Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

Two to Tango: An evaluation of World Bank Group support to fostering regional integration (World Bank)

This evaluation assesses the Bank Group’s effectiveness and comparative advantage in fostering regional integration during FY2003–17 and draws lessons that can be used to inform future regional integration operations. This evaluation applied three sets of methods to gather the evidence related to the Bank Group’s effectiveness, including: Portfolio review and analysis of a stratified sample of regional integration interventions; Regional case studies in East Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia based on the intensity (high or low) of Bank Group regional integration activities; and Econometric analysis on the macroeconomic effects of Bank Group support, construction of a regional integration index, and a data-envelopment analysis to identify frontier regions and sub-regions with the most potential for regional integration. Main findings (extract):

Overall, the Bank Group’s efforts to foster regional integration have led to mostly positive development outcomes in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region and in infrastructure sectors. Bank Group regional integration efforts in other regions and sectors have been sporadic and not prioritized according to regional needs or client demand. Though the IDA Regional Window program has also contributed to regional integration (mainly in the Africa Region), the development outcomes of its interventions are not significantly different from similar projects co-financed outside the program. The most promising outcomes were increased knowledge exchange and clients’ enhanced understanding of regional benefits and regional issues. The Bank Group contributed, to a lesser extent, to regional policy harmonization and formation of new regional institutions or functional agencies.

AfDB Civil Society Forum: update

Deeper engagement with civil society on development projects has resulted in acceptance of projects by communities and greater regional integration, but the pace must move faster, participants gathered for the opening of the African Development Banks’s Civil Society Forum heard Monday. In her welcome remarks, Jennifer Blanke, Vice President Agriculture, Human and Social Development Complex said the Bank was working with governments and the AU to build the critical infrastructure for a faster realization of integration goals, beginning 2025. Blanke who chairs the AfDB-Civil Society committee, said the Bank’s engagement with civil society formed a crucial part of its policy making process and outcomes of the forum will be integrated in an action plan to boost intra-African trade from the current low level of 15%. But while there have been some milestones under the plan, challenges remain, mostly due to political interest of member states, the forum heard. [ pdf Concept Note (194 KB) ]

pdf A single digital market for East Africa (6.71 MB) : Presenting a vision, strategic framework, implementation roadmap and impact assessment (World Bank)

East Africa cannot afford to think small. At the current, incremental pace of economic and social advancement, too many of today’s youth will continue to be denied the opportunity to live up to their potential. The rise of digital technologies offers a chance to disrupt this trajectory, unlocking new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation, and access to services which would have been unimaginable only a decade ago. The burgeoning tech start-up clusters in Nairobi, Dar, Kampala, and Kigali provide inspiration for what the future could hold. Tapping into this potential will require bold, visionary leadership and deeper integration of the region’s digital economy and innovation ecosystem. By working together and seizing opportunities to ‘leapfrog’ outdated infrastructure, technology, and business models, East African countries can position the region as a premier digital investment and innovation destination. In isolation, East African countries will miss out on this opportunity, left behind by rapid technological advancement and rivals with large domestic or integrated regional markets and more proactive digital investment and reform strategies. This report outlines the impetus for creating a single digital market (SDM) in East Africa, which would drive deeper integration and spur increased dynamism of the digital economies of six East African countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda. The SDM initiative will leverage and work through existing regional institutions and platforms, such as the East Africa Communications Organization, the EAC, Northern Corridor Committee, and at the continental level, through the AfCFTA and the Smart Africa Alliance.

Inaugural US-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue: joint statement

Building on the inaugural US-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group meeting held in Washington (3-8 April), the two countries committed to deepen economic ties, maximize Kenya’s use of trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and explore a future bilateral trade and investment framework. The US and Kenya agreed to accelerate bilateral talks to expand cargo opportunities under the US-Kenya Open Skies agreement. The two sides highlighted that the US Trade and Development Agency announced two projects to help US companies offer solutions to support economic prosperity in Kenya, including an Emergency Management Reverse Trade Mission and a Global Procurement Initiative Orientation visit. They committed to continue discussions on proposed US private sector infrastructure development in Kenya, including modernizing the Kenyan government’s telecommunications network. The United States applauded Kenya’s commitment to establish a National Public Health Institute. The United States commended the establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard Service to harness the Blue Economy and safeguard a free, open, and prosperous Indian Ocean region.

Uganda and the IMF

  1. IMF Executive Board Concludes 2019 Article IV Consultation. Directors welcomed the authorities’ intention to develop a fiscal rule to manage future oil revenues and encouraged the authorities to consider adopting an interim debt ceiling to guide fiscal policy. Directors also stressed the need to improve fiscal policy formulation and implementation including through a more binding approach to the annual budget process and encouraged the authorities to promptly adopt and implement the Domestic Revenue Mobilization Strategy given Uganda’s still low revenue collection. While Uganda’s debt level remains at low risk of debt distress, Directors cautioned that debt metrics had weakened, some investment projects may not generate the envisaged return, and interest payments are rising. Directors thus called on the authorities to keep debt below 50% of GDP in nominal terms over the medium term to safeguard the hard‑earned favorable debt sustainability rating.

