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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

16 Sep 2020

National news

S Africa’s coronavirus loan scheme lags, hobbling govt relief package (Reuters Africa)

South Africa’s National Treasury plans no further easing of its coronavirus loan scheme criteria to stimulate uptake, it told Reuters, meaning almost a third of the government’s 500 billion rand ($30 billion) relief package may end up going unused. The 200 billion rand loan programme is a pillar of South African efforts to shield small businesses from the impact of the pandemic. Conditions were tweaked in July, including expanding who qualifies and extending the repayment grace period, after relatively few firms applied for the loans.

Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan gets the green light from business, labour (Engineering News)

The National Economic Development and Labour Council has agreed to an economic recovery plan for South Africa. According to a statement issued by the Presidency on Tuesday, following a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nedlac - a body comprised of representatives of government, business, labour and community - the details of the plan will be announced once it is finalised by Cabinet. The country’s economy is set to contract anywhere between 7% and 13% this year due to the damaging impact of the lockdown that was instituted to curb the spread of Covid-19. Most recent data from Stats SA showed that the economy contracted by 51% quarter on quarter on an annualised basis as a result of the lockdown, which saw economic activity grind to a halt for five weeks.

UK Government Donates R50m to Solidarity Fund for Projects Supporting and Promoting Women (The Department of Trade Industry and Competition)

The Solidarity Fund announced the receipt of a R50m grant from the government of the United Kingdom (UK). The grant is aimed at extending the Solidarity Fund’s ongoing efforts to counter the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa – focusing specifically on projects supporting and promoting women. This contribution forms part of the UK’s international COVID19 response and recovery efforts, and signals their support for the Solidarity Fund as an independent, South African run initiative. The sum earmarked for the Fund amounts to a £2.15m (R50m) donation that will be used to bolster high priority initiatives currently supported by the Fund. To date, the UK has committed £6.5m in support of South Africa’s response to the pandemic.

South Africa ranks 90th in economic freedom rankings (Moneyweb.co.za)

According to the 2020 Economic Freedom of the World report recently published by the Fraser Institute (which is based on 2018 data), South Africa climbed up from 101 in 2017 to 90 in 2018 (out of 162 countries). However, a lot has happened since 2018, and going up in the rankings doesn’t necessarily mean that there is much improvement. The study bases economic freedom on personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter markets and compete, and security of the person and privately-owned property, and includes a measure to gauge the extent to which women have the same economic freedom as men.

Simplicity is key if SA is to harness technology (New Frame)

The government, labour, business and societal organisations have identified the economic promise of the so-called fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as a focus area to rescue South Africa from its economic paralysis. “Digitisation is accelerating globally. Countries and populations that are not keeping up will be left even further behind. In SA this will lead to deeper inequalities. The process of ensuring universal access to affordable broadband and digital public services has become even more critically important and should be prioritised,” says the document. But compared with global competition, South Africa is almost a backwater when it comes to developing coherent and comprehensive policy on 4IR. A government document on the country’s economic recovery now and post Covid-19, presented at the Nedlac session in August, speaks volumes.

Rampant corruption hurts Kenya’s economic freedom score (The Star)

Kenya has trailed its East Africa’s peers in the latest World Economic Freedom Index, ranking position 132 globally on rampant corruption, regulatory efficiency and high tax burden. The annual report by the Heritage Foundation, a leading think tank, merits the level of economic freedom of a country by measuring four parameters: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open market.The survey ranked Kenya as ‘mostly unfree economy’ hampered by weak rule of law (especially government integrity) and less-than-stellar performance in investment freedom and financial freedom.

Kenya’s economy set to grow by less than 2.5 percent (Ventures Africa)

Kenya’s economy is expected to grow by less than 2.5 percent this year, Kenya’s financial minister Ukur Yatani said during a virtual event held to launch budget-making for the 2021/22 financial year. At the launch, the minister revealed a 10 percent drop in government revenue from August taxes, partly due to tax cuts announced in April to support consumer demand in the face of the pandemic. Yatani warns that the coronavirus crisis is likely to cause a major economic shock, due to loss of jobs, contraction in tourism, and a drop in government revenues.

Efforts to close financial disparities in place (Dailynews)

The government has been implementing various strategies aimed at reducing economic and financial disparities via financial inclusion for those groups that are traditionally excluded from the formal financial sector. The need to build an inclusive and effective financial system led to establishment of the National Financial Inclusion Framework initiative, phase one (2014-2016) and second phase 2018-2022 implemented under the Financial Inclusion National Council. The first framework focused on building infrastructure to facilitate access of financial services ready to be used by Tanzanians.

