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South African electricity company Eskom suffers losses

Eskom, which generates around 95 per cent of the country’s electricity, has accumulated $30 billion of debt

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South African electricity company Eskom suffers losses | News Central TV

South Africa’s embattled power company Eskom on Tuesday reported a record net loss of R20.7 billion for the year to March, nearly 10 times more than in the previous 12 months.

The state power utility’s loss widened from R2.3 billion the year before primarily because of lower sales, increased finance costs and higher costs for primary energy, in particular coal. 

Eskom, which generates around 95 per cent of the country’s electricity, has accumulated $30 billion of debt despite being the recipient of multiple bailouts from the government.

A week ago, the government announced a R59 billion bailout for the power supplier, a mere five months after an even bigger cash injection was announced over the next three years.

“Today Eskom releases results that, while expected, are unfavourable,” chairman and acting CEO Jabu Mabuza said at the company’s offices in Johannesburg.

“The organisation disappointingly incurred a net loss after tax of R20.7 billion for the year,”  Mabuza said.

Mabuza was on Monday announced as the acting CEO until October following the sudden resignation of Phakamani Hadebe in May, citing “unimaginable demands” of the job.

Hadebe became the tenth CEO to step down over the past decade. 

The latest bailout was slammed by global credit ratings agencies, who fear for South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio and its fiscal leeway.

Moody’s said the government would struggle to absorb the costs and subsequently labelled funding for the embattled power utility as “credit negative”.

Eskom has been damaged by years of corruption, mismanagement and over-spending.

Outgoing CEO Hadebe said Eskom’s funds were not even enough to keep up with interest on its debt, let alone pay it off.

“We are like an individual who borrows money to pay interest on their credit card,” Hadebe said.

State-owned companies were at the centre of corruption scandals under ex-President Zuma, with power-supplier Eskom now laden with huge debts.

It imposed a period of rotational power rationing in February, plunging offices, factories and homes into darkness for long hours and sparking public anger at the ANC government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to reform Eskom calling it “too vital” to the economy to be allowed to fail.

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Rwanda’s Skol brewer cancels sexist jokes on beer bottles after backlash

Skol Brewery Limited also promised to immediately discontinue its “Live Laugh Lager” campaign

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Rwanda's Skol brewer cancels sexist jokes on beer bottles after backlash

A Rwandan brewery apologised Tuesday for printing sexist jokes on its beer labels after its attempt at humour drew a stinging rebuke from some of the country’s top female officials.

Skol Brewery Limited also promised to immediately discontinue its “Live Laugh Lager” campaign, which saw the offending gags grace the back of its lager bottles and encouraged drinkers to share jokes to win prizes.

“When can a woman make you a millionaire? When you are a billionaire” read one, alongside a cartoon of a woman surrounded by shopping bags dreaming of a red sports car.

Displeasure at the sexist tone of the campaign — it was promoted by an image of three men laughing over beers — started on social media but soon high-ranking public officials were joining the fray.

“Such language demeaning women is not acceptable in our country, Rwanda. It shouldn’t be tolerated… and should be punished by law,” said Soline Nyirahabimana, Minister of Gender and Family promotion, on Twitter.

Rose Rwabuhihi, who heads Rwanda’s Gender Monitoring Office, a public watchdog, said the campaign was “totally unacceptable”, comments echoed by one of the country’s top crime fighters.

“This is not acceptable at all! Skol Rwanda should apologize and remove the product from the market. Otherwise, no woman, no man who supports women should buy or drink such a beer,” said Isabelle Kalihangabo, deputy secretary-general of Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the federal crime agency, on Twitter.

Rwanda is proud of its record on gender, with women filling some of the country’s top positions. It was the first African nation to achieve gender parity in cabinet and more than 60 per cent of its MPs are women.

The brewer, in a mea culpa issued on Twitter on Tuesday, said it was “very aware” of the backlash and took the matter “very seriously and apologise for any offence caused”.

“We’ve stopped production of these jokes,” said the brewer.

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest against worsening economic conditions

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

The Zimbabwe business community has called on its government to urgently address ordinary people’s concerns in order to avoid continuous loss of production time through protest shutdowns.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest in central Harare to express growing impatience with the government’s failure to remedy a deepening economic crisis that has pushed many to the edge.

The government, however, insists that the pain caused by its tough policy measures was necessary for an economy which is reeling from decades of mismanagement under former President, Robert Mugabe.

Police moved on Thursday to impose an unpopular ban on the demonstration, setting the stage for ugly clashes with MDC followers.

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Nigeria’s state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms

The awarded oil firms include Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies

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Nigeria's state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms
NNPC Towers, headquarters of Nigeria's state oil firm in Abuja, Nigeria. (File photo)

Nigerian state oil company, NNPC, has announced that 15 companies have won the right to swap the country’s crude oil for fuels, following a tender for the deals.

About 132 companies made a bid for the deals. The tender for the one-year contracts effective from the 1st of October and dubbed direct sale, direct-purchase (DSDP), was issued in March.

Nigeria is almost entirely reliant on imported fuel due to years of neglect at its own refineries.

It has leaned heavily on the swap arrangements to get fuel, particularly gasoline, as other would-be importers struggle to make money due to price caps.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation says the companies that won the bids are made up of a consortium of 15 companies including Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies.

Since the scheme’s inception in 2016, replacing a program that paid subsidies to importers, the NNPC has said it had saved the country $2.2 billion and supplied some 90 per cent of its import requirements.

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