Nigeria’s biggest tomato plant is counting on the government’s restriction of food imports to sustain operations after going idle again six months after it resumed operations from an almost three-year shut down.

When Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, decided to set up the plant, it was with the clear goal of supplanting imports of tomato paste mostly from China but that has suffered setbacks.

Currently, the 1,200-ton-a-day tomato-processing factory near the West African nation’s northern city of Kano is closed, unable to get its required feed stock as farmers have switched to other crops at the beginning of the rainy season in May.

The plant was idle for more than two years until March this year over a supply disruption partly caused by a price dispute with farmers. Even after the disagreement was resolved, the factory was unable to ramp up production beyond 20% of its capacity due to inadequate supply of tomatoes, as most of the farmers lacked the needed credit to expand production.

The company is losing at least 30 million naira every month with employees idle, according to the managing director of Dangote Farms, Abdulkareem Kaita.

Nigeria consume an average of 2.3 million tons of tomatoes a year and produce just about the same amount, according to a 2017 report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Without adequate storage facilities and an efficient means of transporting them to the markets, about 45% of harvested tomatoes go to waste. Africa’s most populous country imports about 1.3 million tons of the red vegetable to fill the gap, mostly from China and other parts of Asia. Nigeria is the third largest importer of the commodity in Africa.

“We knew tomato is a seasonal crop before we started as it’s the case in China and Europe,” Kaita said. “What we set out to do was reduce the post harvest loss yearly to feed the factory.”

Unfazed by the problems, Dangote Farms is pushing ahead with its original objective of replacing tomato-paste imports. With President Muhammadu Buhari making the reduction of food imports a key objective of his administration, the Nigerian central bank is implementing a new credit plan intended to help the farmers grow tomatoes all year round.

Dangote Farms has also acquired a 5,000-hectare farm to grow a high-yield variety of tomatoes to meet its factory’s requirements, while introducing the same strain to other farms to increase their productivity.

“With this, the output of the farmers would tremendously improve and the processing factory would record ample supply,” Kaita said.

Kaita also wants the government to enforce its decision to curtail tomato-paste imports to reduce incidents of dumping of subsidized paste on the Nigerian market.

“The effective implementation of the government’s policy in restricting tomato paste importation will guarantee more investment in the tomato value chain, which will eventually lead to self-sufficiency in few years to come,” Kaita said.


Credit: Bloomberg

South Africa's main opposition parthy The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that almost 70% of PRASA controlled train stations do not have CCTV cameras.

A response to a DA Parliamentary Question has revealed that of the 585 train stations under PRASA’s control, only 181 stations have at least one CCTV camera. This means that only 30.9% of stations in the country have at least one CCTV cameras.

In the Western Cape, where rail safety has been particularly out of hand, only 42 out of 122 stations in the province have CCTV cameras. This means only 34.4% of the province’s stations have at least one CCTV camera.

These are alarming figures considering the fact that crime is on the increase. In 2018 alone, an estimated 495 people lost their lives while making use of our trains and 2079 were injured. Clearly the ANC government cannot be trusted to keep commuters safe.

To make matters worse, around 26.8% of all the cameras installed nationally are not working.

How can we have effective policing at train stations when most stations do not have cameras, and those that do are not guaranteed to have operational ones?

PRASA’s old, outdated and stoic infrastructure places many commuters across the country under constant threat of being attacked by criminals, due to the state of lawlessness and lack of law enforcement at PRASA stations.

The table below shows a total of installed CCTV cameras at PRASA managed railway stations per region:

The DA is of the view that policing and train services should be handed over to competent provinces such as the Western Cape, as the national government is incapable and clearly unwilling to keep our people safe.

Unlike the ANC, the DA has a rail plan that will create a safe and well-managed railway system which put commuters first and will ensure job security. The plan is based on four aspects:

Stabilising and modernising the current rail system;
Merging Transnet and PRASA under the Department of Transport;
Ceding control of Metrorail services to Metros; and,
Diversifying Ownership.

Poor railway infrastructure and mismanagement makes it hard for South Africans to reliably depend on trains to deliver them to their destinations safely and on time.

Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile operate, Econet Wireless is having Tesla batteries installed at its base stations around the country as a backup to electricity shortages currently hitting the country.

