tralac Daily News
Third chapter of SA investment conference gets underway this week (The South African)
President Cyril Ramaphosa will host the third South Africa Investment Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday 17 and 18 November, as part of continuing efforts South Africa’s efforts to grow domestic and international investment and jumpstart the country’s sputtering economy. With South Africa halfway to meeting its target of achieving R1.2 trillion in investments, this year’s SA Investment Conference will not only push for more investment, but will also take stock of the progress in implementation, said Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel. The conference programme will also profile the strengths and comparative advantages South Africa offers investors and trade partners in a period of growing African integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Mnangagwa sees signs for economic recovery (The Zimbabwe Mail)
Zimbabwe is on course to an unparalleled economic rebound built on the foundations of Government’s reform programme, which has stabilised the economy over the second half of the year, President Mnangagwa has said. In an address which touched on themes ranging from ruling party ZANU PF party’s internal politics and socio-economic issues, to a specially convened Mashonaland East Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Marondera yesterday, the President said the country is on firm ground for a rebound.
Importers in Rwanda bank on GPS use (The East African)
Rwandan importers are banking on the use of GPS tracking system starting this month to address delays at the Rusumo border due to Covid-19 restrictions. The system will monitor both trucks and drivers through their mobile phone for potential diversion or stops at non-designated locations as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 along the key import corridor. It is estimated that an average of 150 trucks and tankers use the corridor daily. The Rwanda transporters’ association head Abdou Ndaru said the system has reduced cargo waiting time at the border from two to three days to just four hours.
Sugar tops list of goods most smuggled into Kenya (Business Daily)
Sugar accounts for nearly half of the goods smuggled across Kenya’s porous border points, a new report shows, turning the focus on illicit trading of the sweetener. National Crime Research Centre data shows that 48 per cent of all incidents of smuggling involved sugar with about 789 cases reported over the last year. Other popular products smuggled into the country include alcohol and illicit brews (28 per cent), illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin (25.2 per cent), cereals (23 per cent), clothes, shoes and handbags (12.8 per cent), charcoal/coal (12 per cent) and wheat and maize flour (11.3 per cent).
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the final day of his two-day working visit to the ‘rainbow nation’. “During our bilateral talks, we agreed to enhance our cooperation in various fields of development including trade, health, migration and labour for the mutual benefits of our people…. It is my hope that in future we will sign several MOU’s that strengthen our cooperation through framework of the joint commission of this cooperation,” said Chakwera.
Only a few states ready for AfCFTA December target (The East African)
Less than six weeks to the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, time is running out for countries to conclude and submit their tariff offers as well as rules of origin, which will govern trade from January 1, 2021. Only 18 out of the continent’s 55 countries have submitted their tariff offers and rules of origin. A number of countries missed the October 30 deadline to submit their tariff concessions, and have until the December 5 African Union summit to do so, officials said. As the continent navigates the Covid-19 storm, experts fear that the outstanding issues – which include schedules of specific commitments on trade in services, in addition to member states not ratifying the agreement – will disrupt trade under the long anticipated AfCFTA.
The Bank of Namibia held its 21st Annual Symposium on 5 November under the theme of ”Positioning Namibia to reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area.” Representing the United Nations System was the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noted that Namibia’s logistics sector is a potential area for entry, providing this service to the entire Continent. The country, she stressed, could leverage technology and undertake work to assess its national competitiveness strategy and strengthen its competitive advantage within the African regional value chain and supply chain.
Regional conference on AfCFTA held in Kumasi (Ghanaweb)
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Dr Afua Asabea Asare, has advised businesses to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to expand their markets and exports to other parts of the continent. She said there was the need for the country to increase its non-traditional exports (NTEs) in order not to overly rely on primary commodities. She said even though the country had enhanced its stature in international trade, the “recent relatively weak performance of the NTEs sector and other externalities in the international trading environment have revealed the risks, weaknesses and uncertainties associated with our over dependence on primary commodity exports and limited product diversification and value addition.”
Barely two months to the start of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), only 26 percent of firms in Ghana are aware of the trade deal, the second wave of the COVID-19 Business Tracker survey has revealed. This means 74 percent of firms are unaware of the AfCFTA. Commenting on the findings, Economic Advisor at the UNDP, Dr Frederick Mugisha said the results gave a sense of what more we need to do so firms benefit from the agreement, which is “to make sure that everybody understands what it is; we need to deliver the AfCFTA the same way we are delivering the SDGs,” he said.
