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President Cyril Ramaphosa has responded on a number of key issues facing the country, including the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the inequality divide between black and white South Africans. In a parliamentary Q&A session on Thursday (12 November), the president was also again questioned on allegations of corruption which have continued to dog government. The AfCFTA will encourage economic diversification, beneficiation of our minerals and resources and value-addition to seize the opportunities arising from an increasingly open African continental market. Ramaphosa said that even prior to the agreement on the AfCFTA, South Africa had already begun implementing an investment-led trade strategy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has put in motion a number of interventions aimed at helping South African companies invest in the continent and participate in the AfCFTA. “We want to ensure that our firms, entrepreneurs, small enterprises and workers benefit from the trading opportunities that will arise as the AfCFTA commences to operate. “Government has a number of interventions to support South Africans that want to trade and do business in other African countries,” he said.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has published the regulatory framework for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes as part of government’s effort to contribute towards the economic recovery plan. “These EPR schemes are part of the Reconstruction and Economic Recovery Plan recently announced by the President as key contributors towards green economy initiatives,” the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, said on Thursday.
SA’s unemployment rate jumps to 30.8% in Q3 (Moneyweb)
South Africa’s unemployment rate struck a record high of 30.8% in the third quarter, a big jump from the previous quarter when figures were distorted by lockdown restrictions that prevented people from job-hunting, the statistics agency said on Thursday. Africa’s most industrialised economy has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment, trapping millions in poverty and contributing to stark inequalities. Statistics South Africa put the number of unemployed at 6.5 million people in the third quarter, compared to 4.3 million in the previous three months.
Parly to probe gold smuggling (The Herald)
Parliament will soon probe gold smuggling as reports suggest Zimbabwe could be losing millions in foreign currency. Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Cde Edmond Mkaratigwa told stakeholders in a meeting to discuss expectations of the mining sector from the 2021 National Budget, which will soon be presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, that his committee condemned all forms of corruption in the mining sector, including the abuse of the First Family’s name by those involved in corrupt activities.
The Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze said he never claimed Nigeria is broke and that his words were taken out of context He made the clarification during an interview on Channels TV on Thursday. Mr Akabueze revealed that the Budget Defence of various Ministries is going well so far as issues are getting resolved and that the 2021 budget will be passed before the end of the year.
Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Victor Liman, announced that despite Nigeria agreeing to ratify the agreement, our land borders will remain closed until Nigeria can ensure West African neighbors don’t dump substandard goods into the market. Mr. Liman disclosed this in an interview with Arise TV on Thursday that the AfCFTA is a large opportunity for Nigeria as it exposes Nigerian producers to a large market. He added that Nigeria needs to put in place structures to ensure Nigeria remains competitive in the agreement, especially securing the borders.
AfDB, Ugandan Gov’t Agree to Fund MSMEs in the Petroleum Sector (PC Tech Magazine)
The African Development Bank and the Government of Uganda have signed a grant agreement of USD$500,000 to finance Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to boost business linkages on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Technical Assistance project. The project’s overall objective is to help develop capacity of local Uganda MSMEs along the East African crude oil pipeline, by enabling them to access new market opportunities, and building linkages with larger, national, regional and international companies.
Nigeria has ratified the AfCFTA agreement which will now come into effect on Jan 1 2021. It’s a key move given Nigeria’s status not just as one of the continent’s largest economies but also as its most populous country. “Nigeria’s ratification of the AfCFTA is a welcome development, but the country’s commitment to intra-African trade should also be materialized in reality by the re-opening of its land borders,” says Landry Signé, a Brookings Institution fellow. “Re-opening the borders will send a strong signal about Nigeria’s intentions… to boost intra-African trade.”
The AfFTA Agreement will be implemented by January 1 2021, according to the secretary-general of the AfCFTA secretariat, Wamkele Mene. He says AfCFTA is the only mechanism at the continent’s disposal to boost its economic recovery after the devastation caused by the pandemic and is an opportunity to establish robust supply and value chains for Africa as well as diversify its productive capacity, particularly from its current overreliance on the export of primary commodities.
