#Africa #Markets | 15 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Global Markets

  • Global stocks routed, oil sinks as bond markets flash recession warning
  • 2-yr, 10-yr treasury yields invert for first time in 12 years
  • Dow closes down 800 points, worst day of 2019
  • Oil extends big overnight losses on recession fears, inventories

Oil Markets

  • Oil prices extend losses as recession fears, inventories mount
  • Brent down 0.7% at $59.09 a barrel (0034GMT)
  • WTI down 0.5% at $54.95

Precious metals

  • Gold gains as recession fears spark safe-haven rush
  • SPDR Gold holdings jumped 0.9% on Wednesday
  • Spot gold up 0.2% at $1,519.18/oz. (0313GMT)
  • US gold futures up 0.2% at $1,530.50

Grains

  • Corn up after deep losses, forecasts of US rains cap gains
  • Most active CBOT wheat futures up 0.3% at $4.75 per bushel (0124GMT)
  • Most active corn futures up 0.7% at $3.73 per bushel
  • Most active soy futures up 0.4% at $8.81-1/4 per bushel
  • Most active rice futures down 0.4% at $11.45 per hundredweight

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Uganda interest rate decision [fcst. 9.0%, prev. 10.0%]
  • South Africa’s Ramaphosa in Tanzania for state visit; ahead of SADC summit during the weekend
  • South Africa state capture inquiry continues

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
[Posted & commented on some headlines below at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Nigeria sells treasuries to lure foreign investors after FX ban for food imports
  • Vedanta fails to stop KCM liquidation in meeting with Zambia’s president
  • Nigeria’s central bank sells t.bills at higher rates – traders
  • Malawi judge sentences three to death for albnism murder
  • Cameroon expects to double cocoa processing this season to 120,000 T
  • Burundi starts ebola vaccines for health workers – WHO
  • Africa Oil – Some Nigerian cargoes clearing
  • Botswana retailer Choppies plans to exit South Africa market
  • Uganda says malaria prevalence surges, cites climate change and refugees
  • South Africa stocks approach six months low as recession fears rise
  • Yields on Nigeria 1-yr treasury bill rise before central bank auction
  • Nigeria stocks fall 0.82% to more than 2-yr low
  • Tunisia electoral commission approves 26 presidential candidates
  • Egypt extends on inflation data, Gulf dips on recession fears
  • Athletics – South Africa’s Semenya says she never felt supported by other women
  • Kenya tax revenue up 11% in 2018/19, short of govt target
  • South Africa education firm Curro to invest $14 mln in 4 new campuses
  • South Africa’s retail sales up 2.4% y/y in June
  • South Africa’s Astral Foods CEO to take extended leave after surgery
  • Kenya central bank to hold its rate-setting meeting on Sept. 23
  • South Africa’s Aspen to pay 8 mln pounds to NHS after UK probe

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters

macroafricaintel Weekly [Update] | 12 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Click here for PDF version

Date Data / Event Period Forecast Previous
14 Aug South Africa Retail Sales, % yy Jun 2019 3.2 2.2
14 Aug Namibia Policy Rate, % 6.5 6.75
15 Aug Uganda Policy Rate, % 9.0 10.0
Botswana CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 2.9 (0.2) 2.8 (0.2)
Namibia CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 3.5 (0.1) 3.9 (0.1)
Nigeria CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 11.2 (1.1) 11.2 (1.1)
Ghana CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 9.7 (0.8) 9.1 (0.8)
South Africa CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 3.9 (0.3) 4.5 (0.4)

#Africa #Markets | 14 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Global Markets

  • Asian stocks bounce in relief as Trump delays China tariffs
  • MSCI Asia-Pacific index up 0.9%, Nikkei rises 0.6%
  • Trump delays tariffs on some China imports, boosts sentiment

Oil Markets

  • Oil prices drop as data shows surprise climb in US inventories
  • Brent down 0.6% at $60.95 per barrel (0116GMT)
  • WTI down 0.8% at $56.64 a barrel

Precious metals

  • Gold holds steady as political, trade woes persist
  • Spot gold steady at $1,501.73 per ounce (0251GMT)
  • US gold futures down 0.1% at $1,512.10 an ounce

