News

tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News
Photo credit: Bloomberg

13 Oct 2020

National

South Africa won’t meet debt targets, president’s council says (Moneyweb)

South Africa won’t be able to meet its finance ministry’s debt targets and it may be undesirable for it to attempt to do so at a time when the economy is being battered by the fallout from the coronavirus, according to an advisory panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. In a more than 100-page document advising the government on an economic recovery program that Ramaphosa is due to unveil on October 15, the President’s Economic Advisory Council said spending cuts could hold back growth and have other adverse consequences.

N$1.9bn trade deficit for August (New Era)

In August 2020, Namibia’s exports stood at N$6.3 billion and imports at N$8.2 billion, subsequently, the country’s trade balance resulted in a deficit of N$1.9 billion. The August 2020 figures show that exports weakened month-on-month, falling by 3.2% from its revised level of N$6.6 billion in July 2020,

Namport docks 17 car carrier vessels amid pandemic (Namibia Economist)

The Namibia Ports Authority managed to safely receive 17 RoRos (car carrier vessels) for the past six months to date and while these numbers do not show an increase, these vessels were allowed to dock at the Port of Walvis Bay despite the pandemic. Most recently, the port recorded 4 RoRos which docked at the Port of Walvis Bay’s quayside in September and 4 more similar vessels are expected to call the Port in the month of October.

Kenya to diversify export products to eliminate trade deficit (CGTN)

Kenya plans to diversify its export products in order to eliminate its trade deficit, a government official said on Monday. Wilfred Marube, CEO, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) told a virtual meeting that for the past five years imports have exceeded exports by an average three times. “We have identified 19 priority products that we can export to the rest of the world in order to bridge the trade deficit,” Marube said during the webinar on fostering partnerships and synergy in export promotion and nation branding.

Gabon: Tackling its future energy needs scientifically (ESI-Africa.com)

To achieve our strategic development objectives and honour our commitments to international climate agreements, we need abundant and sustainable energy, and to do that we cannot continue to rely on extracting fossil fuels. We need renewables. The opportunities are immense, but so are the demands. Gabon’s urban population is growing at 3.3% annually, and we have committed to increasing the energy access for rural populations, whose current 38% electrification rate is meagre compared to urban areas, which have a rate of above 80%.

Understanding funds sources for Rwanda’s $11 billion climate plan (The New Times)

Rwanda recently submitted revised its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This in turn revealed that the country requires over $11 billion to implement the measures between 2021 and 2030 to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The measures include renewable energy, green transport, waste management, climate-resilient agriculture, clean technologies in industries, green buildings, green cities, reforestation, water security, wetlands restoration climate compatible mining, disaster motoring, adaptation to disease outbreaks, livestock and crop insurance, storm water management, floods control among many others.

Promoting Uganda’s interests abroad (New Vision)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to implement a foreign policy that promotes peaceful and friendly relations with all countries, on the basis of respect for each other and mutually beneficial trade and commercial interactions, and regional economic and commercial cooperation and integration with our neighbours. The ministry, today, is pursuing, as a matter of utmost importance and priority, a policy of commercial and economic diplomacy aimed at promoting Trade, Tourism and Investments to spur economic development and transformation.

Ghana leads on industrial growth by dropping the dogma (The Africa Report)

Ghana has shown that by dropping the dogma around free market policy, making manufacturing a bipartisan cause and using the government as a problem-solving machine for businesses, African countries can create jobs and attract investment into industry.

Nigeria’s dollar earnings fall by over $7 billion due to Covid-19 (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.

Nigeria manufacturers' export group demands payment of N200bn outstanding EEG debt (Businessamlive)

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) has charged the federal government to pay the outstanding Export Expansion Grant (EEG) debt amounting to N200 billion to revitalise the non-oil export sector. “The current backlog will be approximately N150 to N200 billion, which is bad because they are creating a fresh backlog and this would bring another batch of promissory notes to be issued in order for exporters to be paid,” he stated.

Mozambique outlines fund plan for $96bn gas windfall (Engineering News)

Mozambique published its proposed model for a sovereign wealth fund as it prepares to reap as much as $96-billion – more than six times the size of its current gross domestic product – from liquefied natural gas projects that companies including Total are building. The developments, which are the biggest private investments yet in Africa, could make Mozambique the continent’s second-biggest producer of the fuel. The central bank laid out plans for how the fund may function and which institutions it will report to. The proposal anticipates that the $96-billion will accumulate over the lifetime of the projects.


