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South Africa to extend subsidy reign by 2 months as Russia/Ukraine war affects prices

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As the effects of the lingering Russia/Ukraine war continue to bite developing countries hard, South Africa has chosen to extend its fuel subsidy for another two months.

South Africa’s finance minister, Enoch Godongwana, has written to the speaker of the National Assembly, requesting that a two-month proposal be made to extend the general gasoline charge drop.

Crude oil prices had been rising even during the build-up of the war because the world feared the war would lead the West to ban Russian oil. Even before the US and the UK banned Russian oil and gas imports, some countries had halted their purchases, while others went into panic-buying. Prices soared to a 14-year high of $140 a barrel on March 7.

The subsidy extension will be done by the government extending R1.50 per litre respite from June 1 to July 6, 2022. The relief will then be reduced to 75c per litre for the second month, from July 7 to August 2, 2022. The temporary respite will expire on August 3rd.

Fuel subsidy is a big thing in many African countries as oil products are largely subsidized by the government to cushion the effect of cost. In a country like Nigeria, subsidy payout averages N500 billion monthly.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently warned that Nigeria’s total expenditure on subsidies could hit a record N6 trillion mark by year-end.

There has been a clamour by the West for the withdrawal of subsidies on products by the African government. However, pushback from labour and other civil organizations has kept the subsidies in place for decades. Besides, the cultural and ideological background of African societies is tilted to a welfare state, thus excusing the subsidy reigns.

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Somalia gives foreign banks licence to operate in decades

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The Somali government has announced the licensing of foreign banks for the first time in over two decades six weeks after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was sworn into office following an elections that took years to conduct following a lingering political crisis.

The announcement which was made on Monday by the governor of the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, said the war-ravaged country has granted banking licenses to two foreign institutions to operate in the country after President Mohamoud had promised to open the country to international investment during his campaigns for the elections.

The first foreign banking institutions to benefit from the decision are Egyptian bank, Banque Misr, and Turkish bank, Ziraat Katilim, who have been allowed to operate in Somalia.

“The review of the applications of these two banks has been the subject of a lengthy process of several months.

“These are two strong banks that will add value to the development of Somalia’s financial sector and contribute to the growth of our economy,” the CBS governor said

Ranked one of the poorest countries in the world by the World Bank, the average Somalian lives on less than $1.90 a day as the country struggles to recover from decades civil war and and opening its doors to foreign investments is seen as President Mohamoud fulfilment of his pledge to improve the economic situation and provide basic banking services to the population.

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Egypt Suez Canal announces record $7bn profit in 2021-2022

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The management of the Egyptian Suez Canal has announced a record profit of $7 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which it said was as a result of repeatedly raising transit fees for ships through the crucial passage for world trade.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA), said on Monday that between July 2021 and June 2022, about 1.32 billion tonnes of cargo transited through the canal, providing a $7 billion rent in transit fees, which is the highest in the history of the SCA, its Executive Chairman, Admiral Osama Rabie, said.

Rabie added that the Canal was able to increase its profit by 20.7% compared to the previous financial year where it made €5.5 billion.

The Suez Canal handles about 10% of the world’s maritime trade and is one of Cairo’s main sources of foreign currency and despite the war in Ukraine and the rise in the oil price which has affected shipping, the canal also recorded its highest monthly turnover in April, valued at €605 million according to Rabie.

“The international crises have demonstrated the importance of the Suez Canal for the stability of global supply chains,” Rabie said.

He added that the Canal has contributed significantly to the growth of the North African country’s economy which has been caught between inflation of over 15% and a recent devaluation of the pound by nearly 20%, which had increased transit fees for oil and gas shipments by 6% in February and then by 5 to 10% in March.

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