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SSA news through Feb. 2

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SSA news through Feb. 2

* Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat replaced Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the new chairperson of the African Union Commission. The AU also admitted Morocco as its newest member, more than three decades after the North African country withdrew from the union's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, The Wall Street Journal wrote.

* Proparco, part of the French Development Agency, plans to give between €2.7 billion and €6.7 billion in financial commitments to Africa between now and 2020, its CEO Grégory Clemente told Jeune Afrique.

EAST AFRICA

* The IMF expects Kenya to record real GDP growth of 5.3% in 2017, down from a previous projection of 6.1%, due to expectations that a law capping banks' interest rates will reduce the country's economic growth.

* The Central Bank of Kenya kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 10.0% on expectations that inflation will remain within the government's target range of between 2.5% to 7.5% in the short term. The central bank also decided to suspend the Kenya Banks' Reference Rate, which was designed to provide a credit pricing framework for lenders, following the adoption of the law capping banks' interest rates.

* Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge said uncertainty surrounding the new U.S. administration's stance on immigration and trade poses a significant risk to the Kenyan economy, Bloomberg News wrote. Njoroge said the "Trump effect" could affect trade between the U.S. and Kenya and eventually strain the African nation's sources of foreign currency.

* The Central Bank of Kenya gave banks until April to provide comprehensive reports about their revised business models, Business Daily Africa wrote. The regulator ordered banks in November last year to review their models in line with new regulations requiring them to hold capital that is consistent with their risk profiles and business strategies.

* It emerged that Kenya's central bank rejected two offers to acquire Imperial Bank Ltd. shortly after the troubled lender was placed under receivership in 2015, People Daily reported. The offers are said to be from SBM Bank (Mauritius) Ltd. and I&M Bank Ltd.

* The assets and liabilities of Ugandan lender Crane Bank Ltd., which was placed into receivership by the Ugandan central bank in October 2016, were transferred to dfcu Ltd. unit dfcu Bank Ltd.

WEST AFRICA

* The Central Bank of Nigeria questioned a number of banks for submitting inaccurate information regarding their foreign exchange returns, This Day wrote. The central bank said some financial institutions cited formatting errors as reasons for the irregularities.

* Mansa Nettey was appointed CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Ltd., the Ghana News Agency reported. Nettey will take over from Kweku Bedu-Addo, who will become Standard Chartered Plc's CEO for South Africa and southern Africa.

* Old Mutual Plc's Ghanaian subsidiary named George Kojo Addison CEO of Old Mutual Life Assurance Co. (Ghana) Ltd., effective Nov. 1, 2016, according to Joy Business.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

* African Phoenix Investments Ltd., the investment holding company born out of the failed African Bank Investments Ltd., has started trading on the Johannesburg stock exchange with an estimated 1.4 billion ordinary shares and 13.5 million preference shares, Independent Online reported.

* VBS Mutual Bank Chairman Tshifhiwa Matodzi indicated that the bank is looking to list on the Johannesburg stock exchange within three years, according to Reuters. The lender, which made headlines in 2016 for providing South African President Jacob Zuma a loan to compensate the state for upgrades to his personal home, plans to expand from just four branches currently to a nationwide network.

* Rene van Wyk joined the boards of Barclays Africa Group Ltd. and Absa Bank Ltd. as an independent nonexecutive director. Van Wyk previously served as registrar of banks and head of banking supervision at the South African Reserve Bank.

* The South African Reserve Bank plans to explore the possibility of issuing a national digital currency that would likely be based on blockchain technology, Moneyweb reported. The regulator will carry out experiments and evaluations to determine whether such offerings would be appropriate for the country.

* South Africa's Post Office Group intends to register financial services unit Postbank as a bank by July 3, Reuters reported. A document submitted to parliament showed Postbank to have 1.4 billion rand in excess capital, enough to meet regulatory minimum requirements for a bank.

* Barclays Africa Group Ltd., Nedbank Group Ltd. and a unit of FirstRand Ltd. are considering bidding to distribute the South African government's welfare payments as its current contract with a unit of Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. is set to expire at March-end, Bloomberg News reported. However, the South African Social Security Agency reportedly wants to extend the contract with Net 1 unit Cash Paymaster Services. The contract, which is due to expire by March-end, was ruled as invalid by the Constitutional Court.

* Cardtronics plc acquired South Africa-based Spark ATM Systems Proprietary Ltd., marking the U.S. payment processing firm's first foray into Africa. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

* Moçambique Capitais, the majority stakeholder in Moza Banco SA, is looking for cash injections from shareholders to fund its share of the bank's 8 billion metical recapitalization and thereby retain control, according to Zitamar News. Moza Banco must be able to raise the amount by March 23 to avoid being put up for sale by the Banco de Moçambique.

* The Banco Nacional de Angola's monetary policy committee kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 16%.

CENTRAL AFRICA

* Chadian President Idriss Déby dismissed Finance Minister Mbogo Ngabo Seli, Agence Ecofin wrote. He is the second minister to be dismissed in less than a month, following the suspension of Mining Minister Gomdigué Baïdi Lomey in December 2016. The country's economy has been severely affected by the fall in oil prices.

Sophie Davies and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.