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Living the FATCA life in Africa: New U.S. tax regulations add to burden of compliance on financial institutions across Africa

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk

Eugene Skrynnyk (CIPM, MILE, BComm) is a senior manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area at Ernst & Young in Cape Town, South Africa.

Eugene Skrynnyk is the Ernst & Young Senior Manager and specialist for the asset management industry in the Africa Sub-Area.

Eugene holds a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM), Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) and Bachelor of Commerce and Finance (B.Comm.).

 

When the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) and Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued final Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) regulations in January of this year, there was a sigh of relief that the financial services industry in Africa could begin to digest FATCA’s obligations. However, achieving FATCA compliance remains a challenge for banks operating across Africa.

FATCA is already law in the U.S. but negotiations are under way to enshrine it in national law of countries around the world via intergovernmental agreements (“IGAs”) with the U.S. While a variety of African jurisdictions will each face unique obstacles with FATCA compliance, many in the industry share a general unease with FATCA’s scope, as well as scepticism that FATCA’s rewards (an estimated US$1 billion in additional tax revenue annually) justify its expenses. Generally, FATCA attempts to combat U.S. tax evasion by requiring that non-U.S. financial institutions report the identities of U.S. shareholders or customers, or otherwise face a 30% withholding tax on their U.S. source income. Overwhelmingly, FATCA compliance obligations apply even where there is very little risk of U.S. tax evasion and it impacts all payers, including foreign payers of “withholdable payments” made to any foreign entities affecting deposit accounts, custody and investments.

General issues in Africa

Concerns about privacy abound. FATCA requires financial institutions to report to the IRS certain information about U.S. persons. For this reason, IGAs are being put in place so that institutions could instead report information to their local tax authority rather than the IRS. In some jurisdictions, investment funds and insurance companies are permitted to disclose information with client consent. In other jurisdictions, such disclosure is prohibited without further changes to domestic law. The process to make necessary changes locally involves time and effort.

Cultural differences in Africa need to be considered. In certain situations FATCA requires that financial institutions ask a customer who was born in the United States to submit documents explaining why the customer abandoned U.S. citizenship or did not obtain it at birth. African financial institutions never pose such a delicate and private question to their customers. Even apparently straight-forward requirements may pose challenges; for example, FATCA requires that customers make representations about their identities “under penalty of perjury” in certain situations. Few countries have a custom of making legal oaths, so it would not be surprising if African customers will be reluctant to give them.

FATCA contains partial exemptions (i.e., “deemed compliance”) and also exceptions for certain financial institutions and products that are less likely to be used by U.S. tax evaders. It still has to be seen to what extent these exemptions have utility for financial institutions in Africa. For example, the regulations include an exemption for retirement funds and also partially exempt “restricted funds” — funds that prohibit investment by U.S. persons. Although many non-U.S. funds have long restricted investment by U.S. persons because of the U.S. federal securities laws, this exemption could be less useful than it first appears. It should be pointed out that the exemption also requires that funds be sold exclusively to limited categories of FATCA-compliant or exempt institutions and distributors. These categories are themselves difficult for African institutions to qualify for. For example, a restricted fund may sell to certain distributors who agree not to sell to U.S. persons (“restricted distributors”). But restricted distributors must operate solely in the country of their incorporation, a true obstacle in smaller markets where many distributors must operate regionally to attain scale.

Other permitted distribution channels for restricted funds are “local banks,” which are not allowed to have any operations outside of their jurisdiction of incorporation and may not advertise the availability of U.S. dollar denominated investments.

Challenges and lessons learned – the African perspective

Financial institutions will have to consider what steps to take to prepare for FATCA compliance and take into account other FATCA obligations, such as account due diligence and withholding against non-compliant U.S. accountholders and/or financial institutions.

The core of FATCA is the process of reviewing customer records to search for “U.S. indicia” — that is, evidence that a customer might be a U.S. taxpayer. Under certain circumstances, FATCA requires financial institutions to look through their customers and counterparties’ ownership to find “substantial U.S. owners” (generally, certain U.S. persons holding more than 10% of an entity). In many countries the existing anti-money laundering legislation generally requires that financial institutions look through entities only when there is a 20% or 25% owner, leaving a gap between information that may be needed for FATCA compliance and existing procedures. Even how to deal with non-FATCA compliant financial institutions and whether to completely disengage business ties with them, remains open.

The following is an outline of some of the lessons learned in approaching FATCA compliance and the considerations financial institutions should make:

Focus on reducing the problem

Reducing the problem through the analysis and filtering of legal entities, products, customer types, distribution channels and account values, which may be prudently de-scoped, can enable financial institutions to address their distinct challenges and to identify areas of significant impact across their businesses. This quickly scopes the problem areas and focuses the resource and budget effort to where it is most necessary.

Select the most optimal design solution

FATCA legislation is complex and comprehensive as it attempts to counter various potential approaches to evade taxes. Therefore, understanding the complexities of FATCA and distilling its key implications is crucial in formulating a well rounded, easily executable FATCA compliance programme in the limited time left.

Selecting an option for compliance is dependent on the nature of the business and the impact of FATCA on the financial institution. However, due to compliance time constraints and the number of changes required by financial institutions, the solution design may well require tactical solutions with minimal business impact and investment. This will allow financial institutions to achieve compliance by applying low cost ‘work arounds’ and process changes. Strategic and long-term solutions can be better planned and phased-in with less disruption to the financial institution thereafter.

Concentrate on critical activities for 2014

FATCA has phased timelines, which run from 2014 to 2017 and beyond. By focusing on the “must-do” activities, which require compliance as of 1 January 2014 – such as appointing a Responsible Officer, registering with the IRS, and addressing new client on-boarding processes and systems – financial institutions can dedicate the necessary resources more efficiently and effectively to meet immediate deadlines.

Clear ownership – both centrally and within local subsidiaries

FATCA is a strategic issue for the business, requiring significant and widespread change. Typically it starts as a ‘tax issue’ but execution has impacts across IT, AML/KYC, operations, sales, distribution and client relationship management. It is imperative to get the right stakeholders and support onboard to ensure that the operational changes are being coordinated, managed and implemented by the necessary multidisciplinary teams across the organization. These include business operations, IT, marketing, and legal and compliance, to name but a few. Early involvement and clear ownership is key from the start.

Understand your footprint in Africa

Many African financial institutions have operations in various African countries and even overseas, and have strategically chosen to make further investments throughout Africa. The degree to which these African countries have exposure to the FATCA regulations needs to be understood. It is best to quickly engage with appropriate stakeholders, understand how FATCA impacts these African countries and the financial institutions’ foreign subsidiaries, and find solutions that enable pragmatic compliance.

What next for financial institutions in Africa?

Negotiations with the U.S. are under way with over 60 countries to enshrine FATCA in national law of countries around the world via IGAs. Implementation of FATCA is approaching on 1 January 2014 and many local financial institutions have either not started or are just at the early stages of addressing the potential impact of FATCA. In South Africa, only few of the leading banks are completing impact assessments and already optimizing solutions. Other financial services groups and asset management institutions are in the process of tackling the impact assessment. Industry representative in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have started engaging relevant government and industry stakeholders, but the awareness is seemingly oblivious to date. In the rest of Africa, FATCA is mainly unheard of.

