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Zambia to establish unit for mineral trading, investing

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To increase its revenue from its natural resources, Zambia will establish a new company for investment and mineral trading, the cabinet announced on Wednesday following approval.

According to the statement, the government of Zambia, the second-largest copper producer in Africa, would create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for trading and investment purposes. Through ZCCM Investment Holdings, the government currently owns many mining assets.

The new entity would help Zambia “move away from the dividend payment model for mineral resources and adopt a production-based sharing mechanism to ensure benefits accrue to the people of Zambia beyond Statutory obligations,” the Cabinet said.

 

It further stated that the new business model will guarantee accurate disclosure of mineral consignments intended for export and internal consumption, permit the government to negotiate mineral prices, and share produced minerals.

10% to 20% of mines, including those controlled by Barrick Gold, Vedanta Resources, and First Quantum Minerals, are owned by ZCCM. It recently retained the remaining 51% of Mopani Copper Mines after selling the remaining portion to a division of United Arab Emirates International Holding Company.

Paul Kabuswe, Zambia’s minister of mines, told Reuters in February that Zambia intended to negotiate bigger stakes in new mining operations to increase revenue and encourage investment in social programs.

The nation aims to produce 3 million metric tons of copper annually within the next ten years as the demand for metal rises in the building and electricity sectors. In 2023, the nation produced 698,000 metric tons of copper, down from 763,000 metric tons the year before.

The production of copper decreased from 763,000 tons the year before to 698,000 tons the following year, according to the Zambia Chamber of Mines.

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As inflation slows down, Angolan central bank maintains stable interest rate

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The central bank of Angola maintained its main interest rate at 19.5% on Friday, noting a possible short-term improvement in the supply of necessities and a possible decrease in inflation.

To contain growing inflation, which has reached 30%, the Bank of Angola hiked its main rate by 50 basis points at its most recent monetary policy meeting in May after raising it by 100 basis points in March.

The annual inflation rate increased last month, from 30.16% in May to 31.00%, although at a slower rate than in prior months.

“The decision (on Friday) was motivated by the prospect of a slowdown in the rate of price growth and an improvement in the supply of essential goods,” said Central Bank Governor Manuel Tiago Dias.

“If current conditions prevail from August onwards, we predict a slowdown in year-on-year inflation,” Tiago Dias added.

Since the middle of last year, inflation has been increasing in the nation that produces oil in Africa.

By September, the central bank will make its next move on monetary policy.

 

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Bean disease affects 81% of major cocoa region in Ghana

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The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) reports that 81% of a significant cocoa-producing region in Ghana, the second-largest cocoa grower in the world, is affected by swollen shoot disease.

Due to unfavourable weather and disease in leading cocoa-producing countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast, prices for the ingredient used in chocolate have nearly doubled this year.

However, expectations are growing for better production the following season. About 60% of the cocoa produced worldwide is produced by the two nations combined.

 

The data on bean disease in Ghana’s Western North, the country’s third-largest cocoa-producing region by output, cast doubt on hopes for a production rebound partly because they show how severe the outbreak is still.

Usually, within a few years, the swollen shoot virus first lowers yields before killing trees. Cocoa cannot be replanted until the sick trees are removed and the soil is treated.

The ICCO reports that 330,456 hectares of Ghana’s 410,229-hectare Western North region are contaminated. The intergovernmental agency was using information from Ghana’s cocoa sector regulator, Cocobod, through its Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED).

 

At an industry gathering in April, Joseph Aidoo, the chief executive of that industry regulator, said Reuters that 500,000 hectares nationwide—or 25.7% of Ghana’s 1.94 million hectares of cocoa-growing land—were afflicted.

He claimed that an additional 100,000 hectares are unproductive because of old trees and that the nation has already treated an additional 100,000 hectares, opening a new tab for swollen shoot. Replanted trees require two to four years to reach maturity and yield beans following rehabilitation.

 

“Swollen shoot is a serious problem that’s not improved in the last 12 months and is not going away,” said Steve Wateridge, a veteran world expert on cocoa and head of research at Tropical Research Services by Expana.

The Ivory Coast’s authorities have been more cautious about disclosing the full scope of the outbreak to the public, but the ICCO said that swollen shoot is also spreading there. Wateridge previously informed Reuters that the infection probably affected up to 30% of Ivorian cocoa plants.

Ghana usually produces more than 800,000 tons of cocoa annually, but due to smuggling, disease, aged trees, illegal gold mining, and climate change, it is predicted to produce just over half that amount this season.

 

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