Africa

State-owned South African Airways (SAA) urgently needs the government to provide the 2 billion rand it promised the airline last month or it could have to suspend some flights and delay salary payments, a senior trade union official said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. SAA entered a form of bankruptcy protection last month in an effort to rescue the company and 10,000 related jobs. At the time it was promised 2 billion rand from the government and 2 billion rand from lenders.

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Zambia is already restructuring, renegotiating or refinancing its extensive Chinese project finance debt, and Chinese companies are playing hardball, according to new research, CNBC reported. Southern Africa's third-largest economy is under pressure from an impending breakdown of its power supply and its inability to pay for electricity imports, and is staring down the barrel of further defaults on construction project financing and bond payments.

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Shares in Lekoil crashed by more than 70 per cent on Tuesday as investors responded to news that the Nigeria-focused oil producer had paid $600,000 in fees for a $184m loan that did not exist, the Financial Times reported. The Aim-listed company, which Mark Simmonds, the UK’s Africa minister under David Cameron, recently joined as a non-executive director, will now have to find alternative financing from shareholders to fund the development of its key asset, the Ogo field in Nigeria.

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State-owned power producer Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will be the “death knell” for South Africa’s mining industry unless the government enables mines to produce their own electricity, according to Exxaro Resources Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mxolisi Mgojo, Bloomberg News reported. “The current state of Eskom is going to be the one thing that is going to be the death knell of this industry,” Mgojo said at a conference organized by Business Unity South Africa, the country’s largest business lobby group, on Tuesday. “Without fixing Eskom we don’t have a mining industry.

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The chairman of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. resigned from his post after the South African power utility resumed rolling blackouts earlier than expected in 2020, Bloomberg News reported. Jabu Mabuza tendered his resignation on Friday and “apologized for Eskom’s inability” to meet a commitment it made to President Cyril Ramaphosa to avoid power cuts until Jan. 13, the presidency said in a statement. After implementing the most severe supply reductions to date in December, Eskom pledged at a Dec. 11 meeting to avoid further outages over South Africa’s traditional holiday season.

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Rising debt burdens are forcing some of the world’s poorest countries to cut already meagre levels of public sending still further, campaigners have warned. All but one of a group of 15 low-income countries where debt servicing costs consume 18 per cent or more of government revenues have cut non-debt related public spending since 2015, according to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, the Financial Times reported.

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Russia’s VTB Capital has sued Mozambique to recover its share of defaulted debts at the heart of the impoverished African nation’s $2bn “tuna bond” scandal, the Financial Times reported. State-owned VTB is demanding repayment of a $535m loan, according to a lawsuit that it filed against the Mozambican government in London. In 2013 and 2014 Mozambique borrowed $1.4bn from VTB and Credit Suisse tied to maritime security projects, alongside a $850m bond it sold to investors for the financing of a tuna-fishing fleet.

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T5 Oil & Gas, an Africa-focused explorer founded by a group of Tullow Oil veterans, has warned there is a “material uncertainty” over its ability to stay in business for the next year if it fails to raise money to complete a key deal in Gabon after aborting a $45 million (€40.2 million) initial public offering (IPO) in 2018, The Irish Times reported. In spite of this, the UK-based company, led by Irishman Pat Plunkett, said in its 2018 report there was a “reasonable expectation” of carrying out an IPO or finding alternative funding in the first half of this year.

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Creditors of Kenya’s Nakumatt supermarket chain, once East Africa’s biggest retailer, voted on Tuesday to wind it up after it was unable to pay debts following a failed rescue attempt, Reuters reported. Nakumatt expanded from a mattress shop in a rural town to a network of more than 60 branches before a cash crunch forced it to shut more than a dozen outlets in 2017 when it was unable to pay suppliers, landlords and other creditors.

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Kenya plans to refinance or substitute commercial loans with cheaper options from friendly nations or development financiers, its acting finance minister said on Monday. The East African nation wants to avoid raising more debt from overseas capital markets, after a borrowing binge in recent years including Eurobond offerings, a package of Chinese loans and syndicated commercial loans, Reuters reported. The government was committed to bringing its debt, which has risen to above 62% of gross domestic product, to a more sustainable level, said minister Ukur Yatani.

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