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Standard Chartered shuts operations in 5 African countries, reviews stands in 2. Here’s why

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Standard Chartered Bank said it has decided to end its operations in seven countries in the Middle East and Africa. According to the Group, the decision is “as set out in its full-year 2021 results presentation to accelerate its strategy, deliver efficiencies, reduce complexity and drive scale.”

The decision was made public in a statement africanewswatch.com retrieved on the company’s website.

“Today the Group announces a set of actions to redirect resources within its Africa and the Middle East (“AME”) region to those areas where it can have the greatest scale and growth potential, in order to better support its clients.” The statement reads.

The decision is however subject to regulatory approval as the Group now intends to exit onshore operations in seven markets in AME. “The seven markets where there will be a full exit of operations are Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.”

Standard Chartered also reviewed its position in two other African countries. “In Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire, the Consumer, Private and Business Banking businesses will be exited and the focus will turn solely to CCIB.”

The exit decision is a course for worry, particularly for African countries, many of which largely depends on foreign investment to drive their economy. Exit or lack of foreign investment are developments that threaten fragile economies like Africa.   Slamreportsafrica.com reported on Thursday that Ride-hailing company, Uber, has suspended its services in Tanzania as a result of regulations that are not business-friendly which has made its operation in the East African country.

Also recall that Nigeria’s official data source, for one of Africa’s biggest economies earlier this month, released data (Pdf), which indicated that 24 out of 36 states of the Nigerian Federation got no Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the year 2021.

As Standard Chartered Group CEO, Bill Winters, said, the group as with other profitably structured companies “focuses on the most significant opportunities for growth while also simplifying business”, African countries most beyond their leaders holidaying across the world in the guise of looking for foreign investors, rather position their economies for growth opportunities for potential investors.

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Binance in talks with Nigerian govt over executive’s detention

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Following the arrest of Binance’s head of financial crime compliance by Nigerian authorities last month, the company’s CEO said Thursday that the company was working very closely with Nigerian officials.

The trial against Tigran Gambaryan, the executive, and another Binance employee, who are accused of moving more than $35 million, had been put off until May 2 in Nigeria, the country’s anti-corruption body said on April 8.

“What I can say is we are working very closely with the Nigerian authorities to try to resolve the matter,” CEO Richard Teng said, speaking about Gambaryan’s case during the Token2049 crypto conference in Dubai.

Former executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan who works as a regional manager for Africa, escaped detention in Nigeria last month. While in Nigeria, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan were arrested by the country’s anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after arriving on February 26, after which the country banned several websites that traded cryptocurrencies.

Before they were arrested, the head of Nigeria’s central bank said that Binance was being investigated in Nigeria because of “suspicious flows” of cash through Binance Nigeria in 2023. The Securities and Trade Commission of the United States and other government agencies have susbsisting restrictions on bitcoin trade.

Besides the case brought by the EFCC, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria’s tax office, has also charged Binance and the executives with tax evasion.

Sacheendran declined to comment on the charges against the company but stressed that “This was a one-off. It’s never happened to us before”. The Binance head of regional markets told Reuters on the sidelines of the Dubai conference when asked about the detentions.

Additionally, Binance revealed on Thursday that it had obtained a license from VARA, Dubai’s regulatory body. This will enable the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange to target regular people in addition to qualified and institutional ones.

Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday, citing sources, that parts of VARA’s process to give the license included Changpeng Zhao, the founder and former CEO of Binance, giving up vote control of the Dubai unit.

“That’s pure speculation. Again, we don’t comment on media speculation… Our relationship, our dealings with regulators are confidential,” Teng told journalists.

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IMF says South Africa needs to do more to cut spending, lower debt-to-GDP ratio

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A top official from the International Monetary Fund has revealed that South Africa needs to do more to cut spending and lower its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio. The multilateral body stressed that the ratio is expected to rise from 74% in 2022 to almost 86% by 2029.

Era Dabla-Norris, deputy head of Fiscal Affairs, said that the government could cut back on transfers to state-owned businesses, make cuts to subsidies that don’t help specific companies, and make big changes to the way the economy works to boost growth.

She told a news conference that South Africa’s energy and logistics problems had to be fixed right away.

A Statista study shows that between 2023 and 2028, the South African national debt was expected to keep going up by a total of 163.3 billion U.S. dollars, or 59.99%.

The national debt is expected to hit a new high point of 435.46 billion U.S. dollars in 2028, after going up for ten years in a row. Notably, the national debt has steadily risen over the past few years.

The IMF says that the general government’s gross debt is made up of all its debts that need to be paid back with interest and/or capital at some point in the future.

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