tralac Daily News

Country focus

Business, civil society weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine funding (Eyewitness News)

The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout. The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout.

TBS now to inspect vehicles upon arrival at Dar es Salaam Port (The Citizen)

Imported vehicles will from March 1 this year be inspected at Dar es Salaam port upon arrival in the country, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) has said. In that regard, the $150 (Sh346,366) inspection fee that was paid in the country of export on imported vehicles will now be paid in Tanzania. TBS head of communications Roida Andusamile told The Citizen that importers and exporters of vehicles have been informed that all vehicle imports will be inspected upon arrival in the country.

Economy can not afford a second COVID-19 lockdown – !Gawaxab (Namibia Economist)

The economy can ill afford a second COVID-19 lockdown, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) governor, Johannes !Gawaxab echoed on Wednesday. !Gawaxab during a donation of COVID-19 equipment worth N$3 million to the Ministry of Health and Social Services reiterated that any lockdown even one as contained as a partial lockdown, could have a severe, long-lasting impacts on the economy. “The damage caused could take years to undo. For this reason, it is sensible to prevent a further deterioration in the COVID-19 matrix in Namibia by focusing on prevention and containment,” he said.

Rwanda & DRC Prepare To Enforce Continental Free Trade Area (Taarifa Rwanda)

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are preparing to begin implementing all protocols that will see the two countries working through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry flew to DRC’s Capital Kinshasa where she met with President Félix Tshisekedi for discussions relating to entry into the AfCFTA and the joint economic development projects of the two countries and commercial relations which still need to develop further.

Kenya to continue pursuing trade deal with US (Nation)

Kenya will keep pursuing free trade deal with the United States during Joe Biden’s era, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday. Mr Kenyatta said the Kenya-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will build on the successes achieved under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) by ushering in better and bigger trade opportunities and prospects for Kenya. “We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” the President said. On Monday, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty announced that the third round of negotiations for the FTA are set to resume in the coming days.


Mozambican Chamber motivates for local participation (Engineering News)

With the current liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects under way in Mozambique, Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber executive chairperson Florival Mucave notes that government needs to ensure that there are rules and regulations in place to encourage local participation. Mozambique has a unique opportunity to drive its economic growth through the development of its natural resources. However, this will be successful only if it is beneficial to the local economy, in terms of facilitating goods and services, and job creation, he says.

Angola, India review cooperation in industry sector and trade (ANGOP)

Angolan minister of Commerce and Industry Victor Fernandes and the Indian ambassador to Angola, Pratibha Parkar, discussed on Tuesday in Luanda the partnership agreements between the two countries in the trade and industrial areas. The two officials reviewed the protocols signed in the fields of diamonds, oil, agriculture, information technology, health, food industry and food security. The minister explained that Angola has improved its business environment, especially in the sectors of manufacturing and food, in health and technology. In turn, India’s ambassador, Pratibha Parkar, voiced satisfaction at  relationship between the two countries in the sectors of industry and trade.

AfCFTA: NCS Lists Conditions for Implementation (PR Nigeria)

Sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation. Instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the NCS as policy implementor understands the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in this agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.

We wish to re-confirm our willingness and readiness to play our role as trade facilitators in this regard. However, we also wish to remind the public that our functions are highly automated and primarily systems driven. Hence the need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into our system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.

AfCFTA: Consider stimulus package for local businesses – GNCCI to govt (Ghanaweb)

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), has tasked government to consider the provision of a stimulus package for local businesses involved in the AfCFTA. The Chamber’s president, Clement Osei-Amoako, made the call in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM. He stressed that the takeoff of the AfCFTA meant that local business automatically had continent-wide competition. Mr. Osei-Amoako said that the proposed package will also boost the business environment and in effect engender critical private sector competitiveness.

Congestion stalls operations at Nigeria’s busiest ports (Africanews)

Hundreds of heavy duty trucks have remained stuck on roads in Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos, as they wait to get access into the Tin Can Island port. The congestion, which is almost crippling operations at the Lagos TinCan port, has compelled some shipping lines to divert Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighboring ports in Cotonou and Cote d’Ivoire according to Nigerian Ports Consultative Council. A long-running crisis at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports Lagos, the main commercial entry points into Africa’s largest economy Nigeria, has been worsened by the pandemic-induced economic slump.

Nigeria not ready for AfCFTA, says APFFLON boss (Vanguard)

Divergent reactions have continued to trail Nigeria’s move to boost its international trade with the flag-off of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON) thinks that the development, though an historic milestone, is coming at a time the country is in a state of uncertain and unfavourable industrialisation and manufacturing activities. The President of APFFLON, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite insisted that Nigeria was not ready for AfCFTA, noting that with the prevailing micro and macroeconomic variables in the polity, AfCFTA was doomed to fail and the nation set to be the biggest loser.

Nigeria imports N2.59tn goods from Asia in three months (The Punch)

Goods traded by Nigeria with other West African countries have been ranked as the least among the country’s global trade partners. Figures obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics’ foreign trade statistics for the third quarter of 2020 revealed that trade with Asian countries topped the list of Nigerian trade partners. During the quarter, Nigeria imported goods mainly from Asia, valued at N2.59tn, while goods valued at only N12.5bn originated from ECOWAS.

Ethiopia’s garment manufacturing hopes unravel with Tigray war (Quartz Africa)

For the past two months, violent conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region fueled by ethnic power politics has threatened the country’s stability. The scale of the conflict could scare off foreign investment in the country’s garment industry. This sector is hugely important to Ethiopia, which aimed to propel its agricultural economy toward a more prosperous future built on providing clothing to consumers in the West. While the Ethiopian textile and garment industry is still small – its export share is not more than 10% of total exports, and its products only represent 0.6% of total GDP – the sector was expected to grow by around 40% a year in the next few years.

Tunisia offers opportunities, frustrations (Energy Voice)

Tunisia holds opportunities for investors, but government processes and local unrest have slowed developments. “Oil and gas production is decreasing and fields are getting mature, while energy demand is increasing,” Sackmaier said. OMV produces from eight concessions in Tunisia, of which it operates seven. The company’s production is 10,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day. “Political and social instability” hampers new investments, with “unrealistic expectations” among the citizens of Tunisia. This leads to strikes and blockades, he said.

News from Africa

AfCFTA to aid Africa’s recovery from Covid, but full-scale implementation to be challenging (Engineering News)

AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, speaking at the Virtual 2020 International Forum on African Leadership last month, noted that Africa must further accelerate the development of digital infrastructure. He commented: “We must rethink infrastructure and for a ‘Digital Africa’. As economies recover, the world will become more digital. People, businesses, financial institutions and governments have to rapidly adjust to this new normal.

“The role of technology, especially digital technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things, will further revolutionise financial inclusion, delivering services, climate information, insurance, and health delivery, especially new models of telemedicine for better access and affordable care.”

Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa executive director Trudi Hartzenberg echoed this sentiment, adding that the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa has taken on new significance in the current context, as countries need to factor fibre, satellite and other digital infrastructure into their development plans to bridge the digital divide. Hartzenberg noted that the push towards digitalisation, in light of the pandemic, in terms of adapting the way in which we work, produce and consume must extend to trade facilitation, citing how e-certificates and e-payments, which were popularised during the pandemic through necessity, must inform the way African businesses operate in the future.

Infrastructure key to realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (UNECA)

The 6th PIDA Week opened virtually on Tuesday, 19 January 2021, with key speakers stressing the need for Africa to continue to invest in quality and sustainable infrastructure if the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to deliver for the continent. The AfCFTA’s main objective to boost intra-African trade can only be achieved with adequate quality infrastructure. For her part, Dr. Pandor said; “I accept we need to have global partners, but they must be strategic additions and not enforced collaborations.” She added that good governance was crucial if Africa is to attract private investment in key infrastructure projects.

AU member states adopt digital Covid certificates (The East African)

African Union member states will from this month start using digital Covid-19 certificates as one way of eliminating travel restrictions that were occasioned by outbreak of coronavirus. In the new digital application from Econet Wireless and PanaBios which was certified by AU and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will assist travellers to comply with Covid-19 travel protocols and share vital information to end double testing across the continent. The application will also share information about the latest travel restrictions and entry requirements applicable to the entire stretch of passengers’ journey across Africa.

EAC seeks support to reap more AfCFTA benefits (The East African)

East African Community member countries have engaged the services of the Economic Commission for Africa to come up with a policy that will ensure that the region does not lose out in the African continent free trade area (AfCFTA) which came into force this January 1. The EastAfrican has learnt that the EAC Secretariat with the support of the Commission is designing a regional strategy for the implementation of the pact. “The strategy will complement the broader trade landscape of the EAC and identify opportunities, gaps and steps required to take full advantage of continental and global markets resulting from the AfCFTA induced opportunities,” Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC Affairs Dr Kevit Desai told the East African last week

EAC economies excepted to rebound in 2021 says EABC (Kenya Broadcasting Company)

The East African Community (EAC) economy will rebound in 2021, if EAC Partner States Governments strengthen macro-economic policy coordination and adopt a regional coordinated approach in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 disruptions in 2020 provided a learning curve, on the need to have sustainable EAC regional value chains integration for the development of finished products with a view of reducing industrial and trade risks arising out of external shocks.

Cost of Covid-19 test a hindrance to free movement in EAC (The East African)

The cost of Covid-19 testing is now becoming a hindrance to free movement of people and goods within the East African Community. EAC and the private sector are concerned that the Covid-19 related Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to hinder cross-border trade due to different measures on Covid-19 in the region. Tests are priced differently in each EAC partner state, while containment measures vary. It costs an average of $100 to carry out Covid-19 test for visitors to the six EAC states.

AU working to secure vaccines for Africa (SAnews)

South Africa’s six key priorities of the African Union (AU) have had to take a backseat due to COVID-19, with President Cyril Ramaphosa leading the continent’s response to the pandemic and ensuring collaboration in this important battle. While 2020 has been an unprecedented year, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, believes that the COVID-19 initiatives have led to a unified Africa. Pandor said one of the outcomes of this collaboration was the inception of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), established by President Ramaphosa in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy.

COVID-19 shots to cost between Sh300 and Sh1100 under African Union vaccine plan (The Standard)

African countries will pay between $3 and $10 per vaccine dose to access 270 million COVID-19 shots secured this month by the AU, according to a draft briefing on the plan prepared by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and provided to Reuters. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who serves as AU chair, said last week arrangements had been made with the bank to support member states who want access to vaccines. Countries can pay back the loans in instalments over five to seven years, the document showed.

COMESA Institutions, CBC and TDB, Partner for the Validation of the Regional Digital Integrated Common Payment Policy for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

“The digital payment system platform dividend for COMESA and Africa at large, can be enormous with potential gains in growth of regional trade (sourcing and supply) which is currently below 20%. But turning this vast potential into reality will require the collective efforts of our governments, the private sector, and development partners,” said Mr. Marday Venkatasamy, Chairman of the COMESA Business Council (CBC), in his opening statement at the COMESA Digital Financial Inclusion High Level Public-Private Dialogue.

Candid Dialogue on Africa’s Investment Landscape (Proshare Nigeria)

A high-level discussion on Africa’s outlook hosted by the Africa Investment Roundtable (AiR) on Monday saw speakers covering lessons from 2020, the outlook for 2021 and ways to turn the current crisis into an opportunity. Indeed, last year was unprecedented in the worst sense and unfortunately the crisis appears still to be unfolding. One key message that was reiterated by the three speakers on the panel was that Africa must not waste this crisis.

COVID-19, Institutional Reforms and AUC Elections at the centre of discussion of the 41st Ordinary Session of PRC in prelude to the 34th AU Summit

The 41st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) kicked off on 20 January 2021, in the context of the prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic, ahead of the 34th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) scheduled to take place on 6 and 7 February 2021. “Notwithstanding Covid-19, Africa showed incredible determination by conducting and concluding virtual negotiations on complex and difficult matters of the AfCFTA, leading to the successful Johannesburg Extraordinary Summit on 6 December 2020. It is absolutely important to work to implement all the decisions taken at the Summit,” H.E. Edward Xolisa Makaya, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the PRC, said.

New report offers insights into e-marketplaces in Africa (ITC News)

Recent evidence signals an upsurge in Africa’s use of digital trade, as a reaction to COVID restrictions. Yet consumer traffic on online marketplaces in Africa still has vast untapped potential. One way to tap that potential is to provide reliable information about e-marketplaces for sellers, buyers, companies and policymakers across the continent. A new International Trade Centre (ITC) report aims to help plug this information gap. Business and policy insights: Mapping e-Marketplaces in Africa provides insights, drawn from a new International Trade Centre database about online marketplaces across Africa, called the Africa Marketplace Explorer.