Africa

African Union launches sh370b public health system for Africa (New Vision)

Dubbed the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI), the four-year partnership is aimed at expanding access to next-generation genomic sequencing tools and expertise that are designed to strengthen public health surveillance and laboratory networks in Africa. Uganda is among the 55 African Union member states that are slated to benefit from the initiative. Africa PGI will be part of the Institute of Pathogen Genomics, launched by Africa CDC in 2019, with a vision to integrate pathogen genomics and bioinformatics into public health surveillance, outbreak investigations, and improved disease control and prevention in Africa.

Interventions to mitigate COVID-19 impact on economic growth (ESI-Africa.com)

The Big Question we asked the experts is: What interventions should policymakers implement to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic growth and enhance resilience to future shocks? A gradual shift toward investments and net exports, and the move away from private consumption resulted in over 50% of Africa’s GDP growth as of 2019. A tremendous improvement for the first time in a decade. However, this was publicised by the African Development Bank in January 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Africa.

Africa should pave the way for investment amid risk-averse environment (BusinessLIVE)

With UK-Africa trade at a low ebb, it remains to be seen how far the former will be willing to invest in the continent. After its exit from the EU the UK is likely to look to craft new approaches to trade, aid and investment. To its advantage, Africa has a burgeoning supply of human capital in its increasingly young population: the UN Economic Commission for Africa asserts that by 2050 the teeming numbers of young Africans will form more than a quarter of the world’s labour force. In theory, this is set to unlock great potential for the continent in the next decade and may afford Africans better bargaining power in future.

Djembe Consultants, Afrilabs Assess Impact of COVID-19 on Innovators (PC Tech Magazine)

Djembe Consultants in partnership with AfriLabs have launched an Insights Report that assesses the impact of COVID-19 on the Africa’s young innovators and entrepreneurs. In addition, it also provides perspectives from industry experts as to how African decisionmakers from both the public and private sectors can accelerate support across the full innovation spectrum including education, inclusivity, investment, policy and research and development.

Entitled “Building a Resilient Innovative Africa”, the report is a result of a survey of over 1,000 pan-African innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups from both Djembe’s and AfriLabs’ vast innovation and entrepreneurship networks. Framed within the context of key milestones for the continent, including the impending African Free Trade Continental Area (AfCFTA), UN SDGs, and the African Union Agenda 2063, the report also brings together the expert perspectives of individuals from some of the continent’s leading development and private sector organizations

Countdown to IATF2021: Revival of the African Economy and AfCFTA (African Export-Import Bank)

Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union, has hosted the third in the series of five live events as a countdown for the African continent’s premier trade event, the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021), which is to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 6 – 12 September 2021, under the theme ‘Building Bridges for a Successful AfCFTA.’ Jean Bertrand Azapmo, Principal Adviser to the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Department of Trade and Industry, African Union Commission, discussed the impact of Covid-19 and logistics and the importance of the IATF because it “unified fragmented and disjointed African economies, still surviving the brunt of the colonial economic system, bringing them closer to each other and asking the private sector to increase trade once they grasp the opportunities in other parts of Africa.”

Trade tonic awaits Africa in recovery bid (China Daily)

An incoming free-trade area for Africa could act as an economic stimulus for countries trying to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts say. Over the long run, they say, the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA, can help reduce the continent's reliance on overseas markets. The trading bloc is due to come in at the start of next year, after the pandemic pushed back its implementation date. He Yun, an assistant professor in the School of Public Administration at Hunan University, said the disruptions caused by COVID-19 have ravaged Africa's economy, and most countries on the continent do not have the funds to roll out large stimulus packages. For these countries, the AfCFTA can serve as an economic stimulus to help with their post-pandemic recovery.

COMESA seeks to harmonise digital payment for MSMEs (The New Times)

The business council of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is working to develop “affordable” solutions that will increase intra-trade and financial flows for Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). This was stressed on Tuesday, October 13, as this institution representing interests of the private sector at a regional level convened, virtually, a financial services regulators sub-regional stakeholder meeting. “Among the challenges impacting industry competitiveness, is the lack of an affordable and effective platform which accommodates digital cross-border payments by SMEs," said Sandra Uwera, Chief Executive Officer of the COMESA Business Council (CBC).

