TotalEnergies launches sale of stake in Nigerian oil joint venture

Reuters

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%

Reuters

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)

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

Reuters

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)

Bank of Central African States Urges CAR to Annul Bitcoin as Currency

FILE – An advertisement for Bitcoin, one of the cryptocurrencies, is displayed on a building in Hong Kong, Nov. 18, 2021. The Central African Republic, along with El Salvador, has recognized the use of Bitcoin as legal tender.

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — The Cameroon-headquartered Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has urged the Central African Republic (CAR) to annul a law it passed in late April that made the cryptocurrency Bitcoin legal tender. The bank warned in a letter made public last week that the move breached its rules and could affect monetary stability in the region.

BEAC said the CAR’s decision to make Bitcoin legal tender could compete with the Central African Franc (CFA), the region’s France-backed currency.

A letter from the bank’s governor to the CAR’s finance minister dated April 29, and made public last week, said the move suggests the CAR wants a currency beyond the bank’s control.

The regional bank’s letter goes on to suggest using the cryptocurrency could upset monetary stability in the six-member Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

CEMAC members, including the CAR, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo, use the CFA Franc as currency.

The bank urged the CAR to comply with CEMAC in promoting economic and financial cooperation and avoiding policies that may lead to monetary fluctuations.

But economists note cryptocurrency is growing in popularity and difficult to control.

Financial Capital economist Willy Delort Heubo said Bitcoin transactions have quadrupled in the region in the past three years.

He said the decision by the CAR to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender is a violation of a community pact signed by the six member states of (CEMAC) to protect the economic block’s financial integrity and economic development. However, Heubo said despite the region’s policies against making Bitcoin legal tender, it is very difficult to stop cryptocurrency transactions when people agree to use it as a means of payment.

The BEAC has also expressed concern that cryptocurrencies could make it easier for criminals to launder money and sponsor terrorism or rebellions in the region.

The CAR has been in conflict between rebels and central authorities since 2013. Cameroon is fighting separatists, and Chad is fighting a spreading Islamist insurgency.

Last week, Cameroon’s Employers Union said armed groups in central African countries use Bitcoin to hide their financial transactions. The union said Cameroon in 2021 reported Bitcoin transactions of $260 million – 40% of them to separatists in western regions.

The central African bank said instead of adopting Bitcoin, the CAR should implement CEMAC monetary policies to reduce endemic poverty.

CEMAC economist and consultant David Kunde said if the CAR does not annul the law on Bitcoin, the bank could punish it.

He said when the CAR or any CEMAC member states want to buy from the international market, they rush to the Bank of Central African States for liquidity for their transactions. Kunde said the Bank could withhold the CAR’s reserves if it violates the economic bloc’s laws.

The BEAC declined to answer questions from a reporter on what pressure it might use to get the CAR to annul the Bitcoin law.

The Central African franc (CFA) was pegged to the French franc following agreements signed between Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo in 1948.

The CEMAC member states agreed to keep at least half of their financial reserves in the French treasury in return for a convertibility guarantee.

Since 1999, the CFA franc has been pegged to the Euro at about 660 CFA francs to one Euro.

https://www.voanews.com/a/bank-of-central-african-states-urges-car-to-annul-bitcoin-as-currency/6567064.html

Ghana records highest inflation rate since 2004

By CGTN Africa

CFP Image

According to the latest statistics, Ghana’s inflation rate reached 23.6 percent in April, the highest since 2004.

Speaking at a regular press conference, the Government Statistician, Samuel Kobina  said that the food inflation increased to 26.6 percent and the non-food inflation increased to 21.3 percent in April.

Providing policy considerations for national and subnational decision-makers, the government statistician revealed that 295 out of the 305 brand items in the inflation basket recorded price increases.

“And 99 of the items recorded higher inflation rates than the national average inflation rate of 23.6 percent,” he added.

The Bank of Ghana, which is mandated to ensure price stability, is set to review the economy and make policy decisions in response to the surging inflation later this month.

Ethio-Telecom partners with Huawei to launch pilot 5G services in Ethiopia

By XINHUA

Map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s state-owned Ethio-Telecom on Monday evening launched a pre-commercial 5G services trial in the capital Addis Ababa in partnership with Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Ethiopia’s first 5G services, which was launched across six mobile stations in Addis Ababa, is said to be part of the Ethiopian government’s digital transformation aspirations.

