tralac Daily News
A recovery in commodity prices and global demand saw SA record a trade surplus of R109.5 billion for the third quarter of the year, according to an economist. The SA Revenue Service on Friday released trade statistics for September 2020, which reflected a trade surplus of R33.5 billion. Exports increased by 23.3% during the period and imports declined 3.2%. By comparison, August recorded a trade surplus of R38.7 billion “The trade dynamics relate mainly to the recovery in commodity prices and global demand during the third quarter that aided SA’s export performance,” said Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan.
Power wobbles despite $1.6 billion investments (The Guardian Nigeria)
At a peak of 5,459.50 megawatts, Nigeria’s power sector still wobbles with low transmission capacity seven years after privatisation. This is despite the $1.6 billion invested through the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), and other corporations. The $1.6 billion investment is in addition to other budgetary allocations to key power infrastructure and other revenues generated by the government-owned Transmission Commission of Nigeria (TCN).
Zimbabwean govt gingers up Covid-19 response (The Sunday Mail)
Government is reactivating and strengthening its rapid response machinery to respond to a possible second wave of coronavirus. To curb the spread of new infections, Government has deployed private testing laboratories at ports of entry to intensify testing. Chief coordinator for the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the nation should guard against complacency. She said caution should be observed during the phased reopening of borders from December 1.
Uganda has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa; and agricultural growth is key in helping the country progress towards middle income status. The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Vincent Ssempijja has said that the ministry has addressed a variety of agriculture challenges. According to Ssempijja, in the financial year 2019/2020, the ministry committed itself to address the issues that included mobilising and supporting small scale farmers along with the four-acre model concept, increasing exports of specific commodities, and Supporting individuals and companies for seed production.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it is providing and will continue to provide interventions for agriculture and industrial revival of Nigeria as the two sectors amongst others remained a veritable tool towards building a robust economy for the country. Nwanisobi said the 5-year policy thrust of the apex bank which covered 2019-2024 initiated by the CBN Governor will grow the real economy for the country. He said that the policy which centred around establishing a firm and stable microeconomic environment would pave room for low inflation, financial stability, exchange rate stability and efficient payment system.
Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project plans in good progress (Construction Review Online)
Plans for the implementation of the Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project, which is a joint inter-railway strategic initiative between Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the South African rail manager, and Eswatini Railways (ESR), are in good progress, reportedly in the fund acquisition stage which when successful will be followed by the construction phase. The project is aimed at creating a dedicated General Freight Business (GFB) corridor for Transnet whilst providing the much needed additional capacity for Eswatini Railways. It entails the construction of a 150-kilometer long new railway link between Lothair in South Africa and Sidvokodvo in Eswatini, formerly known in English as Swaziland.
According to the World Bank’s latest Economic and Poverty Update for Niger published today, the COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on the economy and could trigger a recession if the many downside risks to economic activity materialize. The economic slowdown has already reversed the decline in the poverty rate seen for several years in Niger, pushing close to 270,000 Nigerians into poverty this year. The report notes that Nigerians have been severely impacted by the combined effects of the pandemic, the global recession, and the economic slowdown in the country. These different shocks have led to job and income loss, an increase in some food prices, and disruptions in the system providing social protection and delivering basic services, in particular health and education services. Consequently, the poverty rate is projected to rise from 40.8% in 2019 to 42.1% in 2020.
BCW Africa, Brand Leadership, Kantar and Geopoll Friday announced the launch of the #BuyAfricaBuildAfrica initiative. This initiative encourages local brands to adopt the #BuyAfricaBuildAfrica stamp of approval for ‘made in Africa’ brands and to wear their local identity with pride. “African brands have an important role to play in helping to build the image and competitiveness of the continent,” says Thebe Ikalafeng, Executive Head: Brand Leadership and Founder of Brand Africa 100. With the #BuyAfricaBuildAfrica initiative, there are five criteria for qualification as an African brand:
IATF2021 Advisory Council Holds 7th Meeting Virtually (African Export-Import Bank)
The Advisory Council of the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) convened on 4 September 2020 for its seventh session to review the event workplan and other initiatives accompanying the Trade Fair. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Advisory Council met virtually for the second time. Addressing the meeting, President Obasanjo highlighted the difficulty in the necessary decisions made to postpone the event in light of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, giving the continent and the world more time to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic and avoiding the risk of postponing the Event more than once. “The choice of the month of September 2021 was also meant to accord countries and businesses enough time to recover from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, and we expect that by then, global travel and global commerce and supply chains would have gotten back to normal,” he explained.