The power utility company, Zesa (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority), early this year, introduced 18-hour long load shedding schedules to contain the situation as it is producing less electricity due to low water levels in Lake Kariba, the country’s largest source of power, exacerbated by drought.

Zesa, which also relies on importing power from neighboring countries, owes South Africa’s Eskom around $23 million in unpaid bills. At present Eskom supplies 400 megawatts to Zimbabwe which is not enough to restore the situation to normalcy.

Zimbabwe has had cash shortages as its economy continues to fall and mobile money is essential for most daily transactions by Zimbabweans. Large chunks of the country’s economy runs through electronic systems and mobile money, which is dominated by Econet’s Ecocash with 95% market share. It’s estimated around 5 million transactions a day moving more than $200 million.

All this means local mobile network base stations need to always be on regardless of electricity shortages. In July, Econet generators failed to kick in after a power outage forcing a mobile money blackout for a day. Most citizens were stranded and economists estimated the country lost millions of dollars.

With fuel shortages and unstable prices, mobile operators are finding it hard to use diesel-powered generators to back up their stations and have turned to the Palo Alto, California-based automaker and storable-energy company Tesla to provide them with batteries to keep providing services to their subscribers.

Tesla’s larger-than-life founder Elon Musk, who was born in neighboring South Africa, launch the Powerwall in 2015. The residential version is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to be mounted in a garage or on the side of a house. The device, the size of a small refrigerator can store power from a home’s solar panels, or connect to the electrical grid, storing up electricity when rates are low and providing backup electricity supply in case of a blackout.

The lithium-ion batteries stores energy and can stand up to 10 hours, enough time to power up a station until electricity supplies are restored in some parts of the country and Econet-owned solar specialist Distribution Power Africa (DPA) is currently doing the installations.

The commercial Powerwalls which costs $6,500 each will be used when solar panels cannot generate enough electricity during the night or when there is bad weather.

DPA chief executive officer Norman Moyo recently told Bloomberg his company is installing 520 Powerwall batteries, with two going into each base station of the 1,300 base stations in the country. He said base stations power supplies were critical considering that for transactions to run in Zimbabwe telecom network should be up adding that “Telcoms have become the lifeblood of the economy.”


Read More: Quartz Africa

Middle East geopolitics have come back with a vengeance to hit the oil market. What everybody feared has happened.

An attack has penetrated the defenses of Saudi Arabia’s massive Abqaiq oil processing facility, the heart of the kingdom’s oil production and export infrastructure, causing an unknown amount of damage. Crude prices will react and emergency stockpiles will be tapped.

Fires at the plant were brought under control within hours, but the flow of crude from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter, will almost certainly be affected, although we don’t yet know by how much or for how long. Traders who have shrugged off tensions in the Middle East for months will respond to this attack when markets open on Monday.

The top of the value spike will rely on how a lot we all know in regards to the extent of the injury and the way lengthy it is going to take to restore. An absence of knowledge will lead merchants to imagine the worst.

The Abqaiq crude processing plant is the only most necessary facility within the Saudi oil sector. In 2018 it processed about half of the dominion’s crude oil manufacturing, in line with a prospectus printed in May for the state oil firm’s first worldwide bond. That’s roughly 5 million barrels a day, or one in each 20 barrels of oil used worldwide.

Abqaiq is extra necessary to the Saudi oil sector than the dominion’s Persian Gulf export terminals at Ras Tanura and Ju’aymah, or the Strait of Hormuz that hyperlinks the Gulf to the Indian Ocean and the excessive seas. Crude might be diverted away from the Persian Gulf and Hormuz by pumping it throughout the nation to the Red Sea by way of the East-West oil pipeline. But it can not bypass Abqaiq. The East-West pipeline begins at Abqaiq and output from the enormous Ghawar, Shaybah and Khurais fields is all processed there, so an assault on the ability will influence crude flows to export terminals on each coasts.

The newest assault comes simply months after drones, allegedly launched from Iraq by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, focused pumping stations on the oil pipeline. The injury attributable to that earlier assault was minimal, however highlighted the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, even when situated tons of of miles from the nation’s borders.

So what occurs now?

