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Global Food Prices Remain at 10-Year High in November

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Global Food Prices

By Adedapo Adesanya

Food prices in the globe rose for a fourth straight month in November 2021 to remain at a 10-year high, led by strong demand for wheat and dairy products, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO’s Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in the international price of cereal, dairy, meat, vegetable oils and sugar, jumped 1.6 points last month from the previous month to 134.4 points.

In its monthly report, the Rome-based agency noted that prices of cereals and dairy saw the sharpest gains, followed by sugar, while prices of meat and vegetable oils fell slightly in November from the previous month.

Inflation for essentials including food and energy has skyrocketed this year as a result of the recent supply-chain crisis and shortages as countries cast off COVID-19 induced restrictions.

Soaring food prices are hitting low-income households especially hard because higher prices for essentials like bread, meat, milk and rice eat up a larger share of their incomes.

The pain inflicted on consumers has placed central banks the world over in a tough position because higher interest rates help cool inflation, but they also risk denting fragile economic recoveries.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve has prioritised getting Americans back to work over reining in inflation. But with consumer price inflation accelerating at its fastest pace in 30 years in October, the US Fed Chief, Mr Jerome Powell said this week it was time to “retire” the word “transitory” when describing inflation as he signalled that the Fed could speed up the taper of its bond purchases. That in turn could pave the way for an interest rate hike sooner than expected.

According to the UN agency, cereal prices jumped 3.1 per cent in November on a monthly basis, and 23.2 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Wheat prices have grown for five consecutive months and are now at their highest level since May 2011, due to harvest troubles in Australia linked to untimely rains and potential changes to the export policy in Russia.

Maize export prices also climbed in November, propped up by strong sales in Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine.

The dairy index rose 3.4 per cent on a monthly basis and was 19.1 per cent in November compared to a year ago, due to growing demand for milk and butter and depleted stock.

The FAO’s sugar price index averaged 120.7 points in November – 1.4 per cent higher than a month ago and a whopping 40 per cent higher than a year ago.

The meat index fell 0.9 per cent from October, dipping for a fourth consecutive month but still 17.6 per cent above what it was in November of last year. The reason for the slight decline is reduced purchases of pig meat by China, especially from the European Union.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Cape Town to Host 2022 African Energy Week October 18

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2021 African Energy Week

By Adedapo Adesanya

The annual African Energy Week (AEW) will be taking place on October 18 -22, 2022, in Cape Town, South Africa, the organisers have announced.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC), which organises the event, will bring energy leaders and global stakeholders together for a week of intense dialogue on the African energy sector, with a strong pursuit of making energy poverty history by 2030.

In pursuit of an electrified economy, AEW 2022 will introduce critical topics that cover the entire energy value chain.

Regarding the upstream sector, there will be a focus on exploration, licensing rounds, and remaining competition for investment in 2022 and beyond.

With emerging frontier markets such as Somalia, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire gaining increased attention from regional and international players, AEW 2022 will emphasize the potential and current opportunities across Africa’s emerging and mature upstream markets.

On the midstream front, AEW 2022 will offer critical insight into new and existing projects – such as the $6 billion African Renaissance Pipeline Project and the proposed 1,800km Tanzania-Uganda Natural Gas Pipeline Project – introducing lucrative opportunities to investors.

With the scaling up of refinery construction underway across the continent, the conference is committed to increasing investment and enhancing production across key African markets.

The organisers noted that by discussing the challenges and opportunities present across the downstream sector, African stakeholders will collaboratively discuss the future of the African energy industry.

On his part, Mr NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC said, “In 2021, they said it could not be done in Cape Town and we all must go to Dubai.

“With massive support from the City of Cape Town, the government of South Africa IOC’s and NOC’s and alternative energy companies, we demonstrated that Africa is ready and capable to hold a continent-wide energy event in Africa and we held the largest event on the continent. Even in the midst of the pandemic, AEW took place, ushering in a new era of safe, accessible, and industry-focused events.

“This year will be huge for the African energy industry. We expect a range of investments to be made and developments to take off that will drive the continent’s economic advancement.

“During this year’s edition of AEW, an emphasis will be placed on finance, natural gas, electrification, hydrogen, upstream and a just transition as we believe these sectors have a specific role to play in Africa.

“By developing our gas resources, Africa can meet the growing demand for energy while reducing emissions. From AEW 2022, we will be going to COP27 to meet with global leaders and discuss African energy – from Cape to Cairo.”

The organisers noted that as the continent continues to deal with reduced funding for hydrocarbon projects, AEW 2022 will offer new insights into how Africa’s oil and gas projects can raise capital in a post-COVID-19, energy transition context.

Accordingly, panel discussions and investor forums will place a focus on finance, enabling environments, and the role that African Energy Banks will play in financing the future of the industry. By introducing African stakeholders to innovative capital raising, AEW 2022 is committed to the growth of African oil and gas.

Regarding gas, the Chamber noted that Africa is not only rich with resources but opportunities. Markets such as Nigeria, Mozambique, Mauritania, Senegal, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo, and Ghana have significant untapped resources.

Already, there has been an influx in investment and development within the gas sector, and yet a range of opportunities remain, particularly within the gas-to-power and Liquefied Natural Gas space.

