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News in review

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Morocco to import U.S. soft wheat below quota
Morocco recently issued a tender for the import of 103,000 tonnes of soft wheat from the U.S. as part of preferential tariff agreement. The bidding will close on the 16 of February, with ETA of the wheat being no later than April 15th. The country is also launching a separate tender for 174,000 tonnes of soft wheat aimed at subsidies flour production, with bidding closing on February 17.

Ghana cocoa purchases at 458,200 tonnes
Cocoa purchases declared by private buyers to Ghana Cocobod industry regulator reached 458,200 tonnes in the season to January 21, according to an industry source with access to Cocobod data. That compares to the 479,903 tonnes declared at the same point last season (which starts in October).

South African nuclear tech firm signs deal with Mitsubishi
South African nuclear technological firm PBMR has signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to advance the construction of the first South African pebble bed nuclear reactor. The country plans to build its first plant by 2018 as the biggest economy in Africa cuts its reliance on coal and tries to end its chronic power shortage. The objective of the memorandum of understanding is to investigate to the possibility of cooperation to enable construction of the first PBMR reactor for a customer in either South Africa or abroad, according to the PBMR company statement.

First Uranium to delay construction
First Uranium announced recently it could delay the construction of more uranium facilities in South Africa by more than two years after a suspension of its environmental authorisation. The company’s environmental license for the Buffelsfontein tailings recovery has been suspended by the powers that be in the North Western province. There is concern over a potential loss of jobs.

Ethiopia: AU focus on hydro project
The project dubbed ‘Hydropower 2020’ is an initiative of the African Union (AU) that seeks to increase power generation capacity for Africa and enhance socio-economic development across the continent. Studies have shown that Africa has enormous potential for hydropower development because of its adequate water resources, both perennial and non-perennial, which needs to be harnessed for socio-economic development.

However, lack of financial support and ever-increasing infrastructure developments in Africa have inhibited the continent’s ability to exploit these vast natural resources. It is for this reason that through the financial support of the European Union, the AU has commenced the upgrading of the continent’s power generation capacity, in order to meet growing demand for electricity and clean energy.

The European Union (EU) has offered to finance the project, with an initial financial support of US$10 million. The Hydropower 2020 project funded the by EU will target identified sites in different parts of the continent.

SA Finance Minister addresses inflation target in budget
The Finance Minster of South Africa Pravin Gordhan announced recently that he would address the central bank’s inflation targeting policy when he puts forth the national budget.

It was not mentioned whether this announcement would be the government’s proposal, or changes to the policy already established with the central bank.

Indian Hotels to run Egyptian hotels
Indian Hotels Co Ltd.—the owner of the Taj luxury chain—has made an arrangement to run three high-end hotels in Egypt developed by Palm Hills developments, according to the Egyptian developer. The projects will be the first foray into Egypt for the company whose tourism and real estate sectors have remained high compared to regional markets such as Dubai.

Zimbabwe indigenization of mines a threat, according to Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto announced their concern that Zimbabwe’s planned indigenization of mines poses a major threat to the diamond operations in the country.
The chief executive for diamonds and minerals at Rio, Harry Kenyon-Slaney, is backing plans by the Zimbabwean government to start dialogue with mining companies about the planned reforms, including indigenization, which would give locals stake holding position in the mines.

Swordfish to blame in rupture of Angolan oil pipeline
Swordfish punctured a part of an oil loading pipe in Angola, causing a three-day stop on tanker shipments of Girassol crude, according to traders.
The French oil giant, Total, has declared a suspension of supply obligation due to extraordinary circumstances.

IMF says Mauritius economy to grow
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that the Mauritius economy will expand over the next three years and said the Indian Ocean’s monetary policy appears fitting. A statement said the economy is projected to grow 5 per cent by 2011, reflecting a reversal of the EU growth contraction, the main market for tourism and exports for Mauritius.

First money transfer service for Morocco
Maroc telecom has launched Mobicash, the first trials of mobile debit payment service in Morocco. This first service of money transfer and payment by cell phone has been the object of an agreement signed between Morocco Telecom operators and Attijariwafa bank and the Central ‘Banque Populaire.’
MobiCash is a complete mobile payment platform that will work immediately on every existing cell phone.

Transactions are securely signed with NSDT (Near Sound Data Transfer), a technology that sends “cryptosounds” through the phone’s audio channel to enable contact-less mobile payment.

Producer prices up first time in eight months in South Africa
Producer prices went up for the first time in eight months, according to data which indicated that manufacturing in South Africa’s economy is on the rebound from last year’s recession.

Statistics South Africa data showed that producer prices were up 0.7 per cent from last month from a year earlier.
Commodity prices fell 6.1 per cent in December from a year ago in comparison to an 11.9 per cent drop in earlier months.

Lawmaker’s staff donate to orphanage
Workers in the constituency office of a lawmaker representing AMAC/Bwari federal constituency, Philip Aduda, recently donated food, provisions and toiletries to Karu Orphanage Home.

Presenting the items on behalf of the workers, James Jimoko said it was part of their annual routine to donate food and other items to orphanage homes, as well as the less privileged, so that those groups know that they are integral parts of society.

He advised the management to make judicious use of the items for the benefit of the children they were meant for.
Ahmed Yahaya, who received the items on behalf of the orphanage, promised that the items will be used judiciously and called on other good-spirited and well-meaning Nigerians to also come to the aid of local children.

NNPC to import 24 gasoline cargoes in February
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) is set to import 24 cargoes of gasoline in the month of February at a premium price of over $100/tonne to the European fob gas benchmark.

The boost in the European gasoline profit margins were helped along by the additional demand from Nigeria.

Head of World Bank tours Africa
World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick recently held a three-nation African tour. His eight-day visit was meant to help focus attention on African governments, development partners and private investors on the need to seize the opportunity for renewed momentum in economic growth to overcome poverty.

Zoellick started his tour in Sierra Leone. He then traveled to the Ivory Coast and finally Ethiopia, where he was expected to take part in the African Union (AU) Summit slated for January 31st to February 2nd 2010 in Addis Ababa.

A news release issued in Lusaka by the World Bank said although hit by the global food, fuel and financial crises, African governments have persisted in strengthening their economic policies as they pursue development, or rebuild after conflict.

Algerian oil head faces fraud probe
Last month, it was announced that Mohamed Meziane, head of Algeria’s national oil corporation Sonatrach, has been suspended from his position pending a corruption investigation. The company refused to comment, however, an anonymous source speaking to the AFP said that Mezaine has been replaced temporarily by Abdelhafid Feghouli, vice president of Sonatrach.

Mezaine, another vice president and five executives are to appear before a magistrate on investigation for corruption of company consultancy and security contract tenders, according to El Watan and El Khabar, two Algerian newspapers. Investigations continue.

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