Africa Briefs

SA announces visa waivers to boost tourism

16 August 2019 | Economics

South Africa yesterday announced visa waivers for four countries in a bid to boost tourism amid an economic crisis and falling visitor numbers.

Visitors from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand will no longer require a visa to visit for holiday, conferencing and business purposes, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

The unilateral decision comes as official tourism figures released in May reflected a dip in the overall number of visitors to South Africa from Europe and the Middle East in the first financial quarter of the year, normally one of the most popular times to visit.

Foreign traveller arrivals decreased by more than 10% between April and May 2019 alone.

South Africa is in talks to extend the visa waiver to Ghana, Cuba and Principe and Sao Tome. The country has already waived the visa requirement for 82 of the 193 countries who are UN members. – Nampa/AFP

Zambia leader, Vedanta boss meet

Zambia's president Edgar Lungu on Wednesday held talks with Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Argawal after the copper mining giant faced expulsion from the country for allegedly failing to pay taxes.

London-based Vedanta is the majority owner of Zambia's largest copper mining firm, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which has been at the centre of a standoff with government. The state-owned ZCCM-IH is a minority shareholder in KCM.

Lungu has vowed to dissolve the firm, accusing KCM of violating its operational licence and not paying all its taxes. Vedanta has denied the allegations and is locked in a legal battle with the government.

Lungu has targeted the mining sector to generate tax revenue as Zambia struggles with growing debt, and has told international mining companies to leave the copper-rich country if they opposed government policy.

In a statement, the presidency said Lungu met Argawal at the request of the investor. "The president accepted to meet him to listen to what he had to say," the statement said. Argawal "expressed his desire to continue running the mine" and pay debts owed to suppliers and restructure the company shareholding, it added.

However, Lungu said he would not back down because the "position that the government has taken has the support of the people of Zambia and the meeting will not affect any ongoing liquidation process", the statement read. – Nampa/AFP

Kenya approves issuance of first green bond

Kenya has approved its first ever issuance of a green bond, which will raise 5 billion shillings (US$48.45 million) for student accommodation, the capital markets regulator CMA said yesterday.

So-called green bonds are fixed income securities that raise capital for projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, green transport and waste-water treatment.

The bond, to be issued by a Nairobi-based property developer called Acorn, comes after authorities unveiled new rules in February designed to guide the issuance of green bonds.

"The issuance is a critical step in advancing the development of an effective ecosystem to support the establishment of green capital markets in Kenya," the CMA said in a statement.

Acorn's issue, which will not be listed, will finance the construction of "sustainable and climate-resilient student" hostels, CMA said.

It will be structured as "restricted public offer", meaning the issuers will target sophisticated investors who will get a 50% guarantee from credit guarantees provider Guarantco on both their investments and the interest, CMA added. – Nampa/Reuters

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