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FirstRand chair Roger Jardine says the “socio-economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought forward the inevitable inflection point that our country was bound to eventually face”. “Confronted by an accelerating unemployment rate, falling economic activity and an ever-rising government debt burden, economic change has become inevitable as the weight of these developments is becoming too heavy for the current system to carry.” Writing in the banking group’s 2020 annual report, Jardine says the country still has “the opportunity to choose how we would best effect the changes necessary to reverse the trajectory”.
In a statement, issued on Sunday by the Assembly of the Unemployed and Grant Claimant, Equal Education Gauteng, the South African Federation of Trade Unions and former Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela, the organisations said that the grants were put into place as temporary relief measures but their removal now assumes that there is no longer a need for relief. Their termination would lead to a humanitarian crisis. Data from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey has revealed that the receipt of the grant has been pro-poor, and has helped stave off hunger while the caregiver grant has been especially important for supporting women-headed households. Organisations said these grants should continue until a comprehensive plan for guaranteed basic outcomes has been put in place.
South Africa has emerged as one of the best business outsourcing hubs in the world. For three years in a row, it has been voted as the second most attractive Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in the world by the annual 2020 Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey conducted by Ryan Strategic Advisory. The feat has largely been due to the country’s reputation as a reliable, cost-effective, and high-quality destination for outsourced business services. As a show of confidence in South Africa’s robust business outsourcing, Amazon in June announced that it would be hiring 3,000 people in South Africa this year to support customers in North America and Europe.
Green shoots raise hope of economic revival (The Southern Times)
Namibia recorded a current account surplus of N$5,1 billion (US$342 million) thanks to increasing exports and stable income revenue inflows in the second quarter of 2020. The current account surplus followed a drab first three months of a year characterised by decline attributed to low economic output globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bank of Namibia (BoN) director of strategic Communications Dr Emma Haihambo attributed the upturn to stable revenue inflows from the Southern African Customs Union.
Theme: Celebrating Uganda’s steady progress towards economic take-off and self-reliant economic growth
As a result of diversification of our economy and expanding our export base, our economy has been able to withstand the potential negative impact of COVID-19. The demand for our export goods remained strong even when there were disruptions in trade supply chains globally. This is because we have a very diversified export base. We recorded US$ 3,823 million in export of goods in the Financial Year ending June, 2020; export of mineral products were worth US$ 1,221 million while coffee fetched us US$ 497.4 million. Fish was US$ 180 million, Maize was US$ 123 million. The Middle East, East African Community and COMESA account for almost 80 percent of our export demand.
KRA to track traders’ daily sales in new law (Business Daily)
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will start receiving real-time data on traders’ daily sales following the publication of a new law that allows the taxman to monitor transactions using Internet-enabled electronic tax registers. The new regulations published by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani on Friday require businesses to install new electronic tax registers connected to the KRA’s systems, escalating the war on tax cheats. Under the new system, the KRA will receive sales and invoice data from all registered companies and traders on a daily basis in a fresh push to boost revenue collections and curb tax evasion.
Zimbabwe: Phased border reopening proposed (The Herald)
The Department of Immigration has advised the Government on health grounds to consider phasing the reopening of land borders for passenger traffic, especially at Beitbridge Border Post where 500 000 people crossed in both directions before the start of the lockdown in March alone. Already, South Africa and Zimbabwe have similar regulations in place on testing requirements to avoid quarantining on the other side, although the regulations are yet to be perfectly aligned. But the recent introduction of more strict testing requirements for truck drivers has caused traffic jams for 1 000 or so trucks that cross the border every day as officials check the required paperwork. The port of entry is a gateway from South Africa to much of Sadc, with many using the border post on their way to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, DRC, Zambia and Tanzania.
Orange boom a boon for Egypt (Fruitnet)
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the popularity of vitamin C-packed fruit like oranges and other citrus has soared, and big producing countries like Egypt are expected to continue to benefit from the increased demand. “Due to years of investing to expand cultivation areas and to enhance agricultural products’ quality to meet international standards for exportation purposes, the Egyptian agricultural products will see increasing demand from the international market,” says Egyptian exporter Nile Establishment for International Trade. “Production of oranges in Egypt has skyrocketed on account of improved irrigation, low labour costs and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound.”
