tralac Daily News
When President Cyril Ramaphosa, presenting the government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to Parliament recently, reflected that “even the darkest clouds have a silver lining”, South African sugar cane farmers could immediately identify with the practical realities of this proverb. Earlier this year, when the Covid-19 pandemic triggered stringent economic lockdowns, South African cane growing, as part of the agricultural sector, was declared an essential industry. We were, therefore, able to continue proudly contributing to the nation’s food security, gross domestic product (GDP), and job creation while responsibly flattening the curve. Despite this silver lining, the local sugar industry has continued to face a number of challenges that threaten the sustainability of our sector and the thousands of jobs and livelihoods.
The Competition Commission is reviewing the submissions it has received in response to its proposed competition strategy for South Africa’s digital economy in the future. The draft paper on Competition in the Digital Economy was published in September for public comment before October 30, offering a strategy that embraces a proactive approach that adjusts to rapidly changing conditions. “The next step is to assess the submissions and have further engagements with key stakeholders before finalising the final report,” Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the government has gazetted 50 strategic integrated projects valued at R340 billion as part of its infrastructure development plans. He was addressing the Infrastructure South Africa Project Preparation Roundtable and Marketplace in Midrand, where the private and public sector were discussing the various projects in the pipeline.
Ideal time to push ahead with health-care reforms (Business Day)
The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown exposed many underlying economic, health and social problems in SA. Now, while the country works to deal with the fallout of the pandemic – and of the government’s hard lockdown – we have the ideal opportunity to adopt the necessary reforms that could place the country in a much stronger position in years to come. A new declaration, initiated by the Geneva Network (UK) and supported by numerous international think-tanks, aims to provide policy guidance to the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation). The declaration, and the policy recommendations contained therein, can help point SA in the right direction in implementing the necessary reforms in the area of medicine.
Namibia to focus on manufacturing (New Era)
According to Deputy minister of industrialisation Verna Sinimbo, “Namibia aims to be a fully industrialised nation by 2030, with both services and manufacturing accounting for more than two-thirds of the economy. Similarly, within the SADC Industrialisation Agenda, it is the regional wish for the manufacturing sector to attain more than 30% of manufacturing value added to the economy by 2030.” According to her, Namibia has done very well in the service sector; however, both the public sector – but mainly the private sector – need to do more to attain more than 30% of manufacturing value added to the economy by 2030. Currently, she says, Namibia’s regional manufacturing value added to the economy hovers around 11 to 12 %, while the service sector constitutes a larger section, approaching even 60% of the gross domestic product GDP in many countries.
Kenya set to shift to e-visa services in 2021 (CGTN Africa)
The Kenyan government on Tuesday announced a shift to e-visa services effective January 1, 2021. The Immigration department said passengers from countries requiring a visa to enter Kenya are expected to have the document before boarding a plane. The Department of Immigration Services said it has put in place a system for online application, payment and issuance of e-visa for visitors coming to Kenya. The government said the online application system will significantly streamline the processing and issuance of visas for foreign nationals visiting Kenya.
Kenya, E. Africa trade lobby sign 12 mln USD deal to fund infrastructure (Big News Network.com)
Kenya and the East African trade promotion lobby, TradeMark East Africa on Tuesday signed a 1.31 billion shillings (about 12 million U.S. dollars) agreement to fund regional infrastructure projects to help boost trade. Ukur Yatani, cabinet secretary of the National Treasury, told journalists in Nairobi that the grants will finance infrastructure projects that will facilitate trade and unlock the economic growth of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and to a wider extent the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “These projects will create efficient borders that will facilitate international trade, investment, economic growth, promotion of economic competitiveness and improved relations between countries,” Yatani said.
Businesses Must Embrace Change For Growth (Modern Ghana)
Speakers at the annual flagship Business and Leadership conference organised by the Seed Transformation Network (STN) Ghana Chapter have unanimously called on Ghanaian businesses to confront changes in the business environment and ready themselves to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and opportunities available in the post-COVID-19 era. “Businesses need to be aware of the change and identify the business opportunities that they present. Businesses that think and prepare for change, and have it engraved in their policies, survive best,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tropical Cable and Conductor Ltd, Dr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi stated.
Ethiopian Pharma Wing Ready for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (East African Business Week)
Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services, the multi-award winning and largest cargo network operator in Africa, is pleased to announce its readiness with all required capabilities for the distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccine across Africa and the rest of the world. Commenting on Ethiopian’s preparation for the vaccine distribution, Ethiopian Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam remarked, “Ethiopian Pharma Wing will repeat its remarkable and globally recognized success in leading the fast delivery of PPE few months ago with similar delivery speed, professional handling and maintaining the cool chain during the forthcoming global distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccine. We will be at the forefront to further discharge our responsibility in the distribution of the vaccine across the globe.”
