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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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Farmers lament as wild fire, heat waves cut grain harvest in Tunisia

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Farmers union in Tunisia has forecasted that output will fall well short of government hopes following heat waves and fires that are badly damaging the country’s grain harvest.

Farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.

“The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes,” said Rejaibia, a member of the union’s executive office. “Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection.”

The North African country has struggled with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine. That is largely because Ukraine and Russia account for a great amount of the global supply for grains, particularly wheat.

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Mhamoud Elyess Hamza forecasted the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, that is 10% up from last year’s harvest.

Wild fire has had a devastating effect in Tunisia. According to a statement released by the Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies (FTUSA), the insurance industry in the country paid fire insurance claims totalling TND25m ($8m) in 2015 and the quantum jumped over the years to TND107m in 2020. That represented an average increase over 30% a year.

Another farmer, Abderraouf Arfaoui, in Krib, revealed that most of his colleagues had to harvest their grains earlier than usual.

“Usually we begin the harvest season in July, but this year we started on June 18… we are afraid of fires. We must watch our land day and night.

“We must harvest without waiting, even if that reduces the quantity and quality of the wheat, and when we finish the harvest we must watch our haystacks, too.”

 According to Thinkhazard, wildfire hazard is classified as high with more than a 50% chance of encountering weather that could support a significant wildfire that is likely to result in both life and property loss in any given year.

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Zimbabwe’s central bank raises key rate to 200%. Will that help its inflation surge?

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Zimbabwe’s economic woes continue as the Southern African country’s central bank said it was raising its key rate to 200 percent.

The decision makes Zimbabwe’s rate the highest in the world as it battles with soaring inflation persist. The rate was last raised to 80% in April from 60%.

The central bank a statement said it had more than doubled the rate in the push to try to contain inflation, which has been further aggravated by the war in Ukraine, expressing “great concern”.

The key rate is the interest rate at which banks can borrow when they fall short of their required reserves. They may borrow from other banks or directly from the Federal Reserve for a very short period of time.

According to thecentral bank governor, John Mangudya,rising inflation has depressed demand and consumer confidence and if left unchecked will wipe out the significant economic gains made over the past two years.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in deep crisis, including a withdrawal of international donors because of unsustainable debt with inflation rate in Zimbabwe averaging 80.42 percent between 2009 and 2022.

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