tralac’s Daily News Selection
Nigeria: FEC approves trade negotiations office (PM News)
The Federal Executive Council, presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday approved the establishment of a national office for trade negotiations. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah: “What we found was that this was happening in various ministries, departments and agencies with insufficient coordination and therefore, frequently, it had unintended consequences and costs for us. The cabinet decided that it is wise to establish a coordinating central office for trade negotiations, the Nigerian office for Trade Negotiations. It will be headed by a Chief Trade Negotiator of Ambassador rank that would then work with both the Economic Management Team and the cabinet.” He added that it would also be a proactive strategy for engaging discussions at the continental level of free trade area agreements and negotiations as well as guide in other trade agreements with strategic partners across the globe.
India on Wednesday blocked the WTO General Council from approving an agenda to discuss investment facilitation on grounds of mandate, triggering an uproar and the suspension of proceedings, people familiar with the development said. India has consistently maintained that there is no merit for any proposal on investment facilitation at the WTO, as investment falls outside the trade body’s mandate. India, which was supported by several countries such as Uganda, Ecuador and Bolivia, asked General Council chair Ambassador Xavier Carim to take investment facilitation off the agenda. Countries who sought a discussion on investment facilitation strongly criticized India, saying blocking the agenda is unprecedented.
Can trade facilitation drive manufacturing FDI? (Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation)
Figure 3 shows the relationship between the Border Administration sub-index of the World Economic Forum’s Enabling Trade Index and the capital expenditure of FDI projects in manufacturing (normalized per million inhabitants) between 2013 and 2015 for a number of developing and emerging economies. Put simply, improving the trade facilitation environment by 1% as measured by the ETI sub-index is associated with a 3.2% increase in FDI into manufacturing. While this does not imply causation, as investment is driven by many different factors, it still points to the importance of the trade facilitation environment in helping to attract and retain investment. Looking at the number of new (greenfield) projects, we see an even stronger relationship, with a 1% increase in the ETI sub-index being associated with a 3.8% increase in the number of projects (see Figure 4, pdf).
South Africa: Annual State of Cross-Border Operations Report, 2017 (pdf, CBRTA)
The purpose of this report is to: (i) Present the state of cross-border operations to key stakeholders in the cross-border road transport value chain, paying particular attention to challenges that undermine the efficient functioning of three prioritised regional road transport corridors, namely the North-South Corridor, Maputo Development Corridor and Trans-Kalahari Corridor; (ii) Identify, discuss and inform relevant stakeholders of initiatives and developments that are being designed and developed or taking place in the region that will have an impact on the cross-border sector; (iii) Identify, discuss and inform relevant stakeholders of interventions implemented in other regions around the world that can also be considered by MS in the region; and (iv) Propose recommendations (interventions) and actions plans that may be considered in pursuit of addressing cross-border challenges and constraints that exist in regional road transport corridors.
One of the factors contributing to the slow take-up of Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) principles is a lack of clear and specific information regarding the impacts of enacting Air Transport liberalization hence, the East African Business Council and the EAC Secretariat commissioned a study on the Costs and Benefits of Open Skies in the East African Community (pdf) understand the impact of implementing the YD in East Africa. The study estimates that liberalization between the five EAC countries could result in an additional 46,320 jobs and $202.1m per annum in GDP. Study analysis reveal compelling evidence that full liberalization of restricted routes leads to 9% lower average fares and a 41% increase in frequencies, which in turn stimulate passenger demand.
Bid to upgrade EAC education sector (Tanzania Daily News)
Participants in the 7th Annual Forum of the EA Higher Education Quality Assurance Network are drawn from the regional bloc’s member states ‑ Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and host Tanzania. In attendance, too, are representatives from donor partners and visiting guests from West Africa. Tanzania’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, urged the delegates to deliberate incisively on challenges facing higher learning institutions across the region, which have impacted negatively on the quality of graduates, compared to the market demand. [African airlines under pressure in 2017 due to strong dollar]
Botswana: Mining Investment and Governance Review (World Bank)
The review’s key findings indicate (pdf): (i) Botswana’s mining policy and legal framework are sound (ii) Mining sector institutions are for the most part staffed with trained, qualified people; (iii) Environmental protection legislation is current and in line with international good practice, with the exception of access to Environmental Impact Assessments; (iv) Land use issues, including resettlement and compensation require a more inclusive process and stronger legislative framework; and (v) Local content policy should be developed with mining sector participation.
Tanzania: EU open to talks over EPA, affirms envoy (Citizen)
Speaking at a cocktail party to mark the Europe day at the National Assembly grounds on Wednesday evening Ambassador van de Geer said Tanzania as a sovereign country has all the rights to have its opinion on the agreement and EU are waiting for the official government response on the matter.”What is important is that we have dialogue. You (Tanzania) have your convictions; we (EU) have our convictions, we are all human beings. Tanzania is a sovereign country and should take its own decisions,” he said, adding “Let’s talk and let us continue our dialogue, and I’m really looking forward to it. I have all confidence in a robust reply from the Tanzanian side.”