Access to COVID-19 vaccine by Nigeria, others dims (The Guardian Nigeria)
A recent study has revealed that low-income nations, including Nigeria, might lose access to COVID-19 vaccine. Published by a global health innovation centre, Duke, the survey also showed that high-income countries and a few middle-income ones with manufacturing capacity have already purchased nearly 3.8 billion doses, with options for another five billion. The implication being that these countries would vaccinate their entire population over and over before billions of people get attention in developing nations. The research disclosed that medication for only 250 million people had been purchased so far by COVAX, an international effort involving both wealthy and poor countries, that promises equal access to COVID-19 therapies globally.
The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, yesterday disclosed that the federal government would soon acquire software to monitor revenue remittances by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). According to him, “We don’t have visibility – as the money is coming in we only see it dropping-but we’re working through the office of the department of revenue and investment to have software linked to all these revenue generating agencies. This is geared towards achieving that, and once we have that, we will deploy it to all revenue generating agencies particularly as it relates to the government-owned Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”
Egypt-Sudan eye cross border railway network (Al-Monitor)
Egypt and Sudan are currently reviewing a plan to establish a cross border railway network between the two countries. The document aims to provide the necessary funding for an economic, social and environmental feasibility study for the project of constructing a railway line between Egypt and Sudan. According to the State Information Service (SIS), Egypt and Sudan have strong commercial relations. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached about $1 billion in 2017, while the volume of Egyptian investments in the Sudanese market was estimated at $10.1 billion and the volume of Sudanese investments in Egypt at $97 million, according to SIS. Also, the two countries share a number of crossings, including the Eshkeet-Qustul land port, where about 75 cargo trucks and 11 passenger buses pass daily, as well as the Arqin crossing, which witnesses the movement of about 15 cargo trucks and 60 passenger buses per day.
Pharmaceutical firms and members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have described the N100 billion single digit interest rate intervention fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a major development that would significantly boost the manufacturing capacity of firms in the industry, which would have been difficult to realise with financing from commercial banks. The President of the PSN, Mr. Sam Ohuabunwa, who spoke at the Financial Correspondent Association of Nigeria (FICAN) capacity building forum in Lagos, yesterday, said the fund would go a long way in enhancing capacity in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry and enable firms in the sector to build or complete new plants, acquire new equipment and machinery, commence new processes of production that would expand their manufacturing and increase add on and value addition.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the pan-African multilateral EXIM bank, partners with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the Trade Finance Arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group; and the Arab Bank For Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) to launch a US$1.5-billion Collaborative COVID-19 Pandemic Response Facility (“COPREFA”) to support African economies with rapid financial assistance to reduce the impact of COVID-19. COPREFA will be accessed by eligible central banks, commercial banks and businesses to finance the import of medical supplies, as well as agricultural equipment and fertilizers essential for addressing the pressing food production deficit.
As supply chains around the world are disrupted and the demand for certain types of food drops in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, questions have begun to emerge about Africa and its ability to ensure food security for its citizens. One of the ways of doing this is embracing intra-Africa trade in the agribusiness space. COVID-19 has already ignited conversations about deglobalisation as major trade routes were temporarily cut off because of lockdowns around the world, or bottlenecks that occurred in the value chain. Agriculture and food production are essential services but have not escaped the consequences of shutting down economies and disruptions in global supply chains. These disruptions, when approached differently, present an opportune time to start discussions about regionalisation of agribusiness in Africa.
Panel calls for more junior mining, exploration in SADC region (Mining Weekly)
While many of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region continue to face various challenges, a panel at this year’s virtual Junior Mining Indaba found that Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continue to perform well. As an example, Caledonia Mining CEO Steve Curtis said that, while Zimbabwe had a very negative investor sentiment, owing mainly to poor infrastructure, a lack of power and difficulties in obtaining funding, doing business in the country still faced “very few hurdles” once a project was settled. On the DRC front, DRC Chamber of Mines president and Kipushi Corporation MD Louis Watum said the country was a “high risk, high reward” investment destination, especially considering the country’s “dynamic of political challenges”.
African agricultural experts have called on governments, development agencies and regional economic communities to integrate biotechnology into the continent’s agricultural development. Denis Kyetere, executive director of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), said in a statement issued on Tuesday after a virtual roundtable meeting in Nairobi that “Despite the proven benefits of biotechnology, investment in research and development in agricultural biotechnology has been unpredictable, with the majority of countries lagging in adoption of biotechnological products with only few crops advancing to commercialization.”
Africa Must not Assume a ‘Business as Usual’ Approach to COVID-19 Recovery (Inter Press Service)
The corona virus pandemic is impacting Africa’s population in quite differentiated ways and is significantly entrenching inequality. At the greatest risk are lives and livelihoods of the poor. Millions are being pushed further into hunger and poverty. Leaders must refuse to take the easier option of failed economic models that allow few rich people to build their wealth off the backs of the poor and thrive even in the middle of a pandemic. Political and business leaders must take bold steps towards building a human economy for all Africans. An economy that rewards and guarantees dignity for workers, especially with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). An economy where big corporations and the rich pay their fair share of taxes and public resources are not used for private benefit.
