tralac Daily News
IMF forecasts South Africa’s GDP will grow 3.1% in 2021 (BusinessTech)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published its latest World Economic Outlook, with the group now projecting a stronger recovery for the global economy in 2021 compared to its January forecast. The IMF said that global growth is projected to be 6% in 2021 and 4.4% in 2022, after an estimated historic contraction of -3.3% in 2020. “The upgrades in global growth for 2021 and 2022 are mainly due to upgrades for advanced economies, particularly to a sizeable upgrade for the United States (1.3 percentage points) that is expected to grow at 6.4% this year.
“Among emerging markets and developing economies, China is projected to grow this year at 8.4%. While China’s economy had already returned to pre-pandemic GDP in 2020, many other countries are not expected to do so until 2023.” The group’s updated data for South Africa shows that annual growth is projected to be 3.1% in 2021 – an improvement of 0.3 percentage points from the 2.8% January forecast. The group forecasts annual growth of 2% in 2022 for the country. Data published by Statistics South Africa in March showed that South Africa’s economy contracted by 7% last year.
Likewise, he said the country will also embark on an implementation study with a limited number of Pfizer doses used amongst healthcare workers, which he describes as another valuable contribution to the science of mass vaccination. These doses will take us to the last mile of the Sisonke Protocol, which is set to become one of the most seminal studies in the history of the pandemic,” the Minister said on Monday.
US to make Kenya wait on new free trade deal (The Standard)
The fate of trade talks between Kenya and the United States to establish a free trade area remains uncertain as Washington realigns its interests under the new Biden administration.
This came out during a virtual meeting between Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and US Trade Representative Amb Katherine Tai last week to discuss the progress of the talks. “Amb Tai and Minister Maina discussed the importance of the US-Kenya relationship and strengthening ties between both countries,” said the US Trade Office in a statement following the talks.
Trade CS said they started the negotiations with the US in July last year on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and have so far held two rounds of negotiations. She noted that following transition in the US, the new US trade representative only commenced work two weeks ago and requested more time the review the negotiations.
Agency seeks expert in UAE exports push (Business Daily)
The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba) is hiring a consultant to conduct consumer research on local products that have the highest export potential to the United Arab Emirates. The balance of trade between the two nations heavily favours the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Kenya mainly exporting tea, spices, goat meat, coffee and fresh cut flowers and importing petroleum fuels, manufactured articles, textiles plastics and electronic goods from the Middle East nation. Kenya’s exports to the UAE stood at Sh19.2 billion last year, against Sh92.7 billion imports, making it the third largest exporter to Kenya after China and India.
Sugar price drops Sh18 per kilo on rising production (Business Daily)
The retail price of sugar has dropped by up to Sh18 per kilogramme in the past two months as consumers start to reap the benefit of an increase in local production. A spot check by the Business Daily shows that a two-kilo packet of the commodity is now retailing at Sh189 for Kabras sugar, Sh206 for Ndhiwa and Sh210 for locally packaged product, from a high of Sh225 in January. The price fall ironically comes at a time when the government has tightened import measures by restricting the amount that can be shipped into the country, to curb flooding of cheap sugar that had initially been blamed by processors for depressed prices. The current prices are attributed to an increase in production locally with the volumes of sugar cane coming from farms having increased.
Jinja expressway will spur regional integration - Unra (Daily Monitor)
Despite the government securing funds in excess of Shs800 billion meant for the construction of the $1.48b (about Shs5.3 trillion) Kampala-Jinja Expressway (KJE), works will commence next year, the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), the implementing partner, has said.This comes after the recent signing of a financing agreement for Phase 1 between African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Ugandan government worth $229.5m (about Shs828 billion).This, however, was not the first funding secured. A total of €90m (about Shs369 billion) was already got from the European Union as grant, an additional funding of $90m (about Shs324 billion) is expected from the French Development Agency, while the balance will be provided by the private sector.
The federal government has disclosed that by taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Nigeria has the capacity to export $3 billion worth of derivatives from cocoa and $300 million from the sale of the raw unprocessed commodity. Speaking on Arise News Channel, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, recently, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector Matters, Mr. Francis Anatogu, who is also the Secretary of the National Action Committee (NAC) for Nigeria’s AfCFTA implementation, noted that there is massive opportunities in the area if well harnessed. He argued that it was in the interest of the federal government to make sure that the policies that it puts in the public space make it easier for businesses to thrive, saying it is only then that they can make money and pay taxes to the government.