Namibia is not ready for AfCFTA – Part I (The Namibian)
SO MUCH has been said on how Namibia could theoretically benefit from the soon-to-be rolled out Africa Continental Free Trade Area, however, no practical assessment has been done on the country’s readiness. However, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sven Thieme in his presentation at the Bank of Namibia Annual Symposium, said Namibia is not ready to compete with 54 other nations that are targeted by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Thieme said most of Namibia’s strengths are also weaknesses, if not managed appropriately, as “they also create a certain vulnerability that invites exploitation”.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) provides a critical opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including youth-led enterprises engaged in cross-border trade, to participate in the development of regional value chains, more easily meet the standards of continental markets, and supply inputs to larger companies in their regions, with targeted support. Mr. Adam said in Africa 60 percent of men and 75 percent of women were informally employed, including educated youth.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) continues to seek ways of increasing power generation across the Region to surpass the 3,595 megawatts (MW), out of a targeted 4,000MW, contributed in 2019. Energy is a key enabler of economic development and that is why there has been notable progress across the Region in power generation, and interconnector projects that seek to connect countries to the region’s power pool. Under SADC Vision 2050, the target is that by 2050, the Region would have efficient and effective cross-border infrastructure apparatus, services and networks to support and facilitate deeper regional integration and reduce or avoid transboundary conflicts.
The government is committed to the regional integration process and the implementation of various protocols and policies to improve the living standards of the people. Mr Charles Owiredu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said the government was working to ensure that the country was positioned to access as many benefits as possible. The Deputy Minister noted that despite Ghana’s frontline role within the ECOWAS sub-region, the country was not able to maximize the many opportunities for the benefits of its people.
48th East African Revenue Authorities (EARACGS) Meeting Communique (East African Business Week)
The 48th East African Revenue Authorities Commissioners General meeting was held virtually due to the new working arrangements under the COVID-19 pandemic. It noted that all Revenue Authorities reported declining revenue performance during the period of March to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the greatest decline being registered in May 2020. In the quarter of July to September 2020, the revenue growth in the region ranged from -44.9% to 2.1%. This was unprecedented bearing in mind that the revenues have on average been growing at double digits. The meeting also discussed a number of emerging issues that continue to affect the tax administrations.
Fintech a gateway for Africans to access financial services (Engineering News)
Financial inclusion has been one of Africa’s greatest success stories over the past decade, with more than 470-million mobile money accounts having been created. Kenya-based Cellulant Corporation CEO Ken Njoroge on November 12 said that, with financial technology (fintech) financing of between $5-billion and $6-billion a year, the continent could move past one-billion mobile money users. Mastercard sub-Saharan Africa president Prasad Raghav said the launch and growth of digital financial services had led to an unprecedented increase in the number of people enjoying access to formal financial services.
Thursday saw the release of Revenue Statistics in Africa 2020 – a report produced by the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, the African Union Commission and the African Tax Administration Forum – during an international webinar. The report compiles comparable tax revenue and non-tax revenue statistics for the years 1990 to 2018 for 30 countries in Africa, a much-needed resource to inform tax policy analysis and decisions on tax policy. Lower commodity prices, loss of tourism, border closures and lower international trade flows have had a devastating impact on income levels. Much of the socio‑economic progress made over the past 10 years in Africa has been reversed.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa urged G20 nations to take measures that could unlock as much as $500 billion (379.2 billion pounds) for the world’s poorest countries and help avoid lasting scars from a prolonged funding gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Published before Friday’s extraordinary Group of 20 meeting, where finance officials expect to complete work on a common framework for dealing with the debt problems of the world’s poorest countries, the plan pushes for four actions to provide immediate relief,
‘Trump is the rupture in US-Africa policy, Biden much more engaged’ (The Africa Report)
The arrival of the Biden administration in the White House will be the opportunity for a reset of USA-Africa policy believes Grant T. Harris, a former Africa advisor for Barack Obama. Harris advised President Barack Obama on Africa policy as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House from August 2011 to August 2015. He will be speaking at the Concordia Africa Initiative, the first international forum since the US presidential elections where these issues can be addressed.