The UN Secretary General and the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson have committed to working together to implement the development plans, said Stephen Karingi, Director for Regional Integration and Trade Division at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Mr. Karingi spoke on 27 October at the inception meeting on the studies in the five sub-regions of the continent to investigate the linkages between development, peace, security, human rights and humanitarian pillars. Cross-cutting issues to be considered in the studies include gender and youth, COVID-19, and trans-boundary matters for promoting intra-regional cooperation. The issue of COVID-19 and its impact on the four pillars and their inter-linkages featured in the studies of many sub-regions, including socio-economic, health and humanitarian responses to the pandemic.
African economies to experience lower growth in 2020 (New Business Ethiopia)
Most of African economies will be likely to experience lower growth lower than expected growth in 2020 compared to the 2019 projections, says new study. Policy responses to combat the crisis – lockdowns led to decline in demand for African commodities, depreciating exchange rates and higher inflation, according to a new report, ‘Trends and Analysis of Food Items in the Consumer Basket’ by the African Centre for Statistics and Macroeconomic and Governance Division, Economic Commission for Africa. “Policy responses to combat the crisis – lockdowns led to decline in demand for African commodities, depreciating exchange rates and higher inflation,” it said. “However, lower demand for goods and services led to lower than expected core inflation – most economies will experience lower than expected growth in 2020 compared to the 2019 projections.”
How Africa Can Self-Finance its Economic Recovery | by Alain Ebobissé (Project Syndicate)
In the wake of a continent-wide recession, a recovery designed and financed largely by Africans is well within reach. While the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the continent hard, strategies such as asset recycling, continued digitalization, and stronger regional integration can help ensure that Africa is strong enough to fight back. The continent must now navigate economic recovery while building resilience to future shocks. From strengthening the healthcare sector to nurturing broad-based economic growth, African leaders need to develop new strategies for solving structural challenges.
IOM’s close collaboration with African Member States builds on African Union landmark policy frameworks that shape continental guidance on governing human mobility in all its dimensions. Following on from the launch of the Pan-African Forum on Migration, IOM’s 2020-2024 Continental Strategy on migration provides an excellent opportunity to further develop synergies for more robust migration dialogues and outcomes across regions and with all relevant partners. The document was conceived to reinforce our joint commitment towards safe, orderly and regular migration within and outside of the African continent. Through multi-stakeholder engagement, it will hopefully give impetus for adaptative measures for better migration management and scale up the positive impact, opportunities and benefits of migration for the whole of society.
The UK has moved a step closer to signing a sixth trade deal in Africa today (3 November), as negotiations on a trade deal are finalised with Kenya. The agreement will ensure all companies operating in Kenya, including British businesses, can continue to benefit from duty-free access as they export products including vegetables and flowers to their customers back in the UK. Top goods imports to the UK from Kenya in 2019 were in coffee, tea and spices (£121 million), vegetables (£79 million) and live trees and plants, mostly flowers (£54 million). The UK market accounts for 43% of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least 9% of cut flowers, and this agreement will support Kenyans working in these sectors by maintaining tariff-free market access to the UK. It also guarantees continued market access for UK exporters, who together sold £815m in goods and services to Kenya last year. As the largest economy in East Africa and among the top 10 across the continent, Kenya is an important trading partner for the UK. This deal also recognises the importance of the wider region – other members of the East African Community trade block are able to join the agreement when they are ready.
Ghanaian exporters are in impending danger of being slapped with high import tariffs by Britain as the country is just weeks ago from a no-deal Brexit. While Ghana is part of a preferential trade terms deal involving the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union, Britain’s imminent exit from the European single market means that it will not be covered under the Economic Partnership Agreement between the two regions. A failure to agree a rollover would allow Ghana to impose similarly high tariffs on imports from Britain too although it is still uncertain whether the Government of Ghana would welcome the resultant effects on domestic inflation.
As the UK’s exit from the European Union on December 31 draws closer, there are growing calls for the government to strike trade deals with Ghana, Cameroon, and Kenya to protect their farmers from new tariffs that could affect their exports. Currently, the EU does not charge any tariffs on imports from these three countries but according to the UK-based trade advocacy group, Traidcraft Exchange, “the UK is choosing not to go down this road”. At the moment, products from these countries come into the UK market without having to pay additional tariffs, Traidcraft explained. “This approach offers farmers in poorer countries, who might otherwise struggle to compete in our market, the opportunity to trade their way out of poverty. “But as it stands, the UK is planning to charge significant new tariffs on imports from Kenya, Ghana and Cameroon when the post-Brexit transition period comes to a close at the end of this year,” Traidcraft noted.
