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Africa Focused News


by Dario Galluccio

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Ghana: Nigeria’s gas supply insufficient for energy push

Ghana has reaffirmed plans to develop its gas resources, which will aid a steam-driven thermal power generation push, as gas supply from Nigeria proves insufficient.

The West African Transnational Gas Pipeline (WAGP), established in 1982 to supply gas from Nigeria to neighbouring countries, was billed to provide 70 million cubic feet daily to Ghana, but currently delivers 50 million cubic feet — well below the agreement. In addition, the country’s demand for gas, which will drive an increase in energy output, has risen well above the maximum supply the regional pipeline can potentially offer, hence the need to develop its own resources.

The West African Gas Pipeline as designed today can only give us 170 million cubic feet. We need extra investment to be able to move from 170 to 240 in order to realise the full potential of that pipeline,” said Kirk Koffi, a deputy chief executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana.

According to Koffi, the future of Ghana’s energy was dependent on its ability to meet the local gas consumption, noting that the country could no longer rely on irregular supply from its West African neighbour.

Nigeria: Stock Exchange records $213.5m increase in market cap

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has recorded a N34 billion ($213.5 million) rise in its market capitalization, following positive returns on several blue chip stocks.

Tuesday’s trading, 22th October, at the bourse revealed a 0.29 percent appreciation from N11.905 trillion ($74.76 billion) at the start of business, to close at N11.939 trillion ($74.97 billion). An outcome that strengthens the Exchange’s target for a $1 trillion market cap by 2016. According to analysts, the stock appreciation is a result of its positive year-end earnings.

Companies that topped the gainers list include Forte Oil, which led the chart with a N6.58 ($0.04) gain to close at N70.88 ($0.45). Other gainers were Guinness Nigeria, with N6.06 ($0.038) to close at N246.02 ($1.54), and Nigerian Breweries, up to N176 ($1.1) after a N4 ($0.025) appreciation. Indigenous oil firm, Conoil, also managed a N1.92 ($0.012) gain to end the day N40.48 ($0.25).

Ghana: BoG disseminates 2012 Foreign Capital flow survey

Ghana continues to attract a significant share of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a survey conducted by the Bank of Ghana (BOG) has shown.

The BOG’s 2012 Foreign Private Capital flows survey which was launched in Accra on Wednesday by the first Deputy Governor, Mr Millison Narh, indicated that in 2012, Ghana was ranked as the third highest recipient of FDI flows in SSA during 2011 by the World Investment Report on account of the newly developed Jubilee Oil field. However, FDI inflows to Africa in general, declined for the third successive year, though at a much slower pace to 42.7 billion US dollars in 2011 from 43.1 billion US dollars; but excluding North Africa FDI inflows to Sub-Sahara African increased to 37 billion dollars in 2011 from 29 billion dollars in 2010.

The survey sample was selected among entities in all the regions except the two upper regions with the objective of capturing Ghanaian enterprises with foreign direct investment and borrowing. At the launching of the survey, the findings, together with data obtained from monetary and financial sources for private cross border liabilities, showed that the economy recorded total external liabilities of 27.9 billion dollars in 2011, from 24 billion dollars in 2010. “This reflected an accumulated inflow liability position of cross border capital of 3.9 billion dollars in a year”.

Nigeria: Tiger Brands pushes for 70% stake in Dangote Flour Mills

Tiger Brands Limited, a leading South African foods company, seeks to increase its stake in Dangote Flour Mills (DFM) to 70 percent.

At a recent Nigerian Stock Exchange filing, Tiger Brands, which currently holds 63.35 percent in the company, indicated interest in buying an additional 332.5 million ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N9.50 per share from minority shareholders to bring its stake to 70 percent. According to a report, Dangote Group will retain a 10 percent, Tiger Brands 70 percent, while other investors will have 20 percent.

Following the earlier acquisition of the 63.3 percent, the CEO of Tiger Brands, Mr. Peter Matlare, said he was “pleased with the successful conclusion” of the transaction, saying it would present growth opportunities for both organisations. He said the company would “go up to a maximum of 70 percent in total, leaving the balance in Nigerian hands.”

Rwanda: Chinese investors interested by Rwandan opportunities

A delegation of 20 Chinese investors from Zhenjiang Province has arrive in the country to assess the investment opportunities. While meeting officials from Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the group expressed interest in establishing light manufacturing plants for instance for the production of textiles. RDB CEO Valentine Rugwabiza noted that Rwanda is ready to assist them in their quest to invest in the country.

