Africa Briefs

06 May 2021 | Economics

Zim inflation to fall to 55%

Zimbabwe's central bank said it expects annual inflation to further decline and reach a low of 55% by July.

The bank was satisfied with the disinflationary trend, as inflation had fallen from a peak of 837.53% in July last year to 194% last month, the monetary policy committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said in a statement.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation has been on a downward trend since August 2020 following the introduction of a foreign exchange auction trading system in June of that year that has helped to bring stability to the foreign exchange market.

To support economic activity and the current stability in the economy, the central bank said it will maintain its main lending rate at 40% and the interest rate on the medium-term accommodation facility at 30%.

The bank also approved a financing facility for small and medium enterprises to boost productivity. – Nampa/Xinhua

Tunisia to propose wage, subsidy cuts

Tunisia will cut its public sector wage bill and replace subsidies with direct support for the needy, according to a government reform proposal written to support talks with the International Monetary Fund and seen by Reuters.

The proposal envisages eliminating all general subsidies by 2024 and cutting the wage bill to 15% of GDP by 2022 from 17.4% last year, partly through early retirement and reductions in working hours.

The proposals to cut the wage bill specify encouraging voluntary redundancy on 25% pay, early retirement packages and offering staff part time work at 50% of full pay.

A Tunisian government delegation led by the finance minister is starting talks with the IMF this week and will seek US$4 billion in loans, prime minister Hichem Mechichi said.

The IMF has previously called on Tunisia to enact economic reforms to reduce chronic fiscal deficits and a large public sector debt, including by cutting its wage bill, subsidies and transfers to state-owned companies. – Nampa/Reuters

Egypt, France seals warplane deal

France said it will begin delivering 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt from 2024 in a 4-billion-euro deal, as it strengthens ties with a partner it considers vital in fighting Islamist militants.

In December, president Emmanuel Macron drew criticism from rights groups when he said he would not make the sale of weapons to Egypt conditional on human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo's ability to counter militancy in the region.

Armed forces minister Florence Parly said the deal, confirmed on Tuesday, illustrated the "strategic nature of the partnership" between the countries and would secure 7 000 jobs in France over three years.

Egypt's military has expanded its domestic status and influence under Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief who has been president since 2014, waging operations against militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

Benedicte Jeannerod, Human Rights Watch director for France, said Sisi's government was presiding over the worst repression in Egypt in decades. "By signing a mega-arms contract ... France is only encouraging this," she said. – Nampa/Reuters

RwandAir resumes flights to SA

Kigali-based RwandAir yesterday announced the resumption of its flights between Kigali and South Africa's economic hub Johannesburg from Friday, after a three-month suspension due to global concerns over Covid-19 variants.

Covid-19 infections and variants first detected in South Africa prompted an entry ban by countries in the world as well as flights suspension by airlines. Although the Covid-19 infections in South Africa have been in the plateau, many of them remain in force.

The Rwandan flag carrier will operate the flights three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, it said in a customer communication.

The flights will include both 4-hour non-stop flights and 5-hour flights with a stop in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, while the Kigali-Cape Town flights remain halted, showed RwandAir's update on flight destinations.

The once fast-growing airline that suffered a blow during the Covid-19 is seeking recovery and has put in place health and safety measures and protocols to restore customer confidence, including a Covid-19 vaccination program for all staff. – Nampa/Xinhua

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