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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: David Ritchie via IOL

28 Aug 2020

SA freight and transport industry still far from recovery (Business Report)

The South Africa freight and transport industry was still far from recovery from the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ctrack SA managing director Hein Jordt said yesterday. Freight and transport activity increased by the most in a month ever in June compared to May, but activity declined by 1.7 percent again in July as some sectors in the transport industry continued to experience big declines due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

the dtic to Launch the Export Barriers Monitoring Mechanism (Department of Trade Industry and Competition)

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) will launch the Export Barriers Monitoring Mechanism (EBMM) on Monday, 31 August 2020 starting from 10:00. The EBMM is a single channel for companies to report and receive assistance in resolving export barriers.

“While the EBMM is open to receive barriers encountered in all markets, it will have a particular focus on smoothing trade with the rest of Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers unprecedented opportunities on the continent, and building a conducive environment for the movement of goods in the region is key to unlocking the potential of the agreement,” says Majola.

New bid to reopen international travel in South Africa (BusinessTech)

The Western Cape’s provincial minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier says that the province will table a formal request with national government on the reopening of international travel. In a webinar on Thursday (28 August), Maynier said that the province was currently focused on the reopening of domestic travel, but would table a submission to government around the opening of borders next week. Maynier said that the resumption of international travel was imperative to the province’s economy as a large proportion of tourists are foreigners. International tourists, typically stay longer and spend more, he said.

In a research note this week, the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) at the University of Stellenbosch said that an announcement on international travel – so that foreigners can start planning and booking trips to South Africa – will go a long way in aiding South Africa’s economic recovery.

Foreign investments not enough for 2030 dream (The Namibian)

Namibia managed to attract at least N$59,4 billion in foreign direct investments between 2009 and 2019 – largely through mining and financial institutions. This flow of funds raises the question about the country’s seriousness to industrialise, given its dream of being an industrialised economy by 2030.

A study titled ‘Understanding FDI Profitability in Namibia: Reinvestment or Repatriation’, released by the Bank of Namibia’s research team last month, found most of the foreign investments in Namibia was from China, South Africa and Mauritius. “Despite tax incentives and a tax-free EPZ dispensation, the manufacturing sector had little success in attracting investment,” it said.

Kenya’s food security remains stable despite COVID-19 pandemic: UN official (CGTN Africa)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said on Thursday that Kenya’s food security situation remains stable despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tobias Takavarasha, FAO representative to Kenya told Xinhua in Nairobi that the corrective measures were taken early enough to cushion consumers. “The agricultural sector was given exemptions on restrictions that were imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and Kenyans took advantage of it,” Takavarasha said on the sidelines of the launch of the alternative justice systems.

Egypt launches trial run of digital government services platform (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt launched a trial run of a digital platform providing a range of electronic government services in August, according to Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Taalat. The trial will see 70 services activated, covering vehicle and driving licence renewals, notarial services, and electronic filing of lawsuits. Taalat added that a mobile application will be launched over the next few days, in addition to a call centre to allow citizens to obtain services by phone.

Cameroon blocks cereals exports to Nigeria after decrease in food production (Devdiscourse)

As food security measures after a production drop, the Cameroon government has blocked cereals exports, including millet and corn, to Nigeria, according to a news report by Cameroon.org. Authorities have blamed the decrease in food production on its northern border on the threat from Boko Haram terrorists.

Somalia sets tough terms for end of Kenya miraa ban (The East African)

The Somali government has given Kenya five conditions ahead of lifting the blockade of miraa imports. The demands include; Kenya must treat Somalia as an equal, desist from interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs, apologise for violating Somalia airspace, allow in goods from Somalia including fish, rice, sugar, honey, meat and milk and Kenya stops forcing flights from Somalia to make a detour to Wajir for inspection. Somalia had also demanded government-to-government talks after it snubbed a delegation of traders and officials from Kenya crops regulator – Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

Nigeria’s dollar crackdown risks stoking illegal trading (IOL)

Nigeria’s all-out effort to defend its currency by targeting importers and exporters with tougher regulations risks pushing more currency traders to the black market and more companies into distress. As a scarcity of foreign-exchange worsens in Africa’s largest economy, the central bank on Tuesday ordered banks to report exporters that fail to repatriate income earned abroad. The directive came only a day after the regulator banned importers from using external agents to pay for goods, a bid to tighten oversight of payments made outside the nation’s borders.

