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Democratic Gambia ‘is at a historical turning point’ – IMF Mission

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A top International Monetary Fund (IMF) official, Ulrich Jacoby, has said the Gambia is at an economic turning point following the transition of power earlier this year.

According to him, despite the challenges that lie ahead, concerted policy efforts plus the support from the international community will be key to scaling the hurdles.

Ulrich led a mission that spent two weeks in the West African country during which time he met with stakeholders on how to put the economy back on track after the economic mismanagement and massive embezzlement of funds during the Jammeh-led regime.

With the transition to a new, democratically-elected government, The Gambia is at a historical turning point. Significant economic challenges lie ahead.

The mission met with President Adama Barrow, Minister of Finance Amadou Sanneh, Central Bank Governor Amadou Colley, other government officials, development partners, and representatives of the private sector and civil society.

A statement issued after his mission read as follows, “With the transition to a new, democratically-elected government, The Gambia is at a historical turning point. Significant economic challenges lie ahead.

‘‘The key priority is to bring public spending in line with available resources, thereby drastically reducing domestic borrowing and interest cost. Efforts need to include reforms of public enterprises, including the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) and the National Telecom and Mobile Operators (GAMTEL/GAMCEL) to place them on a sound financial footing and limit their drain on the state budget,’‘ the statement added.

According to the IMF, the Gambia’s economic growth in 2016 is now estimated to have reached only 2.2 percent, down from 4.3 percent in 2015, due to limited availability of foreign exchange, weak agricultural output and the effect of the political impasse on tourism during high season.

The global lender added that headline annual inflation stood at 8.8 percent in February 2017, driven by higher food prices and the recent depreciation of the dalasi – the local currency – which increases the domestic price of imported goods.

‘‘The situation is compounded by economic mismanagement and massive embezzlement of funds during the previous regime,’‘ they added.

The Adama Barrow regime disclosed in late January that exiled leader Yahya Jammeh virtually emptied the treasury before leaving the country. The country has however enjoyed the support of international donors and partners who have pledged funds and other assistance to help revive the economy.

The IMF has also initiated talks on providing a Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) along with a Staff Monitored Program (SMP). Discussions in that direction are expected to continue in Washington later.

Business

Aliexpress Unite Deals With Kenyans.

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Kenya’s mobile operating firm Safaricom, has secured a deal with China’s largest e-commerce company.



The deal will enable Kenyan shoppers to buy goods on the Aliexpress.com site, run by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, using Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile payment service for online shopping.

“This obviously then opens up a lot more opportunity because today customers on this platforms are limited by, you must have a credit card to be able to pay.

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M-Pesa was launched in 2007 to offer Kenyans without bank accounts a network to transfer cash via mobile phones. It now offers a range of payment services, loans and savings to more than 21 million people in the country.

Now we will actually be able to, you will now be actually able to pay for the product or service that you are buying using M-Pesa, and you pay for it in Kenya shillings currency,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s Chief Customer Officer.

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Business

Nigeria lost $16bn to production sharing contracts —NEITI.

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The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative said that Nigeria lost at least $16 billion in ten years due to non-review of the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts with oil companies.

This was one of the highlights of the latest report by NEITI released in Abuja Sunday. It was tagged “The Steep Cost of Inaction”

It said that the losses were recorded between 2008 and 2017.



The study done in conjunction with Open Oil, a Berlin-based extractive sector transparency group, found that the losses could be up to $28 billion if, after the review, the federation were allowed to share profit from two additional licenses.

NEITI, therefore, called for an urgent review of the PSCs to stem the huge revenue losses to the federation.

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It added that the review was particularly important for Nigeria because oil production from PSCs had surpassed production from Joint Ventures with PSCs now contributing the largest share to federation revenue.

“Between 1998 and 2005, total production by PSC companies was below 100 million barrels per year while JV companies produced over 650 million barrels per year.

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“By 2017, total production by PSC companies was 305.800 million barrels, which was 44.32 per cent of total production.

“Total production by JV companies was 212.850 million barrels, representing 30.84 per cent of total production.” It said.

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