“Rwanda-Chinese relations are built on 46 years of continually improving commercial and diplomatic relations, and Rwanda offers one of the best business environments in the world which means that our government will provide you with all the required assistance as you plan to invest in Rwanda,” Rugwabiza said.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Justin Yifu Lin, a former chief economist and Senior Vice president at the World Bank and now a professor of Economics at University of Peking, China, said that investors want to tap into Rwanda’s labor force by creating factories that provide employment to thousands.

Helen Hai, an expert on China-Africa Investments, said that they were impressed by Rwanda’s efforts to facilitate investment in terms of business-friendly procedures and steady infrastructural development.

Rwanda has witnessed increased Chinese investment over the last five years, with over $219 million invested in sectors like construction, tourism and agriculture.

Ghana: 98% of working population economically active

According to the latest Ghana Living Standards Survey Labour Force report, only about 1.9 percent of the economically active population is unemployed.

The report says 75.7 percent of persons who are 15 years and above are economically active. The unemployment rate among 15 years and above is however higher in urban areas- about 3.6 percent than rural areas. The jobless rate is also higher among females-3.8 percent than males. It is higher among the age group 15-24 compared with 1.7 percent for the aged group 25-44 years.

A total of 21,554 persons were captured of which 10,486 were men and 11,068 were women.

With regard to the sector employment, 52.0 percent of persons who are 15 years and older are engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing. It is followed by wholesale and retail trade with 15.9 percent. 46.8 percent of the employed persons are self employed without employees.

Kenya: Real Estate investment trusts rules fail to pique market interest

Four months after the Real Estate Investment Trusts regulations were gazetted, the Capital Markets Authority is yet to register any Reit scheme or Reit managers. The regulations were created to introduce a new tool in the capital markets to spur investments, while allowing more people to own a share of the real estate market through the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

CMA is however yet to receive a single application from promoters seeking establishment of Reit schemes, a sign that the hype in the build up to the regulations may have been artificial as they are yet to pique investors’ interest. It has also not registered any Reit manager, signalling it will take longer before the first Reit is listed at the NSE. The CMA has however issued checklists and application forms for registration of Reit schemes, managers and trustees to guide the process.

Reits are meant to enable the public to buy unit trusts of listed schemes at the NSE and earn dividends from their investments. They have been structured into D-Reits (for developers) and I-Reits (for income).

The regulator said it is working closely with market participants to ensure clarity on regulatory requirements and address preliminary queries in order to encourage uptake of the new product.

South Africa: More funding for infrastructure projects

South Africa is to channel additional public funding into a number of priority infrastructure projects in the transport, communications and energy sectors, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament. Presenting his medium term budget policy statement in Cape Town, Gordhan said that billions of rands would be spent on the country’s digital broadcast migration project, rolling out new train coaches, and refurbishing research facilities for nuclear research.

As expected, Gordhan allocated additional funding to support the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s procurement of new rolling stock. The agency plans to purchase more than 300 six-car trains over the next decade, with initial deliveries expected in 2015/16. More investment was expected in other areas of transport, Gordhan said.

“Projects that will get under way soon include a new dam in the Eastern Cape, rehabilitation of the main roadway between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and a new coal-fired power station” he said.

Sierra Leone: IMF approves $96m credit facility

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $96 million 3-year enhanced credit facility for Sierra Leone, as it plans to support economic development and poverty reduction in the country. When disbursed, the fund will assist in facilitating the country’s growth and investment plans.

Sierra Leone, which was torn apart by a civil war that lasted 11 years, is slowly recovering. Investor and consumer confidence have continued to rise, adding impetus to its economic recovery. Commending the West African nation’s progress, the IMF noted that the country, which has a population of over six million people, still faced several social and economic challenges, urging its government to step up efforts in strengthening public financial management.

Mr Min Zhu, IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, said the commission would seek to improve these conditions by enhancing revenue mobilisation. According to him, the country has achieved strong macro-economic gains in recent years, and the “facility would be critical to propel its fiscal strategy.” He listed remarkable components in Sierra Leone’s economic strategy, including tax administration improvements and the adoption of a comprehensive fiscal regime for the natural resources sector.

Zhu concluded by revealing that with the approval, the country could get around $13.7 million as first instalment.

