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Market Commentary | The week that was

President Ramaphosa backs BRICS expansion and Non-Alignment Policy: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed support for the BRICS group expansion during a national address ahead of the 15th BRICS summit. He revealed that over 20 countries have applied to join BRICS, with more expressing interest. Ramaphosa stressed that an expanded BRICS would unite diverse nations with shared aspirations for a balanced global order. He reiterated South Africa's policy of non-alignment, aiming to build strategic partnerships instead. The president emphasized the importance of working with all countries for global peace and development.

SA farms and businesses embrace solar power, reducing reliance on Eskom: Businesses and households are decreasing their reliance on Eskom for electricity by adopting solar PV and battery storage systems. The agricultural sector is embracing solar solutions to ensure power independence. The Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) and Son SA, founded by Theo de Jager, address the electricity crisis by facilitating solar adoption and providing financial support. Many farms and businesses have successfully gone off-grid, driven by frustration with Eskom's unreliability. Analysts suggest Eskom is facing a slow decline, like other failing state entities. Energy experts emphasize the need for individuals and businesses to take charge of their energy future due to the government's inability to provide timely solutions to the electricity crisis.

BRICS Development Bank's debut First Rand Bonds: The New Development Bank (NDB), established by BRICS countries, has completed its first auction of South African rand bonds to increase local currency fundraising and lending. The auction included an R1 billion ($52.3 million) five-year note and an R500 million three-year note, attracting a total of R2.67 billion in bids. South Africa's finance minister expressed concern over NDB's insufficient local currency lending. The bonds are priced at floating rates of 95 and 105 basis points above the Johannesburg Interbank Average Rate (Jibar) for three- and five-year bonds, respectively. The NDB aims to expand local currency lending to 30% by 2026.

Markets: The South African rand exhibited strength on Friday in anticipation of forthcoming monthly inflation figures and the upcoming BRICS summit of emerging economies in Johannesburg this week. Despite the recent uptick, the rand has experienced a decline of approximately 6% during the current month. On Monday, 21 August, the rand's exchange rates were R18.98/USD, R20.66/EUR, and R24.18/GBP. Concurrently, the price of oil stands at $85.34 per barrel.

Looking ahead: Notable events include the BRICS Summit starting on Tuesday, bringing together over 40 heads of state in Johannesburg. The spotlight will be on South Africa's economic indicators when the release of the SARB Leading Indicator takes place on Tuesday and the Headline Consumer Inflation Rate on Wednesday. Market focus shifts to Friday's highly anticipated Jackson Hole Speech by Jerome Powell, expected to provide insights into monetary policies and economic outlook.

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