tralac Daily News
Business, civil society weigh in on COVID-19 vaccine funding (Eyewitness News)
The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout. The South African Chamber of Commerce said the failed R200 billion and COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme should be repackaged to finance the vaccine rollout.
Imported vehicles will from March 1 this year be inspected at Dar es Salaam port upon arrival in the country, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) has said. In that regard, the $150 (Sh346,366) inspection fee that was paid in the country of export on imported vehicles will now be paid in Tanzania. TBS head of communications Roida Andusamile told The Citizen that importers and exporters of vehicles have been informed that all vehicle imports will be inspected upon arrival in the country.
Economy can not afford a second COVID-19 lockdown – !Gawaxab (Namibia Economist)
The economy can ill afford a second COVID-19 lockdown, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) governor, Johannes !Gawaxab echoed on Wednesday. !Gawaxab during a donation of COVID-19 equipment worth N$3 million to the Ministry of Health and Social Services reiterated that any lockdown even one as contained as a partial lockdown, could have a severe, long-lasting impacts on the economy. “The damage caused could take years to undo. For this reason, it is sensible to prevent a further deterioration in the COVID-19 matrix in Namibia by focusing on prevention and containment,” he said.
Rwanda & DRC Prepare To Enforce Continental Free Trade Area (Taarifa Rwanda)
Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are preparing to begin implementing all protocols that will see the two countries working through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry flew to DRC’s Capital Kinshasa where she met with President Félix Tshisekedi for discussions relating to entry into the AfCFTA and the joint economic development projects of the two countries and commercial relations which still need to develop further.
Kenya will keep pursuing free trade deal with the United States during Joe Biden’s era, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday. Mr Kenyatta said the Kenya-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will build on the successes achieved under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) by ushering in better and bigger trade opportunities and prospects for Kenya. “We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” the President said. On Monday, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty announced that the third round of negotiations for the FTA are set to resume in the coming days.
What US leadership change means for Kenya on trade, ties (The Standard)
Mozambican Chamber motivates for local participation (Engineering News)
With the current liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects under way in Mozambique, Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber executive chairperson Florival Mucave notes that government needs to ensure that there are rules and regulations in place to encourage local participation. Mozambique has a unique opportunity to drive its economic growth through the development of its natural resources. However, this will be successful only if it is beneficial to the local economy, in terms of facilitating goods and services, and job creation, he says.
Angolan minister of Commerce and Industry Victor Fernandes and the Indian ambassador to Angola, Pratibha Parkar, discussed on Tuesday in Luanda the partnership agreements between the two countries in the trade and industrial areas. The two officials reviewed the protocols signed in the fields of diamonds, oil, agriculture, information technology, health, food industry and food security. The minister explained that Angola has improved its business environment, especially in the sectors of manufacturing and food, in health and technology. In turn, India’s ambassador, Pratibha Parkar, voiced satisfaction at Â relationship between the two countries in the sectors of industry and trade.
AfCFTA: NCS Lists Conditions for Implementation (PR Nigeria)
Sequel to the ratification of AfCFTA by member nations, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has found it pertinent to inform the public about steps which must be taken to enable its smooth and full implementation. Instead of proceeding in a chaotic manner, the NCS as policy implementor understands the importance of spelling out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in this agreement and the conditions attendant on its implementation.
We wish to re-confirm our willingness and readiness to play our role as trade facilitators in this regard. However, we also wish to remind the public that our functions are highly automated and primarily systems driven. Hence the need to methodically harvest and integrate all data associated with AfCFTA into our system for easy deployment, access and use by the trading public.
The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), has tasked government to consider the provision of a stimulus package for local businesses involved in the AfCFTA. The Chamber’s president, Clement Osei-Amoako, made the call in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM. He stressed that the takeoff of the AfCFTA meant that local business automatically had continent-wide competition. Mr. Osei-Amoako said that the proposed package will also boost the business environment and in effect engender critical private sector competitiveness.
