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World Bank fund for poor African countries gets record boost

Fifty-two countries and other donors have pledged 23.5 Billion US Dollars in new funds for the world’s poorest states, pushing replenishment of the International Development Association IDA fund to a record 82 Billion US Dollars, the World Bank said on Friday.

That fund, which includes more than 53 Billion for Africa, will help countries work to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, boost economic growth and bolster resilience to climate shocks and natural disasters, top bank officials said. First created in 1960, the fund is replenished every three years. This 19th replenishment covers 2020-2023. The new funding level exceeds the previous level by 7 Billion US Dollars.

‘’There has been an agreement on the largest-ever replenishment of IDA, The World Bank’s fund for the poor,’’ David Malpass, the bank’s president, said, noting that some countries that had previously received money from IDA had increased their donations. Six new countries had joined effort, and others could follow suit in coming weeks, he said. Malpass said this year’s IDA replenishment would support people in 74 countries, home to almost 500 million people, or two-thirds of the world’s poor.

He said the funds would help countries deal with the challenges posed by climate change, gender inequality, and conflict and violence, including in the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, and the Horn of Africa. IDA is one of the largest sources of funding for fighting extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. It provides zero-or low-interest loans and grants to countries for projects and programs that boost economic growth, build resilience and improve the lives of poor people around the world. Since 1960, IDA has provided more than 391 Billion for investments in 133 countries.

The World Bank said it would not release a list of individual donor countries and the amounts they pledged until after a board meeting early next year, but said additional countries could join the effort in the near term. In addition to country pledges, IDA is also supported by repayments of outstanding IDA loans, contributions from the World Bank, and financing rose from the capital markets.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has announced 1 Billion US Dollar pledge to Africa’s Great Lakes Region. The new proposed funding is said to help countries in the region to provide better health and education services, generate more cross-border trade, and fund hydroelectricity projects in support of the Great Lakes peace agreement that was signed by 11 countries in February.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who is travelled with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on a three-day trip to Congo, Rwanda and Uganda said that a secure and developed Great Lake was vital to Africa’s efforts to dramatically reduce extreme poverty and create prosperity for millions who have had little economic opportunity.

‘’We made extraordinary efforts to secure an additional 1 Billion US Dollars in funding because we believe this can be a major contributor to a lasting peace in the Great Lakes region. This funding will help revitalize economic development, create jobs and improve the lives of people who have suffered for far long. Now the leaders of the Great Lakes region, by restarting economic activity and improving livelihoods in boarder areas, can boost confidence, build economies and give new opportunities for millions of people’’

Kim said the new regional pledge, in zero-interest financing from the International Development Association IDA will support two major regional development priorities: recovery of livelihoods to reduce the vulnerability of people living in the Great Lakes whose communities have suffered greatly during conflict in the region and revitalizing and expanding cross-border economic activity to spur greater opportunity and integration in the areas of agriculture, energy, transport and regional trade.

The World Bank’s proposed additional funding includes roughly 100 Million US Dollars for supporting agriculture and rural livelihoods for internally displaced people and refugees in the region 340 Million US Dollars to support the 80 megawatt Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project for Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania 150 Million US Dollars for the rehabilitation of the Ruzizi I and II hydroelectric projects and financing for Ruzizi III, supplying electricity for Rwanda, Burundi and DRC 165 Million towards building roads in DRC’s North and South Kivu and Province Orientale 180 Million for improving infrastructure and border management along the Rwanda-DRC border and additional millions of dollars for public health laboratories, fisheries and trade facilitation programs among others.

While other parts of sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing high growth rates, countries of the Great Lakes region have had extremely high levels of poverty and very low levels of key services such as access to electricity. Yields from agriculture also are typically quite low. A key part of the World Bank group’s development approach to the region is to increase power generation and interconnectivity to take advantage of low-cost and renewable sources of hydropower and geothermal energy. Developing the hydropower potential in DRC, in particular, will provide Burundi and Rwanda access to low-cost power and a stake in regional stability. Currently, there is no regional grid and very limited interconnectivity between countries in the region.

