African
May 2010

In this issue...

Agriculture: Morocco to lease 30,000 hectares of farms per year. | Kenya: Nuts Sector 20 Percent below Its Capacity. | West Africa: FG Set to Revitalise Oil Palm Production.

Environment & Renewable: Kenya: Farming Butterflies Puts Food on the Table. | Nigeria: Oil Firms Flare 127 Billion Cubit Feet of Gas Quarterly - NNPC. | South Africa: Investors Not Geared to Environmental Responsibility - Study.

Telecom & ICT: Tunisia: Nation to Promote Investments in Digital Economy and E-Commerce. | South Africa: Telecom Signs Nigerian Sea-Cable Deal. | Africa: A Quiet Revolution is Underway in Continent.

Mining & Energy: We Have Gas Reserve to Last 150 Years - Rivers Govt. | Mozambique: Businesses Urged to Invest in Mining Potential. | Tanzania: Dar to Go Nuclear with Uranium Mining.

New Investment & Trade: MTN confirms in talks for Orascom, assets. | Africa: Infrastructure Projects Financiers Eye Africa. | Zambia seeks investors for tax free zone industries .

Interview of the Month: Interview with Transparency International Advisory Committee Chair, Peter Eigen

Country Statistics: Zambia.


Welcome to OctoberFirst Consulting’s newsletter. Inside you’ll find articles and information on investment opportunities in Africa. Should you wish to discuss these further, do contact us.
This newsletter is published by Mr Frank Aneke, OctoberFirst Consulting, PO Box 83, Liverpool NSW 1871, Australia.
Telephone +61 (02) 9773 6672, email info@octoberfirst.com.au
This publication is supplied for information purposes. Some articles in this publication have been supplied by third parties and OctoberFirst Consulting does not take responsibility for any inaccuracies in these articles.


Morocco to lease 30,000 hectares of farms per year

agricultureBy Tom Pfeiffer
MEKNES, Morocco (Reuters) - Morocco plans to lease 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of farmland per year to improve yields, satisfy growing national demand and boost export sales, its agriculture minister said on Thursday.
But Aziz Akhennouch told Reuters the north African kingdom had no plans to join a continent-wide trend of selling farmland outright to foreign companies and governments that want to secure their future food supplies.
Morocco has leased 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) in two batches in the last decade, drawing more than 13 billion dirhams. Some 24 percent of the investors in the 296 farms were foreigners.
"We are offering 21,000 hectares (in the next lease tender) but the goal is to offer 30,000 per year so we are offering 21,000 first and will probably offer another 10,000 before the end of the year," Akhennouch told Reuters in an interview at Morocco's annual agriculture show in the city of Meknes.
He said around 20 to 25 percent of the demand was coming from foreigners and the government "will try to satisfy all operators as agriculture needs its Moroccan farmers but we also need groups with expertise, know-how and the necessary means.
Akhennouch, who is Morocco's Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, played down the prospect of selling farmland outright.
"We are in a logic of partnership, not of selling land but leasing it long enough, for 20 to 40 years, to give investors the visibility they need," he said. "And I think we are succeeding well."
"The comparative advantage of Morocco is that we have real farmers already there when the investor comes along. It's something ancestral and ... profoundly rooted."
WHEAT IMPORTS
Akhennouch this week forecast a 2010 national cereals harvest of around 8 million tonnes, higher than a recent estimate by the country's main grains industry body.
Asked how much grain Morocco would need to import after the harvest to satisfy national demand, he said: "For soft wheat, it will be roughly 36 million quintals."
"I think we will assure supplies for a large part of the year but will have to import in certain months."
The head of Morocco's grain import agency said in January the country would need to import between 1.3 million and 1.7 million tonnes of foreign soft wheat before this year's harvest.
Akhennouch said cereals would remain a vital element in Moroccan agriculture even as the country maximizes production of export crops such as tomatoes, olives and citrus fruit under its Green Morocco Plan.
The government was targeting a national grain harvest of 7.5 million tonnes per year between 2010 and 2020, he said.
"We're talking about an average," he said. "There will be highs and lows, but our goal is to improve yields.
Farming accounts for up 17 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 40 percent of the total workforce.
More than 70 percent of the farmers own just 5 hectares on average, and have scant financial resources to modernize agriculture without aid and new investment flows.
Source/Image: Reuters

