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Cape Verde, Russia sign visa-free agreement, explore economic relations

Both ministers further agreed to take additional measures to step up economic partnership

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Africa in 60 - May 7, 2019
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and his Cape Verde's counterpart Luis Felipe Tavares shake hands during a joint news conference following their meening in Moscow, Russia. Photo credit: AFP

Cape Verde’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Filipe Lopes Tavares, paid a working visit to Moscow where diplomatic talks on bilateral trade and economic ties ensued with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.

They also paid special attention to the promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy, tourism and agriculture sectors. An inter-governmental agreement on ending visa formalities for reciprocal travel was also signed.

According to Sergei Lavrov, Cape Verde is considered Russia’s traditional partner in Africa. “We value the friendship. Cooperation is growing between the two countries. I would like bilateral trade and economic cooperation to reach the level of political contacts, which is very high. There are good opportunities for this in various areas, especially tourism. I hope that the visa-free travel agreement we signed, will contribute to the development of tourism in both directions”, Lavrov says.

Both ministers further agreed to take additional measures to step up economic partnership, identify and use all opportunities available, including direct contacts between members of the business community.

The substantive part of the official discussion was devoted to the development of tourism, including in the context of the Visa Waiver Agreement, between Russia and Cape Verde that was signed.

Lavrov and Tavares stressed that the new visa-free agreement will encourage tourism, as well as cultural and educational exchanges and contacts between both countries.

Over the past ten years, Russia and Cape Verde have achieved very little, if nothing at all, in dealing with previous diplomatic promises and pledges. Undoubtedly, some bilateral agreements were signed but are yet to be implemented.

“We have an understanding of the necessity to encourage business circles to establish direct links and to explore the capabilities of each other, particularly under the auspices of the chambers of commerce and industry,” Lavrov told his counterpart- then Foreign Minister, Victor Borges who visited in October 2007.

In terms of tourism and other investment sectors have remained relatively unknown, primarily due to inadequate information and lack of publicity in Russia, according to Felly Mbabazi, Executive Director of Safari Tropical Tours, who for almost 15 years, has directed and organized several Russian group tours to safari in East Africa.

East African safari includes Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Her company also operates tours to South Africa and other southern African countries.

“Beyond taking advantage of the existing potential to increase mutual relations, Praia and Moscow first need a shared business strategy. There are lot of things to be considered in the tourism business to Cape Verde. For example: distance from Moscow to Cape Verde, quality tourism infrastructure, reasonable prices, attractions like wildlife, white sandy beaches and most importantly tourist safety”, Mbabazi adds.

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South Africa’s Foschini to halt Kenya, Ghana operations

South African retailers have recorded poor performance in the last year, due to slow economic growth and currency devaluations

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South Africa's Foschini to halt Kenya, Ghana operations
(File photo)

South African fashion retailer, the Foschini Group is considering shutting down its Kenya and Ghana businesses.

The firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Thunstrom, affirms that at least, six stores will be affected in both countries.

South African retailers have recorded poor performance in the last year, due to slow economic growth and currency devaluations that had hit sales.

In July, department store chain, Woolworths pulled out from West Africa for a second time.

The Foschini Group will review economic growth, legislature and lease negotiations in Kenya and Ghana before making its decision.

Come September, in its home market, Thunstrom says The Foschini Group will launch a smaller format Sportscene store that will enjoy entertainment features such as a basketball court and a DJ booth, in an effort to lure millennials into its stores and away from online players such as Naspers’ majority-owned Superbalist.

The store will be launched in September in Johannesburg’s upscale Sandton shopping and financial district.

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Total Mozambique gas project will go on despite insurgency

Total will also acquire US energy giant Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa

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Energy major Total on Friday said it remained committed to a Mozambique liquefied natural gas project on the country’s northern coast despite deadly Islamist insurgent attacks.

Total will become the operator of the $25 billion Rovuma LNG Project whose construction began on August 5 in the Afungi Peninsula.

The company is also set to acquire US energy giant Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa, strengthening Total’s position in Africa.

But the area where the project is located has been targeted by jihadists since October 2017, claiming more than 300 lives.

Attackers in February launched an assault on a convoy of vehicles from an Anadarko contractor, killing one worker and injuring others. 

This led to the suspension of operations for a few months, with activities only resuming after the government announced the deployment of armed forces.

Several hundred suspected attackers have been arrested, according to authorities, but sporadic assaults continue.

On Friday Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne reaffirmed Total’s commitment to the LNG project saying it “is a unique asset which perfectly fits our strategy and our skills.

“Please be assured of the commitment of Total to bring the best of our human, technical and financial capacities to further strengthen the project execution … in the interests of all those involved, including the government and people of Mozambique,” he said in a statement.

The project is expected to be transformational for Mozambique, creating an estimated 5,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs.

The country’s gas deposits are estimated at 5,000 billion cubic metres and would make Mozambique a major exporter of liquefied natural gas.

The use of natural gas is on the rise globally as countries struggle to meet energy demands and shift away from using coal.

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Kenya plans to tax OTT services like Youtube, Netflix

The over-the-top services (OTT) will soon be required to declare the incomes they derive from Kenyan consumers

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Kenya plans to tax OTT services like Youtube, Netflix

Kenya’s Information Communication and Technology (ICT) ministry is working on completing a new tax scheme.

This framework, reports say, will be used to tax foreign online streaming media services such as YouTube and Netflix.

The over-the-top services (OTT) will soon be required to declare the incomes they derive from Kenyan consumers.

OTT services include all applications that offer voice, video and messaging services over the internet.

Communications Authority Director-General, Francis Wangusi says online content providers exploit the Kenyan industry. Yet, neither the government nor artistes benefit from them.

According to Wangusi, “many countries have policies that guide these services and that is where we are heading as a country”.

He adds that technologies that will facilitate taxation of OTT services are available.

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