Morocco Jobs Landscape (World Bank)
This report sheds light on major labor market issues and challenges that Morocco faces. It is the first phase of the programmatic jobs program jointly undertaken with the government of Morocco. It is a jobs diagnostic that analyzes data mainly from Labor Force Surveys and employs new analytical methods to identify the main trends in the labor market. The key challenges that emerge will provide the basis for a deeper analysis and policy formulation in the next phase of this program. The report identifies four priorities: (1) accelerate structural transformation to create more and better jobs in higher-productivity sectors, (2) encourage formalization and improve the quality of jobs, (3) increase female labor force participation (FLFP) and connect women to better jobs, and (4) support youth in their transition from education to the labor market and lower the large numbers of youth not working.
Senegal: Catalyzing Growth Through Regional Integration (Africa Oil & Power)
With a favorable geographical position on the westernmost point of Africa, an abundance of natural resources, and strong political leadership and stability, Senegal is set to transform its economy through the development of its energy sector. The country is endowed with vast natural resources, including significant natural gas reserves and renewable energy sources, and has committed to the diversification of its energy mix to meet rising energy and electricity demand. With a clear presidential vision in which the energy sector is seen as a key driver of economic growth, H.E. President Macky Sall is pursuing increased investment in Senegal’s growing energy industry. Through the promotion of an attractive business environment, the implementation of industry supportive regulation, and an integrated sectoral approach, H.E. President Sall is transforming the country into an energy hub.
The Gambia and Senegal Reach Significant Bilateral Agreement on Transit Trade Facilitation Consistent with the objectives of the revised ECOWAS Treaty, Convention on Interstate Road Transit and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme as well as the Trade and Transit Cooperation Agreement between The Gambia and Senegal on the 12th March 2020 in Dakar, the Governments of the two counties on Tuesday, 30th March 2021, made significant progress towards the facilitation of the transit trade across their respective territories.
The two countries also agreed to codify transit procedures between Gambian and Senegalese Customs Administrations by mid-2021, and adopting the Automated Management of Transit Merchandise (SIGMAT) as well as upgrading strategic border posts.
The program will benefit 20,000 farmers. It serves as an end-to-end value chain solution that brings together all the conditions necessary for improving rice productivity and small farmers revenues, including the provision of high-quality fertilizers and hybrid seeds, training on good agricultural practices and soil fertility, as well as market linkages. The program will also serve to safeguard the health of the country’s farmers in the wake of COVID-19 through the provision of personal protective equipment to smallholder farms.
African regional and continental news
One only has to think of the enormous queues of trucks at Beit Bridge to realise that any agreement that makes trade between African countries a smoother process is essential. The African Continental Free Trade Area is still being hammered out, but has the potential to put Africa, which presently has very little trade between its own member states, on the map. But, as with any agreement like this, compromise from all parties is essential.
Hartzenberg began the webinar by summarising what Tralac is about. It is a public benefit organisation, based in South Africa, which works across Africa in its trade agenda. Among others, it provides training and facilitates policy dialogue; great emphasis is placed upon improving governance.
Erasmus said that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an ambitious initiative by the member states of the African Union, which aims to boost intra-African trade, integration and development by creating an integrated market for goods and services, and promoting cross-border movement of capital and persons. AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019, and trade under the AfCFTA was launched on 1 January 2021, but key issues for this free trade area are still under negotiation.
Free trade: Africa’s golden opportunity (New Era)
Africa has a unique opportunity to significantly advance the continent’s economic status and reverse the current socio-economic challenges the continent is facing. This is according to the secretary general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene. Mene addressed entrepreneurs at the official launch of the Africa Economic Leadership Council yesterday in Swakopmund.