Financial institutions choosing to comply with FATCA will first need to appoint a responsible officer for FATCA and register with the IRS, ensure proper new client on-boarding procedures are in place, then identify and categorize all customers, and eventually report U.S. persons to the IRS (or local tax authorities in IGA jurisdictions). Institutions will also need to consider implementing a host of other time-consuming operational tasks, including revamping certain electronic systems to capture applicable accountholder information and/or to accommodate the new reporting and withholding requirements, enhancing customer on-boarding processes, and educating both customers and staff on the new regulations. Where possible, institutions should seek to achieve these tasks through enhancing existing initiations so as to minimise the cost and disruption to the business.

Conclusion

Financial institutions in Africa face tight FATCA compliance timelines with limited budgets, resources, time, and expertise available. This is coupled with having to fulfil multiple other regulatory requirements. To add to the burden, FATCA has given stimulus to several countries in the European Union to start discussing a multilateral effort against tax evasion. The support of other countries in the IGA process indicates that some of these countries will follow with their own FATCA-equivalent legislation in an attempt to increase local tax revenues at a time when economies around the world are under unprecedented pressure. The best approach for African financial services industry groups is to engage their local governments in dialogue with the IRS and Treasury, while for African financial institutions to pro-actively assess their FATCA strategic and operational burdens as they inevitably prepare for compliance.

 

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

The Ernst & Young Africa Sub-Area consists of practices in 28 countries across the African continent. We pride ourselves in our integrated operating model which enables us to serve our clients on a seamless basis across the continent, as well as across the world.

Ernst & Young South Africa has a Level two, AAA B-BBEE rating. As a recognised value adding enterprise, our clients are able to claim B-BBEE recognition of 156.25%.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organisation of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. All Ernst & Young practices in the Africa Sub Area are members of Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC). Ernst & Young Africa Limited (NPC) in turn is a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee. Neither Ernst & Young Global Limited nor Ernst & Young Limited (NPC) provides services to clients.

For more information about our organisation, please visit www.ey.com/za

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DC Finance’s CEO will be visiting NYC from June 17thto promote the East Coast Family Office & Wealth Management Conference and the firm’s institutional investment, corporate finance, going public and family office events in Israel. Available for meetings

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Africa Business

 

DC Finance, the manager of one of the world’s largest Family Office events, ( www.israelwealth.com), is proud to present the East Coast’s top HNWI & SFOs wealth management event – The Annual East Coast Family Office & Wealth Management Conference, OCT 2nd, at the Union League Club, New York City ( www.nyc-wealth.com).

We are currently seeking firms who wish to support and join this 1st tier event. Mr Denny Chared, DC Finance’s CEO, will be more than happy to meet firms who may be intrested in meeting our target audiance of SFOs and HNWI.

The event will bring together 200 UHNWI, HNWI and SFOs with an average net worth of $400 million, with 50 of the best speakers in the fields of oil and gas investments, real estate, homeland security, high tech investments, philanthropy, private family banks, families in business, direct investing, family office, estate planning, trusts and other various investment alternatives.

Our current confirmed speakers lisr include: Dr. Yossi Vardi, Mr. Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Mr. Howard Cooper , CEO, Cooper Family Office | Mr. David Sable , Global CEO, Y&R | Mr, Tewodros Ashenafi ,  CEO, SouthWest Energy Ltd, Ms. Kay Koplovitz , Founder, USA Networks and Chairman and CEO of Koplovitz & Co. LLC. Kay Koplovitz | Mr. Dror Berman , Founding Managing Partner, Innovation Endeavors (The Eric Schmidt Investment Fund), Ms. Wendy Craft , Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Fulcrum Equities | Mr. Lowell Sands , Rosewood Resources | Mr. Angelo J. Robles, CEO, Family Office Association Mr. Munib R. Masri, Chairman, Engineering and Development Group | Mr. David Gorman , Americas Advisor, The Table Club | Ms. Candice Beaumont , Managing Director, L. Investments | Mr. Harold F. “Rick” Pitcairn , II, CFA, CIO, Pitcairn and Chairman, Wigmore Association | Mr. Steve Oyer , Partner, Grail Partners | Mr. Ira Perlmuter , Head of Family Office Direct Investing, T5 Equity Partners| Mr. Nirmal Saverimuttu , Principal, Virgin Group | Mr. Andy Unanue , Managing Partner, AUA Private Equity Partners | Ms. Karen Wawrzaszek , Managing Director, Pitcairn | Mr. Warner King Babcock , Chairman and CEO, AM Private Enterprises, Inc. | Ms. Raya Strauss Bendror , President and Co-Owner, Strauss Investment, The Strauss Family | Ms. Nava Michael Tsabari , Academic Director, Family Business Program, Lahav-Executive Education, Recanati Business School, Faculty of Management Tel Aviv University, The Strauss Family | Mr. Guy Schory , Head of New Ventures, eBay | Mr. Shimon Eckhouse , Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Syneron Medical |  Mr. Jamie McLaughlin , Owner, J. H. McLaughlin & Co., LLC |   Mr. Louis Hanna , Corigin Family Office | Ms. Kay Koplovitz , Founder, USA Network | Mr. Kent M. Swig , President, Swig Equities, LLC | Ms. Steffi Claiden , Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Family Office Review | Mr. Daniel Shakhani , CEO, RDS Capital

 

 

Other events:The trip also supports The 2014 institutional investment conference , March 2014, ( www.tlvii.com ), The Israeli Family Office & Wealth Management Conference, June 2013, ( www.israelwealth.com ), the “Family Wealth” magazine and advisors sourcebook, The Annual Kibbutz Industries Financial Conference, Sep 10th 2013, The Annual Going Public and Raising Capital Abroad Conference Oct 9th 2013 and Israel’s Annual Corporate Finance Conference, Nov 22nd 2013 ( www.israel-finance.com( .

Firms with an interest in meeting our target audience are welcome to reply to this email and we will do our best to schedule a meeting. Please be advised that due to a busy schedule not all requests may be fulfilled.

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A.M. Best Revises Outlook of the Issuer Credit Rating to Positive for Dubai Insurance Company PSC

Posted on 18 May 2013 by Africa Business

A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited is a subsidiary of A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best Company is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source.

 

LONDON —A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited has revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the issuer credit rating (ICR) of “bbb” and the financial strength rating (FSR) of B++ (Good) of Dubai Insurance Company PSC (DIC) (United Arab Emirates). The outlook for the FSR is stable.

The ICR positive outlook reflects DIC’s strong record of operating results, improved franchise and developing enterprise risk management (ERM). The ratings of DIC also reflect its very strong risk-adjusted capitalisation and a reinsurance programme of good quality. Offsetting these positive ratings factors are DIC’s investment concentrations.

