The world marks International Day of Banks

By Halligan Agade -2 hours ago

Photo by Getty Images.

December 4 is the official International Day of Banks, marked globally to recognize the significant potential of multilateral development banks and other international development banks in financing sustainable development. This is in addition to providing know-how, and the vital role of banking systems in contributing to the improvement of living standards.

The day was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2019.

Given the complex and ambitious set of transformations needed to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, coherence across policy areas is critical. There is a growing understanding of how financial regulations are affecting incentives for sustainable development investment.

The UN said there is less understanding of the impacts of social and environmental risks on credit quality and the stability of the financial system. Policies and regulations need to act together to create a sustainable financial system. The regulatory system needs to be congruent with the measures used to boost the sustainability of the private financial system, such as sustainability reporting and impact measurement.

Therefore well-run national development banks can help countries develop financing options for Sustainable Development Goal-related investments. Such banks should be aligned with the Goals in a holistic way and be considered in integrated national financing frameworks.

Collaboration between national development banks and multilateral banks, through co-financing or on-lending arrangements, can enhance Goal-related finance through the complementarity of international resources and local market knowledge.

According to the United Nations, achieving sustainable development in particular eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and combating climate change requires a long-term perspective, with Governments, the private sector and civil society working together to tackle global challenges.

More effort is needed at all levels to ensure that strengthened collective action can help reduce global uncertainty, while financial innovation can generate significant progress across the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The global economy is facing heightened risks and financial volatility, with global growth likely to have peaked. Geopolitical factors, trade disputes, financial market volatility and non-economic factors, such as climate change risk further impeding growth, stability and development and worsening poverty, inequality and vulnerabilities. It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the systemic economic and financial risks and architectural gaps that threaten the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

(With input from UN News)

Nigeria aims to end imports of petroleum products next year

Nigeria flag and oil wells. Getty Images Image used for illustrative purpose.

Felix Onuah, Reuters News

ABUJA – Nigeria expects to stop importing petroleum products from before or around the third quarter of 2023, its oil minister Timipre Sylva said on Tuesday.

Sylva said a refurbished refinery in the city of Port Harcourt in the oil-producing Niger Delta would be delivering 60,000 barrels per day of refined crude by the end of December.

The minister also said he still expects the new Dangote refinery to come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

“We’re expecting that we will actually be exiting the importation of petroleum products from maybe about third quarter next year if I was to give it a longer timeframe, but I believe that even before the third quarter next year,” Sylva said.

Nigeria’s production of crude had improved to about 1.3 million barrels per day from under 1 million barrels previously, and that the country hoped to meet its OPEC quota by May of next year, Sylva told reporters in Abuja.

Oil is Nigeria’s biggest export earner, but crude theft and vandalism of pipelines have cut oil and gas output, knocking the country from its spot as Africa’s top producer.

Nigeria swaps its crude for refined petroleum products but is in the process of modernising the Port Harcourt refinery at a cost of $1.5 billion.

With high global oil prices, Nigeria wants to refine its own fuels. Its previous efforts to revamp its refineries stalled, leaving it reliant on imports.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by James Macharia Chege, David Evans and Alexander Smith)

South Africa central bank flags risks of erratic power, high debt

By Reuters Staff

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 29 (Reuters) – South Africa’s unreliable power supply and its high level of government debt are two of the main risks to its financial stability, the country’s central bank said on Tuesday.

Africa’s most developed economy has seen 170 days of rolling blackouts this year due to a maintenance backlog of state utility Eskom’s ageing coal-fired power plants.

This has not only hit corporate productivity but also hurt investor sentiment, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said in its biannual health check of the financial system.

“Insufficient and unreliable electricity supply is likely to threaten the viability of some corporates, especially small and medium-sized enterprises,” it said, adding this could spill over into the financial sector.

South Africa’s gross sovereign debt is already more than two-thirds of GDP and the government intends to take on 400 billion rand ($23.6 billion) of Eskom’s, increasing its burden.

“The increased incidence of state-owned enterprises’ (SOEs) debt being taken over by government exacerbates this (financial) vulnerability,” SARB’s Financial Stability Review (FSR) said.

The FSR also noted global stagflation and rapid tightening of financial conditions coupled with slow and inequitable local growth could add further risk.

Stagflation is characterised by a prolonged period of high inflation, low economic growth and high unemployment.

South Africa’s central bank last week increased its prime lending rate by 75 basis points to 7%, raising its inflation forecast and cutting 2023 growth projections.