In announcing its new funding pledge, the World Bank Group said that promoting significantly more trade is in the common interest of all countries in the region and will greatly improve the effectiveness of national development policies. ‘’Together with much more electricity for the Great Lakes, there will be very large economic pay-offs if we can all help to make border crossings easier and faster for people and their goods to move from one country to another’’ said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.

‘’Africa’s potential to provide food for its citizens, however, is not yet being realized because farmers in areas like the Great Lakes face more trade barriers in getting their food to markets across the region than farmers anywhere else in the world. Too often borders get in the way of getting plentiful food supplies to homes and communities that are struggling with too little to eat’’ Diop said.

In calling for a regional peace and development solution for the Great Lakes, the World Bank officials said the new financing pledge will help to rehabilitate roads to connect remote trading communities with regional markets. Bank support will focus on rehabilitation of primary cross-border trunk roads, to be complemented through the rehabilitation and opening of secondary roads required to bring goods to markets. The benefits of this approach are two-fold: first, increased trade will significantly increase economic activities, livelihoods and jobs second; connectivity will allow free movement of people and goods, and enable restoration of the state’s regulatory functions.

Within the DRC, the Bank Group’s current roads project (Pro-Routes- 248 Million US Dollars) is having an important impact by contributing to the reopening of 2,176KM of roads in Province Orientale, South Kivu and Katanga. The economic impact of the rehabilitated sections has been significant, reducing transportation costs by as much as 80 per cent in some cases and cutting travel time by more than half. Empirical evidence suggests that insecurity is decreasing in areas where roads have been rehabilitated.

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Dark days as Aviation industry collapses

22nd November 2020
Air Botswana

As the Aviation industry takes a COVID-19 pummeling, for Africa the numbers are staggering, Chief Executive Officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac has observed.

Speaking recently at the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has been hosting an Annual General Assembly, de Juniac said traffic is down 89% and revenue loses are expected to reach $6 billion. And this figure is likely to be revised downwards in the next forecast to be released later this month. “But the impact is much broader. The consequences of the breakdown in connectivity are severe,” he surmised.

According to de Juniac, five million African livelihoods are at risk while aviation-supported GDP could fall by as much as $37 billion. That’s a 58% fall.

“We have a health crisis. And it is evolving into a jobs and economic disaster. Fixing it is beyond the scope of what the industry can do by itself.”

He said they need governments to act, “And act fast to prevent a calamity.”

“We are in the middle of the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced. As leaders of Africa’s aviation industry, you know that firsthand. Airline revenues have collapsed. Fleets are grounded. And you are taking extreme actions just to survive. We all support efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our duty and we will prevail. But policymakers must know that this has come at a great cost to jobs, individual freedoms and entire economies,” he said.

de Juniac used the AFRA general assembly platform to amplify IATA’s call for governments to address two top priorities: “The first is unblocking committed financial relief. Airlines will go bust without it. Already four African carriers have ceased operations and two are in administration. Without financial relief, many others will follow.”

Over US$31 billion in financial support has been pledged by African governments, international finance bodies and other institutions, including the African Development Bank, the African Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Unfortunately de Juniac pointed out, in his words, “Pledges do not pay the bills. And little of this funding has materialized. And let me emphasize that, while we are calling for relief for aviation, this is an investment in the future of the continent. It will need financially viable airlines to support the economic recovery from COVID-19.”

The second priority, according to IATA is to safely re-open borders using testing and without quarantines.

“People have not lost their desire to travel. Border closures and travel restrictions make it effectively impossible. Forty-four countries in Africa have opened their borders to regional and international air travel. In 20 of these countries, passengers are still subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Who would travel under such conditions?” de Juniac quizzed rhetorically.

He suggested that countries should adopt systematic testing before departure provides a safe alternative to quarantine and a solution to stop the economic and social devastation being caused by COVID-19.

He admitted that it’s a frightening time for everyone, not least the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on a functioning airline industry. Right now, de Juniac said there essentially is no airline industry. He cited the example that China’s largest airlines sound optimistic, but in a vague way. “They gave no hard data about current yields, loads, or forward bookings, discussing only developments in 2019. Boy, does that seem like ages ago.”

