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Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa promises new currency

Zimbabwe has since used US dollars, the South African rand and, in recent years, two local quasi-currencies.

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Zimbabwe's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa promises new currency
Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday promised to introduce a new national currency, 10 years after hyperinflation rendered the Zimbabwean dollar worthless.

The country has since used US dollars, the South African rand and, in recent years, two local quasi-currencies that have fallen sharply in value.

“A country cannot develop using other countries’ currencies, without its own currency,” Mnangagwa said.

“As a country we should have our own currency. We have already started that journey.”

He acknowledged that the two local quasi-currencies, called bond notes and RTGS, were weakening rapidly.

“You sleep today with the rate at one US dollars to five… and the next morning it’s a one to six, one to seven, one to eight and so forth.

“And when they do that, the price of bread increases according to the exchange rate.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has been struggling since hyperinflation peaked at 500 billion percent and wiped out savings under president Robert Mugabe.

It is undergoing another bout of price rises and shortages of fuel and daily essentials, with inflation currently more than 75 per cent, putting basic goods beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans.

Mnangagwa’s efforts to attract investment and create jobs have floundered since he came to power in 2017.

He gave no timetable for the introduction of the new currency, saying simply, “you will be informed about it”.

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Conservation News

Kenya, Tanzania Plan to Conduct Wildlife Census

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Kenya and Tanzania are set to conduct a joint cross-border count of rhinoceros and other large mammals in the shared Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

The census is one of the resolutions reached by a joint meeting dubbed ‘the Greater Serengeti Society Platform’

Chaired by chairperson of Tourism and Natural Resources Management Committee of the Council of Governors Samuel Tunai, it had in attendance key tourism industry players from the two countries.

The forum also deliberated on successes in conservation of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, as well as challenges and the interventions needed.

Attendees at the workshop facilitated by the European union included senior managers and directors from Kenya Wildlife Services, Tanzania National Parks, and Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority.

Others are Narok County, Maasai Mara game reserve warden, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Grumeti & Friedkin and the Maasai Mara Wildlife Associations.

The meeting saw to the constitution of the committee tasked with the cross-border census. It involved Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok county government rangers, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Wildlife Division of Tanzania and Tanzania National Parks and Environmental activists.

The aerial census seeks to establish the wildlife population, trends and distribution as well as foster cross-border collaboration on wildlife monitoring and management between the two East African countries.

Tunai said data from the census will be used for planning and preparing the management for possible wildlife security and human-wildlife conflict eventualities in the ecosystem.

Researcher Grant Hopcraft said the Tanzanian government has moved about 8,000 persons out of the Speke Game Controlled Area in a bid to conserve Serengeti’s ecosystem as it faces shortfalls in rainfall.

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West Africa Business News

Nigeria’s Central Bank Retains Lending Rate at 11.5 Per Cent

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Nigeria's Central Bank governor named for second term

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, held the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 11.5 per cent and retained the Cash Reserves Ratio at 27.5 per cent as it battles to combat rising inflation and a recession.

Speaking at the apex bank’s first Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in 2021, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said all 10 members of the committee voted to stick with the current rate.

Also retained are the Liquidity Ratio which was left at 30 per cent; and the Asymmetric corridor which was left at +100 and -700 basis points around the MPR.

Emefiele also disclosed that the CBN has secured approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the Nigeria Commodity Exchange.

The CBN governor said the Bank can no longer sit back and watch unscrupulous commodity merchants hoard commodities and force the prices of commodities to be high.

The bank cut rates twice last year to try to stimulate an economy that has been hobbled by the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil price crash.

The bank is facing the challenge of stimulating growth at the same time as trying to curb double-digit inflation while also propping up the ailing naira currency, hit by lower oil receipts, Emefiele said.

Africa’s biggest economy fell into its second recession in four years in the third quarter.

Nigeria, the continent’s top oil exporter which relies on crude sales for 90% of foreign-exchange earnings, was last in recession in 2016. It emerged the following year, but growth has remained fragile since.

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Business News

Kenyan Start-up Pula Raises $6 Million in Series A Funding

The start-up specialises in digital and agricultural insurance to protect smallholder farmers in Africa from risk.

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Kenyan insurance-tech start-up, Pula, has raised $6 million in its Series A round of funding. The start-up specialises in digital and agricultural insurance to protect smallholder farmers in Africa from risk.

Pula delivers agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers improve their farming practices, navigate climate risks, and bolster their incomes over time.

Through its Area Yield Index Insurance product, the startup leverages machine learning, crop-cut experiments and data points relating to weather patterns and farmer losses, so as to build products that cater to various risks.

Investors who took part in the round include early-stage venture capital firm, TLcom Capital and Women’s World Banking. As part of the fundraising, TLcom’s senior partner Omobola Johnson will join Pula’s board. 

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According to Pula, the fund will be used to scale up operations in its existing 13 markets across Africa which are Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique.

In 2018, Pula raised another $1 million in seed investment from Rocher Participations, Accion Venture Lab, Omidyar Network, and several angel investors.  

Furthermore, the company is looking to propel its expansion for smallholder farmers in Asia and Latin America.

Its clientele includes the World Food Programme, Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Zambian and Kenyan governments. Social enterprises like One Acre Fund, startups like Apollo Agriculture and agribusiness giants like Flour Mills and Export Trading Group are also among Pula’s clients.

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