tralac’s Daily News Selection
CFTA negotiations: The 3rd Meeting of the African Ministers of Trade began today in Niamey, Niger. It concludes tomorrow.
Featured visualisation: Market potential of West African agglomerations
The total amount of soft loans that India has committed in the past 14 years is about $24.2bn, in over 60 developing countries. As per government figures, India’s lines of credit stood at about $10bn as of April 2014. Since then, another $14.2bn has been added with 52 new lines of credit. This amount of $24.2bn, however, does not include the $10bn soft loan that Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered to African countries at the third India Africa Forum Summit in 2015. The fact that India has loaned out capital amounting to nearly 1% of its current GDP is a clear indicator of the primacy of ‘aid’ as a diplomatic tool. With the Indian economy continuing to show faster signs of growth compared to its peers, MEA officials believe that lines of credit commitments will continue to rise. Therefore, putting the right policy in place at this time becomes crucial. The success of the new guidelines will only become apparent if the projects start to be finished as per schedule. “We want to actively promote our soft loans to more and more countries. But we need to be confident that we will get good companies and that our credibility to implement projects is not harmed,” said a senior official.
The New Deal focuses on seven strategic themes that are holding back the development of the energy sector. These strategic themes are: (i) setting up the right enabling policy environment, (ii) enabling utility companies for success, (iii) dramatically increasing the number of bankable energy projects, (iv) increasing the funding pool to deliver new projects, (v) supporting ‘bottom of the pyramid’ energy access programmes, (vi) accelerating major regional projects and driving integration, and (vii) rolling out waves of country-wide energy ‘transformations’. The Bank will implement these themes through a series of flagship programmes such as:
Sending money home: contributing to the SDGs, one family at a time (IFAD)
The first-ever study, Sending Money Home: Contributing to the SDGs, One Family at a Time, highlights the role these funds - more than $445m in 2016 - play in helping development countries attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals. ”About 40% of remittances – $200bn – are sent to rural areas where the majority of poor people live,” said Pedro de Vasconcelos, manager of IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances and lead author of the report, which notes that over the past decade, remittances have risen by 51% – far greater than the 28% increase in migration from these countries. Extract (pdf): Over the past decade, remittances to and within Africa have grown by 36%, close to the migration growth pace (29%). Out of the $60.5bn received in 2016, close to 80% of remittances went to five countries: Nigeria ($19bn), Egypt ($16.6bn), Morocco ($7bn), Algeria and Ghana ($2bn each). For 19 receiving countries, remittances are critical, as they rely on these flows for 3% or more of their GDP. For six countries, remittances make up more than 10% of their GDP: Liberia (31%), The Gambia (22%), Comoros (20%), Lesotho (18%), Senegal (14%).
Reducing gender disparities at workplaces by 25% by 2025 could inject nearly $5.8 trillion into the global economy and boost tax revenues, a new report released by the ILO reveals. ”Helping women access the labour market is nevertheless an important first step,” said ILO in a news release, noting that in 2017, the global labour force participation rate for women – at just over 49% – is nearly 27 percentage points lower than for men. Extract (pdf): The labour force participation gap in sub-Saharan Africa remains almost unchanged from a decade earlier, at 11.7 percentage points. Furthermore, little change is anticipated through 2021. With a participation rate of 64.6%, a higher share of women in sub-Saharan Africa are active in the labour force than in any other region. However, this reflects both a prevalence of poverty and a lack of access to social protection, leaving both men and women little choice but to work out of necessity. This effect – in addition to limited access to education and vocational opportunities – is also responsible for more women working in vulnerable forms of employment, namely as own-account workers or contributing family workers (see section 1.4).
