tralac Daily News
With less than 100 days for public and private bodies to be compliant with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), the Information Regulator of South Africa is accepting applications for the approval of codes of conduct. The IR is currently processing public comments received on the draft guidelines for registration of information officers.
South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the country’s updated draft Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in response to climate change, which will be released for public consultation next week. The updated NDC outlines South Africa’s target for limiting greenhouse gas emissions as required in line with the country’s status as a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Kenya, Theo Clarke and Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty Maina, today exchanged ratification documents at an official ceremony to mark the entry into force of the UK-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement. The event was witnessed by UK High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott, Principal Secretary Johnson Weru among other officials from the UK and Kenya delegation. The deal which was signed in London by International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena and Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Betty Maina in December 2020, will ensure that all companies operating in Kenya can continue to benefit from duty-free access to the UK market. It will support jobs and economic development in Kenya, as well as avoid possible disruption to UK businesses who will be able to continue to import Kenyan products duty and quote free, such as fresh vegetables and flowers.
Kenya’s flower exports are projected to rise in 2021 as compared to last year due to expanding international demand, the industry said on Wednesday. Richard Fox, director of Kenya Flower Council (KFC) told Xinhua in Nairobi that the industry earned about 108.7 billion shillings (983 million U.S. dollars) in 2020. “We are expecting the flower sector to perform remarkably well in 2021 despite the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in our key export markets,” Fox said. Flowers are the largest source of foreign exchange earnings for the East African nation after tea with production in 2020 estimated at 140,000 tons of flowers.
Lamu Port Set To Start Operations By June (The Africa Logistics)
Lamu port is set to begin clearing Ethiopian cargo by 15 June this year, according to multi agency team steering the project, Kenya News Agency reports. Speaking after an inter-agency meeting in Garissa, LAPSSET chairperson Maj Gen (Rtd) Titus Ibui, said following the meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed late last year at official inspection tour to Lamu Port Project, the government is keen to complete the project and start clearing Ethiopian cargo from Lamu port.
“We have contractors on the ground in other areas to make sure by June we will have our first exports to Southern parts of Ethiopia, Hawassa Industrial Park and Adama Industrial Park which specialize in textile, motor vehicle assembly and food processing,” he added.
Kenyan authorities on March 11 announced the lifting of a ban on maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania but exporters claim the ban still stands. Sources at the Uganda Revenue Authority at Busia and Malaba Borders told The Independent that they are yet to record maize exports destined to the Kenyan market citing possible strict conditions imposed on exporters. The Kenyan government said all stakeholders dealing in maize imports require to be registered, consignments accompanied with certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels and that traders have to issue details of their warehouses.
Zambia on Wednesday launched an ambitious plan aimed at increasing electricity generation in the southern African nation. The Integrated Resource Plan will be implemented during a 30-year period with the support of the British government through a grant equivalent to 1.78 million U.S. dollars. Minister of Energy Mathew Nkhuwa, who launched the plan virtually, said the plan will be an approach to national power system that incorporates assessment of available energy resources and opportunities for demand. “This is important in order to meet the country’s electricity requirement while upholding national development objectives for social equity and environmental sustainability,” he said.
A N$1.5 billion loan from African Development Bank (AfDB) to support governance, economic recovery locally was recently approved the Ministry of Finance announced on Wednesday. The request for the loan to finance the Namibia Governance and Economic Recovery Support Programme (GERSP) which was put through to the AfDB in June 2020, was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of the AfDB on 17 March, Ministry of Finance spokesperson, Tonateni Shidhudhu “The approval follows the completion of the Economic Governance and Competitiveness Support Programme (2017-2020) which has achieved significant results in the areas of fiscal consolidation, public financial management and improvement in the business environment. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse some of those gains,” he said.
Govt looks to MTC listing to fund deficit (Namibian)
THE government is looking to funding part of its budget deficit this year with proceeds from the planned sale of its 49% stake in MTC, revealed the Ministry of Finance Fiscal Strategy 2021/22. According to the strategy, “the expected proceeds from the proposed divestment will be used to partly (50%) fund the budget deficit, While 50% will be ring-fenced for productive activities and be utilised in a manner that reaps long-term benefits for the country”.
