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Tuesday, 21 Apr 2020

US oil prices rebound into positive territory after historic crash

Insights Africa

Economic Outlook

Economic Outlook

  • US crude oil has bounced back into positive territory after plunging into negative territory for the first time, as the coronavirus outbreak crushes demand. The US oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), was at 43 USD a barrel trading in Asia after starting the session at minus 14 USD. It means producers were paying buyers to take oil given the limited storage in the US.
  • The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) cut the statutory cash reserve ratio for commercial banks from 25% to 4.25% in a bid to give the Covid-19 ailing economy a shot in the arm. Essentially, this meant that banks would have more money at their disposal, which the regulator expects them to lend to individuals and businesses whose cash flow has been affected by the ripple effects of the pandemic.
  • As the effects of Covid-19 remain dire in the Kenyan economy, a few sectors and companies are thriving amid the crisis, reporting improved revenue. Delivery companies, for instance, have reported an increase in sales as online shopping picks up with people placing orders for a diverse range of goods including groceries. Glovo recently announced a 30% increase in grocery deliveries in March compared to previous month.
  • Kenya has received 5 BN KES (14 MM USD) from the World Bank to improve the production of specialty coffee just days after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended the term of a team appointed three years ago to reform the sector.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Kenya economy hard and significantly hurt millions of households, most of which can no longer afford their regular incomes. Big, small and medium-sized businesses have closed down or cut down on their operations in the short-term in a turn of events which is expected to send spiraling effects on the economic well-being individual household and the country in the coming years.
  • The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect the performance of the global economy. Economic growth forecast for 2020 like all countries remains highly uncertain for Kenya. The National Treasury preliminary estimate expects the economy to contract by at least 50%.
  • The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and Capital Markets Authority (CMA) have issued conflicting directives on how companies should pay dividends following the freeze on Annual General Meetings (AGMs), causing confusion over how bank shareholders will share profits in the wake of the coronavirus restrictions.
  • Use of cards to settle transactions plunged to a 13-month low in February, registering 53 BN KES (496.7 MM USD). This coincided with a government directive pushing for contactless payment options such as mobile money to curb spread of coronavirus disease.
  • Uganda has procured two mobile polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratories to accelerate Covid-19 tests on cross-border cargo drivers. The PCR laboratories will help on-site testing and shorten the time to transport samples to the country's top laboratory Uganda Virus Research Institute.
  • Uganda has last Monday registered one new coronavirus case in a 46-year-old Burundian refugee who arrived from Tanzania. That takes the country's national total to 56 confirmed cases while 38 patients have recovered from the virus. While in Tanzania, 84 people have tested positive for coronavirus, raising the total number of infections to 254.
Political Events

Political Events

  • With the threat of the coronavirus infecting thousands of prisoners held in extremely overcrowded South Sudanese facilities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the country’s prison authorities to release pre-trial detainees and prisoners who have served most of their terms. According to HRW, the country’s prisons and detention sites are overcrowded, unsanitary, and have inadequate medical care: the perfect breeding ground for spreading the pandemic.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic declared by World Health Organization (WHO) has created a lot of fear, anxiety, restlessness and panic worldwide thus affecting individual’s mental health. This highly infectious disease has brought about uncertainty on the future, in addition to tremendous change that we must adjust to in order to fight and survive it.
Stock Market

Stock Market

  • Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) has said that during this coronavirus pandemic, its trading activities will remain online but with a projection of increased investments and trade volumes. Rwanda closes Q1-2020 with slightly higher in traded volumes and the main all share index (ALSI) up by 7% and the RSI down by 1.2%.
  • The Nigerian Stock Market (NGSE) opened the week on a flat note, with the All Share Index falling minimally by -0.01% to close at 22,920.41 Market turnover however remained strong, as total volume and value increased by 49.15% and 61.20% to close at 345.43 million units of shares, valued at 4.208 BN NGN (10.8 MM USD) in 4,930 deals.                         Note:  Weekly values are calculated on Friday of each week.
Companies Transactions

Companies Transactions

  • Gold ETFs saw the highest quarterly asset gains ever in Q1-2020. Driven by market volatility around Covid-19, gold-backed ETFs added 23 BN USD of inflows across all regions, the highest quarterly assets gain ever. Gold might find tons of buying enthusiasm especially as more central banks move interest rates closer to 0%.
  • MultiChoice Group, the parent company of DStv, GOtv and Showmax entertainment platforms is targeting higher subscription growth from 9 million households and subscription revenue of 120.38 BN KES (1.12 BN USD) recorded as at September 2019 through the additions that come at a higher cost.
  • The American Tower Corporation (ATC) earned 8 BN KES (27.3 MM USD) in 2019 for leasing telecommunications infrastructure to firms such as Airtel Kenya. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listed ATC says in latest filings it owns 2,060 telecommunication towers in Kenya.
  • Elite learning institution, Brookhouse School, is fighting off a 92 MM KES (1.7 MM USD) demand in taxes and penalties by the taxman linked to subsidized tuition fees for staff.
  • Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has blocked East African Development Bank (EADB) from taking over his hotel and property firms at the center of a 6 BN KES (14.9 MM USD) defaulted loan.
  • Earnings from sisal increased 27% in Q1-2020 reaching 2 BN KES (11.24 MM USD) compared to 864 MM KES (8 MM USD) in Q1-2019 even as the regulator projects facing a decline owing to Covid-19.
  • Absa Bank Kenya returned to foreign exchange market after being locked out by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for a week over failure to observe anti-money-laundering rules on some trades.
  • Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) has not implemented more than 70% of directives issued by Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA). ERA indicates that UETCL reported multiple major faults on the power system which resulted in power supply interruptions including a total system collapse and four partial system collapses.
  • Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC) has posted strong performance results in 2019, maintaining its gross and net profit margins at 56% and 16% respectively compared to 2018. According to Tanzania Securities Limited (TSL), the company recorded increases in revenue and in operating expenses, but the latter at a lower rate to signify improved cost efficiencies.
  • Standard Bank Namibia has become the first bank in the country to reduce or waive charges for its digital platforms in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. All transactional fees related to value-added services such as TV subscriptions, electricity and airtime purchases have been waived.


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