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tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

National

Aviation industry anxious as COVID-19 resurgences force new travel bans (The South African)

With a host of countries – mainly across Europe – announcing over the weekend that they have now banned air travel due to the wave of COVID-19 infections stemming from a rampantly spreading mutation of the virus, the future of South Africa’s tourism and aviation industries are yet again in serious jeopardy. Six nations – including Germany and France, countries where many of SA’s regular tourists hail from – have imposed restrictions on flights from South Africa, as of 10:30 on Monday 21 December and two others have issued an outright ban on all travellers entering from our shores.

Flower firms call for expedited review of the minimum wage bill (New Vision)

Workers in flower firms have called for expedited review of the Minimum Wage Bill as means of protecting workers from exploitation. The bill which was passed by parliament in 2018 suffered a setback when the president declined to ascent to it. “All along, we have been pulling ropes with the union but the introduction of floor wage made the union lose words since what they were agitating for was much lower than what was introduced and being paid to workers currently,” she said.

Ugandan dairy industry reels from Kenyan ban (Business Daily)

That Kenya is a lifeline for the dairy industry in Uganda is not in doubt. Therefore, when Kenya slapped the Mbarara based Lato Milk with an import ban early in the year, the effects were devastating for farmers in the neighbouring state. After several complaints by Kenyan farmers over the influx of Ugandan milk, which had seen a litre touch the historic low of Sh17, the government reacted by confiscating thousands of tonnes of milk from Uganda and consequently stopping imports. The move did not only cause an uproar in Uganda, but also saw hundreds of workers in Pearl Dairies, the makers of Lato Milk sent on leave with production at the firm cut to bare minimum.

Fintech stakeholders want national payments systems law reviewed (New Vision)

Despite Uganda passing the National Payments Systems (NPS) Act in May to regulate electronic money service providers, stakeholders are opposing the law, saying it will stifle innovation. The sticky issue that Financial Technology companies (Fintechs) are opposing is the minimum paid-up share capital requirement which they say is stringent and might push many startups out of the market. Speaking during the 2020 Digital Impact Awards Africa at Hotel Mestil in Kampala on Friday, the Mallan Company chief executive officer, Malcolm Kastiro, said that “With all that minimum paid-up capital share capital, where is fair competition? This is creating a barrier to entry; we need to ensure that this regulation does not stifle the sector.”

Uganda issues tough guidelines to avoid congestion at main international airport (CGTN Africa)

Uganda’s civil aviation authority (UCAA) has released guidelines to reduce crowding at the main international airport in Entebbe amid concerns over rising coronavirus cases in the East African nation. While noting that the airport had witnessed an increase in human traffic, the UCAA said all arriving and departing passengers will be picked or dropped by a maximum of two people, including the driver of the car, to avoid unnecessary crowding.

Indecision, hard ball tactics blow to Uganda’s oil dream (The East African)

Even as Uganda waits for the final investment decision for its oil project expected this month, years of indecision by government have cost the country and major investors billions of dollars over the past decade, based on the current price of oil. By press time, the indecision continued as Ministry of Energy had not received any signal that Total would submit Final Investment Decision proposals, as scheduled, Permanent Secretary Robert Kasande said. Uganda discovered oil in 2006, but dithered on oil production, with costly delays over the choice of a route for the crude oil pipeline, as well as years of haggling between the government and oil companies over the economics of a large refinery vis-à-vis a pipeline as a more feasible plan for commercialisation of the resource.

Tanzania to resume oil, gas negotiations in 2021 (The East African)

The Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) is optimistic that the Host Government Agreement (HGA) negotiations between the government and International Oil and Gas Companies on the liquefied natural gas will resume in January 2021. This is after they stalled for about a year following the government’s decision to review Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs). According to reports, Tanzania is seeking to scrap sections on the contract that seem tilted against it. The government and project developers were initially expected to have concluded the negotiations by September 2019, a key decision that could pave the way to the final investment decision to be made.

