ZAMBIA

Kwacha carries on bleeding

Zambia’s kwacha tumbled to a new record low of 6.2050 against the dollar yesterday, extending its recent slide on demand for the dollar and concerns about lower copper prices. Prices for the metal on the London Metal Exchange hit their lowest point since July 2010 last week, sparking concern about the outlook for Africa’s top producer last year. “Local demand for the dollar, net dollar outflows from emerging markets and negative fundamentals such as weakening copper prices continue to weigh heavily on the Zambian currency,” Zanaco Bank said in a market note. The kwacha was expected to remain on the back foot in the near term, trading between 6.10 and 6.20 to the dollar, Zanaco said. Zambia’s central bank has said it would continue to intervene to stabilise the kwacha, in an attempt to calm the foreign exchange market. – Reuters

GHANA

More purchase power for cards

Ghana will introduce devices that will triple the number of people who can use debit cards to pay for purchases. About 2.3 million people would be able to swipe their local debit, or e-zwich, card on 2 500 point-of-sale devices in Accra by May, Archie Hesse, the chief executive of state-owned Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems, said. At present, customers can use them only to withdraw money from the issuer’s ATMs. About 1 million Visa credit cards issued by 14 banks, including Barclays Bank and Standard Bank, can be used to withdraw money from any ATM and to pay for purchases through about 400 devices – mostly at hotels and restaurants. The government was in talks with Visa and MasterCard to include those cards on the new machines, Hesse said. – Bloomberg