tralac Daily News
DTIC reiterates importance of quality standards in South Africa (Engineering News)
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has reiterated the importance of adhering to institutional and technical standards as a means of boosting localisation in South Africa. In so doing, the manufacturing sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) will improve to levels higher than the current 13%, a DTIC representative said. Historically, South Africa’s manufacturing sector contributed more than 20% to GDP.
Proposed chrome export tax: Report highlights the risks and pitfalls (Daily Maverick)
A recent proposal by the South African government to impose an export tax on chrome ore could hit the industry hard and backfire, according to a report prepared for domestic producers. The proposed tax, which was announced in a Cabinet statement on 21 October, took the industry by surprise. Ostensibly, it is aimed at supporting “domestic ferrochrome production and its chrome value chain sector”.
African informal sector is disproportionate (Engineering News)
The informal employment sector within Africa is diverse and presents a range of challenges, notably with a higher percentage of women being employed and a correlation between the informal sector and skills, Ghana-based African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) research and policy engagements senior director Dr Edward Brown said during a November 5 webinar discussion on emerging enterprises and economic inclusion. Brown noted that there was a trend towards countries with a higher share of informal employment also having a higher share of an informal type of economy in their gross domestic product makeup.
The country is in the process of developing a national strategy that will steer the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and enhance Namibia’s ability to achieve sustainable and inclusive export-led growth and exploit the opportunities offered by the agreement. This was announced by the Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu at the official opening of the Bank of Namibia’s 21st Annual Symposium on 05 November. The strategy will ascertain the measures and capacities required to take full advantage of markets within the context of the agreement, while providing the private sector with important entry points into the regional markets as well as alert the state to the required support to stakeholders.
Private sector awaits recovery, loses confidence (The Namibian)
Money extended to both businesses and consumers for investment and consumption has reached its lowest level since 2006. This indicates low confidence in the country’s economic outlook and policy interventions. The Bank of Namibia’s latest statistics show that private sector credit extension (PSCE) continues to drop, and contracted by 0,8 percentage points month-on-month to 1,8% in September this year – from 2,6 percentage points in August. Compared to the same time last year, money extended to the private sector stood at 6,5%.
Zim projects jump in exports despite COVID-19 (The Southern Times)
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo, says the country’s exports will this year likely grow by five percent despite disturbances to business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Although this is less than the target of 10 percent which we set ourselves at the launch of the National Trade Strategy towards the end of last year, it is still a significant achievement, especially given the massive impact Covid-19 related restrictions have had upon global trade, both supply and demand,” he said.
Zim to benefit from Maputo port – envoy (The Herald)
Efforts by DP World Maputo Port to ramp up capacity to handle huge amounts of cargo will see increased trade volumes on the North-South Corridor, which will benefit Zimbabwe as the country expedites the opening of a dry port at Rutenga, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Mozambique, Douglas Nyikayaramba, has said. The Rutenga dry port aims to decongest Beitbridge Border Post and quicken human traffic and land cargo movement as part of efforts to meet Vision 2030 targets. The North-South Corridor is expected to ensure easy border crossing for both people and goods and increase the efficiency and capacity of the transport sector to speed up regional integration and increase trade.
Kenya has developed a one-year marketing strategy for its horticulture products targeting the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, and United States towards achieving a 10 per cent export growth in 2020-2021. The Integrated Marketing Communication Strategy (IMC) between Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency and the horticultural sector will work towards achieving a coordinated communication programme that is customer-focused and consistent towards achieving a competitive advantage for the horticultural produce.
Tanzania Finalizing Permit For its First Rare-Earth Metals Mine (BloombergQuint)
Tanzania is in the final stages of approving a permit for the country’s first rare earths mine to Australian company Peak Resources Ltd. as the government seeks a bigger share of revenue from natural resources. The state is also finalizing a gold-mining license for another Australian company, OreCorp Ltd. at the Nyanzaga project in the northwest of the country, according to Mining Minister Doto Biteko. Tanzania is Africa’s fourth-biggest producer of the precious metal and plans to increase mineral earnings by at least a third during the next three years. It also has vast deposits of coal, rare-earth metals, iron ore and gemstones.