DIC is likely to maintain a very strong risk-adjusted capitalisation over the medium term. The company’s capital base is supported by a low level of premium retention and a strong reinsurance panel. A high concentration of equity securities, particularly within the local banking sector, is of some concern and gives rise to volatility in DIC’s capital position. However, DIC’s capital position is sufficiently strong to absorb this volatility.

Despite competitive pressures in the UAE market, DIC has continued its strong growth levels with 21% achieved in 2012—well ahead of the market. DIC’s growth in recent years has improved its franchise and propelled the company to a top 10 position. However, its portfolio is indicative of the market biased towards medical and motor business on a net basis. Furthermore, underwriting performance remains strong with a good record of underwriting profitability. DIC’s combined ratio improved to 78% in 2012.

DIC’s level of ERM is considered to be improving. DIC has developed a better understanding of its risks and is integrating a capital model into its strategic planning process. There remains a disconnect between underwriting and investment risk as DIC’s investments remain concentrated in UAE banking equities. DIC has taken steps in diversifying its profile through surplus funds being conservatively invested.

Positive rating pressures can arise through embedding and integration of ERM and the maintenance of underwriting and operational performance. Considerable deterioration in its operating performance or a failure to embed improvements in ERM could add negative pressure to the current ratings.

The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 1060/2009, the following is a link to required disclosures: A.M. Best Europe – Rating Services Limited Supplementary Disclosure.

For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

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Sarama Resources Continues to Consolidate its Position at the South Houndé Project in Burkina Faso

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

TSX-V Ticker: SWA
SWA.WT

VANCOUVER, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Sarama Resources Limited (“Sarama” or the “Company“) is pleased to report that it has been granted three new exploration permits in Burkina Faso, including one adjacent to the Company’s flagship South Houndé Project, which brings the Company’s exploration landholding in this prospective region to 1,014km².

Highlights

  • Three new exploration permits totalling 240km² granted, expanding Sarama’s total exploration land package in Burkina Faso to 3,339km².
  • The grant of a 127km² exploration permit adjacent to Sarama’s Tankoro exploration property, provides Sarama a commanding presence in the geologically prospective Houndé Belt, with a total landholding of 1,014km².
  • The grant of the Youngou Est and Nianie exploration permits complements Sarama’s existing Youngou exploration property, which borders the Youga mine of Endeavour Mining Corp in the central south of Burkina Faso, bringing the Company’s total landholding in the project area to 363km².
  • Reconnaissance exploration programs to commence in second half of 2013.

Grant of Bini Exploration Permit

Sarama has been granted new exploration permits for the Bini, Youngou Est and Nianie properties by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, bringing the Company’s total exploration property interests in Burkina Faso to 3,339km² (refer Figure 1).

The 127km² Bini exploration property (“Bini“) further consolidates Sarama’s position in the highly prospective Houndé Belt, which hosts the 7.8Moz, 170koz per annum Mana gold mine of Semafo Inc and the 2.2Moz Houndé gold project of Endeavour Mining Corp.  Bini is located centrally within the belt and is adjacent to Sarama’s Tankoro exploration property where the Company has intersected significant gold mineralisation over a 1.9km strike length at the MM Prospect (refer Figure 2).

The property is underlain by a sequence of meta-sedimentary and volcanic rocks and is interpreted to contain north-north-east trending structures, which are thought to be one of the controls on the mineralisation encountered at the Company’s MM Prospect.  Sarama anticipates commencing first-pass reconnaissance exploration activities on the property in the second half of 2013.

The exploration permit gives Sarama the exclusive right to explore for gold and associated minerals during an initial term of 3 years.  Subject to certain statutory obligations being met, the permit is renewable for a further two 3-year terms, after which time, the permit will be eligible for conversion to an exploitation permit.

Figure 1:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in Burkina Faso

Figure 2:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in South-West Burkina Faso

Grant of Youngou Est and Nianie Exploration Permits

The Youngou Est and Nianie exploration properties, covering areas of 95km² and 18km² respectively, lie in the extreme south of central Burkina Faso (Figure 3).  Being proximal to Sarama’s existing Youngou exploration property, the permit grants bring Sarama’s landholding in the project area to 363km².

The properties are underlain by volcano-sedimentary and gneissic rocks with the prospective sequence arranged along a north-east striking trend bounded by granite.  The 90,000oz per annum Youga gold mine of  Endeavour Mining Corp is located immediately adjacent to Sarama’s property group and within the same lithological sequence, illustrating the prospectivity of the region.

Sarama anticipates commencing reconnaissance exploration activities on the recently granted properties in the second half of 2013.

The exploration permits give Sarama the exclusive right to explore for gold and associated minerals during an initial term of 3 years.  Subject to certain statutory obligations being met, the permit is renewable for a further two 3-year terms, after which time, the permit will be eligible for conversion to an exploitation permit.

Figure 3:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in Central South Burkina Faso

Sarama’s President and CEO, Andrew Dinning commented:

“We are pleased to have been granted these new permits in two of our existing project areas.  Our position at the South Houndé Project continues to strengthen with the addition of the Bini property and we look forward to commencing our reconnaissance exploration programs in the upcoming exploration season.

Sarama is well funded with a cash balance of approximately US$11M at the end of March 2013 and is currently finalising regional exploration programs in the south of the MM Prospect which are expected to contribute to the maiden resource estimate planned for Q3 2013.”

For further information on the Company’s activities, please contact:

Andrew Dinning or Paul Schmiede
email:  info@saramaresources.com
telephone: +61 8 9363 7600

About Sarama Resources Ltd
Sarama Resources Ltd is a Canadian company with a focus on the exploration and development of gold deposits in West Africa.  The board of directors and management team, a majority of whom are founders of the Company, are seasoned resource industry professionals with extensive experience in the exploration and development of world-class gold projects in Africa.

The South Houndé Project in south-west Burkina Faso is the Company’s flagship property and is currently the focus of an aggressive exploration program to increase the size of its maiden discovery and to test gold-in-soil anomalies located in a 30km-long structural corridor.  Recent drilling programs at the South Houndé Project have intersected significant mineralisation in several prospect areas which the Company is actively following up.  The Company has built substantial early-stage exploration landholdings in prospective and underexplored areas of Burkina Faso (>3,300 km²), Liberia (>880 km²) and Mali (>560 km²) and is aggressively exploring across the property portfolio.

Caution Regarding Forward Looking Statements
Information in this news release that is not a statement of historical fact constitutes forward-looking information.  Such forward-looking information includes statements regarding the Company’s planned exploration programs.  Actual results, performance or achievements of the Company may vary from the results suggested by such forward-looking statements due to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Such factors include, among others, that the business of exploration for gold and other precious minerals involves a high degree of risk and is highly speculative in nature; few properties that are explored are ultimately developed into producing mines; geological factors; the actual results of current and future exploration; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be evaluated, as well as those factors disclosed in the Company’s publicly filed documents.