Tanzania lifts ban on Kenyan airlines (Nation)

Kenyan airlines have finally been allowed to land in Tanzania, bringing an end to the airspace feud between the two countries. This is after the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) announced that it had lifted the suspension that hit Kenyan airlines. In a statement, TCAA director general Hamza Johari said the authority was acting on reciprocal basis after its Kenyan counterpart, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), included Tanzania on a revised list of countries exempted from the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Ethiopian Airways readies to service Zim route, OR Tambo re-opening critical (The Chronicle)

ETHIOPIAN Airways has become the first regional airliner to confirm resumption of service into Zimbabwe post Covid-19 with first flight into Victoria Falls scheduled for October 6. However, aviation experts believe the re-opening of OR Tambo airport in South Africa is key to revival of the aviation industry in the Sadc region. Government recently gave greenlight to domestic and international flights as it lifted the ban on domestic and international travel. Domestic and foreign travel had been banned on March 30 as the Government imposed measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 at a time when most cases were imported. The global pandemic came at a time when airlines were gradually increasing capacity and frequency due to demand.

World Bank Provides Additional Support for Agriculture Growth and Better Livelihood Opportunities for Ethiopia’s Smallholder Farmers

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$80 million grant from the International Development Association to support the government Ethiopia to boost agricultural productivity and enhance market access for smallholder farmers. According to the World Bank’s 2019 Poverty Assessment for Ethiopia, agricultural growth was a key driver of poverty reduction over the past decade. Additional financing for the Second Agricultural Growth Project (AGPII) will further increase the economic potential of Ethiopia’s agricultural sector.

Zim to save US$60m in wheat imports (The Herald)

Zimbabwe is expected to harvest nine months’ supply of wheat from the 2020 winter crop, saving the Government up to US$60 million in imports. While the county will import to cover the remaining three months supply, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement will introduce summer wheat production starting with the 2021-2022 season to ensure wheat self-sufficiency and cut future imports.

Nigeria moves to regulate crypto currencies, other digital investments (Premium Times Nigeria)

Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday announced that it would begin to regulate digital currencies and crypto-based companies. SEC said all Digital Assets Token Offering (DATOs), Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), Security Token ICOs and other Blockchain-based offers of digital assets within Nigeria or by Nigerian issuers or sponsors or foreign issuers targeting Nigerian investors, shall be subject to the regulation of the Commission.


Regional and continental news

African Leaders for Nutrition call on leaders to embed nutrition within the Covid-19 response and recovery (AfDB)

The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) have unveiled a position paper calling upon African Heads of State and Governments to ensure that financing for nutrition is included in their country’s COVID-19 response and recovery plans

Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery recommends that countries maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition, and ensure there are no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 responses.

EAC urged to Design post-COVID-19 Business Recovery program for Women (East African Business Week)

East African member states have been urged to come up with COVID-19 Business Recovery Programs targeting most traders in the informal sector particularly Women engaged in cross border trade. Women and Business Activists in the region say COVID -19 has greatly affected Women Business Communities especially those who are engaging in cross border trade. This came as a result of the closing of regional Borders. “The closing of the borders negatively impacted on the lives of cross-border traders especially women.

“All their capital was consumed thus the need for the EAC to come up with the recovery programme that will support Women in Business to access cheap loans to finance and restart their businesses,” noted Jane Nalunga the Executive Director Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda

Stations meant to decongest East Africa corridor set for (Business Daily)

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Northern Corridor stakeholders will this month begin inspection and certification of roadside stations (RSS) aimed at decongesting and reducing accidents. The RSS programme, which also seeks to identify safe places for cargo crew, was launched in 2015 and has so far identified 141 roadside sites within East Africa Community member states.

“The Northern Corridor Member States are committed to develop Roadside Stations as an integral part of transport infrastructure services along the corridor and to develop and adopt policies and regulatory frameworks for promoting RSS in partnership with the private sector,” said Northern Corridor Transport and Transit Authority (NCTTA) executive secretary, Omae Nyarandi.

Tanzania Shocked by EALA MPs’ Greed; Blocks Plan to Borrow $2m for Video Conference Allowances (chimpreports.com)

The Government of Tanzania has rejected a request by the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) to borrow about $2m from the general reserve account to pay allowances for lawmakers. “With regret, I wish to inform you that the United Republic of Tanzania was not consulted and in that respect has not consented to the borrowing of $1.5m and $165,339 from IUCEA and LVFO, respectively,” said Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Amb Wilbert Ibuge in a letter to EAC SG Liberat Mfumukeko dated Sept. 10, 2020.

Energy infrastructure development will unlock the region’s vast potential (Chronicle)

There is an urgent need to beef up energy infrastructure development within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) – Indian Ocean bloc so as to unlock the region’s vast economic potential. According to Comesa, a 21-member trading grouping, power outages being experienced in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region continue to negatively affect productivity, leading to Africa losing 12,5 percent of production time compared to seven percent for South Asia.

Expansion set to create Horn of Africa logistics hub (Riviera)

This first phase of development is scheduled to be completed by Q1 2021. Further phases could follow to raise container capacity further. Developments include extending the existing quaysides with a 400-m quay for berthing ultra large container ships. “The phase 1 expansion project will increase the port’s capacity and further strengthen Berbera Port as a major regional trade port servicing the Horn of Africa,” said DP World Berbera chief executive Supachai Wattanaveerachai.