Ecobank Restates Commitment to AfCFTA (Proshare)
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has said the bank is prepared to partner with other organizations to explore the opportunities available in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Akinwuntan in his remark at an event in Lagos pointed out that the pan African bank was set up primarily for the economic integration and development of Africa, stressing that the bank was ready to deploy its capacity, platform and network to achieve the AfCFTA objectives.
THE BIG INTERVIEW: Amadou Diallo, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding Middle East & Africa (Logistics Middle East)
Collaboration has been the key to ensuring consumer, medical and humanitarian goods continue to flow around the world in spite of strict border controls introduce during the Covid-19 pandemic. But the last few months have not just been about industry piers working alongside each other. Larger organisations have found themselves looking internally for guidance on how to navigate the crisis. DHL Global Forwarding is one of the firms to have enjoyed the luxury of having a rich pool of knowledge and employees based around the world. The challenges of shifting goods – regardless of their nature – across borders during a pandemic soon became clear to Amadou Diallo, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding Middle East and Africa and his colleagues. In the midst of global border closures, DHL Global Forwarding established a communication line with all of its operator partners, which provided daily updates on border closures and customs regulation changes.
Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, on Friday launched a new publication that proposes actions that need to be put in place to stem Illicit Financial Flows leakages before they leave Africa’s shores. The Report notes that once the resources leave Africa, getting them back involves a complicated process requiring capacities often in short supply in African countries. Furthermore, the speed and ease of loss across national boundaries, easily breach Africa’s national financial security defense lines. This trend, states the Report, must be halted. The Report, titled; Institutional Architecture to Address Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, was launched during a high-level roundtable convened by UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed on the theme: Extractive Industries as an Engine for Sustainable Development: The Case of Africa.
The Ministers Responsible for Energy, and for Water from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met on 30th October 2020 through video conferencing hosted by the Republic of Mozambique. The Ministers deliberated on programmes of regional dimensions in support of the implementation of the recently approved SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30 and the SADC Vision 2050, particularly programmes of infrastructure development. The meeting also considered a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected investments in the Energy and Water sectors in the Region, and proposed mitigation measures that could be applied at regional and national level. Ministers reviewed strategic instruments for guiding adherence to COVID-19 and similar pandemics in the energy sector at regional and national level, and called for continuous assessment and monitoring of the impacts.
The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the African Development Bank have released recommendations of a baseline study that looked into the development of a continental energy grid and market. The study, supported by the European Union, is the first step in an ambitious project to create an efficient, competitive energy sector that helps to serve Africa’s vast non-connected population, which is key to the continent’s economic prospects. The recommendations were discussed at a roundtable meeting between the partners organized by the African Development Bank on Wednesday 28 October.
The first Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC-ESTI) requested the AU Commission and AUDA-NEPAD to advise Member States and RECs on matters of technology prospecting, including regulatory and ethical requirements that need to be put in place in order for the continent to benefit from emerging technologies. The Ministers further directed the then NEPAD Agency to establish a system for obtaining expert contribution on the matters of technology development, acquisition, and deployment for socio-economic development.
The month of November is a special one for us in Africa. Fourteen years ago, the African Heads of State and Government designated November 1st as Africa Youth Day, and for the past few years, we have celebrated African Youth throughout the month of November. This year, the theme of Africa Youth Month is ‘Youth Voices, Actions and Engagement: Building A Better Africa’ This year’s theme is a testament to the immense and inspiring work of young people, further highlighted by our youth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic which touched every corner of the world in 2020. As Africa grappled with real challenges which were further intensified by the pandemic, our youth more than rose to the occasion.
Nigerians have expressed confidence that the country’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will still become the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, despite opposition from the United States. The 66-year-old has secured strong backing to become the WTO’s director general, but the U.S. this week put its support behind a South Korean candidate. Okonjo-Iweala has gathered support from many WTO member countries, but the U.S. is backing her only opponent, South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, citing her skills and experience in international trade dealings. But Nigerians continue to stand behind Okonjo-Iweala, who once served as the country’s finance minister.
