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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Brand South Africa

24 Sep 2020

National news

Manufacturing tipping point could be pushed back by innovation and tech – De Ruyter (Engineering News)

Addressing the Manufacturing Circle annual general meeting (AGM) on September 22, Eskom CEO and Manufacturing Circle former chairperson Andre de Ruyter said that investing in research, embracing innovation and technology and lowering manufacturing costs were equally critical in boosting manufacturing competitiveness, as was a collaborative approach. The manufacturing sector had reached a “tipping point”, he said, adding that eliminating growth and investment barriers, while boosting the demand for local goods were just some of the measures required to place it on the path of success.

Kenya unveils first diaspora investment fund (African Business Magazine)

Kenya has introduced its first licensed investment fund for citizens living overseas, in a move that is expected to channel more of the diaspora’s money into development projects across the country. The fund is expected to provide a safe and regulated investing body for Kenyans living overseas. It also allows payments to be made using Kenya’s popular mobile money platform M-Pesa, enabling Kenyans to make investments from as little as five dollars. Susan Muigai, ADAM’s head of global business development, said: “The use of technology will be the hallmark of the five diaspora funds, available to investors from all over the world as well as Kenyans. Using the ADAM mobile app, they are able to invest, check their investment balances and even sell their units in real time using VISA cards, bank accounts and MPESA.”

Statistics Agency revises 2019 real GDP contraction further down to -1.6% (Namibia Economist)

The economy suffered a larger contraction last year than earlier estimated, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency’s recently published revised national accounts data for 2019. The latest revisions show that real GDP contracted by 1.6% in 2019 compared to the earlier estimate of decrease of 1.1% published in the preliminary national accounts report of March 2020. The largest historical revisions were made in agriculture, forestry fishing manufacturing construction and wholesale retail trade industries. Looking at the sectoral developments in 2019, the agricultural sector was the worst performing sector last year, contracting by 5.7% compared to growth of 3.3% in 2018. The industrial sector also performed poorly last year, with output dropping by 3.2% compared to growth of 6.3% in 2018. The services sector declined by 0.1 last year compared to a decrease of 1.2% in 2018. The wholesale retail industry’s dismal decrease in output of 9.1 in 2019 offset the robust growth in information communication and financial insurance services.

Mchinji One stop border post to be completed by December (Malawi Nyasa Times)

Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe has said the construction of the One stop border post at Mchinji/Mwami-Zambia border would ease cross border trade between the two countries. According to the Team Leader of the Supervision at the One Stop Border project, Thomas Zilly, the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the construction, but the construction work would be completed by December 2020. “We expect an increase in the movement of the goods between the two countries, we want to export more to Zambia especially agriculture value added products,” he said.

Uganda: Speaker directs review of taxes on textile following traders’ outcry (Uganda Parliament)

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to review taxes on imported textile, following uproar from traders who said the new tax regime is prohibitive. In a meeting with the United Textile Group and Manufacturers’ Association at Nakivubo, downtown Kampala, Kadaga said it is unacceptable for such taxes to be levied on traders struggling to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zambia hints at first Covid default as Africa debt burden rises (IOL)

Zambia became the first African country to ask bondholders for relief since the onset of the coronavirus as nations from Angola to Kenya battle to cope with the economic hit from the pandemic.The southern African nation said it needed “breathing space” to plan a debt restructuring, and asked holders of its three Eurobonds totaling $3 billion to defer interest payments until April. Zambia’s $1 billion of notes due 2024 fell 4.5% in London to 52.46 cents on the dollar on Tuesday, after the government said a coupon payment due Oct. 14 would be included in the proposed suspension.

Nigeria’s manufacturing sector contracts for 5th consecutive month – CBN (Nairametrics)

The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), in September 2020, has witnessed a contraction for the fifth consecutive month, as it stood at 46.9 index points. This was disclosed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in its September PMI report released on Wednesday. The report stated that, out of the 14 subsectors surveyed, 4 subsectors reported expansion (above 50% threshold) in the review month.