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Africa Focused News


By Dario Galluccio

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Ghana: Nkrankwanta Area Rural Bank posts growth for 2012

The Nkrankwanta Area Rural Bank in the Dormaa-West District of the BrongAhafo Region last year posted a strong performance despite macro-economic challenges coupled with sluggish growth in the cocoa industry, which is the main economic activity in the operational territories of the Bank. Total assets of the Bank went up from approximately GH¢1.6million in 2011 to about GH¢2.7million in 2012, representing an increase of 68%. The bank’s 2012 investments saw a 67% increase to GH¢1,420,000 from the GH¢850,000 of the previous year. Short-term lending to government investments, especially in Treasury bills, remains the major income source for the bank.

Edmond Joseph Akomian, Chairman of the Board of Directors who announced this during the 4th Annual General Meeting of shareholders, attributed the small growth of the Bank’s profit to the low rate of Treasury bills, increased computerisation of its agencies, and poor performance of the special Akuafo Cheque system.

Kenya: CFC Stanbic Bank partners Aeolus to build wind power plant

Kenya’s CFC Stanbic Bank has partnered Aeolus Kenya (AKL) – a member of the Power Africa initiative led by the United States President Barack Obama- to build a Sh12.9 billion ($150 million) wind power plant in Kinangop, Kenya. The proposed power plant will be the largest wind power generation project to be built in sub-Saharan Africa to date, outside of South Africa. It is expected to come on line in mid-2015.

The wind project has already been registered under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism.

The Kinangop Wind Plant which will provide electricity to approximately 150,000 Kenyan households, will add a further 60MW to Kenya’s 1,672MW national power grid.

According to CfC Stanbic Bank’s East Africa Head of Debt Solutions and Infrastructure Finance, Kwame Parker, “The project is designed to provide a clean source of electricity to Kenya. It will not only contribute to the social and economic development of Kenya, but will also significantly help ease the energy supply deficit that the country is grappling with.”

Ghana: Number 1 priority remains Cocoa

Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur says the cocoa sector is still a top priority in government’s medium- to long-term growth plans despite the fortunes of the crop facing difficult times.

Mr. Amissah-Arthur said government remains committed to implementing a broad number of policy measures to support the cocoa sub-sector. These measures, he added, will in the long-term ensure efficiency through streamlining of activities, interventions and programmes and contribute to growth of the sector.

The Vice-President, speaking at this year’s Ghana Cocoa Festival in Accra, said the measures will help consolidate gains the country has made in the sector. He said an increase in local cocoa consumption will serve as a further boost to the sector.

COCOBOD recently announced an agreement with the Netherlands Embassy and three other institutions to stem the huge revenue losses arising out of the black-pod menace. The initiative, which has the Ghana Cocoa Growing Research Association Limited, Mars Incorporated and Mondelez International as partners, will make available over US$400million toward the production of new varieties of cocoa that can withstand the disease.

The crop has been a top foreign exchange earner for the country, grossing some US$2.8billion in export earnings in 2012, making it the third-highest foreign exchange earner after oil and gold.

Ghana: Improved energy will push forward growth

Mr. Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy has said that the vigorous expansion of various energy programmes is to increase power production as well as support the growth and expansion of all the weak sectors of the national economy. He said government is rolling-out the various programmes and projects, particularly in the Western Region, as part of the energy expansion drive — which is geared toward positioning the sector to play the critical role expected for directing Ghana’s effort toward industrialisation.

Speaking at the World Tourism Day at Nkroful in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region, he noted that the country’s oil and gas sector is currently underdeveloped. According to him, the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities on the Western Region culminated in an influx of people — the stage is set for integrated tourism development in the region, so that instead of a potential threat from oil and gas activity to our environment, oil and gas activities will be made conducive to our situation and be a blessing to our environment.

Ghana: EU to support agriculture production

The European Union (EU) is to support Ghana to revolutionalise its agricultural production.

Mr Dacian Ciolos, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who made this known in Accra, said the support would be in the form of financial and technical interventions.

“Agriculture is not only an economic issue, but also a social issue and this calls for the support,” he said. Stressing that the EU would take Ghana’s agricultural development objectives into consideration.

Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Manager of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) said the partnership between EU and Ghana, which is under negotiation would take place from 2014- 2020. He said, it is a period for the promotion of agriculture and security.

