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SSA news through Aug. 9

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SSA news through Aug. 9

EAST AFRICA

* Uganda's Finance State Minister for Planning David Bahati warned banks to keep interest rates within manageable levels or the government will be forced to introduce a law capping rates, Business Daily Africa reported.

* The Central Bank of Kenya published a draft banking charter requiring commercial banks to use credit scores to determine what interest rates borrowers are charged rather than charging them blanket rates, various media outlets reported. Per the charter, banks must also increase lending to small and medium-sized businesses by at least 20% by 2020, from a December 2017 baseline.

* A judge gave former National Bank of Kenya Ltd. Managing Director Munir Ahmed temporary reprieve against fines imposed on him by the Capital Markets Authority over his alleged involvement in a fraud scheme at the bank, but had lost his bid to lift his suspension from participating in the market, Standard Media wrote.

* Former National Bank of Kenya Chief Credit Officer George Jaba, who is also embroiled in the fraud scheme, lost his bid to prevent the Directorate of Criminal Investigations from investigating and prosecuting him, Business Daily Africa reported.

* Kenya-based Company for Habitat and Housing in Africa, or Shelter Afrique, will lay off 13 employees as part of its cost-cutting efforts, Business Daily Africa wrote.

* Sanlam Ltd. unit Sanlam Kenya Plc appointed Patrick Tumbo group CEO, effective immediately, Business Daily Africa reported. Tumbo was most recently CEO for Kenya at Jubilee Holdings Ltd.

WEST AFRICA

* Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor Joseph Nnanna indicated that the regulator is leaning towards tightening its monetary policy and will hike its main interest rate if inflationary pressures build up, Bloomberg News wrote. The central bank has maintained its key rate at a record 14% since 2016 in an effort to prop up the local currency and tame inflation.

* Errors in bank oversight helped cause the failure of Ghanaian lenders uniBank (Ghana) Ltd., Royal Bank Ltd., Beige Bank Ltd., Sovereign Bank Ltd. and Construction Bank Ltd., Joy Business reported, citing Osei Gyasi, the Bank of Ghana's head of banking supervision. The central bank revoked the five banks' licenses in the week of July 30. Staff at the five banks will know the status of their employment in 60 days, Joy Online wrote. In the meantime, the staff will work at Consolidated Bank Ghana Ltd., the newly established lender that took over the five banks.

* The Bank of Ghana will impose a fine on banks and specialized deposit-taking institutions of up to 60,000 cedis if they fail to meet the regulator's anti-money laundering rules, Citi Business News reported.

* In a report, the Bank of Ghana said auditors found "willful deceit" on the part of directors and shareholders of now-defunct lenders UT Bank Ghana Ltd. and Capital Bank Ltd. and that there was a sizable amount of inter-lending between the firms, Joy Online reported.

* Barclays Bank of Ghana Ltd. said it has met the central bank's 400 million cedi minimum capital requirement without resorting to external capital injection, Citi Business News noted.

* Ghana's National Insurance Commission greenlighted a takeover of Esich Life Assurance by an international company, Citi Business News wrote. The takeover process is set to complete by the end of the month.

* Ghana-based SIC Insurance Co. Ltd. is weighing plans to establish a bank, Joy Online wrote.

* The Central Bank of Mauritania gave a 15-day ultimatum to any money-transfer companies that have not filed a request for regularization to comply with banking regulations, Financial Afrik said.

* Zenith Bank Plc reported first-half profit attributable to equity holders of the parent of 81.56 billion Nigerian naira, up from 75.19 billion naira a year earlier. The bank booked a 50% provision on its exposure to a loan facility to indebted telecoms firm 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, Business Post Nigeria reported. The lender has the highest exposure to the $1.2 billion credit facility, amounting to $262 million and 80 billion Nigerian naira.

* Diamond Bank PLC CEO Uzoma Dozie said the Nigerian lender expects to finalize the sale of unit Diamond Bank (UK) PLC to British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta before the end of 2018, Reuters reported.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South Africa-based Absa Group Ltd., formerly Barclays Africa Group Ltd., reported first-half headline earnings of 7.32 billion rand under International Financial Reporting Standards, down from 7.65 billion rand a year ago. The results included 1.4 billion rand in costs related to its separation from Barclays PLC.

* Nedbank Group Ltd. reported first-half unaudited headline earnings of 6.70 billion South African rand, up from the reviewed 5.27 billion rand a year earlier.

* Investec, which is listed in South Africa as Investec Ltd. and in London as Investec PLC, is facing shareholder revolt over its plan to reappoint scandal-hit KPMG as one of its auditors, The Daily Telegraph reported. Investec said its board remains "concerned about the failures of KPMG's internal controls and procedures" and that its decision to stick with KPMG was influenced by "the need to ensure stability within South Africa's financial system."

* Banque d'Epargne et Crédit Chairman Alcides Safeca said the Angolan bank has closed 14 branches as part of a restructuring process, Angop said.

* A debt restructuring proposal presented this month by a group of Mozambican bondholders is unlikely to be accepted by the government of the southern African nation, Zitamar reported. The proposal to restructure the country's defaulted $727 million eurobond would give creditors a slice of revenues from future natural gas sales, a possibility that the government has previously rejected.

* Land & Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa said Gary Conway has resigned as executive manager of its corporate banking and structured investments division, effective July 13.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* President Joseph Kabila will not run for a third term in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's long-delayed elections in December, news outlets including BBC News and the Financial Times covered. The president's ruling coalition has nominated former Interior Minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as its candidate.

* The IMF has postponed for the sixth time a review at board level of the economic situation in the Republic of the Congo, Jeune Afrique said. The country has $9.5 billion debt and hopes for a bailout, but an IMF mission to Brazzaville in April noted that the country required "bold and immediate reforms in the area of governance."

Pádraig Belton contributed to this report.