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USAID/Power Africa Announces $2.6m in Healthcare Electrification Grants to Solar Energy Companies in Nine Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

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 Power Africa, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announces grants totaling $2,620,650 to solar energy companies to provide reliable, affordable off-grid electricity to nearly 300 healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nearly 60 percent of all healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, and of those that do, only 34 percent of hospitals and 28 percent of health clinics have reliable, 24-hour access.  Energy is critical for powering essential devices, medical and sterilization equipment, diagnostics, cold storage for vaccines and medication, information technology, and lights to enable the delivery of continuous health care services. Efficient health services and responses to diseases – including COVID-19 – depend on reliable access to electricity.

In support of the accelerated provision of off-grid solar energy to healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, Power Africa is awarding grants to the following solar energy companies: 

  • Havenhill Synergy Ltd. (Nigeria)
  • KYA-Energy Group (Togo)
  • Muhanya Solar Ltd. (Zambia)
  • Nanoé (Madagascar)
  • OffGridBox (Rwanda)
  • OnePower (Lesotho)
  • PEG Solar (Ghana)
  • SolarWorks! (Mozambique)
  • Zuwa Energy (Malawi)

These companies will utilize Power Africa funding to provide off-grid solar electricity solutions to 288 healthcare facilities across the nine countries represented.

“Solar energy holds great potential to expand and improve health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, and off-grid solar technology offers a clean, affordable, and smart solution to electrify healthcare facilities located beyond the reach of national electricity grids,” said Mark Carrato, Power Africa Acting Coordinator. “Power Africa’s experience shows that off-grid solar energy systems can be rapidly deployed to even the most rural facilities.”

“These awards demonstrate what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors join together to break down the barriers to reliable electricity for rural healthcare facilities,” said Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID, on September 22, 2020 during a virtual event announcing the grant awardees.

ABOUT THE GRANTEES AND HOW THEY WILL POWER HEALTHCARE IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

Havenhill Synergy will electrify 21 rural healthcare facilities in Oyo State, Nigeria, using an energy-as-a-service business model. The facilities are mostly within peri-urban communities with limited reliable electricity access. Havenhill will provide long-term operation and maintenance of the solar energy systems.

KYA-Energy Group will electrify 20 health centers in Togo. In addition to electricity access, KYA will provide automated solar hand washing stations for infection prevention and solar phone charging stations for generating additional income.  

In partnership with the Churches Health Association of Zambia, Muhanya Solar Ltd. will provide electricity access to seven rural health facilities in Zambia. Muhanya will also electrify staff housing to generate revenue for the operation and maintenance of the solar systems installed at the health facilities. 

Nanoé will electrify 35 rural health facilities in the Ambanja and Ambilobe districts of Madagascar. The company will deploy nano-grids with the health facilities as anchors and connections running to staff housing. Electricity will be sold to the surrounding communities to generate income for the operation and maintenance of the nano-grids. 

With their containerized solution, OffGridBox will provide renewable energy and clean water to six rural clinics in Rwanda. The company will also set up a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) business model, selling electricity and clean water to the surrounding communities.

OnePower will electrify seven rural health facilities in Lesotho, using the facilities as anchor loads for mini-grids. In addition to powering the health facilities, the mini-grids will provide electricity access for rural communities served by the facilities. 

PEG Solar will provide electricity access to 91 rural community healthcare facilities in Ghana. PEG will adopt a private sector approach to energy service delivery for public health facilities, enabling rapid electrification of the facilities while significantly reducing the upfront financial burden of transitioning to solar energy. 

SolarWorks! will electrify 92 rural healthcare facilities in Mozambique’s Sofala province. To ensure sustainability of the systems beyond the grant implementation period, SolarWorks! will cover operational and maintenance costs of the solar energy systems for five years.

Zuwa Energy will install solar energy solutions in nine health facilities in Malawi. Electricity access will enable the facilities to provide higher-quality health services throughout the day and more comprehensive services at night. Additionally, Zuwa will electrify staff housing with the aim to increase staff wellbeing and retention rates.

“Through these grants, USAID is investing in a set of pilot projects that demonstrate how healthcare electrification can be delivered in a commercially sustainable manner, with strong private sector involvement,” said David Stonehill, the Lead for Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative.  “These grants demonstrate the Power Africa model in action:  We use a modest amount of public funding to de-risk transactions, thus opening the door for private investment.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Will Fed’s Major Policy Shift Spook Markets?

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Investors should embrace expected market volatility triggered by the likely decision of the U.S. Federal Reserve to double the pace of its taper to $30 billion a month at its meeting next week.

The observation by Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organizations, comes as Fed Chair Jerome Powell has come out in support of a faster taper, making a sharp shift from previous suggestions.

