Author: Antonio Guerrero

AFRICA

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Leaving a hole: Foreign firms have shut down Zambian mines as ore prices plummet

Guinea’s military leaders chose former banker Kabine Komara as the new prime minister, tasked with coordinating a return to civilian rule after last December’s military coup. Komara is a former senior director at the African Export-Import Bank in Cairo. Army captain Moussa Camara seized power hours after the death of dictator Lansana Conté. Military leaders vow to hold presidential and legislative elections in December 2010. Komara will need to negotiate the return of international aid after donors condemned the coup and the African Union suspended Guinea’s membership. Guinea, the world’s largest aluminum ore exporter, is also one of the world’s poorest nations. The country is currently governed by a council that comprises 26 military officers and six civilians.


BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh, established a $63 million microfinance fund for East Africa. The BRAC Africa Loan Fund will make micro-loans available in Tanzania, Uganda and southern Sudan. The fund is expected to reach $74 million in first-half 2009. Contributors include Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Ford Foundation and the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, among others. Citi is the Africa Loan Fund’s fiscal agent.

The Zambian government is considering temporarily operating closed copper mines in response to pressure from miners’ unions. Falling copper and cobalt prices have led some foreign firms to shut down operations in Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, sparking job losses and reduced economic activity. Copper accounts for 63% of Zambia’s export revenues. The mines would be operated by the government until new investors are found.

Tanzania is betting on the communications, mining, construction and financial intermediation sectors to keep the nation’s economy growing. The government lowered its 2009 GDP growth forecast from an initial 8% to a still strong 7.3%. The economy expanded by 7.7% last year. Inflation is also expected to rise to 6.8% during the fiscal year ending in June, up from an initial projection of 5.3%.

Antonio Guerrero