tralac’s Daily News Selection
WBG/IMF Annual Meetings: selected updates
The Broadband for All Working Group: Achieving broadband access for all in Africa comes with a $100bn price tag
Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development: statement
WBG’s President David Malpass: transcript of opening media conference
The IMF will release its Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook later today
(i) Africa’s Development Dynamics: Achieving productive transformation. This report emphasises the need for Africa to accelerate its productive transformation to create quality jobs, grow their businesses from lagging firms to leading firms producing more and better products in order to compete in the upcoming new open market of the AfCFTA. To achieve this goal, the report puts forward three key policy priorities: developing strategic clusters of firms; facilitating regional productive networks and enhancing firms’ abilities to thrive in new markets
(ii) Domestic resource mobilization: Fighting against corruption and illicit financial flows. This publication contributes to the AUC’s efforts to raise awareness on the impacts of Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows on the continent. Although it is difficult to quantify the amounts loss due to Illicit Financial Flows and Corruption, statistics estimate that between $50 and $80bn are lost annually and these figures seem to be on an upward trajectory. This amount is higher than the annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) that the continent receives. [Note: Both reports will be launched on 5 November in Antananarivo]
Towards the harmonization of African automotive standards: The ARSO/THC 08-4 Technical Working Group meeting on automotive technology and engineering standards concludes today in Rwanda. Representatives of 17 African states attended the meeting.
The third edition of the NACCIMA-Deloitte AfCFTA Dialogue series (31 October, Lagos): towards a consensus on strategy for Trade in Goods under the AfCFTA Agreement.
The East Africa Chamber of Commerce’s 13th Annual Trade Conference (14-16 November, Dallas): discussion will revolve around the Big Four Agenda – affordable housing, manufacturing, food security, and affordable healthcare.
Africa is halfway through the First Ten-year Implementation Plan (2014-2023) of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and about to enter the last ten years of the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the completion of its Sustainable Development Goals. These frameworks contain many overlapping themes, and key to effective implementation is the capacity to monitor progress in order to adapt resources and policies as soon as needed. Strengthening Africa’s fragmented data landscape is vital for meeting these development targets. This is the core message of the Foundation’s recently published African Governance Report (pdf), which outlines the common elements of the Agendas and their relationship with public governance in Africa. This report draws on data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance to share insights into progress, analyse the measurability of the Agendas, data availability, and provide a high-level overview of the state of statistical capacity in African countries. The report identifies five core overlapping themes between all three frameworks, which are: access to and quality of education, health and nutrition, women and youth inclusion, prosperity and economic opportunity, and security, justice and strong institutions. The following are the top-level findings for some of these themes, since 2014, when the implementation of Agenda 2063’s FTYIP started. The report also highlights that African countries face enormous challenges both in terms of working on the measurability of the targets of the Agendas and developing the statistical capacity required to collect enough data to measure those targets. There are two key findings. The first is that sometimes targets or indicators are not easily measurable, and the second is that when they are, there is a lack of data.
AfCFTA should take lessons from failed agreements (Engineering News)
The architects of the proposed AfCFTA should learn from the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas, says Export Credit Insurance Corporation senior economist Tsidiso Disenyana. The FTAA, which had been in the process of being negotiated by 34 diverse countries of the Americas, failed in the final stretch, owing to the gradual diversion of negotiating attention from the FTAA towards the Doha Round. Another challenge to the FTAA was the major changes in the political governance and economic circumstances of countries in the western hemisphere in 2002, which changed the focus of key participants and altered the basis of consensus on which the FTAA negotiations had been conducted. Disenyana mentions four lessons that the CFTA should learn from the FTAA to ensure that the agreement is successful.
Comesa agency approves Telkom and Airtel merger (Business Daily)
Telkom Kenya and Airtel have received the Comesa Competition Commission greenlight to merge at a time the deal has run into local headwinds. The regional trading bloc’s competition watchdog said that the merger of the two telcos would not skew competition in the regional market. It also noted the takeover would lead to a vibrant market. “The committee responsible for initial determination determined that the merger was not likely to substantially lessen competition in the common market or any part of it,” said the agency’s commissioners in a letter dated 16 August. “Consequently the transaction is not likely to negatively affect trade between members. The CID therefore approved the transaction. The decision does not relieve the merging parties from their obligation to comply with other applicable laws,” it said. The announcement comes as the two telcos eye approval from Kenyan regulators.
Uganda’s 10th annual trade, industry and cooperative sector review: Industrialists want access to regional markets improved (Daily Vision)
Richard Mubiru, a member of the Uganda Manufacturers Association said Uganda has big potential to supply markers like DR Congo, South Sudan, Kenya. “We need to consolidate the regional markets and consolidate the external markets. We need to improve roads to the neighbouring countries, build warehouses near the borders. We need insurance services to provide facilities to cover risks arising during the export of products. The region is volatile and exporters need insurance covers. The Insurance Regulatory Authority should create insurance facilities that speak to our needs as exporters, manufacturers, traders,” Mubiru also the executive director for Sothern Range Nyanza Textile Lt said. He also asked the government to change its bidding documents to favour SMEs otherwise money will be leaving the country through large foreign corporates. Mubiru proposed that NSSF funds should be used to provide long term funds for industries.