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Kenya: Nuts Sector 20 Percent below Its Capacity

agricultureNairobi — The processing capacity of cashnuts and macademia in the country is underdeveloped and, therefore, more investors should be encouraged to join the sector.
With only about five large processing plants and a handful of other small players, the sector is believed to be operating at only 20 per cent its maximum capacity.
According to industry players, there are efforts to increase the capacity from within as well as foreign investors, to use the capacity.
"We are increasing the capacities and also engaging with investors who have shown interest in putting up processing plants locally to match up," Mr Bobby Thomas, a director of Wonder Nuts, told the Nation recently.
Last year, the government imposed a ban on the export of nuts from the country as means of boosting the industry.
The ministry of Agriculture indicated that it was only the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) that was mandated to buy the nuts from farmers.
Before then, a number of exporters had a field day buying nuts and exporting it to countries like China, Vietnam and India.
The practice, the ministry argued, denied the country opportunities for employment and value addition.
Currently, the production of nuts is estimated at about 10,000 metric tonnes annually.
Some processors have also urged the government to focus on increasing production by providing incentives to farmers as the ban stays on to protect them.
Lifted
However, the issue cropped up in Parliament recently, with a member asking for the ban to be lifted.
Through a ministerial statement, the ministry remained adamant, insisting the ban was there to stay.
"Foreign exporters destabilised the market and in the last three years farmers suffered immense losses due to middle men. After the ban, prices shot up and if post harvest regulations are followed, and the quality will improve and the buying price will shoot higher next year," read the ministerial statement in Parliament.
Statistics from the ministry further indicate that the sector currently earns the country only Sh500 million annually, but has a potential value of Sh1 billion
Source: .nation.co.ke Image: trueslant.com

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West Africa: FG Set to Revitalise Oil Palm Production

agriculture The Nigerian Federal government has launched a Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) project in order to improve the income generating potential of oil palm in West and Central Africa. The CFC is an inter-governmental financial institution established within the framework of the United Nations with the aim of supporting commodity dependent developing and least developed nations.
Launching the project in Abuja recently, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said the initiative was developed by UNIDO following the request of the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments. Abubakar said the project was aimed at promoting the development as well as sustainable production and utilisation of oil palm in West and Central Africa.
He said the project would encourage sectoral linkage to improve and ensure variety and technology transfer for effective production and processing of oil palm. Abubakar also said the project would attract support from institutions to improve research and development of oil palm in both sub-regions.
"To achieve this laudable objective, three pilot commercial demonstration processing units will be established as basis for technology transfer and technical skills upgrading in Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Imo states.
For the project to achieve the desired results in each of the three pilot centres, stakeholders will benefit from training, exchange of experience and technology transfer from Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.
Abubakar noted that funding for the project was shared among Nigeria, Cameroun, UNIDO and the private sector. According to him, Nigeria is to provide $500,000 ; Cameroon $800,000; UNIDO $300,000 while the private sector is to raise $140,000.
Chief Michael Oruh, the leader of the Cameroonian delegation, said the implementation of the project would go a long way in alleviating poverty . He also said that the project would promote the industrialisation of palm oil sub-sector in the region, adding that his country was ready to continue cooperation with the Nigerian government.
Speaking on behalf of the private sector, Mr Charles Ugwu, former Minister of Commerce and Industry, stressed the need for all stakeholders to embrace improved palm seedlings for maximum yields. Ugwu urged government to work out modalities to compensate communities eager to replace old palm trees with improved varieties. He noted that it was only in Nigeria that palm trees of more than 60 years were still in existence.
Source: Vanguard Newspapers, Lagos. Image: environmenttimes.co.uk

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Kenya: Farming Butterflies Puts Food on the Table

