tralac Daily News
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a surprise move during his latest address to the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic on Wednesday night, has announced that retail sales of alcohol will be allowed on weekends and that international travel to South Africa will be eased further. The move represents a further “opening up” of the country’s battered economy and will no doubt be hailed by the tourism, hospitality and grocery retail industries, which have voiced increasing unhappiness with the restrictions.
Kenya’s exports to African countries have risen to reach pre-COVID-19 levels, with the pandemic seemingly giving the country’s external trade a boost, the central bank said on Wednesday. The exports have been on the rise since April, surging to hit 22.5 billion shillings (about 208 million U.S. dollars) in August, a level last seen in February and March. In 2019, Kenya’s exports to African countries in the first half of the year stood at 1.02 billion dollars, an indication that the country’s trade to the region remains steady in 2020 despite the pandemic.
Long-distance truck drivers have appealed to the Ugandan government to lower Covid-19 testing fees to Sh1,000. The Sh1,000 fees, they said, will be affordable as they travel across the East African country when their Covid certificates expire. “Reducing the fees will be a good move. Some drivers with no Covid-19 negative certificates get stuck in Uganda for lack of money for testing,” Swaib Abdallah told the Star in Malaba town on Wednesday. Uganda is reported to have argued that it had been overburdened by Kenyan drivers seeking testing services from the Ugandan side of the border in Malaba and Busia, as they avoid long waiting time in Kenya where it would take up to three days before they are tested.
The Kaduna Inland Dry Port has emphasized its commitment to ensuring efficient and improved service delivery in 2021. The envisaged improved service entails better services to its clients and wooing more partners in the days ahead. This is according to a report by the Nigerian Television Authority. Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna State on Wednesday, the Port Manager, Mr. Rotimi Hassan, said, “We want to put the setbacks caused by COVID-19 pandemic behind us and strategize to ensure economic activities pick up beginning from next year.”
Time to operationalise National Ports Authority (Chronicle)
Zimbabwe will re-open its land borders on December 1 to passenger traffic in a phased model starting with private motor vehicles and pedestrians. During the intense lockdowns, only commercial cargo, bodies for burial and diplomats on Government business were allowed access through the borders subject to screening by port health officials. One of the major border posts set to open to passenger traffic is Beitbridge which, under normal circumstances, sees through 8 million people from across Sadc annually and 30 000 at peak daily. Through the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, the Government has been rolling out a number of initiatives to make travelling and regional, and international trade seamless.
Finally, Nigeria to ratify the AfCFTA Agreement (African Newspage)
Join us on 24 November 2020 to discover the real trade and investment opportunities available through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The webinar will provide a forum for knowledge-sharing and networking. It will explore crucial policy actions and the scope of investments necessary to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expert participants will explore how African countries can transition from aid to trade and become part of the new world order. Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director, Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, will be a speaker.
On November 5, 2020, Abbas Mahamat Tolli (governor of the Bank of Central African States-BEAC) signed a decision extending the deadline for extractive companies to comply with the new foreign exchange regulation by an additional 12 months. Specifically, instead of December 31, 2020, this regulation will be enforced onto oil and mining companies operating in the CEMAC region starting from December 31, 2021.
AfCFTA will boost Kenya cement demand – Bamburi CEO (The Africa Report)
The COVID-19 pandemic has done nothing to derail long-term prospects for Kenya’s per head cement demand to double, Seddiq Hassani, CEO of Bamburi, tells The Africa Report. Kenya needs cement to be able to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Exports such as flowers, tea and food need increased road, rail and port capacity. Housing will also drive cement demand: the International Finance Corporation estimates that Kenya has a housing shortfall of 2m units. “There’s a strong willingness now to develop infrastructure,” says Hassani. Consumption of cement has the potential to triple over the next 15 to 20 years, he adds.
