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



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.


South Africa’s FM, Naledi Pandor, wants quick solution to Ghana, MTN tax dispute



South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor wants the tax dispute between the tech company and the Ghanaian tax authorities solved.

The minister on Friday called MTN Group, which has a presence in 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East, and the Ghana Revenue Authority to find a solution to a $773 million tax dispute.

South Africa’s Department Of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement, Minister Pandor was briefed on the issue this week and called “on the parties involved to do everything possible to find an amicable solution.”

Two weeks ago, the South African mobile operator giant revealed that its Ghanaian subsidiary has received a bill for back taxes of around $773 million. The billing came after the tax authority audited MTN for the years 2014 to 2018 and inferring that it had under-declared its revenue by about 30% during the period.

MTN said it disputes the “accuracy and basis” of the assessment and that it would fight it.

MTN Ghana is the largest company in Ghana by market capitalization as the annual data revenue of MTN Ghana (Scancom PLC) amounted to over 2.7 billion Ghanaian cedis (GHS) in 2021.

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Ivory Coast to increase cocoa processing capacity with new plants



Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa-producing country in the world, has hinted that it will increase the amount of cocoa it processes domestically to 49%.

According to the head of the sector, the regulator said on Friday, the increase is projected to begin in production starting from October with the addition of several new plants.

The new plants will allow the country to process more than 1 million tonnes of cocoa annually, making it the world’s leading cocoa grinder,

Ivory Coast boasts of annual production of about 2.2 million tonnes with 35-40% processed in the country and the rest exported, but the government has a goal of increasing that to at least 50%.

The country recently signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new plant in San Pedro with a grinding capacity of 120,000 tonnes, said Yves Brahima Kone, director general of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), who was in Abu Dhabi this month to open a new CCC office.

“This permanent representation (in Abu Dhabi) is the fruit of our new vision for Ivorian cocoa that we want to export all over the world. This office will allow us to explore markets in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa,” he told journalists

Ivory Coast also expects two new factories financed by China to enter into production in October, with a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes each, Kone said.

In November, the two biggest cocoa producers, Ivory Coast and West African neighbour, Ghana pushed for higher prices for their farm products under the Living Income Differential (LID) and vowed to charge a premium of $400 per tonne on all cocoa sales, starting with the 2020/21 harvest.

The lack of technology and industries to process its produce has fanned discussions about Africa being a raw material economy and extractive centers for industrial western countries that are advanced, able processed and positioned to maximize the resources.

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