Spare SMEs from paying turnover tax, says lobby (The Standard)

Manufacturers’ lobby has warned that the move to start taxing small businesses turnover tax will have a huge impact on their business operations. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) now wants the minimum tax abolished or suspended, until when effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected the economy, is managed. The manufacturers argue the introduction of the minimum tax will hurt the economy and reduce Kenya’s attractiveness to investors. “Introduction of a new tax based on turnover will hurt a company’s financial well-being such as creating cash flow constraints,” noted the manufacturers’ body.

China dominates Namibian exports The Southern Times)

Sino-Namibia trade relations are at an all-time high following increased exports from the Southern African country to the Asian giant. Figures from the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) for the last quarter of 2020 also show that the country’s trade with fellow SADC members is on an upward trend. China is Namibia’s largest export market, while South Africa is the number one source of Namibia’s imports. The NSA said China, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia continued to be Namibia’s major trading partners. The agency said the composition of goods exported to China mainly consisted of non-ferrous metals, metalliferous ores and metal scrap; as well as non-metallic mineral products and non-monetary gold.

Ghanian expert says AU must tap Chinese technology in AfCFTA implementation (CGTN)

The African Union (AU) must tap into Chinese technology to derive maximum benefits from the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement next year, said Albert Fiatui, Executive Director for the Center for International Maritime Affairs (CIMA) in Ghana. Speaking with Xinhua, he observed that win-win cooperation between Africa and China will help Africa’s rapid economic transformation with the AfCFTA agreement coming into force. “Africa cannot trade with itself just alone and succeed, so Africa needs China as much as China needs Africa,” he said.

AfCFTA: CPC to leverage on implementation to turnaround ill-fortunes (Ghanaweb)

Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) Limited says it plans to leverage on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement come next year. The trade pact is expected to come into force on January 1, 2020 with Ghana serving as the host of the secretariat. According to a member of CPC’s management, the move has become necessary to reverse the ill-fortunes that have impacted on the operations of the cocoa processing company. “We have started rebranding our confectionary products to make ready for the AfCFTA market. We are also targeting entry into the Chinese market,” he is quoted in an interview with the B&FT newspaper.

Ghana to secure COVID-19 vaccines for population: president (CGTN)

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said late Sunday preparations were afoot to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the country’s population. In his national COVID-19 broadcast, Akufo-Addo said he had put together a team of experts to work out a program for purchasing the vaccines now in use in some countries. Ghana “is not going to be left behind in having

MPS positions for AfCFTA as it builds capacity for ‘Tema Industrial City’ (Ghanaweb)

Meridian Port Services Limited (MPS) and EIFFAGE Génie Civil have reached an agreement to extend the original FIDIC Yellow Book Contract to include land works for the fourth new berth of the MPS Terminal 3 – which is part of Phase 2 of the Tema Port Expansion Project. Transhipment remains a key goal for ports in the region as West Africa still lacks a well-developed transhipment hub. “This state-of-the-art terminal and its enhanced capacity are purposely aimed at catering for the anticipated volumes increase that will come in as more shipping lines realise the added value that MPS Terminal 3 contribute to their market range and share of the West African trade volume,” said Mr. Mohamed Samara, MPS’ Chief Executive Officer.

Report Calls for Strategies to Nigerian Boost Export (THISDAYLIVE)

Despite the immense opportunities it presents to the economy, Nigeria currently lacks targeted and systematic strategies for exporting services. According to a report by the Centre for Trade and Development Initiatives (CTDI) titled: “Analysis of Potentials of Nigeria’s Services Sector for Economic Diversification, Employment and Foreign Trade”, which was commissioned by the PDF II Bridge Programme, there is need for a holistic services sector policy with strategic development plans for priority sectors. The report noted that the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) currently directs the bulk of export promotional work to the goods sector largely sidelining the services potentials.