The Fiscal Policy Response to COVID-19 from African Governments (COVID-19 Africa Watch)
As the UNECA’s Dr. Vera Songwe told COVID-19 Africa Watch in June, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Africa first as an economic crisis, then as a health crisis. The health crisis arrived first elsewhere in China, Europe, and the United States and the shockwave of the shuttering of those economies reached African countries before the full force of the virus did. The result for Africa has been the beginning of the first major recession for the region in over 25 years. The IMF now projects the regional GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa to decline by 3.2 percent, compared to a previously projected growth of 3.6 percent, a considerable negative swing of 7 percent. In some countries, the economic downturn has been even more pronounced. In South Africa, the IMF is projecting a contraction of 8.0 percent; the Nigerian economy is expected to shrink by 5.4 percent; and in Botswana, the IMF anticipates a 9.6 percent contraction.
EAC Member States urged to Support Smallholder Farmers to adopt Organic Farming (East African Business Week)
Small-scale Farmers within East Africa have called upon EAC Member states to support them to adopt Organic farming practices. The farmers under their umbrella organization the Eastern and Southern Africa Small scale Farmer’s Forum (ESAFF) said that farming organically has economic and environmental advantages to the community member states. According to Hakim Baliraine, the National Chairperson of ESAFF Uganda, organic farming does not only help reduce public health. “Foods grown organically are rich in Vitamins such as C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, with less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues in organically grown fruits, vegetables, and grains which has been proved to boost the body’s immunity against COVID-19,” said Baliraine at a Media Launch of the Annual National Organic Week under the theme Embracing Organic products for Health living amidst COVID-19.
AfCFTA take-off: Nigeria remains most sought-after bride (Latest Nigeria News)
Indications are that the proposed date for the commencement of the long awaited African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in July 2020 which suffered an upset and now confirmed for January 2021, according to analysts was as a result of ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, while others claimed that it was a technical delayed to enable Nigeria’s participation as the largest market in the economy. The reason for this is not farfetched: Nigeria is one of the three of 55 African Union member countries holding out on tendering signature to the trade arrangement, along with Benin and Eritrea. Pressure from local unions such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and businesses had delayed the continent’s largest country from signing the agreement since it was launched two years ago.
Players using the Northern Corridor have asked Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan to join the Single Customs Territory (SCT) in bid to enhance seamless flow of the cargo along the corridor and border crossing points. A report by the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) that gives recommendations based on its first 14 observatory reports has also asked Uganda to extend a list of goods cleared through the SCT. “Uganda should consider expanding goods cleared under SCT and work towards full roll-out. It will minimise diversion of goods in transit. Border crossing has been seen as the second cause of delays,” the report noted. To ease clearance of the cargo, the report recommends the need to synchronise all Single Window Systems. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have already established functional window systems. These systems provide a platform on which Partner Government Agencies (PGA) are able to clear cargo online. The process of automating customs processes in South Sudan is currently ongoing.
The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) hosted the second of a series of five virtual expert group meetings on innovative research into preferential trade arrangements in Africa. The study aims to develop guidelines on how to strengthen the capacity of the African private sector to better engage in the negotiation and implementation of preferential trade arrangements. Presenting the main findings of the study, Guillaume Gerout, ATPC trade expert who led the preparation of the study, highlighted: a) the need for policymakers to develop negotiating positions through an inclusive and participatory process involving all stakeholders, b) the particular role of the private sector as direct beneficiaries or victims of the outcomes of such negotiations, and c) the unique role of civil society organisations in serving as a communication bridge between government and the wider society.
With less than three months before the expected conclusion of negotiations on the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) protocol on investment increasing attention is being paid to the protocol’s likely investment protections and rights of recourse for investors in Africa. While the protocol’s content remains unclear, it is hoped that it will enhance Africa’s prospects as a desirable investment destination by offering investment protections that support the rule of law and good governance. It should provide appropriate mechanisms for the international enforcement of those protections and harness the contributions of foreign investment to maximise development.
Africa: Corruption and Covid‐19’s Effect on Economies (Wiley Online Library)
As Africa cautiously welcomes the positive news that it looks like it will escape the worst ravages of Covid‐19 infections, it is also having to deal with the fallout of several revelations of corruption among officials in their handling of Covid‐19 funds. Resurrecting economies is of course difficult when you hold very few economic trump cards and depend on others to buy your primary products. So, while public health officials are still calling for extreme care, the business‐minded are desperately trying to kick‐start international trade.
Reforms, integration: Africa’s only chance for recovery post-Covid-19 (The Zimbabwe Independent)
As the coronavirus pandemic reaches the probable end of its life cycle, the world economy has been devastated and may possibly crash with it. It is more concerning to note that there are still possibilities of a second wave of the pandemic according to some health experts. Developing economies have had much less fatalities to their advantage but they have been the most affected in terms of economic regression. With a global economic contraction of 5,4%, South Africa will perform worse and register a contraction of 7,2% and Zimbabwe will be closely in that region with a contraction of 7,4%. Both South Africa and Zimbabwe have highlighted the importance of introducing structural reforms in order to make their respective economies more efficient and thus make the post-pandemic recovery more certain and enduring.