Grains

  • Soybean prices rise on US-China trade hopes
  • Most active CBOT wheat futures up 1.1% at $4.77-1/4 per bushel (0108GMT)
  • Most active corn futures up 0.7% at $3.79-1/4 per bushel
  • Most active soy futures up 0.1% at $8.89-1/2 per bushel
  • Most active rice futures up 1.6% at $11.64 per hundredweight

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • 39th SADC summit council of ministers meeting; 13-14 Aug
  • Kenya public workers’ strike action
  • South Africa retail sales Jun-19 [fcst. 3.2% yy, prev. 2.2%]
  • South Africa PIC inquiry continues
  • South Africa state capture inquiry continues [Tentative]

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
[Posted & commented on some headlines below at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Battle of Carthage: Tunisia demolishes homes to protect ancient site
  • Nigeria’s president tells cenbank to stop providing FX for food
  • Africa Oil – Nigerian crude overhang slow to clear
  • South Africa’s rand firms on easing trade tensions, stocks down
  • Burundi Youtube child star’s death spotlights malaria epidemic
  • British American Tobacco’s takeover of Twisp wins South Africa approval
  • Ebola “no longer incurable” as Congo trial finds drugs boost survival
  • Ethiopia grants first financial services licence to foreign firm
  • Zambia court adjourns ex-minister graft case that prompted aid freeze
  • South Africa’s AMCU union disappointed by Lonmin wage offer
  • South Africa – Absa’s profit rise clouded by mixed results underneath
  • Uganda shilling steady; traders await central bank rate decision
  • Kenya shilling steady against the dollar
  • South Africa – Steinhoff’s $10 bln debt “too high” – chief executive
  • French troops in Mali anti-jihadist campaign mired in mud and mistrust

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters

#Africa #Markets | 13 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Global Markets

  • Asia shares tumble as Hong Kong unrest, Argentine peso crash unnerve investors
  • Hong Kong protests unsettle markets
  • Sentiment already weak due to US-China trade war
  • Risk-off trades supports safe-haven assets

Oil Markets

  • Oil prices edge down as traders weigh slowing demand against supply curbs
  • Brent down 0.2% at $58.46 a barrel (0108GMT)
  • WTI down 0.2% at $54.81

Precious metals

  • Gold firms near 6-yr peak on risk-off sentiment
  • Spot gold up 0.3% at $1,515.21/oz. (0116GMT)
  • US gold futures up 0.5% at $1,525.10

Grains

  • Chicago corn prices fall near 3-mth low on US crop outlook
  • Most active CBOT wheat futures down 0.4% at $4.70 per bushel (0011GMT)
  • Most active corn futures down 2% at $3.85 per bushel
  • Most active soy futures down 0.1% at $8.78-1/4 per bushel
  • Most active rice futures nearly unchanged at $11.57 per hundredweight

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Botswana’s Masisi working visit to Angola
  • Ghana Karpowership to be off power grid (up to 17 days) during move to Western Region in 13-16 Aug
  • Guinea’s Conde cultural visit to Nigeria continues
  • South Africa PIC inquiry continues
  • South Africa state capture inquiry continues

Key African events or data releases yesterday & early a.m today
[Posted & commented on some headlines below at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Scientists hail promise of first effective ebola treatments in Congo trial
  • Congo Republic oil find could quadruple national output – company
  • Africa Oil – Indian tender helps mop up Nigerian overhang
  • South Africa’s rand slips to near 11-mth worst as local politics weigh
  • South Africa’s Absa bank says has found new CEO, to be named in due course
  • South Africa’s Northam Platinum expects FY profits to rise by over 100%
  • Geneve prosecutors indict billionaire Steinmetz in Guinea corruption case
  • Congo trial of ebola treatments switches to focus on two drugs
  • Uganda shilling unchanged amid some commodity flows, flat importer demand
  • ‘Green gold’: Kenya farmers abandon food crops to grow herbal stimulant
  • South Africa’s Ramaphosa wins latest round of legal fight with anti-corruption watchdog
  • South Africa’s rand weaker as local politics weigh