Regional and continental news

Africa loses $670m annually in rejected exports (The Citizen)

Africa loses an estimated $670 million in rejected exports annually due to contamination by aflatoxin. Contamination of the cereal products by the highly-poisonous chemical results in the exports failing to meet the required standards. By wreaking havoc in food stores, the highly poisonous also causes huge losses in trade revenues. This was revealed early this week during the signing of an agreement by two international organizations to fight aflatoxin in Eastern Africa.

Besides negative impact on export trade and food security, the chemical poses a serious health threat to both human beings and animals as a result of consuming contaminated foods. ”An estimated $670m is lost in rejected export products from Africa is lost each year due to contamination by aflatoxin,” said the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA).

Financing Africa’s energy transition (African Business Magazine)

If Africa is going to ramp up its renewable generation capacity to the level of its true potential, it will have to confront the need to dig deep to finance it. Increasing sustainable generation capacity by 2030 will require between €39-€62bn ($44-69bn) of annual financing, mostly for renewable generation, notes the African Development Bank (AfDB). According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Scaling Up Renewable Energy Development in Africa report issued in 2019, to transform Africa’s energy so that it could meet nearly a quarter of its energy needs from indigenous and clean renewable energy by 2030 will require an average annual investment of $70bn, resulting in carbon-di­oxide emissions reductions of up to 310 megatonnes per annum.

Ecobank connects 34 African countries with a unified cash management system (Intelligent CIO Africa)

In recent decades, the combined forces of globalisation and demographic change have given rise to a host of exciting opportunities for economic development and business growth in Africa. As the largest pan-African bank, Ecobank is on a mission to drive the economic development and the financial integration of businesses and individuals across Africa. To achieve this, it looked to create a unified payments and cash management platform that would enable it to meet increasing customer demand for even more sophisticated banking services across the continent.

Oluwole Akinroye, Group Product Head, Payments at Ecobank, said: “We set out to make banking more convenient for our corporate clients by enabling them to see all their accounts in a single dashboard, and perform all their financial transactions electronically. We knew that by establishing a single platform for payments, we could significantly improve our ability to compete with international banks and pave the way for the development of innovative digital banking solutions.

Regional developments expected to ignite South Africa’s gas economy (Engineering News)

There has long been discussions about the development of a gas economy having the potential to help transform the South African landscape and, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, about gas emerging as a game changer both in terms of its role in the country’s energy transition and the new opportunities it presents.

“The potential industrial uses for natural gas have long been topics of conversation in South Africa, from using natural gas as a fuel to produce much-needed electricity and thus avoid load-shedding, to substituting natural gas where other more expensive, and likely more environmentally damaging, fuels are currently in use,” says Deloitte Africa Oil and Gas consulting driver Derek Boulware.

SADC to establish formal structure for disaster risk coordination (sardc.net)

A new regional mechanism is being established to coordinate disaster risk management in southern Africa. SADC and its International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) “have agreed to establish a new Thematic Group on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for purposes of ensuring a robust engagement mechanism on climate change-related issues,” according to a SADC report.

The objective of the partnership is to contribute towards the achievement of the SADC Common Agenda. This involves the attainment of the SADC Mission of promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems; deeper cooperation and integration; good governance; strengthened capacity and participation of stakeholders; and durable peace and security, so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy.

SADC Region discusses phase 1 of regional gas master plan (Namibia Economist)

The SADC Secretariat through a webinar recently presented key outcomes and recommendations of the report on Regional Gas Master Plan Phase 1 (RGMP). The Regional Gas Master Plan Phase 1 is expected to provide a strategic framework and blueprint to take advantage of available opportunities due to the discovery of commercially exploitable quantities of gas in SADC region.

WHO gives EAC logistics sector Covid19 operating procedures a nod (Freight Logistics Magazine)

The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) spelt out by the logistics industry stakeholders to contain the spread of Covid 19 through EAC’s supply chain as the industry copes with the ‘new normal’ are being finalized. Materials for sensitization campaign have already been developed and reviewed by the industry stakeholders including the East African Community (EAC), the East African Business Council (EABC) and World Health Organization (WHO) representatives in the region. “EAC has so far given its input on the Covid-19 SOPs and the sensitization materials. WHO have also reviewed the COVID19 messages to be used in the sensitization of campaign as other stakeholders share their input before full roll-out soon,” Fred Seka, Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) president said.