The government is facing pressure to fund the N$15,9 billion projected budget deficit for the FY2021/22. This is because government revenue is estimated to decline by 6,1% or N$3,4 billion in 2021/22 compared to the previous financial year. The decline is mainly due to the reduction in Sacu receipts and company taxes. Sacu revenue declined by about 36% or N$7,5 billion from N$22,2 billion in 2020/21 to N$14,7 billion in 2021/22.
Botswana, alongside fellow Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) member states, has endorsed and adopted the agreed text of the new partnership agreement between the bloc and the European Union (EU). This was said by Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Lemogang Kwape during the Botswana-EU virtual political dialogue yesterday.
Through the agreement, the minister said, Botswana and other OACPS member states had reiterated their resolve to further enhance and entrench the long standing relations with Europe. "We emphasised the value of partnership and our wish for a mutually beneficial relationship," he stated. Dr Kwape said the agreed text held immense potential to lead the OACPS member states along the development path. He said the OACPS secretariat had released the draft partnership agreement noting that Botswana was among countries which participated in the cleaning up of its text.
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), an agency for the promotion, development and diversification of exports from Nigeria, has asked producers and manufacturers of exportable products in the country to integrate mandatory and non-mandatory certification as an edge to penetrate the global export market. The call comes on the heels of woeful performance by Nigerian export companies at the global scene, accounting for a paltry 0.33 per cent of the global trade, and 19 per cent of African trade.
Stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have called on the federal government to reactivate its plans to establish a national fleet so as to take advantage of the global trade valued at $19 trillion
They stated this at a one-day symposium themed: “The Establishment of a Nigerian Global Trading Fleet,” organised to mark the 70th birthday of shipping mogul and Chairman of Starzs Investments Company Limited, Greg Ogbeifun. In his opening address Ogbeifun said maritime transport was a huge opportunity for Nigeria if well harnessed. According to him, “The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures showed that Nigeria’s total merchandise trade (import and export) for 2019 stood at N36.1 billion out of which the maritime transport component accounted for N33.7 billion (97 per cent). In spite of the huge potential, no Nigerian flagged vessel carried cargoes of the nation’s merchandise trade in the last 10 years. “Despite its contribution to Agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and other identified key sectors, the maritime sector is not recognised as a key economic driver, thus missing out on very vital interventions from the government, which other key sectors enjoy. This is contrary to international practice as done by other maritime nations.”
AfCFTA: Lagos ready to domesticate agreement - Sanwo-Olu (Nairametrics)
The Nigerian Senate has instructed the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria to refund the sum of N94 million spent on an unoccupied building, and 64 vouchers to the Federation account.
This was disclosed by the Senate Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday. According to the committee, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria had paid N66 million as a two-year rent to secure an accommodation which it did not occupy throughout the period. The Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Mathew Urhoghide, also faulted the agency’s use of 64 payment vouchers to allegedly divert N28 million.
Afreximbank, NEXIM to raise $50m for investment (The Nation Newspaper)
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) have agreed to mobilise $50 million for local investment. The $50 million will come in form of project preparation funds for investments. A statement from NEXIM Bank on Wednesday said both development banks have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish “a Joint Project Preparation Fund that will provide early project preparation financing and technical support services to public and private sector entities operating in Nigeria’s trade sector.” Under the terms of the MoU, Afreximbank and NEXIM “will collaborate through the Joint Project Preparation Fund to unlock investments into sectors such as export manufacturing, agro-processing, solid minerals development and beneficiation services, as well as healthcare, Information and Communications Technology, and creative industries.”
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says airlines are only exempted from paying duty and value-added tax (VAT) on imported aeroplanes and spare parts. In a statement on Tuesday, Joseph Attah, public relations officer of the service, said the airlines are required to pay other import charges. Attah explained that the exemption is in line with Section 39 of the 2020 finance act.