EnvironmentBy Ntandoyenkosi Ncube
Kakamega Forest, Kenya — For 10 years Roselyne Shikami sold boiled eggs at the bus station just outside the densely wooded Kakamega Forest in western Kenya, near the border with Uganda. Now she is selling butterflies.
"It was very difficult for me to sell two dozen boiled eggs a day," the 35-year old told IPS. "Sometimes I sat there for more than eleven hours. But I rarely raised 200 Kenyan shillings (about US$2.60). Now with only two butterflies I can fetch much more."
Shikami is one of a small group comprised mainly of women, who have started farming butterflies for sale in Kenya and the rest of Africa. They hope to gain customers in Europe and North America, the two most lucrative butterfly markets. Her husband, Joel, is part of the group. Like many others living around the Kakamega forest, he used to earn his income by cutting trees in the forest to sell as firewood.
According to Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP), a conservation group that trains women in butterfly farming, Kakamega forest has been reduced from over 240,000 hectares in 1820 to only 23,000 hectares today. The forest is generally considered the eastern-most remnant of the lowland Congolean rainforest of Central Africa. The extensive deforestation has largely been due to population growth and unemployment resulting in land clearance for farming and burning of wood for charcoal for domestic use and for sale.
The government has worked to keep woodcutters and farmers out of the forest and is now encouraging community projects, like butterfly cultivation, as a way of providing alternative incomes.
Kakamega forest has more than 70 percent of Kenya's butterflies and more than 500 different species. Since its launch in 2001, butterfly farming has turned out to be a money spinner for the communities around the forests, earning farmers the equivalent of over 100,000 US dollars annually says the Kenya Forest Service in its annual report.
KEEP director Benjamin Okalo agrees. "The butterfly business is booming. "A farmer needs only two butterflies to get a thousand pupae and that will be over Ksh 75,000 ($950) in a month - much more money than what one can earn from the chicken or egg selling business."
Okalo explained that people want to buy as many butterfly species as possible for their collections and to make nice decorations. Butterflies are also bought for research.
"Butterfly specimens here are very beautiful. Big hotels and tourists come to buy them. Rich businessmen are beginning to buy them too for beauty in the house at occasions like weddings and for education for their children," Okalo says.
Anne Moraah, another butterfly farmer told IPS some designers from Europe use the butterflies to come up with pattern designs.
Environmental benefits
Those involved in butterfly farming stress that while other businesses involving forests tend to be exploitative, butterfly farming is beneficial to the environment.
"When you have a rich number of butterflies it means the environment is good. With fewer butterflies it means there is pollution. Butterflies could also be guides to weather and climate change," says Joel Shikami.
The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology Senior Research officer, Lamberts Morek, says butterflies are important to the ecosystems because they make their primary contribution to the environment through pollination.
"As scientists our vision is to have a healthy and wealthy environment. It is achievable by empowering these women farming butterflies."
Source: IPS Image: travelodestination.com

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Nigeria: Oil Firms Flare 127 Billion Cubit Feet of Gas Quarterly says NNPC

EnvironmentOil companies operating in the country have flared an average of 127.19 Billion Standard Cubic Feet (BSCF) of Gas per quarter, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said.
The latest edition of NNPC's quarterly Petroleum Information obtained on recently in Eket, said 32 percent of associated gas produced was flared, while 267.08 BSCF of gas was utilised in the past quarter under review.
Under the Joint Venture Funding Category, Mobil Producing Nigeria, flared 40.98 BSCF out of its total gas production of 116.65 BSCF, followed by Total Exploration and Production that flared 18.90 BSCF out of its production of 77.14 BSCF of gas.
In the Production Sharing Contract category, Addax flared 10.32 BSCF, representing 71.14 percent of its gas production put at 13.03 BSCF.
It was followed by Esso, an affiliate of Mobil Producing which flared 9.73 BSCF, 46.67 percent out of its gas production of 20.85 BSCF of gas.
The Quarterly indicated that total gas production in the industry stood at 394.28 BSCF out of which 267.08 BSCF was utilised in the country in the last quarter.
The country produced a total of 329,100 metric tons of Natural Gas Liquids from Mobil's gas to liquid condensate plant out of which 49 percent or 161,260 metric tons accrued to NNPC as its joint venture share. (NAN)
Source: Daily Trust Image: robertamsterdam.com

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South Africa: Investors Not Geared to Environmental Responsibility - Study

EnvironmentBy Linda Ensor
Cape Town — Socially responsible investment in SA was not significantly geared towards a responsibility for the environment, a University of Cape Town study has found.
The post-doctoral research was conducted by Stephanie Giamporcaro of the university's Environmental Policy Research Unit. She wanted to find out if the South African investment industry was an agent for environmentally responsible economic growth in the country.
She interviewed portfolio managers, financial analysts, CEOs, chief investment officers, pension fund executives and investor relations executives of 22 asset managers, pension funds and service providers.
In doing so, she focused on the approaches adopted by the socially responsible investment market which as of July last year consisted of 38 labelled products with a market value of R23,3bn.
She found that the approach most commonly adopted by 45% of the respondents was "positive screening" - investing in approved sectors of the economy such as renewable energies, clean transport and infrastructure - as opposed to "negative screening" (24%), which meant avoiding investing in particular sectors such as tobacco, alcohol and armaments.
The majority of respondents focused their responsible investments on developmental goals (58%), followed by sharia law (24%) and a broad focus on ethical, social, environmental and corporate governance (18%).
Most said their clients were only interested in the trade-off between financial return and socially responsible investments, but Giamporcaro stressed that academic studies had shown there was no trade-off required as these investments generated similar returns to others.
Source: Business Day Image: allafrica.com