“We are pleased and honored to launch the world’s advanced fifth-generation network. We are committed to seeing a digital Ethiopia, which will uplift our people’s overall living conditions,” Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of Ethio-Telecom, said during the launching event.

Tamiru said the 5G network service, characterized by the fastest speed and low latency and massive communication capability that offers service for up to 1 million connections within 1 square km, can unlock blazing fast speeds in more places, real-time responses and massive connectivity.

Tamiru noted that Ethio-Telecom will expand its pre-commercial trial service across the capital and regional cities, reaching up to 150 sites over the coming 12 months.

With high speeds, superior reliability and negligible latency, 5G will impact industries such as critical services requiring real-time decisions, manufacturing plants, remote healthcare, precision agriculture, as well as facilitate the Internet of Things (IoT), said Tamiru.

“This 5G service will provide our customers with best-in-class solutions, improve their experience and allow our enterprise customers to boost productivity, enhance operational efficiency, and introduce new solutions to their customers,” Tamiru said.

Ethio-Telecom, which is the sole telecom services provider in Ethiopia so far, said the pre-commercial trial of the 5G service was launched after a temporary 5G Spectrum approval by the Ethiopian Communication Authority while its strategic partner Huawei technologies deployed the 5G network.

Hou Wei, Vice President of Huawei Northern Africa, said as one of Ethio-Telecom’s strategic partners, Huawei will keep focusing on cooperating with Ethiopia’s state-owned telecom service provider through the provision of state-of-the-art solutions, reliable delivery, fast response and trustable maintenance.

“Huawei has been devoting (itself) to this market for more than 20 years, and we have observed the fast development and great evolution of the telecom industry in this country,” he said.

Ethio-Telecom said the full commercialization of the 5G service is dependent on the readiness and demand from the players in the ecosystem, which includes customers’ readiness to use the service as well as the availability of 5G-enabled devices and smartphones.

The company, which is recognized as one of Africa’s oldest telecom service providers, has more than 60.8 million subscribers, with about 25 million data and Internet users.

As part of its ambition to provide modern telecom service to its users, the company partners with Chinese tech companies, mainly Huawei and ZTE.

The company said it has already expanded 3G and 4G networks throughout the East African nation effectively, achieving 97 percent telecom services coverage while densifying the network and upgrading the earlier technologies to the latest ones.

Ethiopia attracts $2.43 bln FDI in nine months

By XINHUA

Map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia attracted 2.43 billion U.S. dollars in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the first nine months of the current Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2021/2022, which started July 8, an Ethiopian official said on Tuesday.

Lelise Neme, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopia Investment Commission (EIC), said the FDI inflow exceeded that of the same period last year by 18.3 percent.

Neme, however, said the figure is well short of the 3.63 billion U.S. dollars FDI inflow target set for the first nine months of the Fiscal Year 2021/2022, reported state media outlet Ethiopia News Agency (ENA).

“Ethiopia also attracted 118 investors, most of them Chinese investors, in the manufacturing, service and agricultural sector during the first nine months of 2021/2022,” Neme said.

The EIC chief further disclosed Ethiopia earned 156.7 million U.S. dollars in export revenues from industrial park products during the first nine months of the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

The industrial parks’ export revenues exceeded revenues from that of the same period last year by 27 million U.S. dollars.

In recent years, Ethiopia has embarked on an industrial parks’ construction and commissioning activities, as part of a broad economic strategy to make the country a light manufacturing hub in Africa by 2025.

Kenya’s economy recovers to grow at the fastest rate in 11 years

By CGTN Africa

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics- KNBS, the Kenyan economy rebounded from COVID-19-led woes in 2020 to grow by 7.5 percent in 2021.

This is the highest rate of growth for the Kenyan economy since 2010 when the gross domestic product (GDP) improved by a record 8.1 percent.

During the year, the economy was largely a beneficiary of low base effects with the reopening of various sectors after the pandemic-led closure lifted activity.

“Relaxation of various COVID-19 containment measures coupled with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination had a positive effect on economic activities,” KNBS said on Thursday.

As such, all sectors of the economy expect agriculture to post growth across 12 months to December 2021.

Accommodation and food services recorded the highest rate of growth at 52.5 percent from a decline of 47.7 percent in 2020 following the reopening of hotels, bars and restaurants after controlled closures to manage the spread of COVID-19 infections.

