tralac Daily News
African Nation Worst Hit by Covid Falling Behind on Vaccines (BloombergQunit)
The African country with the worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak is yet to provide clarity on how it plans to order vaccines, even as the global race to secure inoculations accelerates. South Africa did confirm last week that it plans to sign up to Covax, a global initiative that strives to ensure that poorer countries have access to shots. The National Treasury has allocated 500 million rand ($33 million) toward the program and will need to find a further 4.5 billion rand to move to “the front of the queue,” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in an interview. That payment has yet to be made, according to Anban Pillay, deputy director general at the Department of Health. Still, that doesn’t mean South Africa will miss out on the first batch of available vaccines, he said.
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) on Thursday released its retail trade survey results for the fourth quarter of the year. “Major improvements can be seen across all trade categories, with retailer, wholesaler and new vehicle dealer confidence all increasing remarkably on the back of improved operating conditions, a noteworthy uptick in sales volumes and an overall improvement in profitability,” the report read. However BER pointed out that headwinds lie ahead, with the special Covid-19 relief grant expiring early next year, “billions” could be wiped from consumer incomes and the trade sector.
The latest World Bank economic analysis for Uganda projects the economy to contract by up to 1% in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions to trade activities and production, down from 7.5% growth in 2019. According to the Uganda Economic Update, Investing in Uganda’s Youth, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at only 2.9% in fiscal year 2019/20, less than half the 6.8% recorded in fiscal year 2018/19. Uganda should strive to maintain debt sustainability – it is in an enviable position compared to many other countries.
Uganda opens new alternative route to Kenya (The East African)
Ugandans can now travel to Kenya using the 44.5 Kilometre-long Bumbobi-Lwakhakha road, into Bungoma County, western Kenya. The road, which was commissioned on Tuesday by President Yoweri Museveni, has been upgraded to tarmac from all-weather courtesy of a Ush140 billion ($37.6 million loan from the African Development Bank in 2016. The road is expected to deepen regional integration and cross border trade with Kenya, and offers an alternative to the Busia and Malaba border crossings.
Uganda is so far succeeding in safeguarding financial stability, although risks remain as the east African country battles the economic effects brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the central bank said here in a recent report. Decisive monetary and macro-prudential policies have reduced short-term risks to financial stability, said the financial stability report for the third quarter by the Bank of Uganda (BOU). While the short-term risks to financial stability arising from the pandemic have been relatively contained, the outlook remains highly uncertain and depends on the evolution of the pandemic and the pace of economic recovery, the report said.
Digital stamps have exposed dishonest industrialists – Govt (Daily Monitor)
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has said government had anticipated manufacturers to resist implementation of digital tracking solutions because the system has exposed illegal activities orchestrated by some industrialists. Digital tracking solutions, which are being implementation by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and lately Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), seek to fight under declaration of production capacity and substandard goods. However, they continue to face resistance particularly from manufacturers, who say they have a high cost burden.
Botswana Oil aims for petroleum products security (FurtherAfrica)
Botswana Oil remains resolute in achieving security of petroleum products in the country, acting chief operations officer Mr Mosetlho Kenamile has said. Speaking at a media workshop in Gaborone recently, Mr Kenamile said the recent petrol shortage in the country had necessitated greater investment and participation of locals in the sector noting that capacities of storage needed to be reached in order achieve security for the country. He said Botswana Oil was embarking on an exercise to source petroleum-based products from other markets to achieve and maintain supply. He also noted that South Africa as the country’s main import partner experienced volatility from time to time which affected supply.
Ghana in its quest to improve the living standards of its citizens, has intensified stakeholders’ engagements on the Protocols and Conventions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Among the ECOWAS protocols and conventions are the promotion of economic cooperation, integration, and fostering of relationships among member states to contribute to the progress and development of the sub-region.