Mr Green notes: “I believe at next week’s Fed meeting, the last of the year, we’ll see a considerable shift in policy as the Federal Reserve – the world’s de facto central bank – starts to remove its unprecedented program to help soften the economic blow from the pandemic.

“We could see the Fed hike rates sooner than is currently priced in by markets.”

He continues: “The central bank will give several months’ notice to the markets for a major policy shift. As such, if it is to maximize flexibility to raise rates, they will begin sooner rather than later, even as soon as next week.

“This will likely create some turbulence in the market, to what degree will, of course, depend on the content and tone of these discussions.”

Savvy investors will “embrace the volatility,” says the deVere boss, as it provides buying opportunities ahead of the anticipated end-of-year market rally – “despite the joke-like term, the ‘Santa Claus Rally’ is something history shows can give a big boost to portfolios.”

Mr Green says: “These investors will be taking advantage of lower values to enhance their portfolios for the longer-term growth of their wealth.

“Especially as they are already buying the Omicron-triggered dip in certain sectors that got hit by a sell-off due to an initial knee-jerk reaction to the new variant.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “Investors should not get spooked by the Fed’s probable decision to decide to double the pace of its taper to $30 billion a month at the meeting next week.

“They should remain invested, ensure portfolios are properly diversified, and use the expected temporary bout of turbulence to their financial advantage.”

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Markets Stay Booster’ed

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By Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA

US markets managed to maintain omicron is weak, buy everything rally overnight, albeit at a much less frenzied pace than the day before. That sits nicely with my V for Volatility outlook for December and readers should not be fooled into thinking the risks of whipsaw price have now disappeared. I’ll say it again, volatility will be the winner in December, not directional plays.

Having said that, I am not calling for the end of days for the 21-month stock market rally, merely that we can now expect a lot more two-way volatility going forward. A case in point is the Nasdaq, which has once again bounced off its mighty March 2020 trendline support and will probably be a classical technical analysis case study for years to come. Here’s what CFD from OANDA looks like, the actual physical chart is even sexier, and I’ll leave readers to draw the lines on that one themselves.

Another sign that we may need to wait for next week’s FOMC meeting to climb aboard the taper trade again comes from currency and bond markets. The Australian Dollar, the risk sentiment indicator to rule them all, rallied powerfully overnight. Even the Euro managed to recover, and the US Dollar generally, had a tough day at the office. That came as US 10-year yields rose back above 1.50% to 1.53%.

The divergence in price action is a warning sign for tomorrow nights US CPI. It suggests that the street is positioned for a “risk-off” taper move. With the US 10-year rising around 20 basis points over the last few sessions, reversing recent losses, there may not be much juice in the tank at a 7.0% CPI print. Quid pro quo, US Dollar selling and equity buying hint that a 7.0% CPI is increasingly priced in. We likely need to see a print much higher than 7.0% to revive the taper trade in the near term and it wouldn’t surprise me if an on expectation CPI release sees US yields fall, the US Dollar fall, and equities jump once again. Remember what I said about V for Volatility and whipsaw price action?

Helping things along, although with a gentler market impact, were comments from Pfizer and Moderna suggesting a third shoot would do the job against omicron. Given that the US and Europe can’t even get 65% of their populations to have even two shots, let alone a third, we can assume two things. Omicron will yet have a role to play in surging cases over the winter, and vaccine hoarding by rich countries will continue until 35% of their populations stop taking advice from social media and saying me, me, me, instead of we, we, we. That means that the poor in the rest of the world will be waiting longer, thus allowing a higher chance of more nasty variants to arise. And thus, the cycle continues, sigh…

Today’s data calendar in Asia is thin. New Zealand Manufacturing Sales in Q3 fell a dismal 6.20%, suffering from the Auckland covid lockdown hangover. You can’t buy anything in New Zealand these days anyway, it’s either too expensive thanks to the RBNZ, or there’s none of it left thanks to Covid-19. The New Zealand Dollar continues to underperform its Australian cousin, thanks to being another 2,250 kilometres (1,400 statute miles for non-decimal dinosaurs) east of Australia, and the RBNZ hitting the W for Wimp button at its last policy meeting.

On a brighter note, Japan’s Large Manufacturing Index QoQ for Q4 outperformed, rising by 7.90%. Some Q3 baseline effects are in there, but overall, it bodes well for next week’s Tankan survey and suggests that Japan is recovering after it Q3 delta wave. Services may have a more difficult time as the country shut its borders to Johnny Foreigner again this month.

China’s Inflation data has proved benign as well, giving regional markets a small sigh of relief. YoY Inflation for November rose to 2.30% (2.50% exp), while MoM Inflation rose by 0.40% (0.70% exp), giving markets a nil-all draw. That should provide more relief to local equity markets which despite the bad news pouring in from the property developer space this week, is taking their pleas for debt restructuring as meaning the government will facilitate “something.” At least Kaisa suspended trading of their stock in Hong Kong, I’m surprised Evergrande still is. A debt restructuring is not usually good for stock prices, even if they have already fallen by 90%.