Dr Akinbamijo said : agriculture would provide greater help to reduce poverty if done properly; pointing out that production, trading, finance, as well as infrastructure, education, science and technology and regional integration; are the seven pillars of FARA, which would be used to develop Ghana.

Africa: Standard Bank, Platinum Circle partner to provide business support

Standard Bank DRC, a member of Standard Bank Group, has agreed a strategic partnership with Platinum Circle – a Singapore-based business group – that will place Africa on the agenda of corporations, governments and intergovernmental organizations involved in the Future Global 100 (FG100) Initiative.

Launched in 2011 by Platinum Circle, the Initiative is a global program that shapes the future of the global economy, national markets, business and industries through the collective input of leaders from business, governments and intergovernmental organizations, gathering over 700 all-encompassing leaders to chart the Future Global Agenda.

Standard Bank will be working closely with Platinum Circle to anchor the FG100 Initiative in Africa and spearhead the Inaugural Africa Meeting in 2014, bringing top African leaders together with members of Platinum Circle worldwide including those in Singapore.

The strategic partnership between Standard Bank and Platinum Circle will pave the way for implementing the FG100 Initiative into Africa, by serving as an important forward- looking reference for foreign business and government leaders regarding Africa’s economic outlook and operating environment.

Ghana: GIPC investment drive gets results

Ghana’s energy challenges will soon witness a massive improvement as United States Energy Company Symbion power commits to construct a 450 megawatts of power in Ghana.

A memorandum to that effect has already been signed between Ghana and Symbion power. The realization of this agreement came to light after months of negotiation between Symbion and the Ghana Investment Promotion Center, whose chief executive, Mawuena Trebah, led.

Under the letter of Intent signed by the energy minister, Emmanuel Kofi Buah, and the chief executive officer of Symbion Power, Paul Hinks; Symbion power proposed to finance the establishment of a 450 megawatts combined cycle energy facility to meet the need of an expanded energy facility in Ghana. The Volta River Authority on its part on behalf of Ghana is expected to give prompt and fair consideration to the Symbion proposal within the requirements of the country’s laws and policy.

Ghana: Oil production hits 115,000 barrels daily

Daily oil production hit 115,000 barrels per day in June 2013, significantly higher than the projected average for the year, the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) report on Government Compliance with the Oil Revenue Management Act in the 2013 budget has revealed. Total oil revenue of GH¢1.15 billion also far exceeded the projected target by GH¢362.3 million.

The report urged government to initiate discussions with Sabre Oil and Gas to recover the capital gains tax from the sale of its stake in offshore blocks.

It also indicted the 2013 budget for failing to capture capital gains tax as one of the revenue streams. It added “the Petroleum Income Tax Law should be harmonized with the Internal Revenue Act.”

Released by the Executive Director of ACEP Mohammed Amin Adam, the report also said the projected transfers to the Ghana Petroleum Holding Fund will be exceeded when the data on petroleum is released.

Ghana: Government commits GH¢350 million towards road sector

Government has since June released GH¢ 350 million for the road sub-sector out of the GH¢ 706 million allocated in the 2013 budget. Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, Minister of Roads and Highways, said the Ministry has also improved upon revenue generation into the Road Fund for maintenance works. The total fund accrued from January to June was GH¢ 126 million, an increase of GH¢ 9 million over the amount recorded during the same period in 2012.

Alhaji Sulemani, who made this known during the inauguration of the Progressive Road Contractors Association (PROCA), urged members as well as the Association of Road Contractors to unite for the growth of the industry.

Mrs Joana Adjei, National President of PROCA promised to run an open door policy as well as an all inclusive administration to make the association stronger. She said the new administration would help revive the training programmes of the Association.

Mrs Adjei said majority of contractors are suffering as a result of delayed payment for work done. Mr Michael Aidoo, the outgoing President of PROCA advised the new executives to take criticism in good faith.

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Africa Focused News


by Dario Galluccio

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Nigeria: SWF appoints investment firms to manage stabilization fund

Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) says it has appointed three investment firms, Goldman Sachs, UBS and Credit Suisse as assets managers for its 20 percent stabilization fund.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has often suffered in the past from mismanagement and embezzlement of the excess revenue derived from its 2 million barrel-per-day output. In a bid to curb these wastages, the government established the SWF to oversee reinvestments in infrastructure development, provide rainy-day funds for future generations and protect against oil price shocks – stabilization fund. The managers of the wealth fund, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) – which also allocated 32 percent of the fund each to infrastructure investment and savings – noted that it will thread a cautious path in spending the funds.

