The Government of Tanzania Ministry of Finance has signed a facility agreement with Standard Chartered (SC.com) Tanzania for a US$ 1.46 billion term loan financing to fund the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project from Dar es Salaam to Makutupora.
Running approximately 550 kilometres long, the SGR project is one of the country’s biggest projects connecting Dodoma to Dar es Salaam via Morogoro and Makutupora. Once complete, the SGR Rail project will provide a safe and reliable means for efficiently transporting people and cargo to and from the existing Dar es Salaam Port.
According to the Tanzania Railways Corporation, it is expected that the railway will address current congestion challenges and decrease freight service charges by 40%, as the railway will be able to haul up to 10,000 tons of freight, equivalent to 500 lorries, per trip. It will also connect Tanzania to Burundi, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, thereby playing a key role in enhancing regional trade.
The project has already created more than 8,000 new direct employment opportunities for Tanzanians and has opened up opportunities for the local communities surrounding the project area to access social services such as shelter and food.
Standard Chartered Tanzania acted as Global Co-ordinator, Bookrunner and Mandated Lead Arranger on the facility agreement that is the largest foreign currency financing raised by the Ministry of Finance to date. The biggest component of financing comes from the Export Credit Agency Covered Facility(‘s) from the Export Credit Agencies of Denmark and Sweden.
Speaking at the event to sign off the deal, the Minister of Finance and Planning, Hon. Dr. Philip Mpango, commended and thanked Standard Chartered Tanzania.
“I am very delighted to sign off on this deal on behalf of the Government of Tanzania and its people. With the help of Standard Chartered and our partners, the project financing will further increase direct employment in Tanzania, and more importantly, enable our local communities the thrive as they will be able to gain access to wider social services such as food and housing.”
Mr. Mpango also commended and thanked the Governments of Sweden and Denmark, which were represented by their Ambassadors in Tanzania, for their confidence in the country’s economic growth. “These two nations, Sweden and Denmark, have shown us their true friendship not only in words but also in action. Please convey our country’s sincere appreciation to the Export Credit Agencies and lenders in your countries that have supported this signature project. As a country we shall honour our commitments as we have always done.” Hon. Dr. Mpango said.
In addition to thanking the Export Credit Agencies and lenders, Hon. Mpango also thanked the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), for supporting the project in partnership with Export Credit Agencies from Denmark and Sweden.
He added that the funding would enable the project to be completed in good time as per the set plans.
Mr. Sanjay Rughani, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Tanzania, said the deal signified investor confidence in the market and demonstrated Standard Chartered’s international network capabilities and commitment to Tanzania.
“As a leading international Bank for Africa, with over 100 years of being in Tanzania, the African continent remains a key corridor not only for Standard Chartered but also our global clients. We are delighted to have reached this milestone in Tanzania to fund the SGR project that will deliver massive benefits to Tanzania and support the government’s 2025 vision of making Tanzania an industrialised country.” Mr. Rughani said.
Mr. Rughani added that the Bank will continue to leverage its unique network reach, and the credibility it has built over time, to further position Tanzania as the go-to destination for investments.
Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Standard Chartered Africa and the Middle East said the deal signified the benefit of our unrivalled network capabilities into the region. “There is considerable appetite from the global investment community into Africa, with 80 percent of our top Corporate & Institutional clients using our Africa and Middle East network. For Standard Chartered, Africa remains a priority for our business and clients, and we are proud to be able to use our expertise to support the Government of Tanzania with the finance needed for the SGR project.”
The sign off ceremony was also attended by the Ambassador of Denmark to Tanzania, H.E Mette Norgaard Dissing-Spandet and the Ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania, H.E Anders Sjoberg.
In attendance was also H.E Robert Mengoni, the Ambassador of Italy to Tanzania and Mr. Calumm Mcallum, Country Director, International Trade – for the British High Commission. The Country Manager for the Africa Development Bank Dr. Alex Mubiru and Resident Representative for the IMF in Tanzania, Mr. Jens Reinke also attended the event.
Other key Government Officials included the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Mr. Doto James, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Tanzania responsible for Economic and Financial Policies, Dr. Yamungu Kayandabila, and the Director General of the Tanzania Railway Corporation, Mr. Masanja Kadogosa.
Italy votes in referendum on downsizing parliament
Polls closed in Italy late on Sunday in the first of two days of voting on a constitutional referendum over the slimming down of parliament.
Voting is also on in local elections expected to favour the right-wing national opposition bloc.
Voting continues on Monday, with polls opening at 7 am (0500 GMT) and closing at 3 pm.
Results are expected later the same day.
Some 51.6 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum on reducing the number of lawmakers in Italy’s two chambers by roughly one third.
The Chamber of Deputies would go from 630 lawmakers to 400, and the Senate from 315 to 200.
By Sunday evening, voter turnout had reached 29.98 per cent in the four of the seven regions for which figures were available, according to the Interior Ministry.
In the referendum on the planned reduction of the parliament, 29.71 per cent of the 51.6 million eligible voters had cast their votes.
Observers have feared a low turnout amid concerns about people being infected with the coronavirus.
No minimum turnout is needed for the vote to be valid, amid expectations that the reform will be approved.
Elections are also taking place in seven regions and just under 1,000 cities, including Venice in the north and Reggio Calabria in the south.
The main national government parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) – have been bracing for a poor showing.
The national opposition, led by Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, is expecting to win in at least three regions, including Veneto and Liguria in the north.
The PD is confident of victory only in Campania, the region around Naples, and is desperate to avoid defeat in Tuscany, a former leftist stronghold where a League candidate could achieve a historic win.
The M5S has no strong candidates, but is likely to console itself with a referendum win.