The rest of the day’s calendar globally is second-tier. Some regional inflation measures from Europe and Germany’s Balance of Trade. The focus will be on US Initial Jobless Claim with markets hoping for sub-200k prints to resume. Overnight, US Jolts Job Openings for October jumped to 11 million unfilled jobs. That doesn’t really compute with US Non-Farms falling to 210,000, or even a Household Survey suggesting 1.1 million jobs, or unemployment falling to 4.20% with a 61.80% participation rate.

The Federal Reserve may have shot itself in the foot with its unlimited free money we’ll backstop the dumbest investment decisions monetary stimulus which should have been a short term “shock and awe,” and not a monetary Vietnam. Macroeconomics is a beautiful thing when the orchestra all plays in tune, but too often, sticking your finger in one leak sees another pop up nearby. By enriching substantially, any American who owns a home, crypto, a meme or any other stock, they have created a situation where people don’t have to go back to work or have retired. The inflation trade may waver this week, but don’t put it to bed just yet. If James Bond can return from his most diverse and politically correct movie ever (the end credits said he would), inflation sure can as well.

Asian equities are in a positive mood.

Overnight US equities continued to rally, although the gains were modest compared to the fast-money FOMO stampede of the day before. Comments from pharmaceutical heavyweights that boosters were the answer kept the omicron-is-mild trade alive. The S&P 500 rose 0.31%, with the Nasdaq rising by 0.64% as the growth rebound continued, while the Dow Jones eked out a minuscule 0.09% gain. In Asia, futures on all three indexes have climbed by around 0.10%.

The solid, if an unspectacular day on Wall Street, has bolstered sentiment in Asia, where regional investors are also buying into the China property developer debt-restructuring story. Japan is seeing profit-taking after the rally yesterday with eh Nikkei 225 unchanged. The Kospi is 0.55% higher. In Mainland China, benign inflation, property sector restructuring, and stimulus hopes continue to drive gains. The Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 have rallied 0.90% today and Hong Kong has recovered its poise to rally by 1.10%.

Regionally, Singapore is 0.30% higher, with Kuala Lumpur rising 0.20%, and Taipei by 0.10%. Jakarta is 0.40% higher, with Bangkok adding 0.70%, with Manila unchanged. After some impressive gains this week, Australian markets are taking a breather today, perhaps watching the Ashes cricket. The All Ordinaries and ASX 200 have moved 0.15% higher.

European equities should open higher today after a positive overnight session. I expect gains to be limited though, as Eurozone and UK markets are crimped by the spectre of tighter Covid-19 restrictions, omicron or not.

US Dollar is vulnerable to a deeper downside correction.

The US Dollar continues moving lower overnight, despite longer-dated US yields firming once again, a sign that short-term upward momentum is fading. The dollar index fell by 0.35% to 95.96, climbing modestly in Asia to 96.03. The fall overnight was led by gains in EUR/USD, which rose 0.65% to 1.1330, another warning sign that US Dollar momentum is fading as crowded positions are trimmed into tomorrow’s US CPI release. A 7.0% print is looking priced in now, and the index could trade as low as 95.50 on an on expectation print.

EUR/USD is steady at 1.1330 today and could retest the top of its range at 1.1375 into the US CPI. The single currency is likely to struggle at that level though, as European equities show signs of virus nerves. Sterling sank to 1.3205 overnight after the government reinstated work-from-home guidance. Given the caseloads in major Eurozone countries now, it is hard to see the Euro avoiding the same fate.

USD/JPY rose slightly with US yields to 113.70 overnight and seems to be back to its interest rate differential business-as-usual best. AUD/USD rode sentiment 0.75% higher to 0.7165, and I don’t discount further gains to 0.7250+ into the US CPI data. NZD/USD has risen much more sedately, trading at 0.6810 today, and continues to be weighed down by inflationary pressures and a central bank sitting like a possum in the headlights.

Asian currencies mostly recorded decent gains overnight on recovering sentiment. That has continued this morning with CNH, MYR, SGD, THB, TWD, and INR all rising versus the US Dollar. Only the Indian Rupee has remained unchanged, after the Reserve Bank of India policy meeting yesterday. The RBI quashed any rate hike expectations and reinforced that it remains focused on supporting India’s post-delta recovery.

The price action in US bonds and by the US Dollar suggests that the Fed taper trade has become a little crowded, helped along by omicron fears receding rapidly. It will probably take a print well North of 7.0% to jar nerves into the end of the week and I can see the US Dollar retreat continuing in the week’s end. But the sentiment remains fragile, and I would caution about picking the top of the US Dollar with complacency into the FOMC meeting appearing to be rising.