The fund was intended to replace the excess crude account which is constantly exploited for frivolous government expenditures. According to reports, the excess crude account had $9 billion as at December last year. However, due to continuous public withdrawals, it had shrunk to just $5 billion as at July, 2013.

Ghana: First ever Ghana e-Commerce Expo opens

The first ever Ghana e-Commerce Expo, which will exhibit the information and communication technology tools which can be used to enhance business transactions, has opened in Accra. Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, whose ministry is supervising and implementing the e-Ghana project, opened the e-Commerce Expo.

He said, ‘This e-commerce Expo is a welcome development in the promotion of ICT for our national development, because it brings out the valued responses to the numerous initiatives that Government is putting in place to transform our economy and country from an agrarian raw-material-dominated production-base into a forward-looking, information and knowledge-based society that holds the key to our eventual prosperity.’

According to organizers, the event, which is under the theme: ‘Building Ghana’s Businesses Online,’ was designed to help make Ghana the hub of ICT investments and gateway to Africa.

Dr. Boamah said the government had recognized the phenomenal growth in the ICT industry and was ‘supporting the development of critical internet infrastructure by arranging for the supply of three additional switches for Internet Exchange Points and a Root Name Server to improve internet traffic, reduce its costs, promote local content development and above all, reinforce its security to make it secure and safe for users.’

Mozambique: Aggreko completes power expansion project

Temporary power supply solutions company Aggreko has completed the expansion of its gas-fired power plant at Gigawatt Park in Ressano Garcia, Mozambique. The expansion will add an additional 122 MW of capacity to the Ressano Garcia facility, bringing the total generation output from the plant to 232 MW and was formally inaugurated by the Mozambique Minister of Energy, The Honorable Salvador Namburete during a ceremony held, last week, at the project site.

Following the success of the first stage of Ressano Garcia, Aggreko announced in March 2013 that it had signed agreements with both EDM and NamPower, the Namibian power utility, to supply an additional 122 MW from the project.

Immediately, work began to more than double the generating capacity of the plant. As Aggreko designed and built the plant infrastructure to allow for modular increases in capacity, adding the additional power generation was achieved in just 12 weeks.

Tanzania: Government vows to support local investors

The government has pledged to support investment initiatives in the country to boost the country’s economy and well being of people; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Prof. Adolf Mkenda said creating good investment climate would boost the economy.

“The Ministry of Finance understands the challenges facing the cement industry that includes poor infrastructure, competition and imports. We will continue working with other government ministries and agencies to ensure that the cement sector continues to play a pivotal role in economic development,” he said.

He also said the cement sector has for the last five years been growing at an average of nine per cent with its contribution to GDP increasing from 7.7 per cent in 2008 to 8.1 per cent in 2012 “Production grew from 2.4 million tonnes in 2011 to 3.42 million tonnes in 2012. If all the cement produced in the country is sold within in the country without exporting, demand will be met by 75 per cent,” he said.

Nigeria: Thailand scores CAC high on foreign investment

The Thailand Board of Investment and Fiscal Policy Research Institute Foundation has said the appearance and disposition of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has the potential to attract foreign investors. The Deputy Secretary General of Thailand Board of Investment (BoI) and the Fiscal Policy Research Institute (FPRI), Mrs. Vasana Mututanont, who led the delegation, disclosed this in Abuja during a visit to the CAC.

Mututanont said the impression the delegation had of CAC was almost the best. She expressed delight at the CAC’s environment and said “the delegation of the Thailand Board of Investment which I am the leader is like the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC).”

She said the Fiscal Policy Institute was to research for information for Thai people who will like to do business in Nigeria, be it trade or investment, adding that they are interested in different areas, like food processing, agriculture, oil and gas, tourism, clothing and infrastructure. She also said the team, which was in Nigeria to strengthen investment ties between the two countries, is working towards getting adequate information in the area of trade and investment as well as exploring other opportunities available in the country.

Tanzania: New Project to view vision 2025 challenges

The Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a new project targeting to highlight the challenges Tanzania faces in realizing Vision 2025 goals. Titled ‘The Tanzania Human Development Report (THDR 2014),’ the project focuses on national perspectives on human development in addressing priority themes, emerging trends, opportunities and challenges the country encounters in reaching the Vision 2025 targets.