Though the health impact of the pandemic in Nigeria has been limited compared to many other countries, the economic toll from COVID-19 has been challenging. In the first quarter of 2020, the global economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic led to a collapse in oil and gas prices, which account for almost 90 percent of Nigeria’s exports and more than half of its fiscal revenues.Lockdowns and movement restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 hampered businesses, slowed down trade, and disrupted supply chains, causing significant uncertainty for Nigeria’s business community and investors. As a result, the 85 million Nigerians living in poverty are at risk, as are Nigeria’s 41 million small and medium enterprises, which account for three-quarters of employment. Even so, the longer-term prospects for economic growth in Nigeria are promising, according to many observers who cite the country’s population size (the largest in Africa), as well as rich natural resources, including fossil fuels, minerals, and arable land. Nigeria also boasts the continent’s highest nominal GDP. In some sectors, the crisis may even open up new opportunities, say experts, especially with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
As Ghanaian businesses gear up to explore and harness opportunities within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, has defended programmes and policies of the Government of Ghana as indicated in the 2021 Budget and Economic Policy Statement.Addressing participants of this year’s edition of the Deloitte Ghana Economic Dialogue, held under the theme, "2021 Budget Statement: Making Ghana a Hub for AfCFTA," Mr. Kyerematen outlined the government of Ghana’s plans intended to promote business activities across the country which include the completion of airport projects in Kumasi and Tamale to boost air travel in the sub-region.
News from Africa and Africa’s international trade relations
Now trade strategists and economists are warning that if implementation takes too long, enthusiasm around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is going to wear off, creating a risk that it might become another failed attempt at improving intra-African trade.
Africa is set to recover from its worst recession in half a century. Real GDP is projected to grow by 3.4% in 2021 after contracting by an estimated 2.1% in 2020, mainly due to COVID-19 related disruptions, according to the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) recently released African Economic Outlook (AEO). The pandemic also caused deep scars in the financing and debt landscape of the continent that may linger on if not quickly addressed. At the launch of the AEO, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz rightly explained how the COVID-19 pandemic caused both demand- and supply-side shocks in the continent. “It affected the demand for exports of African countries…but it also affected the willingness of people to work in some of the more exposed sectors and its effects were very disparate across different sectors.” Following Stiglitz’s train of thought, Africa’s projected recovery will be subject to an unusually high level of uncertainty and risks, as is also pointed out in the analyses of the AEO.
After contracting by 2.1 % in 2020, Africa’s real GDP is expected to grow by 3.4 % in 2021. This anticipated recovery from the worst recession in more than half a century would be underpinned by COVID-19 vaccinations and helped by a resumption of tourism, a rebound in commodity prices, and the lifting of restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the virus. However, the picture is clouded by unusually high uncertainties. On the downside, the emergence of more contagious strains of COVID-19 could derail the recovery. If progress in deploying safe and effective treatment is slower than expected, governments would have to reinstate lockdown restrictions. A slow rebound in financial inflows, subdued commodity prices and tight financing conditions would suppress public finances and jeopardize the recovery. Social and geopolitical tensions in the region are also a major source of risk.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has presented its Industrial Development Report (IDR) 2020: Industrializing in the digital age at a side event of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development. The event provided the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the challenges and opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic presents for African countries in adopting advanced digital technologies, and in charting the future course of industrialization.
Internet connectivity and access to stable and affordable electricity are among the preconditions for African countries to industrialize in the digital age. Célestin Monga of Harvard University emphasized that “policymakers of African countries should promote the strategic selection of competitive industries based on their comparative advantages, such as in labour-intensive and export-oriented light industries, to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development,” and asked, “How did Asian countries advance their manufacturing between the 1950s and 90s? This is a highly relevant experience for African countries.”
Africa’s Finance, Development and Planning Ministers on Tuesday called for a swift, bold and positive response from international financial institutions on Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in the range of 500 billion to 650 billion to arrest the devastating impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a communique at the end of their two-day meeting in Addis Ababa, the ministers called for more liquidity to be availed through a new allocation of the SDRs and reallocation of unused SDR, and an increase in resources from the international financial institutions to support African and other developing countries fight COVID-19 better. They also called for an extension of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to at least the end of 2021, and possibly the end of 2022, and expanding its scope to address the liquidity needs of middle-income countries to pre-empt the larger threat of insolvency, particularly for countries with market access and relatively strong fundamentals. The DSSI has postponed an estimated $5.1 billion in debt service payments by eligible African countries following advocacy by the ECA, the Finance Ministers and others, providing much-needed liquidity to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.
