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Poverty rate hits 32.5% in Egypt

Average annual income for an Egyptian family also rose to 59,000 pounds between 2017 and 2018

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Poverty rate hits 32.5% in Egypt
(File photo)

Nearly a third of Egyptians live below the poverty line, up from 27.8 per cent in 2015, Egypt’s flagship state-owned newspaper Al Ahram reported on Tuesday, citing official figures.

“The poverty rate has reached 32.5% across the republic for 2017-2018,” the daily quoted the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics as saying in a report released on Monday.

The agency specified the poverty line as an income of 8,827 Egyptian pounds ($533 a year, or around $1.40 a day).

It said the average annual income for an Egyptian family had risen to 59,000 pounds for the same period.

The latest poverty figures come as Egypt prepares to receive the final $2 billion tranche of a $12 billion loan package negotiated with the International Monetary Fund in 2016 in return for a strict austerity programme.

The Washington-based financial institution approved the tranche last week saying Egypt’s economic outlook had “improved markedly since 2016”.  

Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office in 2014, his administration has imposed sweeping economic reforms, floating the Egyptian pound and slashing state subsidies for basic goods and services.

The economy took a battering in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring revolution that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Direct foreign investment has grown to record levels but both household costs and the national debt have ballooned since the pound was floated in November 2016 leading to a sharp depreciation.

Egypt raised fuel prices again earlier this month in its latest round of subsidy cuts. 

The hike followed the government’s raising of electricity rates by 15 per cent in May.

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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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