Nigeria awaiting other countries’ endorsement of development bank project for West, Central Africa (Premium Times Nigeria)

The Nigerian government says it is waiting for the acceptance of two-third of Member States to proceed with the Regional Maritime Development Bank project. For the creation of the bank, the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa(MOWCA) had earlier reached some decisions that it expects all its Member States to meet. The focus of the bank will be the growth and development of maritime in West and Central Africa with a view to raising debt and equity capital of US$850 million and US$150 million respectively.

Charting a Path for a Resilient Recovery in Sub Saharan Africa (IMF Blog)

As we all continue to grapple with the COVID‑19 crisis, policymakers also need to look ahead. Countries need to ensure that the vast global fiscal support deployed to fight the pandemic also works to build a smarter, greener and more equitable future. Nowhere is that more important than in sub‑Saharan Africa. It is where the needs are greatest and also home to the world’s youngest population, creating added urgency to act now to build forward better. Together, we need to chart a path to a more resilient recovery.


Global news

Food safety part of the FAO’s COVID-19 response efforts (Food Safety News)

Food safety standards and trade is one of seven areas in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s COVID-19 response and recovery program. The United Nations’ agency is calling for $1.2 billion in initial investment to support efforts. The food safety part has a budget of $50 million and a timeframe until 2024. Trade measures have been a common feature of the immediate policy response to the outbreak such as import restrictions because of food safety concerns that are not necessarily science-based, according to the FAO.

Food and Agriculture Indicators Reveal Impacts of Pandemic on Data Collection (IISD SDG Knowledge Hub)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released its second SDG Progress Report. The report titled, ‘Tracking Progress on Food and Agriculture-related SDG Indicators 2020: A Report on the Indicators under FAO Custodianship,’ was released on 15 September 2020. The first such report, issued in 2019, found that the world was not going to meet most of the SDG targets related to food and agriculture by 2030. In the second report, the FAO finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only made it even more difficult to achieve the SDGs, and more unlikely that the food and agriculture targets will be met on time, but it has also made it more difficult to monitor progress.

Mexican nominee to WTO top job pledges to prioritise Africa (GhanaWeb)

A former Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Mexico’s nominee for the top position of the global trade institution, Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri, has promised to put Africa at the center stage of his leadership should he be voted to lead the organisation. Dr. Kuri, in an exclusive op-ed published in the Business24, did not only recount his long experience working in various capacities in multilateral agencies serving the needs of the continent, but promised to ensure the selection of his deputy from Africa, preferably a female. “I will make every effort to ensure Africa has a (possibly female) DDG, so that we have not one but two senior officers who are familiar with Africa at the top of the organisation,” he said.

The new development partnership: Smart aid for Africa (Open Access Government)

Jong-Dae Park, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in South Africa, discusses smart aid and sustainable development for Africa post COVID-19. The world is plagued by COVID-19 and it is wreaking havoc on our daily lives. However, while we fight this pandemic that is like nothing that has ever come before in our lifetime, we might take this opportunity to genuinely reflect on what needs to be done as we try to work towards a post-pandemic era. One of the things that comes to my mind as a fundamental problem to tackle is Africa’s development.

Women, ICT and emergency telecommunications: opportunities and constraints (ReliefWeb)

This report sets out to assess whether ICTs used to reduce disaster risk are benefiting women and men equally. It does so by considering vulnerability alone as it examines women’s circumstances in relation to men’s in the same geographies and with the same ICT infrastructure. It examines gendered disaster vulnerability as well as the gendered digital divide. In each case, vulnerability is considered from the lens of affected persons’ capacity to mitigate and prepare for (before), respond to (during) and recover from (after) disasters. These examinations and a range of ICT initiatives currently used to reduce gendered asymmetries, inform recommendations for ICT-enabled disaster risk reduction (DRR) for the most vulnerable. DRR refers to the systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of disaster. It aims to reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster as well as to treat with the environmental and other hazards that trigger them.

OECD Economic Outlook, June 2020Building confidence crucial amid an uncertain economic recovery

The spread of Covid-19 has shaken people’s lives around the globe in an extraordinary way, threatening health, disrupting economic activity, and hurting wellbeing and jobs. Since our last Economic Outlook update, in early March, multiple virus outbreaks evolved into a global pandemic, moving too fast across the globe for most healthcare systems to cope with effectively. To reduce the spread of the virus and buy time to strengthen healthcare systems, governments had to shut down large segments of economic activity. At the time of writing, the pandemic has started to recede in many countries, and activity has begun to pick up. The health, social and economic impact of the outbreak could have been considerably worse without the dedication of healthcare and other essential workers who continued to serve the public, putting their own health at risk in doing so.

Europe and Africa at a crossroads (ISS Africa)

Over the past decade, the African Union (AU) has shown increasing ambition in international relations. The AU Commission has tried to structure relations with strategic partners to coordinate and align their interventions with the African priorities defined in Agenda 2063. While it’s premature to talk about an AU foreign policy, the AU reform framework reflects on the organisation’s role in Africa’s relations with the outside world, including the European Union (EU). But can African states consider an EU-Africa relationship beyond aid? And are they able to create enough consensus to agree on important policies?

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