The rich will pay more tax. That’s one of the most riveting things to come out of South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2017 budget speech. Income tax increases across the board did not materialise, but wealthy South Africans will be taxed at a higher bracket. Taxpayers earning more than $115,000 a year will pay a 45% tax rate. Around 100,000 taxpayers will be affected. Investors and global credit agencies were keen to hear Gordhan’s speech — his second one in his second stint as finance minister. Here is a closer look at 12 things you should know about the 2016 South African budget speech.
Agriculture: Latest News
Dana Sanchez, 2:37 pm
Marijuana is illegal in South Africa, but the country is a step closer to legalizing it for medicinal purposes. The South African government plans to soon publish proposed guidelines for production of cannabis, known locally as dagga. “This is a major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice,” said Narend Singh, MP for the Inkatha Freedom Party. The hemp industry is interested in legalizing the strain of cannabis used for hemp. SA imports $76 million worth of hemp products a year, Singh said. There’s also a case due to be heard in the Constitutional Court calling for full legalization including for recreational use.
Mongabay, 9:25 am
There’s a mistaken belief that Africa is a continent of empty, freely available land open for development. Companies investing in land in Africa feel they can cut a deal with the government, raze the land, and create vast plantations. “No land is unclaimed,” a stakeholder said. “Uprooting communities without their consent from their lands and traditional livelihoods creates conflicts and social unrest.” Most disputes involving private investments in Africa – 63 percent – relate to local people being displaced off their land. These disputes affect sugarcane and palm oil production, mining for gold, diamonds and coal, and green energy to harvest wind and solar power.
Dana Sanchez, 8:53 am
A combination of native African armyworms and Fall armyworms from the Americas are ravaging staple crops in southern Africa. Uncontrolled, they have the potential to cause food shortages. Damage to maize is likely to have the biggest impact because it’s the main staple food crop. The Fall armyworm destroys the cob itself. In parts of their native range in the Americas, genetically-modified Bt maize is grown to combat the Fall armyworm. This may be an option for South Africa and other countries where GM crops are already grown. But many parts of Africa do not allow or welcome GM varieties.
Staff, 12:55 pm
To fulfill its economic potential, Africa must industrialize and it’s well suited to do so. The question is how. The economic growth experienced in recent decades has not been sustainable or inclusive. Africa’s economies must move beyond producing raw materials to build competitive manufacturing with added value. Developed countries’ experiences will help Africa avoid the pitfalls of unbridled industrialization, especially environmental damage. Africa is committed to industrialization. The process is already underway in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal.
Dana Sanchez, 1:11 pm
Aliko Dangote, CEO of Nigeria’s massive Dangote Group, said he wants to diversify his investments in Ethiopia, and he’s looking at sugar production. Ethiopia produces enough of its own sugar to finally stop importing it this year and start exporting it — a turnaround the government describes as revolutionary. Three new sugar refineries are scheduled to begin production this month. Construction is also planned for 10 new sugar factories for a total of 13 by 2020. Sugar is where Africa’s richest man cut his teeth.
Kurt Davis Jr., 10:23 am AFKI Original
French cosmetics company L’Oreal has invested in organic beeswax in Mali, the surprise country for 2017. Economic growth should hover around 5-to-6 percent this year as agricultural production strengthens. Lack of investment or interest in the country in recent years means there are unexploited opportunities with many investors still sitting on the sidelines. Opportunities exist in cashews, biofuels, shea butter and cotton. This year should see some investors put cash into the country, especially in agriculture.
Peter Pedroncelli, 7:00 am AFKI Original
Last week Davos 2017 took place in Switzerland, with the annual week-long World Economic Forum meeting bringing together the world’s economic elite to discuss global issues and solutions to challenges that face the world at large. Africa plays a key part in these discussions, with politicians, business people and others with an interest in Africa’s economic future making their way to the gathering in order to contribute to various discussions. Here are 12 insightful quotes from African representatives who were present at Davos 2017.
Staff, 3:53 pm
Recently renewed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, allows qualifying African countries to export certain products to the U.S. duty free. U.S. exports to Africa, however, are subject to customs duties. Incoming President Donald Trump isn’t going to go for that, says Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador to several African countries. “I have the feeling that he will ask African governments to accept reciprocity in trade relations,” Cohen said.
Dana Sanchez, 11:20 pm
Foreigners have been invited to invest in Ethiopia’s state-owned shipping and logistics company. Will telecommunications and banks be next? Ethiopia is one of the last African countries to have a state monopoly in telecoms. The U.S. hopes to bring its technology, know-how and managerial skills to Ethiopia. The American Chamber of Commerce of Ethiopia was launched in November. “The private sector needs a level playing field that allows fair competition with state-owned enterprises,” a U.S. stakeholder said.
Dana Sanchez, 10:57 am
A scholarly tradition tied to agriculture, stargazing in Ethiopia predates Christianity. Some historians argue that the first study of celestial bodies can be traced back to Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s space ambitions could make it the first country in the Horn of Africa and Northeast Africa to become a space power. Developing satellites and rocket launchers locally in Ethiopia could prompt Kenya, Uganda, Egypt and even Sudan to accelerate their own space ambitions.
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