Société Générale’s exit from Africa will provide breeding ground for local banks to thrive-Expert say


By Eratus Ndueh

The French Bank, Société Général a financial giant in Europe and the world, has reportedly decided to permanently leave Africa and Cameroon in particular, after operating for two decades.

This decision by the French bank to leave Africa is fueled by the desire to restore its profitability. According to reports, the group has already instructed the investment bank Lazard to find a buyer for the purchase of its three African subsidiaries.

Despite its performance in the Cameroonian market, the French bank decided that it was in its interest to sell its activities in the Central African country.

The establishment headed by Slawomir Krupa has decided to also leave Tunisia, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

However, the exiting of the Group Société Générale from Africa will on one hand have a resounding impact on the banking sector of countries in the region, experts say.

‘The banking sector is going to lose out in terms of innovation because foreign banks turn out to be much more innovative, they have
nouvelles applications, they have access to different financial instruments, etc… This will be an opportunity for local banks to thrive and play a much more important role by giving credits to businesses.’ Henri Kouam, an expert and the CEO of the Cameroon Economic Policy Institute said.

Being one of the largest and most influential financial institutions on the continent, the absence of such a key player could create a substantial gap that smaller or less established banks may struggle to fill.

Reports from Fitch Solution, an international rating agency, indicate that the pulling out of the French banks from Africa, will create more opportunities, and spur growth and competition among local banks.

The rating agency also confirmed that the challenges that had occasioned the exit of French-owned banks in the African banking market included their inability to target certain segments of the economy due to their parent bank’s conservative risk appetite.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

Société Générale’s exit from Africa will provide breeding ground for local banks to thrive-Expert say


By Eratus Ndueh

The French Bank, Société Général a financial giant in Europe and the world, has reportedly decided to permanently leave Africa and Cameroon in particular, after operating for two decades.

This decision by the French bank to leave Africa is fueled by the desire to restore its profitability. According to reports, the group has already instructed the investment bank Lazard to find a buyer for the purchase of its three African subsidiaries.

Despite its performance in the Cameroonian market, the French bank decided that it was in its interest to sell its activities in the Central African country.

The establishment headed by Slawomir Krupa has decided to also leave Tunisia, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.

However, the exiting of the Group Société Générale from Africa will on one hand have a resounding impact on the banking sector of countries in the region, experts say.

‘The banking sector is going to lose out in terms of innovation because foreign banks turn out to be much more innovative, they have
nouvelles applications, they have access to different financial instruments, etc… This will be an opportunity for local banks to thrive and play a much more important role by giving credits to businesses.’ Henri Kouam, an expert and the CEO of the Cameroon Economic Policy Institute said.

Being one of the largest and most influential financial institutions on the continent, the absence of such a key player could create a substantial gap that smaller or less established banks may struggle to fill.

Reports from Fitch Solution, an international rating agency, indicate that the pulling out of the French banks from Africa, will create more opportunities, and spur growth and competition among local banks.

The rating agency also confirmed that the challenges that had occasioned the exit of French-owned banks in the African banking market included their inability to target certain segments of the economy due to their parent bank’s conservative risk appetite.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

Dr Bawumia promises 100 percent Ghanaian ownership of natural resources


The Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has pledged to make sure Ghanaians own 100 per cent of the country’s mineral resources if elected as President of the Republic.

Dr Bawumia said his administration would focus on a paradigm shift in the country’s natural resource management and ownership through policy framework to ensure that Ghanaians maximise benefits from her mineral endowment.

The NPP Flagbearer gave the assurance during a breakfast meeting with religious leaders in the Eastern Region on Monday, as part of his nationwide campaign tour.

‘I am going to refocus our paradigm for natural resource management. For the most part, Ghana has not maximised the benefits of our natural resources.

‘Since the days of the Portuguese in the 15th century, gold has always been taken out of Ghana. We haven’t benefitted much from our natural resources; I am going to change that paradigm. I am going to bring a bigger focus on ownership of our natural resources.

‘It is as if right
now we don’t own our natural resources. I believe that if we do the exploration; and we are going to empower our universities and the Geological Service Department to do the exploration, once we explore that we have seven gold belts that we haven’t yet discovered,’ he stated.

Once we have explored and we know that the gold is here, the new policy is going be that the ownership of those resources will be one hundred per cent owned by Ghanaians,’ Dr Bawumia assured.

Dr Bawumia’s nationwide campaign would take him to all the 275 constituencies across the 16 regions till the first week of June.