Oil prices rise once again.

Oil prices rose once again overnight, albeit at a much more modest pace in line with the price action seen in equity markets. Unlike the equity rally, oils recovery is backed by sound supply and demand fundamentals in addition to diminishing omicron concerns. A potential Russia/Ukraine supply crunch is also supportive even if Europe heads back into deeper virus restrictions through the winter.

Brent crude rose by 1.15% to $76.00 overnight, achieving my end of week target early. It has gained another 0.30% to $76.20 a barrel in Asia. WTI leapt 1.30% higher to $72.60 a barrel, gaining another 0.25% to $72.90 in Asia, just short of my target for the week.

Both contracts have recovered above their respective 200-day moving averages (DMAs) at $73.00 and $70.30 respectively, which should provide support on pullbacks. The 100-DMAs at $77.00 and $74.00 form initial resistance, although a weaker US CPI tomorrow could see both contracts rise higher with ease. I continue to believe that the lows of last week will be the lows for possibly all of 2022.

Gold risks remain.

Gold attempted to rise overnight as sentiment continued to attract previously burnt bullish investors back to precious metals. It failed to overcome the clustered 50,100 and 200 DMAs however and ended the session almost unchanged at $1782.80 an ounce. In Asia, it has risen an asthmatic 0.15% to $1785.75 an ounce in moribund trading.

Although I am not ruling out further gains as omicron fears recede and a 7.0% US CPI print is priced into markets, gold’s topside failure overnight is a warning that bullishness is very fragile and that selling will resume at the first sign of trouble. The downside continues to be very clearly, the path of least resistance.

In the bigger picture, gold still looks confined to a $1770.00 to $1800.00 range this week, unable to sustain momentum above or below those levels. The 50,100 and 200-day moving averages (DMAs), clustered between $1790.30 and $1795.50 are capping gains. $1800.00 and $1810.00 will prove equally formidable. Support lies at $1770.00 and $1760.00.

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Markets Today – Cautious Optimism, Oil, Gold, Bitcoin

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

Equity markets are marginally lower after strong sessions on Monday and Tuesday, a sign that investors are remaining cautious despite encouraging data on the new variant.

Volatility is going nowhere over the coming weeks but investors are clearly enthused by what the early data is telling us. That said, with the UK considering “plan B” restrictions, it would appear leaders are not as enthused by what they’re seeing, which frankly makes me wonder whether markets are getting ahead of themselves.

The knee-jerk reaction to the new variant was obviously overdone based on the information we now have but where the markets will end up is anyone’s guess. There’s still plenty more to learn. Of course, investors love to buy those dips so no one would be surprised if we were in the early stages of this year’s Santa rally.

There are so many different risk factors to contend with right now. Just as Covid appeared to take a back seat for much of the last few months, there’s now far less talk of inflation risks and interest rates. Markets are now pricing in little chance of a rate hike next week from the BoE and a faster taper from the Fed also looks less certain.

Is the market going to reward such caution from the central banks or will inflation fears take over again and push real yields lower. That would certainly be great for gold prices in the near term but could make for some nervous times next year. As has been said so often recently, central banks are stuck between a rock and a hard place and life isn’t getting any easier for them.

Oil recovers well but faces major resistance

Oil prices are easing slightly today after an impressive rally since the OPEC+ meeting last week. Brent appears to have run into some resistance around the lower end of $76.50-77.50 which could be a big obstacle to the upside. This was a big area of support in late September and again in late November and a move back above here could set the stage for a push back above $80.

That may be tough in the near term with so much still unknown about the Omicron variant and governments in discussions about appropriate restrictions to slow the rapid spread. But clearly, OPEC+ warnings have not fallen on deaf ears and should the variant not prove too bad, crude prices could remain well supported.

Gold edges off lows but remains vulnerable

Gold is slightly lower on the day as it continues to struggle to generate any upside momentum whatsoever. It recently held onto the mid-October and November lows but continues to face significant resistance to the upside. Omicron uncertainty didn’t help the yellow metal despite its safe-haven reputation, which begs the question, what will drag it higher?

Central banks are unlikely to flood the market with liquidity again if we see severe restrictions or lockdowns as it battles uncomfortably high and widespread inflation. But they may take a more patient approach in order to remain as accommodative as possible, which could still be viewed as an inflation risk and drive more hedge flows in the coming weeks. If not, we could see the ground below become very shaky.

Can bitcoin cling on

Bitcoin has clawed its way back above $50,000 and appeared to be clinging on after sinking back below earlier in the day. The risk rebound we’ve seen in the markets has aided the recovery but it still looks vulnerable after the weekend plunge and any sudden shift in risk appetite could trigger another dip. Should it hold above $50,000 then the next test remains around $53,500, with a move above leaving it on a much stronger footing and perhaps signaling the end of the correction.

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