Cyber attacks, climate change and global conflict also pose risks to South African financial stability, SARB said.

But COVID-19, which featured among the top concerns in its May review, was no longer a risk due to less virulent variants, it added. ($1 = 16.9728 rand) (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Alexander Smith)

S.Africa jobless rate edges down again despite power cuts

Commuters look on as members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) dance and sing slogans during a march in eMalahleni, on October 7, 2021. – COSATU issued a call to all workers and South Africans to join a national strike to urge authorities to “fix the economic mess” in the country. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)

Staff Writer, Agence France-Presse (AFP)

South Africa’s unemployment rate fell slightly for a third consecutive quarter despite power cuts that hampered economic activity across the country, official data showed on Tuesday.

Between July and September, the jobless rate declined by one percentage point over the second quarter to 32.9 percent of the workforce, StatsSA said.

The drop follows falls of 0.6 and 0.8 percentage points in the second and first quarters of the year respectively, the official statistics agency said.

Unemployment stood at 35.3 percent at the end of 2021.

StatsSA said 204,000 jobs were added in the third quarter, especially in manufacturing, trade, construction and transport.

Poverty, inequality and joblessness run high in South Africa, nearly three decades after the end of apartheid.

The country’s high unemployment rate has fuelled protests and anti-foreigner sentiment.

Youth unemployment — among jobseekers aged 15-34 — remains particularly high at 45.5 percent.

South Africa’s chronic problem of energy shortages has worsened this year, with the state-owned monopoly Eskom failing to keep pace with demand and maintain its ageing coal-powered infrastructure.

Ghana central bank raises lending rate again to 27%

A man holds Ghana’s cedi notes in Accra July 3, 2007. Luc Gnago, Reuters
Reuters Images

Cooper Inveen, Reuters News

November 28, 2022

ACCRA – Ghana’s central bank on Monday raised its main lending rate by a further 250 basis points to 27%.

The West African cocoa, gold, and oil-producing nation faces its worst economic crisis in a generation.

Consumer price inflation climbed to an annual 40.4% in October — a 21-year peak despite aggressive central bank lending rate hikes this year.

The local cedi currency has currency plummeted more than 50% against the dollar in 2022.

Presenting the 2023 budget last week, the finance minister promised new measures to cut spending and boost revenue as the government negotiates a relief package with the International Monetary Fund.

High cost of living roils economies in East Africa

Cityscape of downtown Kigali, the growing capital city of Rwanda. Image used for illustrative purpose. Getty Images

Berna Namata, The East African

East Africa’s economic managers face the daunting task of crafting new policies to tackle the recent inflationary spiral across the region, fuelled by rising food and energy prices, which are eroding incomes and reversing gains in food security.

The cost of living across the region has drastically increased in recent months with the median inflation rate in the region now estimated at almost nine percent with some regional economies now suffering double-digit inflation.

Data released by Uneca this week shows between September last year and this year, inflation is nearly double pre-pandemic levels with Rwanda recording the highest jump with an annual headline inflation rate of 23.9 percent up from -3.2 percent largely driven by food which constitutes 48 and 27 percent of weighting in rural and urban Consumer Price Index, respectively.

InterventionsKenya’s National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u said the government is concerned about the high cost of living in the country but remained non-committal on the short-term interventions the government to stem the skyrocketing inflation figures that reached 9.6 percent in November.

Kenya’s situation, like the region, is compounded by the removal of food and fuel subsidies, which the government termed as ‘unsustainable.’“[The] High cost of living is a concern for many governments in the world. Question is, what is driving this cost?” Prof Ndung’u told The EastAfrican.

On Tuesday, the National Bank of Rwanda decided to increase its lending rate by 50 basis points, from 6.0 percent to 6.5 percent to contain inflation.

It also re-instated the reserve requirement ratio to the pre-Covid level of 5 percent effective January 1st, 2023. “This is mainly aimed at limiting second-round effects from higher imported prices resulting from global shocks,” said John Rwangobwa, the Central Bank Governor.

Rwanda inflationHe said Rwanda’s annual inflation climbed to 31 percent in October from 23.9 percent in the previous month, the highest inflation rate over the last decade will remain high for the rest of the year and the first half of next year before easing in the second half of 2023.

In the region, there has been a steady rise in the cost of living in Uganda since the start of the year. For example, at the start of 2022, one would need about $5.3 (sh20,000) to buy food items for a meal at home such as a kilogram of maize flour, beans, cassava flour, sweet potatoes, rice, tomatoes, and sugar. In May 2022, one needed more than $6.6 (Ush25,000), while by the end of October 2022, one needed over $7.9 (Ush30,000) for the same items, with some rising in prices by over 50 percent.

