Africa in Business: from gum to booze

STORY: Here are five stories making business headlines in sub-Saharan Africa this week.

1. Violence in Sudan has raised question marks over supplies of gum arabic - a key ingredient in everything from fizzy drinks to cosmetics.

Wary of Sudan's persistent insecurity, companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi have long stockpiled the gum which comes from acacia trees in the Sahel.

Exporters, suppliers and distributors said trade in the gum had ground to a halt, and some estimated that stockpiles will run out in up to six months.

Sudan's conflict, between the army and a paramilitary force, has killed hundreds and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

2. South Africa's Eskom is losing well over 1 billion rand, or $55 million a month from theft - former chief executive Andre de Ruyter told parliament on Wednesday (April 26).

The state power company has struggled to supply enough electricity for more than a decade, with outages at the moment lasting around 10 hours a day for most households, the worst on record.

3. Mozambique's president has said it is safe for TotalEnergies to restart a $20 billion LNG project in Cabo Delgado province that was halted in 2021 due to an attacks by an Islamic State-linked insurgency on civilians.

A spokesperson for TotalEnergies, which owns 26.5% of the project, said it was not their decision alone and that the decision to restart depends on assurances of security and human rights.

4. An agreement on royalties between Congo's state miner and China's CMOC has been reached, Congo's finance minister said on Monday (April 24).

That has paved the way for the resumption of exports from Tenke Fungurume Mining, the world's second largest cobalt mine, which were suspended in July.

5. And finally, Zimbabwean police are clamping down on "backyard brewers" who make fake whiskey, brandy, vodka and other spirits.

Civil society groups say alcohol and drug abuse is on the rise amid economic hardship in Zimbabwe, and that the illicit booze is contributing to the problem.