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Thursday, 20th June 2019
3:14:58am

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Tanzania and Zambia plan to build a refined products pipeline to transport petroleum between the two countries at a cost of $1.5 billion, Tanzania’s Energy minister said on Tuesday.

Zambia, Africa’s top copper producer, imports most of its petroleum requirements, mainly from the Middle East, through the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.

Medard Kalemani said in a presentation of his ministry’s 2019/20 (July-June) budget that the pipeline would run from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to Zambia’s mining city of Ndola, some 1,349 km away.

Kalemani, speaking in Tanzania’s administrative capital Dodoma, did not give a time frame for when the project would kick off, but said that in the coming fiscal year, they planned to complete a feasibility study. He also gave no details on how it would be financed. 

“The project will reduce challenges in transporting petroleum products in the countries that use our ports to import fuel and open up business opportunities ...” he said. 

“The project will be implemented jointly by Zambia and Tanzania.”

Kalemani said the pipeline would also have take-off points at Morogoro, Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya and Songwe regions on the Tanzanian side.

Tanzania and Zambia already have a crude oil pipeline between them transporting oil to Zambia, where it is refined in Ndola for local use.

-Reuters

Vodacom’s unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo will lose the right to provide 2G services this week unless it renews a disputed license, according to a government order.

The directive threatens to disconnect some of Vodacom Congo’s 11.8 million customers who’ve yet to switch to 3G and 4G, or live in remote areas not yet covered by the faster data services. Johannesburg-based Vodacom owns 51% of Congo’s biggest mobile operator, which generated about 6% of total revenue of R86.bn last year.

Congo’s government wants Vodacom to reapply for a 20-year 2G license originally given to the company in 1998 because an “irregular extension” was granted in 2015, Telecommunications Minister Emery Okundji said in an order dated April 29 seen by Bloomberg. Vodacom lost the right to offer 2G services in January 2018, Okundji said, giving the firm a one-month “grace period” to renew the permit.

Vodacom is engaging with the authorities “in an attempt to resolve this unfortunate situation,” spokesman Byron Kennedy said in a statement sent by text message.

Vodacom Congo “vigorously refutes all allegations of fraud” in obtaining its license extension from former Telecommunications Minister Thomas Luhaka in 2015, according to a May 16 statement posted on the company’s Facebook page. The process of extending the license conformed with all laws and regulations in place at the time, including a single payment equivalent to 25% of the value of the license - or $16.3 million - to Congo’s Treasury, it said.

Government decisions outlawing license extensions and outlining renewal procedures “on which the fraud allegations are based” were adopted in 2016 and 2017, according to the statement. “Legal orthodoxy requires that these new rules and procedures cannot apply retroactively,” the company said.

Luhaka didn’t answer calls and text messages seeking comment. 

Other Frequencies

Okundji said the $16.3 million payment made by Vodacom related to additional frequencies obtained from the Congolese authorities in December 2015, rather than an authorization to continue operating 2G services. Unless the company takes steps to “regularise the renewal of the 2G license” within one month, the frequency spectrum will be returned to the state and then auctioned to a new buyer, he said in the directive.

Vodacom Congo will continue to operate 3G and 4G telephony services if it loses its 2G rights, Okundji’s chief of staff, John Aluku, said by text message on Monday. Vodacom Congo became the first company in Congo to launch commercial 4G services in May 2018.

The cost of renewing a 2G license is $65 million, according to the ministry.

Okundji has been contesting Vodacom Congo’s 2G license extension since 2017, when he became telecommunications minister, according to the ministerial order. In March, he established a commission made up of members of the telecommunications and finance ministries to “reconcile the parties’ points of view,” the ministerial directive said.

Vital Kamerhe, chief of staff to President Felix Tshisekedi, instructed the tax authorities on April 8 to “find a suitable solution” after Vodacom took the matter to the presidency, it said.

The decision to formally withdraw Vodacom Congo’s decade-long extension on April 29 was motivated by unsuccessful negotiations under the commission and the company’s failure to act on Okundji’s instructions to renew the license, according to the minister’s order.

-Bloomberg

South Africa’s rand was mostly flat on Tuesday, struggling to bounce back from a flare-up in U.S.-China trade tensions that had dragged the currency down a day earlier.

Fresh tariff war volleys between the world’s two biggest economies were also weighing on markets in Asia and Australia, though comments from U.S. President Donald Trump that he expects trade negotiations to be successful aided sentiment.

At 0625 GMT, the rand traded at 14.32 to the dollar, 0.1 percent stronger than Monday’s close.

The week’s trade tensions have snatched away some of the rand’s gains after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) looked set for victory in a parliamentary and provincial election last week. 

While the ANC secured a decisive win, international factors have largely eclipsed any impact on the rand’s direction.

However, first quarter unemployment figures to be published later on Tuesday could bring a fresh domestic influence to the rand’s movements over the course of the day.

-Reuters

MTN Group's Nigerian unit plans to raise about R8bn this year from a variety of sources including bank loans and bonds to expand operations in its biggest market.

The funds will enable Africa’s largest wireless carrier to finance capital expenditure to increase the reach and efficiency of its network in Nigeria, Chief Financial Officer Adekunle Awobodu said by phone from Lagos. MTN has also started the process of listing its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The company had announced plans to raise as much as 400 billion naira (about R15bn) last year, and later signed to a 200 billion naira (about R8bn) credit line with a group of banks. MTN is "currently arranging" for another 200 billion naira, according to Awobodu.

It registered 20.35 billion ordinary shares with the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission last week, with about 20% expected to be listed on the Lagos bourse this week. MTN has 65.6 million subscribers in Nigeria, or 38% of the market, according to February data provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

-Bloomberg

South African Airways says due to the closure of the main runway at the Chileka International Airport in Blantyre, Malawi - flight operations have been cancelled on Wednesday, 24 April and Saturday, 27 April.  

The Malawian airport authorities notified SAA that the main runway will be closed from 24 April to 23 July 2019 for maintenance and rehabilitation. However, the secondary runway will remain operational for the duration of the works and will be used for arrivals and departures of aircraft of appropriate categories/classes. 

The aircraft size, which SAA operates to Blantyre, does not fit in the required categories/classes of the secondary runway, which will remain operational. 

Operations will be affected until the maintenance is completed in July 2019.

SAA says contingency plans have been put in place for smaller aircraft, operated by SA Express to operate this route, with the exception of the Wednesday and Saturday flights.

“We have implemented contingency plans by using the SA Express’ Q400 turbo prop aircraft to continue with SAA’s schedule operations with the exception of the 24th and 27th April 2019, whereon no scheduled operation will be available to/from Blantyre.

“We apologise to our valued passengers and customers for the inconvenience caused by these cancellations,” says Tlali Tlali, SAA Spokesperson.

SAA operates a three weekly service between Johannesburg and Blantyre (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays).Other customers will be re-accommodated to Lilongwe, as these operations are unaffected. These passengers will have an option of reconnecting from Lilongwe for onward travel by air or ground transport.

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