The Business Guide newspaper in Ghana is reporting that sources have revealed to them that the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) will soon reveal new statistics which will show Ghana’s GDP to 36-54% higher than had been previously known. This would suggest a $25bn-$35bn economy, not so far behind those of Kenya and just ahead of Tanzania. The report suggests that there are a multitude of economic activities within the economy which have not been ‘captured’ within the usually conducted analyses whilst calculating the total economic activity within the country.

According to the report, “Last year the country’s economy size in provisional terms was a little over $21 billion in current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the review which will take into account the 2006 base year for prices, would give a bigger figure of the economy.’The picture points out that there is an increase in the size of the economy. Look at the number of roads that are asphalted, vehicles on the roads, the significant growth in the telecommunication sector and the banking sector’, he emphasized.He explained that there have been shifts in the sectoral contribution and some activities which were unimportant have now been considered.“The basket will be increased to include the informal sector and others as well,” said Asuo Afram, Head of Pricing at the GSS”.

Further to this, the Business Day article highlights the point that “[a]nalysts argued that a bigger GDP would mean Ghana’s fiscal deficit was not as large as feared and perhaps, did not require the high dosage of austerity measures prescribed“.

The results of the re-basing of the GDP size and overall economic data collection process of the country, should be released alongside the quarterly GDP growth figures.

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According to a Bloomberg news report today:

South Africa is considering nationalizing safari lodges in certain provinces because they don’t contribute to food security, Beeld reported, citing Joe Phaahla, deputy minister of rural development and land reform.

Provinces that may be affected include Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, the Johannesburg-based Afrikaans-language newspaper reported. Farmers who utilize their land appropriately have nothing to fear as it would be “stupid” for the government to interfere, the newspaper cited Phaahla as saying.”

The BusinessDay Newspaper reported today, that:

FARMERS’ union AgriSA held an emergency meeting with Department of Rural Development and Land Reform director-general Thozi Gwanya yesterday to discuss his department’s proposals that productive farmland be nationalised.Similar suggestions made in the past did not materialise, but caused investor jitters in a sector sorely in need of capital inflows. “This thinking is not new in the department, but we are a bit shocked because it contradicts President Jacob Zuma ‘s recent assurances to investors in London about nationalisation,” AgriSA’s land reform spokesman and deputy president Theo de Jager said yesterday.

The plan moots speeding up land reforms by amending the constitution to turn “all productive land” into “a national asset” leased to farmers.

Another option mooted was to retain the current freehold tenure system but impose a ceiling on the number or size of landholdings owned by individuals.

Property rights of foreign owners could face further restrictions. A board may be set up to “manage agricultural land transactions”, the plan said.

The proposals are contained in the department’s strategic plan tabled in Parliament last week. They will culminate in a Tenure System Reform Bill expected to be tabled in March 2012.

Spokesman Eddie Mohoebi said yesterday he could not elaborate on the proposals or clarify Gwanya’s position on farm nationalisation until the department’s draft green paper was submitted to the Cabinet.”

According to Bloomberg, the news and financial data company:

Nigeria may hold presidential elections on Jan. 22 or on April 23 next year, depending on whether progress is made on changes to the country’s voting laws, the Independent National Electoral Commission said.

The West African nation’s parliament is considering amendments to the constitution that would strengthen the electoral body for elections in 2011. The most recent vote, in 2007, was marred by violence, vote-rigging and intimidation, according to domestic and foreign observers.

If the law is amended as planned, the elections will be held in January, Maurice Iwu, the chairman of the commission, said at a conference today in Abuja, the capital.

According to the Vanguard (15th March 2010):

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, has disclosed that the nation’s oil and gas behemoth, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was currently running at a loss of more than N200 billion, with contingent liabilities of more than N146 billion and $277 million.

He noted that only a drastic and comprehensive transformation of the corporation could save the corporation from an impending demise.

Lukman stated that, “The corporation is currently running at a loss of more than N200 billion, with contingent liabilities of more than N146 billion and $277 million. If this trend is not reversed, the corporation as we know it today will cease to exist.”

Lukman, who made this disclosure on Friday at the second NNPC Transformation Town hall meeting, and the launch of the Transformation Agenda, in Abuja, noted that the country could not afford a failure in the transformation programme of the corporation as that would spell doom for the energy sector reforms.”

The following is a news article from the South African newspaper, Mail & Guardian (Feb 19 2010 10:08):

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) does not want President Jacob Zuma’s support in its bid for nationalisation — it wants the support of the masses, its leader, Julius Malema, said on Thursday.

“We don’t care who says what. Nationalisation will become the policy of the ANC,” he said during a memorial lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, commemorating former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison 20 years ago.

“We don’t want Zuma’s or [Deputy Police Minister Fikile] Mbalula’s support … we want the support of the masses. If the masses say you are correct, we will march on,” Malema said.