A timely call to observe the years 2021 to 2030 as The Decade for Economic Diversification in Central Africa has been squarely heeded to by senior state officials across the sub-region led by the Minister of Planning, Statistics and Regional Integration of the Republic of Congo – Ingrid Olga Ghislaine Ebouka-Babackas. The declaration, issued in an address by the Minister and presented by her Chief of Staff Mr. Ferdinand Sosthène Likouka, Thursday, wrapped up the 36th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts of Central Africa (ICE) which ran from 11 to 12 November 2020. It was held under the theme: “Building skills and competences for economic diversification in Central Africa.”
EAC nations plan joint crackdown on tax evasion (Business Daily)
Tax agencies in the East African Community (EAC) bloc have proposed a joint crackdown on firms evading taxes through cross-border transactions. The heads of seven tax authorities including in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan said the joint legal framework will curb the tax evasion and profit sharing by rogue multinationals, that are estimated at billions of shillings in illicit finance flows every year.
Global oil demand is estimated never to exceed 2019 levels, with energy markets having reached a tipping point. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Africa Oil & Gas Review 2020 released on Wednesday estimated a 19 percent fall in oil production for the top five African producers: Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Libya and Egypt. The report underscored the reversal of Africa’s gains during 2020 compared with a year earlier, when mega exploration and development projects were announced. It said the countries could each be facing $20bn (about R310bn) or more in lost export revenue this year.
The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa’s populations and economies has yet to be ascertained. But as the effects unfold, governments, civil society and the private sector can cushion the blow, if they act decisively. Timely deployments of public and private capital into sustainable and long-term investment projects can boost industrialization efforts, generate employment and mitigate the most deadly effect of the virus: poverty. The anticipated decline in African GDP – the first recession in 25 years – is due primarily to restrictions and delays in international trade resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The continent’s food import bill is well above US$35 billion and is slated to reach US$110 billion by 2025.
Analysis in a report by Google and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, finds that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach $180 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2% of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 2050, the projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion, 8.5% of the continent’s GDP. 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.
Covid exposes what Africa should do to sustain trade (The Standard)
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat reports that, for the first time in decades, there has been a contraction of GDP of between 2 to 5 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. This is directly attributable to the pandemic. The crisis has also triggered a reality check. It has exposed the challenges and inequalities of ‘business as usual’ and magnified the risks inherent in a business model, which often does not have inclusivity and sustainability as priorities. It is now more evident than ever that the way we produce, trade, organise our supply chains, and consume must change if we want to mitigate short-term impacts and better prepare ourselves for future crises while building resilience of our economies.
South Africa association offers UK retailers tips to maximise stone fruit sales (Produce Business UK)
With the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, arguably there has never been a more important time for retailers and producers to work together to promote fruit consumption and to encourage shoppers to pursue a healthy diet both in-store and online. Sales of South African stone fruit at UK retail have been performing well in recent years, according to Hortgro, and UK retailers can expect a much better volume of fruit to market this season (November to May), thanks to temperate weather conditions.
Kenya and the UK will sign their agreed trade deal once London lifts its Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, officials have said. Ministers attending the joint Economic Development Forum welcomed the agreement in Principle of the UK-Kenya Trade Agreement, marked by the initialling of the text on 3rd November 2020,” said a joint communique. “When, as expected, the agreement enters into effect at the end of 2020, this will secure long-term duty-free and quota-free access to the UK for Kenyan exports and overall trade and economic arrangements,” said Kenyan Trade CS Betty Maina and James Duddridge, UK Minister for Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The International Monetary Fund’s first financial assistance to South Sudan since it joined the lender in 2012 will help the East African nation to stabilize the currency after its rapid depreciation. “This facility is given to South Sudan to address a gap, and will be used to address the current challenges we are facing in the market,” Bank of South Sudan Governor Dier Tong Ngor told reporters Sunday. Disbursement of the $52.3 million emergency assistance approved on Nov. 11 will help finance South Sudan’s urgent balance-of-payments needs and contain the fiscal impact of the shock.
The economic damage to developing economies triggered by COVID-19 can be transformed: from a threat to global growth, into an accelerator of global prosperity. Rapid financial support, developed and deployed in concert between developing countries and the major players of the global economy, public and private, will reinject growth momentum among the world’s fastest growing prior to the pandemic. Emerging and developing economies, excluding China, already account for nearly 40% of global output; restarting these economies will be important for the recovery in the developed world.
As technological innovations continue to spread across Africa, the continent could provide some unique use cases for blockchain technology. Africa has been continually driving innovation in a number of spaces, with mobile payments a prime example of the potential for technology to drastically improve lives. Michelle Chivunga, CEO and founder of digital economy and blockchain solutions group Global Policy House, told Cointelegraph: “Countries in Africa including Ghana are looking into using blockchain for land registry and many countries at digital identity, provenance in supply chains, healthcare and financing. E-commerce and fintech are major drivers of the digital economy in Africa.”