Why mines are increasingly adopting renewable energy (Power Engineering International)

A recent discussion on the Africa Mining Forum Digital Event on investment in power projects by the mining industry, explored why mines were increasingly using renewable energy, following a global trend wherein 76% in the global economy, renewable energy is now the cheapest to generate bulk electricity. The discussion titled ”Reshaping energy capital flows to drive positive investment into mining” explored the appetite of mining companies for alternative sources of energy and looked at the different models that were available, especially at the exploration stage.

Africa’s international trade relations

UK-Africa Investment Summit 2021

One year on from the UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted in January 2020, the UK Department for International Trade organised the Africa Investment Conference on 20 January 2021, bringing together UK and African businesses to discuss emerging and relevant themes around doing business in Africa, and to connect UK companies to opportunities of today and tomorrow across the continent. Despite the current global economic context, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger, and strengthening investment relationships will be central in recovering from the disruption caused by the international COVID-19 pandemic.

Related articles:

African Development Bank, European Investment Bank sign Joint Partnership Action Plan to fast-track development in Africa

Africa is the world’s next business frontier, says AfDB’s Akinwumi Adesina

Africa remains fertile ground for investment: AfDB President tells UK leaders

Renewable energy critical driver of Africa’s post-COVID-19 growth recovery and economic prosperity, Panel says

UK, Africa will continue to build strong trade, investment partnership: UK Minister for Africa

UK investment important in bridging Africa’s housing gap

Britain helps Kenya prepare for roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine

The Next 100 Days: Positioning Africa at the Forefront of the Biden Administration (Africa Oil & Power)

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn into office, ushering in a new administration, new foreign policy and a new approach to U.S. trade and investment in Africa. For its part, the Trump administration had not been short on growing U.S. private sector involvement in Africa, specifically under its trademark initiative, Prosper Africa. With a rapidly growing, increasingly urbanized population – and associated needs for energy and infrastructure development – the African continent should be at the forefront of a U.S. investment agenda, in terms of developing a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship characterized by sustainable energy development and cooperation.

Global economy

Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty: Looking back at 2020 and the outlook for 2021 (World Bank Blog)

As the new year brings some hope for the fight against COVID-19, we are looking back and taking stock of the effect of the pandemic on poverty in 2020. In October 2020, using the June vintage of growth forecasts from the Global Economic Prospects, we estimated that between 88 and 115 million people around the globe would be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020. Using the January 2021 forecasts from GEP, we now expect the COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 to rise to between 119 and 124 million.

Digitalizing the Maritime Sector Set To Boost the Competitiveness and Resilience of Global Trade (World Bank)

A new report, Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain, by the World Bank and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) shows that better digital collaboration between private and public entities across the maritime supply chain will result in significant efficiency gains, safer and more resilient supply chains, and lower emissions. Maritime transport carries over 90% of global merchandise trade, totaling some 11 billion tons of cargo per year. Digitalizing the sector would bring wide-ranging economic benefits and contribute to a stronger, more sustainable recovery.

No consensus at WTO yet on IP waiver on Covid-19 vaccines & drugs (The Times of India)

WTO members took up the “game changing” waiver proposal submitted jointly by India and South Africa at the TRIPS Council, even as opposition from rich countries continued, leading to no consensus. The members on January 19 agreed on continued consideration of the proposal but made clear they remain far from reaching a consensus, sources told TOI. While there was no indication of changes in their well-known positions at the informal meeting of the TRIPS Council held Tuesday, some 30 members engaged in advancing the discussion and extensively exchanged views on this issue after the series of meetings held since the proposal was initially submitted on October 2 last year.

New IFC Initiative Helps Banks in Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Egypt Scale Climate Finance (IFC)

Through a new initiative launched today, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will work with financial institutions in four countries to mobilize private sector financing for climate mitigation and adaptation projects and help align financial-sector strategies with the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. The program, “Scaling Up Climate Finance through the Financial Sector,” is designed to increase climate lending by participating banks in Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa to 30 percent of their portfolios by 2030, while reducing exposure to coal.

Brexit LIVE: Watch out Brussels! UK eyes up historic mega deal with £2TRILLION market (Daily Express)

Now free from the EU’s control, Tory peer Lord Dolar Popat has identified Africa as the next key area for the UK to build trade ties and kickstart Mr Johnson’s post-Brexit plans. Due to the fast-growing population of the continent, the collective GDP of the continent is worth nearly £5trillion. Next year the Africa Free Trade Agreement will come into force and will provide a market worth £2trillion, offering a vital opportunity for the UK to build its trade portfolio, the Tory peer argued. Amid these incredible opportunities for the Prime Minister’s post-Brexit plans, Lord Popat insisted: “It is not too late to harness Africa’s abundant opportunities.” Writing for Politics Home, he added: “I urge policymakers to consider a free trade agreement with the continent.

Anger builds among manufacturers as EU customers cancel orders due to Brexit red tape (The Independent)

EU customers are cancelling orders from the UK because of a mass of red tape, UK manufacturers have said, as anger builds over a lack of government Brexit support and antiquated customs systems. While problems have been most acute for perishable goods like meat and seafood, manufacturers are now also reporting cancelled orders and some haulage firms are refusing to move goods. Close to 30 per cent of small British firms have stopped shipping goods to the EU amid widespread confusion about customs forms and extra costs, according to accountants UHY Hacker Young.

tralac Daily News

Country focus

Supply Chains Latest: Covid Curbs Shut Busy African Border (Bloomberg)

South Africa’s decision to shut its land borders to most travel to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has blocked hundreds of thousands of foreigners trying to return to work after the December holidays. Beitbridge, the only legal road crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa – and southern Africa’s busiest inland border post – was worst affected. Even before the Jan. 11 announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that 20 of South Africa’s land border posts would be closed to almost all travelers except those hauling freight, people waited for as long as four days in lines of traffic that stretched miles from the gate.

“There is significant movement of persons,” said Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Tralac Trade Law Center in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Labor market developments across the region show “we really are so closely connected to Zimbabwe specifically, but then to Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and so on, so it really is a regional effect.”

DHL Global Forwarding invests 126.5 million rand in new facility in South Africa (EIN News)

Clement Blanc, Managing Director, DHL Global Forwarding, South Africa said, “While it’s too early to fully grasp the economic impact of the current pandemic, our confidence in investing ahead of the curve is abetted by our diverse service portfolio and long-established foothold in Africa. As the world’s largest free trade area moves toward economic integration, our five-year strategy to sharpen our core business offerings and accelerate digitalization will further our growth in the region and specifically, in South Africa.”

Wheat, sugar and salt lead import for January (Vanguard)

There are indications that the confectionary industry will experience a boom in the first quarter of 2021 as wheat, the major condiment for bread and other confectionaries, is leading the import chart with a total of 178,358 metric tonnes. Wheat is followed by sugar, another major condiment used by confectioners, with 49,000 mts, while salt took a third position on the chart. According to the shipping position, a statistical document of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, for the month of January 2021, most of the wheat imports are due in the country before the end of the month while some of them have already arrived and are awaiting clearing and evacuation.

UNCTAD lists Nigeria among ship-owning countries (Vanguard)

The United Nations Conferences on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has recognized Nigeria in the class of ship-owning countries. Disclosing the development in an interview, Ms Olufunmilayo Folorunso, Secretary General of African Shipowners Association, said that UNCTAD, which is dedicated to trade and development, captured the information in its annual report for 2020, confirming Nigeria as the only African country in the class, besides Liberia, which is not flagged Africa. Her words: “UNCTAD does global pictures and they produce an annual report. In the annual report for 2020, excerpts of which we got in November 2020, and went through it thoroughly, the highlight for me was the fact that Nigeria is part of the Top 35 ship-owing countries.”

Nigeria requests 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from African Union (Reuters)

Nigeria has written to the African Union to request 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to supplement the COVAX programme and has allocated $26 million for licensed vaccine production, the health minister said on Monday. Nigeria, like other countries across Africa, is grappling with a second wave of the novel coronavirus. The African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers for member states, its chair South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week.

Nigeria’s China-built railway has to avoid debt pitfalls (Quartz Africa)

The 156-kilometer Lagos-Ibadan railway costs $1.5 billion and runs from Lagos to Ibadan, the second largest city in the country’s southwest, and, subsequently, with additional funding, on to the northern cities of Nigeria. It is funded by a $1.3 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and about $182 million from the Nigerian government. The Lagos-Ibadan line is a critical section of the broader $11.1 billion 2,733 kilometer Lagos-Kano standard-gauge north-south railway being constructed by Chinese engineering giant the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) consider port hauling service, not intercity travelers, to be sufficient for the service to be profitable and to generate enough funds to pay off the loan from China.

Nigeria issues fresh conditions toward smooth implementation of AfCFTA (Nigerian Tribune)

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Tuesday, issued conditions for the smooth implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. In a statement signed by the Service Spokesman, DC Joseph Attah, the Service reminded all parties of their roles and responsibilities towards the agreement. According to the statement, “Sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation.”

Border closure failed to achieve objectives – Prof Asiwaju (2) (Vanguard)

Government has, in the course of the border closure lost so much in image, especially in the weighing scale of human rights abuses and havoc wreaked on such regular socio-economic operations as peasant agriculture, petty trading, carpentry, iron welding, barbing and hairdressing salons, tailoring and fashion shops, hospitalities and road transportation, to mention just the leading examples of small-scale economic operations that suffered untold losses as a result of the ill-advised 15-month unilateral border closure.

Finance Ministry warned govt of huge losses due to Internet shutdown (Daily Monitor)

Government, on January 13, shutdown the Internet on the eve of the presidential and parliamentary election, citing fears that unnamed individuals had planned to mobilise protests in the event that the elections are not declared in their favour. In a January 18 letter, Finance Ministry permanent secretary and secretary to Treasury Patrick Ochailap, warned Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda of massive cross-cutting losses, which included defaulting on debt repayments and other international obligations, drawing attention to “the crippling effects of Internet lockdown on Treasury operations, financial sector and business sector”.

Kenya now eyes Sh69bn debt service suspension (Business Daily)

Kenya has widened its debt service relief request to all its bilateral lenders, hoping to save Sh69 billion, the National Treasury has said. The move comes days after a decision by the Paris Club of international decision to give Kenya a Sh32.9 billion loan repayment break to help ease the financial distresses linked to Covid-19. The Treasury said Nairobi had expanded the bid for reprieve from servicing its looming debt payment obligations under the landmark debt relief initiative – known as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) – that came from the G20 grouping of the world’s largest economies – spurred on by the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) and World Bank – last April. The G20 nations agreed to freeze bilateral government loan repayments for 76 low-income countries until the end of the year and called on private sector creditors to participate on a voluntary basis.

News from Africa

Africa’s Development Dynamics report shows digitalisation of economic sectors will kick-start a new growth cycle after COVID-19 (OECD)

The response to the COVID-19 crisis builds momentum for Africa’s digital transformation to overcome the pandemic and create more productive jobs, according to the 2021 edition of Africa’s Development Dynamics (AfDD) launched today. The COVID‑19 pandemic is the hardest shock to African economies in 25 years. Gross domestic product (GDP) has decreased in 41 countries in 2020, compared to 11 countries in 2009 when the Global Financial Crisis hit. Yet Africa’s governments are facing today’s crisis with lower financial resources than they did then: over 2010‑18, domestic revenues per capita decreased by 18%, and external financial flows per capita by 5%; total national savings could drop by 18%, remittances by 25% and foreign direct investment by 40%. In that context, Africa’s booming digital sector offers an opportunity for governments to help kick-start a new growth cycle in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the report. By encouraging the spreading of digital technologies, data and interconnection to all sectors, starting with healthcare, African countries can accelerate economic transformation and the creation of productive jobs, in line with the Aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063.

6th PIDA Week positions infrastructure at the heart of Africa’s economic recovery (African newspage)

The 6th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, a weeklong event aimed at engaging and exchanging information on progress in the implementation of the PIDA programme, has commenced virtually on Monday.