Hope for border reopening (Vanugard)
News of the imminent reopening of the borders by the Federal Government is hugely relieving and eagerly anticipated by a cross section of players in the economy. The Nigerian government shut its borders due to certain alleged acts of infidelity by our neighbours and fellow members of the Economic Community of West African States. Throughout the period that the closure lasted, the Federal Government and the Nigerian Customs Service maintained that Nigerian farmers had benefited immensely from it. But it paid a blind eye to the fact that our manufacturers and other international business interests which also need the West African market suffered unquantifiable losses.
Zim targets AfCFTA market opportunities (The Herald)
Zimbabwe is scaling up efforts to take a strategic position in the exploitation of the 1,2 billion people African market that is set to be created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). As a key enabler in attaining an upper middle income economy by 2030, Zimbabwe has plans to boost the manufacturing industry and its export basket in terms of volume and variety. Under its economic revival strategy, the manufacturing industry has a critical role to play in satisfying the local and export markets.
The Futures Report: Making the AfCFTA Work for Women and Youth (African Union)
The Futures Report: Making the AfCFTA Work for Women and Youth is a groundbreaking UNDP Flagship Initiative produced in collaboration with the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It tells the story of the promise of the AfCFTA through the voices of women and youth producing goods and services in Africa. The high-level launch event convenes diverse stakeholders and partners to dialogue on how to support women and youth-owned enterprises to maximize the benefits in the AfCFTA as a means for attaining sustainable development.
Young people in Africa could unlock the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through e-commerce, which accounts for global online sales worth $26 million. The trading bloc comes into force in January 2021. However, even as e-commerce is touted as the panacea for growth of trade in Africa, countries are being warned about the sector’s legal hurdles. When well utilised, technology and online market places can drive inclusive growth across Africa, with e-commerce likely to create as many as three million jobs by 2025. This is according to a recent virtual meeting on Trade Beyond Covid-19: Unpacking the AfCFTA for East Africa.
Algeria, Nigeria will ensure success of AfCFTA, says minister (The Nation Online)
Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabri Boukadoum has stressed the need for his country and Nigeria to work together to ensure the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Speaking on the possibility of the January 2021 commencement date of the AfCFTA and given the COVID impact, Boukadoum said the date is sacrosanct as the continent is eager for it to begin despite the hiccups.
The Special Representative of the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, has underscored the need for coherence and harmonization in the fees being charged travellers for Covid-19 test by authorities of countries in the region. Ambassador Ajisomo pointed out that most people are finding it very difficult to travel to and from ECOWAS nations as a result of the disparity in the fees being charged for Covid-19 test in these countries. He further stressed that the Covid-19 testing fees must be harmonized to help boost trade and make
The African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and UN Women unveiled details of its Africa Gender Index report during a virtual global dissemination event on Tuesday, 1 December 2020. “Our aim for the Africa Gender Index is to spark dialogue and informed debate and reform on gender equality at national and regional levels. We also hope the Index will enrich and inform the global conversation wherever Africa’s development is on the agenda,” Vanessa Moungar, Director of the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department, told online attendees.
Africa strains seen growing, report finds (Chinadaily)
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected Africa’s economy and is likely to exacerbate its internal economic problems such as the “low growth, high debt” dilemma if proper measures are not taken, a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said. The Annual Report on Development in Africa (2019-20) was co-released by the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China-Africa Institute, and the Social Sciences Academic Press (China). The report said given the vulnerability of African economies and their dependence on the outside world, the pandemic will have a profound impact on African economies far greater than the 2008 global financial crisis.
Efforts to rebuild the economies of the world’s poorest nations post-pandemic will fall significantly short unless their productive capacities are drastically improved, according to UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2020. Least developed countries (LDCs) with the most developed productive capacities have best been able to combat the fallout from the pandemic, according to the report. Productive capacities are the productive resources, entrepreneurial capabilities and production linkages that together determine the capacity of a country to produce goods and services and 3 enable it to grow and develop.