G20 countries have agreed for the first time on a common framework for restructuring government debt in anticipation of the coronavirus crisis leaving some poorer nations struggling to pay and in need of relief. With the Covid-19 pandemic straining the finances of some developing countries, G20 finance ministers said on Friday that more help is needed than the current temporary debt freeze, which will be extended until June 30 2021.
The upcoming summit of the G20 will be a “milestone”, Saudi Arabia, the chair of the powerful economic bloc, said on Sunday amid mounting expectations of fiscal support, debt reductions and several other monetary measures by the grouping to help the global economy recover from the coronavirus-driven collapse. Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to India Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati said the virtual summit on November 21-22 will largely focus on addressing the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, future health care plans and steps for reviving the global economy.
In an open letter, Victor K. Fung (Chairman, Fung Group) and Marcus Wallenberg (Chair, SEB), co-chairs of a high-level advisory group to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), have urged G20 leaders to make coordinated interventions to increase the availability of trade-related finance – given that this is a proven low-risk means of providing fresh stimulus to increasingly stretched SMEs. Trade finance underpins somewhere between 80 – 90% of global trade and acts as a vital source of working capital for many SMEs. Recent signals suggest that supply of trade credit to SMEs and emerging markets is at significant risk in response to growing corporate, sovereign and currency risks.
China condemns the blame game COVID-19 during the BRICS Forum (The Washington Newsday)
Beijing denounced the “politicization” of the coronavirus pandemic during a virtual parliamentary BRICS forum and at the same time called for better coordination between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. “Cooperation between the legislative bodies must be deepened within the BRICS mechanism,” Li Zhanshu, China’s Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress said. “The cooperation mechanism should be perfected and various friendly exchanges between legislators and representatives should be encouraged to further strengthen the BRICS partnership”.
What a Biden win means for Africa
How a Biden presidency could change US relations with the rest of the world (Atlantic Council)
In mere weeks, Joe Biden will stride into the Oval Office. Leaders around the world will have to adapt to a new US administration and its potentially dramatic changes in policy and rhetoric. We asked Atlantic Council experts to preview what Biden’s election means not just for regional heavyweights, but also for smaller nations who could play an outsized role in US foreign policy over the next four years.
Africa: Focus on commercial relationships, conflict risks, and democratic transitions
“Looking at Africa, Biden’s team will see several sets of priority countries: those that are key to improving commercial ties, those that are conflict-prone and could set off further instability, and those undergoing political transitions and where the Biden administration’s attention could contribute to stability and democratic gains,” said Alyssa Harvie, program assistant in the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center; Jordan Wolken, intern in the Africa Center; Vicky Marie Addo-Ashong, intern in the Africa Center
See more news articles from Africa here.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted Africa. In the second quarter of 2020, UNCTAD estimated the drop in Africa’s exports at -35% and the drop in imports at -25%. Like in other regions, digitalization is recognized as key to navigating the COVID-19 crisis, hence capacity-building in this area is required. However, a “readiness gap” in the maritime sector’s automation and technology levels puts African countries at a disadvantage. Maritime transport in Africa needs to address challenges facing innovation and technology, infrastructure quality, regulation and governance, human capital and skills, as well as business and investment.
Mining in Africa and beyond: Tracking the great gold rush (The Africa Report)
As demand for gold skyrockets, artisanal mining and smuggling ramps up, financing conflict and corrupt politicians, risking human lives and destroying the environment. The Africa Report tracks the precious mineral on its journey from rebel-controlled areas to jewellery stores across the world. While the coronavirus pandemic pushed up the gold price worldwide, local prices offered from buyers in Africa actually went down, says Joanne Lebert, executive director of IMPACT (formerly Partnership Africa-Canada), which works to improve natural-resource governance. “Transporting gold around the region became harder, and the miners lost out,” says Lebert.
Talks on a future trading relationship between the UK and European Union post-Brexit continue this week as the clock continues to tick until the end of the transition period. Lord David Frost is in Brussels for another round of negotiations ahead of a European Council video summit on Thursday which has been touted as a deadline for a draft deal. The issues which are still to be ironed out are thought to include the ongoing row over fishing rights, how any deal between the two parties would be governed, and the “level playing field” measures aimed at preventing unfair competition on issues including state subsidies.
National profiles of 11 African countries for information technology and business process management show that emerging firms are poised for growth in a highly competitive digital technology market, according to a new ITC report. African tech firms have played an important role in the transformation of the continent and are well positioned to capitalize on rising demand for digital services. The report provides valuable information that investors, entrepreneurs and governments can use to support this transformation.