The event which is being hosted by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the AU’s development agency, is holding January 18 -21 under the theme: “New decade, new realities, new priorities – positioning PIDA and infrastructure development in Africa’s continued growth and economic recovery.” PIDA is the AU’s strategic framework for regional and continental infrastructure development, guiding its infrastructure development agenda, policies, and investment priorities; it provides a framework for engagement with Africa’s development partners on the provision of regional and continental infrastructure as well as facilitating the physical, economic and social integration of the continent in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The African Statistical Yearbook 2020 (AfDB)

The Yearbook series is a result of joint efforts by major African regional organizations to set up a joint data collection mechanism of socioeconomic data on African countries as well as the development of a common harmonized database. The Joint African Statistical Yearbook is meant to break with the practices of the past where each regional/subregional organization was publishing statistical data on African countries of the continent in an inefficient way, leading to duplication of efforts, inefficient use of scarce resources, increased burden on countries and sending different signals to users involved in tracking development efforts on the continent.

EXPLAINER | What to know about the African free trade area – and when you can start exporting (Fin24)

The free trade agreement came into effect on 1 January. But that was more of a symbolic launch. A number of processes must be concluded before meaningful trade can take place. [Subscription service]

Market integration is a process, says AfCFTA secretariat amid challenges (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, has dismissed talks that the AfCFTA arrangement was being rushed, saying there is no trade agreement where all members were ready at the same time. Indeed, there have been concerns about countries’ readiness for the trade deal; many are yet to address issues bordering strategies and customs procedures. According to the Organised Private Sector, the AfCFTA serves as an avenue for local industries in Nigeria to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with other African countries, even though it also poses new competitiveness risk for many firms especially for those in the real sector.

Understanding AfCFTA and Nigeria-Niger rail project (Pulse Nigeria)

AfCFTA’s potential, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022. With this, economists posit that AfCFTA will consolidate Africa into one trade area to provide great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers across the continent to support sustainable development in the world’s least developed region. To achieve part of the aims of the initiative, the federal government embarks on a rail line project between Nigeria and Republic of Niger as a way of improving trade relations and boosting economic activities between the two countries.

Increased trade – exactly what Africa needs post-Covid-19 (News24)

The AfCFTA is not as yet fully operational: January 1 this year marked a landmark date in the process of full adoption and implementation, but we are not yet over the finish line. On the AfCFTA – and increased African trade – Emeritus Professor Jaime de Melo and economist Anna Twum have identified “low-cost inputs trade, simple rules-of-origin, and digital connectivity” as key to “regional trade integration and global value chain participation.” Regarding barriers that could inhibit supply chain participation – and by extension, trade – they point to: 1. High tariffs on intermediate inputs; 2. Complicated rules-of-origin; and 3. Expensive and unreliable digital connectivity.

AfCFTA: Ecobank Pledges to Facilitate Payments for Customers (THISDAY)

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, has said that the pan-African banking group is positioned to facilitate payments across Africa as the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) commences. Ayeyemi, who was quoted in a statement to have made this assertion during an interview recently, pointed out that Ecobank has been able to effect international payment across the 33 countries where it operates on the continent through its Rapid Transfer platform.

Access Bank Targets Eight More African Countries in Expansion Drive (THISDAY)

Access Bank Plc has unfolded plans to expand to eight more African countries as part of a strategy to support trade and finance in the continent and take advantage of the newly formed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The countries are Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Angola, Namibia and Ethiopia. Presently, the tier-one bank operates in 12 countries. According to Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, across Africa, there is an opportunity for the bank to expand to high-potential markets, leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA. He stated that the plan is for the bank to establish its presence in 22 African countries so as to diversify its earnings and take advantage of growth opportunities in Africa. Africa has enormous potential and there are opportunities for an African bank that is well run, that understands compliance and has the capacity to support trade and the right technology infrastructure to support payments and remittances, without taking incremental risks.

Kenya Led Other African Countries in Startup Investment in 2020 (Techweez)

Kenya is known for its vibrant startup hubs and reports show that investors are very interested in ideas in this country. According to a preliminary overview report about startup investments in Africa by Startup list Africa, Kenya is the leading destination for startup investments in Africa in 2020. Kenya received over 25% of total funding in Africa which is a significant cut of the pie. The top industry that received the funding was renewable energy which is an industry that has seen tremendous interest in. According to their report. Kenya led the way with $266 million (Kshs 29.3 billion) in investments ahead of Nigeria ($237 million), South Africa ($198 million), Egypt ($125 million) and Ghana ($90 million). The top industries that got funding in Kenya are in renewable energy, Agritech and logistics.

COMESA Secretariat Signs Sub-Delegation Agreement with Malawi to Upgrade Mchinji Border Post (COMESA)

The COMESA Secretariat and the Government of the Republic of Malawi have signed a 3.54 million Euros agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities under the broader Trade Facilitation programme with COMESA at Mchinji border post between Zambia and Malawi on the Malawian side. The project will support the implementation of key pillars of One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operations. Some of the major activities to be implemented under this agreement include upgrading the customs e-management system and bandwidth; improving inter-agency connectivity; implementation of the Trade and Transport Corridor Management System; capacity building, training and sensitization of National Trade Facilitation Committee and Border Agencies among others.

High demand for vaccines puts Africa on the back burner (The East African)

As the AU announced this past week that it had secured 270 million doses of Covid vaccines, East Africans will have to wait a bit longer to access the required quantities. While the announcement provides relief as countries may soon access the much-needed vaccines for frontline workers, the elderly and people with chronic ailments, the available doses are not enough to contain the pandemic as scientists recommend at least 60 per cent vaccination of the population. And even though it is the largest such agreement yet for the continent, it will not be until April that the first shipment of 50 million doses arrives and is then distributed through June, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (AfricaCDC) John Nkengasong said on Thursday.

An additional 19 million Euros is expected into the ECOWAS Fund (Vanguard)

Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Finda Koroma has said that an additional 19 million Euros is expected into the ECOWAS Stabilization Fund. The Fund expected this year will be provided by the German government which would cover post Ebola countries like Guinea and Liberia. The fund will consist of several components. It will have four components as a private sector promotion and employment window, consisting of short term employment like labor, construction projects, maintenance of basic economic and social infrastructure as well as Medium term employment creation through investment in value chain especially in agriculture.’

Mauritius, Morocco Join AfDB Index (THISDAY)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced the addition of two new countries – Mauritius and Morocco – to its Bloomberg African Bond Indices (ABABI), marking a steady progress in the Bank’s efforts to deepen the continent’s local currency bond market. The African Development Bank administers the ABABI, a family of African bond indices launched in February 2015 and calculated by the independent, global index provider Bloomberg. “This is a positive development as the inclusion of Mauritius and Morocco, two of Africa’s better-rated issuers, will improve the overall credit quality of the ABABI, which now captures close to 90 per cent of the outstanding amount of African sovereign local currency bonds,” Director of the Bank’s Financial Sector Development Department, Stefan Nalletamby said.

Africa’s Evolving Cyber Threats (Africa Center for Strategic Studies)

African governments face a fast-evolving array of digital threats from espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, organized crime, and combat innovation. African governments and security sector actors have only just begun to identify and respond to the ways in which digital technology is transforming African security. Cyberspace has amplified the nature of four major types of security activity in particular: espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, organized crime, and the contours of the African battlefield.

International trading partners

Maiden Africa Investment Roundtable Discusses Using Technology to Drive Regional Development (Proshare Nigeria)

The Africa Investment Roundtable (AIR) held its maiden edition in which it addressed the issue of the application of technology in driving growth in Africa. The session focused on a few issues ranging from lessons of the COVID-19 and sundry challenges in 2020 to the continental economic outlook in 2021 and how African policymakers can turn crisis into opportunities. Co-Founder of the AIR Initiative, Ms. Arunma Oteh, said that the Africa Investment Roundtable was conceived as a thought leadership series to bring expert-opinion to bear on the ways of taking advantage of investment opportunities in Africa.

UK to host 2021 UK-Africa Investment Conference (Foreign Brief)

The UK Department for International Trade is set to virtually host the 2021 UK-Africa Investment Conference today. The event links British and African businesses in hopes of creating future investment opportunities in sustainable infrastructure, agriculture and green technology. Last year’s showing announced over $8 billion worth of trade and investment deals. This year’s meeting follows December’s breakthrough deal between the UK and EU.

The UK has drawn up trade deals with 13 African nations post-Brexit, but the new bilateral agreements differ little from previous EU-Africa deals. However, negotiating comprehensive regional deals may prove more complex. For example, Kenya’s efforts towards an independent agreement with the UK have been criticised for its potential to compromise the East Africa Community (EAC) trading bloc’s ability to forge a collective bargain. Kenya will likely continue to push for an immediate replacement to the pre-Brexit deal for fear of losing access to the UK market, Nairobi’s fifth-largest trading partner. The rest of the EAC stands to lose bargaining power as a bloc without the inclusion of one of its most powerful members. If Kenya decides to rush ahead without the EAC, already strained relationships may drastically flatten the trajectory of African economic development.

We must seize the opportunity to pursue a post-Brexit trade deal with Africa (

A year on from the first UK-Africa Investment Summit (AIS), progress has been made to improve our links with the great continent of Africa. We have only just started. On the anniversary of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, we look back on this historic event which brought together heads of state, politicians and business leaders from the UK and Africa. In the year since the summit, progress has been made. Post-Covid and post-Brexit, it is key for the UK to promote exports and investment to this magnificent region. Why, then, was our total trade with the continent just $27bn in 2019 (2.4% of the UK’s total trade). Germany and France export double the value of goods that Britain does to Africa. In stark contrast, over half of the UK’s exports are sent to European countries.

The UK has deregulated citrus imports, including from South Africa (Engineering News)

With the UK’s departure from the European Union’s (EU’s) single market and customs union at the start of this year, London has deregulated, among other commodities, citrus fruit and leaf imports. The UK is a major market for South Africa’s citrus sector, reportedly taking 9.5% of the country’s citrus exports in 2019. “Leaving the EU single market and customs union means we can tailor regulation and import controls specifically to the needs of Great Britain rather than the EU,” a spokesperson for the UK High Commission in South Africa told Engineering News in an exclusive interview. “However, imports of citrus fruit and leaves into Northern Ireland will currently continue to be subject to the EU’s plant health import requirements.”

UK Export Finance unlocks trade to Egypt and supports UK jobs with £1.7bn guarantee (GOV.UK)

A consortium led by Bombardier Transportation has confirmed a deal with the Egyptian Government to build two new monorails thanks to £1.7 billion backing from UK Export Finance (UKEF), the largest amount of financing it has ever provided for an overseas infrastructure project. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Trade is an incredibly powerful way to propel growth and create jobs as we recover from the pandemic. This deal shows why we are so determined to get businesses to grasp these opportunities and take advantage of the support available from Government. One third of our economy is exports. That’s why support from our export credit agency is vital. It can help the UK get a bigger slice of the global economic pie, secure jobs across the country and make the most of our newfound independence as a trading nation.”

SACU’s economic partnership agreement with UK officially commences (Namibia Economist)

The Economic Partnership Agreement between the SACU Member States (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) and Mozambique on the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the other part (SACUM-UK EPA), entered into force on 1 January 2021. The agreement came into force following the end of the UK’s transition period and the deposit of the instruments of ratification by all the Parties to the SACUM-UK EPA.

US-Africa policy can be reset under Biden (The Mail & Guardian)

Since American agricultural commodities’ demand for slave labour brought the United States and Africa together four centuries ago, the US-Africa relationship has been mainly defined by economics and the shifting strategic value of the continent to America. As President Joe Biden takes office, it is time to consider how to elevate US-Africa relations through policies that can bring more prosperity to ordinary Africans and Americans.

What can Africa expect from the Biden administration? (The Africa Report)

Tomorrow, the whole world’s eyes will be on the inauguration of Joe Biden. Stepping into a moment of unprecedented domestic crisis, he will probably have relatively little bandwidth for Africa. While the incoming Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs hasn’t been confirmed yet, many State Department appointments have been filled by veterans from the Obama era. Repairing alliances and boosting multilateralism seem to be on the agenda. What will be fascinating is how this will play out on the ground in Africa. One of the first casualties of the Biden reforms could be the Trump administration’s free trade agreement with Kenya. Nairobi is reportedly concerned that the nascent deal could be dead in the water, with the Biden administration opting to focus more attention on working via the African Continental Free Trade Area. This won’t only boost multilateralism in theory, it will also bolster the East African Community’s role as a negotiator – one undercut by both the Trump administration and Kenya itself.