Aviation outlay to spur trade, tourism (Daily News)
Tanzania’s aviation industry is of critical importance to the economic development of the country and to strategic economic sectors like tourism and trade. Air transport is the preferred method of access to Tanzania for international visitors and, therefore, the sector has proven to be both important and heavily relied upon. Dr John Magufuli said his government intends to create a stronger national flag carrier by purchasing five new aircraft. He added that the government will also strengthen the National Institute of Transport (NIT) to enable it produce aviation experts in different transport cadres.
Uganda’s export earnings from Rwanda fall to an all time low (Daily Monitor)
Uganda’s export receipts from Rwanda have fallen to an all-time low, demonstrating the impact that the closure of the country’s border has had on trade between the two countries. Some of Rwanda’s border points have been closed to Uganda for almost 21 months now with negotiations to reopen them ongoing. In the period between August 2019 and August 2020, cumulative export earnings from Rwanda, according to Bank of Uganda, fell to just $5.1m (Shs19.2b) from $131.8m (Shs494b) in the same period between August 2018 and August 2019.
In the midst of an investigation and indefinite suspension by a Ugandan government regulator, the U.S. Agency for International Development was forced to terminate a nearly $10 million direct cash assistance program run through GiveDirectly, the largest nonprofit providing cash transfers globally. The program, launched in August in partnership with the Ugandan government, was part of the national COVID-19 response, intended to support those who lost income as a result of the pandemic and who are at risk of food insecurity.
Uganda Set for Digital Transformation to Streamline Microfinance Supervision and Regulation Processes (East African Business Week)
NRD Companies, together with the partner Private Sector Foundation Uganda, has prepared a digital transformation plan aimed at streamlining microfinance supervision and regulation processes for Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA). The plan has been prepared under the project dedicated to the support of institutional capacity building in the field of consumer rights in East African countries. The plan comes as a strategic high-level planning document intended to ensure that the long-term goals of digitization are achieved.
The Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi says NITDA is taking advantage of the spread of existing infrastructure across the country to accelerate digital inclusion. He said the focus is on skills rather than degrees to progressively increase the contribution of digital technologies to the economy. The DG said this at the inaugural virtual Digital PayExpo and conference 2020 to mark its 20th Anniversary with the theme: “Emerging Technologies and the National Digital Economy Plan”.
Ethiopia joint venture embarks on saving 2.5m jobs in textile industry (The East African)
The UK, Germany and Ethiopia have set up a fund that could save thousands of jobs in the eastern Africa country’s textile and garments industry, while helping to support the country’s economic recovery from Covid-19. With $6.5 million invested at launch on October 29, the partnership aims to help safeguard a critical industry and protect livelihoods of workers. The funding will kick start the facility and the partnership may expand its reach through additional support in the coming months.
Ghana’s textiles and garments industry are set for exponential growth, thanks to renewed attention and support from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI). At the first-ever garment and textiles investment meeting held by the GIPC in Accra yesterday, CEO of the GIPC, Mr Yofi Grant said the time was long overdue for Ghana to take advantage of the global garments market. “Our plan has begun with a forum that assembles stakeholders to talk to each other exploit avenues for partnerships and then we at GIPC support them to reach the global market.”
Mombasa mega gas terminal to ease prices in upgrade (Business Daily)
Supply of cooking gas is set to increase following the upgrade of an import handling and storage terminal in Mombasa, setting the stage for a further drop in the cost of the commodity. Africa Gas and Oil Ltd (AGOL) will have a storage capacity of 25,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from March when the upgrade of the facility initially built in 2013 is complete. “The infrastructure investments will play a key role in boosting supply and lowering LPG prices. Previously, investment in import handling and storage was the key missing ingredient in the sector which had suffered decades of under supply, poor storage and weak distribution at the port of Mombasa,” said AGOL in a statement.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, says that improving guidance on quality and standards, leveraging technology, organization design, and optimization can make Nigeria a net beneficiary of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Minister disclosed this on Wednesday while giving his remarks at the virtual annual conference of the Institute of Directors (IOD), where he was the Guest of Honour.
