Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac’s Daily News Selection


tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection
Photo credit: Aaron Ufumeli | EPA

Featured tweet, @jattamensah: Ghana, with the AU and the ECA, will host a conference on the implementation of the AfCFTA from 19-21 August (Accra). The keynote speaker is the prime minister @NAkufoAddo. A number Ghanaian Ministers will be in attendance. This will be great!

SADC Summit: previews and updates

  1. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor: The Summit will provide an opportunity for Heads of State and Government to be apprised on the overall implementation of the SADC work programme, including the pdf Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) (1.04 MB) and the pdf SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2.34 MB) . The Summit will be updated on the status of the region’s economy, health, and food security. It will provide policy direction about future strategic work of SADC and the SADC post 2020 Agenda. The Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (Zambia) will also present a report on the status of regional peace and security.

  2. East or South? ‘Inevitable’ dual membership for Dar. There is no conflict of interest in Tanzania’s dual membership to SADC and the EAC, former President Jakaya Kikwete has said. “It’s all about integration and we are set to benefit rather than lose from the two blocs,” the former Tanzanian head of state reiterated on Friday. In a special interview ahead of the 39th Session of the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit, Dr Kikwete explained why dual membership was not only inevitable, but also strategic for Tanzania. He said Tanzania did not join SADC, but formed the regional bloc together with the frontline states in 1979, at a time the former EAC had collapsed two years earlier. “We are in both groups also because of history. We cannot not detach ourselves from either bloc given the benefits,” he said at his Msasani office in the commercial capital. The former president was also quick to point out that that SADC and EAC were not rivals competing for markets, but partners spearheading the agenda for deeper integration and trade in Africa. Turning to SADC, he called on the member states to ensure the organisation’s Gaberone-based secretariat was not overwhelmed by a host of sectoral projects.

  3. pdf 4th Annual SADC Industrialisation Week - Dar es Salaam Declaration. (337 KB)  Legal framework harmonization tops SADC Industrialisation Week recommendations. Reading a declaration during the closure of the 4th Annual SADC Industrialization Week in Dar es Salaam on Thursday evening, Executive Secretary of the SADC Business Council, Peter Varndell insisted that the bloc to improve infrastructure as a basis for successful value chain development in the region. Varndell said that the development of regional value chains in priority sectors with drive industrialization and engagement of the private sector: “Countries should revisit the issue of work permits for member states.” He noted that to develop regional value chains, there should be improved coordination of small and medium scale entrepreneurs through facilitation of communication and linkages to access markets. SMEs must be trained on simplification of procedures and requirements such as licensing and registration: “The private sector in the SADC region must be stimulated to embrace financing of infrastructure development. Attraction of private sector investments is only possible through reduction of risks in infrastructure development.”

  4. On energy infrastructure and gas, the council urged member states to prioritize support for the development of a Regional Gas Program, and conduct individual country assessment of policies and gas utilization master plans to confirm the state of readiness for development of a Regional Gas Program.

    Varndell noted that member states should reduce roadblocks and other non-tariff barriers within SADC countries to speed up delivery and reduce costs of pharmaceutical goods, particularly cold chain stock and harmonize medicine registration policies. “The bloc has to make use of the ZAZIBONA initiative to create a pathway for speedy registration of innovative medicines and create a platform for private sector engagement,” he said, referring to ZAZIBONA as a SADC collaborative medicine registration process, while it originally covered the countries mentioned in its abbreviation, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. He said member states should introduce duty free systems on the import of raw and packaging materials, provide incentives for local manufacturing, establish pooled procurement on raw materials and medical equipment to promote local pharmaceutical manufacturing.

    Commenting on barriers to trade, he said that SADC structures should consult the private sector in identifying and solving non-tariff barriers that pose an obstacle to industrial development. “Countries should continue harmonizing standards as well as conformity assessment procedures to conform to the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement protocol and therefore facilitate trade within the region. SADC should also facilitate national standards bodies to work closely with SMEs since they are the major players in most production and value chains, and align their quality principles with those at international level.”

  5. SADC Business Council chair spells out his vision. Removing bottlenecks affecting business in SADC is top on the agenda for the regional bloc’s new business council chairman. Mr Salum Shamte, the new chair, said he would hit the ground running by addressing non-tariff barriers. He will also seek to promote intra-trade within the bloc by formalising the informal sectors. “NTBs still affect trade flow in the bloc. This is attributed to lack of political will among some member states” noted Mr Shamte, who doubles as the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation. Officially launched this year, the Council aims at fostering a stronger working relationship between the public and private sector in the execution of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063. On Thursday, SADC members tasked the council to engage regional, national and local policy organs of the bloc in efforts to improve the business environment. Mr Shamte said he would be chairing five or six meetings with the SADC Secretariat on improvement of business climate: “Hopefully, we will have a pact.”

  6. SADC is in the process of creating multiple emergency response teams to help users online against cybercrime, a senior official with the bloc said on Monday. “Cybercrime is becoming a serious concern in the region like elsewhere across the world,” said Mapolao Mokoena, SADC Director of Infrastructure and Services.

  7. The SADC Secretariat has urged member states to devise better strategies in tackling food security in the region. Domingos Gove, the secretariat’s director of food, agriculture and natural resources, said during the last crop season, it was only South Africa and Zambia in the 16-nation bloc that had enough food. The rest registered food deficits, largely due to poor rains and cyclones that hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar and Comoro. “The rainfall situation for agriculture has been bad for the entire region, the lowest to be registered for the last 15 years in the crop season,” said Mr Gove. He was speaking ahead of the 39th Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit slated for 17-18 August in Dar es Salaam. “If you look into the food balance sheets produced by each of the member states, the balance in South Africa and Zambia is too small to supply all the countries that are in deficit,” said Mr Gove.

