News in brief: global demand, Lloyds Bank, finance, Africa, energy

News in brief
News in brief

Poor global demand prompts negative outlook for UK firms

Businesses are less confident about prospects for the next six months, with UK and global demand seen as the biggest threats to their fortunes in 2016, according to the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank.

The report gathered the views of 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium-sized businesses, and tracked the overall balance of opinion on a range of important performance and confidence measures, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.

The report’s confidence index – an average of respondents’ expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months – has declined to 38%, down from 43% in July and January 2015. However the index remains close to its recent highs and above its long-term average of 24%.

New funding announced for project to develop African energy sector

The African Development Bank Group has approved $138m (£94.3m) of loans and grants toward a project which will help develop the energy sector in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda through the construction of the Ruzizi III Hydropower Plant and associated transmission line.

The project is expected to increase electricity trading between the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC) through the supply of reliable and sustainable clean energy.

Upon project completion, Burundi's current total capacity is expected to double, while Rwanda's is expected to increase by half. DRC's share is further expected to raise supply in the Eastern region currently not connected to the national grid network.

AfDB Energy environment and climate change department director Alex Rugamba said: “Sustainable regional infrastructure is a necessity element for strong regional integration and key to successfully tackling today's most challenging climate change-related problems. The Ruzizi III Hydropower Plant Project is central to AfDB's strategic vision for the development of the African energy sector through the promotion of universal access to low-carbon and inclusive modern energy.”