  2. pdf 2019 Article IV Consultation Report (2.47 MB) . The current account deficit has also increased to 6.1% of GDP in FY17/18. Imports of goods and services grew by 17% - largely on account of capital goods related to the infrastructure projects. This outweighed the 9% growth of exports. Uganda has a diversified export base with predominantly regional export destinations. In FY18/19, the current account deficit is expected to further widen to 7.2% of GDP mostly due to increased imports of capital goods for public investment projects, oil projects, and FDI. International reserves stood at $3.2bn at end-FY17/18 - a decline by $210m - and are expected to remain stable at 4 months of imports in FY18/19. [See Text Figures 4 and 5: Weight of neighbouring countries in exports is rising; Exports are well diversified]

  3. pdf Selected Issues Report (375 KB) : Addressing employment challenges in Uganda. Ugandan firms are very small on average, as firms face challenges to expand within the business environment. Ugandan firms are very small compared with regional peers, reflecting the large share of own-account workers in the economy. The World Bank enterprise survey (2013) indicates that infrastructure especially electricity, competition with informal firms, access to finance, tax rates, labor regulation and trade are among the key issues that Uganda firms face. At the same time, Uganda firms have made more progress on innovation than SSA firms on average, with higher shares of firms introducing process innovation and new product and services. [Uganda’s economic outlook in six charts]

Nigeria and the AfCFTA: tweeted updates by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. The [AfCFTA] stakeholders asked to be fully briefed so they were in the loop. After all the consultations, the president asked for an impact assessment. That work has been concluded and now being put together for the president hopefully to approve. “The AfCFTA is a 50 to 100 year+ agreement, so it’s not about being the quickest. It’s about doing it well. We started with engaging stakeholders. Some other countries approved first and are now consulting. Hopefully we’ll all arrive at the same place.” [Related updates: Olu Fasan: Nigeria must help its industries succeed, but not by cocooning them; FG partners EU, GIZ to deepen economic diversification programme; Emmanuel Okogba: Reasons for Nigeria’s seeming reluctance on ECOWAS single currency]

SADC: Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme workshop concludes tomorrow in Windhoek

ECOWAS Parliament: First Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature opens in Abuja

WTO launches updated profiles on trade in value-added terms and global value chains (WTO)

The profiles draw from data in the OECD’s Trade in Value-Added (TiVA) database and provide an update to the profiles previously released three years ago. An explanatory note (pdf) provides definitions of the indicators shown in the profiles and guidance on the data differences between the two releases. The full list of country profiles can be found here. Each profile starts by displaying the share of domestic and foreign components in the economy’s total exports and how these have changed between 2005 and 2015 (the latest year available in the TiVA database). Breakdowns are provided of the top export industries and top export destinations for each economy. The profile also quantifies the economy’s level of participation in GVCs as a supplier and buyer of intermediate products, indicating the top trading partners. The contribution of the services sector to trade in value-added terms and the value of its exports and imports of intermediate products for merchandise and services are also covered. A new set of profiles showing trade in value-added terms by sector will be released later this year. [Download: South Africa profile, pdf]

Blockchain: A new opportunity for strengthening trade in the Commonwealth

It remains nascent, untested and complex but already some Commonwealth members are seeing tangible benefits from its application to key industries. It is clearly worthy of consideration when taking decisions over technology, economic, and social investments. The conceptual case for blockchain technologies is compelling, but also raw. What is certain is that it is rarely easy to convert technological innovation into transformational inclusive economic change. Considerable media discussion does not eclipse the paucity of successful pilots or scalable examples. Indeed, many commentators are predicting five to ten years’ maturation of blockchain technologies before widespread adoption results from emerging practice and pilots. It is worth restating the complexity of blockchain technology, being not a unitary innovation but several that build upon, integrate and complement one another. Each economic sector will require bespoke development, deployment and learning associated with elements of blockchain technology. However, there are signs that blockchain technologies will disrupt many economic sectors during the next decade. For Commonwealth member countries, it is key to improve knowledge of their business and population needs, to determine how and what to invest in to ensure the gains from the looming disruption are maximised and the risks mitigated. [The author: James MacGregor]

Today’s Quick Links:

Francois Baird: Putting the Brazilian fox in charge of the South African hens

Congo gears towards continental trade strategy

Major boost for Nigeria as US increases oil imports from Africa

4th International Public-Private Partnerships Forum: summary of speech by ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe. Profiled document: Standard on Public-Private Partnerships in Railways

Malawi: A qualitative study on constraints and opportunities of women’s equal participation in the roads sector

German parliament extends army’s Africa missions

CFR’s Belt and Road Tracker


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