20 February 2020 | Economics
Zimbabwe has given holders of mining concessions up to the end of April to pay US$11 million in outstanding annual fees or risk losing their licences, the mines minister said on Tuesday.
Mining is the biggest earner of foreign exchange in Zimbabwe, which hopes the sector will help anchor a revival from the worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by shortages of foreign exchange, food, fuel, electricity and medicines.
Mines minister Winston Chitando, who has previously accused some companies of holding mining concessions for speculative purposes, said the government was owed at least 200 million Zimbabwe dollar (US$11 million) in annual fees as of Jan. 30.
Under Zimbabwe's laws, companies have to pay an annual fee to keep their concessions.
Chitando did not give any details on which mines or companies were in arrears.
But information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said that "those who owe money are being given until April 30 to pay up, failing which the mining title will be lost". – Nampa/Reuters
SA's stats agency faces funding crisis
South Africa's statistics agency is facing a funding crisis that might affect the quality of official data if not addressed, the organisation which oversees the agency said on Tuesday.
David Everatt, chairman of the Statistics Council, said the agency needed R200 million in funding to work efficiently.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) is the source of official data in Africa's most industrialised economy, including gross domestic product (GDP), consumer price inflation, mining and manufacturing output.
Everatt said the agency was being forced to consider cost cuts because of the hole in its budget and faced staff shortages due to a hiring freeze imposed by the government in 2015.
"Sample sizes are being cut, which over time will lead to wider error ranges. Activities are having to be ranked, and some simply dropped," Everatt said in a statement issued on behalf of the Statistics Council.
"Stats SA right now is at a tipping point. The warning lights are flashing red, and government needs to act swiftly if South Africa were to retain a robust and innovative Stats SA," Everatt said. – Nampa/Reuters
IMF cuts Nigeria's growth forecast
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its growth forecast for Nigeria this year to 2% from 2.5%, reflecting fears the coronavirus outbreak in China will hit demand for oil.
Nigeria has been grappling with low growth since exiting a recession four years ago. President Muhammadu Buhari, who began a second four-year term in May, has vowed to revive the economy, but investors have been waiting for policies.
The IMF said growth was still recovering, but inflation was rising which, along with external shocks, would weaken Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves due to its deteriorating terms of trade and capital outflows.
Nigeria's statistics office said on Tuesday inflation rose to 12.13% in January, its highest in nearly two years and the fifth straight month of increases.
"Under current policies, the outlook is challenging," the IMF said in a statement, following a consultation with the government and central bank officials, as well as banking and private sector representatives. – Nampa/Reuters
Locust swarms arrive in S. Sudan
Swarms of locusts which are wreaking havoc across East Africa have now arrived in South Sudan, the government said Tuesday, threatening more misery in one of the world's most vulnerable nations.
Billions of desert locusts, some in swarms the size of Moscow, have already chomped their way through Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.
The arrival of the locusts could be catastrophic in South Sudan, where war followed by drought and floods has already left six million people – 60% of the population - facing severe hunger.
Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in South Sudan, said about 2 000 locusts had been spotted so far, and if not controlled quickly, could have a devastating impact.
"These are deep yellow which means that they will be here mostly looking at areas in which they will lay eggs." – Nampa/AFP