Why Buhari re-opened Nigeria’s land borders – Presidential source (Vanguaurd)

The harsh economic situation occasioned by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and negative impact of the border closure on the private sector and the ordinary Nigerians made President Muhammadu Buhari to order the re-opening of shut land borders, a top Presidency source has revealed. “According to the report of a Presidential Committee which recommended the reopening of the border, one of the significant issues that stood out in the summary of the Committee’s findings and recommendations include the negative impact of the border closure on the private sector.

Related: Revealed: Negative Impact of Closures Forced Buhari to Reopen Borders

AfCFTA: Nigeria To Protect Home Industry, Implement Sugar Master Plan For 10 Years (Leadership)

The Nigeria Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has said that the take off of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in January would not affect the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as the country has already secured under the trade agreement , an allowance of 10 years to implement fully, the sugar master plan before it would start producing sugar locally. The Plan contains fiscal and investment specific incentives designed to stimulate and attract new investors to the industry in order to increase local sugar production and reduce the nation’s dependence on imports.

AfDB board approves $10.4 billion borrowing plan for 2021 | Nairametrics

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has announced US$20.1 million in catalytic investment grants to accelerate the response to the protracted crisis in northeast Nigeria. According to ECW, this is in reaction to the armed conflict and escalating humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria, that has left over 1 million girls and boys in need of educational support. According to the organisation, the initial programme will run for three years, with the goal of leveraging an additional US$98.7 million in co-financing from national and global partners, the private sector and philanthropic foundations, to reach over 2.9 million children and youth.

Bring on AfCFTA, says Malawi (The Southern Times)

The Malawi government says it has put in place measures in readiness for the Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as it rolls out on January 1, 2021. Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe told The Southern Times Business that the country was committed to the historic agreement that creates one of the world’s largest ever free trade pacts. “As a ministry, with the help of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, we have formulated a strategy on national implementation of the AfCFTA. The strategy outlines mitigation measures on any possible impacts of the AfCFTA,” Minister Gwengwe said.

Liberian gov’t Launches Cash Transfer Program (The News Newspaper)

The Government of Liberia, in collaboration with USAID, has launched a COVID cash transfer program which is expected to benefit about 85,000 petty traders and market women across the country. US$150 will be disbursed to the most vulnerable in the Liberian society in three installments in an effort to cushion the effects of the global pandemic. “In the PAPD [Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development], we look at social protection as a valuable investment, particularly in vulnerable rural settings,” the statement quoted Finance Minister Samuel Tweah as saying at a virtual conference meant to launch the program.

GRA-Bissau Customs bilateral meeting ends (The Point)

Addressing the closing ceremony, Yankuba Darboe, commissioner general of GRA, expressed appreciation for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation by his Bissau Guinean counterparts. “This signifies the good intention to make this collaboration a huge success. This is because we are one people in two different countries which is an opportunity for closer and excellent trade relations and the development of our region.” he added. Commissioner Darboe acknowledged that as close trading partners, there is an urgent need to enter into a tripartite agreement involving Senegal to minimise bottlenecks in the free movement of goods and people.

The trade between Morocco and the rest of Africa is on the rise since 2009 (Born2Invest)

Trade between Morocco and the rest of the African continent is doing well. That is confirmed by the 66th issue of Al Maliya magazine, published every four months by the Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Administrative Reform. Trade transactions between Morocco and the rest of Africa increased by 6.1 percent for the 2009-2019 period. Based on data from the Exchange Office, the document highlights that the share of this trade in Morocco’s overall trade volume is 5.1 percent in 2019. According to the same source, during this period, trade was marked by a structural change as of 2015, the year from which Morocco’s trade balance became in surplus.

Egypt’s trade deficit declines 32.4% in September 2020 (Daily News Egypt)

Egypt’s trade deficit decreased by 32.4% to $2.7bn in September this year, compared to $4bn during the same month in 2019, according to a report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Exports also declined by 2.8% to $2.3bn in September 2020, versus $2.4bn in the comparison period. The monthly report attributed the decline to a decrease in prices of some commodities, such as garments by 5.1%, petroleum products by 36.5%, crude oil by 38.4%, and fertilisers by 33.4%. However, the value of other exports increased during September 2020, such as plastics in their primary forms by 15.2%, pasta by 17.8%, carpets by 23.6%, and pharmaceuticals by 4.9%.


