Wednesday, 6th December 2023


Articles related to economy

Nigeria's president said economic growth and national security were among his main concerns as he outlined his first budget since coming to power and launching an ambitious reform agenda.

In a speech to lawmakers in the capital Abuja, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said attracting investment and addressing Nigeria's cost-of-living crisis were also cornerstones of his 27.5-trillion naira ($34.84 billion) budget proposal for 2024.

"The proposed budget seeks to achieve job-rich economic growth, macro-economic stability, a better investment environment, enhanced human capital development, as well as poverty reduction and greater access to social security," he said according to a presidency statement. 

Nigerians are struggling with a tripling of fuel prices and higher food costs after Tinubu ended a fuel subsidy and floated the naira currency after taking office earlier this year.

But he insists the negative impacts will be temporary and has repeated calls for patience, saying the move will benefit the country in the long run and attract more foreign investment to Africa's largest economy.

He also outlined plans to expand a scheme to "provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households."

"Our government remains committed to broad-based and shared economic prosperity," he said.

Inflation in Nigeria has skyrocketed, reaching more than 27 percent over the past year. Tinubu said the government expects it to come down to 21.4 percent in 2024, and believes the economy will grow by at least 3.76 percent.

Nigeria also faces deep security challenges, from jihadists to bandit militias carrying out mass kidnappings.

"Defence and internal security are accorded top priority," Tinubu said. "Internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities and safeguard lives, property and investments across the country."

He said the country would seek to reduce its budget deficit from around 6.1 percent of GDP this year to just under 3.9 percent in 2024.

Parliament still has to pass the budget proposal, and is expected to do so before the start of the new year.

-Africa News

A Kenyan court ruled on Tuesday that a salary levy introduced by President William Ruto in June was illegal, dealing a major blow to the government's aim of bolstering the state coffers.

A law allowing a 1.5% levy on the salaries of all Kenyan taxpayers, including employers, was passed in June to finance a low-cost housing programme.

Three judges of the Nairobi High Court ruled that the measure was not part of a complete legal framework and that the exclusion of informal workers was "discriminatory and irrational". 

"An order has been made prohibiting the collection of (...) the fees known as the Affordable Housing Act", said Justice David Majanja.

The levy was part of a budget bill that introduced many new taxes for Kenyans, against a backdrop of already high inflation.

Anger over rising prices, particularly for basic necessities such as food and fuel, led to a series of sometimes deadly protests against William Ruto's government earlier this year.

Kenya, the powerhouse of East Africa, is plagued by galloping inflation and a plummeting currency, which has caused the cost of repaying its debt to soar.

-Africa News

France is in no way being driven out of Africa," pleaded French Foreign Trade Minister Olivier Becht on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Nigeria, calling on French companies to continue and step up their investments on the continent.

"Contrary to what some media outlets, and social networks in particular, are saying, France is absolutely not being driven out of Africa, and we're not in decline at all," Mr. Becht assured before leaving for Lagos.

Nigeria is "France's leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa" and "around 100 French companies" are present there, according to the Ministry.

Olivier Becht will take part in the signing of "several contracts" during his two-day trip, accompanied by a dozen SMEs.

"France is at the side of Africans to invest in all areas", said Mr. Becht, referring in particular to the development of mobility, education and health infrastructures.

"French companies must continue to be present and invest on the continent," he maintained. "It's good for the African continent, for African countries, and above all it's good for the French economy."

The development of French SMEs "goes through the international box", he felt.

At a time when the French army has been forced to withdraw from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, "France's influence today, like that of many other powers, goes through the economy", underlined Mr. Becht.

In the face of China and Russia, which are extending their influence on the continent, France "has strong arguments", according to the Minister.

"We make some of the best products in the world", "which meet environmental standards", "which take account of local populations" and "which seek to create added value", he explained. "And I don't think that's always the case with Chinese companies or Russian companies", he added.

-Africa News

It is almost lunch time at the Adeyemis'. Shola Adeyemi is a Kike Technologies biofuel customer. She pours biofuel gel into the biofuel stove.

As the cost-of-living soars in Nigeria, cooking gas has become unaffordable to a growing number of households. The price of 12.5 kg of cooking gas, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), has increased to N12,500 in Nigeria, from the N10,000 reported at the end of October, according to a market survey by Punch journalists.

At her home in Idi Mangoro, north of Lagos, Adeyemi is satisfied with her purchase. She's been using it since about 10 years.

"I think I've been using it since about 2014. Then, a friend of mine just gave me one, and said to go and try this, then I gave it a try and it was so nice. It cooks fast, I use it in cooking beans, for you to know, when people say beans take time (to cook, ed.)"

"I so much love it, it doesn't darken your pot when you are using it, you feel comfortable, and you don't even need to stress. Even the smell, the odour it brings out, you'll love your cooking."

Reducing use of biomass

According to the Clean Cooking Alliance about 21 million Nigerian households depend on traditional biomass energy. This leads to respiratory diseases and premature deaths. 

Green biofuels such as environment friendly ethanol gels are safer alternatives.

Lilian Aremu is the co-founder of Kike technologies. Her business partner, Femi Oye, witnessed firthand the dangerous effects of biomass burning. His grandmother died from lung cancer.

"When you check in Africa, you notice that people actually cook with firewood from the beginning, you know, so from that, there are sicknesses and diseases that actually kill women," the CEO says.

"And one of such happened to the visionaire, Femi Oye where he lost his grandmom when he was young, because she cooked with firewood, and when he grew up, they got to know that this was the cause. And aside from that, so many other women have died, some have lost their eyesight, you know, children have died too."

Since the company was launched in 2012, it has sold one million stoves. A unit goes up for 14 to 21 dollars. It is sold primarily in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries.

Many experts say authorities must step up in the fight for reducing the use of biomass.

Regional body ECOWAS has been working to development quality standards of bioethanol for cooking and transportation of west Africa.

"So, with biofuel, it is clean, it is safe, it is affordable. And now, the disposable income of an average Nigerian is in crisis already, so everyone is looking at the cheapest way to survive. "

With inflation at 27%; the cheapest way still includes heavy use of wood or coal burning.

-Africa News

Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema arrived in Italy on Tuesday (Nov. 21) for a two-day state visit.

He met with Italian president Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

Hichilema said that him and his counterpart "explored ways in which Italy can contribute to accelerating Zambia's development through sustainable alliances with Italian businesses, particularly in the areas of agriculture, energy, tourism, and mining. "

The southern African leader the delivered a message at the Confindustria Headquarters for the Zambia-Italy Business Forum in Rome.

News agency Nova reported that Hichilema will meet with Italy's Premier Giorgia Meloni as well as the chiefs of Food and Agriculture Organization and of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, during his stay.

Hichilema's visit at the invitation of Italy's president come after the latter visited Zambia in July 2022.

Mattarella's stay in Lusaka was the second visit by an Italian since Francesco Cossiga in 1989. Cossiga met Kenneth Kaunda who was at the helm of Zambia at the time.

-Africa News

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