‘Bold Solutions for Our Future,’ is the theme for his campaign, focusing on three key pillars: The battle of Ideas and Character, The Battle of Records and The battle of effective campaign.

The NPP Flagbearer and his campaign team would focus on issue-based campaign, tackling cogent, practical and tailor-made ideas to deal with issues that are dear to the Ghanaian people.

He would meet with a wide range of stakeholder
s including traditional rulers, the Clergy, youth groups, traders, drivers, farmers and students, and interact with businesses and associations.

He would visit market centres and other public places to listen to the concerns of both traders and consumers.

Dr Bawumia would also engage the media, hold townhall meetings and continue with his regular stakeholder engagements with Ghanaians.

Since his election as the NPP Flagbearer on November 4, 2023, for the December 7. Dr Bawumia had been very active in undertaking broad consultations and interactions with various groups across the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Agriculture still attractive; youth must embrace it – Abraham Odoom


Mr. Abraham Dwuma Odoom, an Agribusiness expert, has called on Ghanaian youth to prioritize agriculture and see it as a lucrative business venture, which has the potential to transform their lives.

He said it was important for the youth to take advantage of the agricultural initiatives and economic enclaves which were being created by government and other private firms, to amass wealth for themselves without having to start farming from scratch.

Mr. Odoom who was speaking at the Youth in Agribusiness Festival 2024 in Kumasi, said some of these initiatives already had factors of production for farming such as land, access to water, ultra-modern implements, planting materials and others, which often posed challenges to the youth who want to start farming.

With some of these things already in place, what was needed was for interested people to sign on to these policy initiatives to have access to these factors to start their businesses.

The two-day programme, which was held under the theme ‘Agribusiness Mode
rnisation: Tool for Sustainable Youth Employment in Ghana,’ was organised by the John A. Kufuor Foundation.

Mr. Oddom said if most Ghanaians were to go into modern agriculture, there would be a stable economy and reduction in the over-reliance on imported goods into the country.

He used the occasion to call for consensus on the unrestrained way of using pesticides in farms in Ghana, adding that, that over-usages of pesticides were dangerous to one’s health and there was need for deliberate efforts to control it.

Mr. Kwasi Nyamekye, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), expressed worry at the increasing rate at which Ghanaians had developed taste for foreign products.

Citing the poultry industry alone, he said it was an avenue that employed a lot of people, but indigenes were not patronising the local poultry products, giving excuses that the products were very expensive.

Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kufuor Foundation, said the ra
tionale for the programme was to prioritise the creation of platforms for Ghanaian youth to embrace the vast opportunities in the agricultural sector.

He said Ghana’s agricultural sector had largely been dominated by the elderly who were steadily leaving the working arenas and it was high time the youth took up such roles and responsibilities to drive Ghana’s socio-economic agenda.

Prof. Agyeman-Duah said with the existence of modern technologies in farming, it had become imperative that the youth embraced such opportunities to reduce unemployment in the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency

ILO Valuation Report based on assumptions – SSNIT


The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says the unfavourable findings in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 2020 actuarial valuation reports were based on assumptions that are yet to occur.

It has therefore urged its stakeholders not to treat the 2020 findings and projections of the report in isolation from the previous external actuarial valuation reports that had made similar findings.

‘In 2011, the report says among other things that if contribution rates were not increased in the future, the annual expenditure on benefit and administration would exceed income from contributions and the funds from 2019 onwards.

‘By 2019, we were not going to have enough money to pay benefits. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in 2024 and we have never defaulted on payment of benefit from 2019 up to date,’ said Mr. Joseph Poku, Chief Actuary, SSNIT.

He was speaking at a press briefing to address concerns raised on findings in the 2020 ILO valuation reports that among other things predicted that by
2036 the reserve of SSNIT would reach zero.

He noted that such predictions were common as had been the case in 2014 and 2017.

In 2014 for instance, he said the valuation report projected annual expenditures would exceed total income (contributions, investment income and other income) in 2035 and reserve reaching zero by 2042.

‘The 2017 valuation report projected that total income (contributions, investment income and other income) will no longer be sufficient to pay for annual expenditures in 2032. During the year 2038, the reserve drops to zero when no measure is taken,’ he said.

The Chief Actuary explained that the essence of the external valuations reports was to guide sponsors and administrators of the scheme to take necessary actions and recommendations based on the findings of the report.

He also said that SSNIT was required by law to obtain external actuarial valuation on the scheme at least once every 3 years in accordance with section Act 766, Section 53(1).

