Africa Briefs

12 February 2020 | Economics

US hopes deal close on Ethiopia dam

The United States is optimistic Ethiopia is close to a deal with Egypt and Sudan on a controversial mega-dam, an official said Monday, ahead of a trip by secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo will visit Ethiopia as well as Senegal and Angola starting on Saturday on his first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa since becoming the top US diplomat in April 2018.

Egypt fears that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will be the largest such project in Africa and double Ethiopia's electricity, will drain the Nile, on which the parched Arab state relies for 90% of its water.

Egypt sought the intervention of president Donald Trump over the US$4.2 billion hydroelectric project, which Ethiopia hopes to start operating later this year.

Negotiators have appeared to make progress, with Ethiopia in a draft accord agreeing to fill the dam only during the rainy season and to base future water levels on the conditions of the Nile. – Nampa/AFP

Cocoa harvest in I. Coast in trouble

There was no rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions, extending a spell of hot, dry weather that could weaken the looming mid-crop harvest, farmers said.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season from November to March. Farmers said that flowers and cherelles were blooming on trees, but added that continuing arid weather could delay the first harvests from the April-to-September mid-crop and reduce bean quality.

"In addition to the dryness, there is also a heatwave. This is not good for cocoa," said Albert N’Zue, who farms near the centre-west region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output.

Farmers in central regions Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro also said they were unhappy with growing conditions and feared the spread of bushfires.

Temperatures over the past week ranged from 25 to 29.2 degrees Celsius. – Nampa/Reuters

Algeria plans to develop bond, stock markets

Algeria plans to issue sukuk, or Islamic bonds, and develop its small stock exchange as the oil reliant economy seeks to diversify funding sources, according to a government document reviewed by Reuters.

The planned steps are part of wider reforms aimed at coping with financial pressure caused by a fall in energy earnings and foreign exchange reserves, deepening the country's budget and trade deficits.

Elected in December, president Abdelmadjid Tebboune has pledged economic and political reforms to try to appease protests demanding the departure of the entire ruling elite.

Despite previous attempts to boost its activity, the Algiers bourse is still one of the world's smallest, with a low capitalisation compared with neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria has also failed so far to attract to the banking system billions of dinars in the informal market. – Nampa/Reuters

‘Extension' needed on W.Africa’s eco

West African powerhouse Nigeria on Monday called for a delay to the launch of a region-wide currency tentatively scheduled to come into effect this year.

"Nigeria's position on the eco currency is that the convergence criteria have not been met by majority of the countries," the country's presidency said on Twitter.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS last year said it intended to introduce a common currency called the eco in 2020. The announcement capped decades of discussions and postponements.

But the push was then overshadowed in December by an announcement by mainly French-speaking countries in the region that they would rename their CFA franc joint currency as the Eco this year as they look to cut monetary ties with former colonial ruler France.

English-speaking nations led by Africa's most populous country Nigeria criticised that move and said it was not in line with the initiative for the broader currency.

Nigeria has said that so far only one country in the region, Togo, has met a set of tough ECOWAS monetary and economic criteria to allow it to join the proposed currency. – Nampa/AFP

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