Africa: How Fighting Climate Change Policy Can Help President Biden Re-Engage Africa (AllAfrica)

Despite dire predictions, the Trump Administration’s overall policy toward Africa represented continuity. Foreign aid continued; skilled diplomats were appointed and deployed to resolve conflicts; and the signature Africa programs of past presidents remained unabated. Biden will innovate new ways to engage with the continent towards a more stable, more secure Africa Because of Biden’s focus on climate change, it is likely that his signature program will focus on this issue. Herein lies Biden’s opportunity for an innovative Africa policy.

ECI signs agreement with Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (EIN News)

Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE’s Federal export credit company, has partnered with Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), the financial arm of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, to advance economic development through trade finance and project and infrastructure finance, thereby bolstering the competitiveness of UAE-based businesses as they explore new markets and expand their operations in the international marketplace. The UAE is Africa’s fourth-largest global investor in Africa after China, Europe and the United States of America, with an investment of AED 92 billion ($25 billion) over the 2014-2018 period. This agreement is set to further boost the appetite of UAE businesses to increase their exports and investments in Africa.

CDC inks facility with TDB to boost pandemic trade recovery in Africa (Global Trade Review)

CDC Group, a publicly funded development finance institution, has moved to support the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) with a new US$100mn finance facility. The agreement aims to boost TDB’s capacity for providing credit to African businesses in need of short-term financing, and who are grappling with the economic impact of Covid-19. According to a statement from the parties, the commitment will provide top-up loans and much-needed capital to new and existing TDB clients, which in turn will support the import, export and production of “strategic inputs” and agricultural commodity goods in the 22 members states where TDB operates. There will be a “strong focus on those economies with the most challenging investment climates”, the release says.

Project launched to define role of finance in South Africa and India’s ‘just transitions’ (Engineering News)

A new multi-partner initiative has been launched with the aim of defining the role that finance can and should play in supporting both South Africa and India’s aspirations to implement “just transitions” to more climate-resilient economies. The ‘Just Transition Finance Roadmaps in South Africa and India Project’ is being backed by the UK’s development finance institution, the CDC Group, in partnership with Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the National Business Initiative (NBI), of South Africa, as well as the Observer Research Foundation, LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Initiative for Responsible Investment and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

Global economy

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021: The Potential to Scale (World Bank)

The State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021 sheds light on one of the most intractable challenges faced by development policy makers and practitioners: transforming the economic lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Economic inclusion programs are a bundle of coordinated, multidimensional interventions that support individuals, households, and communities so they can raise their incomes and build their assets. Programs targeting the extreme poor and vulnerable groups are now under way in 75 countries.

Could 2021 be a comeback year for global trade? (Cayman Compass)

2020 was one of the most disruptive years in recent memory for global trade and the rules-based multilateral trading system. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sharp contraction in global merchandise trade growth which was already slowing due to escalating trade tensions among major trading powers. It disrupted global supply chains, provoking calls for nearshoring. COVID-19 also delayed the scheduled trade policy reviews of some World Trade Organization (WTO) members, as well as postponed key events on the global trade calendar, in particular the WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) and Fifteenth Quadrennial Conference of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XV).

Business performance, strategy, Covid-19 drive further change in nonexecutive practices (Engineering News)

While 2020 was a year of fluctuations and novel challenges, the remuneration of nonexecutive directors continues to be increasingly linked to the performance of businesses, as well as their ability to adapt to new challenges and new demands from stakeholders and shareholders, says professional services and advisory multinational PwC South Africa People and Organisation Reward Tax, Legal and Governance leader associate director and co-lead Leila Ebrahimi. Ebrahimi is the editor of the PwC ‘2021 Nonexecutive Directors Practices And Fees Trends’ report, released on January 19.

Independent panel finds critical early failings in COVID-19 response (UN News)

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response found critical elements to be “slow, cumbersome and indecisive” in an era when information about new disease outbreaks is being transmitted faster than countries can formally report on them. “When there is a potential health threat, countries and the World Health Organization must further use the 21st century digital tools at their disposal to keep pace with news that spreads instantly on social media and infectious pathogens that spread rapidly through travel,” said Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and co-chair of the panel.

Covid-related risks dominate Allianz Risk Barometer 2021 (Engineering News)

A trio of Covid-19-related risks heads up the tenth Allianz Risk Barometer 2021, reflecting potential disruption and loss scenarios companies are facing in the wake of the pandemic. Business interruption and pandemic outbreak are this year’s top business risks with cyber incidents ranking a close third. “The Allianz Risk Barometer 2021 is clearly dominated by the Covid-19 trio of risks. Business interruption, pandemic and cyber are strongly interlinked, demonstrating the growing vulnerabilities of our highly globalised and connected world.

Supporting a Green Post-COVID Recovery Can Generate Over $10 Trillion in Investment Opportunities in Emerging Markets, Says New IFC Report

Supporting low carbon investments through COVID-19 recovery targeting funding for ten key sectors across 21 emerging markets has the potential to generate $10.2 trillion in investment opportunity, create 213 million jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4 billion tons by 2030, says an IFC report published today. The report, Ctrl-Alt-Delete: A Green Reboot for Emerging Markets, analyzes the economic and climate benefits of a green recovery that focuses on decarbonizing existing and future energy infrastructure, building climate-smart cities, and helping speed the transition of key industries to greener production.

Innovation to counter food supply-chain disruptions and spur recovery (ReliefWeb)

Innovative solutions in agri-food systems helped households and countries contain disruptions in food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more will be required to “build back better and build back greener”, FAO’s Director-General QU Dongyu said today. Innovation occurs on the technology frontier but also in policy making and business models, he emphasized while speaking at a virtual high-level panel on how to help strengthen the sustainability of food systems and prevent future pandemics. The event was organized by FAO as part of the week-long Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin.

Platform for Collaboration on Tax’s New Toolkit Helps Countries Implement Effective Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirements (IMF)

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT), a joint initiative of IMF, OECD, UN and the World Bank, released the final version of the Practical Toolkit to Support the Successful Implementation by Developing Countries of Effective Transfer Pricing Documentation Requirements. The PCT’s new toolkit serves as a sourcebook of guidance on implementing transfer pricing documentation requirements for developing countries. The toolkit compiles essential information on transfer pricing documentation and analyzes policy choices and legislative options.

Delays projected in poorer nations’ access to vaccines (Anadolu Agency)

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the 92 least developed countries will not start before late March, health authorities said Tuesday. While high and middle income countries are already undergoing vaccination, the least developed poor countries have not been able to receive the vaccines, which were supposed to be distributed in the COVAX program’s framework for equitable allocation. World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus drew attention to the global inequality in access to vaccines in one of his recent addresses. “Even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots,” he said.

tralac Daily News

Country focus

SA must embrace innovation to rebuild economy: President Ramaphosa (SAnews)

With the COVID-19 pandemic having battered the South African fiscus in 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa has cautioned that the country will have to embrace innovative interventions to rebuild the economy in the New Year. The President said this on Monday in his first weekly newsletter of 2021. “Significantly, the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that we announced in October last year is based on broad consensus among all social partners on the actions needed to rebuild the economy. This lays a firm basis for effective cooperation that draws on the resources, capabilities and energies of all sections of society,” he said.

South Africa – Import Requirements and Documentation (The Africa Logistics)

South Africa has a complex import process. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) defines approximately 90,000 product tariff codes that are strictly enforced on all imports. New-to-Market U.S. exporters are actively encouraged to engage the services of a reputable freight forwarding/customs clearance agent well versed in South African convention. Customs South Africa (Customs SA), a division of SARS, requires that an importer register with its office and obtain an importer’s code from SARS. This impacts many importers and may cause delays to clearance of goods. SARS uses a Single Administrative Document (SAD) to facilitate the customs clearance of goods for importers, exporters, and cross-border traders. The SAD is a multi-purpose goods declaration form covering imports, exports, cross border, and transit movements.

SA wine exports to the UK leap 23% (Harpers Wine & Spirit Trade Review)

South African wine exports to the UK, its leading export market, surged last year with both value and volume sales up. During 2020, export sales to the UK leaped 23% in value, while the market increased by 7% in volume terms, according to the SA Wine Industry Information and Systems NPC (SAWIS). An increase of 28% by value for packaged wines to the UK was also announced for the same period. “We have seen many importers, retailers and wine commentators go above and beyond to help our industry and make UK wine drinkers aware of the quality and potential of great South African wines… We look forward to welcoming the UK trade back to South Africa as soon as possible,” said Jo Wehring, UK market manager for WoSA.

Development Bank to offer Covid-19 relief loan (The Nambian)

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of a year and older will next week be able to apply for bridging capital from the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).This to cushion the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to DBN, it will extend loans to SMEs requiring bridging capital to carry them through the current low-revenue period. Enterprises that wish to restructure their business operations to best survive the changing business environment may also apply.

KQ goes for more cargo planes as passenger numbers remain low (Nation)

National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has continued to repurpose some of its wide body passenger aircraft into cargo planes to fill the gap caused by passenger shortfalls. In its latest announcement, KQ says that so far, it has fully repurposed one Dreamliner for cargo transportation. Managing Director Allan Kilavuka explained the impact of the move on Monday, during the signing of a commitment of collaboration with players in the fresh produce export business.

Kenya Airways mulls more cargo flights to China as Sino-Africa trade grows (Xinhua)

Kenya Airways is considering adding new cargo flights to China as Sino-Africa trade grows, an official said on Monday. Dick Murianki, Director of Kenya Airways Cargo told Xinhua in Nairobi that the airline has been experiencing increased demand for air freight between China and the African countries that it operates in. “We currently fly into Guangzhou but we are looking at going into other cities. Shanghai looks interesting but we have not yet made a decision,” Murianki made the remarks when the Kenyan airline signed a cooperation agreement with the Kenya fresh produce exporters.

Tea price stays high despite UK lockdown (Business Daily)

Tea prices at the Mombasa auction remained at a four-month high last week, even as concerns emerge that a new UK lockdown will pull them down in the short-term. A market report shows a kilogramme of the beverage on average fetched Sh211 in the second sale of the year, which is the same value that it attracted in the opening trading of 2021.

Treasury ahead of domestic debt target on Covid (Business Daily)

The Treasury has moved ahead of its domestic borrowing target for the first half of the current financial year after it tapped money from commercial lenders on the back of relatively low interest and reduced economic activity, which cut credit to the private sector. Fresh data published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the government’s fiscal agent, shows domestic debt increased by Sh310.94 billion in the six-month period to nearly Sh3.49 trillion as at end of December. The amount tapped from domestic investors such as banks and pension funds is an equivalent of 59.26 percent of the Sh524.69 billion net borrowing target for the full-year period ending June 2021.

We are progressing well with e-receipts, says URA (Daily Monitor)

URA recently started implementation of the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS), a medium that is being used by all businesses to manage issuance of receipts and invoices for tax purposes. The system was effectively rolled out on January 1, despite pleas from companies for an extension. Ian Rumanyika, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) manager public and corporate affairs explains the progress and benefits of the system. EFRIS implementation commenced on January 1. What is the progress so far?

Nigeria’s rail costs exceed AU’s estimates by over 100% (The Guiardian Nigeria)

An investigation has shown that the average cost per kilometer (km) of the newly contracted Kano-Maradi rail line exceeds similar projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), as estimated by the African Union (AU) by, at least, 100 per cent. The Federal Government, recently, announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mota-Engil Group for the construction of the 283.75 Kano-Maradi standard-gauge rail at a contract cost of $1.959 billion. In an AU document titled ‘Towards the African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN) Development’, the Union puts the estimates of the new railway line needs of the continent at 12, 000km, which are expected to be completed at a cost outlay of $36 billion.

Border closure failed to achieve objectives – Prof Asiwaju (Vanguard)

There is, perhaps, no better pointer to the abysmal failure of Nigeria’s border policing and management mechanism than the recent candid confession by President Muhammadu Buhari, as reported in the media on Monday, 22 December, wherein he was correctly described as having given up and ‘handed over Nigeria’s border’s to God’. What we must quickly add, though, is that what has so manifestly frustrated Buhari is his own administration’s self-inflicted conservative police-state approach to border management based on obsolete use of state coercion apparatuses that permits police brutality; inspired by a negative ultra-nationalism and indulging in inherently impracticable tradition of unilateral border closure. But also unacceptably insensitive of Nigeria’s state obligations to neighbouring sovereignties, including two of Africa’s vulnerable landlocked countries, in the interest as much for international relations as common commitment to bilateral cooperation and wider regional integration.

