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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: GCIS

27 Aug 2020

National news

Cyril Ramaphosa calls publishing of full list of Covid-19 government contracts a ‘historic moment’ (IOL)

President Cyril Ramaphosa called the online publication of Covid-19 government expenditure a historic moment, the Presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.On the National Treasury website, the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) published a full list of all companies awarded government contracts to supply goods and services for the Covid-19 pandemic, the Presidency said. The list includes Covid-19 procurement information from all provinces, national departments and more than 70 public entities.

ANALYSIS: How can South Africa fix its tender system? (Daily Maverick)

The PPE procurement scandal, which saw vital Covid-19 funds channelled to politically connected business people, has brought the vexed issue of South Africa’s tender system into the spotlight once more. What can be done to make government procurement more corruption-proof? “The tender system should be re-looked into,” said Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane this week, speaking at a webinar on corruption.

Mkhwebane was voicing an apparently widespread view in South Africa currently, brought to the fore by the news of a PPE procurement scandal which saw emergency Covid-19 funds channelled to politically connected business people. In a weekly newsletter expressing outrage about the scandal, President Cyril Ramaphosa described this moment as “definitely a turning point in the fight against corruption”, promising that the government would act “boldly”.

Vast majority of households still feeling financial impact of Covid-19 (IOL)

The vast majority of households are still struggling under the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis, with 77 percent of them saying that their household income has been negatively affected.This was according to a survey released yesterday (WED) by global insights company TransUnion, which said the 77 percent was nevertheless much lower than the first round of surveys in April and the peak of 84 percent in June.

SA Innovation Summit could ‘open up’ trade deals and investments for SA (IOL)

The South African Innovation Summit (SAIS) on Wednesday announced its partnership with African News Agency (ANA) as a media partner for its “SA Innovation Summit 2020: Taking Africa to the World”. ANA is Africa’s first syndicated multimedia news and content distribution service. “Covid-19 has presented many challenges for businesses, but new opportunities also arise as we see events such as this summit move into the virtual space, opening it up to even greater participation,” said ANA CEO Vasantha Angamuthu.

SA works to create new, inclusive economy (SAnews)

While COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on South Africa, work is afoot to create a new, inclusive economy that will create employment and foster sustainable growth for all South Africans, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. “As we work with our social partners to develop an urgent economic recovery programme, we are determined that we should not merely return to where we were before the pandemic struck. We are instead looking at actions that will build a new, inclusive economy that creates employment and fosters sustainable growth,” said the President on Monday.

Infrastructure fund to target private investment (Moneyweb)

South Africa’s R100 billion ($5.9 billion) infrastructure fund will offer a range of instruments to attract private investors, the head of the presidency’s Investment and Infrastructure Office said. The office will work with fund managers, commercial banks and development institutions to overhaul traditional project-finance structures, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said Wednesday in a presentation to South Africa’s Actuarial Society. Projects will be funded through debt markets, blended financing and, as a last resort, the public purse, he said. Instruments being discussed with the Treasury include project bonds, CPI-linked debt instruments and green finance.

SA wine trade lost R7bn over 14 weeks of lockdown, says industry organisation (Daily Maverick)

Vinpro, an organisation that represents the wine industry, told Wednesday’s Western Cape provincial ad-hoc Covid-19 committee meeting that the industry had incurred billions in losses from the alcohol ban. “The banning and unbanning of alcohol caused havoc in our industry – over 14 weeks we lost about R7-billion,” said Rico Basson, the CEO of Vinpro, an organisation that represents 2,500 South African wine producers, at Wednesday’s Western Cape provincial ad-hoc Covid-19 committee meeting.

Nigeria should brace for ‘its worst recession in four decades’ (The Africa Report)

COVID-19 lockdowns and the drop in demand for oil are hurting the Nigerian economy, which second quarter (Q2) of 2020 GDP figures confirmed on Monday 24 August. The shrinking of the Nigerian economy is a result of contractions in both the oil sector and the non-oil sector – which recorded the country’s biggest-ever contraction. The oil sector had grown by 5.5% in Q1 2020 but contracted by 6.6% in Q2. As for the non-oil sector, it was 1.5% growth in Q1 and a 6.1% drop in Q2.

Maize import policy raises dust (The Guardian Nigeria)

The ban on importation of maize by the Federal Government has raised conflicts among Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), farmers and millers. Some members of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) and feed millers had demanded a window to import about 360,000 metric tonnes of maize to bring down cost of production. The Director, Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said: “There is no plan to reverse that policy.”