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Tunisia: Nation to Promote Investments in Digital Economy and E-Commerce

telecomsTunis — The technological park of El Ghazala, in Tunis, hosted on a symposium on investment in the digital economy and electronic commerce.
The symposium which was organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tunis (CCIT), in cooperation with Tunisian Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts Union(UTICA) inAriana focused on the policies encouraging economic enterprises to adopt new communication technologies (ICT) to strengthen their competitiveness, while better positioning themselves on foreign markets.
Opening the meeting, Mr. Mohamed Naceur Ammar, Minister of Communication Technologies, stressed the importance of boosting trade with foreign countries, strengthening economic competitiveness which will require suitable institutional and legislative frameworks. He explained that the latter will ensure safety of the exchanges and build confidence between different stakeholders.
Tunisia has set up several organizations such as the national agencyofelectronic certification(ANCE)and the National Agencyfor Computer Security(ANSI) working at ensuring electronic trade safety. In addition, laws on organizing exchanges in the field of electronic commerceas well as a law strengthening the partnership between the public and private sectors in the digital economy were enacted.
Mr. Ammar added that the administrative reform system now includes e-government, industry content, implementation of networks and communication channels based on innovation and taking advantage of all the opportunities that information technology and communication (ICT) offers.
Mr. Mounir Mouakhar, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tunis (CCIT), highlighted the concern of the chamber to create a digital economy culture and to integrate economic enterprises in the e-commerce system.
He said that the goal is to increase the contribution of e-commerce to 2% of total of external trade in 2011. The papers presented during the meeting focused on investment in commerce and electronic services, in addition to presenting the experiences of some economic enterprises in the field of electronic services.
Source: Tunisia Online News Image: comparewebhosts.com

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South Africa: Telecom Signs Nigerian Sea-Cable Deal

telecomsThabiso Mochiko
Johannesburg — MAIN One, a Nigerian-owned undersea cable project, has signed an agreement with Seacom and local group eFive Telecoms to build a 400m telecommunications fibreoptic cable "ring" from South Africa to Nigeria.
With Main One's fibre ring, bandwidth prices are expected to fall further given increased levels of competition.
The new fibre ring cable will add to the objectives of other undersea cables such as Seacom and West Africa Cable Systems to remove the international infrastructure bottleneck in Africa.
Main One runs from Nigeria to London, while Seacom is concentrated on east Africa by linking the region with Europe and India.
The west African region has relied on Telkom 's Sat3 undersea cable for connection to the rest of the world.
Main One CEO Funke Opeke said Main One's first phase, a 7000km cable from Nigeria to London, would be launched in June. "We believe that the proposed partnership with Seacom and eFive telecoms is the best way forward," he said.
The second phase, through a partnership with eFive Telecoms and Seacom, was expected to be completed in 2012.
Lawrence Mulaudzi, eFive Telecoms MD, said despite the global economic markets, "we are confident that there is sufficient appetite to fund quality projects in high- growth sectors such as African telecommunications".
EFive Telecoms will partner with Nova Capital Africa, an investment banking group, to raise the 400m needed for the construction of the cable.
Seacom CEO Brian Herlihy said a system circling the entire continent was the best way to attain adequate redundancy while offering customers a comprehensive telecommunications connectivity solution.
"The (agreement) shows the determination to find a viable way to extend our system with partners who share our vision for the development of ICT (information and communication technology) on the continent," he said.
Mulaudzi said the new cable would offer an open access system to customers.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of research firm World Wide Worx, said Main One would boost competition in the region and provide back-up in the event of a technical failure by another cable.
He said the fibre ring would also enhance communications for South African companies operating in Nigeria, such as the MTN Group .
"Fibre explosion across Africa is going to result in dramatically enhanced communications such as video conferencing, which is a superb solution to the difficulties of travelling in Africa."
Goldstuck said more fibreoptic network on the continent would push bandwidth prices down, as with the launch of Seacom last year.
Source: Business Day Image: 1.bp.blogspot.com

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Africa: A Quiet Revolution is Underway in Continent

