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South Africa records 4.9% economic growth after 6.4% contraction in 2020

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Fresh data from South Africa shows the country’s economy grew by 4.9% in the 2021 calendar year after contracting by 6.4% in 2020.

Statistics South Africa said gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.2% quarter on quarter in the last three months of 2021 following a contraction of 1.7% in the third quarter.

According to the agency, the expansion in the final quarter of 2021 was driven by a recovery in agriculture and manufacturing.

Agriculture expanded by 12.2% quarter on quarter, manufacturing by 2.8% and retail trade sales by 2.9%. But mining contracted by 3.1%, construction by 2.2% and finance by 0.8%.

The South African economy has struggled to gain traction despite promises of sweeping reforms made by President Cyril Ramaphosa after he took office in 2018, with persistent electricity cuts choking growth, among other woes.

2021 recorded an increase compared to a 6.4% contraction in GDP in 2020 when the country entered the pandemic as it was already in recession.

These economic difficulties are reflected in the record unemployment rates recorded in 2021: from 34.9% in October, it reached up to 65% among young people, according to the latest official statistics.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Ramaphosa’s efforts and pressure has built for his government to take corrective action after the unemployment rate hit a record high of nearly 35% last year.

The finance ministry expects economic growth of 2.1% this year, a rate officials and economists have said is far below the level required to make a meaningful dent in unemployment and poverty.

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Tanzanian Central Bank reduces economic liquidity to curb rising inflation

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The Tanzanian Central Bank on Saturday said one of the measures it has taken to slow down rising inflation in September and October is to reduce the liquidity in the economy.

A statement published by the east African country’s apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), said inflation in the country has been on the rise since the beginning of the year, rising from 4.6% on August from a previous 4.5% in July.

MPC said while the country’s economy was facing a range of challenges, including weak global growth, high commodity prices, tight financial conditions and the recurrence of COVID-19 in some countries, it was necessary to reduce the liquidity to stabilise the economy.

“In the context of high inflation and commodity prices, which has contributed to rising inflationary pressures in the country, the MPC approved for the bank to continue with gradual reduction of liquidity in September and October 2022.

“The policy decision aims at reducing inflationary pressures, while safeguarding economic activities,” the statement said.

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Air traffic controllers in West, Central Africa suspend strike for negotiations after 48-hour disruption

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The industrial action by air traffic controllers in West and Central Africa has been suspended.

The unions announced the suspension after a 48-hour strike having disrupted flights across the region and left hundreds of passengers stranded at airports.

According to a statement by the Union of Air Traffic Controllers’ Unions (USYCAA), the decision to suspend its strike notice for 10 days immediately so as to allow for negotiations.

“Air traffic services will be provided in all air spaces and airports managed by ASECNA from today Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 1200 GMT,” the statement said.

One of the stranded passengers, Nsoh Brinston, lamented on how the strike would make him spend more than his budget on his intended travel to Kigali, Rwanda.

“I will have to spend more than I intended due to the cancelled flight. I will have to do another COVID test which costs 30,000 CFA francs ($45),” he said.’

Also, eight flights scheduled to leave the commercial hub of Abidjan on Saturday were cancelled in Ivory Coast.

Industries like aviationtelecom operators have all their operations disrupted across Africa lately largely as part of the fallout of the Russian/Ukraine war which has caused a hike in aviation fuel.

It is yet to be seen if the negotiations between air traffic controllers and government authorities will birth lasting solutions to the challenge which now cuts across the continent.

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