10 September 2018 | Ekonomie

Africa Briefs

Kenya suspends VAT on fuel

Kenya's High Court suspended a 16% value added tax on fuel on Thursday that has driven up pump prices and triggered a suppliers' strike that caused fuel shortages, court documents showed.

The tax was part of a government bid to finance health, housing and other programmes, while narrowing a fiscal deficit to qualify for an extension a standby credit facility with the International Monetary Fund.

The court said it stopped the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Energy Regulatory Commission collecting the tax, to give president Uhuru Kenyatta time to return from a foreign trip and decide whether to sign a bill that would postpone the tax for another two years.

Earlier on Thursday, the energy regulator said it had cancelled the import licence for a fuel dealers' association whose members went on strike, saying they had prevented other transporters from accessing fuel depots in Nairobi and Mombasa, leading to shortages in the two cities and other locations.

Transporters who were not on strike but had been struggling to load their trucks at a depots in Nairobi said they were hoping the situation would now improve. – Nampa/Reuters

Uganda, China sign exploration deal

Uganda said on Thursday its national oil firm and Chinese offshore oil and gas company CNOOC Ltd had signed an agreement to jointly conduct exploration in a new block in the East African country.

The deal was signed in Beijing on the margins of the ongoing China-Africa forum on cooperation, which is being attended by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni.

A statement issued by his office said CNOOC and Uganda National Oil Company signed a memorandum of understanding "to jointly explore a new oil and gas block in the Albertine Graben, on the southern part of Lake Albert."

"The exploration aims to increase the amount of crude oil produced in Uganda to support the operations of the refinery as well as the oil pipeline," it said.

Uganda is expected to start crude production in 2021 in the Albertine rift basin near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, where reserves estimated at 6.5 billion barrels were discovered more than a decade ago.

CNOOC already operates in Uganda, jointly owning fields with France's Total and London-listed Tullow Oil. – Nampa/Reuters

SA's net foreign reserves fall

South Africa's net foreign reserves fell to US$42.35 billion in August from US$42.44 billion in July, the Reserve Bank said on Friday.

Gross reserves also decreased, to US$49.848 billion from US$50.511 billion, the central bank data showed.

The forward position, which represents the central bank's unsettled or swap transactions, increased to US$2.319 billion in August from US$1.790 billion in the previous month. – Nampa/Reuters