“AfCFTA has the potential to increase employment opportunities and incomes, helping to expand opportunities for all Africans. It is expected to lift around 68 million people out of moderate poverty and make African countries more competitive in terms of trading with the rest of the world,” Mene
A former Professor of Accounting and Management practices at Nottingham University, Dr Noel Tagoe, has stated that Africa has started well with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) policy, by explaining clearly the objectives of the policy are. In an interview with JoyNews monitored by GhanaWeb, he said member countries are not coming into the trade agreement clueless, since they already have some regional integration policies such as the Economic Community of West African States to guide them. “We started at a very good point because the law must be based on policy, so the policy states what objectives are and the laws then should bring the objectives into being so each country then will have to put in-laws that are aligned to the policy at the continental level. There are dispute resolution mechanisms that have been put in place at the continental level and that should help them to deal with it. I think Africa has had some experience in these things because we have had regional economic community such as ECOWAS and others so we are not coming into this entirely new we are coming in with some amount of experience,” he said.
The long-awaited African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – set to be the world’s biggest free trade zone by area – entered into force on January 1, 2021, promises a new era for African trade. An Africa-wide free-trade pact could bolster the region’s income by $450 billion and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035, if accompanied by significant policy reforms and trade-facilitation measures, according to the World Bank. When fully operational, the Free Trade area will create a market of 1.2 billion and drive a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Dr Wim Naudé, Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics with the Cork University Business School in Ireland, explains: Trade is one of the great engines of economic growth and prosperity as it allows countries to specialize in production and diversify in consumption.
Trading under the preferential terms of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commenced on January 1 2021. The AfCFTA will create a single African market for goods and services covering 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3 trillion through the progressive elimination of tariffs, the removal of non-tariff barriers, cooperation in customs arrangements and related areas, liberalization of trade in services, and developing African disciplines on Intellectual Property Rights, Investment, Competition and E-Commerce.
Considering the important role of the private sector in this newly established market, the potential of the region, which consolidated market size can attract investments into the region, the ECOWAS Commission is scheduled to implement a range of awareness and capacity building programmes for producers, traders and service suppliers to maximize the opportunities within the AfCFTA.
For this purpose, on April 07th 2021, the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with UNDP, will launch a training programme aiming at strengthening the capacities of the private sector in the region in general and, more specifically, the capacities of women to take advantage of the African
‘Poor coherence among regional partner states is hurting trade’ (Daily Monitor)
Every objective trade policy commentator would call Uganda a “pacifist” whose aim is to boost intra-EAC trade. Whereas a number of EAC partner states have blocked Uganda’s goods, the latter has not retaliated even when legislators and private sector actors have called for retaliation. Whereas Uganda’s response can be frowned upon, the long-term intent should be commended as it is a precursor to the realisation of the African Economic Community, as envisaged in the 1991 Abuja Treaty.
According to the EAC Secretariat, in 2018, Rwanda’s total trade with EAC partner states increased by 13.4 per cent to $638.8m from $563.2m in 2017. Kenya’s trade with the EAC increased by 4.7 per cent to $1.95b from $1.86b in 2017, this was mostly attributed to an increase in business with Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Uganda’s trade with EAC increased by 21.2 per cent to $2.05b from $1.69b while Tanzania increased by 14.6 per cent to $811.3m, from $707.7m.With Covid-19 disrupting supply chains, this is likely to reduce. However, according to the African Integration Report (2020), free movement of goods remains a major challenge for the EAC when we refer to the low level of intra-regional trade (22%, EAC 2018).
Surprisingly, this level of intra-regional trade is one of the highest on the continent. Furthermore, Intra- EAC is still constrained by Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which as of December 2020 stood at 17 outstanding NTBs. Coupled with the ongoing trade tensions among Partner States, it can be said that trade opportunities that accrue to EAC integration aren’t being fully exploited.
East African banks raise bad loans provision to cushion distressed clients (The East African)
Covid-19 pandemic has seen the world confront its biggest health crisis this century, posing one of the most disruptive periods to businesses, forcing banks to empathise with clients’ lost livelihoods and businesses by easing off on loan payment demands Top East African banks increased provisions for bad debts by over $736 million last year (2020) to reduce exposure on household and business loans in countries ravaged by Covid-19 pandemic, affecting impacting profitability and returns to shareholders. A review of the banks audited financial statements shows that top eight Kenyan banks by market share more than tripled their loan loss provisions to Ksh104.64 billion ($960 million) from Ksh28.68 billion ($263.11 million) in 2019.
