Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Eric Montfort | Flickr

In AfCFTA updates:

  1. African Union assesses eSwatini’s suitability for AfCFTA Secretariat

  2. AU begs Nigeria to join new trade zone: the recent Financial Times article, reposted. “We are encouraging [Nigeria] to be among the founding parties and sign the agreement before 30 May,” Albert Muchanga, the AU trade commissioner, said in an interview with the Financial Times at the regional body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. “Africa’s share of global trade is going to increase as a result of enlarging the domestic market,” he said. “It is in their interests to ratify.”

IATA updates for African air freight, passenger demand in March

Air freight: African carriers posted the fastest growth of any region in March 2019, with an increase in demand of 6.0% compared to the same period a year earlier. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are lower than their peak in mid-2017; despite this, they are still around 30% higher than their most recent trough in late-2015. Capacity grew 15.2% year-on-year. Passenger demand:African airlines’ demand increased 2.1% compared to March 2018, down from a 2.5% rise in February. Capacity climbed 1.1%, and load factor strengthened 0.7 percentage point to 71.4%. The upward traffic trend has softened since mid-2018 in line with falling business confidence in some of the region’s key economies.

The 22nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for West Africa was held last week in Liberia on the theme Demographic dynamics for sustainable development in West Africa. Profiled background document, pdf National capacities and mechanisms for assessing progress in the Implementation of Agendas 2030 and 2063 (1.80 MB)  – state of play, challenges and prospects in West Africa (pdf):

On the basis of a survey of public structures in charge of planning and statistical production in West Africa and a literature review, an analysis of the data collected was carried out in order to identify the challenges and prospects of national capacities and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the 2030 and 2063 agendas. At the end of the analysis, the following main messages deserve to be highlighted:

At the level of the National Statistical Systems: Overall, the National Statistical Systems (NSS) in West Africa are relatively well organized with the NSIs as a central structure with a primary producer role. All countries also have a legal framework for statistical activity. NSS in all countries also have Statistical Master Plans, which are essential strategic planning tools for effective statistical activity. In addition, most master plans include a plan for strengthening statistical production and staff training that builds the capacity of statistical staff. In terms of statistical data quality, West African countries have the most significant deficiencies in the regularity and accessibility of statistical data. With regard to regularity in particular, on average, 52.3% of the main data collection operations do not respect the prescribed production deadlines. In some countries, the rate of non-regularity exceeds two thirds (2/3) of the main collection operations. For some collection operations, relatively long delays are noted, sometimes exceeding 100% of the prescribed deadlines.

Given the low level of regularity of major data collection operations in countries, there is a significant risk that a relatively large proportion of the SDG and Agenda 2063 indicators may not be regularly reported, which would compromise the timely and regular reporting. On average in the 10 countries analysed, more than half of the indicators are at risk of not being reported due to a lack of regularity. In almost all countries, production structures have significant deficiencies in terms of professional statisticians. 8 out of 10 countries consider that they do not have sufficient statistical professionals to effectively meet the need for statistical production for the monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs, including Agenda 2063. On average, the number of statisticians per 100,000 inhabitants is 2.88 compared to a European average of about 15 statisticians per 100,000 inhabitants.

At the level of the institutional monitoring and evaluation system: After 4 and 6 years of implementation of the SDG and Agenda 2063 respectively, very few countries have formalized through official acts the monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the two Agendas. In most countries, 90% of the countries surveyed believe that the current structures that produce the SDG report are the most appropriate. The situation is more mixed with Agenda 2063. Indeed, only 60% of the countries consider the choice of the structure in charge of monitoring-evaluation of this reference framework to be appropriate. The frequency of reporting differs from one Development Agenda to another but also from one country to another; this also complicates the production of an integrated and coherent report at the country and regional levels, in accordance with the requirements of the AU/UN Development Framework.

Guinea-Bissau: IMF statement

At the end of the visit, Mr Rasmussen issued the following statement (extract): “Guinea-Bissau’s fiscal position remains under stress. Due primarily to higher than planned expenditures, the government deficit in early 2019 was significantly larger than envisioned in the draft budget. The deficit was also much larger than the same period in 2018, where it for the year as a whole reached an estimated 5.1% of GDP on commitment basis. At the same time, financing pressures have grown, resulting in a rising balance of unpaid bills. On current course, the financing gap for 2019 is estimated at about 3% of GDP. While higher cashew output should help raise real GDP growth from the estimated 3.8% in 2018 to about 5% in 2019, lower cashew prices imply downside risks to economic activity and government revenue collection.”

Botswana: Performance and learning review of the Country Partnership Framework, FY16 - FY20 (World Bank)

The Performance and Learning Review (pdf) assesses progress under the current Country Partnership Framework (FY16-20) and proposes adjustments to its substance and implementation. PLR consultations confirmed the continued relevance of the CPF to Botswana’s National Development Plan (NDP 11). However, challenges facing the IBRD portfolio caused the WBG and the Government of Botswana to candidly assess the realism of the existing CPF. The changes are summarized as follows: extend the CPF by one year (to FY21) to allow for dynamics leading up to the October 2019 elections and then gauge the new cabinet’s priorities, intensify World Bank implementation support given client capacity constraints. In designing new projects, explore a broader mix of instruments to build institutional capacity, rebalance the scope and size of the WBG portfolio to ensure better strategic coverage of the agreed CPF pillars in line with the focus on human capital, and build on the growing collaboration between the World Bank, IFC and MIGA in Botswana to leverage private sector resources for development outcomes. [Related CPF reviews: Eswatini (FY15-FY18), Namibia (FY14-FY17)]