Uncertainty clouds East African Community budget tabling (The Citizen)

Uncertainty over the delayed tabling of the 2020/2021 budget of the East African Community (EAC) continued yesterday as the tabling was cancelled at the last minute. This time, it failed due to lack of quorum as none of the Kenyan members to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) joined turn the virtual sitting. It could not be established as to why the Kenyan MPs boycotted the session – thus further delaying approval of funds for the cash-strapped EAC. The aborted session was to debate on the $29.4 million mini-budget for the EAC – known as ‘Vote-on-Account’ – for the first three months of FY-2020/21.

The DRC trade equation: EAC is missing in the Big Picture (The Citizen)

Pressure for the East African states to tap the trade potentials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is growing – given the many missed trade opportunities the country offers. The EAC member states are said to be losing trade deals worth around $10 billion (Sh23 trillion) annually in the DRC, according to a recent study commissioned by the East African Business Council (EABC). But what are these opportunities that the EAC bloc needs to tap? The study identifies the potentials in three categories: foodstuff, textiles and leather.

AfCFTA: Major trade groups want government action on uncompetitive cost of production (Ghanaweb)

Ghana’s general high cost of production for manufacturing industries could be its bane when the much-awaited African Continental Free Trade Area becomes fully operational in 2021, two major trade groups have told government. The two groups, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), which represent thousands of organisations, said the key challenges stifling business growth in the country could act as road blocks that could impede the country’s path to realising the benefits of AfCFTA.

“We are now in direct competition with businesses from countries with advanced manufacturing sectors (South Africa, Morocco, etc.) and also producing at lower rates. To survive this competition, government will have work to ensure improved access to competitive credit for local firms or risk losing out,” Chief Executive of the GNCCI Mark Badu-Aboagye told Business24 during a visit to Chinese firm Zonda Tec in Tema.

2020 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group: Final Communiqué

1. Take note of the enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including severe disruptions to the development trajectories of our Regional Member Countries (RMCs). In this connection, we commend the Bank Group for the adoption of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) to provide a flexible range of exceptional support to lessen the severe economic and social impact of the pandemic on our RMCs.

3. Given the highly uncertain outlook related to the pandemic, we call on the Bank Group to continue implementing its programmes with particular attention to addressing the financial and operational risks that may arise, in order to safeguard its ability to deliver on its development mandate in the most effective manner;

5. Acknowledge the continued relevance of the High 5 priority areas with an emphasis on selectivity to help bridge the infrastructure finance gap in areas where the Bank Group has comparative advantages such as transport, telecommunications, agriculture, energy and digital economy.

15. We re-elected Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as President of the Bank Group for the next five years commencing 1 September 2020.

Global news

COVID-19: Without Help, Low-Income Developing Countries Risk a Lost Decade (IMF Blog)

While the COVID-19 crisis is sending shockwaves around the globe, low-income developing countries (LIDCs) are in a particularly difficult position to respond. LIDCs have both been hit hard by external shocks and are suffering severe domestic contractions from the spread of the virus and the lockdown measures to contain it. At the same time, limited resources and weak institutions constrain the capacity of many LIDC governments to support their economies.

How nations can structurally transform their economies (UNCTAD)

The policy experiences that transformed China from a manufacturing assembly hub of the world to an economic powerhouse offer valuable lessons for countries in the global south. “There are significant lessons from the China experience which other countries can draw on,” said UNCTAD’s senior economist, Rashmi Banga. “There are benefits to emulating advanced economies, but most developing countries are better placed to learn from bottom-up growth experiences.”

UNCTAD’s BRI Platform has published six papers outlining the policy experiences that facilitated the structural transformation of the Chinese economy. The papers cover China’s experience in the areas of macro-economic management and finance; digital economy; trade, industry and investment; debt sustainability and debt management.

‘African interests differ fundamentally from those of the EU’ (IPS Journal)

What are the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for African countries? The economic crisis in Europe, the emerging economies, China and the United States is suppressing growth in the world economy. Poorer countries are often dependent on exporting raw materials. As demand has fallen, Africa’s export earnings have declined significantly. Many countries have become mired in debt crises, tax revenues are down, foreign investments are receding and migrants’ remittances are tailing off. The upshot of all these developments is widespread job losses and millions of people falling back into poverty. All the gains of the past few years could be wiped out.

WTO issues new report regarding impact of COVID-19 crisis on agricultural trade

The WTO Secretariat has published a new information note examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on world agricultural trade. The paper notes that agricultural trade has fared better than other sectors, and that initial measures focused on guaranteeing the immediate availability of food have