• Zimbabwe and Zambia violating terms of Kariba fishing agreement

    A diplomatic row has ensued between Zimbabwe and Zambia over fishing in Lake Kariba with both countries violating the guiding 1999 Protocol on Economic and Technical Co-operation. Environment and Water Minister in the Zimbabwean Cabinet told the country’s National Assembly that, “Currently, Zimbabwe has 460 Kapenta fishing boats on the lake and Zambia has 962 boats officially declared. This means the current ratio is 32:68 in Zambia’s favor which is against the protocol agreement.” She added that whereas the current total of rigs is pegged at 1,422, it should instead be 500 with Zimbabwe having 275 and Zambia 225 rigs. Both countries are therefore violating the terms of their agreement and this will affect the sustainability of the fishery.

    Tanzania’s President Magufuli fires country’s power utility company head for tariff increase

    In his trademark bulldozer style, President Magufuli chided officials of the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority in Tanzania for raising the electricity tariff by almost 8.5%. He then fired the country’s power utility company (Tanzania Electric Supply Company) head, Managing Director Felchesmi Mramba and appointed Dr Tito Mwinuka to lead in the interim. Speaking during a Mass at the Mater Misericordiae Cathedral in Bukoba Municipality, Magufuli said, “Just a few officials at EWURA decided to increase electricity tariffs even without consulting the Minister for Energy and Minerals. This is quite absurd. EWURA cannot increase electricity tariff while the government is working hard to ensure that most people, especially in rural areas, get electricity.”

    Criticism has, however, been levelled against the government’s move with Professor Honest Ngowi of Mzumbe University telling The Citizen, “This has set a bad precedent and regulators might be apprehensive about executing their mandates. This is despite the fact these authorities are supposed to operate independently without political interference.”

    Fuel Price Hike in South Africa

    The petrol price in South Africa was increased as a result of the slight strengthening of the Rand against the United States Dollar, the increase in the prices of crude oil, the increase in the prices of petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin in the international markets and adjustment to the Octane Differential between 96 and 93 Octane. The prices have been adjusted as follows:

    There is a 50 cent increase for Petrol (93 ULP and LRP), 48 cent increase for Petrol (95 ULP and LRP), 39 cent increase for Diesel (0.05% Sulphur) and a 37 cent increase for Diesel (0.005% Sulphur). The Wholesale price of illuminating Paraffin has been increased by 43 cents while the maximum retail price of LP Gas has been increased by 106 cents. The primary reason for the increase in prices of crude oil is the resolution to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day from the 1st of January while Russia and other producers agreed to cut production by 600,000 barrels per day.

    The Mauritius Small Business Incubator to start operations

    Minister of Finance and Economic Development Pravind Jugnauth announced in the 2016/2017 Budget Speech that the National Small and Medium Enterprises Incubator Scheme will become operational this month. According to the Government of Mauritius, “The objective of the Scheme is to assist young Mauritians to transform their innovative ideas into concrete business ventures and to become successful entrepreneurs.” The Scheme is a result of a partnership between the private sector and the government with private sector groups expected to invest in the infrastructure and facilities, manage the centre and provide mentoring, marketing and other support services. Government is expected to provide financial support by sharing costs of operation and providing support services.

    No consensus on oil price recovery in 2017

    Investment bank projections for the recovery of crude oil prices in 2017 have been fundamentally different showing the uncertainty of the next twelve months. The price of crude oil dropped from its high of $115 per barrel in June 2014 to a low $27 in February 2016. A survey by the Wall Street Journal recently showed that twelve global investment banks predicted a US crude price of just about $45 per barrel and above in 2017. Three of the banks expect the price to however stay under $50 per barrel at year end while the rest of the banks expect the opposite to happen. Standard Chartered’s forecast is the highest at $68 followed by Citigroup which predicts a price of $62 and the Bank of America which expects the price to be locked at $61 at year end. One thing is for sure, no one expects the $115 high of June 2014 to return in 2017 or the $27 low of February 2016.