Thursday 19 April 2018
(Bloomberg 07/10/17)
Many cell phone companies are rethinking their headlong rush into the continent. Only Orange is staying the course. Back when African countries were auctioning off mobile licenses by the boatload to serve the region’s young, tech-savvy population, investing in the continent’s fast-growing economies seemed like a no-brainer. Some of the world’s biggest wireless carriers rushed in. Now they’re wondering if they made a mistake. Increasing government and regulatory scrutiny, as well as a lack of expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, are making it harder for operators such as Vodafone Group Plc, Orange SA and Bharti Airtel Ltd. to grow. Their choice: Pull back or double down. Two companies beating at least a partial retreat are Millicom International Cellular SA, which...
(APA 07/07/17)
Sierra Leone will receive a $30 million International Development Association (IDA) credit from the World Bank Group to support the financing of government’s development programmes articulated in the agenda for prosperity and the President’s recovery priorities, the Bank announced on Thursday. It said the Sierra Leone First Productivity and Transparency Support Credit (PTSC-I), approved by the Bank Group Board on June 30, 2017, was aimed at supporting the government’s efforts to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic development through increasing productivity in selected economic sectors and improving transparency and accountability in selected government decision-making processes. It adds that the reform programmes of the government being supported under the programme relate to, among others, supporting seed production and distribution by the private...
(APA 07/05/17)
The first ever toll road under construction in Sierra Leone will be the cheapest in terms of charges in the whole world, a government official has said. Mohamed Sahid Koroma, head of the Toll Road Sensitisation process in the Ministry of Youth Affairs, in an exclusive interview with APA defended the pricing list released by the government and the Chinese firm constructing the road. Advertisment End of break ads in 29s You can close Ad in 4 s There has been a huge public outcry since the China Railway Seventh Group (CRSG) announced last month it intended to commence levying charges for the use of the road earlier than expected. So far only about 10 km of the 62km has...
(APA 06/23/17)
Sierra Leone's Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh has called on the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities created by the government. Inaugurating the Call To Business (ACTB) Savings and Loans Limited at the company's head office in the west end of Freetown on Thursday, Mr. Foh described it as a "success story." He attributed this success to the efforts of the government. "Being cognisance of this, since he assumed office in 2007, President Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government have made financial and economic growth a central theme in our nation's development agenda, the Agenda for Prosperity," Mr. Foh said. He cited the Financial Sector Development Plan and the recently launched National Financial Inclusion Strategy as only a...
(APA 06/23/17)
The parliament in Sierra Leone has ratified a revised power purchase deal reached with the Swiss energy producer Addax in 2011. Parliament in a statement on Wednesday said the amendment was warranted by changing circumstances. Addax Bio Energy is a Swiss owned company which engages in the production of palm oil and sugar cane, from which it produces bio energy. Its deal with the Sierra Leone government is aimed at providing alternative sources of energy to address the country’s huge power deficit. The company will produce an additional 10 megawatts to the national grid under the revised deal. Addax had been facing difficulties in its operation and there are reports that talks are already undeerway for a takeover by a...
(APA 06/21/17)
Sierra Leone has increased its Monetary Policy Rate by 1 percent from 12.00 percent to 13.00 percent, as it opts to maintain a tight monetary policy against the growing influence of inflation. The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), in its latest Monetary Policy Statement published on Wednesday, also increased the Standing Deposit Facility from 6.50 percent to 9.00 percent, and the Standing Lending Facility jumped from 13.00 percent to 16.00 percent. The bank said the decision was taken in the light of the challenges involved in bringing down inflation to within target. The decision, according to the statement, was taken by the Monetary Policy Committee at its latest meeting on June 15, chaired by Deputy Bank Governor Dr. Ibrahim Stevens...
(APA 06/21/17)
Poverty is the leading factor fueling teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone, a new report has revealed. The findings by the National Commission for Children (NCC) are part of its annual report officially released on Tuesday under the theme: “Reintegration of teenage mothers into formal school system. According to the report, over 70 percent of teenage mothers lack education on sexual and reproductive health before they got pregnant. Only 10.5 percent reported having used any form of contraceptive up to three times before pregnancy set in. The report also reveals that teenage mothers have their first experience of sex at a relatively early age, as young as 10 years. “The reasons given – in order of prominence – were financial need,...
(APA 06/19/17)
The National Council for Technical Vocational and Other Academic Award (NCTVA) in Sierra Leone has announced new stringent measures designed to counter examinations malpractice. NCTVA is the country’s highest national examinations body and it conducts exams at the level of college, Polytechnic, Vocational and some secondary schools, as opposed to the regional West African Examination Council (WAEC), which conducts exams for Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. Amidst concern of the widespread existence of malpractice, the NCTVA is worried that this could compromise the quality of its certificate, Mohamed Jalloh, Director of NCTVA, said on Monday in an interview. His comments followed massive clamp down by government on a string of exams malpractice...
(AFP (eng) 06/12/17)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Monday meet African leaders in Berlin on initiatives aiming to reduce the poverty and conflict driving a mass migrant influx to Europe. The idea is to team up African nations willing to reform with private investors who would bring business and jobs to a continent where instability or graft often scare off foreign companies. Merkel is hosting the initiative as part of Germany's presidency of the Group of 20 powerful economies, whose leaders meet in the northern port of Hamburg a month later. Invited to Berlin are Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the leaders of Ghana, Ivory Coast...