Lawmakers from Nigeria are conspicuously absent at the ongoing meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the takeoff date of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement next year. “The obstacles that African countries face in entering industrial value chains are: difficult access to finance, lack of markets, regional capital, high transport costs, inadequate telecommunications infrastructure and energy, inefficient bureaucracy, heavy taxation and unstable, and the poorly qualified workforce,” lbin Feliho, President of the National Confederation of Employers of Benín (CONEB), said.
This Regional Integration Strategy Paper for Southern Africa (SA-RISP) defines the Bank’s framework for operations in the region over the 2020-2026 period. The main objective of the new RISP is to foster an integrated and diversified Southern African region promoting structural transformation and inclusive and green growth. Reflecting this objective, the new RISP has two mutually reinforcing Priority Areas of Bank support: (i) Infrastructure Connectivity; and (ii) Market Integration and Industrialization. The RISP also focuses on capacity building to improve regional portfolio implementation and performance.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly cut off supply chains, hampering trade in East and South African countries, according to a report by Shippers Council of Eastern Africa. This may be a result of the lockdown of international airspace by regional countries. Others like Kenya went ahead to lock inter-county land movements. The report dubbed ‘Covid-19 impact on the supply chain in East and Southern Africa’, notes: “Across the region, measures introduced to minimise the spread of Covid-19 appear to have reduced airfreight capacity and impacted road transport capacity.” The drop in supply chain saw reduced business activities in the region as shown in the study.
Poor infrastructure has been identified as one of the major barriers to agricultural trade within and outside Nigeria. An Associate Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, Taiwo Oyaniran, while speaking at an AfCFTA workshop organised by the National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement stated that Nigeria had significantly poor transport infrastructure and services, particularly in the rural areas. According to him, the lack of cold chain logistics also contributes to a decreased trade capacity through losses from spoilage and impact on time to reach the market.
Weaker currencies increasing EA debt payments burden (The East African)
East African economies are facing a potential rise in debt servicing burden owing to the depreciation of regional currencies currently weighed down by uncertainties in the global economy, disruption of global trade by the Covid-19 pandemic and political jitters linked to the region’s election cycles. Monetary authorities are concerned about stability of the currencies, with fears their persistent fall in value against major foreign currencies could make repayment of external loans in foreign currencies an arduous task.
Rwanda-Ghana relations to spur Africa trade agenda (The New Times)
Rwanda and Ghana have resolved to boost bilateral relations with a broad, varied economic agenda at the core. This week, Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta was in Ghana to take part in a series of events that officials say will help to strengthen diplomatic and economic cooperation between the two countries. Already, the two countries have expressed commitment to see increased intra-Africa trade volume. Biruta on Tuesday, November 3 met with the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, during which the two governments pledged their commitment to make the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) work.
African aviation looks for its wings (The Southern Times)
The economic effects of closing borders and banning travel to curb the spread of COVID-19 threw commercial African aviation into uncertainty as the vast majority of the continent shut down operations for several months, according to the International Road Federatio. In a continent where most airlines are state-owned, there have been mixed responses by airlines to the market changes that COVID-19 brought. African airlines could lose US$6-8 billion in passenger revenue compared to 2019. The usual contribution to African GDP of US$56 billion per annum is expected to drop by US$35 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Import substitution makes a comeback in Africa (African Business Magazine)
As African industrialisation progresses and Covid-19 impacts on long supply chains, the notion that African economies should produce more locally is gaining traction. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the notion that African countries should produce locally, rather than importing from abroad. Announcing a lockdown in March, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni expressed his hope that the crisis would help to build manufacturing capacity, rather than “turning our market into a dumping point for foreign goods”.
A Stalled Conflict in Sahara Risks Reigniting as Trade Blocked (BloombergQuint)
Protesters in the disputed region of Western Sahara blocked Morocco’s main trade route to West Africa, prompting a warning that a conflict suspended for three decades could reignite. Halting what was an average of 150 trucks crossing per day, they’re seeking leverage by impeding Morocco’s burgeoning trade with sub-Saharan Africa. Protesters have also approached Moroccan military outposts. Escalation in the already tense situation threatens to revive fighting in Western Sahara frozen since 1991.