Saudi Arabia will most likely search to keep up export ranges as a lot as attainable by supplying prospects from stockpiles. It holds crude in storage tanks within the kingdom, in addition to at websites in Egypt, Japan and the Netherlands. But it has been working its crude hoard down because the starting of 2016 and it is now again at ranges not seen since 2008, in line with knowledge from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative. That means the dominion has a lot much less to attract on than it did three years in the past.

The assault can even check stockpiles in oil-consuming nations. Members of the International Energy Agency are required to carry 90 days’ price of oil imports in emergency shares and people shall be pressed into service if the outage at Abqaiq is extended. Non-member nations like China and India have additionally been increase their very own emergency reserves. Those, too, shall be pressed into service.

Neighboring nations who, simply days in the past, had been being exhorted to stay to output quotas agreed in December will now pump as a lot as they’ll to make up for any losses from Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq will all increase output as a lot as they’re ready. But the one nation with plenty of spare capability, Iran, gained’t see any easing of the restrictions positioned on its oil gross sales by the U.S. Quite the alternative. Its help for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who’ve claimed duty for the assault on Abqaiq, will be certain that any easing of the stress being exerted on it stays a distant prospect.

Credit: Bloomberg

Angola is attracting renewed interest from Chinese business owners since it lifted curbs on money transfers, following an exodus of tens of thousands of Chinese amid an economic crisis.

Africa’s second-largest oil producer introduced foreign-exchange policies that have made it easy to transfer money legally, Xu Ning, chairman of the Angola-China Industrial and Commerce Association, said in an interview in the capital, Luanda. That’s drawing a “new group” of companies from China to Angola, mainly in the industrial sector, he said.

“The new government is doing things that make it safe to invest in Angola,” Xu said. “We’re much better than before.”

Angola has had the highest number of Chinese workers of any country in sub-Saharan Africa for almost a decade, reaching a peak of 50,526 in 2013, data from John Hopkins University’s China-Africa Research Initiative show. These figures don’t include traders, shopkeepers and independent business owners.

More than 100,000 Chinese workers, traders and businessmen left the country after the 2014 oil-price crash triggered an economic crisis and froze most construction projects, according to Xu. Relying on oil for more than 90% of exports, Angola kept a tight grip on its currency even as dollars ran dry, leaving hundreds of companies struggling to pay overseas suppliers.

Arbitrary Detentions

Under President Joao Lourenco, who assumed office two years ago, the central bank eased restrictions on money transfers and it’s become more appealing for businesses to get dollars from official channels, according to Xu. Today, the official exchange rate for the kwanza is 369 per dollar, compared to a black-market rate of 530 per dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares to an official rate of about 166 kwanza per dollar and a street rate that was twice as high in September 2017.

Another significant change is that Angolan immigration officials have stopped arbitrarily detaining Chinese nationals and that the police responds to and acts on complaints, Xu said.

Chinese investors have been kidnapped in the past or fallen victim to other crimes, China’s ambassador to Angola, Gong Tao, told reporters on Tuesday, without giving details.

Angola’s public debt to China currently stands at $22.8 billion, with recent direct investments including an assembly plant for fishing vessels, an aluminum factory and a brewery, he said.

Credit: Bloomberg

Surjan Singh, the third of the three former executives of Credit Suisse, charged by the US justice authorities in connection with the scandal of Mozambique's "hidden debts", has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a report by the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Singh appeared before the New York court dealing with the case last Friday. With this guilty plea, it seems that the prosecutors have dropped other charges of wire fraud and securities fraud. However, the full details of his plea bargain have not yet been made public.

Two other former Credit Suisse bankers, Detelina Subeva and Andrew Pearse, entered guilty pleas earlier in the year. All three have been freed on bail.

They were all originally arrested in London in January. One by one they have negotiated with the US prosecutors and have made their way to the New York court to enter their guilty pleas.

The accusation against them is that, in 2013 and 2014, they conspired with officials of the Abu Dhabi-based group Privinvest and with figures in the Mozambican government of the time, to ensure that enormous loans were granted to three fraudulent companies, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).

In all, the fraud involved loans of over two billion US dollars, granted by Credit Suisse and the Russian bank, VTB. According to the US prosecutors, at least 200 million dollars of the loan money was used for bribes and kickbacks.