Diversifying export earners via horticulture sector competitiveness (Ethiopian Press Agency)

The higher management of the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders recently held discussion on options of expanding the horticulture investment and the national project of boosting avocado production in areas with potential and suitable climate. Ethiopia has a great opportunity for horticulture development due to the favorable climatic conditions, fertile soils, huge irrigation potential and affordable manpower. The sector has attracted a significant amount of domestic and foreign investment. Ethiopia’s horticulture products have had also a chance to penetrate into the international market in the past two decades. One of the major focus areas of the recent discussion were ways of tapping the huge potential in the sector and the performance so far.

Mineral exports surge 27pc to surpass target (The Herald)

Zimbabwe’s mineral exports, excluding gold and silver, for the year 2020 surged by 27 percent, earning the country US$2,4 billion, the Minerals and Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has said. This sets Zimbabwe on course of achieving a US$12 billion mining economy in the next two years, said Mr Muzenda. The mining sector is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earner, accounting for 70 percent of the country export receipts. In 2019, the Government launched a roadmap to grow the mining sector to US$12 billion by 2023 through leveraging on the country’s diverse mineral wealth. The mining roadmap, also known as “Strategic Road to the Achievement of US$12 billion by 2023” targets gold revenue at US$4 billion, platinum group metals at US$3 billion, chrome, iron, steel diamonds and at US$1 billion, lithium at US$500 million, while other minerals are expected to contribute US$1,5 billion.

Angola engages in investment protection agreement with China’s (ANGOP)

Angola has announced plans to enter into the negotiation processes of Agreements on Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (APPRI) with Japan, China and Mozambique. This was announced Thursday by the State Secretary for Planning, Milton Reis, who did not add further details in terms of the agreements. For 2021, the Ministry of Economy and Planning says it has scheduled events and arrangements of joint agreements for bilateral economic cooperation with countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South Africa, Egypt, Zambia, Cuba, Czech Republic and Germany.

Global uncertainty hampers oil blocks auction in Angola (GCTN Africa)

The COVID-19 pandemic is significantly jeopardizing the intention of Angola’s National Oil and Gas Agency (ANPG) to auction nine new oil blocks concessions, a study by an Angolan consulting company specializing in oil and gas, PetroAngola, revealed on Sunday. According to PetroAngola, the spread of the virus has brought a huge environment of uncertainty in the global oil and gas industry, negatively impacting the main fundamentals of the market. The scenario has forced the cancellation of more than 64 percent of the country’s planned bidding in 2020 worldwide, the company said.

Algeria crude oil output tumbles in 2020 (CGTN Africa)

Algeria’s oil revenues collapsed in 2020, according to energy ministry figures released Sunday, exacerbating an economic crisis in the North African country which is heavily dependent on crude income. “The overall volume of hydrocarbon exports reached 82.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2020, for a value of $20 billion, a decrease of 11 percent and 40 percent respectively compared to 2019,” the ministry said in a statement. The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn hit oil prices hard, battering the economies of producer nations.

Carryout Market Research in Agribusiness Ventures (Taarifa Rwanda)

More people are turning to agribusiness ventures that are involved in the primary production of crops, livestock and poultry. Sometimes these ventures become specialized in the processing or semi processing of agricultural commodities because of having many years of experience and always being informed about the industry’s condition. For one to be a successful owner of an agribusiness venture, it is of great importance to carry out a market research to get an informed view of what to expect when venturing into agricultural businesses. Market research has proven to be a key aspect that each aspiring business owner must undertake before setting up the actual business, it has several informative guidelines that will help to sustain a business.

News from Africa

Africa’s Development Dynamics 2021: Digital Transformation for Quality Jobs (OECD)

Can digitalisation create quality jobs and make African economies more resilient to the global recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic? The 2021 edition of the Africa’s Development Dynamics report draws lessons from the continent’s five regions – Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa – to develop policy recommendations and share good practices. This virtual, high-level event will take place during the PIDA Week on Tuesday, 19th of January 2021, 15:45 to 17:00 CET | 17.45 to 19.00 EAT

Africa’s Infrastructure Ministers Validate Africa’s Infrastructure Priorities for 2021-2030 (African Union)

Africa’s infrastructure Ministers convened virtually to discuss the Continent’s infrastructure priorities for 2021-2030 and to validate the outcome of the first extraordinary expert group meeting of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Intercontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism (STC-TTIIET) held on December 14, 2021. “Annually, we have an infrastructure financing gap of between $60 -$90 billion. We need effective and efficient plans to mobilize resources to fund the identified PIDA projects. The long-term solution in my view is the creation of an Africa Continental Infrastructure Fund under the auspices of the AU to pool resources. Such a fund would focus on a combination of domestic sources and private sector financiers,” said the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development.

Infrastructure development mainstay for African continental free trade area: UN expert (Xinhua)

As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement set to solve Africa’s investment hurdles, there is an urgent need to address the continent’s infrastructure shortcomings, a senior official of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said on Monday. The statement was made by Stephen Karingi, regional integration and trade division director at the UNECA, ahead of the sixth session of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week, which kicked off virtually on Monday to review progress, share experiences and build consensus on key infrastructure projects that will take Africa to the next level of development. “New decade, new realities, new priorities - ANGOP positioning PIDA and infrastructure development in Africa’s continued growth and economic recovery.”

SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap foresees increased manufactured exports from the Region by 2030

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap foresees an increase in manufactured exports to at least 50 percent of total exports in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) by 2030, from less than 20 percent at present, and to build market share in the global market for the export of intermediate products to East Asian levels of around 60 per cent of total manufactured exports. The Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap foresees the lifting of the regional growth rate of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 4% annually (since 2000) to a minimum of 7% a year. It also seeks to double the share of manufacturing value added (MVA) in GDP to 30% by 2030 and to 40% by 2050, including the share of industry-related services, and to increase the share of medium-and-high-technology production in total MVA from less than 15% at present to 30% by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

Dialogue could have averted Covid-19 border chaos (ISS Today)

The festive season was marked by dramatic scenes of tens of thousands of people amassing at border posts between South Africa and its neighbours where procedures had slowed down due to COVID-19 restrictions. Border posts such as Beitbridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe and the Lebombo border with Mozambique were particularly chaotic, with travellers and trucks delayed for days. Many people used dangerous illegal routes to cross into South Africa after spending Christmas at home. The panic and congestion – potentially aggravating the pandemic – was largely due to a lack of coordination between governments and failure to implement strategies agreed on by Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. Dialogue at a high level could have averted much of the crisis.

Africa Free Trade Agreement: President Adesina receives award for strong leadership and support (Africanews)

African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina and 10 African Heads of State and Government were on Friday honoured for their leadership in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) process. The AfCFTA, the largest free trade area in the world, began trading on 1 January 2021 and is expected to speed up the recovery of the continent and enhance its resilience by increasing the level of intra-African trade in goods and services. The award was organised by AeTrade Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Business Council, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

AMSP opens COVID-19 vaccines pre-orders for 55 African Union Member States (African Export-Import Bank)

Following the announcement by the African Union Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 14th of January 2021 that the African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Africa through its COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), today commences the COVID-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all African Union Member States. “Afreximbank is proud to expand its support to African economies in their bid to contain the pandemic. Our vaccine financing facility builds on the success of our Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) to open access to COVID 19 vaccines to African states based on a whole-of-Africa approach favoured by the African Union,” said Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank.

Africa finds its voice as President signs Factbook (The Herald)

President Mnangagwa yesterday signed copies of The Africa Factbook and accompanying letters, which will be distributed to the heads of state and government of the other 54 African Union countries. The Africa Factbook is Africa’s first ever publication tells the African story from an Afrocentric perspective. It is the continent’s first ever coordinated response to more than 500 years of misinformation and often disinformation against Africa by outsiders and more recently by the global media empires.

African Central Bankers Out of Policy Space to Fight Recessions (Bloomberg)

African central bankers meeting in the next two weeks amid a resurgent coronavirus may find they’ve used up most of their interest-rate ammunition to lift their economies out of recessions that still affect much of the continent. Monetary policy committees have limited scope to provide stimulus after aggressive easing when lockdowns first shuttered output in 2020, with inflation quickening in Nigeria and Angola and restrictions that would dull the impact of rate cuts continuing in South Africa and Kenya. “I don’t think there is scope for strategic easing of monetary policy in 2021,” said Jibran Qureishi, head of Africa research at Standard Bank Group Ltd. “In the event that economic activity remains sluggish, a bias to cut will persist, but any cuts from these levels will be token.”

Africa’s international trade relations

Partnership with a purpose: EU-Africa relations in 2021 (EURACTIV)

The EU’s plans to strike a ‘strategic partnership’ with Africa were one the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. After the European Commission set out its stall in a March 2020 strategic paper, summits were cancelled and it is unclear whether EU and African Union leaders will agree on an agenda with the ambition needed for a genuine ‘strategic partnership’ this year.

UK-Africa trade: What will Brexit change? (Deutsche Welle)

The United Kingdom on Wednesday will host a virtual UK-Africa conference to promote trade and investment opportunities in African markets. The meeting takes place on the anniversary of the inaugural 2020 UK-Africa summit hosted with great fanfare by Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, who famously skipped the World Economic Forum in Davos to lead the event. At last year’s summit, Johnson said Britain had all it took to become Africa’s “obvious partner of choice” for doing business post-Brexit when it was no longer tethered to European Union trade agreements with the continent. Leaving the EU theoretically allows the UK to make independent trade agreements better tailored to individual African nations.

New Initiative: German Automotive Industry intensifies links to Africa (Engineering News)

The German automotive industry sees potential in Africa and strengthens its ties to the continent. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) joined hands with the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) as part of the “PartnerAfrica” project of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). AAAM is the first Automotive association with a pan-African approach, established in 2015 by global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The partnership-based cooperation between is mutually beneficial: in cooperation with local and regional structures it helps the automotive industry to improve access to sometimes difficult markets and at the same time it is in the interest of German development policy to improve local prospects by involving the private sector and to create sustainable jobs and sustainable mobility in partner countries.

Fate of Kenya-US Free Trade Deal Uncertain (The Maritime Eexcutive)

A cloud of uncertainty has engulfed Kenya’s pursuit of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States due to the impending change of guard at the White House. Anxiety in Nairobi has been exacerbated by the unexpected resignation of U.S. ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, who espoused President Trump’s belief in deepening trade and commercial engagements with Africa. “The Trump administration valued bilateral approach to policy but the Biden administration has promised a return to multilateralism and alliance-building. While Kenya might want to continue the pursuit of an FTA, there is no guarantee of Washington being interested,” said Ken Gichinga, chief economist at Mentoria Economics. He added that while the need to neutralize China’s influence in Africa is something the new U.S. administration would want to pursue, the need to broaden the spectrum of trade and commercial interests through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) looks more feasible. Cooperation through AfCFTA will revive the importance of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which has failed to flourish under the Trump administration. Total two-way goods trade between the U.S. and Africa declined from $36.9 billion in 2015 to $34.7 billion in 2019. Of importance to note is that AGOA, which is set to expire in 2025, was renewed during the Obama administration in 2015 when Biden was the vice president. Kenya’s FTA negotiations with the U.S. commenced in July last year, and the target was to have a deal that would allow duty-free access for Kenyan goods to the U.S. market before the end of the year, while the Trump administration was still in office.

Global news

Step up climate change adaptation or face serious human and economic damage – UN report (UNEP)

As temperatures rise and climate change impacts intensify, nations must urgently step up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report finds. Adaptation – reducing countries’ and communities’ vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts – is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 finds that while nations have advanced in planning, huge gaps remain in finance for developing countries and bringing adaptation projects to the stage where they bring real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise.

The World Needs to Wake Up to Long-Term Risks (World Economic Forum)

For the last 15 years the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report has been warning the world about the dangers of pandemics. In 2020, we saw the effects of ignoring preparation and ignoring long-term risks. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed millions of lives, but it also widened long-standing health, economic and digital disparities. According to the Global Risks Report 2021, released today, these developments may further impede the global cooperation needed to address long-term challenges such as environmental degradation. Financial, digital and reputational pressures resulting from COVID-19 also threaten to leave behind many companies and their workforces in the markets of the future. While these potential disparities could cause societal fragmentation for states, an increasingly tense and fragile geopolitical outlook will also hinder the global recovery if mid-sized powers lack a seat at the global table.

