Author: Antonio Guerrero

ROUNDUP: AFRICA

By Antonio Guerrero

Plans for launching a single West African currency by 2015, to be known as the Eco, are being thwarted by members’ failure to meet the program’s criteria.

300_March_Africa_Regulars_EM-Roundup

Zuma: Calling for help

Five of the six nations participating in the plan failed to meet macroeconomic targets in 2010, including achieving singledigit inflation and eliminating fiscal deficits. Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Gambia all missed their targets; only Liberia met its goals. Ongoing power outages and increased transportation costs were cited as being among culprits for the region’s inflationary spike.

South African president Jacob Zuma is calling on the private sector to help tackle the high unemployment rate, which ended 2010 at 24%. During his state of the nation address in February, Zuma unveiled a $1.29 billion plan to finance job-creating initiatives over the coming three years. He also said the South African Industrial Development Corporation will invest $1.43 billion in projects with high job-creation potential. Zuma is asking executives to hire recent graduates, while vowing to fill vacant civil servant positions.

In its push to launch an Islamic finance sector in Uganda, the country’s central bank is calling on Indonesian financial authorities to advise on how to establish a Ugandan Islamic bank by as early as next year. Ugandan representatives are also planning to visit Malaysia and Dubai on fact-finding missions. Around one-in-six Ugandans are Muslim. However, the central bank must first persuade parliament to lift a current ban on Islamic banking.

Deutsche Bank has pledged to help Nigerian banks, as well as those in other West African nations, to reduce risks related to trade and export finance operations. To facilitate export flows, Deutsche Bank will provide medium- and long-term loans to suppliers concerned about taking extended payment risk on clients under current volatile market conditions. The bank announced its promise during a structured trade and export finance seminar organized by Deutsche Bank in Lagos in February. At the conference, the bank highlighted its history of arranging similar deals worldwide, including in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow 7.98% this year, following last year’s 7.85% expansion. The government is committed to expanding its non-oil sector as a major economic driver.