A two-day Experts’ Group Meeting to validate a study on Land, Ethnicity and Conflict in Africa ended in Addis Ababa on Wednesday with participants endorsing the draft report as an authentic piece of work that reflects the current land situation on the continent. COMESA Senior Private Sector Development Officer, Innocent Paradzayi Makwiramiti, applauded the LPI for commissioning the study, adding it will help the continent deal with land and ethnicity conflicts, paving the way for the creation of a conducive environment that will boost investment, economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. The experts will soon present their findings, recommendations and policy guidelines to the continent’s leaders through the AU, the United Nations, Regional Economic Communities and related entities.
Coal exported in the period, which accounted for 33.4% of all exports, generated revenues of $326.1m, an increase of 200.5% over the first quarter of 2016. Coal and aluminium (with exports of 249 million euros, a year-on-year increase of 29.5% and a weight of 25.5%) accounted for 58.9% of Mozambique’s exports in the quarter.
The Zambian government on Tuesday extended its ban on timber exports to all types of timber in the country. The government has already banned to harvest and export of the Mukula species, an endangered species as well as in-transit of the logs from other countries in the region. Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata said the ministry will however allow concession licenses to continue operating and supplying timber to the local market. According to her, authorities impounded 466 trucks laden with timber logs during the period, adding that so far 272 trucks had valid documentation to transit through Zambia. She said the trucks will soon be released to proceed to respective destinations while the remaining 194 trucks, which have no supporting legal documentation, will be dealt with on a case by case basis. [Willemien Viljoen: When good intentions go awry – timber transit through Zambia]
Barrick Gold Corporation executive chairman John L. Thornton met with the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr. John P. Magufuli, to discuss issues pertaining to Acacia Mining plc, and the country’s current ban on mineral concentrate exports. The meeting was constructive and open, with the parties agreeing to enter into negotiations to seek a resolution that is in the best interests of all stakeholders, including Tanzania, Barrick, and Acacia. [Parliamentary committee meets over the second mineral sands saga report]
Tanzania Investment Centre gets new board chair (The Citizen)
President John Magufuli has appointed Professor Longinus Rutasitara the new chairman of the Tanzania Investment Center board with effect from May 31 this year. In a statement released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, it also says that Minister Charles Mwijage has appointed six members of the board. They include, Prof Winester Anderson, Dr Khatib Kazungu, Mr Godfrey Simbeye, Dr Taus Kida, Mr Seif Seif and Mr Peter Chisawilo.
Kenya: We have adjustments to make on spending on project (Daily Nation)
When it (the SGR) was launched, there were promises that it would cement our regional hub status; it would bring down our high costs of transport and thirdly, that it would be run efficiently and economically. Regarding the first one, the new railway has the potential to reinforce the country’s important hub position but that will be dependent on both the other two promises being carried out. The acid test will be ensuring that the SGR finds and retains a role as a competitive and efficient transporter. One big if will be whether it will need subsidising? Certainly the rates it is offering at present do not look as if they will bring in adequate revenue. The government is between a rock and a hard place. If it reduces rates further it will have to subsidise more and if it increases the rates it will find it harder to win over much new business from the road transporters, in particular. [The author: Robert Shaw]
Zambia: USTDA supports Bwengwa River geothermal resource (ESI Africa)
The US Trade and Development Agency has signed a $1.5m grant with Zambian geothermal development company, Kalahari GeoEnergy Limited, for a feasibility study supporting the development of a 10-20MW geothermal power plant. California-based Geologica Geothermal Group has been selected to carry out the study, which will provide technical and environmental analyses needed to advance the project, the development agency noted. “This grant is an endorsement of the work Kalahari GeoEnergy has conducted to date, and of the Bwengwa River geothermal resource, which we can now validate as a source of stable sustainable power,” Vivian-Neal said.
Containers and globalisation: estimating the cost structure of maritime shipping (VOX)
Container shipping is considered to be one of the drivers of globalisation. This column uses micro-level data to show evidence that confirms the role of ‘the box’ in the global economy: it implies significant cost savings and explains a significant amount of the global trade increase since its inception. The results also suggest that most of its trade-increasing effect has already been realised.
Today’s Quick Links:
SADC 7th River Basin Organizations’ meeting (22-24 May): summary