World Leaders to Meet During Davos Agenda in a Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust (World Economic Forum)

The World Economic Forum Davos Agenda, taking place virtually on 25-29 January, will bring together the foremost leaders of the world to address the new global situation. Heads of state and government, chief executives and leaders from civil society will convene under the theme: A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Rebuilding trust and increasing global cooperation are crucial to fostering innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery. This unique meeting will be an opportunity for leaders to outline their vision and address the most important issues of our time, such as the need to accelerate job creation and to protect the environment.”

COVID-19 Travel Bans Impact Least Developed Countries (Borgen Project)

COVID-19 has made severe global impacts, but impoverished countries are facing the harshest consequences. There are 46 countries identified by the United Nations (UN) as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) due to “severe structural impediments to sustainable development.” These nations have the fewest means with which to fight the pandemic. LDCs have approximately 900 million people and account for less than 1% of recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, these low percentages are not an accurate reflection of the current situation. Without the necessary resources to test people, it is impossible for institutions to gather precise data. COVID’s impacts do not stop with health, either. With global COVID-19 travel bans, LDCs’ economies, heavily reliant on tourism, have disproportionately suffered, as well.

Most Major Economies Are Shrinking. Not China’s (The New York Times)

As most nations around the world struggle with new lockdowns and layoffs in the face of the surging pandemic, just one major economy has bounced back after bringing the coronavirus mostly under control: China. The Chinese economy rose 2.3 percent last year, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics announced on Monday in Beijing. By contrast, the United States, Japan and many nations in Europe are expected to have suffered steep falls in economic output. While the recovery remains uneven, factories across China are running in overdrive to fill overseas orders and cranes are constantly busy at construction sites – a boom in exports and debt-fueled infrastructure investments that is expected to drive the economy in the coming year.

A Brexit lesson: EU’s benefits, largely invisible, hurt to lose (

Britons have finally understood (five years too late) why the European Union’s single market and customs union are important: They make EU internal borders invisible. Rather than a tale of a ruler who discovers he is naked, this is the story of a country that is discovering the importance of benefits it had taken for granted because they could not be seen. Invisible benefits are easy to forget and hard to sell politically. They are also easy to dismiss and easy to lie about. But the cost of abandoning them can be steep.

BRI is a game changer: Executive secretary of UN ECLAC (ECNS)

“The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a game changer. In a world where international cooperation has been severely weakened in recent years, the BRI is a testimony of China´s continued support for multilateralism and mutually beneficial relations among countries and regions,” said Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on Monday.

tralac Daily News: First edition for 2021

Country focus

Malawi ratifies AfCFTA after submitting instrument of ratification (UNECA)

Malawi submitted its instrument of ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty today, becoming the 35th member state to ratify the agreement, said the African Union Commission (AUC). Ambassador Albert Muchanga, the AUC Trade and Industry Commissioner who made the announcement, said more member states were on track to submit their own documents soon. Following Malawi’s ratification, only 19 member states are left to comply.

Zambia Ratifies and Deposits Instruments of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement (COMESA)

Zambia has become the latest country to deposit its instruments of ratification for the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement with the COMESA Secretariat. This brings the number of countries that have ratified and deposited the TFTA instruments to nine. The Agreement needs a total of fourteen ratifications by Member States to enter into force.

Once operational, the TFTA will enable the free movement of goods, services and businesspersons all of which stimulate economic activity in the region thereby improving the lives of ordinary people. COMESA Trade experts say the Agreement will serve as an impetus for investment in Africa’s cross-border infrastructure. It is estimated that Africa needs to invest nearly $100 billion annually in infrastructure over the next decade. Less than half of this target is met currently. One of the reasons for the low level of investment has been poor coordination across the different trading blocs. Building infrastructure will also create additional jobs and foster the development of engineering services.

Export application under AfCFTA through ICUMS to start January 18 (Business Ghana)

Application processes through the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) for export under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to commence on January 18, 2021. This was announced by Mr Fechin Akoto, Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of Tariff and Trade, and responsible for Free Trade Agreements including AfCFTA, in a media interaction. He indicated that the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was currently assisting the exporters on the necessary processes, as well as all key information regarding trading in the AfCFTA.

AfCFTA: Nigerian Commodities Exchange prepared for agreement – MD (Nairametrics)

The Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) is well-positioned to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), through the implementations of several measures to ensure smooth export operations of Nigerian Commodities. This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the Commodities Exchange, Mrs. Zaheera Baba-Ari, in an interview on Sunday in Abuja. She added that the NCX had an established network of 20 warehouses across major production areas in the six geo-political zones of the country for efficient receipt and storage of agro-commodities to be traded on the exchange. The NCX boss said that AfCFTA would help Africa fight challenges that were caused by the pandemic in the continent’s economies through trade.

AfCFTA: What Nigerian businesses must do to export to African countries - Official (Premium Times)

The Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Saturday said exporters or agents aspiring to move products to countries under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must obtain permits, licences, certificates and other relevant documentation from appropriate government agencies. Nigeria was one of the last African countries to sign the AfCFTA with President Muhammadu Buhari raising concerns that goods produced outside Africa could be dumped in Nigeria through other (West) African countries who allow largely unrestricted imports. The president only signed it after a committee he set up advised him to do so.

AfCFTA and Dangote’s refinery will make fuel cheaper – Energy Consultant (BusinessGhana)

Energy analyst and lead technical consultant to the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), Dr Yussif Sulemana says the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) coupled with the establishment of a state-of-the-art refinery by Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote stand the potential to significantly reducing the cost to refined crude products on the continent. He stated that “Nigeria is now looking straight, and they say they want to add value to their raw material base which is crude oil and so that is the cue and if they succeed, and we see that it is doable then Ghana just has to make its existing refinery vibrant. If we have a lot of finished products within the market, first of all, cost-wise, it is going to be competitive, and the cost will come down. So I see two things within the AfCFTA. It will break trade barriers, and it will bring about structural transformation in magnanimous proportions in the African continent and that includes intelligence sharing etc.”

What Museveni’s victory in Uganda elections means for EAC (Nation)

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni secured a fresh presidential term in the elections held on January 14, amid complaints of electoral fraud by the leading opposition candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. The Economic Survey of 2020 shows that Kenya exported to Uganda goods worth Sh64.1 billion in 2019, accounting for almost half of the value of Kenya’s exports to the East African Community partner states.

KRA Surpasses December Revenue Target to Collect Sh166bn, Reflecting Economic Recovery Prospects (Capital Business)

The Kenya Revenue Authority surpassed its revenue collection target for the month of December 2020, the first positive and above target collection rate since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu said a total of Sh166 billion was collected against a target of Sh164 billion representing 3.5 percent growth over the same period last year. The improved performance has been attributed to the economic recovery following the relaxation of the COVID-19 containment measures and enhanced compliance efforts by KRA in the month of December. Departments that boosted KRA’s performance in the month under review include the Customs and Border Control Department which recorded the highest ever monthly revenue collection in KRA’s history by collecting Sh60.777 billion, reflecting growth of 40.9 percent and registering a revenue surplus of Sh12.191 billion.

China ready to suspend Kenya’s debt over COVID-19 pressure (Capital News)

China has indicated its willingness to suspend Kenya’s debt as part of measures to help developing countries weather the COVID-19 storm. The Embassy in Nairobi said China stands ready to strengthen coordination with Kenya in its efforts to address debt challenges. “Africa’s need is always China’s concern,” the Embassy said, “We stand ready to strengthen coordination with Kenya and assist Kenya in its efforts to address debt challenges.” It said: “Both sides are now keeping efficient communication through smooth channel.”

Rwanda’s horticultural exports meet demand in Dubai (The New Times)

Consumers flocking one of the biggest Carrefour outlets at the Mall of Emirates in Dubai appreciated new fresh products including avocado and passion fruits from Rwanda on Sunday. Speaking at the launch, Emmanuel Hategeka Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates welcomed the move by Carrefour to open the gates to Rwanda’s quality fresh products following a supply of goods partnership agreement signed with Rwanda’s National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) in November 2020. Under the deal, Rwandan exporters will be supplying to this wide UAE retailing company with passion fruits, apple banana, pineapple and avocado.

Cane growers raise alarm over sugar imports (The Standard)

Cane growers have raised alarm over the impending importation of 57,473 tonnes of sugar to cover a deficit of the commodity under the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) safeguards. They accuse the Ministry of Agriculture of failing to prevent the dumping of sugar into the country that is making local factories untenable, thereby impoverishing millions of stakeholders who depend on the sector. Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association Secretary General Richard Ogendo while terming the move a scheme to illegally bring in sugar into the country, pointed out that the Comesa quota for 2020 was already exhausted, citing an October 31, 2020 notice issued by Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). “This is a very clear indication that some well-connected individuals have already been identified to flood the Kenyan market with duty-free sugar imports at the expense of the ailing industry,” he said.

AfCFTA: What are Rwanda’s export-ready products? (The New Times)

The Rwandan government has identified opportunities in several local products for exports under the recently launched Africa Continental Free Trade Area. Among the products that have been found to be market-ready, according to The Ministry of Trade and Industry include agro-processing products including tea, coffee, cereals as well as diary, animal and vegetable oil products. Other products that are export-ready according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry include products from mining operations including ores and base metals. Rwanda is also looking to export construction materials, agro-products, hides and skins and textiles.

Report Insight: How Tanzania economy closed off 2020 (The Exchange)

Tanzania central bank last week produced a monthly economic review for December 2020, which depicted rather a range of issues, for instance on revenue performance being broadly in line with the 2020/2021 target. This fruitful sector of the economy saw a mix of performances as some traditional exports did well compared to others. Cloves, nuts and cotton exports increased compared to tea and sisal – which declined due to the low price and volume of production. “The value of exports of goods and services amounted to USD 8,839.9 million in the year ending November 2020, lower than $ 9,460.8 million in the year ended November 2019, explained by the decline in services receipts. On monthly basis, the value of exports of goods and services was $836.5 million in November 2020 compared with $857.2 million in November 2019. The value of traditional exports increased to $ 826.1 million in the year ending November 2020 from $ 745.1 million recorded in the corresponding period in 2019, owing to an increase in export values of cashew nuts, cloves and cotton” the report noted. According to the report, imports bill for goods and services declined to around $8.9 billion in the year ending November 2020 from $ 10.5 billion in the corresponding period in 2019, which is largely by a decrease in imports of capital and intermediate goods. The report attributed the decrease to transport equipment and oil. “The value of oil imports, which accounted for 17.1 per cent of goods import declined by 28.8 per cent to $1.3 billion owing to a decrease in both price and volume,” the report noted. Tanzania economy is projected to grow at a pace of 5.5 per cent, slightly off the 7 per cent anticipated earlier, due to various reasons including COVID-19 shocks.

Malawi’s NBS Bank launches ecommerce platform and online payment gateway with Network International (Africanews)

NBS Bank, a leading commercial bank in Malawi, launches its state of the art e-commerce platform, powered by Network International (, the leading enabler of digital commerce across Africa and the Middle East. The implementation of Network International’s N-GeniusTM Online payment gateway will enable NBS Bank to offer Malawian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large corporations, public institutions and individuals a fast and secure way to enter the rapidly growing e-commerce market in Malawi. With the capability to enable digital commerce transactions for merchants and public organizations through the N-Genius™ Online payment gateway, NBS Bank and Network International will help drive Malawi’s goal of becoming a cash-lite economy.

Ethiopia to Attain Wheat Import Substitution Soon (Ethiopian Herald)

The summer wheat irrigation projects undergone in 12 woredas of Amhara state and 21 woredas of Oromia state are expected to realize import substitution soon, said Ministry of Agriculture. In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, the Ministry of Agriculture Wheat Irrigation Project Coordinator Daniel Muleta (Ph.D.) said that in the highland parts of the country following the harvesting of rainy season’s crops, summer wheat irrigation projects are to be in effect. Currently the nation imports 17 million quintals of wheat from abroad and the nation has the potential not only to substitute but also to export as there is vast areas of land suitable for wheat production both in the high and low lands of the country.

Egypt’s pres. asserts full support to activation of African Continental Free Trade Area (Egypttoday)

After it has gone into effect earlier this month, the chief of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Wamkele Mene met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo Sunday. The president affirmed Egypt’s full support to the activities of the AfCTA stipulating Egypt is ready to provide expertise needed for the work of the agreement. The president underlined that stability is crucial for creating a suitable environment for the success of the pact.

