Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu used his inaugural address to make a major policy announcement to ease pressure on government finances. “Fuel subsidy is gone,” he told a packed crowd in Abuja. He won disputed elections with a promise to renew hope but faces tough economic and security challenges. It is not clear when the new policy will kick in, but ending the subsidy will lead to a rise in the price of petrol and could have a knock-on effect on other prices. Previous Nigerian governments have tried and failed to end the subsidy that was first introduced in the 1970s. Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria is unable to refine enough crude to meet local demands, so it imports petroleum products, which are then sold at a government-set price. Last year it gulped ₦4.3 trillion and for the first half of this year, ₦3.36 trillion was budgeted for it.
The retail trading app, Patricia, froze withdrawals for users of its platform last week. In an email to customers explaining the decision, the company said it suffered a breach. Part of the email read, “Not long ago, we were victims of a hack. Patricia, the retail trading application, was solely affected by the breach. BTC and Naira assets were compromised.” The company claims that it has identified the source of the breach and is now taking legal action against the “syndicated group.” Based on conversations with three sources with direct knowledge of the situation, TechCabal reports that the breach happened in January 2022 and that the company reportedly lost $2 million in the incident. Patricia partially froze withdrawals when the breach happened and offered to buy those coins from customers and pay them cash to manage the situation. This workaround continued until March 2023.
Independent power producers have rejected a government proposal to restructure $1.58 billion in arrears owed them by the state, the head of the group told Reuters, warning non-payment could lead to a shutdown of their operations. Ghana aims to cut $10.5 billion in interest payments on its external debt in three years to be able to successfully implement a $3 billion loan deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) aimed at addressing its worst economic crisis in a generation. The IMF has blamed shortfalls in Ghana’s energy sector on low tariffs and excess capacity amid take-or-pay contracts, which it said had cost the central government some 2% of GDP per year since 2019. On 17 May, the oil, gold and cocoa-producing nation raised the electricity tariff by 18.36% for the second quarter of 2023 after hiking it by almost 30% in the first quarter.
Protesters clashed with security forces in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, after lawmakers and supporters were blocked from visiting the home of a prominent opposition politician on trial for rape and libel. It is the latest round in months of unrest triggered by President Macky Sall’s refusal to rule out running for a third term and involving a leading rival, Sonko, who denies wrongdoing and says the charges are aimed at ruling him out of presidential elections. Senegal is one of West Africa’s strongest democracies and has a two-term limit for presidents, but Sall’s critics worry that he will use a change in the constitution in 2016 as an excuse to reset his mandate and run again, as other long-standing rulers in the region have done. Sonko has strong support among young people but degrading comments last week about an accuser sparked a backlash from Senegalese women’s groups and well-known figures. A prosecutor in the trial has requested a 10-year sentence.