By Kester Kenn Klomegah
In a new year message to leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), President Vladimir Putin of Russia called for stronger unity among the group’s members.
He also urged the BRICS leaders to strengthen political dialogue and forge a common approach to emerging challenging global problems, especially issues relating to economic stability and security.
In his message to President of the Republic of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, Putin stressed that the strategic partnership between Moscow and Brasilia in the outgoing year was quite successful. He expressed hope for continued constructive dialogue and joint activities bilaterally and within BRICS, the G20, the UN and other multilateral associations and organizations.
Moscow, together with the other four members, has made appreciable efforts in developing the BRICS. It always intends to work effectively for the sake of enhancing the organization’s authority and promoting common approaches to pressing problems on the international agenda.
In the messages of greetings addressed to the leaders of the Republic of India, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Russian leader noted the high level of Russia-India relations of special privileged strategic partnership, as fully demonstrated by the results of recent talks held in New Delhi.
“The implementation of the agreements reached will help further expand productive Russia-India cooperation in various areas,” Putin noted.
He further expressed hope that in the coming year, the two countries would continue their constructive dialogue both via bilateral ties and within BRICS, the SCO, the G20, the UN and other multilateral organizations. These would benefit the friendly peoples of both Russia and India and in the interests of enhancing security and stability in Eurasia and across the world.
In his message of greetings to President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on the occasion of the New Year and the upcoming Spring Festival, Putin noted that 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Russian-Chinese Treaty on Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, which is a solid basis underlying bilateral relations.
Despite the pandemic-related challenges, the Russian leader noted that Russia and China’s interaction was exceedingly productive. “A dynamic political dialogue continued at all levels, trade was up at an all-time high, and cross years of Scientific, Technological and Innovative Cooperation led to good practical results,” the message says.
The effective coordination of efforts in addressing key items on the regional and international agenda was noted in the message, and confidence was expressed that the two countries would be able to expand the entire range of bilateral ties, and a new joint project between the two countries – the Year of Cooperation in Physical Fitness and Sports – would be implemented in full.
“I have no doubt that our Chinese friends will make sure that the Winter Olympic Games are a success. I look forward to our meeting at the opening ceremony of this sports festival,” according to his message of greetings.
Russia and South Africa, in particular, have been attempting to scale up their bilateral relations. “I hope that in 2022 we will continue to work closely to strengthen the multifaceted interaction between Russia and South Africa – both bilaterally and within BRICS, the G20, the UN and other multilateral organizations. This fully meets the interests of our peoples and helps strengthen international stability and security,” Putin wrote in his message to the President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.
The BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 3.6 billion people, about 42% of the world’s population. The five command a combined nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $16.6 trillion.
Cape Town to Host 2022 African Energy Week October 18
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.
Intra African Trade Could Reach $300bn in 2025—Akinwuntan
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.
Russia Proposes Complete Ban on 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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