telecommsBy Kevin Nellies
Many of us take the Internet for granted, but what about locations that are too remote or economically impoverished to enjoy the hi-tech benefits of the developed world?
The Shadow Chancellor in the UK, George Osborne, illustrated in a recent speech that people in the developing world - even in the poorest of circumstances - do care about having access to technology.
In a visit to a remote village in Rwanda in 2007 he and 40 other Conservative Party volunteers were working on transforming a once derelict orphanage into a school.
When it was announced that they were going to fix up the buildings and improve the water supply there were cheers from the villagers, but the loudest shouts were received when it was announced that the school was to be equipped with a computer.
Osborne was at first surprised with the reaction - access to a computer is not a fundamental of life. But even villagers in the remotest part of Rwanda knew about computers and the Internet and didn't want their children to be excluded - as they had been - from something that could help lift them out of poverty.
While computer penetration is still low, Africans are buying mobile phones at a world record rate with take-up soaring 550% in five years. Now one third of the population in Africa owns a mobile phone.
These devices are being used in Africa to do all sorts of things never dreamt about by their creators. Transferring money via SMS between people who don't have a bank account is now a huge business.
They are also acting as a link to get information out from rural areas and onto the Internet.
In Kenya, soon after violence erupted in 2007/8 elections, Mashada- a prominent online forum - launched an SMS hotline to help share information. Several prominent Kenyan blogs also accepted comments via SMS. Perhaps most prominently, BBC Africa's 'Have Your Say' received over 3800 and published over 1300 comments after requesting updates from Kenyans.
While these innovative SMS tools are allowing more people to contribute opinions and information, none of them can yet directly reach the majority of the population, who need Internet access to see the posted messages.
Twitter is perhaps the most promising tool because of its ability to deliver messages to mobile phones. In the Kenyan elections twitter was used by journalists in trouble spots to warn people in real time to avoid these locations as well as to inform the world of what was happening.
Now, finally, Africa is getting the new high-speed Internet connections developed countries have had for years. In September 2009, a new cable linked up East Africa and this, combined with widespread mobile access, is promising to revolutionise business and communications, acting as a check on corrupt regimes by exposing malpractice and lifting areas of the continent out of poverty.
Kevin Nellies is the Commonwealth Secretariat's adviser on digital affairs.
Source: Commonwealth News and Information Service (London) Image: idrc.ca

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We Have Gas Reserve to Last 150 Years - Rivers Govt

MiningBy George Onah
Port Harcourt — The Rivers State government has said the state possessed a huge gas reserve that would last for over 150 years.
Commissioner for Energy, Dr. George Dawari, who disclosed this at a briefing in Port Harcourt recently, said the government had plans to develop a master plan for the state as a result. According to him, the master plan will enable the government to utilize gas for both domestic and industrial activities.
He said the state also aimed at introducing a legislation that will enable it intervene directly in the oil and gas sector. Dawari said the arrangement "will involve moving gas to private homes, offices and industrial complexes. "The government was planning a gas-to-diesel conversion plant that will enable the state to use gas to power its vehicles.
"There is also collaboration with foreign investors to build refinery, petrochemical and bitumen plants. "The venture would surely generate employments for the people of the state. We have comparative advantage to open more petrochemical plants in our state, given the existence of such plants. "Apart from providing jobs for the skilled and unskilled across the different strata of the economy, of course, you know that this will oil the wheel of the needed development which the current administration has hugely carried out."
In another development, the Federal Government has called for an effective emergency management blueprint for the Niger Delta, in view of the magnitude of oil exploration and environmental degradation in the region.
The government reasoned that since the region had witnessed various disasters for over 50 years of oil exploration, such activities made the area very vulnerable to natural disasters, hence the need to evolve a proactive measure to check the menace.
Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr. Sam Odey, said at a two-day summit on management disaster in the Niger Delta, under the auspices of National Emergency Management Agency in Port Harcourt, that "the disasters witnessed here include flooding, erosion, landslide and oil spillage".
Source: Vanguard Image: i317.photobucket.com

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Mozambique: Businesses Urged to Invest in Mining Potential.

miningMaputo — Mozambique's Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, recently invited foreign businesses to exploit the enormous potential that Mozambique possesses in the mining, hydrocarbon and energy fields,
Speaking at the closing session of a two day International Conference on Mines and Energy in Maputo, Bias said that Mozambique's enormous mineral and energy wealth could enable it to pay a key role in the region, the African continent and the world.
"I would like to invite all those who are not yet investing in Mozambique to dedicate part of their investments to this country," she urged.
She hoped that the two day conference had enabled potential investors to get to know something of Mozambique and its potential.
The challenge now facing the government, she said, is how to use natural resources in a sustainable manner, and guarantee that their exploitation allows the harmonious development of Mozambique. Those resources should be used as the driving force for Mozambique's sustainable development.
Bias assured her audience that the country possesses favourable legal framework for the development of natural resources.
One concern raised by participants was the need for electricity to make major new projects viable. The southern African region is running short of electricity, and this has put energy-intensive industrial projects, such as a third phase to the MOZAL aluminium smelter, on the outskirts of Maputo, on hold.
It is thus ever more urgent to press ahead with the energy generating projects currently on the drawing board - such as the Mphanda Nkua dam on the Zambezi, a second power station at the existing Cahora Bassa dam, and coal fired power stations drawing on the immense reserves of the Moatize coal basin in Tete province.
Source:sortmoz.com/aimnews/ Image: bgr.bund.de

