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Banks reluctant to lend in Ghana. Why it matters

A reluctance by banks in Ghana to lend is threatening to stall one of Africa’s fastest expanding economies.

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A reluctance by banks in Ghana to lend is threatening to stall one of Africa’s fastest expanding economies.

With almost a quarter of all outstanding loans in the country at risk of not being repaid, credit granted to the private sector is increasing at nearly the slowest pace in four years.

At stake is the 6.8% growth that the government is hoping to achieve to boost revenue and narrow its budget deficit.

Gross domestic product in West Africa’s second-largest economy experienced its quickest expansion in five years in 2017 as oil and gas production surged and following a peaceful transition in government which saw President Nana Akufo-Addo take power.

Read Also: All you need to know about sack of Mozambique airline board

While inflation has almost halved to 10% last month, allowing the central bank room to cut its benchmark rate to a four-year low, companies are yet to reap the benefit from these moves as they struggle to repay older loans and access new credit.

Banks “said they are playing it safe because of a loans-defaulting trend,” Edem Harrison, an economist at Accra-based Frontline Capital Advisors, said by phone. “It looks most certain that the GDP growth target will be missed this year.”

Non-performing loans increased almost 21% to a record 8.63 billion cedis ($1.8bn) in April compared with a year earlier, the central bank said on Tuesday.

The Bank of Ghana has since last year tripled minimum capital requirements for lenders, liquidated two banks for failing to adhere to capital-adequacy requirements and placed UniBank under administration.

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Ivory Coast aims regional shipping hub, completes $953 million container terminal

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West African country, Ivory Coast is making waves at becoming a regional shipping hub as it has completed construction of a second container terminal at its main port in Abidjan.

The project, financed by China’s Eximbank by 85% and 15% by the Ivorian state costs about 596 billion CFA francs ($953 million).

The new container terminal, called Cote d’Ivoire Terminal (CIT), started operations on Nov. 1 but was officially unveiled at a press conference on Friday. It is able to receive large ships from Asia, Europe, and America that previously had to land goods in South Africa, transferring them to smaller ships to reach West Africa.

The technical director of the terminal Andre N’Doli, remarked “we are no longer a second port. We are becoming a hub,”

“In addition to national traffic, we will handle traffic from other ports that cannot accommodate large vessels,” he told reporters.

According to official data, there has been growth in recent years in the country’s maritime sector. Ivory Coast shipped goods worth USD 12,717 million in 2019, an -8.5% dip as compared to the previous year.

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Ghana makes strong push to save currency, Cedi, orders mining companies to sell 20% stock

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As part of its many initiatives to out of its current economic challenge, Ghana has ordered all large-scale mining companies to sell 20% of their entire stock.

The gold rich country wants the companies to pay the Bank of Ghana with refined gold at their refineries from Jan. 1, 2023.

According to Vice-President, Mahamudu Bawumia said in a social media post on Friday, the government is planning a new policy where gold rather than U.S. dollar reserves will be used to buy oil products.

The move is meant to tackle dwindling foreign currency reserves coupled with the demand for dollars by oil importers, which is weakening the local cedi and increasing living costs.

“The Bank of Ghana and the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) will coordinate with the large-scale mining companies to ensure compliance with this directive,” the vice-president said.

“The gold to be purchased by the Bank of Ghana and the PMMC will be in cedis at spot price with no discounts,” he added.

The VP further revealed that community mining schemes and licensed small-scale miners will also have to sell gold to the government.

Statista reports that gold reserves in Ghana stood at a volume of 8.74 metric tons from the first quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2021.

Moreover, gold mine production in the country reached a volume of 150 metric tons in 2020, an increase compared to the previous year. Ghana did not suspend its production of gold in 2020 amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ghana hinted at the Gold for payment policy in May but the continued fall to a point of being rated worst in the world demands pragmatic measures. Hopefully, the gold-for-pay policy will bring some solace.

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