Aviation’s darkest days

The IATA CEO said these are the darkest days in aviation’s history. “But as leaders of this great industry I know that you will share with me continued confidence in the future.

Our customers want to fly. They desire the exploration that aviation enables. They need to do international business that aviation facilitates. And they long to reunite with family and loved ones.”

He said the industry will, no doubt, be changed by this crisis, but flying will return. “Airlines will be back in the skies. The resilience of our industry has been proven many times. We will rise again,” he said.

de Juniac said Aviation is a business of freedom. “For Africa that is the freedom to develop and thrive. And that is not something people on this continent will forget or lose their desire for.”

 

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Inflation increased to 2.2% in October 2020

22nd November 2020

Headline inflation increased from 1.8 percent in September to 2.2 percent in October 2020, but remained below the lower bound of the Bank’s medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent, and lower than the 2.4 percent in October 2019.

According to Statistics Botswana, the increase in inflation between September and October 2020 mainly reflects the upward adjustment in domestic fuel prices {Transport (from -3.9 to -2.5 percent)}, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.29 percentage points.

“There was also a rise in the annual price increase for most categories of goods and services: Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (from 6.2 to 6.6 percent); Clothing and Footwear (from 2.5 to 2.7 percent); Communications (from 0.6 to 0.9 percent); Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels (from 6.4 to 6.6 percent); Recreation and Culture (from 0 to 0.2 percent); Miscellaneous Goods and Services (from 0.7 to 0.9 percent); Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (from 4.2 to 4.3 percent); and Furnishing, Household Equipment and Routine Maintenance (from 2 to 2.1 percent). Inflation remained stable for: Education (4.7 percent); Restaurants and Hotels (3 percent); and Health (1.5 percent). Similarly, the 16 percent trimmed mean inflation and inflation excluding administered prices rose from 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent to 2.2 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, in the same period.”

[Source: Bank of Botswana]

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BDC injects further P64 million into Kromberg & Schubert

22nd November 2020
BDC

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) has to date pumped a total of P100 million into the expansion of Kromberg and Schubert, a car harnessing manufacturing company, operating from Gaborone Old Naledi.

At the official ground breaking ceremony of the company‘s new warehouse today, BDC Managing Director, Cross Kgosidiile revealed the wholly state owned investment corporation has pumped P64 million into the expansion which entailed building of the new warehouse.

Kgosidiile explained that this follows another expansion project which was successfully launched in 2017, in which BDC invested P36 million, bringing the total investment into Kromberg at P100 million. The MD also acknowledged Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) as a partner in the project and for having facilitated the acquisition of the land.

 

Giving a keynote address, Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry, Peggy Serame highlighted the importance of infrastructural development in growing the local manufacturing sector and transforming the economy of Botswana.

Serame underscored the value of strategic partnerships between Government and the private sector, noting that when the two work together and pull together in one direction results will be evident and jobs will be created.

“With the prevailing conditions of depressed economy occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, government is reliant on entities like BDC to bring in revenue and acceleration of private sector development in line with its mandate and strategic plan. This plan is supported by the need to invest in growth sectors and accelerate the implementation of the Economic Diversification Drive,” Serame said.

Minister Serame noted that the partnership between BDC and Kromberg & Schubert begun in 2017 when the P36 million, 4100 square metres factory expansion for the company was launched.

 

She said the launch of the 7320 square meters factory expansion, to be built at the tune of P64 million signals the continuation of the good partnership between the two companies.

 

“I must commend BDC for their continuous efforts to build partnerships with the private sector geared towards contributing to economic development of this country.”

 

Minister Serame also added that BITC through its robust investor aftercare programme continues to provide value added and red carpet to Kromberg and Schubert under their One Stop Service Centre.

 

“In this regard BITC facilitated acquisition of land to enable this expansion. I therefore would like to commend BITC for their timely facilitation to make this expansion possible,” the minister said.

 

Kromberg & Schubert was incorporated in Botswana in 2009; The Company has grown to asset its position as a significant player in the regional automotive industry value chain.

 

The company is also a critical player in the economic development of Botswana, it currently employs 2100 Batswana across its operations. Kromberg exports on average P2.0 billion worth of goods annually, contributing significantly to foreign exchange.

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