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Senegal residents lament rising cost of food items as Ramadan closes in

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Residents of Senegal have been lamenting the rising cost of food items with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan just a few days away.

Basic foodstuffs in the West African country has been on a steady rise following the closure of Senegal’s border with Mali, which has seen the restriction of foodstuff and other items coming into the country.

The worst hit is the capital, Dakar, where residents have been calling on the government to reopen the border so that products can come in.

The closure of the Senegal-Mali border was necessitated by a range of
economic and diplomatic sanctions against Mali, including border closures, by ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) in January, following a coup staged by the military.

The sanctions by the regional bodies were meant to deal a blow to the Malian junta, but the effect of the sanctions have gone beyond Mali and are now taking tolls on neighbouring countries including The Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso and even as far as Nigeria, where prices of goods have skyrocketed.

A resident of Dakar, Ndèye Marie Diop, who spoke on the price increase, said:

“The closure of the Mali border has made things worse because there are products that Senegal does not have and that leave Guinea, Mali or the Ivory Coast, and inevitably, one must pass through Mali before coming to Senegal.

“Things will be very difficult during Ramadan under these conditions.
There are all these problems, they must open the border. All the products are there. If the border is closed, what will come in?”

Metro

Zambia signs creditor agreement deal with China, India to resolve debt crisis

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President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia has announced the signing of an official creditor agreement with China and India that will help resolve the country’s debt crisis.

Hichilema, who made the announcement on Saturday, said the agreement would also help pave the way for the country to negotiate with private creditors.

Before signing the agreement, Zambia had struggled to revive its debt restructuring process after a deal to rework $3 billion Eurobonds was rejected by its official creditors, with international media reporting that China and other creditors did not believe that it offered comparable debt relief to that of bondholders.

Earlier on Friday, Minister of Finance, Situmbeko Musokotwane, had assured that the government was trying to clarify the meaning of a “comparable treatment” with bondholders.

However, while addressing a gathering during the Nc’wala ceremony of the Ngoni speaking people of Eastern Province, President Hichilema confirmed the signing of the agreement with the two Asian nations.

“On the official creditors’ side, the last two countries that had not signed, China and India, have now signed,” Hichilema said.

The President added that Zambia was now turning to the private creditors in a bid to address the debt issue because the had defaulted on its foreign debts in November 2020 and that its restructuring had been beset by delays.

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Metro

Four of 10 Nigerians indebted to loan sharks— Report

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A report from a research carried out by Nigerian fintech platform, Piggy Vest, has revealed that four out of 10 Nigerians are indebted to online loan sharks and are finding it difficult to come out of such debts.

The report noted that 26 per cent of average Nigerians were indebted to different loan apps spread across the country which is as a result of the harsh economic challenges brought about by different unfavourable government policies.

The report which was discussed at a Finance Roundtable in Lagos on Saturday by co-founder and COO of PiggyVest, Odun Eweniyi, lamented the widening wealth divide among Nigerians, saying it was inimical to economic growth as a vast majority of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

According to Eweniyi, the report ‘captures the attitude of different demographics in the country viz- a-viz their savings and spending habits, debt management, and future financial plans.’

As a panacea to solving the problems of indebtedness, Eweniyi advocated ‘savings before spending in order to avoid running into debt,’ adding that the option of savings was still elusive to Nigerians who live below the poverty line of $2 per day dollars per day.

“We must also know that while innovation is key, it cannot go far without social interventions for the people.”

She urged the government to focus on Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid in its conversation as well as simplify access to public credit facilities to improve income status of average Nigerians.

“This is why government must as much as possible explore collaboration with private sector to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and also drive financial literacy and inclusion,” Eweniyi emphasized.

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