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South Africa: New Export Tax on Chrome Ore Intended to Resurrect the Ferrochrome Industry, but challenges prevail

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The  South African government recently approved a tax on South Africa’s exported chrome, although the tax percentage and further details are still to be announced.

The ferrochrome ore industry has been severely threatened in recent years, mostly due to increases in electricity tariffs for heavy use industries, which, combined with the unreliable supply of electricity in South Africa, have crippled the industry to such an extent that reportedly 40% of the coThe  South African government recently approved a tax on South Africa’s exported chrome, although the tax percentage and further details are still to be announced.untry’s ferrochrome mines have been unable to continue production.

Some industry stakeholders have suggested that a special electricity tariff would be a better way to support the ailing industry, stating that the export tax will not provide much benefit if electricity supply and costs to the industry are not addressed. Some in the industry feel that the challenges chrome ore producers face mean that they would not be able to sustain themselves, even after tax relief. This would not only negatively affect exports, but the downstream industry as well.

South Africa is one of the world’s largest producers of ferrochrome and the industry could have a vital role to play in the country’s pandemic recovery, if its challenges can be successfully addressed. Currently, the country exports 84% of ferrochrome to China, with Turkey and Zimbabwe, for example, producing smaller amounts. There has been concern that an export tax would mean other countries would be able to offer ferrochrome at cheaper prices than South Africa, with the country losing significant market share in the process. While China sources most of its chrome ore from South Africa, this could change if the product was available cheaper from other countries. However, it has also been noted that it would be difficult to China to move away from the type of ferrochrome it imports from South Africa.

Others in the industry, however, welcome the reprieve that an export tax would provide. India and Tanzania are examples of countries that have implemented successful export taxes for chrome ore, which have resulted in increased tax bases, higher investment in the industry, benefits to the local communities and skills development.

Key industry stakeholders have expressed interest in collectively undertaking research to explore a more viable and consolidated approach to support the ferrochrome industry. This process may involve the sharing of competitively sensitive information, which presents difficulties from a competition law perspective, and engagement on these issues has not been forthcoming.

According to South African competition law, joint industry engagement of this nature may give rise to anti-competitive conduct by facilitating collusion or adversely affecting competition in the market. Accordingly, in December 2020, key industry players applied to the Competition Commission for an exemption from certain provisions of the Competition Act. If successful, the exemption would permit stakeholders to jointly explore needed solutions in the industry for a period of two years.

While there is currently no further information on whether government will eventually impose export limitations and restrictions, the South African Revenue Service is expected to become aggressive in monitoring compliance and the collection of these export taxes when they do take effect. South African chrome ore producers who intend on exporting chrome should begin preparing, so that they can be tax compliant and in possession of the relevant customs licenses if new export taxes eventually become effective

Written By: Prenisha Govender, Associate, Tax, and Angelo Tzarevski, Senior Associate, Competition & Antitrust, Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

 

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Press Release

Amila Africa Launches Amila Insights

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Amila Africa Founder, Lethabo Sithole 

Amila Africa is thrilled to announce the launch of Amila Insights, a revolutionary division that is committed to providing advanced analytics, research and comprehensive solutions for businesses, governments, and international organisations looking to achieve success in African markets. The company offers a range of services, including syndicated market intelligence reports, customized research solutions, high-level market access events, content development, and value communication. 

As a budding pan-African and women-led advisory firm specialising in policy, enterprise and infrastructure development within the trade, investment and energy sectors, Amila Africa brings unparalleled expertise to the forefront with the launch of Amila Insights. 

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“With a focus on demystifying development trends and delivering data-driven analyses of opportunities across Africa, Amila Insights serves as the strategic partner organisations need to thrive in the region” said Lethabo Sithole, Managing Director of Amila Africa. “Our suite of services is meticulously designed to empower clients with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive growth and achieve sustainable success.” 

With a steadfast commitment to collaboration and partnership, Amila Insights collaborates closely with clients to develop tailored solutions aligned with their specific goals and priorities. “By leveraging its extensive network and deep understanding of local dynamics, Amila Insights assists clients in identifying new opportunities, enhancing competitiveness, and optimising business strategies,” said Noluthando Mthonti-Mlambo, Executive Director at Amila Insights. 

Amila Insights strives to be more than just a provider of information and data to clients. It aims to challenge the existing narratives on Africa, African businesses, countries, and multilateral organizations and become a trusted source of inspiration and change. 