Africa

Long way before Africa’s single market moves at full steam (Yahoo!)

Border controls between African countries can be arduous -- red tape, tariffs and other hurdles are a major discouragement to trade, say experts. Touted as the world’s largest single market in terms of the number of member nations, Africa’s ambitious blueprint for free trade kicks into gear on January 1, bringing together more than 50 economies from Algeria to South Africa. Jakkie Cilliers, head of African Futures and Innovation at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, says it will be a long way before tariffs are scrapped, red tape is slashed and much-trumpeted gains are realised.

Kagame: AfCFTA will rebuild economies and foster resilience (The New Times)

Collaborative action in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will support rebuilding of African economies following disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen resilience to future shocks, President Paul Kagame has said. Kagame made the remarks while speaking at the Virtual AfCFTA Business Forum on Friday 4th December 2020. The summit was held as the continent prepares to commence trading under the new regime in January 2021 following postponement of the previous launch date, July 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

AfCFTA strategy to chart a path for lifting millions out of poverty in DRC (UNECA)

Experts attending the meeting to formulate the AfCFTA implementation strategy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) discussed a range of sectors that could help the country benefit from the agreement. The meeting to discuss the AfCFTA strategy was organized in Kinshasa by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its office for Eastern Africa in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Trade in DRC. ECA estimates large potential gains from the AfCFTA for Eastern Africa, including an increase in intra-African exports by over US$ 1 billion and the creation of nearly 2 million new jobs. DRC is well placed to take advantage of those new opportunities.

Related: Africa on threshold of dismantling colonial economic model with AfCFTA - Mene

Mr Wamkele MENE, Executive Secretary of the AfCTA Secretariat who addressed the meeting explained that if Africa must benefit from the agreement, greater attention must be geared towards stopping the colonial economic model of exporting primary commodities to Europe and the rest of the world. Mr Mene reminded participants that intra-African trade is very low. it is at 18% at best.

Strong case made for deepening agro-industrial value chains in Central Africa (UNECA)

The alarmingly high rates of food importation in Central Africa should be a phenomenon of the past, economists and agriculturalists argued Thursday. This, because all countries of the subregion are abundantly blessed with arable land and ecological zones favorable for animal protein production, necessary for developing strong agricultural value chains that should bring greater prosperity to the subregion in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Covid drives contraction for African trade figures  (IT-online)

The last two years haven’t told a good story for African trade, according to Afreximbank’s annual African Trade Report (ATR). This year’s report examined trade and economic developments in Africa in 2019, a year dominated by trade wars and escalating tariffs that resulted in a sharp deceleration of global trade growth. This has been compounded by Covid-19, and as a result, following a fall of 2,8% last year, global trade is expected to shrink by 9,2% in 2020. The ATR conducted an extensive study of informal cross-border trade (ICBT), the first attempt at measuring in a detailed manner the size and composition of informal trade.

Africa can finance its development but needs a paradigm shift (Sierra Leone Telegraph)

Africa faces its worst economic recession in 25 years, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that the continent’s economy will contract by 2.6% at worst, pushing about 29 million people into extreme poverty and causing 19 million job losses, while remittances to sub-Saharan Africa are likely to decline by 23.1% ($37 billion) in 2020 alone. Africa’s challenge is not the absence of liquidity or funds to finance development. Its problems are massive illicit financial flows that are draining funding capacity and the lack of ownership over natural resources, coupled with a whole narrative built around managing poverty instead of development, and depicting Africa as a poor continent in need of help from the international community. The continent’s leaders urgently need to look at new ways to finance development, or risk falling further behind.

IATF2021 Advisory Council Holds its 8th Meeting (Afreximbank)

The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021), scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 6 to 12 September 2021, will enable stakeholders to share trade, investment and market information as well as trade finance and trade facilitation solutions designed to support the implementation of AfCFTA, boost intra-African trade and deepen and consolidate African economic integration. A Conference will run alongside the exhibition and will feature high-profile speakers and panelists addressing topical issues relating to trade finance, payments, trade facilitation, trade-enabling infrastructure, harmonization of trade standards, industrialization, regional value chains and investment.