There can be no assurance that any mineralisation that is discovered will be proven to be economic, or that future required regulatory licensing or approvals will be obtained. However, the Company believes that the assumptions and expectations reflected in the forward-looking information are reasonable. Assumptions have been made regarding, among other things, the Company’s ability to carry on its exploration activities, the sufficiency of funding, the timely receipt of required approvals, the price of gold and other precious metals, that the Company will not be affected by adverse political events, the ability of the Company to operate in a safe, efficient and effective manner and the ability of the Company to obtain further financing as and when required and on reasonable terms. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.

Sarama does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable laws.

Qualified Person’s Statement

Scientific or technical information in this news release that relates to the Company’s exploration activities in Burkina Faso is based on information compiled or approved by Michel Mercier Michel Mercier is an employee of Sarama Resources Ltd and is a member in good standing of the Ordre des Géologues du Québec and has sufficient experience which is relevant to the commodity, style of mineralisation under consideration and activity which he is undertaking to qualify as a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101.  Michel Mercier consents to the inclusion in this report of the information, in the form and context in which it appears.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE Sarama Resources Limited

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IFC to Support Central Bank of Nigeria in Strengthening Sustainable Banking

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

About IFC

 

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org.

 

 

ABUJA, Nigeria, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today signed an agreement with the Central Bank of Nigeria to support the implementation of standards, policies and guidelines for environmental and social best practices in the Nigerian banking sector, with the aim of promoting sustainable and inclusive growth of the Nigerian economy.

 

 

As part of the agreement IFC will train Central Bank staff on how to supervise the financial sector in the implementation of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles and Sector Guidelines, passed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in July 2012 and signed by all Nigerian banks.

 

 

The Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles include commitments by the signatories to integrate environmental and social considerations into business activities, respect human rights, promote women’s economic empowerment, and promote financial inclusion by reaching out to communities that traditionally have had limited or no access to the formal financial sector.

 

 

Aisha Mahmood, Sustainability Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said, “Working with IFC will help us further develop existing practices and capacities on environmental and social risk management among financial institutions. As regulators of the Nigerian financial sector, we recognize that financial institutions are key drivers in supporting sustainable economic growth.”

 

 

The partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria is part of IFC’s Environmental Performance and Market Development Program, which aims to encourage sustainable lending standards among financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and to promote environmental and social standards at a market level.

 

 

Solomon Adegbie-Quaynor, IFC Country Manager for Nigeria, said, “Sustainable business practices are important to financial institutions as they effectively add value both to the banking sector and to the general economy. We will support the Central Bank of Nigeria in this key initiative by sharing knowledge and technical resources.”

 

 

IFC is a leading investor in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria, with a fast-growing, well-performing portfolio. IFC’s portfolio in Nigeria stands at $1.1 billion, the largest country portfolio in Africa and the eighth-largest globally.

 

 

SOURCE

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank

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IMF Concludes Article IV Mission to Cameroon

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Mr. Mario de Zamaróczy, visited Cameroon during April 29–May 14, 2013 to conduct the 2013 Article IV Consultation. The mission met with Prime Minister Philémon Yang, Minister Secretary General at the Presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Minister of Finance Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Economy, Planning, and Territorial Development Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, several other ministers, the Vice Governor and the National Director of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), other senior officials, and representatives of the private sector, labor unions, civil society organizations, and development partners. The discussions focused on recent economic and financial developments, the 2013 budget, and the economic outlook for 2013 and beyond. At the end of the mission, Mr. de Zamaróczy issued the following statement:

“Recent macroeconomic developments were broadly in line with the projections made at the time of the previous mission in fall 2012. Growth reached 4.4 percent in 2012 (from 4.1 percent in 2011), thanks to a rebound in oil production. Inflation has been moderate, with a 2.4 percent consumer price increase in 2012. Credit to the economy remained subdued and rose by about 2.6 percent.

“Looking ahead, gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected to accelerate to about 4.8 percent in 2013 and to rise to 5.5 percent a year in the medium term, fuelled by an expected rise in oil production and projected increases in public investment in infrastructure. However, growth would need to be sustained at a higher level for Cameroon to reach its objective of becoming an upper-middle income country by 2035.

“The discussions between the authorities and the mission focused on efforts to spur reforms and set Cameroon on a higher growth path, while mitigating risks to macroeconomic and financial sector stability. The mission recommended closely monitoring public investment in infrastructure to improve its effectiveness and governance. At the same time, the business climate needs to be improved to promote private sector involvement. The mission was encouraged by steps taken to set up the National Public Debt Committee to oversee the financing strategy of public investment plans.

“The mission recommended better allocation of public spending to help close the financing gap in 2013, and improved public finance management to preserve medium-term sustainability and rebuild fiscal space.

“The mission expressed its concern regarding fuel price subsidies. The mission believes that those subsidies are excessively costly and hard to justify, given that only a small share of these subsidies actually benefits the poor. Consequently, the mission encouraged the authorities to phase out these subsidies and replace them with better-targeted social transfer programs.

“The Cameroonian financial sector is saddled with some smaller-size banks that require prompt resolution. The mission encouraged the authorities to move swiftly in cooperation with the regional supervisor, the Commission Bancaire d’Afrique Centrale (COBAC), to protect depositors while minimizing the fiscal cost. The mission encouraged the authorities to accelerate reforms to improve the lending climate. The mission was heartened by the creation of a credit assessment database that will be available in June.

“The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to examine the report on the 2013 Article IV Consultation with Cameroon in June 2013. The mission would like to thank the authorities for their warm hospitality, excellent cooperation, and constructive dialogue.”

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2013 Article IV Consultation with Seychelles

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

VICTORIA, Mahé, May 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ On May 8, 2013, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Seychelles. 1

Background

In the few years since the 2008 debt crisis, Seychelles has made remarkable strides, quickly restoring macroeconomic stability and creating room for private-sector activity. Macroeconomic developments in the tourism-based island economy have been favorable, despite the challenging global environment. Notably, growth held up as the tourism industry successfully attracted arrivals from non-traditional markets as European arrivals slumped, while a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) supported construction in recent years. For the most part, inflation remained contained, and the external position improved markedly following liberalization of the exchange rate in 2008 and debt restructuring started in 2009.

In 2012, despite robust tourist arrivals, growth moderated to 2.9 percent as large investment projects were completed. Inflation spiked in July 2012 to 8.9 percent fueled by global as well as domestic developments, but has since abated as a result of successful monetary tightening. The external position continued to improve, albeit modestly. In particular, the current account deficit declined slightly, but remained high at around 22 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), but was fully financed by FDI and external borrowing, leading to a modest rise in reserves. Debt restructuring is nearly complete, with only one loan agreement awaiting signature.

Fiscal policy in 2012 continued to support debt sustainability. The primary surplus is projected to have risen to 6.2 percent of GDP, in part due to sizable windfall revenues which were partly saved. Buoyant revenue and grants paved the way for needed capital expenditure. Notwithstanding, public debt increased by over 3 percentage points of GDP due mostly to currency depreciation and the government assuming liabilities of Air Seychelles.