Russian businesses in the Moscow region should take advantage of investment opportunities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has said. Lucrative opportunities exist in SADC’s value chains such as agro-processing, energy, pharmaceuticals, mineral beneficiation and manufacturing of various commodities for domestic and export markets. This is at the back of the Region’s secure, peaceful and stable investment environment. Dr Tax made the call on 19th March 2021 during the Moscow-Africa 2021 conference held under the theme, “Directions and Opportunities for Industrial and Investment Cooperation”, a platform initiated by the Department of Investment and Industrial Policy of Moscow to identify the directions and possibilities of industrial and investment cooperation between Russian and sub-Saharan African companies.
SADC wants stronger ties with AU (The Southern Times)
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) remains committed to working with the African Union Commission (AUC) and continues to feed into continental integration agenda in terms of peace and security and governance architecture, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax has said. Dr Tax said this during a virtual courtesy call on March 19 by Ambassador Bankoie Adeoye, the new AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. The SADC Secretariat head also indicated that while the bloc continued to co-operate with the AU Commission and was highly appreciative of the support rendered to the region, there was need to create synergies with regional economic communities (RECs) to avoid overlaps on planned activities. She cited the need to adhere to the principle of subsidiarity. To this effect, it was agreed to convene a technical meeting to propose concrete areas of cooperation to be implemented in a coordinated manner.
Under Biden, There’s a New Africa Policy (Foreign Policy)
From expletive-laden rants at the start of his presidency to allowing corruption to run rampant as one of his last foreign-policy acts, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s relationship with the African continent was characterized by detachment. While he hosted leaders considered important to his administration’s security ambitions, Trump himself never set foot on the continent. A new administration with a new foreign-policy strategy under President Joe Biden is already showing a marked shift toward African priorities.
The UK’s Trade Commissioner to Africa pledged Britain’s commitment to investing in Africa and forging closer trade ties. Emma Wade-Smith said the UK had a “commitment to the continent” stressing Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the UK to be a “major economic partner in Africa.” The British diplomat said seeking to develop the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) which provides access to a market with 3.5 billion people.
Trade officials are keen to close the gap and roll over or secure trade deals with as many of the 54 African countries as possible after securing recent argeements with Cameroon and Ghana.
With the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), how do you see the UK-Africa relationship developing?... Emma Wade-Smith OBE – The UK welcomed the start of trading under African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) terms on 1 January.
The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), will be hosting 30-days of dialogue on green transition and green investment between African and European partners. Events and virtual meetings will take place across Africa.
Covid-19: African nations urged to adopt digital solutions to recover economically (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
African nations have been urged to adopt digital solutions towards achieving economic recovery from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking during a webinar organized by Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), International Association of Science Parks and Areas (IASP) Africa Division President and CEO of Abuja Technology Village FZ Co., Nigeria, Ms. Hauwa Yabani emphasized the need for utilizing technology and innovation in search for solutions to challenges facing the continent. “The pandemic showed us the importance of digitally enhanced solutions in mitigating crisis as a way of living especially for a continent with a population of over 1.3 billion. Digital transformation presents an opportunity for Africa to provide value in new ways thereby leapfrogging the continent’s developing trajectories and accelerating its social and economic advancements,” said Ms. Yabani.