Kasumbalesa: Zambia-DRC border post set for facelift (The East African)

The DRC and and Zambia’s Kasumbalesa border post is a typical African border. It is the main link between the DRC and southern Africa countries like Botswana, Malawi and South Africa - the region’s super power. Zambia and DRC clear about 500 trucks on each side per day. For the last past month, however, truckers have suffered a prolonged traffic congestion. “From Kitwe to here (Kasumbalesa), I have been on the road for two weeks,” one trucker Emili Ibrahim Kasongo, a Tanzanian, told Africa Review. Zambia collects an estimated $560,000 monthly through Kasumbalesa border post where 500 trucks cross into the DRC daily. To cross over to DRC, Mr Kasongo now has to pay a notification notice of $20 again, the other one having expired during the time spent in traffic. The congestion started with a protest by truckers over clearance at Whiskey which means that between Kasumbalesa and Lubumbashi, a distance of 90 kilometres three toll points form a non-tariff barrier to trade. In addition, the toll fees over the stretch are the highest in the region; reaching $900 for a round trip over a distance of the 420 kilometres to Kolwezi towards the Angola border. “It has taken me one week to get here (Kasumbalesa from Zambia’s Copperbelt). It is a sad situation for our colleagues that get paid on the number of trips that they make. But I’m lucky I am carrying mining machines headed into Kolwezi,” Anthony Mulenga, a trucker said.

Rwanda: Chinese garment firm to create 7,500 jobs (New Times)

Rwanda has signed partnership deal with a Chinese garment firm, Pink Mango C&D, to set up a modern garment factory in Kigali, expected to employ thousands of Rwandans in the long run, Rwanda Development Board announced on Friday. Pink Mango C&D will establish a factory in the Kigali Special Economic zone that will produce garments for both the domestic and export markets. According to the statement, Pink Mango C&D is expected to provide 7,500 jobs to Rwandans by the fifth year and cumulative export earnings of $20m over the next five years. “Furthermore, Pink Mango C&D is expected to build capacity and skills transfer to 500 workers of local garment cooperatives who will also benefit from some of their supply contracts through an outsourcing model,” reads the statement in part.

Tanzania’s gold export earnings up by $100m (The Citizen)

Sustained government checks on mining activities and increased production among major producers, mainly Geita and North Mara, have boosted the country’s gold export earnings. According to the Bank of Tanzania monthly economic review for April (pdf), export earnings from gold increased by $100m (about Sh223 billion) during the year ended March, this year, compared to the year ended March 2018. The review shows that export earnings from gold increased to $1.68bn during the year ending March, this year, from $1.53bn recorded during the year ending in March 2018. The increase has also improved earnings from non-traditional goods exports, which account for 78% of goods exports and 40% of total exports to $3.47bn during the year ended in March this year.

Kenyan MPs warn farmers: Release maize or it will be imported (Business Daily)

The government will be forced to import maize if farmers continue to hoard their produce and demand high prices, the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture has warned. Committee chairman Adan Ali said growers have refused to part with maize in the hope of making more money. He said the local market is offering better prices than the government, thus farmers are avoiding the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). According to Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, they have tried to convince farmers to deliver maize to NCPB depots in vain. “I personally asked those with more than 400 bags to sell to NCPB but the situation at the depots has not improved,” added Mr Kiunjuri. The CS said NCPB failed to meet its target of buying two million bags owing to better prices offered by the market and the worsening drought in the country. [The EAC Agriculture Budget Summit 2019 took place on Friday: an overview of the discussion, here and here]

Zambia: Climate-smart agriculture investment plan (World Bank)

The Government of Zambia (GoZ) is integrating climate change concerns into its agriculture policy agenda. Under its Zambia climate-smart agriculture (CSA) strategy framework, the GoZ is promoting the rollout of CSA practices that will sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience, and reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions. The CSA investment plan aims to identify and fill knowledge gaps about CSA’s local- and national-level benefits, specifically under climate change, inform policy development, and prioritize investment opportunities. Extracts on agricultural trade issues:

With respect to trade, the target of doubling net exports by 2050 is partially feasible. CSA, such as crop diversification, reducing post-harvest loss, or minimum soil disturbance, can potentially enhance international competitiveness and transform Zambia into a net exporter of additional commodities. The aim to enhance net exports by 2050 is reached for maize and millet, and - under extreme climate change scenarios - for cassava and cotton, even with conventional practices. When adopting CSA practices (see Figure ES.2), such as crop diversification, Zambia has the potential to become a net exporter of groundnuts, increase net exports of maize, and decrease net imports of soybeans by 2050, compared to a situation with conventional agricultural practices.

Under business-as-usual (BAU), trade trends vary across commodities. Climate change is a strong driver of both imports and exports. Figure 5.13 shows net agricultural trade (exports minus imports) for key agricultural commodities in 2010 and 2050 as well as the sector vision target of doubling net exports in 2050. The results are mixed. For cassava, cotton, maize, and millet net trade is positive in 2010 and is expected to increase by 2050. Of these, only maize and millet are expected to achieve the vision target of doubling net trade by 2050. For cassava and sugar cane, which also show positive net trade in 2010, a decrease is projected. For beef, pork, and several crops, including groundnuts, rice, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and wheat, net imports are expected to increase.


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