ZAMBIA has failed to clinch a US $1.6 billion interest-free loan deal with the International Monetary Fund following failure to agree on salient features to strengthen the country’s economic recovery plan.
According to sources close to the transaction, the Zambian economic team led by finance minister Felix Mutati failed to convince the IMF about the country’s seriousness to improve efficiency of the public service through efficient and transparent systems of service delivery and financial accountability.
19 November 2015: From the BBC.com section Africa
The world's second-largest gem quality diamond has been discovered in Botswana, the Lucara Diamond firm says.
The 1,111-carat stone was recovered from its Karowe mine, about 500km (300 miles) north of the capital, Gaborone.
It is the biggest diamond to be discovered in Botswana and the largest find in more than a century.
The 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond was found in South Africa in 1905 and cut into nine separate stones, many of which are in the British Crown Jewels.
"The significance of the recovery of a gem quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century... cannot be overstated," William Lamb, the CEO of Lucara Diamond, a Canadian diamond producer, said in a statement.
Lucara says two other "exceptional" white diamonds - an 813-carat stone and a 374-carat stone - were also found at the Karowe mine.
"This has been an amazing week for Lucara with the recovery of the second largest and also the sixth largest gem quality diamonds ever mined," Mr Lamb said.
The stone is yet to be evaluated, but commodities and mining analyst Kieron Hodgson, told AFP news agency that "the potential to be one very expensive diamond."
In April a flawless 100-carat diamond was sold for $22.1m (£14.8m) at Sotheby's in New York.
The gem, originally mined in South Africa, had taken more than a year to cut, polish and perfect.
Botswana is the world's largest producer of diamonds and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation.
November 9, 2015
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) said that efforts put in place by public and private sector institutions would help raise output of cashew nuts from the current 50,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes by 2025.
The Deputy Director in-charge of Cashew at MoFA, Mr Seth Osei Addo, made this assertion at a validation workshop in Accra, organised by the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana with support from the Africa Cashew Alliance and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, adding that the ministry was worried about the country’s inability to raise output figures to appreciable levels despite having a conducive environment that supported commercial production of the crop.
“This informed the decision to map out and apply strategies that aimed at raising output while supporting companies in the value chain to operate efficiently”, Addo said.
He listed increased supplies of cashew seedlings to farmers, introduction of improved and high-yielding varieties and financial support to players as some of the interventions that were being worked on by the industry.
Commenting on the country’s potential for cashew production, he said even though estimates showed that 60 districts in the country were conducive for cashew production, only districts in the Brong Ahafo Region were properly utilised, with 90 per cent of national output coming from that area alone.
According to him, the potential of the other regions is being underutilized and so called for concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to help reverse the trend.
Dr Gideon Kofi Agbley, an advocate of the local cashew industry, said government needed to also support cashew farmers with farming inputs which would help raise output while lessening the challenges they went through.
Dr Agbley stated that mass spraying exercises, supply of fertilisers and soft loans for farmers and processors are some of the interventions the country could use to help grow the industry.
He explained that with Côte d’ Ivoire insisting that cashew nuts would only be sold to Ghanaian processors at Pitts, the local processors would continue to suffer from lack of raw materials, hence the need to raise output in Ghana.
He advised that they have to step up negotiations with the Ivorian authorities to get them to rescind that decision and allow Ghanaian buyers to purchase the nuts from their borders.
“Currently, Côte d’Ivoire sees Ghana as a competitor and not an importer and they treat Ghana as such. We need to get them to change that through dialogue so that our processors can buy from them to process,” he said, "noting that his outfit would be taking up that challenge with authorities in that country,” he added.
Courtesy of http://footprint2africa.com/
BUSINESS EDITOR’S NOTE: Barotseland is endowed with immense potential for Cashew nut cultivation and commercialization
Zambia consumer prices accelerated by the most in six years, pushed higher by a currency plunge and the southern African nation’s worst power crisis on record.
Yearly inflation quickened to 14.3 percent in October from 7.7 percent the previous month, John Kalumbi, director at the Central Statistical Office, told reports in Lusaka, the capital.
“The surge in inflation follows the rapid depreciation of the kwacha exchange rate,” Irmgard Erasmus, an economist at NKC African Economics, said in reply to e-mailed questions.
“The power crisis, and resultant increase in regulated costs, also fueled increases in input costs, and we subsequently expect further pressure on both food and non-food price inflation due to indirect and second-round effects.”
Zambia’s currency has dropped 49 percent against the dollar this year, making it the world’s worst performer. Falling prices of copper, which accounts for 70 percent of Zambian exports, and the power shortage have disrupted the economy.
Monthly inflation accelerated to 6.2 percent in October from 0.7 percent in in September. While the power shortage and currency slump may have played a role, the jump was mainly the result of businesses exploiting the drop in the kwacha, the statistics office’s Kalumbi said.
“It was purely speculation and greediness” on the part of businesses that increased their prices, as not all products are imported, he said.
The country is struggling to meet half of peak power demand as low water levels at hydropower dams curtail generation.
Courtesy of Zambian Watchdog