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How DRC Wants To Control Cobalt Production

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Democratic Republic of Congo has moved to control nearly 15% of worlds Cobalt production through its state company Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC).

Jean-Dominique Takis Kumbo, the head of the new state cobalt buyer told press that EGC will have a monopoly on all hand-dug cobalt in the central African country, giving it power to improve working conditions and potential control.

Congo accounts for nearly 70% of the global supply of cobalt used in the lithium-ion batteries that power most electric vehicles.

According to Takis, he’s hoping that control of 15% is a market share big enough to help influence cobalt prices the way Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, does with oil, and ultimately boost profit for the state.

“We believe that EGC will introduce the image and identity of Congo to the markets for those involved in cobalt,” said Takis.

However, there are ongoing concerns about the cobalt industry which have prompted miners and carmakers to reassure customers about ethically mined supplies of the metal.

For example in 2019, BMW AG said it won’t buy metal from artisanal sources, and like Tesla Inc., is among manufacturers backing initiatives to improve conditions at the sites.

Once EGC is up and running, all other buyers of artisanal cobalt will have six months to shut down, Takis said.

The state company will produce about 8,000 tons of cobalt contained in hydroxide form in 2021, with output expanding “exponentially” in the years to come, he said.

Details indicate that EGC is partnering with trading house Trafigura Group in a five-year deal to finance the creation and control of artisanal mining zones, ore-purchasing stations and costs related to buying, processing and delivering cobalt hydroxide to end buyers.

Trafigura is still assessing the investment required to prepare the first accredited mining site.

“We foresee a considerable body of work to bring the site up to a level that meets the newly launched EGC standard,” a Trafigura spokesperson said Thursday.

While artisanal miners’ contribution to Congo’s cobalt production has at times reached 20%, it dropped significantly last year amid low prices, the impact of Covid-19 and expanded industrial output, Andries Gerbens, a director of Darton Commodities, said by phone Friday.

While Gerbens expects artisanal output to increase again as the cobalt price rises, an 8,000-ton target for 2021 is “ambitious” and the possibility of EGC capturing Congo’s entire artisanal market is “unrealistic at least in the short term.”

Cobalt prices have risen almost 70% in the past year and now trade at more than $50,000 a ton on the London Metal Exchange.

Takis said mining production at first will be limited to a single site known as Kasulo in Kolwezi, a town 820 miles southeast of the capital, Kinshasa.

The initial investment to prepare the site will cost $15 million, after which EGC hopes to have $7 million to $8 million available per week to purchase and process cobalt into hydroxide form, Takis said.

While Trafigura will prepare all of EGC’s cobalt for market, the state company can keep 50% of the output for itself and sell it separately, Takis said.

It’s also in talks with processing plants in Congo that currently treat artisanal cobalt to switch to EGC’s product.

“These production plants will, one way or another, come to an agreement with EGC in order to continue to operate,” he said.

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Germany, Rwanda Sign Rwf90B Financing Agreement

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Finance Minister, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, and the Germany Ambassador to Rwanda, Dr. Thomas Kurz, today signed two agreements worth € 78 million (Approximately Frw 90 billion).

The financing and technical cooperation agreement is the outcome of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations that were concluded last Year between our two respective Governments.

59 million Euros of the grant agreement will be provided through KFW Development Bank and will support various initiatives including technical and vocational training, promotion of export oriented SMEs, through the support to Export Credit Facility in Rwanda under BRD, promotion of green investments as well as ICT support.

The remaining Euros19 million will be channeled through GIZ and will support decentralization and good governance, prevention of sexual and gender based violence among others.

Speaking after the signing event, Minister Ndagijimana said the financial support extended to Rwanda will support key areas that are critical to the attainment of the country’s development objectives.

“This support comes at a critical juncture given the effects COVID-19 has had on our social –economic advancement. We look forward to boosting these important areas that are in line with our National Strategy for Transformation. We thank Germany for the strong cooperation and solidarity especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,“ Minister Ndagijimana said.

Ambassador Kurz stressed: “These Agreements underline the long-standing and proven cooperation between our two countries based on friendship and mutual trust. Germany is committed to support Rwanda in its Economic Recovery Process and the implementation of NST 1 in order to reach the SDGs and to leave no one behind.”

The Division of Labor allows Germany development cooperation programme to be active in Education (including TVET); Decentralization and Good Governance, Private Sector Development and Youth; Public Financial Management (PFM); Financial Development. Germany also supports Regional Projects: Centre of Excellence for Health, Improvement of the Investment Climate, Microfinance sector-MIFSSA, ICGLR and Energy.

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Malawi Issues 86 Licenses For Cannabis Production

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Malawi’s Cannabis Regulatory Authority said on Friday they had issued 86 licenses to 35 companies and cooperatives to venture into cannabis cultivation for industrial hemp production.

Boniface Kadzamila the Board Chairman of Cannabis Regulatory Authority made the announcement from Lilongwe on Friday afternoon.

He said that a total of 41 companies applied but only 35 of them satisfied the requirements.

According to him the authority has issued licenses for cultivation, processing and storage and has not yet issued any license for export of cannabis.

A recent analysis by Invegrow Limited, one of the firms that conducted research on industrial hemp, found that a kilogram of industrial hemp could fetch U$1,444 on the market that there is potential for direct annual benefit for Malawians in excess of U$ 135,440,973 on 16.5 hectares or U$8,803,663 per five hectares.

The analysis further indicated that the crop has ready markets whose global value chain is worth U$9billion thus giving local Malawi investors a basis to take up cannabis production.

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ex-Nakumatt CEO’s Home Auctioned

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Atul Shah, the former chief executive officer of the collapsed retail giant Nakumatt lost his home to auctioneers over a U$18,609,740 debt.

The auction follows the conclusion of a protracted court battle after the Kenyan High Court dismissed a petition seeking to overturn the forced sale of the high-end property by KCB Group.

Justice Francis Tuiyott dismissed the petition by the administrator of the collapsed Supermarket chain, saying it has no chance of success.

Nakumatt’s court-appointed administrator had opposed the sale on grounds that the auction failed to follow the law, and tagged Mr Shah as an interested party to suit.

The bank, through Leakey Auctioneers, early in the year quietly sold the property, which Mr Shah had used as additional security as Nakumatt’s guarantor to offer comfort to the multiple bank loans.

“This court is not persuaded that the suit, as currently presented, demonstrates a prima facie case with a probability of success. Being unable to surmount that hurdle, it is needless for this court to discuss other aspects raised in the application,” the judge said.

KCB had earlier sold Mr Shah’s prime property in Industrial Area, Nairobi, to Furniture Palace International Ltd for about U$9,677,064 court records show.

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