AEW 2022, therefore, has placed a strong emphasis on the role that gas will play in electrifying Africa, driving socio-economic growth and industrialization for years to come. By introducing project profiles, highlighting key discoveries, and emphasizing how gas will drive a just transition in Africa, AEW 2022 has placed gas at the centre of its programme agenda.

The recent move by the European Union to label certain gas projects as green is likely to usher in a new wave of investment in Africa and AEW 2022 will be the place where deals in this area will be made.

The development of resources such as gas, hydrogen and renewables according to the organisers will ensure Africa adheres to global climate mitigation targets while at the same time driving economic growth.

During the summit, speakers will highlight key opportunities across Africa’s renewable energy space, providing insight into potential markets such as the Congo, Mozambique, the Gambia, Kenya, Angola, and Libya, all rich with renewable resources.

Additionally, the programme will emphasize the role that hydrogen will play in Africa by detailing high potential markets and projects such as Hive Hydrogen’s green ammonia plant in South Africa and the $9.4 billion green hydrogen project in Namibia.

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Intra African Trade Could Reach $300bn in 2025—Akinwuntan

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Intra African Trade

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has projected that intra Africa trade could reach $300 billion by 2025.

He gave this forecast during an interview with Arise TV while speaking on the recently launched Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).

He described the payment platform developed by Afreximbank as a good development, noting that it will serve as a backbone through which all the countries in Africa are able to actualize transactions done within the free trade area, adding that it will also create employment, wealth, and deliver values to exporters on the continent.

“This common payment platform will enable Africa to move intra trade from the current 16 per cent, representing $70 billion to the range of 50-55 per cent in the next two to three years. This is huge because we could be talking about $300 billion intra African trade close to 15 per cent of Africa GDP.

“Besides, PAPSS will also eliminate payment delays, third party currencies as well as benefit households, small businesses, and financial institutions. This is a positive development for intra Africa trade. It is a step in the right direction. It will promote cross border trade for African exporters, liberalize payments and will deliver payment that delivers value. Africa is here for real business. Africa is ready. Let’s go for it,” he said.

Further, Mr Akinwuntan disclosed that “Ecobank is a supporter of this initiative. Today, we can reach up to 35 countries because we already have a Pan African switch, and we are already connected to PAPSS.

“I call for the collaboration of all stakeholders to achieve the desired objectives; we have the key industry sectors that deals on Pan African trade.

“We need to go through with them, helping them to see the practical possibilities. We have a responsibility to take this message to them that if they want to do any transaction across Africa, they don’t need to look for an international bank. PAPSS will work the same way NIBSS works in Nigeria.”

PAPSS is expected to boost intra-African trade by transforming and facilitating payment, clearing and settlement for cross-border trade across Africa.

At the launch, Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, said “we are eager to build upon AfCFTA’s creation of a single market throughout Africa.  PAPSS provides the state-of-the-art financial market infrastructure connecting African markets to each other, thereby, enabling instant cross-border payments in respective local African currencies for cross-border trade.

“Afreximbank as the main settlement agent for PAPSS, provides settlement guarantees on the payment system and overdraft facilities to all settlement agents, in partnership with Africa’s participating Central Banks.

“PAPSS will effectively eliminate Africa’s financial borders, formalise and integrate Africa’s payment systems, and play a major role in facilitating and accelerating the huge AfCFTA-induced growth curve in intra-African trade,” he stated.

Also speaking at the event, PAPSS’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mike Ogbalu, emphasised that the payment system was not designed to compete with or replace existing payment systems.

He said it would facilitate the connectivity level that brings all payments systems together into one network that was interoperable, efficient and affordable.

“PAPSS is designed to make our currencies regain value to domesticate intra-Africa payments in this journey toward African prosperity. This is done while providing the superhighway which connects others to reach every part of this continent as we seek to create the Africa that we want,” he said.

The PAPSS pilot in WAMZ central banks has been completed and all six central banks have tested and gone through the trial operations.

In the last week of August 2021, all the central banks became live on the system and have since been sending through live transactions across the WAMZ region.

PAPSS has been successfully piloted in the six countries of the West African Monetary Zone, and promises to deliver multiple advantages and efficiencies to intra-African trade payments. As a major supporter of this initiative, Ecobank is already connected to PAPSS.

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Russia Proposes Complete Ban on Cryptocurrencies

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Cryptocurrencies

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Russian central bank has proposed a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in the country.

The proposal emphasized that crypto is extremely volatile and has helped to spread fraudulent activities in the country, adding that it is also a potential risk to the country’s national economy.

Director of the Bank of Russia, Ms Elizaveta Danilova, during a presentation, said that a complete ban would mean no mining, trading, or usage of crypto in the country.

However, owning cryptocurrencies would still be legal.

The report also suggested that the government should introduce punishments for individuals who buy or sell products/services using crypto.

The central bank, which is planning to issue its own digital currency, said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation.

This isn’t the first time the Bank of Russia has gone after cryptos as it had banned mutual funds from investing in any cryptocurrencies.

In 2019, the country blamed cryptocurrencies for spreading money launching and terror financing.

However, the government legalized crypto in 2020, although banning their use as payments.

The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated and highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems.

With the total ban of the asset by China, Russia witnessed a rise in crypto mining and this move has already triggered investors to dump their coins.

In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

Market analysts note that although the Bank of Russia’s proposal can cause significant worry for its crypto traders and miners, it’s still not confirmed if the government will follow through with a total ban.

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