Monetary policy was tightened sharply in 2012 in response to rising inflation and an unhinging of the exchange rate, and has since been relaxed. Starting in late-2011, rising global food and fuel prices coupled with adjustments in administered prices pushed prices higher. This was reinforced by current account pressures resulting from lower exports of transportation services in the wake of the restructuring of Air Seychelles. The looming inflation-depreciation spiral was broken in mid-2012 by two small foreign exchange market interventions by the Central Bank of Seychelles and a tightening of monetary policy. By end-2012, inflation had fallen to 5.8 percent and the exchange rate had strengthened beyond its end-2011 level.

Broad-based structural reform over the past five years has worked to improve financial performance of the public sector and increase private sector participation in economic activity. Statistical capacity continues to be strengthened. Seychelles subscribes to the IMF’s General Data Dissemination Standard (GDDS) and is making progress at compiling higher frequency economic data which will support strengthened macroeconomic oversight and analysis.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors commended the authorities for their strong policy implementation. Macroeconomic stability has been restored and growth has remained resilient. While the outlook is favorable, the economy is vulnerable to an uncertain global environment and domestic risks. Directors called for continued commitment to sound policies and structural reforms to preserve macroeconomic and financial stability, build policy buffers, and foster strong and inclusive growth.

Directors welcomed the steps to improve financial discipline at the central government level and the recent introduction of the VAT. They agreed that strengthening the oversight and financial position of parastatals, including through adequate price mechanisms, and further progress in public financial management will be key to ensuring fiscal sustainability. For the medium term, Directors supported the authorities’ fiscal policy stance which aims at targeting a primary fiscal surplus and reducing public debt to 50 percent of GDP. They welcomed that the debt restructuring is nearly complete and encouraged the authorities to exercise caution when contracting new external debt.

Directors called for continued efforts to improve the monetary framework in order to stabilize inflation expectations and policy interest rates. Absorbing excess liquidity over time will be important to strengthen the monetary anchor and monetary transmission mechanism. Directors considered that a further increase in international reserves, as market conditions permit, would provide a stronger buffer against shocks. Directors noted that the financial system is sound and welcomed the steps being taken to improve the functioning of the credit market.

Directors commended the efforts towards improving the business and investment climate, which is key to avoid a potential middle-income trap and to support broad-based growth. They encouraged the authorities to foster private sector-led growth by addressing infrastructure gaps, engendering lower cost and improved access to credit, correcting data weaknesses, and moving ahead with plans for greater workforce education and capacity building.

 

Seychelles: Selected Economic and Financial Indicators, 2010–14

 

2010    2011    2012    2013    2014

Actual    Actual    Est.    Proj.    Proj.

 

(Percentage change, unless otherwise indicated)

National income and prices

 

Nominal GDP (millions of Seychelles rupees)

11,746    13,119    14,145    15,292    16,461

Real GDP

5.6    5.0    2.9    3.3    3.9

CPI (annual average)

-2.4    2.6    7.1    4.5    3.4

CPI (end-of-period)

0.4    5.5    5.8    4.3    3.1

GDP deflator average

-3.6    6.4    4.8    4.6    3.6

(Percentage change, unless otherwise indicated)

Money and credit

 

Credit to the economy

21.4    6.2    2.5    13.0    …

Broad money

13.5    4.5    -2.3    0.1    …

Reserve money

34.7    -2.7    6.9    12.3    …

Velocity (GDP/broad money)

1.6    1.7    1.9    2.1    …

Money multiplier (broad money/reserve money)

4.2    4.5    4.1    3.6    …

(Percent of GDP)

Savings-Investment balance

 

External savings

23.0    22.7    21.7    23.2    18.4

Gross national savings

13.6    12.4    17.3    15.1    15.5

Of which: government savings

7.8    10.6    14.3    12.1    11.0

Gross investment

36.6    35.1    39.0    38.2    33.8

Of which: government investment

8.6    8.1    12.0    9.2    7.8


Government budget


Total revenue, excluding grants

34.1    35.8    37.6    36.4    35.6

Expenditure and net lending

32.5    35.7    40.2    38.5    36.0

Current expenditure

27.2    27.6    28.8    28.8    27.3

Capital expenditure and net lending

5.3    8.1    11.4    9.8    8.7

Overall balance, including grants

2.5    2.5    2.4    1.8    2.0

Primary balance

8.6    5.4    6.2    5.1    4.4

Total public debt

81.6    74.3    77.3    72.0    65.3

Domestic1

32.5    28.0    27.7    25.7    18.6

External

49.1    46.2    49.6    46.3    46.7

(Percent of GDP, unless otherwise indicated)

External sector

 

Current account balance including official transfers

-23.0    -22.7    -21.7    -23.2    -18.4

Total stock of arrears (millions of U.S. dollars)

30.3    9.0    2.7    …    …

Total public external debt outstanding (millions of U.S. dollars)

478    490    512    558    597

(percent of GDP)

49.1    46.2    49.6    46.3    46.7

Terms of trade (= – deterioration)

-6.7    -6.4    -0.4    0.6    1.2

Real effective exchange rate (average, percent change)

4.4    -7.4    …    …    …

Gross official reserves (end of year, millions of U.S. dollars)

254    277    305    317    326

Months of imports, c.i.f.

2.3    2.5    2.6    2.7    2.7

Exchange rate


Seychelles rupees per US$1 (end-of-period)

12.1    13.7    13.0    …    …

Seychelles rupees per US$1 (period average)

12.1    12.4    13.7    …    …

 

Sources: Central Bank of Seychelles; Ministry of Finance; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1 Excludes debt issued in 2012 for monetary purposes (5.4 percent of GDP), as proceeds are kept in a blocked account with the Central Bank.

1 Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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PANGOLIN DIAMONDS DISCOVERS ITS FIRST KIMBERLITE IN BOTSWANA

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

About the Tsabong North Project

The Tsabong North Project, located approximately 100 km north of the town of Tsabong in south-western Botswana, is 1,545 km2 in size. It is comprised of anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators and has large geo-botanical features. Pangolin has already identified more than 50 drill-ready aeromagnetic targets in the Project area, several of which have surface areas exceeding 20 hectares. Exploration activities in the area are guided in part by the recommendations of a National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report prepared for the Project.

The Tsabong North Project is situated on the Archaean Kaapvaal Craton, immediately north of the diamondiferous Tsabong kimberlite field that hosts the M1 Kimberlite, the largest known diamondiferous kimberlite pipe in the world (www.firestonediamonds.com). Pangolin’s Chairman, Dr. Leon Daniels, was part of the Falconbridge Team that developed the geological model of the 180 hectare M1 Kimberlite that was discovered in 1978. He was also directly involved in the discovery of several new kimberlites in the Tsabong kimberlite field.

Pangolin’s soil sampling has produced highly anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators within the Tsabong North Project area. Microprobe analyses of indicator minerals have confirmed the presence of G10 garnets, indicating the presence of a mantle conducive to the crystallization of diamonds. A number of indicators occur, including remnants of kelyphite that indicate close proximity to kimberlite. Enzyme-leach trace element results are consistent with orientation trace element results over known kimberlites near the Project.