The African Union Commission organized Virtually the 9th Industry Stakeholders Strategic Retreat (African Union)

The Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commissions (AUC) organized Virtually the 9th Industry Strategic Stakeholders Retreat to formulate, implement and harmonize industrial development policies on the continent. “We need to take steps to utilize such opportunities to drive a continental industrialization agenda utilizing mutually reinforcing and beneficial partnerships” Mr. Victor Djemba, Chief. UNIDO Regional Division – Africa said. “It must be appreciated by all of us… the impact of the COVID-19 has also provided us with an opportunity that needs to be harnessed”

‘Africa needs $9b to buy, administer Covid vaccine’ (The East African)

Africa needs $9 billion to vaccinate 780 million people over the course of two years, pan-African multilateral trade finance institution (Afreximbank) has said. The money is estimated to cover the cost of purchasing the vaccines and administering them to 60 per cent of the population. Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection from the coronavirus .John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), estimated in an article in the science journal Nature, that it could take until October 2021 to secure the total 1.5 billion vaccine doses needed to reach 60 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people. The financing requirement, estimated at $9.1 billion will come from four sources; donors, country self-financing, the World Bank, and Afreximbank, said Prof Benedict Oramah, president of the Afreximbank.

Debt forgiveness will top the African agenda in 2021 (Mail & Guardian)

The year 2020 will, of course, be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic. Many African countries have handled the public health effects of coronavirus well compared with neighbouring continents, with some 55 000 related deaths and 2 million recovered out of a population of just over a billion. This can be credited to quick action and leadership by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and others. Climate, prior exposure to other coronavirus strains and effective community health networks set up in response to contain other epidemics such as Ebola also clearly played a role. Unfortunately, many African countries will be much more seriously affected by the socioeconomic consequences of the global economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Riskiest investment region (Africanews)

Sub-Saharan Africa has been named riskiest region in the world for business and investors due to militant violence and abuses by security forces, according to new report by risk consultants Verisk Maplecroft. Wilson Khembo, Director for “Seven Oaks Road” a political and security risk consultancy firm in West Yorkshire, England tells our Ignatius Annor that “Africa needs foreign direct investment that can be pumped into manufacturing, investment that can be pumped into infrastructure development. If we are able to get this sort of investment, then obviously we’ll be able to diversify our exports and increase our global share on the global market. For investors to come to Africa and invest their money, they need to be assured that their investment is going to be safe.”

Harvesh Seegolam: Opening of the informative session on the MauCAS and the SADC and COMESA cross-border payment systems (Bank for International Settlements)

Regional payment systems enable settlement of cross-border transactions faster without having to rely on intermediary banks outside the region. This offers several advantages to countries in the region in terms of cost savings and transaction time. As Intra-Africa and regional trade continues to grow, the MauCAS will play a key role in further facilitating the integration of our domestic payment infrastructure with regional payment systems. The MauCAS platform, through the IPS – the Instant Payment Switch – has far-reaching potential for commercial transactions.

Biggest vaccine rollout in history (The Southern Times)

Africa is prepping itself for its largest vaccination drive in history – a multi-billion dollar effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation estimates the cost of rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine to priority populations in African at around US$ 5.7 billion. Up to another 20 percent of this figure will be needed for related materials, distribution and training of health professionals. The costing is based on an estimated vaccine price of US$10,55 per dose for a two-dose regimen.

Migration: A force for inclusive, social and economic development in eastern Africa (The East African)

The recent African Migration Report says over 26 million international migrants are on the move across the continent. There are almost eight million migrants in East and Horn of Africa, representing 30 per cent of Africa’s migrant population, making it host to the largest share of international migrants on the continent by region. According to the same report, migrants, including those in the diaspora, remitted over $81 billion to Africa in 2018, with $48 billion coming to sub-Saharan Africa in 2019, according to the World Bank data. By matching the labour market’s demand with supply, migration is making important contributions to the economies of both migrant source countries and destination, changing lives by increasing productivity and facilitating trade and investment.