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters

#Africa #Markets | 12 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Global Markets

  • Asian shares falter as US-China trade war, recession worries weigh
  • MSCI Asia ex-Japan -0.17%
  • Gold regains some lustre near $1,500/oz
  • Sterling near Jan. 2017 lows vs. dollar

Oil Markets

  • Oil prices fall on worries over demand growth outlook
  • Brent down 0.5% at $58.25 a barrel (0007GMT)
  • WTI down 0.4% at $54.28

Precious metals

  • Gold lingers near $1,500/oz. on trade, recession concerns
  • Spot gold steady at $1,496.99/oz. (0114GMT)
  • US gold futures flat at $1,508.50/oz.

Grains

  • US corn, soybeans ease ahead of key USDA report
  • Most active CBOT wheat futures down 0.4% at $4.97-1/2 per bushel (0035GMT)
  • Most active corn futures down 0.7% at $4.14-3/4 per bushel
  • Most active soy futures down 0.6% at $8.86-3/4 per bushel
  • Most active rice futures unchanged at $11.37 per hundredweight

Key African events or data releases today
[Posts & comments at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • Guinea’s Conde in Nigeria
  • South Africa PIC inquiry resumes
  • South Africa state capture inquiry resumes

Key African events or data releases over the weekend & early a.m today
[Posted & commented on some headlines below at my Twitter handle @DrRafiqRaji]

  • WHO says no new ebola cases in Goma, vaccinates over 1,300
  • Car bomb explodes in Libya’s Benghazi, killing 3 UN staff
  • South Africa’s Ramaphosa asks court to seal certain documents in legal battle
  • UN condemns Libya car bomb that killed 2 UN staff
  • Landlocked eSwatini report says ministers must tighten belts to help lift economy
  • Libya’s Haftar announces halt to military operations during Eid al-Adha
  • Tanzania tanker blast kills dozens as crowd siphons fuel
  • Libya govt accepts UN ceasefire proposal, implementation unclear
  • Ethiopia to hold national election next year
  • Ethiopia’s ruling coalition confirms national election next year
  • Senior West African crude oil trader leaves Glencore – sources
  • Kenya’s East African Portland Cement withdraws notice dismissing workforce
  • Nigeria naira weakens on falling oil prices, lower bond yields
  • African Oil – Angolan September cargoes clear
  • Burkina forces move to secure attacked Avesoro mine after 1 killed
  • Somalia says blind female suicide bomber killed Mogadishu mayor
  • Zambia asks Glencore unit to rescind mine shaft closures
  • Tunisia PM Chahed enters crowded race in presidential vote
  • Ivory Coast cocoa season grindings up 8% to 455,000 T – exporters
  • UK, US urge Tanzania to respect “due process” after journalist arrested
  • Kenya shilling firms against the dollar
  • Uganda shilling inclined on weaker side on interbank appetite
  • Demand for Nigerian oil “dire” as US competition ramps up
  • Kenya’s KCB Group to boost investments in South Sudan
  • Eritrea’s military service still “repressive” despite peace deal – HRW

N.B. Full stories of above headlines are available on Reuters

macroafricaintel Weekly | 12 Aug

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

Click here for PDF version

Date Data / Event Period Forecast Previous
14 Aug South Africa Retail Sales, % yy Jun 2019 3.2 2.2
Botswana CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 2.9 (0.2) 2.8 (0.2)
Namibia CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 3.5 (0.1) 3.9 (0.1)
Nigeria CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 11.2 (1.1) 11.2 (1.1)
Ghana CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 9.7 (0.8) 9.1 (0.8)
South Africa CPI, % yy (mm) Jul 2019 3.9 (0.3) 4.5 (0.4)

macroafricaintel | Mobile phones, internet and jobs in Africa (4)

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: DrRafiqRaji

On-the-ground AI research to bridge knowledge gap & incorporate African factors
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. AI research falls into one of three categories: Strong AI, applied AI or cognitive simulation. Strong AI aims to produce machines with human-like thinking abilities. Applied AI or “advanced information processing” seeks to build “smart” systems for lucrative or life-saving vocations like medical diagnosis or stock-trading. Cognitive simulation involves using computers to test human cognition theories.