Kenya: Bakers seek lower duty for wheat imports to boost trade (Business Daily)
SGR updates, commentaries:
Naivasha SGR starts operations amid viability concerns. As the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) opens Wednesday, questions abound on its viability even as uncertainty remains over the funding to complete last phase to Ugandan border in order to make it commercially viable. The launch today will only be for passengers with cargo expected to be introduced later. The Chinese funding for the last phase of the SGR to Malaba had been pegged on the willingness by Uganda to build its part from the Kenyan border to Kampala. However, Uganda seems to have hit a snag in terms of funding after China turned down their proposal, forcing the landlocked neighbour to start rehabilitating its metre gauge railway. Cargo brings the bulk of revenue for the Kenya Railway and with incomplete phase, it makes it difficult for the government to recoup money to pay Sh150 billion loan spent on this section alone as the volumes of goods will be inadequate. “The government has apparently put money on something that do not have viability at the moment. The essence of the second phase of SGR was to serve businesses at the proposed industrial park in Naivasha, but at the moment we do not know how far the plans have moved,” economist Toni Watima told Digital.
Uhuru Kenyatta: “The completion of Nairobi to Suswa section of SGR is expected to revolutionize the development of this region through affordable transport. It will also stimulate tourism in the greater Rift Valley.”
Kenya’s extended railway to reduce region’s transport costs. Edward Kusewa, economic lecturer at St Paul’s University said that the Nairobi-Naivasha railway line will benefit local horticulture and cash crop farmers through enhanced movement of their produce to export destinations. Fresh produce from Naivasha will now arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport faster and at more affordable rates as compared to when transported by road,” he added. Kusewa said that tourism will boom in Naivasha and surrounding regions thanks to the availability of a hassle-free mode of transporting visitors to scenic attractions that dot Kenya’s expansive Rift Valley region. Kenyan tea producers said recently they are anticipating seamless transportation of the commodity from the country’s highlands to the port of Mombasa from where it is shipped overseas, once the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR is operational.
Jaindi Kisero: Railway projects will worsen debt woes. That the portion of the standard gauge railway line to Naivasha has been dubbed “railroad to nowhere” may not be a joke after all. It could actually come to pass. Clearly, the government will face major challenges in trying to make this part of the railway line economically feasible especially if the Chinese don’t give us the money to extend the line to Malaba. For now, our only option is to quickly pump money into new investment to achieve the ambition of developing Naivasha into a key regional logistics hub. Fortunately, indications are that some of our regional neighbours appear to have the same ambition of building cargo transit logistics infrastructure in Naivasha. Naivasha surely has the potential of emerging as a major regional logistics hub along the Northern Corridor. It will all depend on whether we have the fiscal space to invest the construction of feeder roads connecting the SGR to the existing metre gauge railway. The biggest headache for us remains how to shift traffic from road to rail to ensure that SGR’s market share is expanded. The biggest mistake made by the government was to assume that it was feasible to migrate traffic from road to rail by fiat - by forcibly ordering truckers out of business. Still, the biggest elephant in the room are the Chinese loans we borrowed for the Naivasha section of the SGR. What are the bare facts about this Chinese loan?
The East African: Kenya launches second phase of SGR line as China cuts funding
ICJ agrees to delay Kenya-Somalia maritime case (Business Daily)
The International Court of Justice has agreed to Kenya’s request to delay the public hearing in its maritime boundary case with Somalia. In a statement issued on Thursday night, the Hague-based court said the decision was reached after Mogadishu and Nairobi agreed to send legal teams on the new agreed dates. “The court has duly considered the views and arguments of the parties regarding Kenya’s request. It has decided to postpone oral proceedings to the week beginning on Monday 8, June, 2020. This postponement is granted on the understanding that both parties will be represented in the hearings and that no further postponement will be granted,” the statement reads. The move could come as a relief for Nairobi which had earlier complained that the initial date of November 4, was not enough for its legal team to prepare for the case. Last month, Kenya asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team. But the ICJ, which had initially set a September 9-13 date, pushed the public hearings to 4-8 November.
Today’s Quick Links:
Africa gets first smartphone manufactured in KZN after R1.5bn investment
A strong rationale for reviving the cashew nut industry at the Kenyan Coast
SEACOM partners with Vodacom to expand reach across Africa
Launching of the Mauritius Trade Link: DVS Import Permit and Clearance Modules
Mauritius compliant with EU Tax Good Governance Principles
Import-heavy Arab nations offer untapped trade opportunities for Ireland