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African press review 22 January 2018


Are the lights about to go out for the South African national electricity company? Will the African Union finally implement the Single African Air Transport Market? Why were there long queues outside Nigerian filling stations this weekend?

South Africa's national electricity supplier, Eskom, is on the brink of bankruptcy, reports BusinessDay.

According to the Johannesburg-based financial daily, Eskom executives and the Treasury will start approaching local banks from today in an effort to restore lending facilities as the company races to avoid the suspension of its bonds by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and dodge a pending letter of default from the World Bank.

The state-owned company needs to raise the rand equivalent of nearly one and a half billion euros over the next few weeks to persuade its auditors that it is a going concern. This will enable it to publish interim financial statements and allow continued access to foreign debt capital markets.

If the World Bank issues a default letter during a scheduled meeting with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, it will trigger a 14-day recall on its 300 million euro loan, which could start a scramble by Eskom’s other creditors, currently reckoned to be owed about 24 billion euros.

No place for Africa in the global financial scramble

Africa is still struggling to find a place in the harsh world of financial markets, says regional paper the East African.

According to the report, a survey of stockmarkets in 17 African countries showed that only Kenya ranks among the top five markets on the continent.

In the latest African Financial Markets Index published by Barclays, Kenya lags behind South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana and Namibia.

African skies to be united at Addis summit

The East African also reports that the upcoming African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa is expected to see the adoption of a Single African Air Transport Market.

The move is intended to free African skies and accelerate sectors like tourism and trade.

So far 23 African countries have signed the AU's declaration promising to unconditionally open their air transport markets to African airlines   a step which the East African says shows countries are finally moving towards realising the Yamoussoukro Decision, which was intended to create a single air transport market across Africa by 2002.

The regional paper says that liberalising east Africa's airspace alone would contribute 200 million euros annually to the region's GDP and create an additional 46,000 jobs, while passenger traffic would also increase by an average 46 per cent annually. Ticket costs would also be likely to fall.

According to the International Air Transport Association, deregulating and liberating African air space in 12 key markets would create about 155,000 jobs and generate 1.5 billion euros in revenue.

Nigeria on brink of another fuel shortage

Nigeria is back in the grip of a fuel shortage, according to the main story in today's edition of Punch.

The report says there were long queues of desperate motorists at many filling stations in Lagos and Ogun states on Saturday and Sunday after a brief relief from the severe scarcity that slowed the country from December to early this month.

Many filling stations in the two states were shut on Sunday, while some that remained open were charging more than the official pump price of N145 per litre.

Black market operators were having a field day as they sold the product for as much as N250 per litre yesterday.

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