Concerns Over Debt Sustainability Rise in Sub-Saharan Africa Amid Covid-19 (Global Trade Magazine)
The extent and duration of the economic impact of the global pandemic remain uncertain, but post-Covid-19, governments in SSA are prepared to step up their efforts to make countries more resilient in the face of external shocks. Opportunities exist on the other side of 2020 in the form of renewable energy in solar and wind. Another opportunity for SSA lies in manufacturing, which is still low across SSA exempting Ethiopia and South Africa. The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, introduced in early 2020, will provide significant opportunities for manufacturing companies across the region.
Harnessing Geothermal Energy in Africa (African Union)
H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy, spoke today at the opening session of 8th African Rift Geothermal Conference (ARGeo-C8). The Commissioner said that “Currently, more than 600 million Africans lack access to electricity with many still relying on traditional biomass for cooking. This is having huge impacts on our efforts towards poverty reduction and human development in the Continent”. She highlighted that Africa has a huge potential in renewable energy, especially in geothermal which is a viable energy resource estimated at over 15,000 megawatts in East Rift System Countries, that the Continent can leverage on to improve the energy-mix generation in East Africa.
SGR hauls 2m bags of tea as factories snub warehouses (Business Daily)
More than two million kilogrammes of tea have been transported using the standard gauge railway (SGR) in the past one year after nine factories adopted ex-factory containerisation. Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Management Services managing director Alfred Njagi said the move has led to enhanced efficiency in the transportation. “Ex-factory containerisation continues to be an increasingly preferred option for big packers that have direct sales arrangements with factories. Over and above being a more efficient method of transporting tea by cutting down on delays occasioned by road transport and warehousing,” he said.
Regional seed trade in the COMESA countries stands at USD 2 billion but this is set to rise to USD 5 billion by 2025 with the implementation of new initiatives. One of them is the rolling out of the COMESA seed labels and certificates developed as part of the implementation of the COMESA Seed Harmonisation Implementation Plan (COMSHIP) aimed at facilitating regional seed trade. COMESA Agriculture Ministers endorsed the COMESA Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations in 2015 leading to the launch of the COMSHIP programme to expedite implementation both at national and regional level.
The ECA Office for North Africa held on Tuesday, November 3rd a webinar on “Best practices on job creation in North Africa”. Participants discussed lessons learned and best practices on job creation and what governments and other key actors can do to ensure employment policies achieve meaningful results for youth employment and empowerment across North Africa. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, North African economies had achieved reasonable growth levels, and several countries had managed to engage their economies on the road towards more diversification. However, the sub-region still faces major issues including low productivity growth and high unemployment rates.
UN faults Kenya for ignoring G20 Covid debt relief offer (Business Daily)
The United Nation’s has faulted Kenya’s reluctance to take up the debt relief initiative by a group of world’s 20 major economies or G20 at a time servicing costs are eating into a significant chunk of revenue. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi said the G20 debt moratorium would have helped Nairobi to free up about $900 million (Sh97.98 billion) in deferred bilateral debt servicing costs. The cash could have been rechanneled to other pressing needs related to alleviation of Covid-19 that has battered the Kenyan economy.
UK-Kenya deal creates ‘huge risks to regional trade’ (The Grocer)
The UK’s trade deal with Kenya agreed this week to avoid tariffs on food imports including cocoa, coffee and bananas, could risk undermining established regional trade relationships in East Africa, trade campaigners have warned. The new agreement will give duty-free access to both Kenyan goods entering the UK as well as for British exporters shipping to Kenya. But campaigners have warned that striking a bilateral deal with Kenya rather than the regional trading bloc of countries including Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania could create “costly barriers to trade” in the region, while also potentially threatening local development goals and making countries more vulnerable to international price shocks.
The UK Government has appointed Helen Grant MP, a British-Nigerian, as new Trade Envoy to Nigeria. Speaking on her appointment as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Helen Grant said: “Now I have an opportunity to employ my rich dual heritage to help magnify an already strong UK-Nigerian relationship for our mutual prosperity. As the largest and fastest growing economy on the African continent, the potential for trade and investment with Nigeria is stunning. I will do my utmost to help develop that as part of our nation’s collective drive toward an outward looking global Britain.”