Port Operations At 50% As NSC Eyes Higher Automation (Daily Trust)

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello on Tuesday said most maritime agencies as well as shipping firms have achieved about 50 per cent automation of their port facilities. He said full automation of the ports could be reached by March 2021. Speaking in Lagos, Bello said: “Automation is sure to make progress. The Regulation Department (NSC) has already given us a report on areas that are already automated and what is the deficit. So many things are done online. NSC has carried out a survey on levels of automation and clearing processes for containerised goods and RORO cargo at shipping lines.”


Regional and continental news

President calls for women to get greater access to financial tools (SAnews)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has thrown his weight behind the empowering of women in Africa by giving them enabling tools to build themselves a financially secure and independent future. President Ramaphosa was speaking during a high-level virtual panel, G7 Partnership for African Women’s Financial Inclusion on Wednesday. “We must enable women to take advantage of the technological advances to start their own businesses, to trade and to seek employment,” President Ramaphosa said. “We believe that a digitally enabled economy with a strong emphasises on gender equality has the potential to be transformative, fair, sustainable and competitive,” he added.

AfCFTA: MAN, LCCI call for re-opening of Nigeria’s borders (The Sun Nigeria)

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged the Federal Government to immediately re-open the country’s land borders to boost the economy and attract the much-needed investments following the official flag-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) slated for January 1, 2021. He said the association understood government’s stance on the border closure following the massive smuggling and importation of counterfeit goods and other agriculture products into the country.

In a similar development, the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, also said the private sector expected the Federal Government to re-open the borders because of its imperative to the country’s economic fortunes following its negative contribution to trade since the closure one year ago. He said the country’s economic growth had remained subdued at two per cent this year due to the border closure and other challenges, insisting that the country’s economy remains susceptible to external shocks, especially, oil price fluctuations.

AU says 17 African countries, regions under border closure amid COVID-19 pandemic (CGTN Africa)

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Wednesday said that 17 African countries and regions are under full border closure due to concerns related to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Africa. The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission, said in its periodic report issued on Wednesday that some 17 African countries and regions are still under “full border closure” while the closure of country-wide educational institutions has been activated across 33 African countries in an effort to halt the spread of the infectious virus. It noted that 9 African countries are practicing mandatory COVID-19 testing at borders. Meanwhile, the Africa CDC had recently published COVID-19 guidelines, which reiterated that “due to disruptions in the global supply chain, some African countries may face the risk of an acute shortage of personal protective equipment.”

Shippers call for scrapping of cash deposits for containers as security (The East African)

Cash deposits charged by shipping lines as a guarantee for the return of cargo containers by importers could soon be scrapped. The Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (Iscos) has stepped up the push for the elimination of cash deposits. Iscos Secretary General Daniel Kiange said it is a trade barrier at both the Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. “We have had a number of meetings. The Tuesday virtual meeting with industry players was fruitful. We have suggested doing away with cash deposits as a container guarantee, and moving to either the use of insurance or signing a guarantee form between the traders and shipping agents,” he said.

Higher levy plan for importers avoiding SGR (Business Daily)

Importers who choose to transport goods by road face higher rail import levy in a move aimed at encouraging the use of the standard gauge railway (SGR).Parliament has recommended an increase of the Railway Development Levy by 0.3 percentage points or 2.8 percent of the cost of goods ferried by road.Currently transporters pay 2.5 percent of the cost of imported goods in Railway Development Levy to move goods from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi and the hinterland. But those using SGR will pay a lower fee of 1.5 percent if recommendations of the National Assembly transport committee are adopted.

