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tralac’s Daily News Selection

tralac’s Daily News Selection

09 Dec 2019

Key AfCFTA meetings begin on Monday in Accra, culminating in the African Trade Ministerial meeting this weekend (Ghana News Agency)

Ghana, under the auspices of its Ministry of Trade and Industry, will today start hosting series of meeting for African Trade Ministers and Senior Trade Officials to advance the cause of the AfCFTA. Meeting of the AfCFTA Negotiating Forum, will begin the seven-day meetings to be held at the Accra International Conference Centre. The three-day meeting, will be followed by the meeting of the Committee of Senior Trade Officials (12-13 December). The African Ministers of Trade Meeting and the AfCFTA Council of Ministers Meeting will then follow from the 14-15 December.

17th African Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum will seek to finalise outstanding work on Phase 1 negotiations which deal with the trade in goods and services protocols as well as dispute settlement mechanisms. Technical Working Groups on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights will also be established. The report of the Negotiating Forum will form the agenda for the meeting of the Senior Trade Officials. At the Council of Ministers Meeting, attention will be paid to the consideration of the report of the meeting of the Senior Trade Officials as well as consideration of work plans and budgets of the interim AfCFTA Secretariat and the permanent Secretariat.

AfCFTA Business Index: methodology validation workshop opens in Addis (UNECA)

Over the course of two days, pan-African trade experts will meet to validate the methodology to produce the African Continental Free Trade Area Country Business Index at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. The aim of the index is to assess the extent to which businesses across Africa find trading across borders in Africa challenging, and to identify the main barriers to trade that they experience. The index will allow for a ranking of this data across countries and provide an evaluation of the developmental impact of the AfCFTA. Views will be collected through a survey administered through regional and local chambers of commerce and industry. “The index is an instrument that provides business perceptions of the country-specific challenges in their own country, and how these country challenges impact on firms’ ability to trade across borders in Africa” says Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor at the ECA.


Starting on Tuesday, in Addis Ababa: 3rd Ordinary Session of the STC on Education, Science and Technology

The third STC-EST will elect a new Ministerial Bureau for the next two-year tenure, and specifically: Update the Ministers on the status of ongoing programmes and share best practices among Member States to enhance intra-Africa collaboration in Education; Science, Technology and Innovation; Take stock of the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) as well as Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) from Member States, the AUC and the partners; Advocate for increased investments in education, science, technology and innovation in Africa; Promote quality assurance and harmonisation of higher education; Contribute to the Draft Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa Education; Contribute to the Chairperson’s Youth empowerment Initiative: 1millionBy2021; Agree on decision/recommendations, for consideration by the AU 2020 Summit. Profiled submissions on Contextualising Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa – 2024:

  1. pdf Africa’s STI Implementation Report 2014-2019 (3.40 MB)

  2. pdf Five-Year Science, Technology and Innovation Plan of Action 2019-2024 (1.94 MB)

Human Development Report 2019: As Africa gains development ground, new inequalities emerge (UNDP)

African countries have made significant strides in advancing human development, gaining ground on primary education and health. But a new generation of inequalities is opening up that, left unchecked, threatens to undermine further progress and make it harder for those already behind to catch up. So finds the UNDP in its 2019 Human Development Report, titled Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st century. This Human Development Report, which pioneers a more precise way to measure countries’ socioeconomic progress, says that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing, with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. New inequalities are becoming more pronounced, particularly around tertiary education, and the seismic effects of technology and the climate crisis. “This is the new face of inequality,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “And, as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions.”

For the first time this year, an African country – Seychelles – has moved into the very high human development group. Others are rising in the ranks as well. Four countries – Botswana, Gabon, Mauritius and South Africa – are now in the high human development group, and 12 countries – Angola, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – are in the medium human development group. Botswana also enjoys the region’s highest increase in HDI rank between 2013 and 2018, rising 11 places in the rankings.

The spending challenge for reaching the SDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa: lessons learned from Benin, Rwanda (IMF)

This paper documents the additional spending that is required for sub Saharan Africa to achieve meaningful progress in SDGs by 2030. Benin and Rwanda are presented in detail through case studies. The main lessons are: average additional spending across SSA is significant, at 19% of GDP in 2030; countries must prioritize their development objectives according to their capacity to deliver satisfactory outcomes; financing strategies should articulate multiple sources given the scale of additional spending; and strong national ownership of SDGs is key and should be reflected in long-term development plans and medium-term policy commitments. Extract:

Benin and Rwanda are two low-income SSA countries with spending estimates comparable to the SSA average; they demonstrate the multifaceted challenges faced by SSA countries. Benin and Rwanda spending estimates are respectively 21% and 19% of GDP in 2030. Despite facing challenges of comparable size, Benin and Rwanda have different current development outcomes reflecting differences in economic endowment, economic policies, and resilience to various shocks, and calling for different investment priorities in the future. Indeed, Benin has been a stable country since the 1990s while Rwanda went through some periods of fragility in early 1990s which translated into Benin having a GDP per capita 1.7 times higher than Rwanda’s during the same period. However, since the mid-1990s, Rwanda has managed to record a sustained growth stronger than Benin’s, reducing the GDP per capita gap between the two countries to a factor of 1.1. In addition, while Benin is currently on par with SSA average along key state capacity and development indicators, Rwanda overperforms relative to other SSA peers (Table 1). Beyond these differences, the two countries share some characteristics: i) they show strong ownership of the UN goals with national development plans well-aligned with the SDGs, and ii) they are experiencing important development progress even if large gaps remain. [The authors: Delphine Prady, Mouhamadou Sy]