Small-scale cross-border trade (SSCBT) is of substantial importance in African countries. While individual transactions are small, SSCBT volumes add up to sizeable amounts that sometimes exceed official customs-recorded trade across entire categories of goods particularly in agriculture. Thus, while it is often said that African countries trade more with the outside world than with each other, a very different picture of regional integration emerges when SSCBT is considered
Kenya keen on strengthening trade ties with the EU (The Exchange)
Kenya is keen on strengthening trade and investment ties with Europe, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said. Currently, Kenya’s exports to the EU are mainly agricultural commodities such as cut flowers, fruits and vegetables, which account for over 90% of total export value. Others are tea, coffee, fish and fisheries products, sugar, semi-processed tobacco, textile and clothing, coffee and handicrafts, among others. Though trade with the EU is heavily in its favour, it remains Kenya’s second largest market after COMESA.
Let’s not ask what can be done for Africa, Kagame tells Europe (The New Times)
President Paul Kagame has said the idea of always asking what should be done for Africa does not help the continent, but rather emphasized it was important to have mutual understanding between Europe and Africa. Kagame told leaders it was important Europeans and Africans understand each other better if the partnership between the two continents were to flourish, and that the platform was key to achieving that.
The United Nations Development Programme has entered a new partnership seeking to support the safe re-opening of Africa to travel and trade in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The partnership with PanaBIOS Consortium, represented by AfroChampions will enable the use of tools such as digital testing certificates and vaccination e-certificates, often backed by machine learning and blockchain systems, to increase the capacity of governments to screen inbound travellers quickly, securely, efficiently, and in a manner that respects human dignity and rights.
Europe Leads the Way in Easing Covid-19 Travel Restrictions (GTP Headlines)
Europe continues to lead the way in lifting or easing travel restrictions, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Wednesday. According to the eighth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, as of November 1, a total of 152 destinations – 70 percent of all global destinations – have eased restrictions on international tourism that were introduced in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, up from the 115 recorded on September 1. The 152 destinations that have eased travel restrictions include 40 destinations in Africa (75 percent of all destinations in Africa), an increase of 14 destinations compared to September 1.
A new report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses shows that their greatest challenges have been insufficient cash flow to maintain staff and operations, supplier disruptions and access to raw materials. With businesses already undergoing significant competitive pressure prior to the crisis, government restrictions, health challenges and the economic fall-out brought by COVID-19 further set back many enterprises. Interrupted cash flow was the greatest problem, the survey found. More than 85 per cent reported the pandemic had a high or medium financial impact on their operations. Only a third said they had sufficient funding for recovery.
Developed market stimulus packages have lifted emerging market trade fortunes – and, so far, have kept financing pressures largely at bay. The outlook is expected to be favourable for this group of countries too, although South Africa is pinpointed as one of the few that has only a thin buffer to protect itself against any setbacks.
On November 30, the organization of the G5 Sahel countries held a video-conference summit with the European Union (EU) to discuss the problems of the region. In line with their April appeal, they called on foreign countries, particularly those of the EU, to improve their support to the G5 Sahel governments through debt relief initiatives.
The WTO negotiating group in charge of fisheries talks has met almost daily since 23 November in the run up to the end-of-year meeting of the WTO General Council – the organization’s highest-level decision-making body, alongside the Ministerial Conference. Meetings taking place from 30 November to 4 December are held at the heads-of-delegation level to address any deadlocks.
The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for all of us. At the outset of the crisis, many policymakers feared that a global health crisis would turn into a food crisis as well. This fear was driven by the realization that food systems across the globe are now deeply inter-connected and that trade restrictions can create serious and irreversible damage to global food production. Today agricultural production takes place within Global Value Chains (GVCs). International trade in food has gone far beyond a bag of rice or a bushel of wheat crossing a national border. Primary commodities cross national borders on average at least twice, as they are exported for processing into food.