For businesses, governments, and international organisations seeking to unlock the vast potential of African markets, Amila Insights represents a compelling opportunity to gain useful insights into the complex, evolving and growing African market. With a focus on excellence and a dedication to delivering tangible results, Amila Insights stands ready to be the trusted partner organisation to rely on to navigate the dynamic landscape of African business.

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African Guarantee Fund partners FSD Africa to boost Green SME Financing

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The African Guarantee Fund (AGF), a leader in promoting financing of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across Africa and FSD Africa, a pioneering development agency committed to reshaping Africa’s long-term financial landscape, have today signed a strategic Cooperation Agreement aimed at propelling the growth of Green SMEs by providing critical financial support, technical assistance, and capacity building.

The Cooperation Agreement outlines a detailed framework collaboration between the organizations in boosting sustainable development in Africa. The main aspects of this partnership involve assisting in the development of financial products for institutions, offering partial credit guarantees for bonds and funds raised on behalf of SMEs, and conducting capacity-building events.

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Furthermore, by providing financial support and fostering business growth, Green SMEs are expected to play a pivotal role in reducing CO2 emissions. This active contribution aligns with the overarching goal of preserving the environment and facilitates access to finance for business growth and empowering SMEs to generate and sustain employment opportunities, especially for youth and women.

Speaking during the agreement signing, Mark Napier, Chief Executive Officer of FSD Africa said: “This partnership represents an important milestone in our efforts to foster sustainable economic development in Africa. By leveraging the strengths of FSD Africa and the African Guarantee Fund, we will actively create a robust ecosystem that empowers Green SMEs. This collaborative effort aims at facilitating access to affordable long-term funds, thereby accelerating the transition towards a greener and more resilient economy.”

Jules Ngankam, AGF Group Chief Executive Officer said: “Fostering a green economic transformation in Africa is one of our key priorities. Through this partnership, AGF will provide financial institutions with bank fundraising guarantees to enable them access affordable funds aimed at facilitating loans to SMEs investing in low carbon and climate resilient businesses”.

Additionally, AGF will extend partial credit guarantees to lenders in a bid to enhance credit accessibility for Green SMEs, empowering them to flourish and make meaningful contributions to environmental conservation.

The two organisations will also provide technical assistance on green financing initiatives, which is critical in building the capacity of key stakeholders such as Governments, Financial Institutions, and Green SMEs.

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Africa Finance Corporation Appoints Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of Board

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Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the continent’s leading instrumental infrastructure solutions provider, today announces the appointment of Mr. Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Mr. Emuwa brings a wealth of experience spread over three decades leading and transforming banking institutions across Africa. After completing a sterling 25-year career with Citibank where he left as the Country Officer and Managing Director of Citibank in Nigeria, he went on to serve as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank of Nigeria. 

In this role, he led the bank’s transformation and worked successfully with the new shareholders to transform and restore one of Nigeria’s oldest institutions back to its rightful position as a credible and strong provider of financial services. Mr. Emuwa’s extensive experience and unwavering dedication to the advancement of Africa make him a valuable asset to AFC at a time when the Corporation is rapidly expanding its operations across the continent and building partnerships through international collaborations.

He has been a part of AFC’s Board since 2015, previously serving as the Chairman of the Board Risk and Investment Committee, and as a member of the Board Nominations and Governance Committee. He is also the Chairman of Tangerine Financial (U.K.), the holding company for a financial services group providing insurance and pensions solutions across the continent. Mr Emuwa is thus well positioned to oversee and guide AFC on its future strategy and growth aspirations. The Corporation’s mission to accelerate development impact, foster industrialisation, and enhance value capture and retention across the continent through the provision of critical infrastructure, is crucial for African development and prosperity.

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Speaking on the appointment, Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC, said: “Mr. Emuwa’s considerable experience, insightful perspectives and immense dedication to Africa’s development seamlessly align with our mission. We are confident that under his continued guidance, AFC will continue to make significant strides in transforming the continent. He brings a deep understanding of Africa’s financial landscape within a global context, and has a clear vision for enabling AFC to further amplify its impact.”

Mr. Emuwa commented on his appointment, saying: “I am deeply honoured to be appointed Chairman of Africa Finance Corporation, an institution that has, over the past 16 years, evolved into the leading infrastructure investor in Africa, delivering transformational projects across pivotal sectors of the economy. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the board, management, and all stakeholders to advance AFC’s mission and strengthen its role as a driving force for economic growth and infrastructure development on the African continent.”

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