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Tunisia doubles phosphate output, produces 1.3 million tonnes in Q1 2022

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In the midst of political uncertainty in Tunisia, the North African country has managed to double the production of phosphate to1.3 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2022.

A senior official in government-owned Gafsa Phosphate told a journalist on Sunday that the new feat doubles what the country achieved during this same period last year.

Phosphate is the natural source of phosphorous, an element that provides a quarter of all the nutrients that plants need for their growth and development. Phosphorous is used in many products and is an essential ingredient in all fertilizers.

According to Statista, “in 2019, the total production of phosphates in Tunisia exceeded 1.1 million metric tons. This represented a peak in the period under review. The country’s phosphate production increased compared to the previous year when it stood at around 813 thousand metric tons.”

Reuters reports that Tunisia was once one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate minerals, which are used to make fertilizers, but its market share fell after the 2011 revolution that eventually spread across the Arab region. Raising the production and export of phosphate would provide a valuable boost to Tunisia, which is suffering a financial crisis and is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Tunisia continues efforts to take back its position as a leading exporter of phosphate to take advantage of a sharp increase in fertilizer prices due to the war in Ukraine. Gasfa Phosphate’s Production Manager, Rafaa Nssib revealed that the country “aims to produce 5.5 million tonnes of phosphate this year compared to 3.7 million tonnes last year”

Recall that one of the largest fertilizer plants in the world was recently launched in Nigeria. With Tunisia’s progress in the production of phosphate which is a key ingredient for fertilizer production, Africa might be set to rule the world in that space. Hopefully so.

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Nigeria targets 1,268MW from new power plants

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Eight brown and green field hydropower projects built through public-private partnerships are expected to yield 1,268 megawatts of electricity, according to the Nigerian government.

It was learned that the Federal Executive Council had authorised the concession of one of the power projects, while three other power projects had already been awarded to concessionaires.

According to a February 2024 document that our correspondent was able to receive from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation in Abuja on Friday, three of the hydroelectric projects had already been finished, while the remaining five were in varying states of completion.

Prof. Joseph Utsev, Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, delivered the document to the National Council on Water Resources and Sanitation during its thirty-first regular meeting.

With a population of more than 200 million, the nation has struggled with inadequate power generation and supply, with energy companies producing and distributing between 3,000MW and 4,000MW.

With a combined production of 1,338 megawatts, the Kainji and Jebba hydroelectric dams, operated by Mainstream Energy, provide approximately 33% of Nigeria’s current electricity generation of 4,000 megawatts.

The government has been investing in hydropower plants, which are powered by water turbines instead of gas, to help alleviate the situation. Since January of this year, the appalling state of the electricity supply has gotten worse as gas suppliers to gas-fired thermal power plants have stopped supplying the product to the plants because of the $1.3 billion in debt that the electricity producing facilities owe.

In a recent ministry presentation, the minister of water resources said that significant advancements in brown and green field hydropower production through public-private partnerships had been made.

“We have conclusively concessioned some projects while still developing others through various PPP models itemised as follows: concession of the 40MW Dadinkowa Hydropower Project in Gombe State. We have attained financial closure, and the plant is operational, thereby, stabilising the transmission voltage of the North-East of Nigeria.

“Concession of the 30MW Gurara Hydropower Plant in Kaduna State up to financial closure and the plant, which is under rehabilitation, will commence commercial operation in the third quarter of the year 2024.

“Concession of the 40MW Kashimbila Hydropower Plant in Taraba State. The Federal Executive Council approval has been secured, the concession agreement executed and the commencement fee paid by the concessionaire to the special concession account as approved by the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning,” Utsev said.

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Tanzania begins fresh round of Treasury bond auctions

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In an effort to reduce national debt and increase the amount of money in circulation in the face of a lack of foreign currency, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has started a fresh round of Treasury bond auctions.

Prior to the conclusion of the 2023–2024 fiscal year, the central bank announced plans to reopen 10-year, 15–year, 20–year, and 25–year Treasury bonds. The first event of this plan will be a tender auction for a 20-year bond on February 21 at an interest rate of 15.49 percent.

The bond with the highest interest rate, a 25-year bond, will be reissued on March 6.

According to the BoT’s official auction calendar, at least eight more bond tenders in the four maturity categories will be floated before the end of June, with interest rates starting at 11.44 percent for the 10-year coupon.

Tanzania’s domestic debt was at Tsh30.67 trillion ($12.03 billion) by the end of December 2023, a Tsh485.4 billion ($190.35 million) rise from November, according to the BoT’s monthly review report for January, which was released this week.

According to the report, 75.5 percent or more of the domestic debt stock was made up of Treasury bonds.

Since its debut in April 2021 on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, the 25-year bond has gained significant traction on the DSE, greatly surpassing the popularity of shorter-term options.

According to the report, the most recent auction in December brought in a total of Tsh493.1 billion ($193.37 million) in offers, with Tsh420.7 billion ($164.98 million) coming from winning bids.

The bond will support government initiatives to expand the financial markets in the nation, stretch the maturity profile of domestic debt, and generate money to close budget deficit gaps. It will also act as an anchor for other market instruments, including corporate bonds and mortgage financing.

Its set coupon rate of 15.95%, exemption from withholding tax, and semi-annual interest payment are its main draws.

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