Flash Briefing: SA slashes Covid travel list; IMF warns of SA investment low; Zambia default risk

By Jackie Cameron

  • South Africa has reduced the number of countries on its high risk Covid-19 list by more than half to 22 from 60, the government said on Monday, although Germany was among the notable additions to the register, says Reuters. The only people from high risk countries allowed entry are business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on international missions in sports, arts, culture and science, or people visiting for a minimum of three months.
  • The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in South Africa has risen to 18,471 (as of 18 October). More than 703 793 cases have been reported in the country, with Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and his wife among those who have tested positive.
  • South Africa will be hard pressed to realise its ambitions of attracting R1trn ($61bn) of private investment in infrastructure if its past record is anything to go by, says Bloomberg. The investment drive began two years ago and is a key component of an economic blueprint unveiled by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week that aims to revive the coronavirus-battered economy. It envisions the government spending 100 billion rand on infrastructure, an allocation that’s expected to galvanise 10 times as much private investment within four years. Yet International Monetary Fund data shows investment as a percentage of South Africa’s gross domestic product has been in decline since 2016 and the Washington-based lender forecasts that the ratio will reach a record low of 13% this year. That compares with 25.4% in Nigeria and 21.5% in Angola. The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, an industry body of fund managers and insurers, has said its members are willing to commit funds to viable projects.
  • The clock is ticking for Zambia to convince reluctant bondholders to accept an interest-payment holiday while it works out a debt-restructuring strategy. If investors refuse Zambia’s request for a six-month standstill in a key vote on Tuesday, it may become the first African nation to default since the onset of the coronavirus. That could set a precedent for how cash-strapped governments treat private and Chinese creditors.

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