Bank chief, others urge promotion of non-oil exports (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports. According to him, the onset of the pandemic, which has impacted the demand for oil and, by extension, the price of crude oil in the international market, has further exposed Nigeria’s over-dependency on crude oil earnings and its susceptibility to oil-related shocks.

CBN set to punish exporters who refuse to repatriate export proceeds to Nigeria (Nairametrics)

MPR, CBN, GTBank, CBN disagrees with IMF, says land border closure boosting local production, Border closure: Emefiele says Benin, others must engage Nigeria before borders are reopened , bvn 2.0, CBN reveals banks’ foreign assets rise to N14.19 trillion in 2019

Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said that Nigeria’s border closure in 2019 has hurt Ghanaians and nearly bankrupted many Ghanaian export businesses after their goods were stuck in the Seme Border for months. The Minister stated this earlier this week, in a series of tweets reacting to the recent shutdown of Nigerian-owned shops by Ghanaian authorities.

Unilateral approach in the Kenya-US free trade agreement is detrimental to African integration (Citypress)

While the Kenya-US trade agreement is not yet concluded, it would be of paramount importance to explore the background of trade engagements with other African countries. In the past, Kenya had shown commitment for economic partnership agreements in which the East African countries would have duty free access to the EU markets. There was reluctance from the other member states to sign the agreement with only Rwanda as the other member expressing interest. Notably, Kenya is the only member not among the least developed countries and so having no privilege of duty free access without any agreement in place.

Algeria-EU Partnership Under Threat As Free Trade Deal Approaches (Morocco World News)

Algeria is one week away from activating an EU Free Trade Agreement that many Algerians fear could hurt the country’s fledgling economy. The trade deal, agreed upon 15 years ago, is facing renewed scrutiny from Algerian businesses and politicians as its September 1 activation date approaches.

Algiers, which is heavily dependent on oil-based exports, has suffered from the pandemic-induced demand slump that sent oil prices down significantly. Reduced income from oil exports combined with a large trade deficit could amount to a net loss in state revenue when the agreement becomes active next week.

Algerian economists, businesspeople, and politicians are now speaking up against the deal. Economics professor Nadji Khaoua said, “The Algerian-EU partnership did not fulfill its promises for Algeria,” according to the North African Journal. “A pause is needed to discuss afresh fundamental issues that are hindering a fair distribution of economic benefits,” Khaoua added.

Liberia Renews It Support to The Implementation of The Paris Agreement (FrontPageAfrica)

The Acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Henry B. Fahnbulleh, has on behalf of the Government of Liberia renewed the country’s support to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Minister called for the establishment of what he called the “The Liberia Climate Change Trust Fund” stressing that the formulation and revision of the Nationally Determined Contribution must “be inclusive, consultative and transparent”. He on behalf of the government of Liberia committed to support all activities of the Paris Agreement as he warned of the devastating consequences of global warming which he mentioned has affected places like coastal Buchanan, Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado and other areas in the country.

Regional and continental news

2020 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank: a renewed commitment to economic resilience in Africa

The 55th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank and the 46th meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (ADF) began in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Wednesday, 26 August 2020. In his opening speech, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, highlighted the unusual context of this year’s Annual Meetings, taking place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pande

Africa Looks to Tax Tech Giants as Economic Fallout From COVID Bites (Voice of America)

A man uses a phone to broadcast the traditional Easter Sunday mass live on social media at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Ouagadougou, on April 12, 2020. Collective prayers and gatherings have been suspended in Burkina Faso as a precautionary measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Tax officials in Africa estimate that government revenues will drop between 10 and 30 percent in 2020 as a result of the economic fallout stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. But while businesses in the hospitality, construction and retail sectors have suffered, digital companies have boomed as more people stay home and conduct their activities online. This is driving talks in Africa about how to make sure big multinationals such as Google and Facebook, which do not always have a physical presence in the countries where they make a profit, can be taxed.