Hundreds of heavy duty trucks have remained stuck on roads in Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos, as they wait to get access into the Tin Can Island port. The congestion, which is almost crippling operations at the Lagos TinCan port, has compelled some shipping lines to divert Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighboring ports in Cotonou and Cote d’Ivoire according to Nigerian Ports Consultative Council. A long-running crisis at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports Lagos, the main commercial entry points into Africa’s largest economy Nigeria, has been worsened by the pandemic-induced economic slump.
Divergent reactions have continued to trail Nigeria’s move to boost its international trade with the flag-off of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON) thinks that the development, though an historic milestone, is coming at a time the country is in a state of uncertain and unfavourable industrialisation and manufacturing activities. The President of APFFLON, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite insisted that Nigeria was not ready for AfCFTA, noting that with the prevailing micro and macroeconomic variables in the polity, AfCFTA was doomed to fail and the nation set to be the biggest loser.
Goods traded by Nigeria with other West African countries have been ranked as the least among the country’s global trade partners. Figures obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics’ foreign trade statistics for the third quarter of 2020 revealed that trade with Asian countries topped the list of Nigerian trade partners. During the quarter, Nigeria imported goods mainly from Asia, valued at N2.59tn, while goods valued at only N12.5bn originated from ECOWAS.
Ethiopia’s garment manufacturing hopes unravel with Tigray war (Quartz Africa)
For the past two months, violent conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region fueled by ethnic power politics has threatened the country’s stability. The scale of the conflict could scare off foreign investment in the country’s garment industry. This sector is hugely important to Ethiopia, which aimed to propel its agricultural economy toward a more prosperous future built on providing clothing to consumers in the West. While the Ethiopian textile and garment industry is still small – its export share is not more than 10% of total exports, and its products only represent 0.6% of total GDP – the sector was expected to grow by around 40% a year in the next few years.
Tunisia offers opportunities, frustrations (Energy Voice)
Tunisia holds opportunities for investors, but government processes and local unrest have slowed developments. “Oil and gas production is decreasing and fields are getting mature, while energy demand is increasing,” Sackmaier said. OMV produces from eight concessions in Tunisia, of which it operates seven. The company’s production is 10,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day. “Political and social instability” hampers new investments, with “unrealistic expectations” among the citizens of Tunisia. This leads to strikes and blockades, he said.
News from Africa
AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, speaking at the Virtual 2020 International Forum on African Leadership last month, noted that Africa must further accelerate the development of digital infrastructure. He commented: “We must rethink infrastructure and for a ‘Digital Africa’. As economies recover, the world will become more digital. People, businesses, financial institutions and governments have to rapidly adjust to this new normal.
“The role of technology, especially digital technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things, will further revolutionise financial inclusion, delivering services, climate information, insurance, and health delivery, especially new models of telemedicine for better access and affordable care.”
Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa executive director Trudi Hartzenberg echoed this sentiment, adding that the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa has taken on new significance in the current context, as countries need to factor fibre, satellite and other digital infrastructure into their development plans to bridge the digital divide. Hartzenberg noted that the push towards digitalisation, in light of the pandemic, in terms of adapting the way in which we work, produce and consume must extend to trade facilitation, citing how e-certificates and e-payments, which were popularised during the pandemic through necessity, must inform the way African businesses operate in the future.
The 6th PIDA Week opened virtually on Tuesday, 19 January 2021, with key speakers stressing the need for Africa to continue to invest in quality and sustainable infrastructure if the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to deliver for the continent. The AfCFTA’s main objective to boost intra-African trade can only be achieved with adequate quality infrastructure. For her part, Dr. Pandor said; “I accept we need to have global partners, but they must be strategic additions and not enforced collaborations.” She added that good governance was crucial if Africa is to attract private investment in key infrastructure projects.
AU member states adopt digital Covid certificates (The East African)
African Union member states will from this month start using digital Covid-19 certificates as one way of eliminating travel restrictions that were occasioned by outbreak of coronavirus. In the new digital application from Econet Wireless and PanaBios which was certified by AU and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will assist travellers to comply with Covid-19 travel protocols and share vital information to end double testing across the continent. The application will also share information about the latest travel restrictions and entry requirements applicable to the entire stretch of passengers’ journey across Africa.