International

AfCFTA: Commonwealth to strengthen capacity of African countries export (Vanguard)

The Commonwealth has reiterated its commitment to work with African countries to deepen export capacity and, particularly, take advantage of trading opportunities like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, stated this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. She explained that the Commonwealth Secretariat had been working with the 19 African member states to strengthen their institutional capacity and develop trade policies over the years. This, according to her, will enable the countries engage in trade negotiations, agreements and deepen their national capabilities at export, and exploit the huge opportunities provided by AfCFTA.

EU-UK trade talks floundering over fish as cutoff day nears (Bay News)

With yet another Brexit deadline disappearing in the rearview mirror, a breakthrough on fishing rights remained elusive for the European Union and Britain on Sunday – leaving both without a trade agreement that would dull the cutting edge of a chaotic, costly economic break on New Year’s Day. With hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake throughout the economy, the tiny sector of fisheries continued to drive a wedge between the 27-nation bloc and the U.K., highlighting the animosity that drove them to a Brexit divorce over the past four years. Britain left the bloc in January, but a 11-month economic transition period ends on Dec. 31.

Related: Fisheries dispute threatens to sink post-Brexit trade deal (EURACTIV)

UK trade envoy on latest British-Egyptian trade deal and bilateral ties after Brexit (Ahram Online)

On 5 December, Egypt and the UK inked an agreement that aims to strengthen political and trade ties between the two countries. The agreement, which will come into force by the beginning of January, will allow British businesses and consumers to benefit from continued preferential access to the market after the end of the transition period caused by Brexit, which will help boost vital trade and investment. In an exclusive interview, Jeffrey Donaldson, the UK’s Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Egypt, shared with Ahram Online the details of the agreement and how the UK seeks to deepen economic and commercial cooperation in the phase after Brexit. Donaldson also said that the UK is one of Egypt’s leading investors with the value of total trade amounting to about £3.5 billion annually, adding that the UK’s priority is to ensure the continuity of the EU-Egyptian Association Agreement and to deepen the bilateral relationship between both governments.

New benchmark for cooperation (China Daily)

Since its founding, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has proved to be an effective platform for deepened and upgraded interaction From 2000 to 2010, the FOCAC showed its strength in promoting China-Africa cooperation and African development. China-Africa trade grew from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $106.8 billion in 2008 at an annual growth rate of over 30 percent, and China became Africa’s largest trading partner. Those 10 years also witnessed rapid development in Africa with an annual economic growth of 5 percent to 10 percent. Today, the world is being reshaped, while China-Africa relations have come to the best time in the history. With humanity at a crossroads in its development course, the Chinese and African civilizations will add impetus and inspiration to the development of human civilizations.

If COVID-19 changes finance, will that help development funding? (Devex)

As global markets contracted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, investing; sustainable investing; and impact investing appears to have accelerated. But whether that potential shift will result in finally unlocking more capital to finance development remains an open question. The ESG market is expected to reach $45 trillion in assets under management this year, though Europe and North America account for more than 90% of the market, according to research released by J.P. Morgan earlier this year.

The production gap report: 2020 special issue (ODI)

The Production Gap Report, first launched in 2019, measures the gap between Paris Agreement goals and countries’ planned production of coal, oil and gas. It finds that the ‘production gap’ remains large: countries plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with a 1.5 °C temperature increase limit. This year’s special issue looks at the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic – and governments’ stimulus and recovery measures – on coal, oil and gas production.