Related: 4th High-Level Tax Policy Dialogue: Taxing the digital economy – COVID-19 heightens need to expand resource mobilization base


Kenya, Tanzania row escalates over new quarantine list (Business Daily)

Tanzania has banned three more Kenyan airlines from its market as a tit-for-tat trade war between the two countries escalated after Nairobi Tuesday once again excluded Tanzanians among travellers exempted from mandatory quarantine.The latest blockade came after Nairobi for the second time retained Tanzania on the red list of nations with high risk in coronavirus cases – a position that means travellers from the neighbouring country will continue facing a mandatory two-week quarantine to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Revamped Kisumu port records 62pc rise in cargo (Business Daily)

The refurbished Port of Kisumu handled 62 per cent more cargo in 2019 due to improved efficiency and a surge in trade, new statistics show.Kisumu port is a critical hub for trade with the neighbouring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda and by extension Rwanda and Burundi as well those in the Great Lakes Region.The volume of cargo handled at the revamped Kisumu port jumped to 17,735 tonnes last year, a 62 per cent increase compared to 2018. The rise in cargo was buoyed by a strong second-half performance, reflecting better efficiency and an overall improvement in trade among partner states of the East Africa Community (EAC).

East Africa: Sudan, Ethiopia Underline Need for Solution On Renaissance Dam (Breaking News)

Sudan and Ethiopia have issued a joint statement at the end of a one-day visit to Khartoum by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed in which he held lengthy talks with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and also met with the head of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan. The statement said the visit by Ethiopia’s prime minister comes within the framework of “the continuous consultations between the leaderships of Sudan and Ethiopia, underpinned by the age-old relationship between the two sisterly countries.”

Sugarcane traders suffer losses as Kenya ban bites (Daily Monitor)

Traders and sugarcane farmers say they are counting losses worth unspecified billions as the Kenyan ban on the importation of Ugandan canes takes a financial toll on them.

Mr Godfrey Oundo Ongwabe, the national cross-border chairperson, described the loss as ‘huge’ and ‘abrupt’. “It left traders and farmers who had harvested their sugarcane for export to Kenya without any alternative but to dump the raw material,” Mr Oundo explained. The decision to ban Uganda raw materials has also affected the sugarcane farmers and traders in Kenya which is now suffering from an acute shortage of cane. Busia Sugar Industry, which has been the major importer of Ugandan sugarcane to Kenya, has scaled down production and close to 200 workers are at risk of losing jobs.

Afreximbank provides $400m to drive agricultural productivity and resilience (East African Business Week)

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Africa’s foremost multilateral trade finance institution, has approved a $400-million revolving global credit facility agreement for the Export Trading Group (ETG), one of the largest and fastest-growing integrated agricultural conglomerates in Africa.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Africa’s foremost multilateral trade finance institution, has approved a $400-million revolving global credit facility agreement for the Export Trading Group (ETG), one of the largest and fastest-growing integrated agricultural conglomerates in Africa. The agreement will enable ETG to keep playing its vital role in the agri-foods supply chain of efficiently connecting African farmers to markets, as well as expanding access to key inputs to boost agricultural productivity in a continent with tremendous but yet unrealized potential. According to Afreximbank’s estimates, Africa spent over $90 billion on food imports in 2019, even though it possesses up to 60 per cent of the world’s remaining arable land.

How can Africa’s Covid-19 food insecurity challenge be tackled? (Oxford Business Group)

The IMF projects that a worldwide recession will follow on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a drop of around 4% in global GDP. Due to climate change and political instability, parts of Africa were already grappling with food security issues, making a recession an unwelcome addition to the mix. Net food exporters have been particularly affected by internal pressures, such as productivity slumps caused by lockdowns, and external pressures, including the disruption of international supply chains.

Global news

WTO issues new report on how COVID-19-related restrictions on cross-border mobility are affecting global trade (WTO)

A new information note published by the WTO Secretariat highlights how trade in goods and services has been affected by temporary border closures and travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. It describes how the cross-border mobility of individuals plays an important role in both the cross-border provision and consumption of services and in manufacturing value chains.

Digital economy can put citizens in control of finance, says UN Task Force (UN News)

A UN Task Force set up to look into the risks and benefits of the digital economy, has concluded that it could have a transformational impact on sustainable development, and empower citizens, both as taxpayers and investors. The report, entitled “People’s Money: Harnessing Digitalization to Finance a Sustainable Future”, was released by the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Finance on Wednesday.

Extra UN climate talks mooted for 2021 to help negotiators catch up (Climate Home News)

Members of the UN Climate Change bureau – a group of top diplomats which includes UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa – met on Tuesday to decide the path forward for international climate negotiations. One option under consideration is to hold a third climate meeting in 2021. This would allow negotiators to catch up on work missed this year and arrive in Glasgow ready to negotiate the last unresolved issues of the Paris Agreement rulebook.