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Tanzania: Dar to Go Nuclear with Uranium Mining

diamondNairobi — Tanzania is to begin uranium mining and processing within three years, following the announcement of two commercial discoveries in the central and southern regions of the country.
Exploration estimates indicate the country has about 53.9 million pounds of uranium oxide (U3O8) deposits that, at current prices of $41 per pound, is worth $2.2 billion.
Two firms that have been exploring for the mineral in Tanzania and have confirmed discoveries are Mantra Resources and Uranex Resources, which are now only waiting for the new Mining Bill to be tabled this month before commencing mining.
The Proactive Investors website said Uranex, an Australian-listed company with projects in Australia and Tanzania, had announced the discovery of new uranium mineralisation during pitting at its previously untested Mbuga G site in the northern part of the Manyoni Project in central Tanzania.
In addition, further uranium mineralisation has also been identified at Mbuga's A, C West, D, and F, including recent assays returned from the 2009 drilling campaign.
Managing director John Cottle said: "We're very excited about these new uranium intersections as they continue to confirm our belief in the mineral potential of the Manyoni district."
The Mining Bill is geared to create a win-win situation unlike its predecessor, the Mining Act 1998, which gave disproportionate revenue benefits to mining companies operating in the land. Both Mantra and Uranex said last week that production will begin after three years.
The coming on stream of uranium will make it the most dependable export, after gold -- Tanzania is the third largest gold producer after Ghana and South Africa -- which in 2009 earned the country a total of $1,076.1 million.
The mineral sector in general earned the country $111.5 million in 2009, contributing 3 per cent to the gross domestic product.
The country ultimately aims to exploit its uranium deposits to produce nuclear power to export to the East, Southern and Central African markets.
Indeed, last week, at a meeting of the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA), in Abuja, Nigeria, the United States pledged to help African countries interested in generating electricity from nuclear sources.
Tanzania is a member of the FNRBA, along with Congo, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, and Tunisia.
Mantra, which will mine uranium in the south of the country at Namtumbo district, Ruvuma region, expects to produce 3.7 million pounds per year worth $151.7 million, using a 1,500 strong workforce and an investment of about $400 million, according to its website.
Source: East African Image: .epa.gov/

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MTN confirms in talks for Orascom, assets

constructionBy Gugulakhe Lourie and Alastair Sharp
JOHANNESBURG/CAIRO (Reuters) - South Africa's MTN confirmed it is in talks to buy Egypt's Orascom Telecom, a $9 billion deal that would make MTN the world's fourth-largest mobile phone operator.
But a crucial component of the deal, Orascom Telecom's lucrative Algerian unit, was thrown in doubt when the Algerian government said it was opposed to the sale of the unit and would block it from going ahead.
Purchasing all of Orascom, which has a market capitalisation of $7.2 billion and almost 93 million subscribers, would give Africa's biggest mobile operator access to fast-growing markets in Algeria, Pakistan and untapped North Korea.
Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes has valued Orascom, which relies on South Africa, Nigeria and Iran for the bulk of its revenue, at about $9 billion. MTN at the moment ranks as the world's No.11, with 116 million subscribers.
MTN said talks with Weather Investments, which owns 51 percent of Orascom Telecom and is majority-owned by Egyptian billionaire and Orascom executive Naguib Sawiris, may or may not lead to a transaction. MTN said it could take control of the Egyptian telecoms firm or some of its businesses.
Analysts have said that Orascom's Algerian unit is the most attractive of the assets, and the likely focus of the deal.
However, Algeria's Telecommunications Ministry issued a statement saying it was exercising its prerogative, under a law adopted last year, to have the right of first refusal if Orascom Telecom wants to sell the unit.
"The government is opposed to the planned deal between MTN and Orascom with regard to the company OTA (Orascom Telecom Algerie)," Algeria's state-run APS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
"Therefore any transaction concerning OTA will be null ... and could lead to the withdrawal of the telephone license granted to the company," the statement said.
"In the event that Orascom intends to divest itself of OTA, it is incumbent upon it to discuss the conditions ... with the Algerian state, which has decided to exercise its right of pre-emption to the entire capital of this company," it said.
David Lerche, telecoms analyst at Johannesburg-based Avior Research, said the Algerian unit "is a jewel in the crown at Orascom, because of its size and margins ... and market share."
Djezzy is Algeria's largest mobile phone operator and Orascom's biggest source of revenue. But the unit has been troubled by a tax dispute and Algerian sources have said the government wants Orascom out of the company.
Avior's Lerche said Orascom's North Korean unit would also offer MTN strong growth potential, because the isolated nation is one of the world's least developed telecom markets.
The acquisition of the whole of Orascom would propel MTN past its former suitor and current rival, India's Bharti Airtel . Like MTN, Bharti has been keep to capitalise on African growth and recently sealed a $9 billion for the African assets of Kuwait's Zain.
Source/Image: Reuters

