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Petrol scarcity hits Sudan1 minute read

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Long queues of people seeking to buy fuel have overtaken roads in Sudan. Now, it is common for people to skip work for petrol and it has forced the transitional government to introduce a rationing system as it tries to manage acute economic pressures.

Some people have been spending entire days in queues that stretch for several km (miles) since the fuel crisis began late last week. Coming after the shortage of bread, it has piled more pressure on a government struggling to deliver improvements after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir last April.

The government is working under a three-year power sharing deal between the military and civilians and is battling with the legacy of decades of economic sanctions and mismanagement that hampered infrastructure development and investment.

It also inherited a generous subsidy system under which petrol costs just 6.17 Sudanese pounds per litre (about 12 U.S. cents at official rates, or 6 cents at black market rates) and diesel 4.14 pounds per litre. Currently, the scarcity is caused by a broken refinery pipeline that is being repaired, though it is unclear how long this will take.

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Absa Kenya signs almost 5 million customers on virtual platform

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Kenya’s Absa Bank , a part of South Africa’s Absa Group, has signed almost 5 million customers on its virtual banking platform, which it sees as a major driver for future growth, chief executive, Jeremy Awori announced yesterday.

When the bank first launched its virtual savings and loan app known as “Timiza” — Kiswahili for “Achieve” — in March 2018, it attracted 300,000 customers. By the end of the year it had 3 million users, with lending standing at 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($98.91 million).

The bank, formerly known as Barclays Kenya, also has a separate mobile-based banking service to process normal customer transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.

Absa Kenya, posted a pretax profit of 8.18 billion shillings in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 7.72 billion shillings in year-earlier period.

Kenyan lenders have in recent years , turned to technology as they try to counter competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as from telecoms operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform, which had 23.6 million users as of last September.

Absa’s virtual banking app’s competitors include those run by KCB Group’s, NCBA Group and Equity Group.

Pressure to use mobile banking services increased further when the government imposed a cap on commercial lending rates in 2016 that ate into bank profit margins forcing banks to search for new ways to grow their businesses. The cap was scrapped at the end of last year.

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Angola’s Former Leader Ordered $500 million Funds transfer

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In a statement that may help the defense of one of his sons who is standing trial for money laundering, Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has disclosed that he ordered a $500-million transfer from the central bank to an overseas account before stepping down.

The former president’s two most high-profile children are under increased scrutiny from prosecutors probing how they amassed their wealth during their father’s 38-year rule.

While the 77-year-old former leader is immune from prosecution until 2022, his daughter, Isabel was named last month as a suspect in an investigation over alleged mismanagement at state oil company, Sonangol.

In 2018, his son Jose Filomeno, alongside former central bank Governor, Filipe da Silva and two others, were accused of crimes including participation in unlawful business, money laundering, embezzlement and fraud for the money transfer to a U.K. account in 2017. Their trial began in December last year.

According to Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the transfer was needed to set up a strategic investment fund and finance Angola’s ailing economy.

Former head of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, Jose Filomeno says the trial is politically motivated while the country’s former central bank governor, Filipe da Silva has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was just following presidential orders.

It was meant to be the first of three transfers totaling $1.5 billion.

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Air Zimbabwe fails to raise investment

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Zimbabwe’s troubled national airline has failed to secure outside investment, thereby dealing a blow to government plans to sell state-owned assets and secure much-needed revenue.

The airline, which in October 2018 was placed under administration, received expressions of interest from 10 international investors and had short-listed three bidders.

According to the airline’s administrator, Reggie Saruchera, a process to solicit for a strategic partner or investor was undertaken, but none of the parties that expressed interest and submitted bids were successful.

The airline also has an outstanding debt of about $370 million and Saruchera recommends that it be settled before seeking fresh investment. 

The national carrier also says it will lease out two Boeing 777 jetliners it bought from Malaysia Airlines in 2018 and has received nine bids for them.

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