When Pearse appeared before the New York judge in July, he made statements that implicated the chief executive officer of Privinvest, Iskandar Safa, in the fraud.

He said that, "Privinvest with the knowledge of its executive Jean Boustani (currently detained in a New York prison), Iskandar Safa and Najib Allam (Privinvest's Chief Finance Officer), wired me millions of dollars in unlawful kickbacks from loan proceeds and illegal payments for my assistance in securing loans made by Credit Suisse".

"I agreed to accept and keep these monies, knowing that they were the proceeds of illegal activity", he said. "I took these actions to enrich myself and my co-conspirators and to benefit Credit Suisse which gained substantial profits from the Proindicus and Ematum loans in which it was involved".

As managing director of Credit Suisse Securities Europe Ltd, Pearse led the team that closed the 372 million dollar loan to Proindicus in February 2013. He said that Boustani "offered to pay me half of the amount by which I, together with others, reduced a subvention fee to be paid by Privinvest in connection with the loan".

"I accepted Boustami's offer", Pearse added, "successfully made efforts to reduce the fees paid by Privinvest, and received payments by wire from Privinvest into a bank account I opened in the United Arab Emirates with the assistance of Privinvest employees. Safa was aware of my agreement with Boustani".

Pearse said he knew that Surjan Singh, "was secretly being paid by Privinvest to aid the conspiracy. Specifically, in September and October 2013 I made two payments of one million dollars each to Singh. The payments, which came from funds I received from Privinvest, were in exchange for Singh's assistance in reducing the subvention fee on Proindicus and for securing Credit Suisse's approval of the Ematum loan".

Pearse explained that he assisted "in bringing about an agreement between Singh and Boustani, of which Safa was aware, under which Singh received payments totalling 4.4 million dollars in exchange for facilitating Credit Suisse's approval of the Ematum loan".

Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique" suggests that the real targets of the US investigations are Credit Suisse and Iskandar Safa.

Credit Suisse has already admitted that Pearse, Subeva and Singh bypassed its internal security systems. This could lay the bank wide open to an enormous fine by the New York, since American investors, who purchased Ematum bonds, and the syndicated Proindicus debt, were among those defrauded.

Key to the fraud was the company Palomar, which is part of the Privinvest group. Safa owned two thirds of the shares in Palomar (through Privinvest Shipbuilding Investments) , and Pearse the other third. Boustani was a Palomar director, and Subeva worked for Palomar at the same time as she was employed by Credit Suisse.

Pearse admitted in July "I agreed with Safa and Boustani that I would receive a percentage of any further Proindicus loan proceeds that Privinvest received after the initial 372 million dollar loan. I subsequently reached similar agreements with Safa and Boustani to receive a percentage of the loan proceeds from the Ematum and MAM transactions, while working as a director at Palomar Holdings".


Credit: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique

South Africa's economic growth is unlikely to reach the treasury's target of 1.5% in 2019 because conditions have changed and the country is facing increasing headwinds, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Friday.

This week ratings agency Moody's, the last of the top three credit firms to rate South Africa’s debt at investment level, said it had lowered its growth forecast to 0.7% from 1%.

The central bank sees gross domestic product at 0.6% this year. Both have cited slow economic reforms as the key drag on economic activity, and massive bailouts to state-owned companies, including 59 billion rand ($4.05 billion) to power firm Eskom.

This has limited the government's scope for stimulus and raised debt while the resultant uncertainty has kept investment subdued.

"The assumptions underlying the forecasts have clearly changed ... the actual deficit now is probably much higher," Mboweni told a banking conference in Johannesburg.

He said that increasing calls for the treasury to bail out state firms was putting pressure on growth and spending.

"We must re-focus our economy on agriculture …but we also have to continue to support Eskom, because without electricity there is no growth," Mboweni said.

A Reuters poll of economists this week forecast South African economic growth at 0.7% this year, up from 0.6% in the previous forecast. Second quarter growth bounced back 3.1% after a revised contraction of 3.1% in the first quarter.

($1 = 14.5521 rand)


- Reuters

Zambia has cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to around 2% from an initial projection of 4%, President Edgar Lungu said on Friday.

Lungu said in a state of the nation address in parliament that adverse weather conditions will negatively affect this year's economic growth.


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