(APA 06/12/17)
The Sierra Leone government has signed a US$17m road construction project, the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) announced in a statement on Monday. The 46km road is the second and final phase of the Sierra Leone leg of the Trans-Africa road project. This road will run from Bo to Bandajuma in the south of the country, linking Sierra Leone to Liberia on its southern flank. The OPEC Fund for International Development, the African Development Bank and the government of Sierra Leone are jointly funding this project whose implementation will take 24 months. The Chinese firm, China Hen International Company (CHICO) was contracted to construct the road, which officials say will ease difficulties farmers and businesspeople along the area face in...
(APA 06/12/17)
The World Bank has announced additional funding for Sierra Leone to the tune of US$10 million as budget support. World Bank country manager Parmindar Brar said Friday the money is meant specifically to improve on the country’s financial management system. Mr Brar also announced a separate US$4 million allocation for the fisheries sector, and said this gesture was geared toward enhancing performance of sectors with the potential to improve on the lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. “I think it is to the credit of Sierra Leone that this money will be available to the ministry of Finance for the strengthening of government systems,” he said.
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to get their budgets in order, diversify their economies and look after their poorest people. If they do that, there is no reason why the region cannot have the strong growth needed to meet the aspirations of a young and growing population. That, at least, is the three-pillared prescription from the International Monetary Fund as expressed by one of its top Africa researchers, Celine Allard, in an official IMF blog post and podcast. Allard co-authored the Fund's regional economic outlook, released earlier this month. It found that sub-Saharan economic growth hit only 1.4 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades and well off the 5-6 percent rates normally reached. It was also well...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies. Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive. Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say. United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa's external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated...
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub. The new business could be worth as much as 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion), said Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, although the valuation could also be as low as 40 billion rand depending on how much debt Steinhoff puts into the vehicle...
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
When the impoverished West African nation of Niger imposed a ban on donkey exports last year, a small community of traders just over the border in Nigeria was devastated. “Before the ban, you could see thousands of donkeys here,” said Mohammed Sani, a 45-year-old trader in the Nigerian town of Jibiya, as he wiped the sweat off his brow. “Now look at them: there’s no more than 50, crippling the business.” Donkeys are being slaughtered at an alarming pace to feed a global trade in donkey hides that’s fueled by soaring demand in China, where the skins are used to manufacture a gelatin believed to have anti-ageing and libido-enhancing properties. The gelatin, known in China as e’jiao, is so popular...
(AFP (eng) 05/12/17)
Sierra Leone's government said Thursday it would seek higher offers in Belgium for a massive 709-carat diamond found by an Evangelical preacher after underwhelming offers at auction at home. A Thursday auction in Freetown drew a top bid for the uncut gem -- which has a reddish stain that has so far resisted efforts to clean it -- of $7.77 million dollars, an AFP correspondent reported. The prospect of bids not passing muster with the authorities had already previously seen bidding extended once to May 10 at the central bank, where the gem was placed for safe keeping. Emmanuel Momoh, a 39-year-old pastor who is also one of hundreds of so-called artisanal miners in Kono, Sierra Leone's key mining district,...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/12/17)
A much anticipated auction for one of the world's largest diamonds fizzled on Thursday when the government of Sierra Leone rejected a $7.8 million bid for the rough, egg-sized stone, saying it failed to meet its own valuation. The 709-carat gem is the second largest ever discovered in the West African country and was unearthed in March in the eastern Kono region by a Christian pastor who gave it to the government to handle the sale. Five bids were handed to auctioneers in a sealed brown envelope, ranging from $2 million to $7.8 million. The top bid was made by a man in a white shirt and light trousers on behalf of Belgium diamond dealer Ray Diam BVBA. "We've decided...
(APA 05/08/17)
The umbrella body of sorghum farmers in Sierra Leone has vowed to challenge the amended Finance Act, which reopened the door for competition between imported alcoholic brews and the local ones, APA can report. The Finance Act 2017, which was passed in parliament last month, amended the Finance Act 2016 which levied heavy taxes on imported brews. That law paved the way for the Sierra Leone Brewery to increase its production, thereby empowering many local farmers from whom it sources its raw materials. However, the Ministry of Finance has said the 2016 law turned out to adversely affect businesses which sell imported brews, and consequently the government’s revenue.
(Reuters (Eng) 05/06/17)
A dispute over a bridge in eastern Sierra Leone thought to span diamond deposits has divided a local community with a foreign mining company accused of illegally mining the area after volunteering to rebuild the overpass. The Congo Bridge in Koidu, the capital of Kono District, was deemed by local authorities to be in danger of collapsing after years of illegal small-scale mining around the base. With backing from the government, structural repairs started in mid-2016 by Israeli owned Pluto Mining Company but this prompted fears of large-scale mining as excavators removed raw materials from under the road, river banks and nearby wetlands. A coalition of Kono activists joined Sierra Leone's Environmental Protection Authority and National Minerals Agency to condemn...
(Voice of America 05/05/17)
As Africa grapples with a severe drought, and famine threatens millions of people, experts at the World Economic Forum on Africa this week in the South African city of Durban say food security needs to be a major part of discussions on advancing the continent economically. The annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland is usually a high-powered event, but at this week’s Africa meeting of the international organization, the continent’s big players are welcoming the humble farmer, now known as the “agripreneur.” Agricultural economist Paul Makube, with South Africa’s First National Bank, told VOA it makes sense to talk about farming when discussing building competitive markets, and boosting innovation and technology. “For business to prosper, you need a situation where...

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