tralac’s Daily News Selection
Featured commentary: ACET’s Caroline Kende-Robb on Africa’s year of opportunity
US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, travels to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria next week
Marcel de Souza: Contribution to the ECOWAS integration process – a review of the transitional mandate (ECOWAS)
Having served for almost two years as President of the Commission of ECOWAS, I would like to provide a brief overview of the major initiatives undertaken and progress made with the support of all Community statutory officers, as well as commitment of all staff of Community Institutions. I should therefore like to express my gratitude and sincere appreciation for the outstanding support I enjoyed from every single one of them. This report is structured in three (3) parts. It, first, presents an overview of the situation at the time we assumed office. It then highlights major achievements in the implementation of regional integration programmes, service delivery and working conditions. Lastly, it outlines challenges and prospects for strengthening regional integration. Extracts: Challenges and prospects (pdf):
(i) Lack of Community spirit in the region. The lack of Community spirit among Member States is very obvious and constitutes a barrier to integration and solidarity. It is therefore necessary to rebuild this spirit and ensure that regional policies are adopted and that national laws align with Community policies. Similarly, political interference has a significant impact on the Commission’s efficiency, in particular with regard to purely internal management decisions. (ii) Delay in remittance of Community Levy. Member States should continue to be sensitised on the importance of the Community Levy for programme implementation. However, cases of wasted resources and mismanagement should be discouraged in the strictest terms. (iii) Non-compliance with decisions of the Court of Justice...; (iv) No solution to the political crisis in Guinea Bissau... [The author is outgoing President of the ECOWAS Commission]
East Africa: selected postings
(i) IOM in drive to address regional transnational organised crime. The UN Migration Agency has concluded a workshop in Somalia aimed at empowering senior government officials in the security sector with better skills on Transnational Organised Crime and Immigration Risk Analysis in the Horn of African and east African countries. Tuemay Aregawi Desta, Head of IGAD’s Transnational Organised Crime Pillar, provided an overview of the transnational crime context in the region, referencing challenges with human trafficking and smuggling, as well as drug and firearm control. “Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean cooperation between these countries isn’t there,” said Desta. “It exists – between Kenyan and Tanzanian intelligence, between Somalia and Kenya immigration – it just has not been formalised and operationalised.”
(ii) Regional Learning and Investor Forum on environment and natural resources management. The two-day forum (held in Arusha, organized by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Lake Victoria Basin Commission) provides an interactive space to promote networking, stimulate actions, and facilitate experiential learning that supports resilience, linking local level initiatives with those at regional and national levels. The event showcases EAC priority programs in environment and natural resources on climate change; biodiversity conservation; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and transboundary water resources management.
(iv) Jaindi Kisero: Costly foreign loans the elephant in the room. Prof Benno Ndulu was in Nairobi this week to speak at a memorial lecture in honour of yet another respected economist and long-serving director of the Central Bank of Kenya, the late Prof Francis Mwega. What I found insightful in Prof Ndulu’s presentation was his analysis of the macro- economic impact of the huge loans we have been taking from China and other foreign countries to fund infrastructure projects. Here is how he argued his case: [Treasury urged to go for long-term debts]
South Africa: High Court rules against Zuma in SADC Tribunal matter (Politicsweb)
The court found that “South Africa remains bound by the [SADC] Treaty and the First Protocol. Amending the Treaty and without terminating the First Protocol, the Executive has no authority to participate in a decision in conflict with South Africa’s binding obligations. The application was launched in April 2015 by The Law Society of South Africa to declare the actions of President Zuma, as well as the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, and the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, unconstitutional in relation to SADC’s 2014 Protocol. The South Africa Litigation Centre, admitted as a friend of the court (amicus curiae), together with The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, argued that the right of access to courts was not limited to the right to domestic courts, but also entitled access to a regional court.
$400m NRZ-Transnet deal: what it means for SADC (Southern Times)
The recapitalisation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe under the $400m deal with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet Consortium is a big win for entire Southern Africa. Zimbabwe’s railway operations are crucial, as its network provides a vital link between landlocked countries in the northern region like Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and seaports in Mozambique and South Africa. Last week, the NRZ took delivery of the bulk of the consignment of newly acquired railway equipment on lease terms under the recapitalisation pact with DIDG /Transnet Consortium. The interim solution initiative has provided NRZ with critical tractive power and rolling stock in the form of 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches at significantly reduced lease rates, NRZ board chair, Larry Mavima, said.
By participating in the NRZ deal, a Transnet representative Patrius Fusi said his organisation was focused on integrating South Africa into the region and the rest of the continent. “Interconnectivity and interoperability of the railways are long overdue in our continent. The opportunity that we talk about here presents us with unique opportunities to strengthen and to grow localisation to make sure that there is job creation and skills transfer, which are all important for growth in Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Mr Fusi. “Partnerships and collaborations are important in terms of creating the necessary traction to move our operations forward and to overcome our business challenges,” he said. [Related: Mnangagwa to ban cargo road ban after rail revival]
Ethiopia acquires 19% stake in DP World Berbera port (pdf, DP World)
Ethiopia will become a shareholder of the Port of Berbera following the signing of an agreement with DP World and the Somaliland Port Authority in Dubai today. DP World will hold a 51% stake in the project, Somaliland 30% and Ethiopia the remaining 19%. The government of Ethiopia will also invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the inland country, which is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. There are also plans to construct an additional berth at the Port of Berbera, in line with the Berbera master plan, which DP World has already started implementing.
Ethiopian Transport Minister Ahmed Shide, said: “The agreement will help Ethiopia secure an additional logistical gateway for its ever increasing import and export trade driven by its growing population and economy. In addition, Ethiopian participation in the development of port of Berbera and the Berbera Corridor will help bring increased economic development and opportunity to the people of Somaliland. Ethiopia will continue to further invest in and develop the Djibouti corridor and further consolidate the use of existing ports in Djibouti. It will also look for other opportunities to develop additional ports and logistics corridors in the region.”
The tipping point: the impact of rising electricity tariffs on large firms in South Africa (UNU-WIDER)
While much research has been done on the economic impacts of load-shedding in South Africa, fewer studies have focused on the effects of the rapidly rising electricity tariffs. The issue of tariff increases has now become even more critical, with technological developments making it easier and cheaper for consumers to reduce their demand for grid-based electricity. This study (pdf) examines the timing and type of own-generation investment decisions that are viable for 21 large companies, and the likely impact of this on South Africa’s electricity utility. [The authors: Angelika Goliger, Landon McMillan]
Jobs, FDI and institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from firm-level data (ILO)
This paper uses data on foreign-owned and domestic firms in Sub-Saharan Africa and studies the differences in the quantity and quality of jobs that they offer, taking into account different characteristics of foreign-owned firms and analysing the role of country-level institutional factors.
The secondary effect of the common agricultural policy (CAP) on African agriculture is a source of concern for MEPs. In recent years exports of powdered milk have soared, threatening the African dairy sector.
Today’s Quick Links:
DRC and the region: Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement update
The 2018 JCI SADC Regional Leadership Academy is underway in Johannesburg
50th Southern African Power Pool management committee meeting: update
One year of Ghana’s implementation of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
The Sendai Framework Monitor: online monitoring tool is launched
Chad P. Bown: Trump has announced massive aluminum and steel tariffs – here are 5 things you need to know