About Pangolin Diamonds Corp

Pangolin Diamonds Corp. is building a leading diamond exploration and development company in the heart of Botswana, the world’s leading diamond producing country by value. The Company is the 100% owner of 11 Prospecting Licenses covering 5,307 km2, including the Tsabong North, Jwaneng South, Malatswae and Mmadinare Projects. Pangolin’s management and team leaders have over 90 years of combined diamond exploration experience in southern Africa. This makes the Company the most experienced diamond explorer in Botswana other than De Beers Exploration and Debswana. The Company is equipped for exploration, with two diamond drill rigs and a fully portable one-tonne per hour Dense Media Separation Plant used to prepare samples and make diamond concentrates. Pangolin is well-funded to continue its exploration programs for the next year.

 

·         Kimberlite discovered at Tsabong North Project has a +20 hectare aeromagnetic anomaly associated with it

·         Two additional diamond drill core holes will be completed to intersect a minimum of 100 meters of kimberlite

·         Additional undrilled kimberlite targets in the project area have the same magnetic signature

TORONTO, ONTARIO (May 15, 2013) – Pangolin Diamonds Corp. (TSX-V: PAN) (the “Company” or “Pangolin”) is pleased to announce it has discovered its first kimberlite at its 100% owned Tsabong North Project in Botswana. Core logging identified crater facies sediments and underlying reworked volcaniclastic kimberlite (“RVK”) breccias in drill hole “Magi-01/1”.

Representative rock samples were submitted for independent whole rock analysis to Activation Laboratories Ltd., in Ancaster (Ontario). The results assisted in discriminating between the kimberlite crater facies sediments and the overlying Kalahari Formation. Crater facies sediments are present from a depth of 33.5 meters to 58.8 meters below which RVK breccia occurs to 76.3 meters. The crater facies sediments and RVK breccias intersected are consistent with the equivalent lithological units observed in the core of drill hole M1/50 from the M1 Kimberlite in the Tsabong Kimberlite Field which was drilled in 1981.

Dr Leon Daniels, B.Sc., Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Pangolin, stated: “We are very pleased with Pangolin’s success to date, as we have now graduated from an explorer to a discoverer and are determined to continue on this course.”

The 45 mantle-derived indicator garnets, inclusive of some high pressure garnets previously announced on March 26, 2013, were liberated from a core sample in Magi-01/1 taken at a depth of 22 meters below the surface. A split of the available core will now be processed through a mini-Dense Media Separation Plant to recover any additional kimberlite indicator minerals, such as garnets, and/or macro diamonds from the kimberlite intersected section.

Based on these positive results, two additional diamond drill holes intersecting at least 100 meters of kimberlite will be drilled on the Magi-01 kimberlite for kimberlite indicator mineral and microdiamond recovery. The Company has also elevated additional previously identified kimberlite targets in the project area to targets of high immediate interest with similar magnetic signatures to Magi-01/1.

The photos below compare the various kimberlite crater facies sediments (A1, A2) and RVK breccias (B1, B2) from Pangolin’s core drill hole Magi-01/1 (to the left) versus those from drill hole M1/50 from the M1 Kimberlite Pipe (to the right).

The technical disclosure in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Leon Daniels, Ph.D., Member of AIG, Chairman of the Board of Pangolin, and a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101 rules.

Source: www.pangolindiamondscorp.com

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SA ECONOMIC GROWTH HIT BY MINING SECTOR

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

Will the Chinese purchase divested mining interests?

South Africa’s economic growth is lagging somewhat behind that of its peers in the developing world. IMF forecasts for 2013 indicate that emerging and developing economies will grow by 5,5% while SA’s GDP is expected to grow between 2,5% and 3%.

Global ranking

Country Name

GDP in Millions of US dollars (2011)

27

South Africa

408,237

39

Nigeria

243,986

60

Angola

104,332

88

Kenya

33,621

105

Zambia

19,206

One of the key reasons for slower growth is SA’s foreign trade structure and reliance on Europe. President Zuma used the opportunity at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year to ensure foreign investors that South Africa is on the right track.

2012 will be remembered for the negative impact of labour unrest and resultant production stoppages in the mining sector. Mining reduced GDP by 0,5% in the first three quarters of the year. This excludes the biggest slump in the sector during the fourth quarter 2012.

Other significant features of the growth slowdown in 2012 were the slowdown in household consumption spending, poor growth in private fixed investment spending and a slump in real export growth.

South African’s inflation rate slowed to a five-month low in January 2013 after the statistics office adjusted the consumer price basket while food and fuel prices eased. In December, the inflation rate fell to 5,4% from 5,7% Statistics South Africa stated.

Government cut the price of fuel by 1,2% in January 2013, as a stronger rand in the previous month helped to curb import costs. Since then, the currency has plunged 4,8% against the dollar and fuel prices are on the rise, with prices increasing in March by a further 8%, adding to pressure on inflation.

South Africa’s strengths

· South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Africa, leading the continent in industrial output and mineral production, generating a large portion of the continent’s electricity.

· The economy of South Africa is the largest in Africa, accounting for 24% of the continent’s GDP in terms of PPP, and is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the world bank.

· The country has abundant natural resources, well developed financial, legal and transport sectors, a stock exchange ranked amongst the top 20 in the world, as well as a modern infrastructure supporting efficient distribution of goods throughout the Southern African region.

South Africa’s weaknesses

· South Africa suffers from a relatively heavy regulation burden when compared to most developed countries.

· Increasing costs for corporates with rising wages.

· Poverty, inequalities sources of social risk mixed with high unemployment and shortage of qualified labour.

Mining

Output in the mining sector remained weak in December with total mining production down by 7,5% y-o-y after falling by a revised 3,8% (previously -4,5%) in November. On a monthly basis production rose by a seasonally adjusted 1,2% compared with 12,0% in November. Non-gold output was down by 5,0% y-o-y, while gold production slumped by 21,2% in December. For the fourth quarter, total mining production fell by a seasonally-adjusted and annualised 4,6% q-o-q as output of most minerals dropped.

For 2012 as a whole, mining volumes fell by 3,1% after contracting by 0,9% in 2011. Mineral sales were down by 15,6% y-o-y in November after falling 13,7% in October. On a monthly basis sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 2,3% in November, but sales were down by a seasonally-adjusted 10,2% in the three months to November after declining by 6,8% in the same period to October. These figures indicate that the mining sector is still reeling from the devastating effects of widespread labour strikes in the third and early fourth quarters.

Prospects for the mining sector remain dim as the industry faces headwinds both on the global and domestic fronts. Globally, commodity prices are not likely to make significant gains as demand conditions remain relatively unfavourable. Locally, tough operating conditions persist. Rapidly rising production costs, mainly energy and labour costs, are likely to compel mining companies to scale back operations or even halt them in some cases.