Onshoring And Intra-African Trade - Solution For Post-Covid Job Creation (iAfrica)

Sea-Air-Land Ports and Development Zones in Africa – an integrated logistics framework to accelerate reshoring, job creation, and trade. For Africa to achieve significant economic growth requires a rethink of its logistics infrastructure. Existing transportation involves a traditional truck-rail-air-sea service capability unsuited to today’s needs. The competitiveness of the continent has further been impacted by its predominant export of raw materials with the importation of manufactured product. This is characterized by China becoming Africa’s major trading partner with bilateral trade at $185 billion USD (2018) and a major negative trade impact. South Africa’s trade deficit with China alone was approximately $8.5 billion (2018).

Counterfeiting of Fake Drugs in Africa: current situation, causes and countermeasures (Inventa International)

As counterfeit goods cost a fraction of the price of the original goods, people who under normal circumstances would not have access to those products can afford them. Recently, whilst attending one workshop on Anti-Counterfeiting, the panellist told the audience something that caught in my mind: if you want to know if a specific product, from a specific brand is trending at the moment, just take a look at its presence and demand in illegal markets. Intellectual Property protection plays a very important role in the fight against counterfeiting and in helping to diminish its negative impact on the economy of a specific jurisdiction. However, Intellectual Property in Africa is currently insufficient to deal with the problematic properly, despite the progress that is being made daily with emphasis in the further developed countries.


Global trade news and Africa's global relations

EA partners throw Kenya under the bus on UK talks (The East African)

Kenya’s multimillion-dollar trade with Britain hangs in the balance after its East African Community partners failed to agree on the timeline for negotiating a new, post-Brexit trade deal. Meetings called to negotiate a collective trade agreement between the EAC and the United Kingdom have failed to make any substantive progress, leaving Kenya the most exposed to losing its $393 million exports market owing to its classification as a Lower Middle Income Country. Afraid of losing its UK market access, Kenya presented its grievances to the EAC Council of Ministers to be allowed to negotiate individually and be joined by any willing member.

India in the process of finalising trade pact with Mauritius: Piyush Goyal (The Economic Times)

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday said India is in the process of finalising the proposed free trade pact with Mauritius. The proposed India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) seeks to mutually benefit both the countries in the area of trade in goods and services, he said. He also said that recently India and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have decided for early resumption of negotiations for a preferential trading agreement.

BRI can help put Africa’s key projects on fast track (China Daily)

The Belt and Road Initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Area, positioned among key global and continental frameworks, are expanding the levels of economic cooperation and offering added advantages for industrial and sustainable development. Concurrently, the two initiatives are geared to address infrastructural underdevelopment issues and bottlenecks in international trade. From an African perspective, three strategies can be pursued to ensure that the BRI is well integrated with the AfCFTA.

Effective multilateralism key to overcoming global challenges, Uhuru says (KBC)

Effective multilateral action within a rule-based international system is key to overcoming global challenges including securing lasting peace and prosperity, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said. “Kenya believes strongly that if we remain anchored in multilateralism and with the unity of purpose, we are much more agile in embracing change and positive transformations if we remain rooted in a rule-based international system and act innovatively and selflessly, we can transcend our challenges and secure lasting peace and prosperity for all,” he said.

Africa offers Asian business an abundance of investment opportunities, webinar participants learn (AfDB)

The African Development Bank today held a workshop to convey the continent’s immense investment and partnership opportunities to Asian business leaders, particularly as the continent seems poised to return to economic growth in 2021 following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Africa’s huge and highly diverse continent has the second-largest population in the world and the second-largest land mass after Asia, offering tremendous investment opportunities for the Asian private sector. The Bank views Africa’s private sector as a critical engine of economic growth and development but Asian companies often lack information about the business climate.

Germany Advances as Major Player in Pan-African Trade and Investment (Africa Oil & Power)

The Germany-Africa Business Forum (GABF) hosted its second installment of its German-African cooperation-focused webinar series on Wednesday, aimed at outlining the opportunities for sustainable FDI between Germany and the African continent. Anchored by the theme of investment and trade for African economic development, the opening keynote was delivered by H.E. Nooke, and outlined four key success factors in driving Africa’s economic development: investment and business climate, transport, energy and technological infrastructure, available workforce, and access to markets. Digitalization and green energy were advanced as two of the critical sectors for facilitating Africa’s economic and social development. Africa contains a young, tech-savvy population, noted H.E. Nooke, translating to smooth technological adoption and enhanced opportunities for both consumers and businesses.