  8. SADC member states join forces to help DR Congo fight Ebola. Jorge Cardoso, director of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Affairs of the SADC Secretariat, said health ministers from the regional grouping’s member states met recently to discuss how best to help the DRC fight the deadly virus. “The fight against Ebola is on the agenda of the SADC security portfolio,” Cardoso told a media briefing in the business capital, Dar es Salaam, ahead of the 39th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government. He said the SADC health ministers have recommended interventions of helping the DRC in the fight against Ebola. The recommendations will compliment efforts being taken by other international partners, including the World Health Organization, Cardoso said.

  9. SADC Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange workshop report. The mandate for the establishment of the SADC-Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (SADC-TWIX) emanates from the SADC Law Enforcement and Anti-Poaching (LEAP) Strategy that was approved by Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources in 2015 and endorsed by the Joint Committee of Ministers of Environment and Natural Resources and of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation in 2017. The overall objective of the SADC LEAP Strategy is to significantly reduce the level of poaching and illegal trade in wild fauna and flora and enhance law enforcement capacity in the SADC Region by 2021. The LEAP strategy explicitly identifies the establishment of a TWIX system, an Internet tool for information exchange amongst the law enforcement agencies in the region, as one of its key deliverables. It was against this background, and to maintain the momentum built during the scoping missions and based on the high level of expectation and need for the TWIX system to become operational, that a regional workshop (pdf) formally to launch the system was convened on the 9th and 10th April in Johannesburg.

Paul Akiwumi: Why Angola must foster entrepreneurship and diversify its economy (UNCTAD)

Entrepreneurship in Angola displays typical signs of trauma from years of conflict and distortionary effects of oil dependence. Converting entrepreneurs’ risk-averse mindset to a risk-ready one is crucial. Otherwise, they may not respond as expected to market signals and policy support and so would not take advantage of market opportunities. A policy approach to growing sectors or industries is likely to yield superior results for Angola and other commodity-dependent countries, rather than one that targets specific issues such as small and medium-sized enterprises and women’s entrepreneurship in isolation. President Lourenço’s government will need to tackle perceptions that pro-business policies are superficial and serve old political realities. An excellent place to start is the myriad of existing mechanisms: the critical policy action is to reassess, rationalize, consolidate and improve them. An “Angolization” programme launched in 2002 has, by many accounts, enjoyed tremendous success in building local human capital for the oil sector. But consolidating that success will require developing a critical mass of local managers. Fundamentally, policymakers in Angola need to get deeply acquainted with their entrepreneurs and know the kind they wish to nurture. It is crucial to be transparent about the criteria for choosing firms and activities to foster, but also about the performance which is required from them in exchange for the support received. [The author is Director of UNCTAD’s Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes]

Kyle Navis, W. Gyude Moore: Here’s what Ethiopia needs to become Africa’s next tech hub (CGD)

Ethiopia has its sights set on becoming Africa’s next tech hub, rivalling Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town. President Abiy Ahmed has enacted progressive policies in business, finance, and telecoms, and for a decade, Ethiopia’s economy has averaged 10.3% growth driven by industry, construction, and services. That growth has translated into both urban and rural poverty reduction. But in its quest for digital supremacy, Ethiopia will need to take steps to create an enabling environment for the digital startup sector, which across Africa is driven in large part by fintech. But Ethiopia lacks the communication and financial infrastructure needed to enable digital innovation, and faces significant obstacles in challenging Kenya, (which processed $38bn in transactions last year), Ghana (Africa’s fastest growing mobile money market) or Nigeria (where mobile carrier MTN recently received a banking license). As a start, TechCrunch points out that Ethiopia must address a substantial internet connectivity gap before it can realistically aspire to attract major investment in digital startups. Even with expended internet connectivity, the next challenge ahead for Ethiopia will be providing identification—a key enabler of the digital economy—to more of its citizens.

ID is foundational for getting a mobile phone and a bank account, and you will need both to make digital payments. And entering the fintech space of mobile money requires a mobile phone and access to a minimum of 2G coverage. Each of the requirements stacks onto another. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is a straggler in providing these crucial tools, while its biggest African competitor in the digital space, Kenya, enjoys very strong adoption rates. The Venn diagrams below compare Ethiopia and Kenya in ID, money accounts, and mobile phone ownership among adults. Where just over one in five Ethiopian adults have all three, almost three-quarters of Kenyans do. A thriving digital startup ecosystem will need the means to access customers, and Kenya has a massive head start in providing these basics.

New strategy to revamp Uganda’s textile sector (The East African)

Uganda has completed the development of a strategy for its cotton, textiles and apparels sector that could generate 50,000 new jobs and $650m in additional export revenues over the next eight years. The strategy, which is also supposed to feed into the third edition of the National Development Plan NDPIII, should result in increased fibre cotton production, scale up domestic value addition and create employment. Besides the need to address structural and policy bottlenecks that currently hamper development of the cotton value chain, there will be a need to establish five new vertically integrated textile mills. In addition to increasing value to Uganda’s cotton output, the factories would employ 50,000 workers earning a combined $50m annually. The strategy proposes to revive the cotton production value chain and investment in export-oriented apparel as well as garment production factories that would initially rely on imported fabric.


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