Ghana: Ghana Stock Exchange targets utilities in revitalised bourse

The Ghana Stock Exchange says it is targeting major state-owned utilities such as Volta River Authority, GRIDCo and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to be early issuers when the planned revitalisation of the bond market is completed.

The National Bond Market Committee (NBMC) has already made recommendations which when implemented will accelerate the development of the bond market which has largely remained dormant. Dr. Sam Mensah, Chairman of the GSE’s Governing Council lauded the NBMC for making “wide ranging recommendations to government which when implemented will see a significant growth in our domestic bond market.”

According to Dr. Mensah, the revitalised bond market will also target some key metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

Africa: Natural resources, oil to underwrite Chinese investment

Africa’s importance to China’s overseas investment agenda could become more significant as Beijing pursues a strategy of securing access to vital natural resources and takes big financial risks to get them.

Last year, Chinese companies completed construction contracts worth US$40 billion in Africa, up 45 per cent over 2009, making up 35 per cent of all of China’s overseas contracts.

Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong, reckons that number could jump as Beijing seeks to secure access to Africa’s oil resources. China became the world’s biggest net oil importer earlier this year, taking the position that had been held by the United States since the 1970s.

Chinese firms have invested billions of US dollars in the oil-rich nations of Angola and Sudan to secure access to oil. That means Beijing’s influence on the continent, relative to the US, is likely to grow. Africa, projected to grow 5 per cent this year, gets 1 per cent of US foreign direct investment.

The continent, home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, has been China’s second-largest overseas contract market since 2009. The trend is likely continue, according to vice-minister of commerce, Li Jinzao, who said that China-Africa ties had reached a new historic high and would “enter the fast lane” this year. According to Li there were opportunities for deeper investment ties as African nations sought to upgrade their economic infrastructure.

Africa: WB projects 140 million people could get access to clean light by 2015

About 140 million persons in Africa could access clean lighting by 2015, the World Bank said in a new report published in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

According to the joint report [Lighting Africa Market Trends Report 2012] overview of an the Off-Grid Lighting Market in Africa, Africa is set to become the world’s largest market for clean off-grid lamps.

The Lighting Africa Market Trends Report gathered input from a broad range of industry experts, manufacturers, distributors and civil society organizations.

Programmes Manager at the World Bank-IFC Lighting Africa, Itotia Njagi, said it is on track to reach 250 million people without electricity by 2030.” Lighting Africa says it is helping build a market to bring off-grid lighting across Africa by establishing quality standards, investing in consumer education, creating a favorable investment climate, and supporting innovative business models.

Ethiopia: Powers 13,200 homes with solar energy

In a bid to improve power generation, Ethiopia’s Energy Ministry said it has launched a $11 million (birr208.8 million) solar systems project, which will be used to power 25,000 homes in rural areas of the country. The Ministry’s Director of public relations, Bizuneh Tolcha said that the installation “will provide enough power for lighting, mobile phones, a computers and solar fridge for each home”. According to local reports, since the launch of the project, 13,200 solar systems have been installed across the East African country and on completion, 11,800 more will be installed.

In 2009, the country which has little oil and natural gas reserves was plagued by power outages; less than 10 percent of Ethiopians had access to electricity. In order to overcome this situation, the government embarked on an ambitious dam-building program. Three hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 1.18 GW were commissioned in 2009 and 2010 alone, more than doubling the previous installed capacity of the national electric grid.

The project which carries a $40 million grant from the World Bank “was launched to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects in the country”, he added.

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‘Utility Providers Must Reduce Waste’

Reflex Eco Group – Ghana News

by Samuel Boadi (local journalist)

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has indicated that any attempt to further overburden Ghanaians with high utility tariffs could have undesirable social and political implications for latter.

A press statement issued in Accra signed by Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of TUC, said: “Given the dire economic situation many Ghanaians face, the TUC will recommend that ECG rather aim at cutting losses or at best, breaking even. The ECG continues to report systems losses in excess of 20 percent.”

Also it mentioned that merely raising tariffs unaccompanied by other measures that address the systemic challenges has failed to improve the situation.

“There is need to separate the operation costs of service providers from their investment costs. At this stage in our national development, it is simply not possible for consumers to be asked to bear the investment cost of the utilities.

