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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

30 Sep 2020

National news

Commitment made to reduce food waste (TimesLIVE)

“Ultimately, the CGCSA is advocating for legislation to make it possible for surplus food, which is still safe for human consumption, to be donated to the needy as part of national goals to avert food insecurity in SA,” he said. “We appreciate the willingness of these companies, both manufacturers and retailers, to partner with government in ensuring food waste is reduced, with the aim to eliminate food waste in the near future. This is one of the efforts by SA to transition to sustainable consumption and production and achieve healthy and sustainable food systems,” Thembelihle Ndukwana, director of agro processing at the department of trade & industry said.

Environment at stake, as Uganda loses millions of food (Eagle Online)

Ghana: NGO commends the government’s effort on reducing food loss (GhanaWeb)

Editorial Comment: Food waste prevention strategies vital for Zim (The Herald)


‘Sanctions hamper access to capital’ (The Herald)

Zimbabwe’s efforts to implement sustainable development and its capacity to revive the economy from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic are hampered by the illegal sanctions denying access to capital, President Mnangagwa has told the United Nations, while appealing for more debt relief for developing countries. “Efforts towards practical and real time solutions to the sustainable debt burden that constitutes risk to long lasting recovery for most developing countries must be vigorously pursued. The efforts must enable debtor countries to channel more resources towards developmental programmes for Zimbabwe,” President Mnangagwa said.

Good news as Covid-19 tax reliefs to stay (Nation)

Kenyans will continue enjoying the current tax relief extended by the government to cushion households and businesses against the Covid-19 pandemic for another three months. But, some other tax reductions will be in place for much longer as they will lapse in July next year to coincide with the end of the government’s financial year. Small businesses will also continue paying a reduced turnover tax. “To continue cushioning our micro, small and medium enterprises, the Treasury considers maintaining the reduction of the current turnover tax from three per cent to one per cent,” the President said at the end of yesterday’s Covid-19 conference.

Kenya in African digital pact to ease movement of goods (Business Daily)

Kenya is among 13 African countries that have entered into a digital deal to ease movement of goods across the continent.The countries have jointly activated the Regional Customs Transit Guarantee Scheme (RCTG-Carnet) that allows free movement of goods among signatories to the platform.Kenya, a signatory to Africa’s Free Trade Area agreement now has a regional platform that facilitates faster clearance of goods at border points.Other signatories are Burundi, Djibouti, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Remittances in August register Slight Drop to Hit Sh29.7bn (Capital Business)

Kenyans living abroad sent home Sh29.7 billion during the month of August, marking a one percent drop from Sh29.9 billion that was dispatched in July. However, the cumulative inflows in the 12 months to August were higher Sh316.9 million compared to Sh301.1 million over a similar period last year. Data from the Central Bank of Kenya reveals that the United States was amongst the top contributors to the diaspora remittances as the country is still on the road to recovery from the economic impact it has faced over the coronavirus disease.

UNCDF: Tanzania model of least developed economies (Dailynews)

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has described Tanzania’s entry into middle-income economy as an outstanding example of knowledge and technical support in catalysing local development investment. Mr Peter Malika, the Head of UNCDF, said the project dubbed as Local Financing Initiative (LFI) was supporting technical knowledge, providing seed capital and writing bankable business plans to local entrepreneurs, which had yielded positive results and fighting against poverty in Tanzania.

Uganda to help build roads inside Congo, citing trade goals (The Star)

Uganda’s government said Tuesday it would help finance projects to surface over 200 kilometres (124 miles) of road inside neighbouring Congo as part of plans to boost trade between the countries.Uganda will contribute about 20% of the project value while the rest will be met by Congo’s government in an envisaged public-private partnership, Ugandan Works and Transport Minister Gen. Katumba Wamala told The Associated Press. The projects will boost investment and improve security in eastern Congo, the statement said.

Tanzania, Burundi plan for railway and refinery (The East African)

After last week’s maiden tour of Tanzania, where Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye met Tanzanian President John Magufuli in Kigoma, the two countries agreed to build a railway to transport minerals from Gitega. The railway is expected to run from Uvinza in western Tanzania to Gitega in central Burundi through Musongati, where the largest deposits of nickel are found. The two governments have set up a permanent commission to implement the project.

