Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Rediff

The AERC Senior Policy Seminar XIX, on the theme of Industrialization in Africa (pdf), ends today in Abidjan. Today’s sessions cover regional industrialisation in Africa, financing industrial development and the AfDB’s industrial strategy. For twitter updates: @AERCAFRICA

Inaugural STC meeting on Energy, Transport and Tourism kicks off in Togo (AU)

The First Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism (TIIIET) kicked-off on Monday in Lomé (Togo) amidst reiterated calls for mobilizing sustainable means of adequate financing for infrastructure development in the continent. Mr. Cheikh Bedda, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, in his welcoming remarks said the theme for the first STC meeting “Financing Infrastructure in Africa, has been selected in consideration of the huge challenge of mobilising colossal financial resources required to improve infrastructure in Africa to the level expected to support Africa’s development aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063.

Lights, Power, Action: Electrifying Africa (Africa Progress Panel)

This new paper seeks to build on the political momentum that has been created over the past year to increase energy access in Africa. Its main aim is to provide additional policy-relevant information and insights to support the implementation of ambitious new public and private initiatives now underway that aim to increase energy access swiftly across Africa, especially the New Deal on Energy for Africa, spearheaded by the African Development Bank. In light of the continent’s dynamic links with the rest of the world, the paper also highlights critical steps that must be taken by leaders in the international public and private sectors. [Table of contents: Part I: Off-grid solar – climbing the power ladder, Part II: Mini-grids – serving “the missing middle”, Part III: Mending and extending the grid, Part IV: Policy insights], [AfDB launch resources]

12th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership (9-10 March): updates, programme

India’s investments in select East African countries: prospects and opportunities (Export-Import Bank of India): This study focuses on select East African countries, given their respective strategic importance, which include Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. During 2015-16, FDI outflows to these countries stood at $34.6m. During 2015-16, outflows to Ethiopia were the highest, accounting for 49% of the total FDI outflows to the region, followed by Tanzania (32.9%), and Kenya (11%). FDI outflows from India to Burundi are negligible. Institutional linkages: Exim India has been consciously forging a network of alliances and institutional linkages to help further economic co-operation with the African Region. Towards this end, Exim India has taken up equity in Afreximbank, West African Development Bank, and Development Bank of Zambia. These endeavours are supplemented by the various Memoranda of Cooperation /Memoranda of Understanding, the Bank has in place, with key institutions in the African region. They include: [Table of contents: Background, Recent trends investments in select East African countries, India’s investments in select East African countries, Prospects and opportunities for investments in select East African countries, Export-Import Bank of India in Africa]. [Note: to download Working Paper No 60 go to the Working Papers tab]

Commerce Minister sees scope for ties with Africa in pharma, food security (DNA India): Tapping the potential in renewable energy, pharma and healthcare can boost economic ties between India and Africa, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. She said the two-way trade between India and Africa increased to $56.69bn in 2015-16 from $51.67bn in 2010-11. There was a “good increase in trade but opportunities do exist. The newer sectors in which we can have greater interaction, engagement and productive relationship are renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and healthcare,” the Commerce and Industry Minister said.

Valedictory address by M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs: African, not just Africa, is our policy, which is geared towards addressing human priorities. This partnership is also based on a consultative model of cooperation. There has been a significant intensification of our engagement, for instance, particularly aimed at improving the skills, opportunities and lives of the deprived. Since October 2015, we had as many as 14 outgoing visits to Africa by the troika - The President, Vice-president and the Prime Minister. This was complemented by Ministerial visits that went into the specifics of the engagement, and gave scope and content to good intentions. To cite a personal example, I have just returned from Africa after a successful trip to Tunisia, Mali and Republic of Congo, where we have elevate our bilateral partnership to the next level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a commitment to provide $10bn worth of LoCs to Africa between 2015-2020. We have already approved $ 1.1bn of LoC projects in the last year, which we would like to implement as soon as possible. We look forward to receiving more LoC proposals from countries across Africa. India is perhaps the go-to partner in bridging Africa’s quest for efficient governance through adoption of digital technologies - an effort that is bearing fruit in India through the ‘Digital India’ movement. [Related: Nigeria tops India’s Africa export chart, Zambia’s exports to India hit $475m]