ITFC provides trade funding to Egypt | ALB Article (

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has agreed a new programme which will provide USD 1.1 billion to Egypt in the form of integrated trade solutions. The ITFC, part of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB), previously provided USD 3 billion to Egypt in a programme that ended in 2018. That funding was intended for food commodities, crude oil and petroleum, as well as to strengthen value chains, help the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) growth and develop trade.

South Africa has to sail muddy waters of confusion over exports after Brexit (Daily Maverick)

The sprawling metropolis of East London has a population roughly equal to the population of São Tomé and Príncipe – just above 200,000 in both cases. São Tomé and Príncipe (two islands, but one country) account for half the African countries with which the Southern African Customs Union has implemented the African Continental Free Trade Area. The other half is Egypt. Now this might be disappointing, given the exuberant media coverage saying we have implemented the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Fifty-four of the 55 African Union members have signed the agreement and, at last count, 34 have deposited their instruments of ratification. Although Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has “called on South African farmers and manufacturers to gear up for the new opportunities in export markets”, it is by no means clear which markets he had in mind when he made this statement.

UK-Africa conference to boost Zim industry (The Herald)

When President Mnangagwa announced on November 24, 2017 that Zimbabwe would pursue an engagement and re-engagement drive to establish and re-establish good relations with all countries of the world, many people thought it was empty talk. But the President said his administration would “hit the ground running”, and indeed, no time was wasted. The efforts to re-engage are already bearing fruit and the invitation to participate in the virtual Africa Investment Conference scheduled for this Wednesday is testimony to that. The conference is organised by the UK’s Department for International Trade and Zimbabwe joins 35 other African countries in the key conference that is expected not only to raise Zimbabwe’s profile on the international arena, but also expose captains of industry to potential markets and sources of funding.

Benin/Nigeria: Trouble continues at the border (The Africa Report)

Aurélien Agbénonci, Benin's foreign affairs minister, complained to his Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, that goods are still being blocked at the border of the two countries, despite Abuja announcing its reopening almost a month ago. So far, no official complaint has been made. However, according to our information, Agbénonci used the opportunity of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s swearing in ceremony on 7 January in Accra to question his Nigerian counterpart Onyeama. Although the Nigerian authorities have announced the reopening of the borders with the country’s four neighbours (Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon), in reality, only pedestrians and light-duty vehicles can – legally – cross the border between Benin and Nigeria. The announcement of the closure, in August 2019, had been very badly received by the Beninese authorities, who had not been consulted beforehand. Once again, the reopening was decreed without prior consultation, according to Talon’s government.

Benin’s Q3 exports up 1.7 pct amid COVID-19 pandemic (CGTN)

Despite the COVID-19 impacts on Benin’s economy, Benin’s foreign trade volume in the third quarter of 2020 experienced a slight increase compared to the previous quarter, according to the quarterly bulletin of foreign trade statistics released on Saturday in Cotonou. Benin’s merchandise exports increased by 1.7 percent during the third quarter of 2020, valued at 114.70 billion CFA francs (abo

Mining industry to support SA’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout (TimesLIVE)

SA’s mining companies will support the government in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as the nation battles a surge in infections, the industry body said on Friday.

The Minerals Council, which represents mining firms, said its members are developing plans to use the sector’s health-care infrastructure and delivery capability to accelerate the vaccination programme, but did not provide further details. “While government is primarily responsible for funding the vaccine rollout and is the single buyer, the industry can play a material role in accelerating the vaccination programme on mines and in mining communities,” said Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter.

News from Africa

African Business Council Applauds the Start of Trading on the Basis of the AfCFTA (African Union)

On 1 January 2021, at the launch of the start of trading on the basis of the AfCFTA, the Pan-African Private Sector, under the umbrella body of the African Business Council (AfBC), issued a press statement in support of this initiative. In it, the AfBC acknowledged that the start of trading under the AfCFTA presents enormous business opportunities for the Pan-African Private Sector, SMEs, Women and Youths as the continent takes this bold move towards Boosting Intra-African Trade. “The AfCFTA gives us an opportunity to drive our agenda. For many years, the African business community has been individualistic in driving the continent’s agenda. It is an opportunity for us as the African Business Council to come together and support the implementation of the AfCFTA. We are a united voice, and we can do this together”, Dr. Amany Asfour, Interim Chair Person of the African Business Council.

“The proliferation of Non-Tariff Barriers in Africa has often hindered intra-Africa trade. It is difficult to move cargo among African countries, and the online system on the Monitoring, Reporting and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers ( will assist in the implementation of the AfCFTA”, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Figure of the week: Momentum in trade going into the AfCFTA era (Brookings)

Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commenced just two weeks ago. Many academics, policymakers, and business leaders are hopeful that, if implemented appropriately, the landmark trade agreement could further bolster efforts toward regional integration and spur economic growth across the region more broadly. The region does enter the agreement with great momentum around trade: Exports have grown by nearly a factor of four since 1995. Notably, while South Africa and Nigeria remain sub-Saharan Africa’s largest exporters, the export landscape beyond these two countries has changed dramatically in recent years (Figure 1). As Africa begins the AfCFTA era, it will try to harness the momentum it has displayed in trade the last few decades, though bottlenecks around infrastructure and other nontariff barriers still threaten its overall success.

African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Red tape delays start of trading under new pact (Daily Maverick)

Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the ambitious continent-wide free trade agreement which has been signed by 54 of Africa’s 55 states officially began on January 1. But Pretoria says no goods have yet been exported or imported under its zero or reduced import tariffs. That is because all the necessary red tape has not yet been cleared away by all member states. There has been some confusion about this, with official indications that South Africa, Egypt and Ghana had begun trading. But it turns out that while these countries have put in place the necessary customs procedures to start trading, they have not cleared other bureaucratic obstacles to do so.

Stakeholders list AfCFTA gains in agricbusiness despite $73b infrastructure gap (Guardian)

Although Sub-Saharan Africa requires massive investment, with over $73b needed on irrigation and storage infrastructure alone to unlock potentials of agricultural sector, some stakeholders, yesterday, said with the right policies, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) may address existing barriers to agricbusiness and limit the continent’s vulnerability from excessive import of agric produce. Currently, Africa barely trades with itself. Just 16 per cent of African exports are destined for other African countries, which is considerably less than 59 per cent of trade within Asia and 68 per cent within Europe, due to high tariff and infrastructure bottlenecks.

African Union offers region access to COVID-19 vaccine supply (Jamaica Observer)

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has been offered access to approved COVID-19 vaccines from a shipment recently secured by the African Union. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced Thursday that regional leaders will have two weeks to decide whether they will accept the offer. Updating the country on the COVID-19 situation, Mottley said the African Union recently secured 270 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – which will be made available this year, with at least 50 million available April to June – for its member states to supplement the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility) that is also being used by Caricom nations. She disclosed that she was contacted by the coordinator of the African Medical Supplies Platform on Wednesday, with the news that some could be accessed by Caricom.

Crowd funding: A case for innovative retooling strategies towards increased trade under AfCFTA (NewsDay)

Zimbabwe can be said to have turned the corner, from a hopeless case three years ago, to one of the most promising economies in the sub-region. As confirmed by one of Zimbabwe’s leading economists, Eddie Cross in an interview on ZBC-TV, the Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP) provided firm ground for growth through righting macro-economic fundamentals such as a stable exchange rate, receding inflation and much needed economic reforms like ease of doing business, consumer protection laws and more. With these fundamentals firmly in place, focus is now on consolidating these gains under the National Development Strategy One (NDS1). Thus, this submission proposes, if not already under implementation, a homegrown funding mechanism for Zimbabwean businesses based on co-operation and guided by the country’s national interest and vision which are tied to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the AU’s Agenda 2063.

A giant step for Africa (The Southern Times)

The recently consummated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will need more than just the signatures of the continent’s 55 political leaders to work, Namibian political scientist and international relations expert Dr Ndumba Kamwanyah says. Speaking to The Southern Times this week, Dr Kamwanyah said while operationalisation of the AfCFTA was a historical moment for Africa, for it to be meaningful in the long run required better synchronisation of economic systems and a deliberate push towards value addition. He added that there African countries should urgently start diversifying their economic bases.

Why 2021 Could Mark the Dawn of a New Era for Africa (Foundation for Economic Education)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into force on 1 January, 2021. Once it becomes fully implemented and operational by 2030, the AfCFTA could be the world’s biggest fully-realized free-trade zone by area. The bloc has a potential market of 1.3 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. This moment should be celebrated as the AfCFTA could portend a new era of African openness, co-operation, trade, progress and innovation. According to the African Export-Import Bank, the AfCFTA could boost intra-African trade to 22 percent of total trade, up from 14.5 percent in 2019. If African countries are to step up the maturing of their industries and wider economies, they need more goods to flow – and the added expertise and insights of various businesspeople and manufacturers will also increase once it is easier for them to move between different countries. According to Alexander C. R. Hammond, “when African states trade with one another, the goods traded are almost three times more likely to be higher-valued manufactured products, when compared to the goods that leave the continent.” At the time of writing, all but one of the 55 African Union nations have signed to join the area, and more than half have ratified the accord. Through implementing the AfCFTA swiftly and effectively, the continent could set itself apart as a prime destination for investment and innovation.

Need to look at AfCFTA from a gender lens (Chronicle)

Little has been said about the implications of AfCFTA on men and women, bringing the need to look at it from a gendered lens. Women play multiple roles in economies as tax payers, traders, producers, workers and as providers of care for the entire labour force. The AfCFTA must not just be looked at as a trade agreement and something for corporates and industry, it must be viewed as an instrument for development intended to lift 100 million Africans out of poverty by 2035. The AfCFTA presents immense opportunities to tap into the talents of young Africans and women to ensure inclusive benefits. To ensure its success as one of the greatest developments of the 21st century on the continent, the AfCFTA must be inclusive in design and implementation.

AfCFTA: How Intellectual Property laws can help create jobs (Africa Renewal)

In international trade, the most-favored-nation (MFN) clause requires a country to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation in a trade agreement to all other World Trade Organization member countries. Although its name implies favoritism toward another nation, it denotes the equal treatment of all countries. On the other hand, the national treatment clause forbids discrimination between a Member’s own national and also the nationals of the other Members Second, the IP protocol should leverage on already existing regional IP regimes, such as ARIPO and OAPI, in order to streamline the continent’s IP policies. [Africa has two regional patent systems, OAPI (Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle or African Intellectual Property Organization) and ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization). Even though the larger African economies of South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt do not form part of the regional systems, the OAPI and ARIPO system provide a relatively cheap, easy and effective way of extending IP protection to a total of 35 African countries with a combined nominal GDP of $420 billion]. These institutions should be accorded support for effective implementation of the policies.

OP-ED: Africa’s Covid-19 response has been admirable, but the economic costs will linger for years (Daily Maverick)

The economic impacts of Covid-19 for Africa are expected to cause the first recession for the continent in 25 years, threatening to undo years of economic progress. Government interventions to combat the virus have been effective from a public health perspective, but they are not economically sustainable. This column draws on the findings of a report authored by a team of researchers at Columbia University and the Brenthurst Foundation. The report identifies common successes and challenges in responses to Covid-19 in five African economic and cultural hubs – Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa; it also outlines optimal pathways for economic recovery and bolstering future epidemic preparedness in the five countries and Africa as a whole. The report’s findings were presented on 12 January at the Futures Forum on Preparedness, a two-day event focused on global health security hosted by the philanthropic organisation Schmidt Futures.

African Union vaccines to be allocated according to population - AU Chair Ramaphosa (The South African)

Coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ population size, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday, speaking in his capacity as AU chair. He said vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but did not specify how much each African country would get. “The Africa CDC has already worked out the allocations that each country will be able to get, and the allocation is going to be worked on the size of your population,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the AU’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

SADC welcomes AfCFTA launch (The Southern Times)

Southern African Development Community (SADC) members have welcomed the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). AU Chairperson Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the President of South Africa, said the AfCFTA heralded a new era of African integration, development and progress. “Importantly, it will enable African countries to benefit from their own natural resources and reduce their dependence on countries outside of the continent for manufactured goods and services,” he said. SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said establishment of the AfCFTA was a key milestone in the integration agenda and was a huge step towards realisation of the founding forefathers’ dream of a united, and prosperous Africa. “As a regional economic community and one of the eight pillars of the African Union, SADC has made tremendous progress in its integration agenda and across all the eight dimensions of integration,” she said.