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Africa: Infrastructure Projects Financiers Eye Africa

tradeBy Tradeinvest Africa Staff
Middle East investors think Africa's growing infrastructure project finance needs are a major opportunity, according to asset managers Signature Group.
"We believe there will be a substantial increase in the flow of funds from Middle East investors into developing areas of Africa in resources, infrastructure and related service industries," says the director of Africa Ram Bhatia, in a report carried by Africa Investor.
The company which focuses on emerging markets sees Africa as the next frontier after successes in India.
The World Bank estimates sub-Saharan Africa needs more than $36 billion a year for infrastructure. As the world emerges from recession, international finance institutions along with private equity funds, are returning with project finance to Africa.
In a recent report, the African Development Bank saw investment resuming particularly in mining and minerals with Asian investors taking advantage. The report also noted an increase of investment from the Middle East.
Source: TradeinvestAfrica Image: amglobal.com

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Zambia seeks investors for tax free zone industries

trade and investmentBy Agency reporter

Zambia wants foreign and local investors to set up industries in a special tax free zone as the southern African country prepares to complete basic infrastructure at the site, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.

Reuters quoted the Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, as saying that Zambia, Africa‘s top copper producer, was looking for investors to create industries that would process raw materials such as copper, and make some of the components used in mining which are currently imported.

”The infrastructure like roads, water and telephone lines is more or less done and the effort that is there now is to market the zone by attracting investors,” Musokotwane said in a statement.

The zone is located in the mineral-rich Copperbelt. China Nonferrous Metal Mining, which has promoted development of the zone, plans to invest $300m between 2010 and 2011 in projects such as the Chambishi copper smelter, its President, Mr. Luo Tao, said.

Source: Punchonline, Nigeria. Image: bized.co.uk

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Interview of the Month: Interview with Transparency International Advisory Committee Chair, Peter Eigen

InterviewThe Chair of the Advisory Committee of Transparency International and of the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Peter Eigen, rounded off his two-day visit to the Bank Group. In an Interview with Felix Njoku of the External Relations and Communications Unit of the AfDB, Mr. Eigen discussed the strategic importance of EITI, emphasized the need to turn the table on corruption in order to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction, especially in Africa and other developing countries. "Corruption is very much also the responsibility of the north," Mr. Eigen said.
 
Question: After nearly two days of interactions with Bank Group officials, what are your impressions? How would you assess Bank performance in the EITI process?

Answer: We have cooperated on EITI with your staff at conferences and as you may know, Bank Group President Kaberuka was at the global founding conference in Oslo. So, I consider our partnership with the AfDB as something very solid.  This visit is meant to reconfirm and consolidate the relationship. Last week, I had a wonderful meeting with Mr. Kaberuka during which he basically confirmed everything he had said about the EITI.  He continues to support the Initiative and will be a keynote speaker at a stakeholders’ conference we plan to hold in Doha in February next year.  He also agreed to participate in the Mediterranean High level Roundtable here in Tunis in November. So in many ways, I left my meeting with him with the feeling that there is a very solid and very important relationship between us.
Yesterday, I had the chance to address the board of the Bank on EITI and we had a very interesting exchange. It is clear not all the Executive Directors are fully familiar with what the EITI is all about. Some of them had genuine questions about the process. But in the end, we reached a consensus and agreed on the need to bring in some of the good performing African countries into the EITI.  South Africa and Botswana, for instance are likely to come on board to dispel this idea that it is a sort of northern initiative to deal with problem cases.
We also addressed a staff seminar because we consider the staff as the Bank’s most important asset.  They are the ones with the experience, who take the risk, deploy their know-how and drive to translate policies of the Board into reality. And again, it was a most energizing meeting. I felt totally at home, that we are really one family in promoting EITI, particularly at this time when Africa is experiencing a real bonanza from rising oil and commodity prices. So, I feel very grateful for this opportunity and the chance to meet the media in Tunis to convey the message about our new corruption perception index which was launched worldwide today. I am very happy that I had a chance to do this on African soil with your help.