Dubai Chamber highlights Dubai’s strong trade links with Africa (GoD)

H.E. Al Ghurair said: “Dubai’s trade relationship with Africa has gone from strength to strength in recent years, supported by the trade missions led by the Chamber and the expansion of our international offices in promising markets on the continent. The number of African companies registered with Dubai Chamber has now exceeded 12,000, which is a testament to the increased cooperation between both sides.” Gulf entities have invested around $30bn in Africa’s infrastructure projects over the last decade, while Sub-Saharan Africa has attracted an additional $2.7bn in foreign direct investment from the GCC in the first half of 2015. Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, have seen the largest inflows of Gulf investments. [UAE wants closer trade ties with Asia, Africa]

India, China team up against West’s pressure on drug patent norms (The Hindu)

India, China, Brazil and South Africa are attempting to counter a push by the US and EU for more stringent global intellectual property rules. The four countries have called for intensive discussions at the WTO on a UN report recommending rigorous definition of invention and criteria for granting of pharmaceutical patents. [India may mandate using local steel in government infrastructure projects]

Transparency in beneficial ownership: how the G20 can support African countries (Stiftung Entwicklung und Frieden)

The fight against illicit financial flows and efforts for more transparency in the global financial architecture are among the priorities of the G20 under German presidency. At the same time, the G20 is seeking to deepen its partnership with Africa. But this partnership can only have a positive impact on development, if tax evasion, money laundering and corruption are pushed back at the same time. In our Global Governance Spotlight 1, 2017, Dr Mzukisi Qobo shows how the G20 can support this process, taking the example of transparency in beneficial ownership. [The analyst: Dr Mzukisi Qobo]

The African Alliance for e-Commerce opened today in Nairobi: Opening address by Gen. Joseh Kibwana (ret), Chairman of KENTRADE

The full implementation of Kenya TradeNet System modules and functionalities was achieved after deployment of the Declaration Transmission module and the Duty Remissions module late last month. In this connection we have continued to experience an increase in the number of users of the Single Window System currently standing at over 7,800 registered system users and 41 stakeholder organizations including 30 Partner Government Agencies using the TradeNet System. We believe that with this milestone we will shortly be able to demonstrate how that Single Window System has continued to transform the way we carry out cross border trade in this country. We should also be able to witness increased improvement in the “trading across borders” index.

Policy dialogue on Combating corruption along ECOWAS border routes: updates

ECOWAS traders want reviews of border documentation (Daily Trust): The National Association of Nigerian Traders and other merchants across West Africa have call for a review of cross-border trade and documentation policies to reduce corruption and other hindrances affecting ECOWAS trade protocols. This is contained in the communique of a regional conference tagged: “Policy Dialogue at Combating Corruption along ECOWAS Border Routes” held in Abuja organised by NANTS and the German International Development Agency under the SEDIN programme. The communique signed by the Secretariat President of the association Barrister Kenneth Ukaoha said that participants complained that extortion, bribery, intimidation and harassment by trade/product regulators and law enforcement officials cut across the land, sea and air borders.

“A study by the AfDB asserts that the average customs transactions involve 20-30 parties, 40 documents, 200 data points and re-keying of 60-70% of all data at least once and many of these are critical requirements at the border routes. Participants agreed that the bogus and complex nature of these requirements breed opportunities for corrupt practices. Similarly, participants agreed on the need to reduce the number of security and law enforcement agencies operating along the border routes as this would go a long way to reducing the rate of corrupt practices along the border. Participants equally called on NANTS and other professional interests to raise their efforts towards improving Nigeria’s position in World Ease of doing Business Index where the country presently ranks 169th out of 190,” the communique said.

Burdensome rules fuels corruption along the borders - Ukaoha (MaritimeFirst): Mr Ekpo Nta, the Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said aside from poor infrastructure and corruption, abuse of procedure was often identified as most formidable cog in the nation’s desire to maximise benefits from trade. Nta complained about corrupt practices such as extortion, bribery, intimidation and harassment by trade and product regulators and enforcement officials across the land, sea and air borders. He said “Federal Government and relevant agencies are aware of the importance of smooth trade facilitation that contributes to job creation and economic wellbeing of the people. This informed the commission to conduct Corruption Risk Assessment exercises in Nigerian seaports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Warri, Onne and Calabar. Others are international airports Lagos and Abuja, with the objective of assessing the nature of corrupt practices among officials and operational practices and procedures that dispose them to corruption.”