At the launch of the report, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “This publication is an excellent starting point for efforts to ensure that Africa’s economic response to COVID-19 makes full use of the potential of trade to drive recovery, growth and job creation. Aid for Trade has an important role to play in enabling African countries to achieve strong and sustained recoveries that leave no one behind.” With an estimated negative growth rate of -8.0 per cent in 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit hard by the downturn in trade and economic activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the report finds. Efforts made by the WTO to revive the progress made before the crisis and help minimize its effects include technical assistance and capacity-building activities for developing countries and least-developed countries, the WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative and support for implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The global trade community must act swiftly to mitigate the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries (LDCs), the speakers highlighted at the Aid for Trade Stocktaking Event’s plenary session, as LDCs have been hit the hardest by trade and economic disruptions arising from the pandemic. From the supply of health products such as masks to the approval and roll-out of vaccines, the multilateral trading system plays a crucial role in ensuring that no one is left behind in the post-pandemic trade and economic recovery process. “Today the pandemic is reversing hard-won development gains, adding to the problems facing the most vulnerable,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “The post-COVID recovery must not leave anyone, or any country, behind. The first step towards this goal must be a rapid, global vaccine roll-out that ends the pandemic. We need more trade cooperation to address supply bottlenecks, lower regulatory hurdles, facilitate trade, and finance vaccine purchases. Keeping global markets open is essential for a strong and sustained recovery. The organisations and Members that have cooperated on the Aid for Trade initiative have made a huge difference in peoples’ lives. Working together now to invest in the recovery of trading partners is not just the right thing to do. Building back a greener, more equitable, more prosperous global economy is a matter of economic self-interest for all countries.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted trade in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) in a myriad of ways – from the complete collapse of tourism in some LDCs, to the rise of e-commerce opportunities in others. It’s also expected to impact donor country aid budgets for many years to come. As members and partners of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meet this week to assess these trade impacts and chart a way forward, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) has been buried deep in thousands of pages of reports, charts and data to find pearls of wisdom that can help LDCs find innovative ways to continue financing trade. Launching today, these Trade Funding Insights clearly and concisely outline how COVID-19 is currently projected to impact official development assistance (ODA) and Aid for Trade, as well as case studies and concrete steps that LDC Ministries of Trade, government donors, Investment Promotion Agencies and the private sector can take to harness opportunities offered by impact investment, blended finance and foreign direct investment. Some of the most interesting findings include:
Brics Manufacturing Conference ready for trade facilitation (Engineering News)
The Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) Manufacturing Conference, which kicks off in Johannesburg on Friday, will give local manufacturers the opportunity to reflect on how they can grow using new technologies. Organised by the Brics Manufacturing Working Group (MWG), the conference, which takes place at the Sandton Conference Centre, aims to help local manufacturers to leverage off South Africa’s membership of Brics by taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the grouping.
The overnight running aground of a mega container ship that has blocked maritime traffic on both sides of the Suez Canal is delaying ship movement and will disturb trade flows in the near term, several market sources told S&P Global Platts March 24.
Market participants are already reworking itineraries for commodities worth billions of dollars, which could involve significant demurrage costs, they told Platts.
Suez Canal is one of the world’s busiest waterways and even the slightest delay in traffic can result in congestion and disturb the delivery of goods and commodities on both sides of the Canal.
Pandemic drives 65% growth in mobile money transactions value (Engineering News)
The number of registered mobile money accounts increased 12.7% to 1.21-billion in 2020 – double the previous forecast – owing to a dramatic acceleration in mobile transactions during the Covid-19 pandemic as lockdown restrictions limited access to cash and financial institutions. The latest GSMA ‘State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money’ reveals that transaction values also grew across the board as more money circulated and was cashed-in and cashed-out than ever before.
Standard Chartered is launching sustainable trade finance solutions across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. The Bank’s new Sustainable Trade Finance Proposition is designed to help companies implement more sustainable practices across their ecosystems and build more resilient supply chains.
The new Sustainable Trade Finance Proposition allows the Bank to support the following: Sustainable goods: Working with customers and partners to finance underlying goods that meet agreed sustainability standards. Sustainable suppliers: Supporting trade for suppliers who meet acceptable thresholds against ESG ratings or metrics such as gender equality, responsible sourcing criteria and water use. Sustainable end-use: Focusing on trade financing in sustainable industries including renewable energy, energy efficiency, the blue economy, sustainable infrastructure, water management and clean transportation. Transition industries: Helping industries transition and reduce their carbon footprint by offering trade financing that recognises efforts to help reduce emissions.
EU tightens COVID-19 vaccine export rules (CGTN Africa)
The European Commission presented on Wednesday a revised version of its export transparency mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines, with Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis claiming that it does not constitute an export ban. The mechanism takes aim at vaccines produced in European Union (EU)-based facilities of pharmaceutical companies that are bound by an advance purchase agreement (APA) with the EU. The new version includes two new criteria — reciprocity and proportionality — for assessing whether these vaccines can be exported to non-EU countries, according to Dombrovskis.