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.
India, Mauritius Set To Finalise Free Trade Agreement
The governments of India and Mauritius are set to finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) that will further strenghtened economic ties between both countries.
India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, in a statement on Wednesday, said the “proposed India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) seeks to mutually benefit both the countries in the area of trade in goods and services.”
“At present, we have a number of different comprehensive partnership arrangements with countries around the world and we are in the process of finalising a CECPA with Mauritius,” the statement quoted Goyal as saying at the CII-EXIM Bank Digital Conclave on India Africa project partnership.
He also said that recently India and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) decided for early resumption of negotiations for a preferential trading agreement (PTA).
The SACU consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
A PTA is slightly different from a free trade agreement (FTA). In FTA, two sides reduce or eliminate duties on the maximum number of products they trade in, whereas in a PTA, the tariffs are eliminated or cut on certain number of items.
The minister said that in the near future, India will be happy to work more closely with the African free trade zone.
Further, he said India will continue to support Africa through lines of credit in priority sectors such as agriculture, irrigation, health, digital technology, power plants, transmission lines, and rail infrastructure.
As of June 2020, India has committed USD 12.7 billion for 40 countries in Africa on highly favourable terms, he added.
The bilateral trade, he said, grew from about USD 7 billion to nearly USD 67 billion in the last 20 years and “it has tremendous potential for further growth in the years to come”.
India is the fifth largest investor in African continent with a cumulative investment of over USD 54 billion in the last few years in areas like oil and gas, mining, banking, and textile.
“There is a huge scope for manifold increase in Indian investments in the wake of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA),” he said, adding “we can mutually benefit through establishment of India-Africa value chains in many areas such as textiles, pharma, auto, agro processing and information and communication technology”.
USAID Awards $2.6M Grant to Power Rural Clinics in African Countries
U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded $2.6 million to nine energy companies to electrify 288 rural health facilities which currently have no reliable access to power.
The grant was awarded through Power Africa, on Tuesday.
Power Africa is a U.S Government-led initiative that brings together 12 government agencies, development partners and private sector companies, with the goal of doubling access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The grant, totalling $2.6m, was launched in a virtual event which highlighted the importance of healthcare electrification for COVID-19 response and recovery.
The awardees include Havenhill Synergy Ltd (Nigeria), KYA-Energy Group (Togo), Zuwa Energy (Malawi), OffGridBox (Rwanda) Nanoé (Madagascar) as well as PEG, Solarworks, Power and Muhanya Solar Limited for other parts of Africa.
Mark Carrato, Acting Coordinator, Power Africa, said that USAID was doing everything possible to help keep the sector afloat because “these are challenging times for companies operating in emerging markets.”
According to him, when it comes to universal energy access and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal seven, the world can’t afford to go backwards.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Power Africa has successfully worked with local industry associations to compel governments to declare off grid energy as an essential service.
“Despite the economic downturn in the last quarter, we managed to raise $65 million for the energy sector in forms of grants, loans and equity, providing much needed liquidity for a range of companies.
“We know that as a result of the economic downturn, brought by COVID-19, many energy access companies are struggling right now.
“We’re working with a group of investors and development partners so that more companies can receive low interest concessional loans in order to maintain staff and service existing customers.
“We are also helping African governments put in place the legal and regulatory frameworks needed to attract off-grid energy and base investments,”Carrato said.
Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID, said that the agency was highlighting its mode of operation through partnerships with governments and the private sector that empower communities to solve their own challenges.
According to him, the agency values its partnership with African governments which improve the well being of millions on the continent.
“As Americans, we stand together not only with the people in Africa, but with countless others across the globe to help countries and their people address their development challenges. We know the impact of COVID-19 goes far beyond just the health impacts, but also on the social and economic well being of many vulnerable households. Without reliable and affordable electricity, it is even more difficult for these communities to recover from the wide ranging impacts of COVID-19. Functioning healthcare facilities are essential, not only for individuals health, but also for their economic and overall wellbeing,”he said.
The counselor said that without electricity, health systems struggle to meet the needs of their communities, no matter the dedication of healthcare workers.
“Healthcare facilities need electricity for almost all of their activities as we already know and because most of them are in rural areas, it is important to harness the cutting edge and sustainable off grid solutions that the private sector can bring.
“We cannot solve the problems by working alone and that’s why we’ve awarded grants to demonstrate what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors join forces and find new solutions to this challenge. Because of these partnerships, doctors and nurses will have access to better equipment, procedures and surgeries will be safer, and people will live longer, more productive and healthier lives,”he said.
The beneficiary firms have on their parts, highlighted the importance of health care electrification and summarized the activities their companies would undertake.
UK Group Supports 100 Nigerian Businesses, 38,000 Jobs with $425M
The British Deputy High Commission in Lagos has disclosed that a UK group invested $425m to support 100 businesses and 38,000 jobs in Nigeria.
CDC Group, a UK development finance institution, confirmed this during a virtual visit to Nigeria by its board led by Chief Executive, Nick O’Donohoe, and Chairman, Graham Wrigley.
CDC also partnered with 40 investment funds, which included Afreximbank, African Capital Alliance and Indoram.
The UK Government-funded institution says all proceeds from its investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.
“Nigeria plays a key part in our strategy of partnership and investment for economic growth in West Africa. “Hosting our 2020 board trip– albeit virtually – in both markets is a testament to our commitment.
“Looking forward, we will continue to prioritise the post COVID-19 recovery as part of the Build Back Better agenda.
“We are committed to supporting a deeper and more strategic bilateral partnership between the UK and Nigeria that is based on enhancing economic development, job creation, inclusion, trade and investment,” O’Donohoe said.
It said that the CDC team also paid a virtual visit to the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, to understand the impact of CDC’s support to its investees through the COVID-19 crisis and understand how to stimulate recovery and growth.
The discussions also focused on CDC’s own response to the pandemic through its preserved, strengthen and rebuild programme, the statement said.
In her response, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CBE said CDC played important role in creating jobs and supporting the growth of businesses by investing in the poorest countries across Africa, including Nigeria.
“CDC’s commitment to the country signals to other UK investors that investing in Nigeria is possible and should be prioritised in order to help Nigeria and indeed, Africa, mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” the envoy said.
During the virtual tour, CDC also met local businesses leaders, learning more about what they need to grow their companies and how investors can support their ambitions.
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