Revenue Authorities from the region have renewed commitment to the East African Community (EAC) integration and curbing of revenue leaks. This is on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit revenue collection, with all revenue authorities reporting declining performance during the period March to September 2020, with the greatest decline registered in May 2020. “We have also agreed to continue engaging with the EAC Secretariat on the need to establish a Committee on Tax Affairs at the EAC where tax administration matters and other administrative issues not related to customs can be deliberated,” Mburu told journalists after the meeting. The authorities have also committed to fast track the integration of domestic taxes systems in the region.
EALA Trade Committee Discusses Bloc’s Investment Challenges (Taarifa Rwanda)
Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment on Monday met representatives of EAC department in charge of investments and private sector promotion and discussed strategies, opportunities and challenges for investment in region. Due to the prevalent Covid-19 pandemic that has devastated the bloc member states; the meeting was held by means of video conferencing chaired by Hon Christopher Nduwayo.
By not managing and using shared maritime resources, East African states are missing an opportunity to build their economies, create jobs and new industries, and nourish a growing population. Coastal countries account for five of the eight members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). They have untapped opportunities in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, three resource-rich and geostrategic waterways which transport billions of dollars of oil, gas and goods.
As the world continues to struggle with the myriad social effects of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders are scrambling for solutions to the economic fallout. Economies worldwide have sunk into recession due to sweeping lockdown policies and overall lower consumer and business activity. Why is Sub-Sahara’s future looking so bleak? The answer lies in the rigid markets that distribute these nations’ domestic products. Africa as a whole has an extremely high dependence on exports.
The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-Women in Business, and the SADC Business Council is organizing tomorrow a webinar on women’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).With the theme “Women and private sector engagement in inclusive AfCFTA implementation: Views from SADC”, the webinar will feature panel discussion with public and private sector stakeholders to understand how the implementation of the AfCFTA can support gender equality and women’s economic empowerment from a regional perspective.
A two-day virtual meeting of the 36th Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) for Central Africa kicked off Wednesday with focus on strategies to enhance skills to accelerate economic diversification in the Central African subregion. “Without an efficient and inclusive skills development system, it would be impossible to achieve sustainable, resilient and inclusive economic growth in Central Africa as stipulated in the ‘Douala Consensus,” said Ingrid Olga Ghislaine Ebouka-Babackas, Minister of Planning, Statistics and Regional Integration, Republic of Congo.
Civil society actors from both Ghana, Nigeria, and across West Africa convened virtually under the auspices of the West Africa Civil Society Institute’s (WACSI) West Africa Policy Dialogue Series (WACPODiS) to discuss the emerging issues on the Ghana-Nigeria Trade Impasse, the implications for regional integration, and as well proffer recommendations on fostering cordial relations among ECOWAS Member States. The webinar, themed “Ghana-Nigeria Diplomatic Relations: Uncovering, Analysing and Proffering Recommendations from Citizens’ Perspective” held on October 7 2020, provided a neutral ground for civil society actors and technical experts to uncover and discuss the key issues, and getting more clarity on local investment laws.
Banks accelerating digitisation in wake of Covid-19 (African Business Magazine)
Covid-19 has accelerated the move towards full-spectrum digitisation of banking services. While the process has been at an advanced stage in countries like Kenya, other African nations, such as Nigeria, are adapting rapidly, writes Rafiq Raji. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, African banks desired to digitise as much of their operations and services as possible. “African banks’ focus on digitisation started well before the pandemic, reflecting its need to deepen financial inclusion and reach the unbanked,” Constantinos Kypreos, senior vice president and banking analyst at Moody’s tells African Banker.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac shared his concerns about the state of flying in Africa at the 52nd AFRAA AGA this week. He revealed that aviation numbers in Africa were “staggering”. He said traffic is down 89%, and revenue loses had expected to reach $6-billion. He urged governments on the continent to take action to improve the situation. “The consequences of the breakdown in connectivity are severe. Five million African livelihoods are at risk, and aviation-supported GDP could fall by as much as $37-billion. That’s a 58% fall.”
