tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
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18 Sep 2020

National news

Minerals Council welcomes move to level 1, backs Ramaphosa’s recovery plan (Eyewitness News)

As the country prepares to move to level 1 of the lockdown, the Minerals Council South Africa on Friday said that citizens and businesses needed to remain vigilant and keep themselves safe. The council welcomed the decision to further lift restrictions on economic activity from Monday. “The Minerals Council also shares the view of the president and of the country’s health experts cautioning that, while restrictions are being relaxed, South African businesses, other institutions, and citizens must remain vigilant and continue to exercise safe behaviour at home, at work, and in their communities,” the Minerals Council said in a statement.

Infrastructure South Africa drafting 25-year National Infrastructure Plan (Engineering News)

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille has confirmed that a single entry point for all the projects in the country’s Infrastructure Investment Plan will be created, through an entity called Infrastructure South Africa (ISA). ISA will be at arm’s length from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), and will be responsible for project preparation, packaging, funding pathways and providing strategic oversight over all the gazetted projects. Additionally, ISA is in the process of conceptualising and drafting a 25-year National Infrastructure Plan to provide longer-term direction for the built environment from government’s side.

Kenya’s Economy Expected to Rebound With Improved Performance of Key Exports – Report (Capital Business)

Kenya’s economy is expected to rebound in the last quarter of 2020 on the back of increased export of horticultural products, fruits, and tea to key markets, a new report has said. According to a report released by Scope Markets, this will be a marked improvement, especially of the horticultural industry, which was losing at least Sh106 Million per day as a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic three months ago.

Kenya keen on fourth industrial revolution (The Star)

The government has identified specific goals and targets to steer growth as the country strives to catch up with the fourth industrial revolution.The fourth industrial revolution is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology.Among government targets is the development of the iron and steel industry through the establishment of an integrated steel mill. It is also keen on the development of small and medium enterprise (SME) parks, industrial and technology parks, and industrial manufacturing clusters, Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development CS Betty Maina has said.

Govt earns a paltry N$162 million on Namdia’s N$2 billion diamond sales (Namibia Economist)

The crash in the international diamond market in the first three months of this year, caused a dramatic decline in the volume of diamonds marketed by Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia), leading to a 41% decrease in profit for the full financial year ended 31 March 2020. Releasing their financial results earlier this week, Namdia said its after-tax profit reduced from N$161.9 million to N$95.2 million.

Botswana raises limits for domestic borrowing to nearly 3 bln USD (Xinhua)

Botswana’s National Assembly on Wednesday endorsed the doubling of the southern African country’s domestic borrowing to 30 billion pula (about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars). Thapelo Matsheka, minister of finance and economic development, had approached parliament seeking the approval of lawmakers to increase the bond program ceiling from 15 billion pula (about 1.45 billion dollars). Against the backdrop of an economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Matsheka told parliament that increasing the limit for domestic borrowing was one of the fundamental options to fund the national budget.

Cameroon seeking to build $3bn dam to export electricity (Engineering News)

Cameroon will build a $3-billion hydropower plant as part of an ambitious plan to make the central African nation an exporter of electricity by 2035. The 810 MW Grand Eweng project on the Sanaga river, a joint venture between the government and the US-based energy company Hydromine, is the fifth hydro-project on the river.

COVID-19: Why Buhari released N2.3 trillion stimulus package to Nigerians – Osinbajo (Daily Post Nigeria)

Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has revealed that the Federal Government’s N2.3 trillion stimulus package was designed to mitigate the shock, tackle the vulnerabilities, create and protect jobs, as well as rescue businesses and reposition the economy. The Vice President stated this in his keynote at the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES) themed “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Post COVID-19 Era: What Next for Nigeria?” “Our projections showed that without the stimulus, the economy was set to contract by -4.4% in 2020, but with implementation, including ramping up local production, we should be able to limit the negative growth to -0.59%. Let me be clear, our desire to ramp up local production is not a call to autarky but rather an expenditure switching approach which can complement the AfCFTA desire to deepen regional value-chains,” he added.

Ghana's economy sees first contraction in almost four decades (Ventures Africa)

Ghana’s economy contracted by an annual 3.2 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with a growth rate of 5.7 percent in Q2 2019, as lockdown restrictions that were placed to curb the coronavirus pandemic stalled activity. At a news conference on Wednesday, Ghana’s statistician 

Nigeria working to attract more foreign direct investments to prepare for AfCFTA - Trade Minister (Nairametrics)

Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy.

