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Togo among top 15 African countries under 2019 Doing Business

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In the 2019 Doing Business, Togo is the 11th African nation where launching a business is easy. The country made remarkable achievements, coming before most member States of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with a greater revenue. Indeed, in terms of procedures and delays needed to formalize a business, Togo is far above average recorded in sub-Saharan Africa and OECD’s 36 member States.

While according to the Doing Business, four procedures and 5.5 days are needed in Togo to make a business formal, the report states that it takes about 7.3 procedures and more than 23 days in sub-Saharan Africa to do so, and 4.9 procedures and 9.3 days in OECD.

In WAEMU, Togo which is the third country under the Doing Business, behind Côte d’Ivoire and Benin, is also the nation in the region to have implemented the most reforms over the period reviewed.

Togo aims to become leading “blue” touristic destination in West Africa by 2022

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Aiming for the country to turn into a perfect location for seaside, cultural, sport, business, ecologic and agricultural tourism, the government plans to develop structuring project and provide Togo a new touristic identity.

Hence, emulating Rwanda’s ‘Visit Rwanda’ program, Togo’s authorities plan to adopt the “Go to Togo” slogan to become a tourism hub in the sub-region.

To achieve this goal, Lomé intends to diversify, boost, valorize its touristic and hospitality offer (focusing on culture, craftsmanship, economic and social sectors) via systematic labelling and rating ; facilitate investment in tourism and hospitality, in addition to improving both the legal and structural frameworks of the sector.

Presently, Togo is refining its strategy to unlock the potential of its tourism industry given that it is one of its economic drivers.

Clearly stated, the nation aims to “increase tourism’s contribution to GDP to 6.2% in 2022, from 4% in 2015”. In the same framework, it expects “number of visitors per 100 people to reach 5 by 2022, from 3.2 in 2015, and revenue per visitor to reach $700 in 2022, from $520 in 2015”.

This dynamism should result in the creation of at least 10,000 decent jobs by 2022.

Ghana, Togo to sign maritime boundary treaty 2019

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The timetable is one of many provisional arrangements from the second joint Ghana-Togo Maritime Boundary Delimitation Meeting held in the Togolese capital, Lome, last week.

Arrangements

The two parties also agreed that pending the final resolution of the boundary delimitation, provisional arrangements be implemented to allow both countries to continue activities within the disputed area, in accordance with the relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Head of the Ghanaian delegation to the Togo meeting, Mr Lawrence Apaalse, said the latest meeting was an advancement of the first meeting held last June in Ghana which ended with various disagreements.

“I must say that today we have various points of agreement, which is a huge milestone in our deliberations. The two countries have agreed on a timetable that will result in a final maritime boundary treaty by the end of the second quarter of 2019,” he said.

2019 target

Mr Apaalse served as technical advisor to Ghana’s legal team on the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime boundary dispute arbitration at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and was also the National Coordinator of the Ghana Continental Shelf Project that made the submission to the United Nations for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

He said although the timelines were ambitious, they were achievable.

“The 2019 target is an ambitious programme, but with the commitment and determination shown by both sides, it will be achieved,” he added.

He said in order not to limit the interaction between the two countries to only scheduled meetings, the two sides had nominated permanent focal persons to facilitate regular communication on a day-to-day basis.

The two sides, Mr Apaalse said, had also agreed to propose an agenda that would deal with the purely technical issues of the negotiations, with the technical session slated for the middle of this month.

Joint communique

In a communique signed by Mr Apaalse and the Leader of the Togolese delegation, Mr Stanislas Baba, the two countries stressed that dialogue was essential in the process, “considering the special bonds of kinship, brotherhood and friendship, as well as solidarity, which existed between Ghana and Togo, sustained through our history, geography and culture”.

The communique said the two sides had committed themselves to negotiating in the spirit of friendly relations and good neighbourliness on the basis of a special bond which would ensure the maintenance of peace and stability between the two countries.

Background

Ghana’s upstream oil and gas activities toward its eastern border with Togo have, in the recent past, met firm opposition from Togo, leading to the cessation of activities between December 2017 and May 2018.

Officials from Togo also stopped two vessels from Ghana from undertaking seismic activities to acquire data.

Togo had claimed ownership of the disputed maritime boundary.

This comes on the heels of the landmark resolution of a similar impasse between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire over a maritime border demarcation.

Uganda to set up new force to make Kampala safe

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About 6,000 LDUs are currently being trained to help the security forces curb crime following a wave of high-profile murders. Critics have memories of the last time a civilian militia existed. Some of its members were accused of abusing their positions, and becoming criminals themselves.