Tapping tech to address Africa’s food insecurity (Business Daily)

Food security is arguably one of the biggest concerns to be brought under the spotlight by the Covid-19 pandemic. But the daily challenge people across Africa face in putting food on the table is nothing new. According to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crisis, there were 135 million people facing acute food insecurity in 55 countries, more than half of them (73 million) in Africa. Further, over 27 million people in six IGAD member states (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda), were classified in crisis or worse. Here in Kenya, the report estimates that almost 3.1 million people, representing 22 percent of the population analysed in arid and semi-arid lands, were facing crisis conditions or worse from August–October 2019. While the food insecurity forecasts for 2020 were produced before Covid-19 became a pandemic, it is likely the pandemic may push even more families and communities into deeper distress.

Challenge of Poverty in Central Africa: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Strategies (UNESCO)

UNESCO’s MOST Programme will focus on a comprehensive MOST research, capacity-building and policy support project, to support data systems in Central Africa in relation to poverty eradication, the reduction of inequalities and post-pandemic resilience, focusing on gender, persons with disabilities and youth.


International

Okonjo-Iweala Gets More Presidential Push for WTO DG (THISDAYLIVE)

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja assured Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the country would deploy its entire energy to ensure that she becomes the Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO). This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu. According to analysts, Okonjo-Iweala’s high professional/personal qualities, international contacts and impeccable records as Nigeria’s former Finance minister/Foreign Affairs minister and as former managing director of the World Bank, stand her high above the other contestant.

Women’s Rights Online: closing the digital gender gap for a more equal world (World Wide Web Foundation)

The internet has long been celebrated as a force for greater equality – breaking down barriers for those previously held back by their geography, wealth, race, class and gender. However, longstanding inequalities in access to, and use of, the internet holds back its egalitarian promise. This report provides a global snapshot of the state of digital gender inequality and finds that even where women are closing the gap on basic internet access, they face a multitude of additional barriers to using the internet and fully participating online.

IMF and World Bank must lend more to Africa’s stricken economies, critics say (African Business Magazine)

Multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have come under fire from African ministers and economists who say they are failing to step in to cushion the financial blow caused by the global pandemic. Ghana’s minister of finance, Ken Ofori Ata, said that at this week’s World Bank and IMF annual meetings much more needs to be done to help economies cope with falling revenues, rising expenditures and increasing debt distress.

Debt Burden of Least Developed Countries continues to climb to a record $744 billion in 2019 (World Bank)

In response to an urgent need for greater debt transparency, the latest edition of the International Debt Statistics (IDS) report provides more detailed and more disaggregated data on external debt than ever before in its nearly 70-year history – including breakdowns of what each borrowing country owes to official and private creditors in each creditor country, and the expected month-by-month debt-service payments owed to them through 2021

Global Partnerships for an African Recovery | by Landry Signé & Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (Project Syndicate)

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected developed and developing countries alike, despite vast disparities in initial response capacities. Global leaders were especially concerned about the disease’s potential implications for Africa, given the continent’s lack of financial and medical resources, weak health-care systems, fragile economies, and vulnerable populations. But preparation and cooperation among African leaders and African Union agencies, particularly the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have resulted in many successes – including increased testing capacity, resource mobilization, and coordinated policies to prevent and contain the coronavirus’s spread and promote economic recovery.

Despite these successes, Africa is still facing significant challenges. These include a continued rise in COVID-19 cases, a need for greater testing capacity and improved health infrastructure, difficulties acquiring medical and food supplies, weak social-welfare systems that are struggling to support vulnerable populations during the economic crisis, and high government debt coupled with a need for increased spending.

China, Africa set example of multilateralism

China and Africa have vowed to uphold the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, jointly cope with various risks and challenges, and let their cooperation shine as an example of multilateralism and mutual benefits. The pledge was made on Monday by President Xi Jinping and Senegalese President Macky Sall in a joint congratulatory message to mark the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. China and Senegal are the forum’s Chinese and African co-chairs.

Four ways to boost China-Africa cooperation (CGTN)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). China and Africa have huge potential for cooperation as the two differ in comparative advantages and levels of industrialization. China’s trade with Africa increased 20-fold from $10 billion in 2000 to some $207 billion in 2019 under the framework of FOCAC and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Over 3,700 Chinese enterprises have invested and started businesses across Africa, providing a strong driving force for sustained regional economic growth. In the context of current Sino-U.S. tensions, exploring new markets in Africa is a promising pathway for Chinese enterprises “going global,” despite various challenges such as lack of deep knowledge of local realities and gaps in infrastructure and talent. Overcoming these obstacles requires governments, enterprises and industry associations to cooperate in building more platforms and launching supporting policies and safeguard measures.