EAC seeks support to reap more AfCFTA benefits (The East African)
East African Community member countries have engaged the services of the Economic Commission for Africa to come up with a policy that will ensure that the region does not lose out in the African continent free trade area (AfCFTA) which came into force this January 1. The EastAfrican has learnt that the EAC Secretariat with the support of the Commission is designing a regional strategy for the implementation of the pact. “The strategy will complement the broader trade landscape of the EAC and identify opportunities, gaps and steps required to take full advantage of continental and global markets resulting from the AfCFTA induced opportunities,” Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC Affairs Dr Kevit Desai told the East African last week
EAC economies excepted to rebound in 2021 says EABC (Kenya Broadcasting Company)
The East African Community (EAC) economy will rebound in 2021, if EAC Partner States Governments strengthen macro-economic policy coordination and adopt a regional coordinated approach in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 disruptions in 2020 provided a learning curve, on the need to have sustainable EAC regional value chains integration for the development of finished products with a view of reducing industrial and trade risks arising out of external shocks.
Cost of Covid-19 test a hindrance to free movement in EAC (The East African)
The cost of Covid-19 testing is now becoming a hindrance to free movement of people and goods within the East African Community. EAC and the private sector are concerned that the Covid-19 related Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to hinder cross-border trade due to different measures on Covid-19 in the region. Tests are priced differently in each EAC partner state, while containment measures vary. It costs an average of $100 to carry out Covid-19 test for visitors to the six EAC states.
South Africa’s six key priorities of the African Union (AU) have had to take a backseat due to COVID-19, with President Cyril Ramaphosa leading the continent’s response to the pandemic and ensuring collaboration in this important battle. While 2020 has been an unprecedented year, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, believes that the COVID-19 initiatives have led to a unified Africa. Pandor said one of the outcomes of this collaboration was the inception of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), established by President Ramaphosa in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy.
African countries will pay between $3 and $10 per vaccine dose to access 270 million COVID-19 shots secured this month by the AU, according to a draft briefing on the plan prepared by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and provided to Reuters. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who serves as AU chair, said last week arrangements had been made with the bank to support member states who want access to vaccines. Countries can pay back the loans in instalments over five to seven years, the document showed.
“The digital payment system platform dividend for COMESA and Africa at large, can be enormous with potential gains in growth of regional trade (sourcing and supply) which is currently below 20%. But turning this vast potential into reality will require the collective efforts of our governments, the private sector, and development partners,” said Mr. Marday Venkatasamy, Chairman of the COMESA Business Council (CBC), in his opening statement at the COMESA Digital Financial Inclusion High Level Public-Private Dialogue.
Candid Dialogue on Africa’s Investment Landscape (Proshare Nigeria)
A high-level discussion on Africa’s outlook hosted by the Africa Investment Roundtable (AiR) on Monday saw speakers covering lessons from 2020, the outlook for 2021 and ways to turn the current crisis into an opportunity. Indeed, last year was unprecedented in the worst sense and unfortunately the crisis appears still to be unfolding. One key message that was reiterated by the three speakers on the panel was that Africa must not waste this crisis.
The 41st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) kicked off on 20 January 2021, in the context of the prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic, ahead of the 34th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) scheduled to take place on 6 and 7 February 2021. “Notwithstanding Covid-19, Africa showed incredible determination by conducting and concluding virtual negotiations on complex and difficult matters of the AfCFTA, leading to the successful Johannesburg Extraordinary Summit on 6 December 2020. It is absolutely important to work to implement all the decisions taken at the Summit,” H.E. Edward Xolisa Makaya, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the PRC, said.
Recent evidence signals an upsurge in Africa’s use of digital trade, as a reaction to COVID restrictions. Yet consumer traffic on online marketplaces in Africa still has vast untapped potential. One way to tap that potential is to provide reliable information about e-marketplaces for sellers, buyers, companies and policymakers across the continent. A new International Trade Centre (ITC) report aims to help plug this information gap. Business and policy insights: Mapping e-Marketplaces in Africa provides insights, drawn from a new International Trade Centre database about online marketplaces across Africa, called the Africa Marketplace Explorer.