The report dated March 29 2021 shows that in West Africa, Nigerian banks lent a total of $22.57 billion with bad debt charge increasing 73 per cent to $433 million from $ 251 million in 2019 while Ghanaian banks lent an estimated $614 million with loan loss provisioning increasing 182 per cent to $37 million from $13 million in the same period.
A new report by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and UNDP presents the key results from the evolving partnership between the two organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 3 million people infected and almost 100,000 lives lost across the continent, the report places a spotlight on societal resilience across sectors, the sheer determination by Africans to minimize the health impact, as well as the social disruption and economic consequences of the pandemic.
Shaping Africa’s Post-Covid Recovery (VOX, CEPR Policy Portal)
With the exception of some flashpoints in Northern and Southern Africa, the continent has been largely spared from the direct health effect of Covid-19. However, the African economy has been significantly hurt by the economic consequences. This eBook summarises recent research on the economic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in the continent covering a wide array of topics focusing on the response of firms, households, governments, and international organisations.
According to an estimate based on a report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Africa will need about 12 billion US dollars to both procure and distribute sufficient numbers of COVID-19 vaccines to attain adequate protection against the virus that would see an end to the compounded devastating effects of the pandemic on the continent. The report argues for a further extension of the Group of 20’s debt service moratorium through to the year’s end -- noting in particular, the continued high liquidity needs of developing countries and their deteriorating debt sustainability outlooks. In addition, it states that the estimated financial sum the African continent will need to curb coronavirus transmission is about the same as the total amount of official debt service payments already deferred by 45 of the most economically challenged nations participating in the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
Despite low virus cases, Africa faces risks (Gulf Today)
The coronavirus has hit a good number of economies around the world and Africa is no exception. South Africa’s gross domestic product grew quarter on quarter in the three months ending in December, led by expansion in manufacturing, construction and trade, but the economy recorded its biggest annual contraction in seven decades in 2020. South Africa’s economy, which was in recession before the COVID-19 pandemic, deteriorated sharply last year after the government imposed a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A report in October last year said that recovery among Africa’s major economies will be mixed and mostly tepid. The coronavirus hit spending in Africa that year and in particular hampered economies that either export raw commodities or depend on tourism, as the pandemic stymied global economic activity. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will not rebound to pre-pandemic growth levels until 2022 with major economies likely to take even longer to recover, the International Monetary Fund wrote in a report.
Why Africa must build up its pharmaceutical industry (Khaleej Times)
Six hundred million doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered worldwide by the end of March. However, only eight million had been given out in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with 1.3 billion people. By contrast, over 35 million shots were administered in the same period in the UK (population: 67 million). The glacial pace of vaccination in the developing world, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, amid vaccine nationalism in developed countries, raises questions about how Africa can lessen its dependency on donors for its health security. One answer lies in an Africa-based pharmaceutical sector capable of manufacturing essential drugs and vaccines. It could also jumpstart Africa’s broader economic development.
Yet Africa has the potential to guide its own destiny. Pharmaceutical companies exist in nearly 40 African countries. The problem is, most do very basic work. For the most part, the industry is limited to packaging already manufactured medicines, or buying active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to combine into medicines. Only three companies, two in South Africa and one in Ghana, actually manufacture APIs themselves. None undertake research and development.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of thinking globally and acting (rapidly, pro-actively and robustly) locally. It has also raised questions as to the potential benefits of localising pharmaceutical production, and expanding production across the Global South. The expansion of the African pharmaceutical sector would provide a more local and secure source for key vaccines and drugs, reducing the need to rely on the goodwill of developed-country donors.
In an effort to strengthen the inclusive and transparent character of the process of implementation of the Harmonized System (HS), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has recently made available the HS 2022 amendments to its Common External Tariff for public consultation. All SACU Member States - Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa - have simultaneously placed draft tariff amendments on their official web-sites, inviting comments and feedback from the public.
