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Italy snubs Russia over Ukraine invasion, signs gas deal with Angola

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As one of the fall-outs of the Ukraine/Russia war, Italy has made move to look for alternative gas supply as the European country on Wednesday penned a deal with Angola to ramp up gas supplies.

A statement from the Italian foreign minister during the declaration of intent was signed to develop “new” natural gas ventures and to increase exports to Italy.
“Today, we have reached another important agreement with Angola to increase gas supplies,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in the statement.
“Italy’s commitment to differentiate energy supply sources is confirmed,” said Di Maio at the end of a two-and-half-hour long visit to Luanda.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Europe to diversify its energy supply.
“Germany and Europe must now quickly make up for what they have missed over the last 20 years,” Stefan Liebing, chairperson of the German-African Business Association, said in a recent press release.
He advised Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck to travel to African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola, which could help free Europe from its dependence on Russian gas.
The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi reportedly want to add Angola and Congo-Brazzaville to a portfolio of suppliers to substitute Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italian gas.
“We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become a political subject,” Draghi said in a local media publication on Sunday.
“Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time — quicker than we imagined just a month ago,” he said.
Draghi was due to go himself but after testing positive for Covid-19 sent Di Maio and Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani in his place.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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Botswana central bank predicts fall of inflation rates, maintains monetary policy

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Botswana’s central bank has predicted that the country’s inflation rate will gradually fall back within its target range by 2024.

The bank is predicting that inflation will fall back within the 3%-6% range in the third quarter of 2024. The prediction has made it keep its monetary policy rate unchanged at 2.65% on Thursday.

The bank’s governor, Moses Pelaelo while speaking at a news conference said “the domestic economy will continue to perform below capacity in the medium term and therefore not pose any inflationary pressures.”

The inflation rate in the Southern African country dipped to 13.1% year on year in October from 13.8% in September but is still far above the central bank’s 3%-6% preferred band.

“The drop in inflation in the past months is due to the dissipating effects of previous increases in administered prices,” Pelaelo said.

According to the World Bank, Botswana’s reliance on diamonds and a public sector-driven model makes the economy vulnerable to external shocks, as diamonds contribute over 80% of total exports and are a major source of fiscal revenues.

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