Gendering Agriculture so Women Take the Lead in Feeding Africa (Inter Press Service)
Africa’s hopes of feeding a population projected to double by 2050 amidst a worsening climate crisis rest on huge investments in agriculture, including creating the conditions so that women can empower themselves and lead efforts to transform the continent’s farming landscape. We know the world has the technology and resources to eradicate hunger but finding the right policies and the will to implement them often elude us. Fortunately, young women and men carrying out evidence-based research in sub-Saharan Africa are coming up with some possible answers on how to tackle these pressing issues.
In Africa, there are more than a million cases. 23,000 deaths confirmed; countless others unconfirmed. Jobs lost, family incomes down 12 percent. And, according to our colleagues at the World Bank, up to 43 million more people are at risk of extreme poverty, reversing a trend we have been so proud of. We are in this crisis together and it is in everybody’s interest to mobilize and fight this pandemic together. And that means mobilizing with Africa.
Since our first Mobilizing with Africa meeting in the spring, we have seen African policymakers acting swiftly, despite often doing so with very tight financial constraints. On average, they spent an additional 2.5 percent of GDP on health and social programs to meet their peoples’ needs. The world has taken supportive action as well.
Organized by the Norwegian-African Business Association, H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy participated in the high level opening of the ‘Nordic-African Business Webcast 2020’. The Commissioner highlighted the need to invest in digitalization in all sectors as high priority for the Continent. There is also urgent need to scale up access to affordable energy without which no development strategy can be deployed. The third priority area for Africa recovery is capacity development especially for youth, women and girls who are the African development actors to harness efficiently existing and future opportunities. “COVID-19 crisis is a turning point for Africa’s future. Our Continent’s post-crisis recovery hinges upon robust re-imagined Infrastructure plans marked by key-drivers, namely the acceleration of energy access and transition, the spur of digitalization across sectors and investment in inclusion and skills of the future.” highlighted Dr Abou-Zeid.
WTO DG: EU’s backing and implications for Nigeria’s trade (The Guardian Nigeria)
Nigeria’s optimism that its former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, would clinch the top post of Director General (DG) of World Trade Organisation (WTO), was buoyed recently by European Union’s (EU) endorsement. International Communication and Development expert, Dr. Arthur-Martins Aginam, said as the DG of WTO, Okonjo-Iweala’s term would quicken the space of Nigeria’s development and balance of trade.
Should the former Finance Minister clinch the WTO top job, therefore, it would help to spur the expected expansion of market access for Nigerian exporters and growth, thereby boosting job creation and supporting industrialisation. As such, on account of the fact that the FMITI has completed the review of all existing international investment agreements and commenced implementation of country-specific recommendations, a Nigerian WTO DG would be a boon to such initiatives.
Government ministers of poor and indebted nations will this week appeal to their creditors for a much more ambitious debt relief effort as they grapple with the healthcare and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. They will set out their case for greater support from foreign governments and multilateral lenders as delegates gather for the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Financial assistance for cash-strapped governments has so far fallen well short of what is needed – and of what advanced economies have been willing to do for themselves – according to critics. So far 43 countries have applied for debt suspensions through the initiative, delaying about $5.3bn of payments this year – less than half of the $11.5bn available, according to the World Bank.
ICC has contributed to a new report by a consortium of multilateral development banks and trade research institutions, gauging the views of Sub-Saharan banks on the current response from multilateral development banks (MDBs) to maintain a well-functioning trade finance market. Entitled Pulse Check, the report brings together perspectives and insights from close to 70 trade finance executives from 20 countries. Contributors unanimously call for an urgent focus on support programmes that target private sector and smaller enterprises to avoid a ‘second wave insolvency crisis’ that threatens widespread greater economic hardship on the continent.
Turkey aims to establish investment and e-commerce portals with African countries in the coming period, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said, as the country looks to further improve its bilateral trade and investment ties with the continent. Pekcan’s remarks were made on the sidelines of the virtual Turkey-Africa Economy and Business Forum, which kicked off Thursday. “We project that this portal will have content that includes elements such as product and company information, regulatory information, requests and company matching for the development of trade and investment relations,” Pekcan said.
Farmers, firms reap big from EU support (The Citizen)
Smallholder farmers and firms in Tanzania are reaping big from a European Union (EU) market access programme. Over 1,000 of the farmers have been capacitated in modern production techniques of fresh produce for export. Improvement of the quality of their fresh produce has enabled them to easily access the multi-million dollar EU market. Elsewhere, firms secured loans totaling $1 million, with over 50 capacitated in financial management, branding and packaging. “The interventions have been rewarding,” says Mr Safari Fungo, senior regional technical advisor with the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARK-UP).