LDUs are expected to patrol neighbourhoods, pass on intelligence to police, and give them back-up when they are dealing with incidents of crime. Recruits are being promised a monthly salary of 200,000 Uganda shillings ($50; £40). There is an enormous queue – typical of any recruitment drive in a country where there is a shortage of jobs.

Soldiers are spearheading the recruitment process, weeding out those who do not have the right paperwork. The hopefuls are put through a physical test, including a run of 4km (2.5 miles). Security Minister Elly Tumwiine told the LDUs would “be accountable to the army and work alongside the police”. “It is a joint operation,” he added.

U.A.E. Military Base in Breakaway Somaliland to Open by June

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The U.A.E. is growing its military presence in the Horn of Africa to help protect trade flows through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a key shipping lane used by oil tankers and other cargo vessels en route to the Suez Canal. Emirati footholds in Somaliland and Eritrea provide strategic locations as the U.A.E. supports the Saudi Arabia-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The surveillance system will be used to protect the base in the Somaliland port town of Berbera and monitor the territory’s 800-kilometer (500-mile) coastline, former ambassador to the U.A.E. Bashe Awil Omar said. Pirates have hijacked vessels off Somaliland’s coast, including the seizure of a vessel in March 2017.

“The U.A.E. military base will help the whole region — piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping: we don’t have resources to watch our coast,” Bashe said in an interview in Somaliland’s main city of Hargeisa. “The U.A.E. has become the hub of the whole region in terms of trade. For the U.A.E. to secure that strategic position, it cannot do that if it does not secure the lifeline of trade.”

The 42 square-kilometer (16 square-mile) facility will consist of a naval base and two parallel runways, he said. Situated adjacent to a port operated by state-owned DP World Ltd., its first runway of 4.9-kilometers is almost 60 percent complete, according to Bashe, who moved to the post of ambassador to Kenya in August.

Government of Rwanda – World Bank Sign a $20 million Agreement to Support Public Financial Management Reforms.

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The Public Financial Management Reform Project (PFMRP) will support the Ministry of Finance in expansion of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) coverage and Electronic Government Procurement System (e-GP) as well as provide IT backbone to all decision-making processes in the country.

After the signing, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana noted that:“Building on the results of the Governance Program-for-Reforms, and successful implementation of the FMIS and e-Government Procurement by the Government, this component will help stabilize the systems, expand their functionality and support the IFMIS roll out to service delivery units by enhancing functionality and stability of the system.”

World Bank Group Country Manager, Yasser El- Gammal said: “This agreement will support the Government to have more reliable medium term budget, and support human capital that is involved in the public financial management space.”

The project will also increase professionalization of public finance officials by funding a mass scale professionalization program for the public finance officials in the areas of accounting and audit, budgeting, procurement.

Beneficiaries of this project include the management and officials of Ministry pf Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda Public Procurement Authority, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda. It will also benefit the private sector and households who through improvements in transparency and more efficient management of public resources which will ultimately lead to improvements in the volume and quality of public services.

SWIFT Caves To US Pressure By Cutting Off Iranian Banks

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Shortly after Trump reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran on November 5, the international financial messaging system SWIFT announced the suspension of several Iranian banks from its service. “In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” SWIFT said.

The Belgium-based financial messaging service added:

“This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

SWIFT’s decision has further undermined EU efforts to maintain trade with Iran and save an international deal with Tehran to curtail its nuclear program, after President Donald Trump pulled the US out in May. Being cut off from SWIFT makes it difficult for Iran to get paid for exports and to pay for imports, mostly of oil.

As a further note, the EU was one of the few entities not to receive a sanctions waiver from the US earlier this week.

The European Commission was understandably displeased, and on Wednesday said it found the SWIFT decision “regrettable”.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned SWIFT it could be penalized if it doesn’t cut off financial services to entities and individuals doing business with Iran. However, by complying with Washington, SWIFT now faces the threat of punitive action from Brussels.

Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut off Iran from the financial system as it did in 2012 before the nuclear deal. Six years, ago the EU imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, forcing SWIFT, which is subject to EU laws, to cut financial transactions with at least 30 of Iran’s financial institutions, including the central bank.

Iranian banks were reconnected to the network in 2016 after the Iran nuclear deal came into force, allowing much needed foreign cash to flow into Tehran’s coffers.

Gold is back. That’s a worrying sign

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Gold has been a dud of an investment for much of the year, but it has started to regain some of its luster.

