Photograph — Bloomberg

Here are three big stories from Africa’s business and policy landscape you (probably) didn’t miss but should keep in mind this week:

Mauritius to launch Africa’s first fully interoperable digital ID wallet

Mauritius is upgrading its national ID system to a fully interoperable digital ID wallet. A consortium led by Thales, a French IT giant, has secured a 10-year deal to implement this cutting-edge digital identity technology. This project aims to revolutionize how citizens interact with government agencies, businesses, and even each other. The central feature of this upgrade is the all-in-one digital ID wallet accessible via a mobile phone. This eliminates the need to carry physical documents like ID cards, marriage certificates, and potentially even birth certificates in the future. Imagine the convenience of having all your essential identification stored securely and readily available on your mobile device.

However, the benefits extend beyond convenience for regular citizens. The new system also aims to significantly simplify interactions with government agencies, banks, and retailers. Gone are the days of lengthy identity verification processes. Imagine verifying your identity with just a tap of your phone. This not only streamlines processes for citizens but also improves efficiency for service providers. The plan is to eventually expand its functionality to include digital versions of marriage and birth certificates, further streamlining document management. Thales has assured users that robust data privacy mechanisms are in place, giving individuals complete control over their information. The government of Mauritius also pledged to conduct independent security audits, ensuring the system adheres to the strictest Data Protection Act.

Nigeria approves 18 new loan companies

The number of licensed loan app companies in Nigeria has increased to 284 as of May 2024. This was revealed in the latest update from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC). According to the update, 18 new companies were granted licenses in May. The FCCPC’s updated list of approved digital lenders encompasses companies with full approval, conditional approval, and those licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The breakdown reveals 232 companies with full approval, 41 with conditional approval, and an additional 11 licensed directly by the CBN.

This surge in licensed lenders coincides with the increasing number of loan apps offering instant loans. Reports indicate that many approved lenders operate multiple loan apps under different names. For instance, Acetech Finance Limited operates eight loan apps, while CBN-licensed Newedge Finance Limited offers loans through five separate apps. However, this rapid growth has sparked concerns about the FCCPC’s ability to effectively regulate the digital lending landscape. Some people argue that the sheer number of loan apps makes it challenging for the commission to adequately monitor and enforce regulations.

The FCCPC is placing its hopes on the recently introduced federal government consumer credit scheme designed to curb the exploitative practices of loan sharks. This scheme, allocated ₦100 billion in the 2024 budget, aims to provide Nigerians with access to affordable, collateral-free loans. The first phase of the program, launched in April 2024 by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, targets civil servants. The Nigeria Consumer Credit Corporation (CREDICORP) also established a portal for Nigerians to register their interest in obtaining consumer credit.

Dangote Refinery Makes First Jet Fuel Shipment to Europe

Last week, Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery exported its first set of jet fuel cargo to Europe. This shipment, transported by BP, marks a significant expansion of the refinery’s reach beyond its initial focus on West Africa. Since the refinery commenced operations in April, it has only exported six jet fuel/kerosene cargoes, to West African neighbors; Senegal, Togo, and Ghana. This latest shipment, loaded onto the Doric Breeze vessel on May 27th, represents a strategic shift towards the European market. The 45,000 metric ton cargo signifies BP’s successful bid for a portion of a 120,000 metric ton jet fuel tender offered at the end of May. The BP will likely continue sourcing jet fuel from the Dangote refinery to supply the West African market as well.

The latest shipment also means that Dangote’s production meets stringent European jet A1 standards. Interstingly, Dangote’s export portfolio has grown steadily since April, encompassing naphtha, fuel oil, and gasoil delivered to markets across Europe, Africa, and Asia. However, naphtha exports may soon be reduced in preparation for gasoline production once the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracker becomes operational. Previously, Dangote has been exporting around four naphtha cargoes per month to Europe, but these volumes may be redirected domestically to support gasoline blending.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • Nigeria’s equities market went upwards over a 5-day trading week, with the NGX All-Share Index appreciating by 1.73% to close at 99,300.38 points. The top gainers were Fidelity Bank Plc. (22.89%), Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc. (20.51%), Nascon Allied Industries Plc (20.15%), FCMB Group Plc (17.65%), and United Bank for Africa Plc (15.63%). The top decliners were C and I Leasing plc (-13.66%), NPF Microfinance Bank(-11.11%), FTN Cocoa Processors Plc (-8.33%), Learn Africa plc, (-6.25%), and Fidson HealthcarePlc. (-5.40%).
  • The naira closed the week at ₦1485.99/$1 on Friday at the investor’s and Exporters’ window.
  • Brent crude closed the week at $81.11 while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at $77.20.
  • The global cryptocurrency market cap stood at $ 2.56 trillion, as of 7 am Monday, the 3rd of June. Bitcoin stood at $68,962.42, a 0.70%, increase over the week, Ethereum decreased by 2.01% to trade at $3,829.74, while Binance coin increased by 3.21% over the week, to trade at $622.98
  • Last week, M-KOPA, a fintech platform operating in Kenya and four other African countries, secured a $51 million loan from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to enhance digital connectivity across Kenya. 
  • While, e-mobility companies, Roam ElectricMogo Kenya, and BasiGo each received $10 million in debt from the US government to support the design and development of electric motorcycles and buses as well as charging stations for motorcycles and buses throughout Kenya.

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