Bank identifies public, private cooperation as core to agricultural transformation (The Guardian Nigeria)

Chairman, Board of Directors, Sterling Bank Plc, Asue Ighodalo, has identified five core areas that should be articulated in the quest to transform the agricultural sector in Nigeria and African. The Chairman stated this in his welcome address at the virtual Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA), organised by Sterling Bank, themed: Fast Forward Agriculture: Exploiting the Next Revolution,” with synchronized broadcast studios from Lagos and Abuja. Ighodalo urged governments in sub-Saharan African economies to optimise the agricultural sector to attract sizeable investments that will help to drive expansion, and achieve global competitiveness as well as increase financing to key points of the value chain, particularly small holder farmers, to modernize their practices and increase outputs.

Nigeria: Rising inflation/energy prices force small businesses to close (The Africa Report)

Nigeria’s mounting inflation in parallel with growing costs of energy are driving small and medium businesses away; at a time when the whole economy is suffering from the impact of the pandemic. At a time when the nation is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic which negatively impacted government and business revenues, as well as individuals’ personal incomes, the Nigerian government gave the nod for a 100% increase in electricity tariff that sees Nigerians paying N62.33 from 30.23 per kilowatt unit of energy per hour (kwh).

Prices of rice, tomatoes, frozen foods increase in September as traders lament low turnover (Nairametrics)

Despite the ease of lockdown in the country, the prices of household items continue to trend upwards, as traders across Lagos markets have once again lamented the sustained decline in patronage. This is according to the latest Household Market Survey conducted by Nairalytics, the research arm of Nairametrics. The persistent increase in the price of food items across major markets in Lagos State continues to hit harder on consumers, as local and foreign rice, tomatoes, pepper, flour amongst others, recorded significant surges in their prices. An interview with a trader at Oyingbo market revealed that customers have become disgruntled with the persistent increase in prices of most food items, as it has become a cause for worry to the traders, “We are worried about this continued increase in price of food, as some of our customers now decide to buy less due to the price increment, while others just take a walk,” She said.

Addressing Youth Unemployment in Ghana Needs Urgent Action, calls New World Bank Report

A new World Bank report titled “Youth Employment Programs in Ghana: Options for Effective Policy Making and Implementation” identifies agribusiness, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, construction, tourism and sports as key sectors that can offer increased employment opportunities for Ghanaian youth. It also calls for more investments in career guidance and counseling, work-based learning, coaching, and mentoring to equip young people with the skills needed for work. The report suggests that although these are not new areas, the government could maximize their impact by scaling-up these priority areas in existing youth employment interventions and improve outreach to the youth.

Local production reduces imports of face masks: Ministry (Ethiopian Press Agency)

Health State Minister Sahrela Abdullahi stated that due to the high demand created by COVID-19, many textile companies are switching to the production of surgical face masks thereby contributing share in the import- substitution strategy. “We have witnessed huge consumption of surgical face masks at the centers,” she said, adding that that local firms’ investment in this sector will have paramount importance to supply quality products and ease the shortage. The government has disbursed substantial amount of hard currency to the purchase of COVID-19 preventive items including personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen tanks, beds and ventilators and it encourages private sector’s involvement in the production of medical equipment.


Regional and continental news

Crisis? What crisis? COVID-19 and the unexpected recovery of regional trade in East Africa (Brookings)

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, such was the scale of the economic disruption caused by lockdown measures that there was much talk of the collapse of global trade. In the midst of the lockdowns, in April, the World Trade Organization estimated that the decline would amount from anywhere between 13 and 32 percent. In a similar vein, UNCTAD was forecasting a 20 percent decline in global trade for 2020. However, recently released trade statistics across the world reveal that those forecasts may have been overly pessimistic and underestimated the relative resilience of the global trading system. In summary, despite the depth of the economic crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, since May 2020 intra-regional trade in East Africa has shown significant resilience with a notable positive correlation with measures put in place to protect transport corridors from severe disruptions.

Saving lives and money through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on September 17, jointly held a high-level webinar for Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Health to showcase the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).AMSP is a digital platform intended to serve as a consolidated online marketplace to facilitate the provision of COVID-19-related medical products by addressing supply chain issues such as shortages, delays in distributing supplies, accessibility, quality standards and affordability

AMSP aims at operationalizing and fostering the primary objectives of the AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative of ensuring access to safe and affordable quality medicines in Africa, through pooled procurement and capacitating local production for improved health outcomes. In her opening remarks COMESA Secretary General, Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe acknowledged the value of AMSP especially as it complements their own efforts such as establishing COVID-19 guidelines to move supplies across the continent, ensuring uninterrupted supply of life-saving PPEs, Test kits, and medicines.

