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Ghana bans local transactions in foreign currencies, violators risk 18 months jail term

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In a move to strengthen its local currency – Cedis, and fortify the Ghanaian economy, the Ghanaian government has banned spending and transaction of businesses in foreign currencies in the country.

The Central Bank of Ghana, announced in a statement (Pdf) on Thursday, that citizens and companies are to stop transacting business, pricing goods and services and advertising in foreign currencies.

“The Public is hereby notified that the sole legal tender in Ghana is the Ghana Cedi.” Part of the statement reads.

The country’s apex bank warned that “violations are punishable on summary conviction, by a fine of up to seven hundred (700) penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than eighteen (18) months, or both.”

“Engaging in foreign exchange business without a licence issued by Bank of Ghana; or pricing, advertising, receipting or making payments for goods and services in foreign currency in Ghana, without written authorisation from Bank of Ghana,” the statement reads.

The bank also cautioned the public to stop transacting business from the black market.

“Bank of Ghana hereby cautions the general public to desist from dealing in illegal forex activities (black market transactions), pricing, advertising, receipting, or making payments for goods and services in foreign currency in Ghana, without the requisite license or authorization from Bank of Ghana,” it added.

The Bank of Ghana also said it has collaborated with the national security and law enforcement agencies to clamp down on illegal foreign exchange operations.

Ghana economies have been battling with fiscal slippages, whilst their rising debts have created fears among investors regarding their economic outlook.

Against its position as the best performing currency in the world in 2020, a report on Bloomberg in February 2021 says the Ghana cedi is now the worst-performing currency among Africa’s top currencies.

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Somalia gives foreign banks licence to operate in decades

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The Somali government has announced the licensing of foreign banks for the first time in over two decades six weeks after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was sworn into office following an elections that took years to conduct following a lingering political crisis.

The announcement which was made on Monday by the governor of the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, said the war-ravaged country has granted banking licenses to two foreign institutions to operate in the country after President Mohamoud had promised to open the country to international investment during his campaigns for the elections.

The first foreign banking institutions to benefit from the decision are Egyptian bank, Banque Misr, and Turkish bank, Ziraat Katilim, who have been allowed to operate in Somalia.

“The review of the applications of these two banks has been the subject of a lengthy process of several months.

“These are two strong banks that will add value to the development of Somalia’s financial sector and contribute to the growth of our economy,” the CBS governor said

Ranked one of the poorest countries in the world by the World Bank, the average Somalian lives on less than $1.90 a day as the country struggles to recover from decades civil war and and opening its doors to foreign investments is seen as President Mohamoud fulfilment of his pledge to improve the economic situation and provide basic banking services to the population.

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Egypt Suez Canal announces record $7bn profit in 2021-2022

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The management of the Egyptian Suez Canal has announced a record profit of $7 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which it said was as a result of repeatedly raising transit fees for ships through the crucial passage for world trade.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA), said on Monday that between July 2021 and June 2022, about 1.32 billion tonnes of cargo transited through the canal, providing a $7 billion rent in transit fees, which is the highest in the history of the SCA, its Executive Chairman, Admiral Osama Rabie, said.

Rabie added that the Canal was able to increase its profit by 20.7% compared to the previous financial year where it made €5.5 billion.

The Suez Canal handles about 10% of the world’s maritime trade and is one of Cairo’s main sources of foreign currency and despite the war in Ukraine and the rise in the oil price which has affected shipping, the canal also recorded its highest monthly turnover in April, valued at €605 million according to Rabie.

“The international crises have demonstrated the importance of the Suez Canal for the stability of global supply chains,” Rabie said.

He added that the Canal has contributed significantly to the growth of the North African country’s economy which has been caught between inflation of over 15% and a recent devaluation of the pound by nearly 20%, which had increased transit fees for oil and gas shipments by 6% in February and then by 5 to 10% in March.

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