JETRO to aid Japan, India ventures in Africa (@businessline)

Japan is keen to promote collaborations between Japanese and Indian companies in various African countries in focus areas such as automobile parts, infrastructure and energy projects, home appliances and power machineries, and has proposed to facilitate “business matching”. The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the country’s foreign trade promotion body, will provide support to Japanese and Indian companies which try to establish and expand their businesses in Africa and will connect business partners and financial bodies, Yasuyuki Murahashi, Chief Director General of JETRO India, told BusinessLine.

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of LLDCs adopt innovative Roadmap for accelerated efforts to deliver sustainable development (UN)

Communities affected by heavy monsoon rains that triggered a widespread flooding in Bangladesh.

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) adopted a Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action during their annual meeting in the virtual sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The Vienna Programme of Action is an ambitious plan agreed in 2014 to help LLDCs increase connectivity, enhance competitiveness, expand trade and structural transformation, in pursuit of development goals. However, during a midterm review at the end of 2019 it was revealed that LLDCs are not on track to achieve the goals of the Programme by the deadline of 2024.

In this context, the Chair of the Group of LLDCs, representing the group’s interests at the highest international level, requested the United Nations to develop a visionary Roadmap to accelerate progress. The Roadmap presents a call to action for policy makers, the private sector, multilateral and regional development banks, the UN system and other organizations to help address the structural challenges in LLDCs. Special focus is given to assisting LLDCs to understand and deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

See also: ECA Executive Secretary calls for accelerated actions & interventions towards addressing LLDCs’ special challenges


Broadband Commission calls on world leaders to prioritize universal connectivity as fundamental to sustainable development & global recovery (ITU)

Universal broadband access is the vital catalyst needed to drive global economic recovery and accelerate lacklustre progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new report released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly underscored humanity’s growing reliance on digital networks for business continuity, employment, education, commerce, banking, healthcare, and a whole host of other essential services. Yet today, almost half the global population has still never accessed the internet, and hundreds of millions more struggle with slow, costly and unreliable connections.

Paul Kagame, Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission and President of Rwanda said: ​​”​The first decade of the Broadband Commission has made a real impact by highlighting the transformational power of universal access to high-speed internet connectivity and smartphones. Ideas that seemed futuristic ten years ago, are now mainstream. The next decade will be about using digital tools to speed up the recovery from the Covid pandemic and make up some of the lost ground on the SDGs.”

Global trade in food and agricultural products more than doubles in last two decades (FAO)

Global agri-food trade has more than doubled since 1995, amounting to $1.5 trillion in 2018, with emerging and developing countries’ exports on the rise and accounting for over one-third of the world’s total, according to a new report issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets, 2020 (SOCO 2020) argues that global trade and well-functioning markets lie at the heart of the development process as they can spur inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, and strengthen resilience to shocks. “We need to rely on markets as an integral part of the global food system. This is all the more important in the face of major disruptions, whether they come from COVID-19, locust outbreaks or climate change,” wrote FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in his introduction to the report.

Guterres advocates for digital world that ‘strengthens human rights, advances peace’ (UN News)

The UN was founded 75 years ago, at the outset of the nuclear era, to provide “a global platform for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, to secure peace and to safeguard the future for generations”, said Secretary-General António Guterres in a video message on Thursday to the high-level meeting on digital cooperation In a digital world of both vast potential and looming challenges, good governance and global cooperation is needed too – and the UN can play a critical role in bringing all actors together, he declared. The COVID-19 pandemic has “highlighted and exacerbated global inequalities, including the digital divide”, said the UN chief. This adds further urgency to ensure that the response also illustrates the “central role of technology in keeping economies and health systems running, young people