COMESA Hails the new Continental One-Stop-Shop for Medicines

COMESA has welcomed the launch of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) as an invaluable One Stop Shop that will ensure access to safe and affordable quality medicines in Africa. “By reducing costs through pooled procurement, this initiative goes a long way in easing the financial burden and strengthening national responses to the pandemic,” she told the guests. She added: “COVID-19 has shown the limitations of globalization and global supply chains, which have been easily disrupted due to the various lockdowns and the unprecedented shortages of tradable commodities and services in our countries.”

Afreximbank provides $100 million overdraft facility for African states to facilitate online procurement of COVID-19 supplies

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the pan-African multilateral EXIM bank, announces $100 million financing to enable its Member States to procure COVID-19 related medical resources through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP). The funding is available to African governments to acquire medical supplies through the AMSP in the form of pre-approved overdraft limits for each African government. This facility quickens access to critical COVID-19 containment and therapeutic supplies by bridging short term funding gaps that African states may be experiencing. Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “We are mindful of the challenges many African economies are facing as they work hard every day to contain the pandemic. With this $100 million overdraft facility, we are ensuring African states are able to rapidly access diagnostic kits and medical supplies at competitive prices from African suppliers and global markets.”

African island states launch joint medicines procurement initiative (WHO)

Ministers of Health from seven small African island states today signed an agreement to jointly procure drugs and vaccines in a bid to improve quality and access to medicines and other health products. The ministers from Cabo Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome & Principe and Seychelles that form the Small Island Developing States signed the Pooled Procurement agreement to take advantage of economies of scale and collective bargaining. High cost of drugs and medical supplies is one of the major challenges the small island states face due to their modest populations.

Trade and Development Bank donates half a million dollars to COVID-19 response in Africa (Africa CDC)

The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) has donated US$500,000 to support COVID-19 response across Africa by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The donation is being made to the African Union through the COVID-19 Response Fund as part of TBD’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Programme (CERP). Admassu Tadesse, President and Chief Executive of TDB, said: “It is our duty to respond to African Union’s call for solidarity to address today’s greatest global public health crisis. The pooling of resources and fusion of efforts of global and African institutions is certainly crucial to halting the spread of the virus and mitigating its impact on the health and socio-economic situation of our peoples. We commend the African Union for bringing African countries together to act as one, with more power and greater effectiveness.”

Unlocking Africa’s digital future (The Africa Report)

Before Africa can reach the uplands of digitization – the robotics and the AI – it must first do the hard slog of reforming telecoms markets and opening up to competition, argues the outgoing head of the IFC. The big pot of gold at the end of the path to digitization can lure us into believing that most countries are speedily heading towards it. Many are not. Digitization remains constrained by the poor state of internet connectivity. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 20 percent of the population subscribes to the internet. When people subscribe, they use it sparingly: The average user consumes 300 Megabytes per month, roughly enough for half an hour of video conferencing. Addressing these constraints has little to do with AI, big data and an army of coders. The first steps to digitization are decidedly unsexy and very analog. Governments need to address vested interests, monopolization and regulatory barriers in connectivity markets to get people connected to the internet.

How to beat the lack of data on illicit outflows draining Africa of capital and tax (UNCTAD)

Africa loses at least $40 billion each year from the underinvoicing of commodity exports from the continent, according to the latest comprehensive data available. The size of trade gaps varies by country, but is relatively consistent by commodity group, with gold exports representing 77% of the total, followed by diamonds (12%) and platinum (6%). The proceeds from trade underinvoicing and other illicit financial flows (IFFs) contribute to an average of $88.6 billion per year of capital flight from Africa, which is wealth sent and held abroad. Formulating effective policies to combat illicit behaviour requires effective analytical tools. But this is often complicated by a lack of reliable data, since illicit activities are inherently clandestine.

Written by Paul Akiwumi, UNCTAD Director for Africa and Least Developed Countries.


Global trade news and Africa's global relations

African green reformer tipped to win UN trade leadership race (Climate Home News)

Two African women who have pledged green reforms are the front-runners to become the World Trade Organization’s next director-general in November. Either Kenya’s Amina Mohamed or Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala could become the organisation’s first female and first African leader. According to analysts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, many nations, particularly in Africa and the EU, are expected to support both candidates. Both women used their written candidate statements to call for environmental reform of the WTO’s trade rules, while their three opponents from Korea, the UK and Saudi Arabia, have said little about climate change.