ECOWAS single currency not feasible in 2020: Nigeria’s finance minister (Punch)

The 2020 proposed date for the commencement of a single-currency regime for West Africa may not be realised as many countries within the region have yet to meet the criteria for the monetary union. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who confirmed the development in Abuja, said only Togo had met all the convergence criteria. She spoke on Friday at the opening session of a meeting of ECOWAS committee of ministers of finances and governors of central banks on the currency programme. Zainab said: “We need to address in an optimal way the challenges ahead of us. This meeting is important because we are at a crossroads. The recommendations we make will have significant implications on the monetary policies we undertake.”

Related updates:

  1. ECOWAS Presidents to meet on single currency regime on 21 December

  2. Teslim Shitta-Bey: Why the ECOWAS “ECO” will not work, for now

  3. President Brou restates ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to the single currency project


Nigeria: CRFFN, agents blame customs for border closure (ThisDay)

The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and customs agents in the country have attributed the decision of the federal government to shut Nigeria’s land borders to incompetence by the Nigeria Customs Service in carrying out its statutory duties at the borders. They stated this at a one-day interactive session tagged, “Federal Government Land Border Closure: Freight Forwarders Perspective,” organised by the CRFFN Governing Council Committee on Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance held in Lagos. The Registrar/Chief Executive of the Council, Samuel Nwakohu, alleged that the cause of the problem leading to closure of the borders was a system failure especially on the part of Customs. The CRFFN, however, appealed to the federal government to open land borders to legitimate goods. Nwakohu, in a chat with newsmen on the sidelines of the meeting said the call was not intended to encourage criminality, saying that compliant goods should be allowed into the country to be traded across the borders.

South Africa: Task team established to urgently address congestion issues at the Port of Cape Town (GCIS)

We are concerned by the significant issues at the Port of Cape Town particularly with regards to congestion at the container terminal. These issues are impacting on the costs and efficiencies of the logistics and export industries, and are impeding economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape. To address these issues, on Thursday, 5 December the Department of Economic Development and Tourism convened a meeting at the Cape Town International Convention Centre with key stakeholders representing the entire Port logistics chain, from exporters and importers, to trucking companies, the respective divisions of Transnet, Navis, SARS and shipping lines, as well as representatives from the City of Cape Town. At the meeting the Department of Economic Development and Tourism presented on the root causes of congestion, including institutional matters, port capacity, and the traffic flow of trucks carrying containers into and out of the Port. Selected representatives from the port logistics chain, including Transnet National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals, Navis, and two shipping lines were invited to present their analysis and recommendations on the congestion issues, and further discussion was held with all stakeholders to achieve broad consensus.

The urgency of addressing the congestion issues at the Port of Cape Town was agreed by all, and a task team was nominated, comprising of ten senior representatives from the entire port logistics chain. To demonstrate this urgency, I have requested the task team to meet within two weeks and to implement the first remedial actions within three months. The task team have 10 priority issues to deal with, ranging from a shortage of cranes to traffic flows and effective communications throughout the logistics chain. Synchronisation of working hours in the logistics chain will also be addressed. [Note: Statement issued by Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier]

The Abidjan Declaration: Advancing social justice – shaping the future of work in Africa (ILO Africa)

In the period leading up to the 15th African Regional Meeting, we request the Office to provide constituents with enhanced support to achieve the above mentioned priorities by developing an implementation plan that will be presented to the 338th Session (March 2020) of the Governing Body. The implementation plan will contain the following: specific and concrete actions for creating an enabling environment for sustainable business; measures to enhance productivity growth; comprehensive policy guidance and technical support for skills development; comprehensive measures for removing policy and regulatory barriers to formalization, in line with Recommendation No. 204, and enhancement of competitiveness and sustainability of formal sector enterprises; comprehensive measures for progressive extension of social protection coverage; measures to address gender inequality and discrimination; comprehensive measures for a just transition; capacity building of social partners; and decent work and reduction of inequalities.

Strengthening synergies between the ILO and institutions in Africa, namely the African Union Commission, regional economic communities, and the three labour administration training centres (African Regional Labour Administration Centre, Centre régional africain d’administration du travail, and Arab Centre for Labour Administration) as these play a supportive role in the implementation of the African Decent Work Agenda priority areas. [Conference documentation can be accessed here]

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This post has been sourced on behalf of tralac and disseminated to enhance trade policy knowledge and debate. It is distributed to recipients across Africa and internationally, serving in the AU, RECs, national government trade departments and research and development agencies.

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