The US-Africa policy will likely remain focused on countering China’s influence, and fighting terrorism regardless of who wins the Oval Office in the November 3 US election. American citizens will be deciding whether to give President Donald Trump a second term in office, or hand leadership to Joe Biden, the former vice president of Barack Obama. Foreign policy and international trade experts say the US will continue to keep an eye on China, even if the Democrats win the White House.
What the US election result means for Africa (African Business Magazine)
The size of the American economy, the dominance of US companies and the power of the dollar mean the results of the US election race are set to reverberate throughout the world. But what does a Trump or Biden win mean for Africa? The result of the vote could have a profound impact on US foreign policy in Africa, the EU’s Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) says. “As competition mainly revolves around the predatory economic practices (of China) the first pillar of Trump’s strategy is advancing US trade and commercial ties with the region,” Faleg says. “Trump has never personally considered Africa a priority region.”
As the race for the White House continues, agriculture leaders say a win for Democrat Joe Biden will strengthen and fast-track trade relations between South Africa and the United States. Currently, the race between pres. Donald Trump and Biden hinges on tight races in battleground states. Trump has already falsely claimed victory while Biden called for patience and every vote to be counted. Meanwhile Mzansi’s agriculture leaders believe a second-term win for Trump will lead to a continuation of the trade war with China which will benefit exports in the agricultural sector immensely.
Senior WTO officials are set to make a formal announcement on Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the trade body’s new Director General at a general council meeting scheduled for 9 November in Geneva, by which time the US presidential election is likely to have been settled. Last week, the WTO General Council Chair David Walker recommended that Okonjo-Iweala be appointed as the WTO’s next Director-General. However, in what could be one of its last international policy moves, the Trump administration last week blocked the nomination and continues to support South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee.
The Ninth Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum looked back and forward to China-Africa cooperation under the framework of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) over the past two decades, as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of FOCAC. Officials and experts from China and Africa expressed desire to strengthen cooperation in a range of fields including trade, the economy and poverty alleviation. While the cooperation has progressed very well, Deng Li, assistant minister of foreign affairs, noted that there are also challenges as some countries are trying to undermine China-Africa cooperation by launching groundless attacks.
South Africa is embarking on an ambitious economic reform agenda that shares striking similarities with Saudi Arabia’s own efforts to slash red tape and stimulate investment. Like Saudi Arabia, South Africa is transitioning from a commodity-based economic foundation to a more sustainable and diversified and modernized model. Pretoria is targeting an average annual economic growth rate of 3 percent over the next decade and has established a state infrastructure fund that will provide 100 billion rand ($6 billion) in finance, a move that the government expects will unlock a further trillion rand in investment.
The WTO Secretariat has published a new information note about trade issues associated with the spread of diseases of animal origin. The note maps out the international framework in place to address these issues, along with ongoing efforts to ensure safe trade in animals and animal products, including in wildlife. The note provides an overview of the current issues and the status of legal frameworks and planned future actions to control the spread, via trade, of diseases affecting human health that originate in animals.
COVID-19 drug and vaccine patents are putting profit before people (The Conversation)
In early October, India and South Africa requested that the WTO Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council, which protects patents and copyrights including those applicable to new diagnostics, vaccines, medicines and medical supplies, consider a temporary waiver suspending TRIPS obligations on all medical products needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. On Oct. 15, 40 WTO member states discussed the proposal. Most developing countries supported it, though some wanted more time to discuss the implications with their home governments. Most developed countries, including Canada, opposed the proposal. A final decision is on hold but is likely to be made within a matter of weeks
“Air cargo volumes are down on 2019, but they are a world apart from the extreme difficulties in the passenger business,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. African airlines saw demand increase by 9.7% year-on-year in September. This was the fifth consecutive month in which the region posted the strongest increase in international demand. Investment flows along the Africa-Asia route continue to drive the regional outcomes. International capacity decreased by 24.9%.
Digitalization has in the past few years enabled developing countries in particular to leapfrog on financial inclusion. Countries like Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania have made great advances in connecting their citizens to financial systems by leveraging on mobile phone technology. As the world has grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, with closing of borders, curfews, lockdowns and other movement restrictions, digitalization has come to the rescue. Online shopping and entertainment, digital financial services, virtual meetings and events have taken center stage in lives and livelihoods globally.