It considers reducing the size of parliament part of its quest to end perks and privileges for politicians.
Critics of the constitutional reform say it produces minimal cost savings and risks undermining the democratic system by weakening the authority of parliament.
In any case, a defeat for the government parties is unlikely to topple Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as the PD and M5S have strong incentives to try to hold on to national power together.
One is the prospect of managing more than 200 billion euros (238 billion dollars) in loans and grants from the European Union due to arrive from 2021 as part of the bloc’s post-coronavirus recovery fund.
Another is the opportunity to influence the parliamentary election of the next Italian president, due in January 2022, and avoid snap national polls, which the PD and M5S would likely lose.
Pandemic-era restrictions were in place across all polling stations, many of which are located in school buildings.
Voters currently in self-isolation due to the coronavirus were permitted to vote from home on submitting an application on a one-off basis.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Gov. Ishaku’s wife commends Fidelity Bank’s free medical outreach to 829
Mrs Anna Darius Ishaku, wife of Gov. Darius Ishaku of Taraba, has commended Fidelity Bank Plc for providing free medical assistance to 829 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kona community of the state.
Mrs Ishaku gave the commendation in a statement signed on Sunday in Lagos by Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Managing Director (MD) and the Chief Executive Officer ( (CEO) of the bank.
The three-day outreach was organised by Hope Afresh Foundation in collaboration with the bank’s employees as part of Fidelity Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
According to the statement, the foundation and the bank, driven purely by altruistic values and an innate desire to make the world a better place, pulled their resources together to offer free qualitative healthcare to the people.
Also, Ishaku was quoted in the sratement to have advised the beneficiaries of the outreach to always go for regular medical checkups in order to reduce cases of diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, and high blood pressure.
Ishaku, also the Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Hope Afresh Foundation, encouraged other organisations to emulate the bank.
“I urge other corporate bodies, non-governmental and governmental organisations and other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the bank by giving back to the society,” she said.
Okonkwo, who was represented by Mr Chris Nnakwe, Head, CSR & Sustainability, said that corporate philanthropy remained an effective way to positively influence the society.
He said that the bank had invested in the health sector through infrastructural development, medical outreach and others.
“At Fidelity Bank, we understand that good health and well-being are fundamentals to sustainable development.
“As much as the world has made significant progress in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, basic access to healthcare remains a challenge in Nigeria,” he added.
Also, Chief (KURU) of Kona,Augustine Njenmang Vengkani , expressed gratitude to the bank and the foundation for the kind gesture.
The statement stated that the outreach provided opportunities for employees of the bank to bond and build mutually beneficial relationships with the people of Kona community and the state.
“By collaborating with Hope Afresh Foundation, the bank provided a variety of medical tests and prescribed drugs that will help promote the general health and well-being of IDPs in Kona community of the state,” it added.
Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Peter Dada
Spurs sign Bale on loan, Reguilon on permanent deal
Tottenham Hotspur have signed winger Gareth Bale and left-back Sergio Reguilon from Spanish champions Real Madrid, the English Premier League (EPL) club announced in a statement on Saturday.
Bale returns to his former club on a one-year loan deal, with British media reporting that Spurs will pay 20 million pounds in wages and fees for the 31-year-old Wales forward.
Reguilon, who spent last season on loan at Sevilla, arrives for a reported fee of 30 million euros (35.51 million dollars).
Bale made more than 200 appearances for Spurs between 2007 and 2013, scoring 56 goals with 58 assists before his then world record move to Real Madrid for 100 million euros.
He won four UEFA Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles with Real Madrid.
But he has divided opinion amongst the club’s fanbase, with some supporters frustrated by a perceived lack of commitment from the Welshman and his poor injury record.
Bale was poised for a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last year before the deal fell through.
He endured his worst season at Real Madrid in 2019/2020, scoring only three goals in all competitions, and barely featured in their run to the Liga title.
His growing rift with manager Zinedine Zidane intensified when he did not travel with the squad for a UEFA Champions League clash against Manchester City last season.
The signings of Bale and Reguilon follow the arrival at Spurs of Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ireland defender Matt Doherty and former England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
1,000 fans at Italian Open better than none, says Djokovic
World number one Novak Djokovic on Friday welcomed the Italian Government’s decision to allow up to 1,000 spectators for the final two days of the Italian Open in Rome.
Professional sports events in Italy have been played without fans since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said fans would be allowed to attend the closing stages of the tournament on Sunday and Monday.
Apart from the tennis masters, two Serie A matches this weekend and the Formula One race at Imola in November are also set to allow up to 1,000 spectators.
“I hope that is true. If we are going to have 1,000 people, it is better than no people.
“We all miss the fans; part of our professional careers in sport is playing in front of them and for them as well.
“I am really glad that that is going to happen,” Djokovic told reporters after he advanced to the quarter-finals with a 7-6(7) 6-3 victory over fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic.
Djokovic also said he hoped the matches would be played on centre court as he preferred the surface on the main court at the Foro Italico.
“I heard also they are considering to use Pietrangeli or NextGen court for semi-finals and finals.
“I hope it is not the case, because the quality of the clay and quality of the centre court is, in my opinion, much better than the other courts,” he said.
Djokovic will take on German Dominik Koepfer, who ended Italian teenager, Lorenzo Musetti’s dream run with a 6-4 6-0 win.
Musetti, 18, had beaten Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in the first two rounds.
Second seed Rafa Nadal, seeking his 10th title in Rome, also advanced with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic to set up a clash with Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
In the women’s field, top seeds – Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova – moved into the quarter-finals with straight sets victories while Yulia Putintseva beat Kazakh compatriot Elena Rybakina 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2. (Reuters/ NAN)
Edited By: Ijeoma Popoola