The price of gold is up 3.5% since the start of October. During the same period, the S&P 500 has fallen 6.5%.
Gold tends to do hold up well in times of turmoil and it’s a particularly compelling investment when people are worried about inflation — like they are now. Wages grew at their fastest clip since 2009, according to October’s jobs report.
Gold is particularly attractive to central banks looking for safe, liquid assets. Central bank purchases of gold increased by 22% during the third quarter . That’s the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Natalie Dempster, managing director for central banks and public policy at the World Gold Council.
During the past couple of years, most gold purchases had been made by Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan. They are still major gold buyers, and countries like India, Poland and Hungary, have aggressively ramped up purchases lately, Dempster noted. But central bank purchases are drawing attention.

More information…

Glencore’s Katanga unit halts cobalt exports from Kamoto mine

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The copper and cobalt producer said levels of the radioactive metal exceeded the acceptable limit allowed for export through major African ports.

The suspension is expected to defer Katanga’s revenue from cobalt sales to the second half of 2019 from the fourth quarter of 2018, and the first two quarters of next year.

The company noted it would build an ion exchange system to remove uranium, which is expected to cost about $25 million and be ready by the end of the second quarter. In the meantime, it will stockpile the vital battery ingredient while continuing to mine both cobalt and copper.

Shares in Katanga fell as much as 33% in Toronto to the lowest since May 2017, while Glencore’s dropped almost 2.9% in London by closing time.

Katanga’s assets include the Kamoto underground mine and KOV open-pit mine, providing sulfide and oxide ores respectively. It also owns the Kamoto concentrator and Luilu metallurgical plant for the onsite production of refined copper and cobalt.

The decision of halting exports comes almost a year after Katanga resumed processing of copper and cobalt, which had been suspended since Sept. 2015, during the construction phases of the ore leach project.

Katanga contributed 102,600 mt of copper and 6,500 mt of cobalt to Glencore’s nine-months 2018 production totals.

For the full year 2018, the Swiss miner and commodities traders expected to produce 39,000 mt of cobalt, plus/minus 2,000 mt, and 1.465 million mt of copper, plus/minus 20,000 mt, with Katanga expected to contribute around 11,000 mt of cobalt and 150,000 mt of copper.

Uganda, UAE sign deal to boost food, beef export

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Minister Vincent Sempijja flanked by state minister for economic monitoring Hood Katuramu, UAE’s minister for food security, Mariam Al Mehairi and other officials at the signing of the pact. Photo/ Courtesy

Uganda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a deal to establish one of the world’s only agricultural free zones in a bid to enhance food security in the Emirates.

The agriculture, fisheries and animal industry minister, Vincent Sempijja said, the 2,500 hectare free zone will allow private companies from the UAE to invest in agricultural production and development in Uganda.

The UAE’s minister for food security, Mariam Al Mehairi said, it will also act as a launch pad for further investment into East and central Africa. “There is a lot of potential to be unlocked in that area,” she said.

The agreement was signed on Monday at Agriscape, a two-day exhibition in Abu Dhabi convening dozens of producers, suppliers and investors from across the globe.

It is expected to promote agribusiness between the two countries and will see Ugandan exports of crops and beef rise.

Uganda could also feed its population, bolster agricultural production and begin to export with agribusiness investment, bringing jobs and wealth.

Uganda imports from UAE was $659.72 million during 2017, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. UAE ranks 3rd after China and India in countries making a killing from Uganda in exports.

Food security, the accessibility of safe and nutritious food for all is an area of critical importance for the UAE, where land is largely arid and water is scarce.

As a result, the country imports around 90% of its food and is pursuing mutually-beneficial opportunities in Africa and beyond.

Talks began with the Ugandan Government last year following the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai in February.

Since then, around 14 UAE companies have expressed interest in investing in Uganda, a ministry of agriculture spokesperson said.

“Uganda is very promising,” Khadim Al Darei, deputy chairman of Aldahara, the headline sponsor of Agriscape, was quoted by a UAE based website, the National .

“Currently, only 5% of African land has been utilised for agriculture and the consumers are also coming from Africa. Imagine if we find a way to tap into that. We would reduce speculation in prices and also feed the continent,” he added.

“How can it be that 800 million are suffering from hunger, while we have 600 million people suffering from obesity?”

Food security has topped agendas all over the world as temperatures rise, but it is perhaps most pressing in Africa, where hunger is widespread and conflict and political instability deter investors.

With the continent’s population expected to grow by 1.3 billion by 2050, farming yields will need to increase.