Protect the world from sliding into global recession, urges UN chief

Speaking at a high-level event on financing for development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond, António Guterres said that while countries reacted swiftly to the global crisis, mobilizing a fiscal response of more than $11.5 trillion globally, only a fraction was accounted for by developing and emerging economies. Economies “which have the greatest need, least resources and weakest capacities for addressing the crisis,” he highlighted. The UN chief welcomed the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative, which has created fiscal space in the world’s poorest countries, but added that the response did not address the magnitude of the crisis “Unless we take action now, we face a global recession that could wipe out decades of development and put the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development completely out of reach,” he cautioned.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address

Remarks by IMF Managing Director Georgieva

Statement by Dominic Raab, Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Secretary


Future-proofing safe trade now urgent for developing countries (Trade 4 Dev News)

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc with people’s lives and livelihoods, and the effects are being felt most keenly by the most vulnerable. Estimates from the World Bank point to the fact that 100 million people could now be pushed into extreme poverty, while UNCTAD reports that world trade could drop by around 20% in 2020. In developing countries, many of the sectors that had generated jobs and economic growth over the last decade have been most affected, from fruit and vegetables to cut flowers and tourism. At the same time, the pandemic highlights the interconnectedness of global supply chains, including agri-food trade. And it shows the ease with which plant pests and animal diseases can cross borders and how zoonoses – diseases transmissible from animals to humans – can spread, exposing the need for a coordinated effort to manage their impact. Yet in developing and least developed countries (LDCs), where health systems, infrastructure and resources face existing gaps, regulators and the private sector – especially small businesses – confront huge challenges to respond.

Food loss and waste must be reduced for greater food security and environmental sustainability (FAO)

At the global event marking today the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and their partners urged everyone to do more to reduce food loss and waste or risk an even greater drop in food security and natural resources. This year we have witnessed an increase in food loss and waste as a result of movement and transport restrictions due to the pandemic. COVID-19 aside, however, each year about 14 percent of the world's food is lost before even reaching the market. Food loss is valued at $400 billion annually – about the GDP of Austria. On top of this comes food waste, for which new estimates are coming out early 2021. When it comes to environmental impact, food loss and waste generate eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Addressing Food Loss and Waste: A Global Problem with Local Solutions – World Bank (ReliefWeb)

Less Food Loss and Waste, More Right to Food (Inter Press Service)

Nations commit to reverse nature loss by 2030 (AFP)


More efforts needed from governments, regulators and business to unlock full potential of sustainable finance (OECD)

Governments and regulators should urgently work together to improve the data used for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, according to a new OECD report. The OECD Business and Finance Outlook 2020 says that ESG investing has grown steadily in recent years, with ESG ratings, indices and other financial products proliferating to meet demand. Yet market participants across the board are still missing the relevant, comparable and verifiable ESG data they need to properly conduct due diligence, manage risks, measure outcomes, and align investments with sustainable, long-term value. “Finance has a critical role to play in ensuring a truly sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that will create better and greener jobs, boost income and lead to more sustainable and resilient growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “But finance can only deliver better environmental, social or governance outcomes if investors have the tools and information they need.”

DDG Alan Wolff:  Trade is the best option for ensuring supply of essential goods (WTO)

Over the millennia, the ways goods, services, ideas and people have crossed borders has changed almost beyond recognition. One recent example: I am currently speaking to you from Switzerland via an internet platform that few of us were familiar with when this year began. As you are well aware, the outlook for the global economy over the next two years remains uncertain. Much will depend upon how the pandemic evolves, what measures governments and businesses will need to take, and how quickly countries can rebound from the economic damage.

While trade volumes have also been affected, it could have been much worse. In April, WTO economists projected that depending on the pandemic’s impact and the policy response, global merchandise trade volumes could fall by 13% to 32%. The experience of shortages in a relatively few, but essential, product lines, and of being unable to rely on international markets, has injected new urgency into the debate over on-shoring and near-shoring supply chains. While it is understandable that governments would be keen to avoid a repeat of these circumstances, moving value chains closer to home is not straightforward, is sometimes impractical and in many cases would carry major opportunity costs.

Building support for developing countries in adaptation and resilience against the effects of climate change (GOV.UK)

Climate change is an area where international action and co-operation are vital. We have seen, time and time again, that its impacts take no notice of national borders. Ahead of COP26, we are urging all countries to come forward with adaptation plans, and ambitious NDCs. Developed countries like the UK have a responsibility, to support others around the world, just as they pursue adaptation and mitigation at home. And I am calling on countries to step up to the plate. To provide more finance and assist the most vulnerable.