Monday, September 1, 2014

IMF and the East African Community Launch Collaboration Program to Assist East African Partner States Develop Government Finance Statistics

Press Release No. 14/403

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the East African Community (EAC) launched a collaborative program to improve the compilation and dissemination of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) for Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The inaugural workshop was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from August 25-29, 2014.

The workshop provided an opportunity for statisticians and economists from the EAC region to identify the needs for technical assistance (TA) to strengthen GFS to be provided by the IMF. The program will assist the EAC Partner States to meet the fiscal data requirements associated with the East African Community Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol, signed by EAC Heads of State in November 2013.

Dr. Enos Bukuku, EAC Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, welcomed the opportunity to host the workshop and launch the GFS program. “The intervention is timely in facilitating production of robust statistical data required for the establishment of EAMU and transition to EAC single currency by 2024,” noted Dr. Bukuku. He added that GFS compiled in accordance with internationally agreed methodological standards would not only provide the EAC region with an important framework for comparing, analyzing and evaluating fiscal policy, but also an opportunity to improve government and public sector performance.

Mr.Barredo Capelot, Director of the Government Finance Statistics and Quality Directorate in Eurostat, said “solid and comprehensive fiscal statistics are essential for regional integration and preserving macroeconomic stability.”

Mr. Sukhwinder Singh, Coordinator at the IMF’s East Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center (East AFRITAC), noted that “as part of the collaboration program, the IMF will provide TA through hands-on sessions during visits by experts to participating countries, as well as regular workshops to provide practical training and allow countries to share experiences.”

During this inaugural workshop, country representatives from the EAC discussed their national fiscal data development plans that will guide the work of improving compilation and dissemination of regionally comparable GFS data in accordance with international standards. This is to be done by 2018, which is within the timeline of the EAMU protocol.

IMF staff shared their expertise in developing systems for compiling GFS and government debt statistics. TA needs were drawn up based on national priorities and work plans are also already underway. This work reflects the initiative and migration to the use of the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (GFSM 2014) methodology in reporting fiscal data related to the EAMU macroeconomic convergence criteria, which would be compatible with international standards and best practices and consistent with other macroeconomic statistical systems.

Background
East AFRITAC, located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is one of nine regional IMF technical assistance centers around the world, serving Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It provides capacity-building assistance in core areas of expertise of the IMF such as: revenue administration; public financial management; macro-fiscal analysis; financial sector regulation; monetary policy and operations; and economic and financial statistics. Its Steering Committee, composed of the member countries, the IMF and representatives of the donors, oversees and provides guidance on the Center’s operations.

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PRess Release: IMF Completes Fourth Review for Tunisia and Approves US$217.5 Million Disbursement


The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the fourth review of Tunisia’s economic performance under a 24-month program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). The completion of the review enables an immediate disbursement of SDR 143.25 million (about US$217.5 million), bringing total disbursements to SDR 716.25 million (about US$1.1 billion).

The two-year SBA in the amount of SDR 1.146 billion (about US$1.74 billion, or 400 percent of Tunisia’s quota at the IMF) was approved by the Executive Board on June 7, 2013 (See Press Release No. 13/202 ).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Egypt prepares for the worst in Libya" - by Abdallah Schleifer

Thursday, August 21, 2014

East African oil and gas discoveries to kick-start economic transformation

16 July 2014 

East African oil and gas discoveries are poised to fundamentally transform the economies of the region as the fuel resources usher in new investment in road, rail, power and industrial infrastructure, according to Standard Bank Group. 

Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique have emerged as one of the most prolific oil and gas exploration regions in the world over the last 10 years, says Mr Simon Ashby-Rudd, the London-based global head of oil and gas at Standard Bank, Africa's biggest lender. 

These discoveries will establish the region as a major hydrocarbon province in the decades to come and drive wider economic growth throughout East Africa. 

"Over and above the traditional oil and gas regions in Africa, notably West Africa, East Africa has essentially been a forgotten desert in terms of upstream oil and gas exploration over the last 40 years," said Mr Ashby-Rudd. "This has changed completely over the last decade, oil and gas companies are starting to realise the potential in nations along the East African rift valley and Standard Bank believes this is going to fundamentally transform the region's economy." 

Oil exploration in East Africa was sparked off by the discovery of between 1.5 and 2 billion barrels of commercially viable oil reserves in northern Uganda in the middle of the last decade. Last year the country announced that total known oil reserves in the country were estimated at about 3.5 billion barrels. 

The discovery of oil in Uganda coupled with the fact that exploration licences in East Africa were comparatively cheap due to the fact that the region was not regarded as an oil rich area, ushered in further exploration activity in other countries along the Rift Valley. As a result, further oil discoveries were made in southern Ethiopia and Kenya with additional gas finds in Tanzania and Mozambique. 

One of the biggest indicators that the region is likely to experience an oil- and gas-led boom in the next half decade is the fact that several projects in East Africa are likely to come on stream at similar times. Mozambique and Tanzania's gas and liquefied natural gas projects are expected to come on stream in 2019 with Kenyan and Ethiopia expected to begin commercialisation of their oil deposits over the next six to seven years. Uganda is set to begin oil production by 2018/19, while South Sudan is already producing. 

"Oil investment could accelerate the economic growth of several economies in the region," said Mr Ashby-Rudd. "While the discoveries might be fairly modest in a global context, they're very significant in a regional economic context." 

Plans are now underway to construct an oil pipeline linking Uganda's oil fields to the coastal port of Lamu in Kenya. In February this year Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with oil companies operating in the country to facilitate the development of an oil refinery in the country as well as a pipeline that enables crude reserves to be exported. 

"A pipeline would really kick-start economic growth in the region as it would usher in additional investments, the necessary infrastructure which in turn will enable further investment in industrial operations," said Mr Ashby-Rudd. "Oil thus becomes the catalyst for an economic transformation across the region. An oil pipeline could become the backbone on which an entire infrastructure corridor could be constructed." 

Mr Ashby-Rudd says Uganda's efforts to link its oil reserves to the coast to facilitate exports could be replicated by other landlocked nations in Africa. This would allow additional infrastructure corridors to be developed as a means of harnessing the economic potential of central and east African nations such as Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Burgeoning economic growth in East Africa is also likely to result in increasing demand for fuel within that region, which imported a collective $10bn of fuel and petroleum products in 2012. 

Standard Bank expects total demand for petroleum products in East Africa to treble by 2030 with Kenya likely to remain the largest market in the region, which the bank estimates will record compound annual growth rates of between 5% and 7% over the next half decade. 

 See more at: http://www.standardbank.com/Article.aspx?id=-337

Understanding Africa’s middle class

Africa has experienced substantial growth in its middle class over the past 14 years, according to a study by Standard Bank (http://www.standardbank.com).

The report, entitled ‘Understanding Africa’s middle class,’ found there are 15 million middle-class households in 11 of sub-Saharan Africa’s top economies this year, up from 4.6 million in 2000 and 2.4 million in 1990 - an increase of 230% over 14 years. However, of the total number of households across these focal economies, 86% of them remain within the broadly “low income” band, emphasizing the nascent maturation of many of the continent’s markets.