Global tech firms IBM and Google have established AI research labs in Africa; the former in Nairobi, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa and the latter in Accra, Ghana. They are largely applied AI research ventures. These AI initiatives mitigate fears about the likelihood of Western-designed AI systems excluding African preferences and cultures. They also help ensure African researchers participate in global AI efforts; which were hitherto all based outside Africa. Some African AI researchers abroad are seizing the opportunity to return to their homeland. And a next generation of African AI researchers would also now be able to avail themselves of the knowledge and experience without having to venture afar. African governments should be mindful of the ethical motivations of these AI research ventures by global tech firms, however.

Challenges and constraints
Infrastructure remains inadequate, data costs are high, and internet penetration of below 40 percent remains relatively low, logistics can be nightmarish, many Africans remain relatively digitally illiterate, and the regulatory environment is uncertain or even antagonistic. Online marketplaces have been filling the digital skills gap with foreign labour. To manage regulatory and financial risk, major online marketplaces are not only registered outside of Africa but are also tapping foreign capital markets for funding. Both online suppliers and consumers have genuine cause for concern. For example, African governments have been shutting down the internet during elections and protests. The ease with which governments are able to do so exposes the fragility of the internet on the continent. Part of the appeal of the internet is its supposedly “borderless” nature. However, if governments can stop the usage of the internet on a whim, its infrastructural utility diminishes.

Perhaps the only distinction is that such behaviour is not limited to African countries; Russia is building a sovereign internet wall, for instance. Besides, even when the shutdowns are not motivated by government action, the fact that most Africans use the internet via their mobile phones, through networks that are relatively fragile, means that they easily lose access to the internet from time to time due to fault-induced shutdowns. External private actors have also been able to shutdown at least one African country’s internet infrastructure; in Liberia, for instance. Still, many are able to defeat these shutdowns. And legal institutions have surprisingly proven to be resilient in keeping government overreach in check in some African countries.

In any case, calls are being made for some form of global regulation of internet activities. And despite the obvious drawbacks of overregulation and censorship, some African governments are undaunted. They are increasingly looking to tax online activity or have some form of regulatory oversight over the internet in their jurisdictions. For example, Uganda has imposed a social media tax. More recently, Uganda announced plans to nationalise its internet data exchange service, raising fears of inefficiency and likely regulatory overreach in the aftermath.

Conclusion
The internet is a net job creator. Cheaper smartphones and mobile data, a mobile money boom, and burgeoning e-commerce on the African continent are spurring incremental economic growth and creating jobs. Digital IDs, smart and balanced regulation, and certainly much cheaper smartphones and internet would be key elements to achieving these goals on scale. African governments should ensure all their citizens have digital IDs, can make payments digitally, and in collaboration with global tech giants, are able to acquire low-cost smartphones and use the internet cheaply. In the aftermath, they would all be able to participate in online marketplaces as suppliers or consumers.

There is already an example of how private enterprise and governments can accelerate the process. In India, a largely cash-based society, an entrepreneur is already leveraging on the country’s now well-established digital identity system to include all Indians in the digital economy. Recognising high data costs are a constraint for poor people, the entrepreneur is offering data services on his mobile telecommunication network almost for free and almost certainly at a loss in the interim. His strategy is clearly to formalise all Indians, irrespective of class, in a digital ecosystem that enables them conduct almost all their daily activities, from socialising to buying groceries, online. While his ambition is not an ideal scenario, in light of obvious antitrust issues, it exemplifies the potential of the internet and how the digital ecosystem it creates would spur incremental economic activities and create jobs.

African governments have a good example in this Indian case on how the internet opportunity can be operationalised on the one hand, and the potential monopolistic drawbacks on the other. In tandem, government policies should prioritise human capital and infrastructural development. Entrepreneurs should also be able to secure financing easily. These would only be possible if African governments create a conducive business environment in their respective jurisdictions. The job creation thesis of the internet rests on these foundations.

Article was first published by the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies at Nanyang Business School, Singapore. References are in the original article.