Country by countryThe prices of essential goods such as food and energy rose sharply, with the Bank of Uganda putting inflation at 10.70 percent as of October from 7.9 percent at the start of the financial year in July. The latest prices on the market as captured by the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics indicate an increase in food prices by 3.3 percentage points, rising from 30.3 percent in September to 33.8 percent in October.

Uganda Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says Ugandans will not reach the level receiving stipends because of the increased rain in the past three weeks will boost the production of maize, beans, cassava, and many others.“Yes, the cost of living may still be very high. We may not grow as before, but the people will not starve,” he said.

The leadership worried when there was prolonged drought and food crop failure but were relieved by the rains.

Burundi comes second with higher price shocks at 20.9 percent up from 10.5 percent and Uganda at 10.0 percent up from 2.2 percent between September last year and this year.

A little betterThe Ethiopia and Kenya situation is a little better as the increase has not been as drastic though it remains high at 30.7 percent up from 34.7 percent and from 6.9 percent to 9.2 percent respectively.

The challenge facing central bankers across the region- whose main job is price stability is how to contain inflation without stifling the much-needed growth for countries to reduce poverty.

And despite the ongoing tightening of monetary policy, prices continue to climb further.

To contain inflation, on 29th September, Kenya’s central bank raised its lending rate from 7.50 percent to 8.25 percent, its second hike this year, saying it was “ready to take additional measures, as necessary”. It is expected to meet again this month.

On October 6, Bank of Uganda increased its lending rate by one percentage point to 10 percent after annual headline inflation rose to 10 percent in to try to tame soaring inflation and boost the shilling.

Experts say the high cost of living is largely due to the food insecurity mounting across the region. The IMF estimates that 12 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population will face acute food insecurity by the end of this year.

Mama Keita, the Director, of the Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa of UNECA told The EastAfrican that tightening monetary policy may not be the best way to curb inflation as it is not demand-driven not only across all Africa.“In the short term, there is little that can be done about weather-induced domestic inflation and the resulting low agricultural production. Maybe if things get worse, the government may have to control prices and subsidize some essential food items to maintain consumption at a certain level and avoid other social problems…,” Keita said.

Additional Reporting by Nelson Naturinda and James Anyanzwa © Copyright 2022 Nation Media Group. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

Deal signed for $5bln floating LNG facility in Nigeria

A ship loads liquefied natural gas from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant October 12, 2004 on Bonny Island, Nigeria. (Photo by Jacob Silberberg/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Staff Writer, ZAWYA

Three international oil and gas firms have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of a $5 billion floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Nigeria, The Punch newspaper said. 

The facility is expected to process 176 million standard cubic feet of natural gas and condensate per day. 

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, announced the signing of the front-end engineering design contract by UTM Floating LNG Limited, JGC Corporation, Technip Energies & Kellog Brown & Root Engineering Companies for the development of the first floating liquefied natural gas facility in Nigeria. 

African Export-Import Bank facilitated the signing of the MoU to raise funds required for the project, the minister said, adding that the contract will lead to more deals in Nigeria’s gas sector. 

According to Sylva, the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 has improved the sector’s reputation in Nigeria, paving the way for new investments, jobs and economic diversification. 

The number of offshore gas finds around the world is said to have surged in recent years, with LNG and floating LNG becoming more critical in helping the world’s future energy needs. 

(Editing by Cleofe Maceda; Cleofe.maceda@lseg.com

WEF launching new toolbox for urban decarbonization

A window with the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting logo is seen in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2019. Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters
Reuters Images

Staff Writer, TradeArabia

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with four leading organizations, is launching today (November 16) a first-of-its-kind platform for urban decarbonization, the Toolbox of Solutions, at a session on Zero-Carbon Buildings and Cities at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

By 2050, it is estimated that 68% of people will live in cities, resulting in greater energy consumption and infrastructure demand, and, as a result, increasing carbon emissions.

Cities have a critical role to play in the race to reach net zero. Although most of the solutions to reduce global carbon emissions exist, they are not being adopted and scaled rapidly enough.

To help address this challenge, the World Economic Forum, supported by knowledge partner Accenture, is collaborating with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE), and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to gather global best practices, curated in the Toolbox of Solutions.

Together, this group will continue working to promote and share successful examples with city stakeholders worldwide.

