It’s the start of another week. And these are the top three stories you should keep in mind from Africa’s business space.

The CBN has new rules

The Central Bank of Nigeria will no longer allow banks to execute international money transfer operations (IMTO). It will also not give new IMTO licences to fintech startups. This announcement came in on Wednesday through a publication on its website.

Another shocking change is that the CBN increased the application fees for IMTO approval to N10 million ($6,845) from N500,000. The new rules also set a minimum operating capital of $1 million for foreign IMTOs and its naira equivalent for their indigenous counterparts.

According to the CBN, the new rules are an attempt to “liberalise the foreign exchange market and ensure transparency.” It said that commercial banks now only get to act as agents for international money transfer services. In another circular, the CBN removed the cap on FX transactions, a rule enabling IMTOs to use the prevailing rate at the official market.

However, the apex bank did not clarify how this policy affects fintech companies that had previously received permission to transfer funds internationally. It had previously granted licences to fintechs like Flutterwave, LemFi, PagaTech, VFD, Interswitch, etc.

Namibia’s president passed away

On Sunday, February 4th, Namibia’s President, Hage Geingob, died while receiving treatment at a hospital in Windhoek. The government announced this news via a presidential post on social media platforms X and Facebook. They didn’t state the exact cause of his death. But three weeks ago, Geingob, 82, announced that he would undergo treatment for cancer. His office later announced that he would travel to the United States for medical care and return to Namibia on February 2nd.

Geingob had been President since 2015 and was supposed to finish his second and final term this year. His Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba, has taken over as Acting President to complete the term. He was Namibia’s third president since it gained independence in 1990 following more than a century of German and then apartheid South African rule.

Senegal’s president postpones elections indefinitely

Senegal’s elections are supposed to happen on February 25th this year. But on Saturday, President Macky Sall postponed it hours before political parties ought to commence official campaigns. Sall did not announce a new date for the vote, saying instead that he would “open national dialogue to bring together the conditions for a free, transparent and inclusive election.” He cited “troubled conditions” that could “undermine the credibility of the ballot by sowing the seeds of pre- and post-electoral disputes.”

These conditions seem related to the decision by the Constitutional Council — a body that approves election candidates in Senegal — to exclude some opposition members from participating, including Karim Wade of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS). The party had requested a postponement of the vote.

Sall can’t contest in the new polls since he has served two terms since 2012. Yet his decision is quite disruptive because Senegal has held continuous peaceful elections over the last two decades, making it one of Africa’s most stable democracies.

ICYMI: Market Roundup

  • The NGX All-Share Index gained 1.97% after a volatile trading week to close at 104,421.23 points.
  • The top gainers were Tripple Gee and Company (+42.05%), Meyer (+20.79%), Cornerstone Insurance (+20.25%), Veritas Kapital Assurance (+18.64%), and Juli (+18.64%). The top decliners were Daar Communications (-22.22%), Eterna (-19.49%), Sunu Assurances Nigeria (-19.11%), Deap Capital Management & Trust (-16.25%), May & Baker Nigeria (-16.00%).
  • The naira closed for the week at N1435.53/$ at the official market after its second devaluation in eight months.
  • Oil prices fell last week, with Brent crude closing at $77.80/barrel and WTI oil at $72.61.
  • The crypto markets gained 1.23% to reach a market cap of $1.64 trillion. Bitcoin gained 1.43% to close at $42,740; Ether gained 1.23% to close at $2,292 and BNB lost 0.89% to close at $303.
  • ProXalys, a Senegalese retail-tech startup, raised $500k in seed funding.
  • Roboost, an Egyptian  AI-powered logistics startup, raised $3 million.
  • Sony has invested in Carry1st, a South African gaming startup, via its venture arm.

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