Mauritania finalizes AfCFTA implementation strategy (UNECA)

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and the ECA Office in North Africa will hold today in Nouakchott (Mauritania) a workshop to validate the national strategy for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Mauritania was among the first African countries to ratify the agreement for the creation and implementation of the AfCFTA. The Workshop for the validation of Mauritania’s national AfCFTA strategy is part of a series of national efforts being carried out to facilitate its effective and beneficial implementation on the Mauritanian economy.

Ghanaian businesses need support to ‘win’ under AfCFTA—AGI (GhanaWeb)

Business setbacks such as high cost of power, access to capital, among others, remain a concern for Ghanaian industries, and if the government wants to “win” with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it needs to ensure businesses are supported to become competitive, the Accra Regional Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, has sai Speaking in Accra at the launch of the upcoming 4th Trade and Finance conference, dubbed “The AfCFTA edition”, Mr. Akpeloo said: “We are very thankful for the government for having the secretariat here, and to be fair, government has also reduced the cost of power somehow; but we are asking for further reduction to be competitive across the continent. For us to win, we need to operationalise the many policies that we are talking about.”

Regional and continental news

African Union Nutrition Champion calls on leaders to embed nutrition within the COVID-19 response and recovery

His Majesty King Letsie III Head of State of the Kingdom of Lesotho, African Union Nutrition Champion and also a champion of African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), has issued a position paper titled, “Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery “. The position paper which has been sent to all the African Union Member States calls on all Heads of State and Governments to ensure the incorporation and promotion of nutrition smart interventions within COVID-19 response and recovery action plans. The paper 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 response plans.

Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda race ahead to forge a single stock market (The East African)

Three East African countries have joined forces to implement a World Bank-funded financial project that aims to connect regional stock markets electronically. This means they can operate as a single market with a view of reducing the cost and time of trading in shares of companies listed on markets across the borders. Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania are set to start trading as a single market before the end of this year (2020) after interconnecting their trading systems and hooking to the EAC Capital Markets Infrastructure (CMI) Information Technology platform.

The East Africa Securities Exchange Association (EASEA) said the project that has dragged for more than five years largely due to payment dispute with the software provider and lack of integration between CMI software and the trading systems of the participating states — Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda — will remove obstacles on stock trading in regional markets, spur activities and boost liquidity in underperforming markets once operational.

Feeding Africa’s urban population hinges on value chain (Anadolu Ajansı)

Africa’s urban population is projected to grow at a rate of 3.5% annually over the 2015 to 2025 period, nearly double the rate in Asia and triple that in Latin America, according to the UN.There is a need therefore to ensure efficient food value chains to guarantee that food produced by rural farmers is delivered to the growing number of urban consumers, experts say.

COMESA’s New Plan for the Next Five Years

The COMESA Secretariat has developed a draft Medium-Term Strategic Plan (MTSP) covering 2021- 2025 which is geared to support structural transformation of the region and boost overall economic development through trade facilitation and investment promotion. To formulate this new MTSP, the Secretariat used a wide consultative approach with key stakeholders both internally and externally. Consultations were undertaken at different levels including the African Union Commission under Agenda 2063, SDG Centre for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as with partner Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to gather information for the upcoming strategy. As a result, alignment has been established at the Global, Continental, Regional and subject specific levels.

Why Ecowas suspended single currency launch (The East African)

The Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas, has gone slow on the adoption of a common currency following divisions on its appropriateness for the region.At the end of the 57th Summit of the Head of States and Government in Niamey, Niger, on Tuesday, the regional bloc’s leaders admitted the decision to launch the Eco may have been rushed.For now, the Ecowas which comprises of 15 states, said it will take a gradual step towards launching one currency. Incoming chair of the bloc, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had argued at the start of the Summit that the French-speaking countries in the bloc had made unilateral adoption of Eco, leaving out the rest.

Global news

USA’s DFC approves transactions to Mozambique totalling $1.7 billion (The Africa Report)

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Donald Trump’s secret weapon to counter Chinese influence in Africa, has devoted almost half of its new investment funding to natural gas projects in Mozambique. Launched in January by the American government, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has demonstrated its expanded reach, especially in East Africa, with its latest investment. According to a press release dated 9 September, over the third quarter of 2020 the agency approved investments totalling more than $3.6bn worldwide, with nearly half of this amount allocated to transactions in Mozambique.

60th Anniversary of Sino-Ghana relations - Bawumia calls for further cooperation (Graphic Online)

The Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has underscored the need for Ghana and China to explore new areas of cooperation beyond the existing relationship between them. According to him, such a move would ensure that they tapped into the economic opportunities in both countries and also help Ghana replicate the success story of China. He said this at a virtual symposium to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Ghana-China diplomatic relations.