Question: Currently, 16 of the 23 countries working with EITI are African. However, none of them has been certified EITI-compliant. In your estimation, how long will it take a hard-working country to qualify for certification?
Answer: EITI has a process which takes a country through 18 different steps, developed by an advisory group which worked on it for a whole year. This is to make sure that a multi-stakeholder governance of this process will be relevant at every implementation stage. I would think the first four steps are the important ones because they include the commitment of the government at a very high level to participate in EITI. It includes the willingness of the government to put together a multi-stakeholder group which will be in charge of managing the process in the country. This would comprise the private sector, civil society organizations, the public sector as well as one high-level person, appointed by the government with the power of convener. This is very often a minister or permanent secretary. The other condition, a very technical one, is funding for the multi-stakeholder group to implement it activities. When this is done, the country becomes what we call "Candidate country".  We are happy with the role played by AfDB staff in enabling these countries reach this stage. The Central African Republic will join the group soon. We also have very interesting countries trying to join such as Iraq, Botswana, and South Africa. 
With regard to your question as to why no country has been validated, I would attribute this to the age of our organization which is rather young. Nigeria has reported four times. Azerbaijan has reported seven times. It’s up to us to get a validation system in place quickly. We have drafted the terms of reference, we have arranged for the recruitment system for valuators which have been declared eligible. So we are very confident that all 16 candidates (soon to be 17) from Africa will be validated in the next year or so.

Question: There have been calls for the expansion of the scope and reach of EITI to include, among others, forestry and fisheries. What is your take on this?
Answer: In a way, these calls are logical. I found it interesting listening to the Executive Director from Seychelles yesterday when he said they were very much interested to have fisheries on the EITI schedule.  And already in Liberia, they are including forestry. But we have to be careful that we do not bite more than we can chew. After all, our secretariat was only established in 2007. So we are one year old now and must first learn about the operations, payments and reporting mechanisms in the oil and mining sector.  Already, in the mining area, we are facing enormous challenges. For instance, in a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo, people are engaged in artisanal mining which is almost impossible to track and report on. This situation exists in other countries even when supposedly reputable companies are involved.
The fisheries and forest sector pose greater challenges. Some of the poor countries in this sector are basically pillaged by large companies from the north. There is a lot of pressure for us to work in these sectors, but it will take some time. 

Question: What is the core message of Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perception Index which you announced on Tuesday?
Answer: The central message in the 2008 CPI is that corruption is inimical to development and growth both in poor and rich countries. The report indicates across the board that while some countries have made progress in reducing corruption, others have relapsed. Many countries are coming out of this year’s report with ratings less than 5, which is the middle of the range. Any country below 5 is a major corruption country.  It’s a call to leaders of countries below the middle point to do something about corruption.
This is also a sign that things can change for the better. I noticed that Nigeria has improved quite a bit. Mauritius has improved.  So, in a sense there are possibilities to deal with corruption. On the other hand, some of the rich countries like the U.K. and Norway have fallen back on the index.  So, again, this is an indication that corruption is not a monopoly of African leaders. Corruption is very much also the responsibility of the north.  So, this year the message is that we must remind countries in the northern hemisphere that they have to enforce the OECD convention on corruption more rigorously.  The report reminds us that corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to development, fighting poverty, avoiding violence in many parts of the word, and therefore, gives us the mandate to work together
 
Question: What drives Prof. Eigen toward these noble missions – a craving for moral probity or mere intellectual activism?        
Answer: Well, it is very hard to be objective when you talk about yourself. After all, "yourself" is your most favorite subject. So the temptation to put a positive spin on it is tremendous. But I try to be very realistic; I must admit that I have always had a tremendous commitment to justice. I have a tremendous sense of fairness. If I see children in an African village, for issuance, suffering, they can’t go to school; they can’t go to the doctor, because of the corruption in the temple, just makes me sick. It’s sickening to realize that 4 million people have died in the DRC in the aftermath of the Mobutu corruption mayhem. These should spur people to try to make a difference. I do not want to blow this up in terms of morality. It’s simply my vision to do the right thing and having worked for 25 years at the World Bank on development issues, you simply become committed to making sure that you want to help the poor live a decent life.
Source/Image: afdb.org

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Country Statistics: Liberia

Capital Monrovia
Area 111,000 sq km
Total Population 2008 3.9 Million
Urban Population 2008 60.12%
Female Population 2008 50.00%
GDP 2008 US$ 1.2 Billion
GNI Per Capita 2007 US$ 150
Inflation Rate 2008 7.45%
Crude Birth Rate (per 1000) 2008 49.13%
Human Development Index (scale 0 to 1) 2006: 0.364
ADB Membership Date: 10/09/1964
Cumulative Approvals (1967-2008): UA 184.2 Million

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