Nigeria: Smuggling, import decline threaten customs’ N1.1 trillion revenue target (Nigeria Today)

The Nigeria Customs Service may not meet its N1.1trillion revenue target for 2017 as smuggling continues at the nation’s points of entry. The Guardian learnt that the customs failed to meet its 2016 revenue target due to a high level of smuggling and reduction in the volume of import. The agency had set a target of N1 trillion, but generated N898bn as revenue (including Value Added Tax) last year. The failure of the customs, one of the crucial revenue-generating agencies for government, to meet its target will mean less money for government to execute its projects and programmes to develop the country and take it out of the current recession. More than this, it underscores the depth of inefficiency that has come to define port operations in Nigeria, a situation that has forced many importers to migrate their businesses to neighbouring ports of Benin Republic and Togo.

TAZARA board told to justify required funding (IPPMedia)

This follows a meeting held between Zambia’s Transport and Communications Minister, Brian Mushimba, and his Tanzanian counterpart, Makame Mbarawa, which revealed that TAZARA was in need of additional funding. “We noted that there was still a need for injection of investment funds in the authority, and the two Governments remained fully committed to sourcing re-capitalisation funds. However, we urged the board of directors to make a proper business case to justify shareholder funding,” the communiqué read. The council also directed the TAZARA board of directors to discipline erring company managers to restore integrity in the institution. The communiqué further noted that progress had been made towards a review of the TAZARA Act to transform the institution to make it more business-oriented, and urged the board to expedite the process and conclude the review within one month.

Zimbabwe: RBZ engages DBSA for infrastructure finance (The Standard)

The Development Bank of Southern Africa held a closed door meeting with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently to discuss how it could partner local development finance institutions. DBSA CEO Patrick Dlamini told Standardbusiness on the sidelines of the 12th edition of the Confederation of Industries of India- Exim Bank of India Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership held last week in India that the meeting was held with RBZ governor John Mangudya and Thomas Sakala, Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe CEO. He said DBSA could support Zimbabwe’s infrastructure projects up to $2,5bn annually.

Zimbabwe: Govt sets up tourism border posts inter-ministerial committee (The Chronicle)

The Government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to spearhead the construction of two tourism border posts with South Africa as part of measures to enhance regional tourism. Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni said sites have already been identified in Beitbridge and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko will chair the committee. He said one port will be constructed at Chituripasi area, some 156km east of Beitbridge town and the other at Shashe some 120km west of the main border post. Under the new order, Chituripasi border post will create a passage for those accessing the Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation area, which is made up of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Shashe port will cater for tourists visiting the Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier Conservation Area to the west of Beitbridge town.

Without a gender perspective, trade policy may undermine women’s empowerment (UNCTAD)

Trade policies that are “gender-blind” can inadvertently undermine women’s economic empowerment, UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said ahead of the opening in New York of the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women, taking place from 13-24 March. To examine further how trade policies, export policies in particular, have affected women’s work opportunities, UNCTAD is holding a panel discussion on 17 March, during the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women. The event, organized with Finland and Sweden, and titled “The Impact of the Trade Environment on Women’s Employment“, will draw on UNCTAD’s extensive work and research in countries such as Lesotho, Bhutan, Uruguay and several members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. [Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work: report of the Secretary-General]

The role of gender in the extractives industries (UNU-WIDER)

This paper reviews recent literature on gender and the extractives industries and then considers the following questions that emerged from the scholarship. How is gender understood in the extractives sector and has this changed over time? What are the gendered impacts of the extractives industries? Are women passive victims of the sector rather than active participants or even resisters to industrial expansion? What is the nature of extractives-associated sex-work and gender-based violence in various settings? In addition, the paper presents available information on women’s participation in the extractives industry, both formal and informal, and how these differ, and evaluates industry efforts towards achieving improved gender balance and equity in the sector. [The analyst: Catherine Macdonald]

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