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Canada freezes out foreign house ownership for two years

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Foreigners wishing to buy homes in Canada will have to wait for a while as the North American country has imposed a two-year ban on foreign property purchases in a bid to curb a market that has left home grown buyers in despair due to unfavourable competition.

The ban which also comes with other measures aimed at protecting homegrown business people, was announced on Monday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, highlighted the huge price increases across Canada’s real estate market where prices have soared by more than 50 per cent in the past two years.

In announcing the ban on foreign home buying and higher taxes for people who sell their homes within a year, the government said both measures, however, hold exceptions, including for permanent residents and foreign students.

According to a recent report in Bloomberg, “home prices in Canada have surged more than 50 per cent over the past two years and the housing market had a record monthly increase in February as buyers acted before rate increases by the Bank of Canada, taking the benchmark price of a home to the equivalent of US$693,000.”

What the ban means for would-be homeowners in Canada, especially migrants from Africa, is they would not be able to purchase houses in the next two years.

And even when the ban expires, owning a home will be more stringent as the country plans to do away with the practice of “blind bidding” where offers are kept secret when someone is selling a home, only for higher bids to spring up to knock out the smaller bids.

The secret bidding is being blamed for accelerating price gains with properties often selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price, leading to a bidding war often won by foreign investors.

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Musings From Abroad

World Bank supports Kenyan central bank’s interest rate hike

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The World Bank has noted that the decision of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to raise interest rates, and the partial payment of its Eurobond have contributed to the recent stability of the Kenyan Shilling.

 

Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) Monetary Policy Committee raised the policy rate by 50 basis points to 13.00% at its first meeting of 2024 on February 6, 2024. The policy rate then rose to its highest level in more than ten years. It was a big surprise to most market experts that the rate went up after being raised by 200 basis points in December.

 

The Central Bank Rate (CBR) was raised twice in a row by CBK in December and February, bringing it up from 10.5% to 13%. The main goal was to support the shilling by getting foreign investors to put their money into local investments like government bonds.

 

 

The international lender says that the Central Bank of Kenya’s move to raise the benchmark lending rate has helped protect the local currency. They also say that the demand for shilling has grown because Eurobond notes that mature in June are being partially repaid.

 

So far this year, the shilling has gained the most value compared to other currencies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Zambian Kwacha has also gained some value, but not as much.

 

“The Kenyan shilling is the best-performing currency in the sub-continent, and it recorded an appreciation of 16% so far this year. After strengthening by 14% in mid-February, the Zambian Kwacha has lost some ground and recorded a year-to-date appreciation of 2.4% as of mid-March. In both cases, the monetary authority hiked interest rates to defend their currencies,” the World Bank notes in a new regional outlook report.

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Musings From Abroad

WHO says Nigeria is the first country to use new meningitis vaccine

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Nigeria is the first country in the world to give out the “revolutionary” new vaccine— Men5CV.

Nigeria is one of the places in Africa where the sickness is doing the most damage. The WHO says that the number of yearly cases rose by 50% in 26 African countries that are considered to have a high risk of meningitis.

Nigeria reported 1686 possible cases of meningitis between October 1, 2022, and April 16, 2023. Of these, 124 people died, giving the country a case fatality rate (CFR) of 7%.

Meningitis is a very bad illness of the meninges, which are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is a terrible disease that poses a big threat to public health.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal to eliminate meningitis by 2030,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The WHO says that from October of last year to the middle of March of this year, there were 1,742 probable cases and 153 deaths in seven states in Nigeria.

The WHO said that the new vaccine will protect against all five major types of the disease that are common in Nigeria. This is different from the first vaccine, which only protected against one strain.

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