The education sector posted the second-highest rate of growth at 21.4 percent from a decline of 9.3 percent in 2020 following the restart of in-person learning in schools and other educational institutions.

Meanwhile, finance and insurance activities expanded at the third-highest rate of 12.5 percent to exceed the 5.9 percent growth rate posted in 2020.

The notable growth for the accommodation and food services sector was backed by a 50.3 percent rise in international visitor arrivals in 2021 following the ease of travel restrictions in and out of the country.

Kenya looking to revamp tourism sector to boost number of visitors

By Jerry Omondi

A young lions pictured playing in water at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, September 2010. (Photo by Anup Shah via CFP)

Kenya’s tourism ministry is looking into ways of revamping and increasing tourism offerings across the country’s parks and game reserves in order to attract more visitors.

This was revealed by tourism minister Najib Balala after he completed a hike to Mt. Longonot National Park in Naivasha.

Balala said the hike revealed some gaps which could be further explored to ensure more tourists visited the park.

Kenya’s tourism industry was hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted both local and international travel.

For the better part of two years, Kenya was under a partial lockdown and a nationwide nighttime curfew, which made it difficult for potential tourists to visit the country’s tourist spots.

Since the lifting of the lockdown and curfew in October, the sector has seen a rebound of tourist numbers.

Balala pointed out that in the case of Mt. Longonot National Park, 60,000 visitors were recorded in the post-COVID-19 period. Since the turn of the year, however, 17,000 visitors have already been received, which indicates that 2022 may record more tourist numbers.

He noted that already, the Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha, now renamed Heaven’s Gate National Park, is already being revamped and would be reopened in the next few months.

Kenya is a popular destination for international tourists for its wildlife and rich culture.

Global scramble for metals thrusts Africa into mining spotlight

Reuters

A truck exits the mine after collecting ore from 516 metres below the surface at the Chibuluma copper mine in the Zambian copperbelt region. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

JOHANNESBURG, May 8 (Reuters) – The need to secure new sources of metals for the energy transition amid sanctions on top producer Russia has increased the Africa risk appetite for major miners, who have few alternatives to the resource-rich continent.

Companies and investors are considering projects they may have previously overlooked, while governments are also looking to Africa, anxious to ensure their countries can procure enough metals to feed an accelerating net-zero push.

This year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba conference, which runs May 9-12 in Cape Town, will see the highest-ranking U.S. government official in years attending, organisers say, as well as representatives from the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corporation (JOGMEC), in a sign of rich countries’ rising concern about securing supply.

“The reality is that the resources the world wants are typically located in difficult places,” said Steven Fox, executive chairman of New York-based political risk consultancy Veracity Worldwide.

The U.S. administration wants to position itself as a strong supporter of battery metals projects in sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

“While Africa presents its challenges, those challenges are no more difficult than the corresponding set of challenges in Canada. It may be easier to actually bring a project to fruition in Africa, than in a place like Canada or the U.S.,” he added.

The United States has voiced support for new domestic mines, but projects have stalled. Rio Tinto’s (RIO.AX) Resolution copper project, for example, was halted over Native American claims on the land, and conservation issues.

Certainly, the risks of mining in sub-Saharan Africa remain high. The acute security challenge facing mines in the gold-rich Sahel region was highlighted last month when Russia’s Nordgold abandoned its Taparko gold mine in Burkina Faso over an increasing threat from militants.

And even in the continent’s most industrialised economy, South Africa, deteriorating rail infrastructure is forcing some coal producers to resort to trucking their product to ports.

Yet with Russia’s 7% of global nickel supply, 10% of the world’s platinum, and 25-30% of the world’s palladium off the table, Africa’s rich deposits of those metals start looking a lot more attractive.

“As a mining company, there aren’t many opportunities and if you are going to grow, you’re going to have to look at riskier countries,” said George Cheveley, portfolio manager at Ninety One.

“Clearly, after Russia-Ukraine people are more sensitive to geopolitical risk and you cannot predict which projects are going to work out and which are not,” he added.

Kabanga Nickel, a project in Tanzania, secured funding from global miner BHP (BHP.AX) in January, and CEO Chris Showalter said it is seeing increased demand from potential offtakers.

Western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine are forcing metals supply chains to reconfigure along geopolitical lines, Showalter said.

“Not everyone’s going to be able to get clean battery metals from a friendly jurisdiction, so I think some difficult decisions will have to be made, and it is going to force people to make some new decisions about where they want to source.