Gemfields hits record sales

London-based emerald company Gemfields yesterday said that it had hosted its most profitable gem auction ever, after moving the bidding to Zambia where the stones were mined. The firm said it had made “auction revenues of $36.5 million (R393.1bn)”, during the sale last week “a record for any Gemfields auction”. Last April, the Zambian government banned auctions abroad of its gems, prompting anger among buyers. The auctions previously took place in Jaipur in India, London, Johannesburg and Singapore. “Zambian gemstones have for a long time been sold on foreign markets, a situation that has contributed to capital flight and denied Zambians of the much-needed benefits from the resource,” the country’s Ministry of Mines said at the time. – Sapa-AFP


Inflation soars to 23.3 percent

Ghana’s annual producer price inflation rose sharply to 23.3 percent year on year last month from 15.3 percent in December mainly on utility price hikes and the decline of the local currency, the government statistician said yesterday. The country’s currency, the cedi, has depreciated about 8 percent so far this year on excessive dollar demand by local companies and commerce operators for their imports. “The continued weakness in the value of the cedi as we have witnessed in the past months took a heavy toll on manufacturing costs,” Philomena Nyarko said. She said the utility sector recorded the highest increase in prices, 55.3 percent. – Reuters


Central bank to tackle liquidity

Zambia’s central bank would hike statutory reserves for commercial banks to 14 percent from 8 percent from March 10 in a bid to reduce liquidity, Cavmont Bank said in a bulletin yesterday. A spokesman for the central bank declined to comment but sources at two other commercial banks also said their institutions had received instruction regarding the new requirements. Traders said the move would help prop up the ailing kwacha, which fell to an all-time low of 5.80 against dollar last week. “There is potential that there will be reduced demand for the dollar because of reduced supply of the kwacha,” said one local trader from a commercial bank. – Reuters