African press review 15 April 2016
Issued on: Modified:
Nigerian foreign-exchange controls are undermining political reforms by President Muhammadu Buhari and making the country "uninvestable" for buyers who measure returns in dollars, according to international analysts.
The reorganisation of the state oil company’s structure, changes to the country’s bureaucracy and Buhari’s efforts to curb corruption all point to radical changes to the country’s governance structures.
The Nigerian central bank has pegged the naira at 197–199 per US dollar since March last year, and restricted trading in foreign currencies, making imports more costly for a nation that is a net importer of refined fuel and food.
Importers struggle to access foreign exchange at the official rate, with the naira falling to around 320 to the dollar on the black market.
Share-trading volumes on the Nigerian stock exchange plunged to a seven-year low in the first quarter, as foreigners shun the market while they wait for a devaluation of the naira. Nigeria’s economy is currently growing at its slowest pace for 17 years.
The Nigerian Guardian reports that President Buhari yesterday spared a thought for the over 200 Chibok girls in Boko Haram captivity. From China, where he's on a week-long visit, the president sympathised with parents and relations of the girls as the world observed the second anniversary of their abduction.
Buhari assured the parents that the Federal Government and security agencies would continue to explore all possible options for the safe return of the girls. He urged the parents to continue to exercise patience and understanding as the government works to ensure that the girls return home unharmed.
The Lagos State House of Assembly urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts to locate and rescue the children as promised.
The House said that, given the recent proof that the girls are alive, intensive rescue efforts were necessary to bring relief to their families.
South African financial paper BusinessDay reports that the number of international buyers who have booked for this year’s Tourism trade fair is down by more than half from last year.
So far 1,100 international buyers had registered to attend the travel fair next month. This is a 123 per cent drop from the 2,462 international buyers hosted at the Durban International Conference Centre in 2015 and marks the seventh year of declines.
The number of exhibiting companies has also dropped to date 791 exhibitors, occupying 90 per cent of the available floor space, have booked their places, down from 1,029 last year.
There are still 22 days left for exhibitors and buyers to register.
The tourism sector, one of South Africa’s few growing sectors and regarded as a key driver to lower the 25 per cent unemployment rate, is expected to grow at its slowest pace since the 2009 recession this year.
The front page of regional newspaper The East African reports that Malawi's President Peter Mutharika has declared a national disaster because of the current severe drought. The Malawian leader appealed for 1.2 million tonnes of maize to cover a shortfall of the staple.
Mutharika said Malawi faces a huge maize deficit in the December to March growing season, representing a decline of over 12 per cent compared to last year.
Regional drought has placed about 16 million people at risk of hunger, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said in March.
Agriculture accounts for a third of Malawi's economy and provides livelihoods for 80 per cent of the population of about 15 million people.
Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila want the country's highest court to rule on whether he would stay in power if his government fails to hold election due in November.
Kabila, in power since 2001, is required by the constitution to step down when his second elected term ends later this year.
The government says logistical and budgetary problems could prevent it from holding the vote on time, while his opponents claim he is deliberately delaying the polls to extend his rule.
The uncertainty over the polls has sparked debate over what the constitution prescribes if the election is not held on time.
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