Why mines are increasingly adopting renewable energy (Power Engineering International)
A recent discussion on the Africa Mining Forum Digital Event on investment in power projects by the mining industry, explored why mines were increasingly using renewable energy, following a global trend wherein 76% in the global economy, renewable energy is now the cheapest to generate bulk electricity. The discussion titled ”Reshaping energy capital flows to drive positive investment into mining” explored the appetite of mining companies for alternative sources of energy and looked at the different models that were available, especially at the exploration stage.
One year on from the UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted in January 2020, the UK Department for International Trade organised the Africa Investment Conference on 20 January 2021, bringing together UK and African businesses to discuss emerging and relevant themes around doing business in Africa, and to connect UK companies to opportunities of today and tomorrow across the continent. Despite the current global economic context, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger, and strengthening investment relationships will be central in recovering from the disruption caused by the international COVID-19 pandemic.
The Next 100 Days: Positioning Africa at the Forefront of the Biden Administration (Africa Oil & Power)
On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn into office, ushering in a new administration, new foreign policy and a new approach to U.S. trade and investment in Africa. For its part, the Trump administration had not been short on growing U.S. private sector involvement in Africa, specifically under its trademark initiative, Prosper Africa. With a rapidly growing, increasingly urbanized population – and associated needs for energy and infrastructure development – the African continent should be at the forefront of a U.S. investment agenda, in terms of developing a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship characterized by sustainable energy development and cooperation.
As the new year brings some hope for the fight against COVID-19, we are looking back and taking stock of the effect of the pandemic on poverty in 2020. In October 2020, using the June vintage of growth forecasts from the Global Economic Prospects, we estimated that between 88 and 115 million people around the globe would be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020. Using the January 2021 forecasts from GEP, we now expect the COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 to rise to between 119 and 124 million.
A new report, Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain, by the World Bank and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) shows that better digital collaboration between private and public entities across the maritime supply chain will result in significant efficiency gains, safer and more resilient supply chains, and lower emissions. Maritime transport carries over 90% of global merchandise trade, totaling some 11 billion tons of cargo per year. Digitalizing the sector would bring wide-ranging economic benefits and contribute to a stronger, more sustainable recovery.
No consensus at WTO yet on IP waiver on Covid-19 vaccines & drugs (The Times of India)
WTO members took up the “game changing” waiver proposal submitted jointly by India and South Africa at the TRIPS Council, even as opposition from rich countries continued, leading to no consensus. The members on January 19 agreed on continued consideration of the proposal but made clear they remain far from reaching a consensus, sources told TOI. While there was no indication of changes in their well-known positions at the informal meeting of the TRIPS Council held Tuesday, some 30 members engaged in advancing the discussion and extensively exchanged views on this issue after the series of meetings held since the proposal was initially submitted on October 2 last year.
Through a new initiative launched today, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will work with financial institutions in four countries to mobilize private sector financing for climate mitigation and adaptation projects and help align financial-sector strategies with the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. The program, “Scaling Up Climate Finance through the Financial Sector,” is designed to increase climate lending by participating banks in Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa to 30 percent of their portfolios by 2030, while reducing exposure to coal.
Now free from the EU’s control, Tory peer Lord Dolar Popat has identified Africa as the next key area for the UK to build trade ties and kickstart Mr Johnson’s post-Brexit plans. Due to the fast-growing population of the continent, the collective GDP of the continent is worth nearly £5trillion. Next year the Africa Free Trade Agreement will come into force and will provide a market worth £2trillion, offering a vital opportunity for the UK to build its trade portfolio, the Tory peer argued. Amid these incredible opportunities for the Prime Minister’s post-Brexit plans, Lord Popat insisted: “It is not too late to harness Africa’s abundant opportunities.” Writing for Politics Home, he added: “I urge policymakers to consider a free trade agreement with the continent.
EU customers are cancelling orders from the UK because of a mass of red tape, UK manufacturers have said, as anger builds over a lack of government Brexit support and antiquated customs systems. While problems have been most acute for perishable goods like meat and seafood, manufacturers are now also reporting cancelled orders and some haulage firms are refusing to move goods. Close to 30 per cent of small British firms have stopped shipping goods to the EU amid widespread confusion about customs forms and extra costs, according to accountants UHY Hacker Young.