This month, known to many as International Women’s Month, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) continues to put a spotlight on women-led businesses and financial institutions set to support them. The business experiences of African women running small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as financial institutions supporting them, were the subject of an online event held on 8 March 2021, by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Guarantee Fund (AGF). The businesses are all clients of financial institutions participating in the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth program. The program is a tri-pillar innovation that aims to unlock up to $3 billion in loans to small and medium enterprises in the next five years. Working through financial institutions, the program addresses the financial and non-financial needs of small and medium enterprises by offering access to finance and technical assistance to enhance their bankability and ability to grow profitable and sustainable businesses. “Women are the heart of our economy and the keys to building a more resilient, inclusive and prosperous society across the continent amidst the global pandemic,” said Vanessa Moungar, the Bank’s Director for Women, Gender and Civil Society, in her welcoming remarks to over 400 online participants.
Ministers responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs from the COMESA Region recently met and approved several toolkits and documents which are expected to help the region promote gender equality, women empowerment and social development. The one-day Ministerial meeting held virtually via zoom on 29 March noted that women have continued to be negatively affected by many challenges including COVID-19 which has contributed to most of them recording slow progress.
Gender inequality remains a major challenge affecting the regional integration agenda. women entrepreneurs continue to experience different forms of harassment and many gender specific non-tariff barriers,” He added “This meeting has the opportunity to change this situation by implementing instruments that can support women and improve their welfare,” Hon. Yaluma said through his representative at the meeting Hon. Elizabeth Phiri, Minister of Gender Affairs.
“As the continent that has contributed least to the climate crisis, Africa deserves the strongest possible support and solidarity”, he told an online dialogue for leaders convened by the African Development Bank. Mr. Guterres warned that “adaptation must not be the neglected half of the climate equation”. Although Africa has abundant and untapped renewable resources, it has received just two per cent of global investment in renewable energy over the past decade, he reported.
“We can provide universal access to energy in Africa primarily through renewable energy. I call for a comprehensive package of support to meet this objective ahead of COP26,” Mr. Guterres said, referring to the UN climate change conference in November. However, the Secretary-General pointed to “the major finance” gap blocking progress towards this goal. He urged developed countries to deliver on their $100 billion climate commitment made over a decade ago.
African countries will need to integrate their energy for sustainable economic development and post-COVID-19 economic recovery, experts said in Nairobi Tuesday. The experts from academia and Africa Union, among others, said that energy as an economic and social input was central to the attainment of Africa’s sustainable development as envisaged by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number seven. “Africa needs to reflect on how regional energy integration contributes to energizing its economic recovery program and attainment of sustainable development,” said Kenneth Mbali, a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (IDIS) of the University of Nairobi, during the webinar organized by the institution. The experts observed that although Africa has tremendous potential, more than 600 million people lack electricity. And those who are connected pay more for the commodity, stifling growth, they said.
OPINION: African agriculture is ready for a digital revolution (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
After a dark 2020, a new year has brought new hope. In Africa, where up to 40 million more people were driven into extreme poverty and the continent experienced its first recession in 25 years, a brighter future beckons as the economy is forecast to return to growth this year. Africa now has an opportunity to reset its economic compass. To build back not just better, but greener. Particularly as the next crisis – climate change – is already upon us. Africa’s food systems must be made more resilient to future shocks such as floods, droughts, and disease. Urgent and sustainable increases in food production are needed to reduce reliance on food imports and reduce poverty, and this is where digital services come into play.
As the European Union and the African Union prepare to agree on their new joint partnership areas, leaders on both sides of the continent need to ensure that the agri-food standards work in the interest not only of Europeans but also of Africans. The danger otherwise will be the perception is that the EU is imposing its own interest on Africa moving away from a science-led approach to the detriment of Africans. The EU-African partnership needs to deliver a genuine partnership with policy objectives, standards and rules that are in the interest of both continents.
Consumers are delaying car purchases owing to Covid-19 – Deloitte report (Engineering News)
Deloitte’s 2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study has found that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on consumer behaviour in the automotive industry. The study surveyed more than 24 000 consumers in 23 countries, including South Africa.
“Active labor market policies: Good practices and recommendations for North Africa” will be at the heart of discussions at the upcoming ECA Office in North Africa webinar on Wednesday 7 April. The meeting will provide representatives of the North African ministries of employment, private sector as well as eminent experts and researchers with an opportunity to discuss how to design and implement labor market policies so as to increase their impact, and share their successful experiences in this field. Unemployment, and especially youth and female unemployment, has become a major challenge for North African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia).