The article goes on to say however, that “…during debate on his State of the Nation address in Parliament, Zuma told opposition parties nationalisation of mines was not government policy“.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 16 March, 2010

Africa rising [Economist]…

A recent article from the Economist (12th March 2010), opines that “Economies of countries south of the Sahara together grew by less than 2% in 2009. But recovery is coming sooner than expected. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy is forecast to grow overall by 4.5% this year, in part because of the economic recovery in Asia. This is still slower than the 6% that many development economists reckon is the minimum to enable countries with rapidly increasing populations just to stand still“.

According to the March 2010 edition of CNBC Business magazine, “Global trade is falling, economies are buckling and environmental challenges are mounting, yet investment is still pouring into the world’s ports“.

The writer, Colin Brown, noted that “[k]nowing the economy has to rebound at some point, particularly on the back of expected trade growth in China, India and Indonesia, few major hubs appear to have curtailed development plans conceived during boom-times. And the confidence is not misplaced: 90% of the world’s goods still go through their highly computerised conveyor systems, a percentage that might actually increase should air freight fall out of favour with an increasingly climate-conscious business world“.

Listed amongst the global developments within this industry, are:

  • The 80km Panama Canal:…a €3.6bn bet on continued growth in international maritime transportation. And it’s all music to the ears of a vast shipping infrastructure that has been completely at sea these past 12 months.While other construction projects have stalled as the global economy has faltered, Panama’s Canal Authority has persisted in deepening its existing channel and blasting access to a new set of larger locks. When completed in 2014, the canal expansion will allow all but the world’s eight largest container ships (all built for Denmark’s Maersk) direct water access between the factories of Asia and the densely populated cities of America’s Eastern Seaboard.” It is further noted that “[w]ith super-sized vessels presently too large squeeze through the Panama Canal, 70% of Asian cargo is currently offloaded at ports on the West Coast and moved by rail or truck across North America“.
  • Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam: “Determined to defend its position as Europe’s largest port…despite the global downturn, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is pressing ahead with an ambitious €1.1bn expansion into the North Sea, dredging up 240 million cubic metres of sand from the seabed to create a new spur of land“. According to the article, the project “[k]nown as Maasvlakte 2, the project will extend the Port of Rotterdam area by 20% when the spur is joined to the rest of it by road and rail links. Under phase one of the plan, the first container terminal, built and operated by Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) consortium, is due to open in 2013, with the second, operated by APM Terminals, following a year later“.
  • Germany’s largest port, Hamburg: According to Brown, Hamburg port “…is preparing cut harbour fees, spend on improvements, and build a brand-new terminal as it looks to the future after a year of misery“.
  • Maritime ports in the Baltic Sea region: Apparently these ports “…are facing plenty of logistical, infrastructure and environmental challenges as pressure builds to move heavy cargo operations out of inner city port areas”. “Maritime ports in the region carried 0.4% less cargo in 2008, with only liquid bulk, mostly oil, and international container shipments seeing growth, both by 5%, according to the regional industry group Baltic Ports Organization (BPO). It’s quite a change from recent years: annual increases in Baltic container traffic averaged 15% between 2004 and 2007, with growth higher to the east, says BPO secretary general, Bogdan Oldakowski. In terms of overall cargo, it has been “very positive” for the past 10–15 years, with Russia the biggest engine for growth, says Antti Saurama, a researcher at Finland’s University of Turku’s Centre for Maritime Studies”.
  • Singapore retains coveted crown of world’s busiest port: “Singapore, our port operators are taking advantage of the slowdown to upgrade the skills of their port workers and to retrofit port equipment. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is also pressing ahead with port development, as well as investments in systems and technologies to raise the efficiency and productivity of the port.”Among the initiatives are WISEPORT, a scheme bringing wireless broadband to ships in Singapore port waters, and BunkerNet, an industry-wide web-based platform to facilitate communications among all parties of the bunker supply chain. “These projects do not just pump prime the economy, they build new strengths that will otherwise not be there later,” added Choi. “Similarly, we want our port operating entities to be well positioned for growth when it returns. Hence, Singapore is not letting up with the capacity expansion of Pasir Panjang Terminal. Works to add 16 berths with a total additional capacity of 14 million TEUs are proceeding without delay.”

    Singapore is spending €1bn to expand its port in a bid to increase annual capacity by a jaw-dropping 50% within three years. Aware of the potential ecological impact, €10m has been set aside to mitigate the impact of the marine environment, including silt screens and the relocation of affected corrals. In addition, port operators have introduced electric cranes and are testing the use of hybrid engines.Such bravura seems to be hard-wired into the Singapore DNA. For evidence look no further than downtown Singapore’s harbour and Singapore River. What was once the flood-prone site of the country’s original ports is now one edge of an enormous fresh water urban lake. By building a dam across the mouth of the Marina area, engineers created a collecting reservoir for the nation’s water supply that also doubles as a tidal and flood control barrage. It also provides the dramatic setting for a new water recreational area anchored by a futuristic casino complex, whose doors are due to be opened by casino resort company Las Vegas Sands in the coming weeks”.