BRICS commitment to jobs, social protection & social dialogue welcomed by ILO (Modern Diplomacy)

LO Director-General Guy Ryder has welcomed the commitment made by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS countries) to take more action to support labour markets in meeting the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19. In remarks  to the sixth BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting (LEMM), Ryder also praised the employment and social protection measures already implemented by these five major economies, noting that 121 new social protection measures had been introduced between March and August 2020 as part of the BRICS crisis response.

Africa – new opportunities (Law Gazette)

A recent series of virtual events aimed to strengthen links between African and UK law firms by highlighting the untapped opportunities Africa presents. HMG trade commissioner Emma Wade-Smith explained that the Department for International Trade has a clear purpose to champion economic growth and job creation. ‘The UK is committed to being Africa’s business partner of choice,’ she said, referencing the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted by the UK government in January. ‘The legal services sector is intrinsic to economic growth. The impact of Covid raises the centrality of legal services to rebuilding the economy.’

Malawi to benefit from K1 billion UK trade, Covid-19 support for southern Africa (Nyasa Times)

The United Kingdom (UK) will provide £1 million (about K1 billion) funding to implement a programme with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support informal traders – who rely on trading across the borders around Southern Africa for their livelihoods and income – to ensure traders can do business safely during the COVID-19

MENA: Global Action is Urgently Needed to Reverse Damaging Jumps in Extreme Poverty (World Bank)

For the second time, the rate of extreme poverty in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region jumped again, nearly doubling between 2015 and 2018, according to a new World Bank report. The World Bank’s biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity report finds that the rate of extreme poverty in the MENA region rose from 3.8% in 2015 to 7.2% in 2018 – the latest year for which data is available. This followed another rise in poverty in the region from 2.3% to the levels in 2015. According to the report, the latest jump in poverty in MENA was driven largely by the effects of ongoing conflict in Syria and Yemen, but this does not fully account for the economic downturn in Lebanon.

Communiqué from the Small States Forum 2020 (World Bank)

Members of the Small States Forum met virtually on October 8, 2020.

2. Small economies are facing an unprecedented social and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A collapse in tourism, falling commodity prices, and diminished remittances have sharply increased poverty and unemployment. Some Small States are witnessing a dual shock from the health impacts of the pandemic and recent natural disasters. Most small economies are in recession, with GDP falling by 7.6 percent in 2020 on average, and over 20 percent in some tourism-dependent economies (World Bank staff estimates).

5. This pandemic has reinforced our vulnerability to pre-existing structural challenges, including limited capacity and economies of scale and high-cost public services. These have been compounded by our vulnerability to climate change and by ever-increasing pressures in the provision of correspondent banking services that threatens our external trade business and inward investment.

7. The pandemic has exacerbated the debt vulnerabilities of many small economies. Despite efforts at fiscal prudence, many Small States have sizable public debt, due to their narrow and volatile revenue base, combined with low growth and expenditure shocks. COVID-induced GDP losses and higher financing needs will significantly worsen the debt positions of Small States. There is a need to re-engineer the way we will look at debt financing, so it does not become a constraint in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and other development issues. In this context, we call for an urgent meeting to address debt burdens and a resolution to the rising debt overhang.

Trade has a role to play in making the COVID-19 response more effective, says DDG Agah

On behalf of the four Deputy Directors-General, DDG Agah addressed heads of WTO member delegations on 12 October and emphasised “the importance of open and predictable markets to foster a strong and inclusive recovery for all countries”. In his remarks he highlighted the work done by the DDGs to ensure stability and continuity during the transition period until a new Director-General takes office, and reminded members that the policy choices adopted at the WTO and domestically will matter for stimulating job creation and growth.

UN chief announces major push to transform harmful food systems

In a video message, Mr. Guterres highlighted the importance of food systems, and their impact on economies, environment and health, but warned that they are “one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet’s ecological boundaries”. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has brought the fragility of the world’s food supplies to the fore, with millions going hungry. At the same time, the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc on food security. To address these issues, the Secretary-General is convening a Food Systems Summit next year to raise global awareness and spur actions to rethink food systems, so that they can play a more positive role in ending hunger, reducing diet-related disease, and help in the fight against climate change.