SADC adopts new Labour Migration Action Plan to promote skills transfer and match labour supply and demand for regional integration (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has adopted a new Labour Migration Action Plan (2020-2025) as part of efforts to promote skills transfer and match labour supply and demand for regional development and integration. The Action Plan, adopted through the Employment and Labour Sector in the Region, is in line with Article 19 of the SADC Protocol on Employment and Labour, which seeks to protect and safeguard the rights and welfare of migrant workers, to give them better opportunities to contribute to countries of origin and destination.

Africa is set to roll out its Single Passport this year (KeTurboNews)

African passport is the flagship project of the 2063 Agenda aiming to remove restrictions on Africans’ ability to travel, work and live within their own continent Single passport for all African nations is set to be introduced this year as the continent is forging its way to easing movements of people and goods within its internal boundaries. Single passport for Africans is a declaration of the Africa Union Agenda 2063 seeking to integrate the continent’s business and politics based on Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

The African Union Passport is currently available to government leaders, diplomats and AU officials only. Reports from South Africa said that the passport is set to be rolled out this year as an implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

AfCFTA: President Buhari, 9 others receive award for contribution to agreement (Nairametrics)

AfCFTA has awarded President Buhari alongside other African leaders for their contributions to the success of the agreement. President Muhammadu Buhari was awarded for his contributions to the start of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), alongside 9 other African leaders including Nigeria’s Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB). The awards were presented by the African Union in a virtual event held at the Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday.

IMF Executive Board Concludes Annual Discussions on CEMAC Common Policies, and Common Policies in Support of Member Countries Reform Programs (IMF)

The economic shock associated with the COVID-19 pandemic struck when the economic outlook for the region was improving. Tight regional policies helped maintain an improved external position in 2019. The current account deficit shrank to 2.5% of GDP, and external reserves increased. Fiscal balances remained broadly unchanged from 2018 at -0.3 percent of GDP, bringing public debt to 52 percent of GDP. Overall regional growth was 1.9 percent in 2019. While the pandemic seems to be under control in the region at the moment, the related oil price shock led to a sharp deterioration of fiscal and external balances in 2020. CEMAC is expected to experience a 3 percent recession in 2020. The current account deficit is expected to worsen to 6.5 percent of GDP, and external reserve coverage to remain at 3.5 months of imports of goods and services. The fiscal deficit would deteriorate to 3.8 percent of GDP, and public debt increase to 57 percent of GDP. The shock is set to have long-lasting effects on the economic outlook for the CEMAC. With lower medium-term oil prices, the outlook projects that CEMAC’s fiscal and external adjustments will be slower than previously envisaged, and risks are tilted to the downside. Growth is expected to rebound in 2021 to 2.7 percent and continue to pick up gradually to around 3.5 percent in the medium term, as reforms to improve governance and the business climate are assumed to slowly take hold. The region is at a critical juncture, as the second phase of the regional strategy is about to begin. CEMAC’s regional institutions and the national authorities should aim to radically transform the region by implementing governance, transparency and business climate reforms that will lay the basis for a diversified, inclusive and sustainable growth.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of Restriction Measures in West Africa - Benin (ReliefWeb)

This document analyses the impact of COVID-19 and the restrictions measures that were put in to place to contain the pandemic, in the ECOWAS region. It is based on a review of the epidemiological and the socioeconomic analysis of primary and secondary data (implemented through a household web-survey covered 15 countries). The current report will demonstrate how the rate of the spread of COVID-19 and the restriction measures taken, are straining the economic and social system of ECOWAS States. Several factors of vulnerability and socioeconomic fragility facing the region could exacerbate the effects of the health crisis. In particular, the region is characterized by: (i) poorly diversified economies focused on exports of primary products; (ii) limited fiscal space; and (iii) a large informal sector. The region is strongly affected by the contraction of world trade, causing a sharp fall in the prices of several export products such as oil, minerals and some agricultural products. In 2020, although still subject to strong uncertainty, forecasts predict a sharp deterioration in the current account deficit for ECOWAS as a whole, which is expected to stand at 4.3% against 2% in 2019.

Push for renewables: How Africa is building a different energy pathway (Africa Renewal)

Mr. Adnan Amin, the director-general of IRENA, says a lot of countries in Africa are increasingly embracing renewables as an enabler to leapfrog to sustainable energy future. “As a promising sign of things to come, several African countries have already succeeded in making steps necessary to scale up renewables, such as adoption of support policies, investment promotion and regional collaboration,” Mr. Amin said at the 9th Session of the agency’s Assembly, held in Abu Dhabi last year. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa have shown firm commitment towards accelerated use of modern renewable energy and are leading energy transition efforts, while some of Africa’s smaller countries including Cape Verde, Djibouti, Rwanda and Swaziland have also set ambitious renewable energy targets. Others are following suit, and renewable energy is on the rise across the continent.

Maersk calls for military action over surge in piracy off West Africa (BusinessLIVE)

The world’s biggest shipping company demanded a more effective military response to surging pirate attacks and record kidnappings off the coast of West Africa. The number of attacks on vessels globally jumped 20% in 2020 to 195, with 135 crew kidnapped, the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB’s) piracy reporting centre said in a January 13 report. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for 95% of hostages taken in 22 separate instances, and all three of the hijackings that occurred, the agency said. “It is unacceptable in this day and age that seafarers cannot perform their jobs of ensuring a vital supply chain for this region without having to worry about the risk of piracy,” said Aslak Ross, head of marine standards at Copenhagen-based Maersk. “The risk has reached a level where effective military capacity needs to be deployed.”

Global economy

The BRICs at 20 | by Jim O’Neill (Project Syndicate)

Much has happened in the two decades since the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) became a group to watch in the twenty-first century. While some of them have surpassed expectations, others have fallen short, as have the relevant global-governance institutions. This November will mark the 20th anniversary of the BRIC acronym that I coined to capture the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Many commentators will be revisiting the concept and assessing each country’s performance since 2001, so here are my own thoughts on the matter. What the world really needs is what we called for back in 2001: genuinely representative global economic governance. Let us hope there is a renewed desire to take this path under the new US administration.

China’s Debt Grip on Africa | by Paola Subacchi (Project Syndicate)

The pandemic is confronting highly indebted poor countries with a fateful dilemma. As Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, lamented last April, leaders have been forced to choose whether to “continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods.” And when they choose the latter, it is often China – Africa’s biggest bilateral lender – to which they have to answer. According to Ahmed, a moratorium on debt payments was essential to enable Ethiopia to respond to COVID-19. Such a moratorium would save Ethiopia – one of the world’s poorest countries – $1.7 billion between April 2020 and the end of the year, and $3.5 billion if extended to the end of 2022. An effective COVID-19 response, he noted, would cost $3 billion.

China’s financial aid to Africa switches focus to grants, white paper shows (South China Morning Post)

A new white paper released by the State Council Information Office in Beijing provides a glimpse into Chinese aid to Africa and other emerging economies. According to the report, titled “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era”, Beijing has “steadily increased the scale and further expanded the scope of its foreign aid”. The last such paper was published in 2014 and covered the 2010-12 period. “The establishment of such a specialised agency represents a milestone in China’s foreign aid journey,” the report said, adding that Beijing would “give US$2 billion of international aid over two years to countries hard hit by Covid-19, especially developing countries, to support their fight against the virus, and efforts to resume economic and social development”.

Global Trade’s Annual Logistics Planning Guide Can Put You In The Power Position Again (Global Trade Magazine)

For a supply chain to truly function well it needs to be flexible, operating under a ‘bend but don’t break’ principle that allows it to scale to needs and to be maneuverable enough to escape blockages and delays along the route. Much like a muscle, however, this is fairly unlikely to simply come naturally. It takes preparation, training, and stretching to build a muscle into something with the capacity and flexibility to go through rigorous moments of endurance or sprinting.  This analogy begins a follow-up report on the Supply Chain USA Virtual Summit 2020 by Alex Hadwick, editor-in-chief for Supply Chains with Reuters Events, which presented the online event in partnership with ABBYY, a digital intelligence company.

Hadwick discovered that numerous experts from across the supply chain space agreed that critical lessons must be learned from the disruption of 2020 as well as broader industry trends. Pery, the process intelligence expert at ABBYY, contributes the summit follow-up’s conclusion: “It’s evident no matter which stage of the supply chain logistics providers serve, having good process workflow and visibility into the specific events, activities, and people involved with each step is critical to successfully completing the last mile and delivering a positive customer experience.” He and Hadwick before him take deeper dives into each of the sections presented above. If you would like to read their full report, visit

Air travel down 60 per cent, as airline industry losses top $370 billion: ICAO (UN News)

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said on Friday, that as seating capacity fell by around 50 per cent last year, that left just 1.8 billion passengers taking flights through 2020, compared with around 4.5 billion in 2019. That adds up to a staggering financial loss to the industry of around $370 billion, “with airports and air navigation services providers losing a further 115 billion and 13 billion, respectively”, said ICAO in a press statement.

Closing the Infrastructure Gap (Swiss Re)

COVID-19 is exposing the urgent need for better health infrastructure in EMDEs

after the worst subsides, it will be vital that governments work to close their infrastructure investment gaps. The lesson from previous crises is that governments must guard against rushing to build lower-quality, more expensive, higher-carbon, and less resilient infrastructure assets. Instead, they have an exceptional opportunity to launch green stimulus packages that prioritise sustainable infrastructure designed to mitigate the next public health crisis, bolster long-term economic growth after COVID-19, and adapt to the effects of climate change.

World is warming up to China for trade. But India is left with just a handful of minilaterals (The Print)

as countries scramble to find new partners and new trade pacts in the wake of Covid, India is looking at a future where there is no China because of border tensions, and instead has lined up a few minilaterals whose outcomes are unknown. It seems that China is able to impose itself as a critical business partner even at a time when countries have been grouping up against its increasing belligerence under the Xi Jinping administration. India has been a rare exception in maintaining a consistent stance against China in terms of trade, blocking Chinese investment in April last year and walking out of the RCEP in November 2019. This stance has been bolstered by the Ladakh standoff. What it means is that while leading countries that are part of the large-scale and complex global value chains and supply networks have begun to find ways to do business with China, India will be the only country to be left out of all such trade and economic blocs or groupings.

Global Economy to Expand by 4% in 2021; Vaccine Deployment and Investment Key to Sustaining the Recovery (World Bank)

The global economy is expected to expand 4% in 2021, assuming an initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes widespread throughout the year. A recovery, however, will likely be subdued, unless policy makers move decisively to tame the pandemic and implement investment-enhancing reforms, the World Bank says in its January 2021 Global Economic Prospects. “While the global economy appears to have entered a subdued recovery, policymakers face formidable challenges—in public health, debt management, budget policies, central banking and structural reforms—as they try to ensure that this still fragile global recovery gains traction and sets a foundation for robust growth,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “To overcome the impacts of the pandemic and counter the investment headwind, there needs to be a major push to improve business environments, increase labor and product market flexibility, and strengthen transparency and governance.” Sub-Saharan Africa: Economic activity in the region is on course to rise by 2.7% in 2021.

WTO, OECD launch dataset on bilateral trade in services (World Trade Organisation)

The WTO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on 13 January jointly launched a new dataset covering bilateral services trade of over 200 economies from 2005 to 2019. The WTO-OECD Balanced Trade in Services (BaTIS) dataset, which provides detailed data for 12 services sectors in addition to total commercial services, offers a complete and balanced matrix that reconciles previously asymmetrical export and import data. At present, bilateral data are available for less than 70% of world trade in services. For individual services sectors, data coverage can be much lower. The BaTIS experimental dataset, which uses both official statistics and estimates for missing data, provides users with a complete and balanced matrix covering virtually all economies in the world.

Creative economy to have its year in the sun in 2021 (UNCTAD)

After a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns, there couldn’t be a better time to appreciate the creative economy. The United Nations is doing just this as it marks 2021 as the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. As the coronavirus pandemic closed traditional areas of life, many people took up a craft, read books, watched endless series and films, connected to digital concerts, or shopped online for the latest fashion. They helped sustain the creative economy, which is finally having its day – or more accurately, year – in the sun.

India, South Africa proposal for TRIPS waiver to be taken up again at WTO (BusinessLine)

India and South Africa’s proposal for a temporary waiver in Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions to ensure free flow of medicines, vaccines and medical equipment between countries during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will come up for discussion once again at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week. “The General Council of the WTO could not arrive at a decision on a waiver before the year-end break as many countries opposed it while several others wanted it to be implemented. It will hopefully be able to take the matter forward now given the fact that the proposed waiver has been supported by several civil society and intergovernmental organisations,” an official tracking the development told BusinessLine.