  • Hong Kong holds own against Shanghai & Shenzhen: “Unlike most major hubs, its container terminals are all privately owned and managed, which means competition between the five rival operators keeps costs down. Independent companies also run the midstream cargo transfer business, a cheaper alternative to the terminals that accounted for 28% of Hong Kong’s total throughput of 24.5 million TEUs in 2008.The government does, however, provide unbeatable back up. Hong Kong’s pilots and vessel tracking system (VTS) – which monitors more than 220,000 ships a year and one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the Lamma Channel – are among the best in the world, thanks to heavy investment in training and technology. The Marine Department is also currently awaiting environmental sign-off to dredge the whole of the Kwai Tsing container basin and the approach channels, in preparation for the arrival of a new generation of 15,000–18,000 TEU mega-ships.

    Other projects in the pipeline include the construction of a bridge linking Hong Kong to the western delta region via Macau and plans for a 10th container terminal. The latter was originally due to open in 2015, but in the wake of the financial crisis the date has been put back to 2018. Government officials insist, however, that they are still seeing strong demand and are pressing ahead with a feasibility study on a site on the southwest of Tsing Yi Island”.

  • Dubai likely to remain trading hub of the Middle East for some time: “Dubai’s Jebel Ali claims to be the third largest transshipment hub in the world after Singapore and Hong Kong, with about half the goods coming through Jebel Ali destined for countries other than the UAE. Although mega-markets like India and China play a role in the re-export trade, transshipments are mainly bound for smaller ports in other cash-rich but port infrastructure-poor Gulf countries, such as Qatar.Despite talk of a major rail network to connect Middle East destinations by land, other regional seaports will continue to thrive, which explains why Jordan is investing heavily in its Aqaba port, a jumping-off point for the Red Sea and Suez Canal. A €160m expansion project aimed at making Aqaba a gateway to the greater Levant is expected to raise the port’s annual capacity to two million TEUs.

    Further north, Turkey’s Haydarpasa, located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait on the Sea of Marmara, remains a vital trade hub as it provides a link to Mediterranean ports, such as Greece’s Piraeus, as well as Ukraine’s Sevastopol, which are both within 1,000km”. “But it is Dubai that will continue to see the greatest share of the region’s trading activity. Already the seventh-largest port for containerised vessels in the world, plans are under way to expand further, including the largest airport in the world – Maktoum International – and a logistics park. After a €1bn expansion project that will raise Jebel Ali’s capacity more than 50%, Dubai appears ready to become the world’s fifth-busiest port following Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Time will tell how the African port authorities choose to react to the positioning taking place within the industry, however it must be an issue to be taken seriously. This is for numerous reasons, most pressing of all being that many nascent emerging economies of Africa will lean quite heavily on the export of goods, minerals, oil & gas; all of which is predetermined by a strong and reliably competitive transport and logistics infrastructure, of which ports are central.



BusinessDay of Nigeria are reporting today that “The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), and Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) of Côte d’Ivoire have agreed to integrate their capital markets into West African Securities Markets.” According to the reports, “Sources at the Nigerian Stock Exchange said that the executive committee is tasked with overseeing the pre-integration and implementation phases of the initiative.

‘Their major function is that of a policy-setting and decision-making body. They are given the responsibility of approving all issues concerning the integration of the West African securities markets and coordinating with the relevant government and regional bodies to ensure the success of the project. The executive committee will be instituted in April 2010, when they will hold their first formal meeting,’ said the NSE source.

According to the source, ‘In 2007, a technical committee was formed to perform due diligence on the three regional exchanges and their markets, and to make recommendations on how the integration can be effected. Several reports on legislation, exchange operations, listing requirements, broker/dealer requirements, reporting requirements, settlement and more have been delivered by the technical committee for review and action by the executive committee. They will be expected to deliberate on these reports during the meeting next month’“.

It would seem that the overarching aim is to ensure that  bearing in mind the key development parameters, the ECOWAS region must begin to make concrete steps to bring together its efforts in order to continue toward the goal of global competitiveness. The report quotes a source as saying ““Our markets may be younger than some, but it is for this reason we are looking to drive growth through strategic partnerships. As our economies continue to develop, it is important that viable businesses are able to access capital; it is equally important to provide a safe and effective marketplace to support wealth creation and to offer product diversity to investors.

“To-date, we have identified the broad objectives of this initiative, and the strategies that will help us execute the vision,” said Ekow Afedzie, deputy managing director of the Ghana Stock Exchange.

“In bringing the regulators and ECOWAS together, we took the first step towards implementing a very powerful and far-reaching initiative. With an executive council in place, we can now begin the process of creating a unified market in West Africa. We are confident we are on our way to achieving this vision and goal.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 15 March, 2010

African poverty falling faster than thought?

According to a new study, Africans are getting wealthier more quickly than previously believed and the poorest continent’s riches are also spreading beyond the narrow confines of its elite.

“Africa is reducing poverty, and doing it much faster than we thought,” the study by U.S.-based economists Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy said.

“The growth from the period 1995-2006, far from benefiting only the elites, has been sufficiently widely spread that both total African inequality and African within-country inequality actually declined over this period.”

See links [1] and [2].

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