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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’s Dangote Sugar Refinery issues commercial papers worth N42.79 billion at rates of 25%, 23%

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Nigeria’s Dangote Sugar Refinery has declared the issuance of its N42.79 billion Series 4 and 5 commercial papers, offered at 25% and 23%, respectively, were successfully issued. The company’s N150 billion commercial paper issuance program included issuing the papers.

The 181-day Series 4 and the 265-day Series 5 were issued for a total of N12.93 billion and N29.86 billion, respectively. The notification released by the company states that institutional and individual investors, along with pension and non-pension asset managers, participated in the CP issuance.

Dangote Sugar Refinery has issued N39.39 billion in 266-day Series 1 notes at a 17.08% discount rate as part of its N150 billion commercial paper program. Furthermore, at a 19.84% discount rate, the corporation has issued N6.15 billion in 184-day Series 2 notes.

At a discount rate of 21.30%, the business issued 254-day Series 3 notes for N53.47 billion. Therefore, Dangote Sugar has raised N141.8 billion through its Series 1 to 5 CPs. The letter to the group states that the corporation plans to diversify its funding sources through the issuance of commercial papers. The money raised will go toward meeting finance needs and sustaining short-term operating capital.

According to Dangote Sugar’s Q1 2024 financial reports, interest costs on commercial papers totalled N543.2 million, while interest costs on bank loans came to N21.48 million. This suggests that commercial papers rather than bank loans are the company’s primary source of funding.

These commercial papers’ high discount rates are a reflection of Nigeria’s high-interest monetary environment at the moment. The CBN increased Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate by 750 basis points to 26.25% in 2024, which had an impact on manufacturers’ capacity to finance working capital.

In essence, the CBN’s decision has caused banks to significantly raise their lending rates. For instance, UBA’s loan rates to the manufacturing sector ranged from 28.50% to 32.00% as of May 17, 2024. Due to this increase, businesses are now looking for alternate sources of funding, and debt securities like bonds and commercial papers are one such choice.

However, treasury bills (NT-bills) and OMO bills issued by the CBN are vying with commercial papers for investors’ attention in the market for short-term debt securities. Furthermore, the CBN’s yield rates on NT notes and OMO bills in 2024 have shown to be extremely competitive. For instance, the June 5, 2024, 182-day and 364-day NT bills have respective discount rates of 17.5% and 20.67%.

Companies have been obliged to implement rather high interest rates for these CPs to compete favourably. Series 3, 4, and 5 CPs from Dangote Sugar are available at discounts of 21.30%, 23%, and 25%, respectively. It has also forced other issuers to adopt high interest rates. Series 1 and Series 2 CPs were issued by Coronation Group with respective discount rates of 19.83% and 21.81%.

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Nigeria’s inflation increases to a record 28-year high in May

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According to official figures released on Saturday, Nigeria’s annual inflation reached a record 28-year high of 33.95% in May, exacerbating the hardships that have stoked popular ire against President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms.

Inflation increased for the eighteenth consecutive month, up from 33.69% in the previous month.

Tinubu’s measures, which primarily cut energy and gasoline subsidies and devalued the naira twice in a single year, have increased price pressure.
Labour unions, who asked for a new minimum wage through an industrial strike that was called off after two days, have maintained that the reforms disproportionately affect the poor and have left millions of people facing the biggest cost-of-living crisis in decades.

The National Bureau of Statistics data indicated that in May, food and non-alcoholic beverages remained the main drivers of inflation.

The majority of Nigeria’s inflation was driven up by food prices, which increased to 40.66% from 40.53% in the previous month. Analysts say the major causes of Nigeria’s inflation are rising food prices and a declining value of the naira.

The report read, “In May 2024, the headline inflation rate increased to 33.95% relative to the April 2024 headline inflation rate which was 33.69 per cent. Looking at the movement, the May 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.26 per cent compared to the April 2024 headline inflation rate.

“On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41 per cent. This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in May 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., May 2023).

For the third time this year, the central bank increased interest rates in May in reaction to the ongoing increase in inflation. Rates will remain high for as long as it takes to reduce inflation, according to Governor Olayemi Cardoso.

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