“The utility companies are frantically making a case for upward adjustment in utility tariffs. And they are doing so at a time when nearly everyone is dissatisfied with the quality of their service delivery. Supply of both electricity and water has become erratic, albeit some improvements in recent times.”

“Volta River Authority (VRA) is asking PURC to increase its tariff by 137.5 percent. GRIDCO was asking for an upward adjustment of 39.36 percent. Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is asking for 166 percent increase in electricity tariff across board and Ghana Water is asking for increase of 99.39 percent.

Explaining further, TUC said about 51 percent of ECG’s customers are lifeline consumers while domestic consumers account for 84 percent of the customers of Ghana Water.

“The TUC views the proposed tariff increases of 166 percent by the ECG to be too high and unacceptable given the fact that Ghanaians are already overstretched.

“The failure to allow the automatic adjustment mechanism to work as agreed among the stakeholders in 2010 is the prime reason why the ECG is asking for this high increase. Obviously, this is a political failure for which Ghanaians should not be liable. The political establishment that scuttled the mechanism should deal with it.”

In 2010, ECG made a marginal profit of about US$4 million partly as a result of the upward tariff adjustment that year. In 2011, and 2012, the company recorded losses of US$16 million and US$26 million respectively.

The World Bank reports that in the last quarter of 2012, the systems loss was about 27 percent.

According to the Bank, a 10 percent reduction in such losses could earn the ECG some US$85 million, more than enough to wipe out the losses incurred in 2011 and 2012.

There is also the issue of uncollected revenues by the ECG. Again, according to the World Bank, private consumers owed the ECG about GHC205.4 million.

Government agencies and institutions including the universities owe the ECG a total of GHC428.2 million.

By the close of 2012, government’s indebtedness to ECG stood at over GHC400 million.

In the case of Ghana Water Company, it loses nearly half of the water it produces.

“Its official target for what it calls non-revenue water (NRW) is 46.3 percent. Strangely, the PURC allows for NRW of 45 percent. What this means is that the official regulator permits Ghana Water Company to lose nearly half of the product-water. It makes sense, therefore, that the company is in dire financial difficulties. And in the view of the TUC, the company requires something else rather than tariff increase to fix the many challenges it faces.”

The TUC also asked government to clarify its role in the provision of utility.

“Government has primary responsibility for investing in infrastructure for power, water generation and delivery. It is important that government does not shirk that responsibility.”

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Ghana’s Power Sector Needs $4bn

Reflex Eco Group – Ghana news

by Samuel Boadi (Local journalist)

Ghana needs to invest over $4 billion in the next 10 years to make up for the past investment deficit and upgrade its power sector infrastructure.

According to the World Bank, which quoted the amount, the country’s power generation, transmission and distribution needed substantial upgrading from new investments in a synchronized manner.

The Bretton Woods institution noted that though Ghana has some independent power producers (IPPs), its system for attracting new ones was not working well.

In line with this, it noted that the country may not have adequate supplies of gas for power generation until 2015 or possibly in 2018.

Indicating that Ghana’s governance and regulatory structures did not attract IPPs, it said potential IPPs lacked a credible buyer because ECG, the usual off-taker, was in poor financial state while there were legitimate concerns about its ability to pay power producers.

“What a potential IPP developer has to go through in practice is often significantly different from the official framework which creates uncertainty for the private investor. Finally, the IPP development process is cumbersome and time consuming because Ghana does not have a single window system for IPPs.”

In Ghana, tariff policies that provide subsidies to consumers have harmed the financial health of ECG and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo).

Because of low residential tariffs, the bulk of ECG revenues come from non-residential consumers, who account for 56 percent of sales revenue, even though they account for only 2 percent of ECG’s unit sales. The implicit cross-subsidy imposes a significant burden on commercial consumers.

Furthermore, it said since PURC has failed to increase retail tariffs, ECG is expected to incur losses to the tune of $60 million this year. ECG’s losses are worsened by high technical losses, poor revenue collection from Government entities, as well as private consumers rising dollar-denominated payment obligations.

“ECG’s distribution losses are very high; they were 27 percent in the second quarter of 2012. ECG has to pay for ‘lost’ energy it buys from VRA but does not earn any revenue on it.

“Reducing these losses by 10 percent would save ECG $85 million per year.

ECG, it also advised, should collect its past dues from government, as well as private customers in order to offer improved services.