Africa should harness its natural resources to accelerate sustainable development, the African Development Bank’s Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management has said. Rabah Arezki was speaking to policymakers and stakeholders during a two-day inception workshop which began Monday on the Bank’s Financial Modelling for the Extractive Sector (FIMES) project. He urged Africa to build capacity to “negotiate better deals and generate the kind of resources that are needed to finance its development and transformation”.
Chamber’s report plots recovery for continent’s oil, gas industry (Engineering News)
After a year of considerable shock for African energy markets, the African Energy Chamber’s ‘Africa Energy Outlook 2021’ report analyses the upcoming challenges and opportunities arising from a post Covid-19 recovery on the continent. During a webinar launching the report on November 10, the chamber called on all industry stakeholders to work together on a reform agenda to keep Africa’s natural resources competitive and to create more jobs.
This report explains HM Government’s approach to delivering continuity in the United Kingdom’s trade relationship with Côte d’Ivoire now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union. HM Government expects the United Kingdom-Côte d’Ivoire EPA to support jobs and economic development in Côte d’Ivoire by providing continuity in trading arrangements with the United Kingdom including duty free and quota free United Kingdom market access. This could be of benefit to partner firms producing goods for which the United Kingdom is an important export market.
The TUC, Kenyan unions and campaigning groups are concerned that the UK has pressured the Kenyan government into sign a bad trade deal. Negotiations were finalised last week for an agreement that unions say could threaten Kenyan domestic industry, undermine good jobs and create barriers to trade across the East African Community – the regional trade bloc. Kenyan unions say it will undermine regional development plans by picking off one nation at a time, while making countries in the region vulnerable to “international price shocks.” TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said unions had been kept in the dark about the UK-Kenya trade talks: “The exclusion of workers’ voices raises the risk that the UK-Kenya trade deal will fail to protect decent jobs, promote gender equality and safeguard workers’ rights and public services.”
Trade is often heralded as the most viable route to developmental success in Africa. However, as Africa’s trade capacity has expanded, the dynamics have largely remained the same – with trade outflows heading to advanced economies such as the UK, US and China, and inflows coming from the same advanced economies.
African debt isn’t the problem – the global financial system is (African Business Magazine)
A borrower’s club at macro level based on the principles of microfinance originated by Grameen Bank could give African countries the fiscal space they need in the wake of Covid-19, argues Hannah Ryder. So why is Africa’s spending so limited? The phrase economists like myself use is “fiscal space”. African governments don’t have enough room to spend more – i.e. their fiscal space is limited – for two reasons. The fact is, Covid-19 is exposing the world’s true financial conundrum – a debt deficit, not a debt overload. We must think innovatively to construct long-term solutions that shift the balance in favour of empowering worthwhile borrowers.
Africa is ground zero for data colonialism. It is the continent with the largest number of countries; most cultural, linguistic and racial diversity; least connected nations; and its data protection regulations range from limited to nonexistent. Africa has always been a continent rich in natural resources, and, today, the diversity of the continent’s population renders it equally rich in data resources. But Big Tech’s exploitation of this diversity – heralded under the guise of internet-for-all initiatives – actually undermines the data sovereignty of African nations and impedes their ability to develop their own digital economies. That’s hardly a tide that lifts all boats.
e-Conomy Africa 2020, a new report released today by Google and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), estimates that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach 5.2% of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to its economy. The projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion by 2050. Driving this growth is a combination of increased access to faster and better quality Internet connectivity, a rapidly expanding urban population, a growing tech talent pool, a vibrant startup ecosystem, and Africa’s commitment to creating the world’s largest single market under the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Global maritime trade will plunge by 4.1% in 2020 due to the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19, UNCTAD estimates in its Review of Maritime Transport 2020, released on 12 November. The report warns that new waves of the pandemic that further disrupt supply chains and economies might cause a steeper decline. The pandemic has sent shockwaves through supply chains, shipping networks and ports, leading to plummeting cargo volumes and foiling growth prospects, it says. “The industry must be a key stakeholder helping adapt ‘just-in-time efficiency’ logistics to ‘just-in-case’ preparedness,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.