This will have a negative impact on production, with any improvements coming mainly from a normalisation of output should strike activity ease. These numbers, together with other recent releases, suggest that GDP growth for the fourth quarter was around 2,0%, with overall growth of 2,5% for the year as a whole. Overall economic activity in the sector therefore remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to the weaker rand.

Retail

Annual growth in retail sales slowed to 2,3% in December from 3,6% in the previous month. Over the month, sales rose by a seasonally-adjusted 1,0%, causing sales for the last quarter of 2012 to decline by 0,2% following 2,1% growth in the third quarter.

As a whole, 2012 retail sales rose by 4,3%, slightly down from 5,9% in 2011. Consumer spending is likely to moderate during 2013 as weak consumer confidence, heightened worries about job security and high debt, make consumers more cautious about spending on non-essential items. The overall economic outlook remains weak and fragile, while inflation may increase due to the weaker rand.

Manufacturing

Annual growth in manufacturing production slowed to 2,0% in December 2012 from 3,7% in the previous month, versus the consensus forecast of 2,9%. The increase in output was recorded in seven of the ten major categories. Significant contributions came from petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products. Over the month, total production fell by 2,2% on a seasonally adjusted basis following a 2,6% rise in November.

On a quarterly basis, however, production improved by 1,6% in the final quarter of 2012 following two quarters of weaker growth. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013. A weak Eurozone will continue to hurt the large export-orientated industries.

The recent recovery in infrastructure spending by the public sector will probably support the industries producing capital goods and other inputs for local projects. But the growth rate will be contained by slower capital expenditure by the private sector in response to the bleaker economic environment both locally and internationally.

Therefore, while a moderate recovery in manufacturing production will continue in 2013, no impressive upward momentum is expected. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand.

Infrastructure

A new economic plan, the National Development Plan (NDP), is likely to be adopted in 2013 promoting low taxation for businesses and imposing less stringent employment requirements. This a measure that the ANC is pursuing ahead of the 2014 national elections. The NDP will encourage partnerships between government and the private sector, creating opportunities in petrochemical industries, metal-working and refining, as well as development of power stations.

Construction companies are especially likely to benefit from government plans to invest $112-billion from 2013 in the expansion of infrastructure as part of the NDP. Some 18 strategic projects will be launched to expand transport, power and water, medical and educational infrastructure in some of the country’s least developed areas.

Energy companies will also benefit, following the lifting of a moratorium on licences for shale gas development. Meanwhile, there will be significant opportunities, especially for Chinese state-owned enterprises that have recently made high-profile visits to South Africa, to acquire divested assets in the platinum and gold mining sector as large mining houses withdraw from South Africa.

According to government reports, the South African government will have spent R860-billion on new infrastructure projects in South Africa between 2009 and March 2013. In the energy sector, Eskom had put in place 675 kilometers of electricity transmission lines in 2012, to connect fast-growing economic centers and also to bring power to rural areas. More than 200 000 new households were connected to the national electricity grid in 2012. Construction work is also taking place in five cities including Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Durban and Pretoria to integrate different modes of transport.

Business Climate

Due to South Africa’s well-developed and world-class business infrastructure, the country is ranked 35th out of 183 countries in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business 2012 report, an annual survey that measures the time, cost and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. South Africa was ranked above developed countries such as Spain (44) and Luxembourg (50), as well as major developing economies such as Mexico (53), China (91), Russia (120), India (132) and Brazil (126).

The report found South Africa ranked first for ease of obtaining credit. This was based on depth of information and a reliable legal system.

Foreign trade

SA’s trade deficit narrowed to R 2,7-billion in December from R7,9-billion in November on account of seasonal factors. The trade balance usually records a surplus in December due to a large decline in imports. Exports declined 9,8% over the month. The decrease was mainly driven by declines in the exports of base metals. Vehicles, aircraft and vessels (down R1,1-billion), machinery and electrical appliances (down R0,9-billion) and prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco (down 0,8-billion). Imports dropped 15,8% m-o-m.

Declines in the imports of machinery and electrical appliances (down R3,3-billion), original equipment components; (R1,8-billion), products of the chemicals or allied industries (R1,5-billion) and base metals and articles thereof (R1,2-billion) were the main drivers of the drop.

The large trade deficit for 2012 is one of the major reasons for the deterioration in the 2012 current account deficit forecast to 6,2% of GDP from 3,3% in 2011. South Africa’s trade performance will remain weak in the coming months on the back of unfavourable global conditions and domestic supply disruptions. Weak global economic conditions will continue to influence exports and growth domestically.

Skills and education

The need to transform South Africa’s education system has become ever more urgent, especially given the service delivery issues that have plagued the system. While government continues to allocate a significant amount of its budget to education (approximately 20%), it has not been enough to transform the schooling system. Coface expects the government to continue to support this critical sector, but that an opportunistic private sector will take advantage of government inefficiencies.

South Africa’s education levels are quite low compared to other developed and developing nations. South Africa began restructuring its higher education system in 2003 to widen access to tertiary education and reset the priorities of the old apartheid-based system. Smaller universities and technikons (polytechnics) were incorporated into larger institutions to form comprehensive universities.

Debt

The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt in South Africa fell by 9,8% year on year in November 2012 to 35 268, according to data released by Statistics South Africa. The total number of civil judgments recorded for debt decreased by 15,2% in three months ended November 2012 compared with the three months ended November 2011.

The number of civil summonses issued for debt fell 23,9% year-on-year to 70 537. During November, the 35 268 civil judgments for debt amounted to R414,1-million, with the largest contributors being money lent, with R142,5-million. There was a 21,9% decrease in the total number of civil summonses issued for debt in the three months ended November last year compared with the same period in 2011. A 23,9% y-o-y decrease was recorded in November.

South Africa maintains respectable debt-to-GDP ratios, although these grew to 39% of GDP by end-2012, substantially higher than the 34% for emerging and developing economies as a whole. When Fitch downgraded SA earlier this year, it specifically mentioned concerns about SA’s rising debt-to-GDP ratio, given that the ratio is higher than the country’s peers.

South Africa is uniquely exposed to foreign investor sentiment through the deficit on the current account combined with liquid and deep fixed interest markets. SA’s widening deficit on the current account is a specific factor that concerns the rating agencies and is one of the metrics the agencies will use to assess SA’s sovereign risk in the near future. Further downgrades are the risk – potentially driven by foreign investor sentiment about political risks.

Political landscape

Persistent unemployment, inequality and the mixed results of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) intended to favour access to economic power by the historically disadvantaged populations have led to disappointment and resentment.

Social unrest is increasing. Recent events weakened the ruling coalition which came under fire for its management of these events. Tensions could intensify in the run up to the 2014 presidential elections. South Africa has a well-developed legal system, but government inefficiency, a shortage of skilled labour, criminality and corruption are crippling the business environment. South Africa also has a high and growing youth unemployment, high levels of visible inequality and government corruption so we would keep an eye on the escalating service delivery protest trends.

