West Africa power crisis; South Africa economy; Venezuela elections

In today’s episode, we discuss how a drop in electricity generation in Ivory Coast and Ghana is affecting industrial and domestic activity in those countries and their West African neighbours, examine South Africa’s decision to keep its repo rate unchanged at a record low of 3.5% till next year and look at Venezuela's political scenario as the country gears up for elections to be held in November this year.

Today on The Leaders' Brief -
  • Several west African nations are being forced to limit industrial activity to less than 50% of their full capacity due to a power outage in Ivory Coast and Ghana. News agency Reuters quoted a spokesman from Mali's energy ministry saying that electricity imports from Ivory Coast had fallen 30%, leading to a 100 MW generation deficit. Most cocoa producers in the country have reportedly dropped operational capacity by 50-70% and are incurring additional production costs as they have to now depend on diesel-powered generators which increase power costs by almost 300%. 

  • South Africa's Reserve Bank is expected to keep its repo rate at a record low of 3.5% in its meeting tomorrow despite the possibility of inflation increasing in the coming months. Statistics revealed by the country two weeks ago had shown manufacturing output rise by 4% year on year in March after falling by a revised 2.5% in February, and factory production was up 3.4% month on month in March. The decision was taken at a time consumer prices had increased 0.68% over the previous month in March with an inflation rate of 3.2%. 

  • Venezuelan Electoral Council President Pedro Calzadilla announced last week that the country would hold regional and local elections on November 21. The country’s face of opposition, Juan Guaido, recognised by most western nations as the country’s legitimate president called for Presidential and parliamentary elections to be held as well. The South American country has been under political crisis for the last two years, with opposition members routinely boycotting elections, including one held in December last year.

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