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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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AfreximBank to train African companies under AfCFTA

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The African Export-Import Bank declared that it would begin a programme of capacity building to enable African companies to capitalize on the advantages of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The continental bank said in a statement on Wednesday that its academy will oversee the capacity-building initiative in coordination with the AfCFTA Secretariat.

With 54 of the 55 members of the African Union signing the AfCFTA, the number of participating countries makes it the largest free trade area in the world.

According to Afreximbank, the American University in Cairo will work with them to offer the training, slated to take place in September in Cairo, Egypt.

The bank declared that it will concentrate on the AfCFTA’s commercial ramifications and the many opportunities it offers African businesses.

“Afreximbank is a key supporter of the implementation of the AfCFTA, whose focus is on transforming Africa from a fractured, commodity-dependent group of economies to a vibrant, integrated single market of about two billion people with a combined GDP of about $3.4tn,” said Dr. Yemi Kale, Group Chief Economist and Managing Director of Research at Afreximbank, in response to the program.

“In this regard, we believe that well-informed and prepared businesses are key to driving intra- and extra-African trade and investment. Through this training program, which is one of the numerous capacity-building initiatives the Bank has put in place to promote intra- and extra-African trade and investments, we aim to empower African businesses to fully exploit the vast opportunities created by the AfCFTA, thereby enhancing their competitiveness and contributing to sustainable economic growth in Africa.”

Additionally, Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance at the AfCFTA Secretariat, emphasized the significance of capacity building for the AfCFTA’s successful implementation.

Makong said, “Investing in capacity building for the corporates and SMEs will ensure that home-sourced investments are mobilised and deficits with third country markets reduced, proving the AfCFTA to be the single most important instrument that de-risks the African continent in its entirety when it comes to investments.”

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Ghana: Inflation decreases to 22.8%

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According to the statistics office, Ghana’s consumer inflation decreased for a third straight month in June, falling from 23.1% in May to 22.8% year over year.

Samuel Kobina Annim, a government statistician, stated at a press conference that the June inflation was mostly caused by a decrease in non-food inflation, which fell to 21.6%, sufficient to offset a rise in food inflation.

The West African nation that produces oil, gold, and cocoa is struggling to recover from a financial catastrophe.

Last week, it overcame a significant obstacle to restructure its foreign obligations when its official creditors verified that the suggested debt rework was not unduly advantageous to bondholders.

In Ghana, the rate of inflation was approximately 9.98 per cent higher than the previous year. By 2029, inflation in Ghana is expected to have dropped to 8% from its peak of about 17.5% in 2016.

Economists say that a stable economy of a nation should aim for a constant inflation rate of two to three per cent. The rise in consumer goods and services prices over a specific period is known as inflation.

Excessive money supply is often the cause of high inflation rates, which can lead to hyperinflation—that is, inflation that happens too quickly and swiftly, devaluing currency and even triggering a recession or even an economic collapse.

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