Providing funds is a risk – albeit calculated – at the best of times. It is unlikely that any institutions foresaw a world in lockdown, with an already stuttering economy facing an increasingly uncertain future, Fitch's GDP forecast of minus 5.5% for South Africa is a concern for all, not least the financial institutions.
Sustainable lending (also known as green finance) is a financial product which has gained traction internationally over the past few years as a response by market participants to the convergence of for-profit capitalism and non-profit charitable endeavours. Recent developments have shown that investors now actively seek performance with greater social impact and need not sacrifice returns for increased social value. Furthermore, studies have shown that companies that focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and policies are able to increase their profitability (and are hence better able to repay their debt).
In the past, townships have not been considered as business sectors and are often overlooked when calculating the overall wealth in the country. However, this sector has slowly been developing and providing work to the unemployed. Township businesses are mostly informal and unregulated, but this does not detract from the fact that most are actually thriving. The growth that these informal businesses could experience through development could be phenomenal. There are many initiatives in place to aid this development, however, the informal sector is large and, therefore, these initiatives cannot aid all businesses at an accelerated speed.
The collapse of the global financial markets, and the threat of a major global economic recession, have radically altered the backdrop of Africa's economic woes, which were looming even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is wildlife crime?
Although there is no universal definition of wildlife crime, it is considered to be a subset of environmental crime, encompassing any criminal violation of a national or international law designed to protect wildlife. Therefore, wildlife crime can refer to a range of acts, such as poaching, illicit processing, transportation, import, export, sale, purchase, or possession of wild fauna or flora in contravention of national or international regulations. Wildlife crime activities can involve illegal products, illegal acts conducted in protected areas and/or illegal practices that have a significant impact on the environment.
Counterfeiting is a huge problem in Africa, affecting people and players across the board – IP owners, consumers, law enforcement authorities and governments. In many African countries there are now reasonably effective anti-counterfeiting initiatives in place, and in some countries there is even specific anti-counterfeiting legislation. Yet counterfeiting continues unabated. So are there any lessons to be learnt from Europe, where there is significant multinational co-operation?
South Africa's mining industry has always been a cornerstone of the economy, and it has, particularly in recent years, been a key contributor to transformation, growth and development. As with all other stakeholders, mining companies have been affected by COVID-19 outbreaks. The implementation of the national lockdown has resulted in limited commercial activity, and mining projects either slowing down or being put on hold indefinitely. Publically available information suggests that mining activity slowed down by 21,5% during the period 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2020. Views have been expressed that this is the biggest drop in six years, with manganese, iron ore and chromium being the biggest contributors to this decline.
On 12 December 2019, in the matter between Houtbosplaas (Pty) Ltd, TBS Alpha Beleggings (Pty) Ltd (the Applicants) and Nedbank Limited (the Respondent), the Pretoria High Court raised contentious issues for determination, which directly impact how accountable institutions (AI's) in South Africa, (a) verify their customers' information as required by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (38 of 2001) (the FICA), and (b) restrict or freeze their customers' accounts.
As South Africans and consumers, we have many criticisms about the running of this country, but our banking system should certainly not be one of them. Among other measures, according to the Banking Association of South Africa's latest Transformation in Banking report, almost 80% of South Africans now have a bank account, up from just over 50% in the late 1990s.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting health controls imposed by the United Kingdom (UK) government are causing substantial loss to businesses in the UK, particularly to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Those dependent on these businesses for their livelihoods are experiencing immense financial strain.
The crypto asset economy has shown sporadic growth in South Africa. Currently there is no regulatory framework which regulates the use of crypto assets within South Africa and, accordingly, no protection or recourse available to investors in crypto assets and/or users of crypto assets.
Over 11 years since the creation of Bitcoin – the world's largest crypto currency by market capitalization – and many countries have implemented a policy position and/or enacted legislation on crypto assets. The main aim of these policies has been to clarify the rights of individuals and businesses transacting in crypto assets, and to limit the associated risk.
At the end of May, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his role as the African Union chair, hosted a virtual meeting of African heads of states and declared: "The challenge of this pandemic has shown how Africa is able to work together to solve its own problems. Day by day, across our continent, we are seeing the unity that is our strength being put to the service of saving lives and supporting the vulnerable."