Maize output to increase by 32.2% in 2014
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture’s crop forecast survey, Maize production is set to increase by 32.2% year-over-year to 3,350,671MT which will be the highest ever harvest in Zambia’s recorded history. There is also a carryover stock of 599,193MT from the previous season. The survey also indicated that Cassava, Wheat, Cotton, Sorghum and Soya would come in with decreases year-over-year. Tobacco and Rice are the only other commodities set to have an increased output besides Maize. The Maize harvest will increase despite the government’s late delivery of inputs before planting season.
Bank of Zambia holds policy rate at 12%
The central bank held the policy rate at 12% for the second quarter of 2014 in line with the new format of committee meetings. Their statement forecasted inflation to decrease to 7.3% in the second quarter with upside risks from prolonged Kwacha depreciation and the recent fuel price hike. The central bank is hawkish by design with respect to price stability – the 175bp rate hike in April 2014 needs time to fully take effect on the economy, which should be seen in the second quarter. This was a prudent move but also bailed out the committee because they could not do another rate increase after an unexpected increase in April (effects have a lag time).
First Quantum Minerals announces increased copper output at Kansanshi Mine
Kansanshi copper mine in Solwezi, recorded a 43% rise in copper production during the first quarter ended 31 March 2014 – one of the highest outputs in its history despite experiencing heavy rainfall. According to the FQM report Q1 2014 total copper production for the quarter rose to 113,118 tonnes compared 79,308 tonnes the previous year. FQM’s sentinel project is 86% complete and on track for a Q3 2014 commissioning (within $1.9bn budget). The chairman and CEO, however, pointed out his disappointment at the lack of smelting capacity in the country.
Zambia Railways connects Nacala corridor
ZRL connected the Chipata-Manchinji rail to the Nacala corridor which will open the shortest route to the Indian Ocean through Mozambique. ZRL would be working together with CEAR of Malawi and CDN of Mozambique to operationalize the corridor. A trial run of the route started on Friday and will cover 1,050km over a period of 4 days to reach the Nacala port. The operation will be supported with a further 2 locomotive engines and 264 wagons. This is very good news and will go a long way to alleviating the pressure which has previously been put on the road infrastructure as well opening up a plethora of commerce opportunities among the 3 countries.
Trying to decipher this puzzle that is Zambia by using a variety of publicly available data (structured and unstructured) in conjunction with my own skill/experience. * * *