Labour force

The unemployment rate fell to 24,9% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 25,5% in the third quarter, mainly reflecting an increase in the number of discouraged work seekers. Over the quarter, a total of 68 000 jobs were lost while the number discouraged work seekers rose by 87 000. The formal non-agricultural sector lost 52 000 jobs over the quarter, while the informal sector, in contrast, employed 8 000 more people. The breakdown shows that the highest number of jobs were lost in the private households category (48 000), followed by the trade and transport sectors, which shed 41 000 and 18 000 jobs respectively.

The agricultural sector led employment creation over the quarter, adding 24 000 jobs. Both local and international economic conditions are expected to improve only moderately during 2013.

Weak confidence and high wage settlement will make firms more cautious to expand capacity and employ more people this year. Government is likely to be the main driver of employment as it rolls out its infrastructure and job creation plans. The unemployment rate will therefore remain high in the short term.

Although the reduction in the unemployment rate is good news, it mainly reflects the large number of discouraged work seekers. Overall economic activity remains generally sluggish while upside risks to inflation have increased due to a weaker rand. Coface believes that this will persuade the Monetary Policy Committee to keep policy neutral over an extended period, with interest rates remaining unchanged for most of 2013. A reversal in policy easing is likely only late in the year or even in 2014.


 


Issued by:                                                                              Sha-Izwe/CharlesSmithAssoc

ON BEHALF OF:                                                   Coface

FURTHER INFORMATION:                                  Charles Smith

Tel:          (011) 781-6190

Email: charles@csa.co.za

Web:       www.csa.co.za

Media Contact:

Michele FERREIRA /
SENIOR MANAGER: MARKETING AND COMMUNICATION
TEL. : +27 (11) 208 2551  F.: +27 (11) 208 2651   M.: +27 (83) 326 2268
michele_ferreira@cofaceza.com

 

BUILDING D, DRA MINERALS PARK, INYANGA CLOSE

SUNNINGHILL, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
T. +27 (11) 208 2500 –
www.cofaceza.com

About Coface

The Coface Group, a worldwide leader in credit insurance, offers companies around the globe solutions to protect them against the risk of financial default of their clients, both on the domestic market and for export. In 2012, the Group posted a consolidated turnover of €1.6 billion. 4,400 staff in 66 countries provide a local service worldwide. Each quarter, Coface publishes its assessments of country risk for 158 countries, based on its unique knowledge of companies’ payment behaviour and on the expertise of its 350 underwriters located close to clients and their debtors. In France, Coface manages export public guarantees on behalf of the French state.

Coface is a subsidiary of Natixis. corporate, investment management and specialized financial services arm of Groupe BPCE.. In South Africa, Coface provides credit protection to clients. Coface South Africa is rated AA+ by Global Ratings.

www.cofaceza.com

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Mobile Technologies to Fast Track Financial Transactions for the Unbanked in Asia

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

4th Annual Summit on Mobile Payments & Banking Greater Mekong/ Emerging Markets will be taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 12-13 June 2013.

Singapore, Singapore –(PR.com)– 1. Mobile technology is fast becoming the first choice for many consumers to access financial services especially among the economies of the unbanked population. At the 4th Annual Summit on Mobile Payments & Banking Greater Mekong/ Emerging Markets which will be taking place in Phnom Penh in Cambodia on 12 – 13 June 2013, key industry stakeholders from the financial institutions, mobile operators and solution providers will congregate to discuss the latest developments in mobile payments in the growing affluent economies of South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, Eurasia, Middle East and Oceania.

2. This year summit’s will have a special focus on emerging economies of Fiji, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Key issues include an assessment of the growing opportunities in the region, success stories on how to design, establish and operationalize mobile payments solutions, evaluation of the various technology and challenges, discussion on IT strategies to drive revenue opportunities, cost efficiencies and the future transformation of the customer retail banking experience.

3. Companies expected to speak at the summit include: National Bank of Cambodia, Department of Finance, (Philippines), VeriFone, Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, Quezon Capital Rural Bank, Hattha Kaksekar, ACLEDA Bank Plc, Viettel Telecom, Globe Telecom Inc / G-Xchange Inc, BICS Asia, Maybank, Chunghwa Telecom, Western Union, Standard Chartered Bank, Alpha Payments Cloud, Bank Mandiri, Etisalat, ControlCase, EPIC Lanka Group, Ayeryarwady Bank, Vodafone, FINTEL Fiji, Bank of the Lao PDR, Bank of Ayudhya and more.

4. EPIC Lanka Group, a world class software solutions provider in its core technology areas of Secure Electronic Payments and Information Systems Security is the summit’s Associate Sponsor.

5. Exhibitors at the summit include SecureMetric, the fastest growing digital security technology company and ControlCase, a United States based company with headquarters in McLean, Virginia and PCI center of excellence in Mumbai, India.

6. The CEO of the conference organizing company, Magenta Global Pte Ltd, Singapore, Ms Maggie Tan, said: “A new report from Juniper Research finds that over 1 billion phone users will have made use of their mobile devices for banking purposes by the end of 2017, compared to just over 590 million this year. The emerging economies in this region are likely to see a huge increase in mobile subscribers who are mostly unbanked. Banks must implement at least one mobile banking offering either via messaging, mobile browser or an- app based service. Some banks are already doing so with larger banks deploying two or more of these technologies. This Summit has been specially convened to take the industry forward.” She invites all telco operators, financial institutions and technology service providers to join this Summit and contribute to the greater development of the banking and financial services sector in this region.

7. The event will be held at the NagaWorld Hotel.

Notes for Editor

About Magenta Global – Organizer

Magenta Global Pte Ltd is a premier independent business media company that provides pragmatic and relevant information to government & business executives and professionals worldwide. The organization provides the opportunity to share thought-provoking insights, exchange ideas on the latest industry trends and technological developments with thought leaders and business peers. With a strong focus in emerging economies especially in Africa, Middle East & Central Asia, Magenta Global works in partnership with both the public and private sectors.

About EPIC Lanka Group – Associate Sponsor

Established in 1998, Epic is a trendsetter and renowned for innovative software solutions in the region. The company has successfully implemented pioneering mobile banking solutions in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and several other countries winning an unprecedented number of national and international accolades in the recent past including APICTA Gold Award for Asia pacific’s best banking solution. Time and again Epic has proved their technological dominance, product supremacy and entrepreneurial excellence at Asia Pacific level.

About SecureMetric – Exhibitor

SecureMetric is one of the fastest growing digital security technology company. Our products and solutions have been successfully shipped and implemented in more than 35 countries worldwide. As a multinational company, SecureMetric’s technical team consist of top security experts from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and United Kingdom. Cross region and cross culture exposure has made SecureMetric a company that is always ahead. With our innovative products and services, we are poised to help our customers to be the best in their industry.

About ControlCase – Exhibitor

ControlCase provide solutions that address all aspects of IT-GRCM (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance Management). ControlCase is pioneer and largest provider of Managed Compliance Services and Compliance as a Service and a leading provider of Payment Card Industry related compliance services globally.
Magenta Global
Merilynn Choo
65 6391 2549
Contact
http://www.magenta-global.com.sg/GreaterMekongMobilePayments2013/

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