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World Bank approves $750 million loan for Kenya’s COVID-19 recovery

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The World Bank, in an effort to accelerate Kenya’s ongoing inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, on Thursday approved a $750 million loan for the East African country.

The fund is under the Development Policy Operation (DPO) programme of the World Bank. It is expected to strengthen fiscal sustainability through reforms that contribute to greater transparency and the fight against corruption.

According to the World Bank, its finance policy provides rapidly-disbursing financing to help a borrower address actual or anticipated development financing requirements.

DPF supports borrowers in achieving sustainable, shared growth and poverty reduction through a program of policy and institutional actions aimed at, for example, strengthening public financial management, improving the investment climate, addressing bottlenecks to improve service delivery, and diversifying the economy”.

The Washington-based lender said the loan is on concessional terms at an interest rate of about 3%, and will help the East African nation enhance the performance of its domestic debt market, reform the electricity industry and improve governance,

“The government’s reforms supported by the DPO help reduce fiscal pressures by making public spending more efficient and transparent, and by reducing the fiscal costs and risks from key state-owned entities,” Alex Sienaert, senior economist for the World Bank in Kenya, said in the statement.

It’s the fourth time in three years that Kenya has tapped the DPO facility, bringing cumulative borrowing to $3.25bn. East Africa’s biggest economy received $750m in June last year, $1bn in May 2020, and $750m in 2019. Requests for DPOs are presented to the World Bank’s board after the implementation of agreed reforms.

Critics of the World Bank argue that its loans are a mechanism of forcing free-market economics on countries through coercion. Countries with a debt crisis, whatever their other characteristics, agree to the bank’s package of legal and economic reforms, and the bank agrees to lend them money. Argentina, Ecuador, and India have all either weakened their labour legislation or amended their land laws to qualify for an adjustment loan. India is reported to have changed 20 pieces of major legislation.

Kenya consented to a raft of measures to secure the funding, including shifting government procurement to a new electronic platform to make transactions more transparent and reduce opportunities for corruption, the lender said. By the end of 2023, the programme aims to have five strategically selected ministries, departments, and agencies procuring goods and services through the electronic platform, it said.

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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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