During his statement at the second reading, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the Bill which he said constitutes another major stride in Government’s endeavour to boost up private investment, attract more FDI, create employment for youth at a faster pace and build up on the renewed momentum in the economy. The Business Facilitation Bill focuses on seven main areas:
The Board of Directors of the AfDB has approved a loan of $226.5m (R3bn) to finance the Namibia Economic Governance and Competitiveness Support Programme. The operation is the Bank’s maiden policy based operation in Namibia and the first of two programmatic series for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 fiscal years. The programme will support the strengthening of public financial management and improve the quality and efficiency of public sector spending, while laying a solid foundation for industrialization through support to critical business environment reforms.
Although a massive 40 companies asked for the tender application documents for the $1.1bn, 330km section project of the railway line between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, only one bid was received.
Address by President Paul Kagame: Let me remind us about a few key priorities. First, Africa has to be connected—and why not at the highest possible speeds? At first glance the figures appear low: only 20% of Africans have internet access and there are only three years left to meet the Broadband Commission’s target of 50%. However, this must be regarded as an opportunity for stronger public-private collaboration. In Rwanda, for example, our partnership with Korea Telecom has already served to speed up our progress toward the broadband target. Second, we must deliver on technology’s promise to bridge divides rather than deepen them. [South Africa: Cabinet approves membership of the Smart Africa Alliance]
Smart Africa Alliance, Inmarsat developing blueprint for digital services across Africa (RNA): The world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced that, in conjunction with the government of Rwanda, it is launching a series of digital service initiatives across the capital, Kigali, a city of more than one million people. The digital service pilots, which will be enabled through Inmarsat’s world-leading satellite communications network, are scheduled to last up to 12-months in Kigali. The results of the lessons learnt during the pilots will be used to develop blueprints for a range of digital services initiatives that can be applied more broadly across Rwanda and in other African nations, in conjunction with the Smart Africa Alliance.
Also in Kigali: the Africa Regional Internet and Development Dialogue - Enhancing entrepreneurship, innovation and education in Africa through the internet. Presentations: Day 1, Day 2
Blue Economy: selected postings
Next month’s ocean conference eyes cutting $35bn in fisheries subsidies: Harmful fishing subsidies that contribute to overfishing are estimated to be as high as $35bn, fisheries experts from the United Nations trade and development agency said, highlighting one of the key issues that will be debated at next month’s Ocean Conference. ”If you consider that the total export of fish and seafood products is $146bn, we are talking about that of each $5 in fish products, $1 is subsidized,” David Vivas of the UNCTAD told reporters in Geneva. UNCTAD is working towards a multilateral fisheries agreement that will be discussed at The Ocean Conference in New York in early June, and finalized at the WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires this December. The idea of such an agreement has support from a number of countries and regional blocs, including the ACP Group, the EU, and Pakistan.
Indian Ocean should be given a ‘modern purpose’: India at IORA (Outlook India). The Indian Ocean should be given a “modern purpose” to make it a central space in the geo-economics of the 21st century for integrated prosperity and security and sustained peace in the region, India said today. Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar said that India seeks an integrated future for the Indian Ocean region through the development of a “Blue Economy” and called for inter-governmental cooperation for financing it. He was addressing a ministerial-level conference at the Second Indian Ocean Rim Association meeting on Blue Economy in Jakarta. [2nd IORA Blue Economy Ministerial Conference: concept paper (pdf); Sustainable Ocean Economy, Innovation and Growth: a G20 initiative]
Africa seeks energy security (AU): Hydropower provides significant opportunities for Africa, particularly with the abundance of the resource on the continent and further, the maturity of the technology which indicates hydropower’s crucial role in expanding electricity access to the African citizenry, says African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Ambassador Kwesi Quartey. Speaking at the opening of the sixth World Hydropower Congress (WHC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ambassador Kwesi observed that Africa accounts for about 12% of the World’s technically feasible hydropower potential, likely to generate over 1,800 Terra Watts-hours of electricity. “Currently, less than 10% of the hydropower potential in Africa is exploited making hydropower an ample opportunity for Africa to develop both large and small-scale energy infrastructure at the regional, national and local levels,” stated the Deputy Chairperson.
Kenya drops on list of top hydropower producers (Business Daily): Kenya’s failure to develop more hydropower stations has continued its downward slide on Africa’s list of top hydroelectricity producers as Ethiopia shoots to position one for the first time. Kenya’s installed hydropower capacity remained unchanged at 818 megawatts last year, ranking at position 12 in Africa from 11 in 2015 and from top 10 the previous years, according to a new report by International Hydropower Association. Neighbouring Ethiopia is the top hydro-power producer in Africa with an installed capacity of 4,054 MW, having overtaken Egypt for the first time last year. Second is South Africa (3,583 MW), followed by Egypt (2,800 MW), DRC Congo (2,509 MW) while Zambia is fifth.
As the world cuts back on coal, a growing appetite in Africa (National Geographic)
According to data compiled by CoalSwarm, an industry watchdog, more than 100 coal-generating units with a combined capacity of 42.5 gigawatts are in various stages of planning or development in 11 African countries outside of South Africa—more than eight times the region’s existing coal capacity. Nearly all are fueled by foreign investment, and roughly half are being financed by the world’s largest coal emitter: China. This comes at a time when China and India, which accounted for 86% of global coal development over the last decade, are putting coal projects on hold at record rates due to existing overcapacity, the lowering cost of renewables, and crippling pollution that is thought to kill more than a million people a year in the case of China alone. Many of the world’s more developed countries are also in the process of phasing out the fuel as a power source.
Today’s Quick Links:
UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development: opening address by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi