Monday 22 January 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/22/18)
A year ago, Gambians wept for joy as Yahya Jammeh went into exile, bringing the curtain down on a brutal 22-year rule. Today, many say freedom of speech in this small west African state is a right they cherish under President Adama Barrow's administration. "There is a democracy, everybody feels free. Disappearances without a trace -- all that's over now," said teacher Kalipha Dampha, referring to the dreaded work of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the "Junglers," as Jammeh's death squad was called. But The Gambia's faltering economy has barely improved and tensions over mass unemployment are rising. Today, many are now asking when the better days they were promised will come. "Food prices...
(AFP (eng) 01/19/18)
The International Monetary Fund does not want austerity in Tunisia, and in fact proposed programs to protect the poor from the impact of economic reforms, a Fund spokesman said Thursday. Several hundred people have been arrested in Tunisia since social unrest erupted a week ago, fueled by unemployment, corruption and austerity measures in the 2018 budget. "The frustration the Tunisian people are feeling is understandable," said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice, speaking on the anniversary of the 2011 Tunisian uprising that launched the Arab Spring. However, he defended the institution against the "outdated" view that it is the IMF causing the suffering. "Speaking for the IMF, we do not want austerity. We do want well-designed, well-implemented, socially-balanced reforms," he said He...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco’s government needs to explain the benefits and risks of its new flexible currency system, which will stoke inflation, the head of the state High Planning Commission told Reuters on Wednesday. Ahmed Lahlimi said annual inflation will rise to around 1.6 percent in 2018 from 0.2 percent last year as oil prices have been rising and because imports of food and other goods will become more expensive. The North African country launched this week a more flexible...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
It's been seven years since they ousted their longtime dictator in the first of the Arab Spring uprisings, but Tunisians are still taking to the streets. Why, after so long, has the country been unable to tackle its economic problems? Unemployment, corruption and austerity measures in the 2018 budget have fuelled widespread protests as the North African country marked the anniversary of the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. While Tunisia has been praised as a model of democratic transition, post-revolution governments have struggled to improve living standards and tackle pervasive graft. Why the new protests? "Work, bread and national dignity"...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
As demand for batteries drives a surge in the price of cobalt, the Democratic Republic of Congo is gearing up to overhaul its mining regulations to harvest more profit from the coveted metal. The global boom for smartphones and electric cars has pushed up the price of cobalt, a key ingredient in top-range batteries, to $75,000 (almost 63,000 euros) a tonne -- an increase of 127 percent in one year. DR Congo is the world's leading producer of cobalt, where authorities consider the previous mining code to favour foreign investors at the expense of the economy. The central African country is also the top African producer of copper, currently trading on the London Metal Exchange...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
South Africa is fighting to revive its frayed clothing industry, once a crucial provider of jobs in a country suffering from high unemployment, as a flood of cheap imports forces local factories to shutter and lay off workers. Once the economic lifeblood of many small regional towns, the abundance of cheaper products from China has led to the loss of nearly two-thirds of the sector's jobs over the past two decades. "After being employed for 22 years we were informed that the factory would close down in eight weeks," said Vimla Padayachee, 46, who lost her job three years ago.
(AFP (eng) 01/16/18)
South African prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking $130 million from global consultancy McKinsey and a local firm linked to a graft scandal that has engulfed President Jacob Zuma. The announcement was the first move against the Gupta family that is accused of corrupt dealings with Zuma, including allegations it profited from lucrative government contracts and chose ministerial appointments. The local company, Trillian, was controlled by an associate of the Guptas at the time of the allegations in 2015 and...
(AFP (eng) 01/16/18)
Nigerian stocks have jumped to a nine-year high as Africa's biggest economy emerges from its worst recession in 25 years, buoyed by the high price of oil at $69 a barrel. The country's main equity index grew 12 percent this year in dollar terms, pushing it to the highest level since 2008, according to Bloomberg News. Investors are buying the cheapest stocks in Africa, confident that the Nigerian economy is set to recover and oil prices will stay high. "2018...
(AFP (eng) 01/13/18)
Morocco will start a gradual and controlled liberalisation of its currency the dirham from Monday, Prime Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani said after a cabinet meeting. The North African country has had a fixed exchange rate regime for the dirham since the 1970s. It is pegged to the euro and the dollar. Othmani spoke to AFP on Friday after a cabinet meeting during which the long-expected decision was taken. The process of moving towards what the authorities call a "flexible exchange rate"...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Angolan President Joao Lourenco removed the son of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos from the top job at the oil-rich country's sovereign wealth fund, the presidency said on Wednesday. Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who was implicated in the "Panama Papers" offshore scandal, will be replaced by former finance minister Carlos Alberto Lopes. Last year's "Panama Papers" revelations showed how the world's wealthy used a discreet Panamanian legal firm to stash assets offshore. The investment fund under Dos Santos Jr's control has been shown to have transferred tens of millions of dollars to businessman Jean-Claude "Zenu" Bastos de Morais to run the organisation.