“For urban ecosystems, the solutions and innovations needed to reduce emissions already exist. We know that to shift the climate change trajectory, urban ecosystems and the economy must become far more efficient, electric and circular,” said Kristen Panerali, Head of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure Programme, Clean Power, Electrification and Net-Zero Carbon Cities, WEF.

“The toolbox contains inspiration from around the world to reduce emissions while also boosting economic development, creating jobs and improving air quality,” stated Panerali.

The Toolbox of Solutions contains over 300 case studies drawn from more than 150 cities. It enables its users to access solutions through a search tailored to each city’s strategic planning priorities as well as specific attributes including electricity grid health, population density and income level.

The toolbox contains knowledge and proven examples which result in lower emissions, as well as advancing economic development, job creation and improved human health through better air and water quality.

“A just, inclusive and equitable energy transition will be impossible without data-driven technologies and solutions. Our collaboration with the WEF on the Toolbox of Solutions aligns with our existing initiatives, including the SEforALL Knowledge Hub and ‘This is Cool’, which support sharing of knowledge and solutions to accelerate SDG7 and a clean energy future,” remarked Damilola Ogunbiyi, the CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.

According to Ogunbiyi, the toolbox has been designed to work in tandem with the City Sprint process – a structured workshop series which convenes local business and city leaders to identify new pathways and partnerships.

The objective of the City Sprint is to foster public-private collaboration by creating a coalition of local stakeholders that can implement projects in each city after the City Sprint workshops have concluded, he stated.

The World Economic Forum and its delivery partners have completed over 10 City Sprints in the past year and plan to conduct more with new cities in 2023.

“Climate change and its impacts are not bound by jurisdictions and require a collaborative approach. Sharing of responsibilities by players across the spectrum – at various scales of planning and implementation is a key to the path of net zero,” said Hitesh Vaidya, Director, NIUA.

“Through its collaboration with the Forum, NIUA is sharing knowledge via the Toolbox of Solutions and leading their own series of City Sprints in India with a focus on mainstreaming climate actions in the local development agenda to enable Indian cities towards a sustainable and resilient future as part of the Sustainable Cities India Programme,” he added.

WEF said its Net-Zero Carbon Cities mission was to catalyse urban decarbonization and resilience by highlighting proven solutions and fostering public-private collaboration among city stakeholders.

The programme aims to enable transformation towards net zero through energy efficiency, clean electrification and resource circularity, using integrated solutions across energy, mobility and the built environment, it added.

Assets of Nigerian banks hit $151bln in August 2022 as economy remains resilient

A close up image of Nigerian bank notes and coins. Getty Images

Staff Writer, ZAWYA

Nigerian banks’ assets rose by 10.72 trillion nairas ($22.61 billion) between August 2021 and August 2022 to hit 66.76 trillion nairas ($151.49 billion), The Punch newspaper reported, citing the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The banking sector remained resilient amid economic challenges, Monetary Policy Committee member Kingsley Obiora said in a statement. 

Total assets of the banking industry showed an increase of 19.13% from N56.04 trillion in August 2021 to 66.76 trillion in August 2022, driven by balances with the central bank, banks, investments, and credit expansion to the real sector.

Therefore, the total flow of credit to the economy increased from 22.62 trillion nairas in August 2021 to 28.12 trillion narias, representing an increase of 24.3% to the key sectors of the economy, including oil and gas, manufacturing, general, governments and commerce.

The industry non-performing loan ratio stood at 4.8% at the end of August 2022 compared with 6% at the end of August 2021, Obiora said.

The decline in NPLs was attributable to write-offs, restructuring of facilities, global standing Instruction and sound credit risk management by banks, the report noted.

(Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@lseg.com)

EIB to inject $1.5bln in Egypt for water projects

The logo of the European Investment Bank is pictured in the city of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, March 25, 2017. Eric Vidal, Reuters

Staff Writer, Mubasher

Cairo – The European Investment Bank (EIB) plans to provide new financing of $1.50 billion to Egypt for water treatment projects, EIB Vice-President, Gelsomina Vigliotti, told Asharq Business on the sidelines of COP27 currently taking place in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh.

EIB and the Egyptian government focus to link water, food, and energy to implement a strategy that considers climate change from many sides related to the economy and the impact on people.

The bank will also cooperate with the Arab world’s most populous nation on the transport and energy sectors, being main contributors to CO2 emissions.The EIB is the lending arm of the European Union. It is the world’s biggest multilateral financial institution and one of the largest providers of climate finance.