En Route to Investment (IFC)

In much of the world, logistics companies use technology to match available vehicles with shippers that need to move goods, ensuring that every mile is paid for. But automating freight management has been difficult in Africa, where drivers are typically solo operators scheduling their own jobs. The process regularly results in “empty runs” – trucks with no cargo for the return route, forcing drivers to idle for days. That’s part of what makes logistics costs in Africa almost double that of North America, according to data from supply chain firm Armstrong & Associates. But technology created by African e-logistics companies is beginning to patch the supply chain gaps. Industry observers like Hashi say that e- logistics companies are becoming well positioned to meet a projected increase in intra-regional trade when the African Continental Free Trade Area opens next month.

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: The Contributions of the Multilateral Development Banks (AfDB)

The year 2020 marks 75 years of multilateralism since the United Nations (UN) came into existence and 5 years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The financing needed to realize this vision has grown from billions to trillions. With only 10 years to go before 2030, we have entered a Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. In this context, the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the International Monetary Fund have come together to highlight our efforts to support countries in achieving the SDGs, by providing finance, technical assistance, policy support, and knowledge.

World trade volume rallies in third quarter after COVID-19 shock (WTO)

Global merchandise trade volumes bounced back in the third quarter of 2020 from a deep second quarter slump brought on by the COVID-19 crisis according to statistics released by the WTO on 18 December. In the third quarter, the volume of merchandise trade rose 11.6% compared with the previous quarter after falling 12.7% in the second quarter (revised up from an initially estimated decline of 14.3%).

Ban on food aid restrictions blocked at WTO (Reuters)

World Trade Organization members were at odds on Friday over a proposal that would ban countries from restricting food aid deliveries, potentially complicating the response to a feared COVID-fuelled humanitarian catastrophe next year. The proposal was one of two related to the pandemic that failed to make headway at a three-day meeting of the Geneva-based trade body, an outcome its spokesman described as “disappointing” in a difficult year for the institution.

OPEC Fund for International Development approves $50M financing to boost international trade with ECOWAS (Togo First)

At the fifteenth position, worldwide, and first in Africa, under the Starting a Business index of the 2020 Doing Business ranking, Togo sustains its reformative dynamics with more reforms. In comparison to previous years, Togo has significantly improved its ranking under the “Trading across borders” indicator by adopting multiple reforms that focus mainly on the digitization and reduction in delays, for import and export procedures related to import and export.

Chair of services domestic regulation talks issues revised negotiating text (WTO)

The Chair of the negotiations on services domestic regulation, Jaime Coghi Arias of Costa Rica, circulated a “far advanced” negotiating text on 18 December capturing the progress made in 2020 on domestic regulation disciplines. Next year will be “crucial” for the talks, he stressed, given the commitment of “all participants to deliver a significant outcome” at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled for 2021.

The Last-mile Internet Connectivity Solutions Guide (ITU)

The Last-mile Internet S​olutions Guide​ consists of guidelines that can help policymakers and professionals select and customize appropriate last-mile connectivity solutions. This guide is part of a broader Last-mile Connectivity Toolkit, which aims to drive new collaborative strategies to extend connectivity to those at the bottom of the social pyramid, and to enable key stakeholders to take a more holistic approach that treats broadband as a basic public utility and core tool for socio-economic development.

Electroneum, the only crypto with in-app electricity top-ups expands this service to four more countries

With four more countries now live in the Electroneum app for electricity top-ups for a total of nine, the award-winning cryptocurrency startup continues on the forefront of providing use cases that solve real-world problems for its users worldwide. And with nearly 4.1 million registered users, the British blockchain startup is to date the only one providing electricity top-ups with crypto. The new countries that went live today are Sierra Leone, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast, said Electroneum CEO, Richard Ells. Electroneum in-app electricity top-ups were already live in Nigeria, Mali, Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau.

Five years since the Paris Agreement: The race to net zero is on (Eco Business)

As 2020 comes to a close, the date is fast approaching for all parties to the Paris Agreement to submit their updated commitments, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), that specifically delineate how each country will meet the common climate goals within the United Nations framework. Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, COP 26 climate talks were postponed to 2021, and instead, a series of virtual events including the Climate Ambition Summit was held on 12 December 2020, where countries were given the opportunity to provide updates on their adjusted NDCs.