There is hope for better Kenya-US relations under Biden rule (The Standard)
The election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America has sparked measured optimism of better US engagements abroad. As a gateway to East and Central Africa, Kenya plays a key role as launching pad for corporations and countries keen on economic partnerships with two regions. In July 2020, President Trump and President Uhuru Kenyatta launched negotiations for the first Free Trade Agreement in sub-Saharan Africa. If successfully concluded, the pact would act as a template for similar deals with other African countries while anchoring the much needed shift from aid to trade in Kenya’s relations with the US.
The current phase is a turning point in the history of bilateral relations between Egypt the UK, especially in face of Brexit that paves the way for the UK to establish fresh trade and venture relations across the world, Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Gamea has said. “Egypt’s government is eager to boost relations with the UK’s business community, by which enhancing the commercial and venture cooperation between the two countries in the coming period. Also, we are looking forward to expanding bilateral cooperation in Africa, especially with the unprecedented political support that Egypt is paying to the continent. This will be a potential that can be tapped for Egypt’s exports to access the African market,” said Gamea.
Paul Akiwumi: Covid-19 and beyond (The Mail & Guardian)
As the world seeks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing global recession, there is a temptation to prioritise domestic health and economic concerns, especially in advanced economies. But resorting to inward-looking policies or protectionism threatens to leave behind the world’s most vulnerable economies or least-developed countries (LDCs). In responding to the global challenge posed by Covid-19 and building back better for long-term prosperity, the international community must not forget LDCs.
Paul Akiwumi is the director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Division for Africa and Least Developed Countries
Least developed countries (LDCs) have been hit hard by the downturn in global trade triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with LDC merchandise exports declining by 16 per cent during the first half of 2020. The WTO Secretariat reported that the decline in the value of LDC merchandise exports was steeper than the 13 per cent average decline in global exports registered in the first six months of the year. The LDC services sector also took a hit, with preliminary estimates suggesting a drop of close to 40 per cent in the first six months of 2020.
Review of Maritime Transport 2020 (UNCTAD)
The Review of Maritime Transport 2020 provides an update on the latest trends in maritime trade, supply, markets, key performance indicators, and legal and regulatory developments. The global health and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has upended the landscape for maritime transport and trade and significantly affected growth prospects. UNCTAD projects the volume of international maritime trade to fall by 4.1% in 2020. Amid supply-chain disruptions, demand contractions and global economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the global economy was severely affected by a twin supply and demand shock.
Global trade in food products has proven remarkably resilient during the pandemic, with developing countries even managing to increase export revenues, according to the latest Food Outlook published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Data available through June “suggest strong, albeit not complete, resilience of the global food markets to COVID-19 shocks”, the report says in a special feature. “The global food import bill for the whole of 2020 may even exceed that of 2019,” says Josef Schmidhuber. “There is, however, a noticeable shift away from high value food items to staples.”
The fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “go hand in hand”, Secretary-General António Guterres told a major development bank conference on Thursday. “The decisions we make now will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond: Emissions must fall by half by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050 to reach the 1.5C goal… If we fail to meet these goals, the disruption to economies, societies and people caused by COVID-19 will pale in comparison to what the climate crisis holds in store”.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a plan today to help public and private actors identify and prioritise investments contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The OECD-UNDP Framework for SDG Aligned Finance, presented at the Paris Peace Forum, identifies solutions to shift the trillions of dollars available internationally towards more sustainable and resilient investments and to further mobilize investment, especially to least developed countries, small islands developing states, and developing countries.
There is growing political commitment to increase women’s participation in public procurement tenders, but countries need practical advice on how to go about it. Making Public Procurement Work for Women addresses that challenge. Through this guidebook, the International Trade Centre helps governments identify issues specific to their women-owned businesses, understand policy options and take action. “Governments act as both buyers and advocates to increase women’s participation in public procurement,” said Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.