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
The Sudanese pound hit an all-time low against the dollar on the black market Tuesday, brokers said, fuelling concerns of soaring inflation as importers rushed to buy the US currency. On Tuesday, the pound reaching 30 to a dollar on the black market, its lowest level ever. The official rate is 18 pounds to a dollar. An acute shortage of dollars has weakened the Sudanese pound steadily, with the currency losing about 60 percent in the past year on the...
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
Angry Sudanese queued outside bakeries in Khartoum on Friday as bread prices doubled overnight, with bakers blaming a government decision to stop importing wheat. Customers had to wait nearly an hour to buy a loaf, while several bakery operators said price hikes on flour meant they would be forced to stop production entirely. "All bakeries have decided to raise the price of bread after the price of flour was raised yesterday," Mohamed al-Saeed, a member of a bakery owners' union,...
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
Libya's oil revenues have more than tripled in 2017 despite violence and political instability, according to figures released Friday by the central bank. The backbone of the North African country's economy, Libya's oil sector collapsed in the wake of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Oil output fell from 1.6 million barrels per day to less than 500,000 bpd between 2014 and 2016 due to violence around production facilities and export terminals as rival militias fought for control. Despite revenues surging to $14 billion (12 billion euros) in 2017, up from $4.8 billion...
(AFP (eng) 01/04/18)
Egypt's grand mufti has said that bitcoin is forbidden in Islam, warning the digital currency could be used for criminal purposes. Bitcoin, launched in 2009 and based on a peer-to-peer payment system, poses "high risks to individuals and states," Shawqi Allam said in a published ruling. It could provide "stable and secure financial resources for terrorists and criminal groups," said Allam, who acts as the country's official interpreter of Islamic law. Minting and issuing currency is an "absolute right" of monetary institutions and "one of the most specific functions of the state," he said. Bitcoin is a virtual currency created from computer code.
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Small lines formed at banks in Mauritania on New Year's Day as customers withdrew new banknotes and swapped cheque books after the government revamped the currency, the ouguiya, in a bid to fight inflation. Ten ouguiyas became one ouguiya as of January 1, requiring new banknotes and a six-month phasing out of the old ones, starting with the largest denomination of 5,000 ouguiya ($14.10, 11.76 euros). President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz announced the change on November 28, the West African state's national holiday. The revamp, he said, would the ouguiya "to resume its place in financial transactions...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
The scandal-hit South African retail giant Steinhoff announced Tuesday it would restate some financial results for 2015 and 2016 amid a probe into accounting irregularities. Last month, Steinhoff revealed it was under criminal and tax investigations, with a reported six-billion-euro ($7-billion) hole in its accounts. "The 2016 and 2015 financial statements of Steinhoff Investment Holdings Limited will need to be restated and can no longer be relied upon," the company said in a statement. Steinhoff had been a darling of...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded debt held by embattled South Africa-based home retail giant Steinhoff on Thursday and warned of further downgrades amid "increasing pressure" on the company's cashflow. Moody's said in a statement it was cutting Steinhoff's credit rating from "B1", or speculative with a high credit risk, to "Caa1", or poor quality and a very high risk. Earlier this month, Steinhoff revealed it was under criminal and tax investigations over suspicions of accounting irregularities, with a reported six...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Morocco's Royal Air Maroc has ordered four 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from US aviation giant Boeing for delivery at the end of next year, the two companies said Wednesday. The new aircraft, worth $1.1 billion at list price, would allow the flagship carrier "to expand its services, especially internationally", a Boeing statement said. The delivery "at the end of 2018" would bring to 60 the number of planes in the airline's fleet, an official at the Moroccan flagship carrier told AFP...
(AFP (eng) 12/27/17)
An explosion on a pipeline carrying crude oil from Libya's south to a port terminal in its north Tuesday will slash production, the National Oil Company said. ‏"NOC continues to investigate the causes of the explosion" north of the town of Marada, it said in a statement. The company said it expected production to drop by between 70,000 and 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the blast along the pipeline from Zaggut to the eastern port of Al-Sidra, one of...
(AFP (eng) 12/27/17)
Long queues formed at petrol stations across Nigeria Tuesday, with motorists sometimes waiting up to 24 hours to fill up their tanks, as Africa's number one oil producer faces a crippling fuel shortage. "I couldn't travel. I would have loved to travel to Osun State (north of Lagos) to spend time with my family (for Christmas), but I cancelled on that one," motorist Tope Alake told AFP as he waited at one of the few petrol stations still open in...

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