To avert the unfavourable prediction
s made in the reports over the years, Mr Poku said SSNIT had embarked on initiatives to among other things increase contributions and contributors for the scheme.

These initiatives included deactivation of ‘Ghost’ Pensioners from the pension payroll leading to the saving of GH?519 million; introduction of mass prosecutions as a strategy to reduce contributions in arrears and the introduction of mass registration, inspection, and contributions collection exercise to increase membership of the scheme and improve contributions collection.

He assured stakeholders that the Scheme would be able to pay pensions and meet its financial obligations beyond 2036.

‘Contributions of members are safe with the Trust. The Trust has not defaulted and will not default in paying benefits when they are due,’ he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Africa can only attract development finance with sustainable debts – Terkper


Mr Seth Terkper, a former Minister of Finance, has urged African governments to strive to make their debts sustainable to attract development finance assistance.

‘Africa must do something about its debt, otherwise, we might be shut out of development finance,’ Mr Terkper who led Ghana’s 16th International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan-support programme, said.

Mr Terkper, also the Executive Director of Public Financial Management (PFM) Tax Africa Network – a consulting firm, was engaging journalists virtually on the back of the just ended International Monetary Fund/World Bank Group (WBG) annual meetings in Washington, US.

He explained that because many African countries have reached lower and middle-income status, it could no longer rely on grants and concessional financing for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

As such, development finance would be supportive going forward, hence, the need for African governments to assiduously work towards resolving their debt burden.

In its April 2024 Regiona
l Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, the IMF observed that after four turbulent years, the region has seen some gradual improvement.

The region’s growth is projected to rise from 3.4 per cent in 2023 to 3.8 per cent in 2024, but the report noted that ‘not all is favourable,’ as the funding squeeze persisted.

The report indicated that governments in the region continued to grapple with financing shortages, high borrowing costs, and impending debt repayments, which ought to be dealt with.

‘Amid these challenges, sub-Saharan African countries will need additional support from the international community to develop a more inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous future,’ the report noted.

Regarding policies policy priorities, Mr Abebe Aemro Selassie, African Department, IMF, said it was important for African governments to continue to improve public finances, with an emphasis on domestic revenue mobilisation.

He was speaking on the release of the April IMF Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa
, last week.

He also encouraged a sustained focus on inflation reduction, while implementing reforms to enhance skill development, spur innovation, improve the business environment, and promote trade integration to secure more affordable and stable financing.

Source: Ghana News Agency

CSIR urges government to upscale investment in technology to address climate change


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has urged the government and private sector to increase investment in technologies suitable for climate change mitigation to enhance nutrition for the citizens.

Dr Maxwell D. Asante, the Principal Research Scientist (Rice Breeder), CSIR-Crop Research Institute (CRI), Ghana, noted that the upscaling of technologies would create wealth for farmers and improve their livelihood.

‘There is a need to upscale the technologies along the value chain for a bigger impact on the national economy,’ he stated.

Dr Asante made the call in a presentation to more than 100 participants during a Webinar organised by the CSIR, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

It was on the theme: ‘CSIR for Sustainable Development and Wealth Creation: Focus on Domestic Rice Production for Import Substitution.’

He mentioned that Ghana released 40 varieties of rice, with 39 coming from CSIR (CRI and Savannah Research Institute
or SARI) and one jointly developed by CRI and the University of Ghana.

The rice varieties were found to be highly competitive on the international level.

He mentioned some of the varieties as SARI Gbewaa Rice (Jasmine 85), CRI-Agra, CRI-Amankwatia, CRI-Agyapa, CRI-Enapa, CRI-Fosu, CRI-Cho and CRI-Kafaci among others.

These innovative rice varieties are capable of yielding between four to 9.5 metric tons, boasting aromatic (perfumed) qualities, a maturity period of 95 to 105 days, efficient nitrogen utilisation, and resistance to diseases, drought, and anaerobic germination.

Dr Asante highlighted some major interventions by the CSIR in land development and water management.

These include the SAWAH technology and the Alternative Wet and Dry (AWD) technique, both of which play a crucial role in advancing agricultural practices in Ghana.

As the SAWAH technology helped integrate management of land, including plugging, levelling and puddling, water and fertilizer for increased rice production, AWD reduced wat
er by 30 per cent without decreasing grain yield.

Also, the CSIR developed an automated water tablet consisting of light, sound and mobile phones for the efficient use of water in rice farming.

While it has made significant strides in making Ghana self-sufficient in rice production, there remains a notable dependence on imports.