Covid-19 pandemic to fuel $4trn global GDP loss in 2020 (Businessamlive)
The economic uncertainties occasioned by the coronavirus induced-recession will see many economies’ real gross domestic product (GDP) plunged by $3.94 trillion in 2020, statistical data compiled and presented by BuyShares show. The statistic also shows ten countries, which will be impacted the most, will cumulatively lose $696.56 billion in real GDP due to the pandemic. And as projected, the pandemic has elicited massive losses in different sectors of these economies already, which can be reflected in metrics like the real gross domestic product.
The US and Kenya believe in a strong economy through an open, free marketplace allowing entrepreneurs, businesses, and the private sector to thrive and create jobs. The African Growth and Opportunity Act enhanced markets, allowing Kenyan businesses to grow. The Act will expire in 2025 and, while it has been helpful, Agoa has not been transformative in driving the broad-based economic growth Kenya seeks. Kenya is ready for the next step, a US-Kenya Free Trade Agreement that will bring our relationship from reliance on tariff preferences that erode over time and can be unilaterally withdrawn, to an agreement that drives more efficient uses of resources and expands trade.
The similarities are striking – much like India, Africa’s death rate due to COVID-19 has been lower than in the developed world, antibody surveys have detected large number of infections, and governments in the region are concerned over the threat of second wave of infections, even as economic compulsions have made lockdown and tight restrictions nearly impossible now, despite the upcoming threat. Dr Githinji Gitahi, group CEO of Amref Health Africa, the largest African-led international organisation on the continent, feels that though Africa had the experience of Ebola when dealing with COVID-19, the way forward for resource-constrained countries such as India and Africa is investing in primary health care. Focusing on health information systems with adequate data protection safeguards, too, will be crucial, as will enhanced health budgets, if countries want to successfully prepare and manage health crises in the future.
China is the largest developing country and the African continent is home to the largest number of developing countries. China and Botswana enjoy longstanding friendship, and our bilateral relations have benefited greatly from FOCAC. In 2018 when President Masisi paid a state visit to China and attended the FOCAC Beijing Summit, China-Botswana relations have ushered in a new era. Guided by the “Eight Major Initiatives” proposed at the Beijing Summit, China and Botswana have signed agreements and MOUs in such areas as mutual visa exemption; economic, trade, investment and technical cooperation; as well as human resources development. China-aided projects such as Mmopane Primary School and Kazungula Primary School are in smooth progress. And Botswana beef export to China is just around the corner.
The race to fill a role at the heart of world economic policy making is turning into a new battleground for the future of globalisation. The OECD acts like an auditor for globalisation, shaping policies and setting standards in areas from taxation to trade and education. It’s currently running contentious negotiations over digital taxes that are on the brink of imploding into a transatlantic trade war. Liddell faces competition from European candidates on the other side of that issue, including former EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. “This is the most important multilateral organisation that most people have never heard of,” said Daniel F Runde, Senior Vice President of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “The OECD sets the Marquess of Queensberry rules of globalisation,” he said, referring to the standards of modern boxing.
Rory Stewart, former U.K. secretary of state for international development, has said it was “incredibly difficult” to convince his Cabinet colleagues of the merits of aid spending while he was in government. At a time when public finances have been tight, Stewart added that politicians often preferred to avoid the topic. Speaking during a panel discussion Friday, he said that “it’s very, very difficult, frankly,” to make the case for development aid. “Not only can I not convince the public; I can’t even convince colleagues around the Cabinet table.”
Our moderator has put to us three issues for our reactions: Economists say we are entering a period of deglobalisation, the UN secretary general is warning for the Great Fracture, the US and China are talking about decoupling and dual circulation. In this changing global trade context, what role is there for the WTO? How can the WTO rebuild confidence in the global trading system? What should be the priority for WTO reform, and is reform of the WTO possible?
The World Cities Report 2020, released on Saturday, showcases the value of sustainable urbanization and how it can contribute to global efforts to build back better after the crisis. “The World Cities Report 2020 convincingly affirms that well-planned, managed, and financed cities and towns create economic, social, environmental and other unquantifiable value that can vastly improve the quality of life of all,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the UN-Habitat Executive Director. “Urbanization can be leveraged for the fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment, climate change and other pressing global challenges.”