said on Wednesday a total of 182 investment projects worth 3.5 billion U.S. dollars were registered in the east African nation between April 2021 and October 2021.

Geoffrey Mwambe, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Investment, said 164 of the 182 investment projects were registered by the Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) and 18 projects were registered by the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA).

“The 182 registered investment projects in the past seven months are expected to create 48,000 jobs for Tanzanians,” Mwambe told a news conference in the capital Dodoma.

He said most of the registered investment projects covered agriculture, construction, manufacturing, industry, and mining.

Mwambe attributed the impressive flow of investment projects to measures aimed at improving the investment environment being undertaken by President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s administration.

Mwambe pledged that the government will continue taking measures aimed at making the environment more conducive for investment.

“The measures include amendment of outdated investment laws, policies, and regulations,” said the minister.

Egypt strives to become transport, logistics hub by 2024

By XINHUA

Workers build a highway in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 2, 2021. Egypt will be transformed by 2024 into one of the major global hubs for transport and logistics through a massive 10-year plan to modernize its transport infrastructure, Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir has said. /Xinhua

Egypt will be transformed by 2024 into one of the major global hubs for transport and logistics through a massive 10-year plan to modernize its transport infrastructure, Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir has said.

The transportation system established in the country will contribute significantly to achieving sustainable development and changing the face of life throughout Egypt, the minister told foreign reporters on Sunday.

He explained that the 10-year plan, implemented from 2014 to 2024, was drawn up to modernize the transport and communication sectors, at an expected cost of 1.669 trillion Egyptian pounds (about 106.3 billion U.S. dollars).

The plan covers six main areas, including the roads and bridges, at a cost of 474 billion Egyptian pounds, railways, 225 billion pounds, tunnels and electric traction, 837 billion pounds, maritime transport, 115 billion pounds, dry ports and logistics, 15 billion pounds, and river transport, 3 billion pounds.

Over the past seven years, al-Wazir said, projects worth 1.295 trillion Egyptian pounds have already been implemented, noting that a number of large projects will be completed by the end of this year, while other projects such as the light rail train will be finalized by the end of 2022.

“Projects such as the monorail, the high-speed electric train, as well as port projects will be completed by the end of 2024,” al-Wazir said.

The minister said that around 30,000 km of new and developed roads will be completed by the end of 2024.

With the completion of the transport and road system in 2024, Egypt will be turned into a regional and international hub for transport and logistics, the minister stressed, adding that there are also plans to link Egypt with other North African countries, including building a road that will run through Egypt, Libya, Chad, and Niger.

“Additionally, there will be Cairo-Cape Town axis which connects North Africa with South Africa…a river transport route reaching Lake Victoria will also be established,” al-Wazir noted.

The Egyptian minister extended an open invitation to all Egyptian and foreign investors to manage and operate railways across the country, as well as participate in all the ministry’s projects covering various fields.

A workshop was also held on Sunday to discuss the economic, social, environmental and health returns for the development of the transport system in Egypt, during which experts talked about the effects and impacts of the huge transport projects that Egypt is currently building.

Khaled Abdel-Fattah, head of the Sociology Department of the Helwan University, said the development and modernization of Egypt’s transportation system has become an urgent necessity, which is difficult to ignore.

“The poor old transportation system has multiple negative effects on all aspects of life at the level of individuals and society,” he told Xinhua.

Ayman Mosallam, a professor of structural engineering of the University of California, Irvine, spoke about the technical aspects of new transport projects in Egypt.

“Great efforts have been exerted in the field of constructing roads for heavy transport vehicles equipped with reinforced concrete castings,” he told Xinhua. “The construction of many roads in the mountains with high efficiency and skills must be applauded.”

For his part, Mourid Albert, undersecretary of the general traffic department of Egypt, said that the Ministry of Interior is working on the national road plan and has turned to modern technology to tighten control over the vast areas.

Angola calls for more foreign investment in oil sector

By XINHUA

Headquarters of Sonangol/Getty Images

Angolan President Joao Lourenco on Wednesday appealed for more investment in free areas and new zones for sedimentary basin exploitation.

The Angolan head of state made the appeal on the first day of “Russian Energy Week” held via videoconference, adding that Angola has restructured its oil sector.

Lourenco stressed that a bidding strategy has been approved for new oil blocks for the period 2019-2025, which foresees bidding for more than 50 blocks to increase oil production.

The government aims to guarantee the self-sufficiency of refined products and is promoting the implementation of three refineries that will enable Angola to reach a refining capacity of about 425,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Lourenco said Russian companies, which have experience in creating steel mills, fertilizer plants, and power generation plants, are welcome to invest in the gas sector.

“With all these projects, the country will be able to create opportunities for the development of new renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass and others,” Lourenco said.

He said Angola is committed to strengthening cooperation with the Russian Federation and is open to all companies that want to invest in the diversification and development of the Angolan economy.