High stakes for Kenya as ‘Uncle Sam’ decides (The East African)
As Americans headed to the polls last night, Nairobi, some 10,000km away, was keenly interested in the outcome as it would continue or alter the relations between the two countries. Both have spoken little on their Africa policies, perhaps signalling how low the continent ranks in their foreign policy agenda. “With the US, any engagements with Africa or other regions has been about the US first,” Mr George Mucee, the Practice Leader at Fragomen-Kenya, a migration consultancy firm in Nairobi, told the Nation.
The outcome of the US presidential election stands to drastically affect US foreign policy towards developing nations in Africa, particularly due to Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s differing approaches to solving one of the world’s most pressing issues: China. If there’s one thing that both Biden and Trump seem to agree upon, it’s that the US needs a strict approach to China and the nation’s rising global influence. Both candidates agree that the eastern superpower has abused its economic power in the realm of international trade, but the method by which to remedy the issue is where the presidential candidates begin to differ.
The UN Technology Bank and The Commonwealth have formed a new partnership to support least developed countries (LDC’s) through technology transfer, capacity building and knowledge sharing. The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding committing to collaborate to build science, technology and innovation capacity for least developed countries in the Commonwealth. The strengthened cooperation will focus specifically on promoting structural transformation of LDC economies in an effort to help eradicate poverty, fostering long-term sustainable development.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. Formal SMEs contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies, and these numbers rise significantly if we include informal SMEs. Many SMEs across the world, but particularly in emerging markets, struggle with the same challenges – lack of access to affordable finance, trade and investment barriers, and lack of access to global markets. Poor physical and ICT infrastructure often prevent SMEs from operating efficiently or accessing international markets at competitive costs. Digitisation offers SMEs new opportunities to participate in the global economy, but many are lagging in digital transformation and access to the internet remains unattainable for many in the region. We’ve found that investing into strategic partnerships can provide much-needed assistance for SMEs.
The impact of travel restrictions on trade during COVID-19 (VOX, CEPR Policy Portal)
Global trade has taken a great hit in the wake of the current pandemic. In the second quarter of this year, global merchandise trade saw the sharpest quarter-on-quarter decline ever recorded, falling by 14.3% compared to the previous period. The WTO forecasts a 9.2% annual decline in merchandise trade for 2020. Much focus has been directed towards the initial breakdown of supply chains as well as issues related to the distribution of food and medical supplies. The breakdown of many supply chains has also served as a reminder of how dependent countries are on trade, and especially of how important China is as a supplier of inputs to the rest of the world. One aspect that has received less attention is how current travel restrictions have impacted trade by making it hard for business partners in different countries to meet in person.
In the wake of the pandemic, WTO Members, many of whom are also active with the IGTC, re-affirmed their commitment to a fair and market-oriented trading system. Many of these Members joined forces and showed readiness to: (i) promote international co-operation; (ii) facilitate information exchange to mitigate supply chain disruptions; (iii) and safeguard global food security through open, predictable and transparent trade. While there were export restrictions put into place to promote food security when the spread of COVID 19 became global, many of these measures have since been rolled back.
DHL moves to reap from intra-Africa commerce (Business Daily)
The German government has partnered with global logistics firm, Deutsche Post DHL Group to moot an e-commerce platform that facilitates cross border trade in Africa. The Sh3.8 billion digitisation drive will reduce manual customs and trade processes in favour of digital clearance protocol running in tandem with an e-commerce platform thereby helping promoting a bulk goods movement regime thereby promoting low-emission logistics in cities. “Bureaucratic customs procedures and corruption are hampering intra-African trade but with a new digital system, we are helping medium-sized African companies to handle customs completely digitally,” he said adding that programme is to be implemented in Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
China-Africa Trade relations has recorded tremendous increase under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in two decades. “In 2019, direct Chinese investment stock in Africa topped 49.1 billion US dollars, up by nearly 100 times from the year 2020; China-Africa trade reached 208.7 billion, 20 times the size of 2020. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, and has contributed more than 20 per cent to Africa’s growth for a number of years. Cooperation in other fields, from technology, education, culture, health, to people to people exchange, peace and security is also making a significant headway, said Mr Zhao Yong, Deputy Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria.
Five-year plan holds promise for Africa (China Daily)
The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, held last week, laid out a comprehensive guideline for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which covers major aspects of China’s socioeconomic life. The launch of the five-year plan is also a launchpad for China’s second centenary goal of becoming a modern socialist economy by 2035. Several components of the five-year plan will have far-reaching effects on Africa, because China is the largest trading partner of the continent by far. The CPC Central Committee resolved to continue opening up the economy and to avoid the unrealistic event of decoupling from the global economy.