South Africa: Pricing Probe Launched as Sasol Turns Itself in

Published on 20th January 2009
Business Day has reported that PETROCHEMICALS giant Sasol has taken the unusual step of reporting itself to the Competition Commission, sparking an investigation into price fixing and anticompetitive behaviour among almost all of SA' s petrochemicals companies and four gas companies. Sasol, which was fined € 318m by the European Commission last year for its role in a paraffin wax price-fixing cartel, said yesterday it was complying fully with the investigation. The group had contacted the competition authorities after an internal review revealed possible violations of competition law by its Sasol Oil, Sasol Gas and Sasol Nitro divisions. The commission said members of the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) and the Southern African Bitumen and Tar Association were being investigated in relation to products in the petroleum value chain.

Kenyan Tourism Industry Picking Up Again

As the eagerly awaited recovery in tourism after the election violence in Kenya takes off, bad news has come in the form of corruption allegations. Before tourism minister Najib Balala left for the United States earlier this month to market his country to wary U.S. visitors, he had to act against alleged corruption within the Kenya Tourism Board. Its long-serving managing director, Ongong'a Achieng, has been sent on forced leave and replaced with Maryanne Ndegwa, an investment manager. The objective of the ministerial action, his office tells IPS, is to "recover 35 million shillings (some 500,000 dollars) lost from the coffers of the board".

Nigeria: Central Bank's Empty Threat

The naira sputtered on last week, sending shivers down the spines of just about everyone in the economy who knows the relationship between the exchange rate of the Nigerian currency and the fate of a one-handed economy that the rulers of Nigeria have opted to run. By last Thursday the Nigerian currency had hit an all-time low of N150 to the dollar in the official market. The parallel market exchange rate hovered around N160 to the dollar before a seeming panic on the part of bureaux de change (BDC) operators pushed it back to N159. In the last six weeks, the Nigerian currency has lost about N34 to the dollar in the official market while it tumbled in the parallel market by a record N42. Right now there is an attractive margin of N10 to the dollar between the official exchange rate and the parallel market. It is now clear that we are back to the days of thriving forex round-tripping by banks.

Continent's Eyes Turn to Washington

Africa's eyes were on Washington DC on Tuesday as Barack Hussein Obama, a son of Kenya, prepared to become the 44th President of the United States. At the Obama family home in Kogelo, western Kenya, two bulls were slaughtered for the celebrations, reports the Daily Nation, and Kenyans in major cities will watch the ceremony on giant screens.

Sex Smell Lures 'Vampire' to Doom

A synthetic "chemical sex smell" could help rid North America's Great Lakes of a devastating pest, scientists say.  According to the BBC, US researchers deployed a laboratory version of a male sea lamprey pheromone to trick ovulating females into swimming upstream into traps. The sea lamprey, sometimes dubbed the "vampire fish", has parasitised native species of the Great Lakes since its accidental introduction in the 1800s.  The work is reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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