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Mauritius bank, MCB, to open office in Nigeria in African growth master plan

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The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB), is set to open a branch in Nigeria as part of it’s long term master plan for its African growth.

The bank which is the largest in the Indian Ocean island nation, is seeking to expand across the African continent “beyond oil and gas deals to cover renewables and mining,” a senior executive said in a statement.

MCB which already has $850 million in exposure in Nigeria, has representative offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of its push into the continent, and also has offices in Dubai and Paris.

In a statement on Tuesday at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, head of Corporate and Institutional Banking of MCB, Thierry Hebraud, said the coronavirus pandemic had delayed plans for the Nigeria office but they were now in the final phase of the West African country’s Central Bank approval.

“Today, more than 50% of our balance sheet is outside Mauritius, and the major part is in Africa.

“I believe within the next couple of months, we will be operating the new representative office in Nigeria,” Hebraud said.

He added that the bank is now focused on structured finance in the upstream and downstream oil and gas industry and the oil trade, and was looking to expand into renewables and mining.

“We believe we’ll continue to grow in the oil and gas sector, but at a slower pace. We’ll definitely grow in the energy and infrastructure,” he said.

“Imagine all banks withdraw from the this sector, you’ll shutdown the electricity of half the continent,” he added, saying banks needed to support Africa’s oil and gas industry to provide the energy for the continent to grow, even though climate change was driving a shift from fossil fuels.

“The Nigeria office would eventually cover Ghana, a neighbouring West African oil producer which also exports cocoa and mines gold,” Hebraud also hinted at future plans for the bank.

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AfDB to sponsor Rwanda’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be sponsoring Rwanda’s venture to host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The venture is expected boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

Meanwhile the venture has drawn commendation from players. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that the project “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”

Africa is short of pharmaceutical companies that fits its population size. The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

This dependence on imports leaves citizens vulnerable to shortages of medication — a problem that triggered a continent-wide crisis during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small pharmacies and large medical stores in Rwanda ran out of stock. In South Africa, it became nearly impossible to fill prescriptions for psychiatric drugs and oral contraceptives. In Kenya, oncologists complained about challenges treating their cancer patients. And in Nigeria, stocks of treatments to manage chronic illnesses, including HIV medicines, dipped critically low.

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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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