Dubai may be as indebted as South Africa if dissenters are right (Al Jazeera)

Determining how much debt Dubai’s government has amassed depends on who’s counting. What is less in dispute is that the uncertainty comes at a cost. Unlike the government, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings include Dubai’s local bank borrowings to make the calculation, arriving at an estimate of about 290 billion dirhams ($79 billion). The debt burden could equal 77% of this year’s gross domestic product, according to S&P, comparable with what the International Monetary Fund predicts for South Africa and just behind Oman.

Africa Needs Its Own “New Deal” (Fair Observer)

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Africa faces an unprecedented level of starvation, poverty and suffering that will last far beyond 2020. A lack of medical facilities and resources to offset economic losses is expected to push 37.5 million more Africans into extreme poverty this year, adding to the more than 400 million people already living on less than $1.90 a day. Compounding these challenges, African governments are encountering a major debt crunch. Over the past 15 years, African countries have been building new infrastructure projects, from roads to football stadiums, and collectively taking on $417 billion in debt from lenders like the World Bank, the Chinese government and private investors. The pandemic has also drawn attention to the amount African governments pay in servicing these loans, where countries like Ghana spend five times on annual debt payments as on health care.

WTO: Okonjo-Iweala, Four Others to Emerge Final Candidates (THISDAYLIVE)

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to announce on Friday the departure of three candidates in the race for the position of the Director General of the global trade body, thereby narrowing the number of contestants to five. According to Bloomberg, the troika of three top WTO officials in Geneva is expected to announce today that Mexico’s Jesus Seade, Egypt’s Hamid Mamdouh and Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi didn’t secure enough support in a first of three rounds of voting, according to the people, who weren’t authorised to speak publicly.

Private sector reforms will be crucial for Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery: Report (Down To Earth)

Development of capital markets, formalisation of workforce and increasing digitalisation is the way ahead for the continent, according to the report Recovering from the effects of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be erratic for economies in Africa but there may be some opportunities too, a private consultancy said. Its report, a comparative snapshot of market opportunities and risks across the continent, encourages development of capital markets, formalisation of the workforce and increasing digitalisation of the economy to ramp up economic recovery in the continent.

OPINIONISTA: How poverty reduction can survive deglobalisation (Daily Maverick)

The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have curtailed globalisation in ways that the current US administration could scarcely have dreamt up even a year ago. But viewed in a broader context, this year’s retreat from globalisation is merely the latest chapter in a process that has left the developing world increasingly pessimistic about pursuing export-driven growth as a path out of poverty.

even if global trade is no longer the primary engine of growth, developing countries have other means of reducing poverty at their disposal. One option is to promote regional integration, deepening cross-border ties with neighbouring countries at a similar stage of development.

Quarantine Measures Hampering the Restart of Aviation in Africa and the Middle East (IATA)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments in Africa and Middle East (AME) to implement testing as an alternative to quarantine measures when re-opening their economies. Thirty-five countries in Africa and the Middle East have government-imposed quarantine measures in place. This is an increase of seven countries since August. The impact is that the region effectively remains in lockdown despite borders being open.

“Mandatory quarantine measures stop people from traveling. We understand that governments’ priority is on protecting the well–being of their citizens. Quarantine destroys livelihoods. Testing is an alternative method that will also save travel and tourism jobs,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.

Sustainable and resilient supply chains crucial to COVID-19 recovery (ICAO)

Through a joint statement on the crucial importance of resilient and sustainable integrated supply chains to the global recovery from COVID-19, ICAO and seven other UN bodies have encouraged States to realize more effective coordination and cooperation between the transport modes, and across borders. ”We are calling on all Governments to maximize the contribution of international trade and supply chains to a sustainable socio-economic recovery in post-COVID-19 times, through greater use of international legal instruments and standards, as well as strengthened regional and sectoral cooperation,” declared ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu.

Top UN economists warn of crises of our own making if global “megatrends” left unchecked (UN DESA)

The chief economists in the United Nations system jointly identified climate change and nature degradation, inequalities, urbanization, rapid population changes and technological revolution as the five “megatrends” that will shape our world over the course of this century. Whether their impact is positive or negative overall will depend on the policies implemented today, the report authors say. The report, “Shaping the Trends of Our Time,” finds that five years into implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, progress is already off-track and, in many instances may have even been reversed by the COVID-19 crisis. Policy commitments have not translated into policy actions. Sustainable finance is increasing, but neither fast enough nor at the necessary scale. “The change in our behaviour and mindsets does not yet match our ambitions for sustainable development.”

Services trade barometer signals resilience in key sectors amid overall decline (WTO)

The Services Trade Barometer highlights turning points and changing patterns in world services trade. Unlike its counterpart for goods, the fluctuations registered by the services indicator coincide with movements in actual trade flows, rather than anticipating them.

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