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) that will be used by frontline workers to improve safety against the New Coronavirus for border staff and persons crossing through Rwandan borders. Michel Minega Sebera, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry said the support will be an added value to Rwanda’s campaign against the New Coronavirus spread through open borders but also maintain the movement of persons and goods which are highly needed in maintaining cross border trade activities under the Covid19 pandemic in East Africa. TMEA Rwanda Country Director Patience Mutesi also said that the equipment is part of the TMEA Safe Trade Emergency Facility and will be distributed in partnership with the World Food Program (WFP) which has a well-developed logistic mechanism and reach.
The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, travelled to Malawi and Zambia this week (5 to 9 October) where he built on UK partnerships across Southern Africa to promote, support and reinforce our shared national interests – with a focus on boosting regional trade links and tackling the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To ensure key border posts in Zambia, South Africa and Malawi can remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister announced that the UK is partnering with the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide advice and training to traders, governments and border agencies – allowing traders to resume their business legally and safely.
China’s Angola relief proves Africa can withstand Zambia default (The Africa Report.com)
China still cares what the world thinks about it – and that will help Africa to limit the danger of contagion from an increasingly likely Zambian debt default. A committee representing Western holders of Zambian bonds on 30 September rejected the government’s request to delay interest payments. The bondholders fear that they are not being treated on equal terms with Chinese creditors. Yet a Zambian default wouldn’t have a wider impact on investor confidence in African debt, says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “China wants to avoid further negative public relations” related to its Belt and Road Initiative and to “preserve strategically important relationships”, which includes Zambia due to its large mineral reserves.
African leaders, policymakers and scholars said the continent is leveraging on robust cooperation with China to acquire capital, skills and technology. China’s development experience over the past decades offers key lessons to Africa, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said at the sixth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Zimbabwe in February. “Just as China’s remarkable achievements in lifting its people out of poverty contributed to major advances under the Millennium Development Goals (SDGs), so can Agenda 2063 have similar impacts on SDGs,” said Mohammed.
Chinese companies ditch Zimbabwe projects (Bulawayo24 News)
Major Chinese insurance firms are refusing to underwrite critical infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe due to government’s failure to pay commitment fees and other related costs, it has emerged. Official sources say the construction of the US$680 million Kunzvi Dam, for which the tender was awarded to Chinese state enterprise Sinohydro, has stalled after government dithered on paying the required US$10 million commitment fee, prompting one of China’s top insurance firms Sinosure which has to date funded projects worth billions of dollars in Zimbabwe to ditch the venture.
Balancing humanitarian, security, and long-term development goals in countries impacted by fragility, conflict, and violence, or FCV, is always a challenge – now made more urgent by the COVID 19 crisis. The World Bank estimated in February that by 2030, over two-thirds of the world’s extreme poverty would be concentrated in countries impacted by fragility and conflict. By June, it was estimated that an additional 18 to 29 million people would be impoverished in FCV settings by the end of this year, facing crushing health and economic burdens while country economies face their worst recession in five decades. How to partner better to ensure development and peace in the most difficult environments was the timely focus – alongside other themes from the first World Bank Group strategy for Fragility Conflict and Violence released earlier this year – of the first all-virtual World Bank Fragility Forum 2020.
African Youth Front on Coronavirus (New Delhi Times)
Non-Aligned Movement has called on the developing world to formulate an effective response strategy to the COVID-19 crisis, which has affected not only affected the health sector but has also resulted in a social and economic crisis. NAM has adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 which calls for supporting the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has called on the increasing role of youths in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. According to the WHO, young people represent the future of health and other professions. Despite social distancing measures in many countries, they have united with peers from across the globe to drive positive change through the cumulative impacts of their small acts of empathy.
On October 2, India and South Africa sent a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), asking that it allow countries to suspend the protection of certain kinds of intellectual property (IP) related to the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. The two countries propose this waiver to last until widespread COVID-19 vaccination is in place globally, and when the world’s population has developed immunity to the virus. The concern is that the development of and equitable access to the tools – such as vaccines and treatments – needed to fight the pandemic could be limited by patents and other IP barriers.
Four years of work by the WTO Secretariat bore fruit with the launch on 9 October 2020 of the new import licensing database. The new platform gathers together import licensing information, analysis and reporting and streamlines notification procedures for WTO members. At a meeting of the Committee on Import Licensing, members commended the work done by WTO staff to provide a one-stop shop for members and interested parties seeking to access information on import licensing procedures.