According to data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in 2023, 50 per cent of Ghana’s rice demand is still imported, amounting to approximately US$400 million.

Articulating concerns over the situation, Dr Asante expressed fear that local rice farmers may face challenges and potentially abandon their agricultural pursuits.

‘This is due to the influx of imported rice in the market, as domestic rice produced by these farmers often remains unsold and, on the shelves, or at the mills, struggles to compete with the imported alternatives,’ he said.

Prof Mrs Marian Quain, the Deputy Director-General, CSIR, urged the Government to implement policies to boost the rice product
ion self-sufficiency campaign.

She noted that Nigeria, which successfully banned rice imports, had achieved that due to, in part, the expertise provided by Ghana’s CSIR.

Consequently, Prof. Mrs Quain emphasised the importance of the Government’s support in establishing storage facilities for rice seeds.

That would not only ensure Ghana’s food security in the future but also contribute to the overall success of the self-sufficient rice production initiative.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Trade Minister sells Ghana’s industrialisation agenda to US investors


Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond, Minister of Trade and Industry, has urged United States (US) investors to explore mutually beneficial trade ventures with Ghanaian counterparts through the government’s industrialisation agenda.

He cited the 1D1F initiative as one of the potential areas of partnership that US businesses could consider, saying the programme had very attractive incentive packages.

The Minister, who is on an official visit to Washington, DC, the developed country’s capital, made the call when he visited the offices of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the US Chamber of Commerce.

In separate discussions with the two entities, the Minister said the purpose of the visits was to familiarise himself with the workings and priorities of the two bodies in order to explore opportunities for collaboration and support.

He added that the government was also encouraging garment manufacturers to set up in Ghana, citing Dignity DTRT as an example of a garment manufacturer which had established a state-of-th
e art garment factory and had a linkage with an American company that was importing its garments.

The Minister, however, expressed concern about the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and urged the Chamber to help push for its renewal.

He said Ghanaian textile and garment dealers were very concerned about the impact the possible expiry of AGOA could have on their businesses.

Since its enactment in 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been at the core of US economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa, according to the official website of US Trade Representative.

AGOA provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 1,800 products, in addition to the more than 5,000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

To meet AGOA’s rigorous eligibility requirements, countries must establish or make continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy, t
he rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process.

Additionally, countries must eliminate barriers to US trade and investment, enact policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption, and protect human rights.

‘By providing new market opportunities, AGOA has helped bolster economic growth, promoted economic and political reform, and improved U.S. economic relations in the region,’ the website notes.

Thirty two countries are eligible for AGOA benefits in 2024.

In 2015, Congress passed legislation modernising and extending the programme to 2025.

For her part, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporate Council for Africa, Ms. Florizelle (Florie) Liser, highlighted the longstanding relationship of her entity with Ghana, noting that the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had once been the guest of the Council.

She informed the Minister that the Council hosted the Annual US-Africa Business Summit, and that of 2024 would take place in Dallas, Texas.

Ghana’s President has been i
nvited to attend it.

She said a key feature of this year’s event is a collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on a special 20th anniversary celebration on the margins of the summit in Dallas, where they would be hosting former President George Bush, who established the MCC.

Ghana is one of the first countries to have a compact from MCC.

On the Minister’s request for more advocacy on the extension of AGOA, she said the Council had already engaged with Members of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, (which is the trade committee at the US House of Representatives), on the subject and advocated for its extension.

She explained that this was very crucial because about threeyears ago, Ghana doubled its exports of apparel under AGOA due to the establishment of the Tema Textiles enclave.

She highlighted the importance of AGOA to Ghana.

At the meeting with U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Rick Wade, Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the US Chamber of Commerce, said
the Chamber was working on an initiative dubbed: ‘Advance with Africa’, a roadshow to reach out to the 2.6 million black-owned businesses in the US to invest in Africa, particularly, Ghana.

He assured the Minister that the US Chamber of Commerce was ready to work with him to strengthen business ties between US and Ghana.

Dr Guevera Yao, Vice President, U.S.-Africa Business Centerof the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Biden Administration prioritised the diaspora as a group capable of transforming Africa.

The administration has thus set up the President’s Council on African Diaspora Engagement (PAC-ADE) tasked with giving the President advice on how to engage the Diaspora to do more in Africa.

The CCA is a 30-year old Business Association whose members are both U.S. and African companies, including SMEs and multinationals.

It primarily advocates for US trade, investments and business with Africa.

Source: Ghana News Agency