Africa has a young labor force with high youth unemployment, and Despite high growth, Africa has not been creating jobs for these youth. Often these trends are explained by a lack of structural transformation (a shift in the share of labor from low to high productivity sectors). New research shows that these statements do not hold for much of the subcontinent. While there are exceptions – most notably South Africa and several resource-rich or fragile states – the economic growth registered since 2000 was accompanied by a steady growth in wage jobs, at a rate significantly faster than the growth of the labor force. Meanwhile, youth unemployment has been below world averages, controlling for income level. Unfortunately, this progress was interrupted by the COVID-19 health and economic crises, but it demonstrates the importance for job creation in African countries of getting back onto the path of economic stability and balanced economic growth as well as maintaining this trajectory through this decade.
Africa’s model of production enterprise is a source of reproach (Daily Monitor)
In 2014, Africa exported coffee valued at $6billion. After the coffee was roasted, blended, packaged and branded, the final products sold abroad yielded $100billion. This was revealed recently by a former South African Minister of Trade and Industry. This might evoke pain, until the story of the continent’s cocoa comes to the fore. The continent produces 75 percent of the world’s cocoa and gets only 2 percent of the $100billion cocoa industry. The reason for Africa’s dismal share of the proceeds of the cocoa industry would not differ from the coffee story. We produce cocoa and sell it raw, at “give-away” prices. It is then processed, and its value multiplied several times over.
This year, China has maintained its position as the world’s largest manufacturing country for the eleventh consecutive year with industrial added value reaching 31.3 trillion Yuan ($4.84 trillion), according to their Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. China’s manufacturing industry makes up nearly 30 percent of the global manufacturing industry.
The relationship between Africa’s supply of mineral materials and China’s manufacturing capacity may not require deep scrutiny. It is not only China that utilizes Africa’s mineral wealth, but the example fairly illustrates the connection between African supplied raw materials and the vibrancy of foreign industry.Africa remains potentially able to continue doing the above – supplying primary agricultural produce and availing minerals to those who use them in manufacturing.
The AU-ILO-IOM-ECA Joint Programme on Labour Migration Governance for Development and Integration in Africa (JLMP) on March 30 convened its fourth Programme Steering Committee (PSC) meeting that was hosted by the African Union Commission’s Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs & Social Development (HHS). The online meeting reviewed the status of ongoing projects, with Commissioner of Social Affairs, H.E. Amira El-fadil, in opening remarks read on her behalf, saying, “We have seen partners constantly making sacrifices for the long-term JLMP vision and we are beginning to see the fruit of these.” It was observed that despite COVID-19 causing restrictions on travel and the scaling down of activities, partners continued to work flat out to ensure projects remain on course. The workplan for 2021 was re-evaluated, with several delegates emphasising the importance of building synergies in labour migration initiatives on the continent.
Global economy news
International trade decline not as significant as expected – DP World (Engineering News)
Contrary to an expected dramatic decrease in international trade, flows have increased, with 38% of Middle Eastern companies and 32% of African companies managing to expand international sales, a global study of private sector perspectives shows. Commissioned by end-to-end supply chain and logistics company DP World and conducted by the intelligence unit of media company The Economist, the study reveals that supply chain reconfiguration has been a priority for many businesses as they work to overcome the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Extraordinary policy measures have eased financial conditions and supported the economy, helping to contain financial stability risks. Chapter 1 warns that there is a pressing need to act to avoid a legacy of vulnerabilities while avoiding a broad tightening of financial conditions. Chapter 2 studies leverage in the nonfinancial private sector before and during the COVID-19 crisis, pointing out that policymakers face a trade-off between boosting growth in the short term by facilitating an easing of financial conditions and containing future downside risks. Chapter 3 turns to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the commercial real estate sector.
This report is focused on the preliminary estimates of external debt stocks at end-2020 for 120 low, and middle-income countries, and information on low- and middle-income countries’ bond issuance in international capital markets in 2020. It also provides an update on the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) as well as an overview of a new initiative aimed at creating a comprehensive dataset of domestic debt obligations of low, and middle, income countries.
The Fintech Times has announced the release of a new report analysing the fintech ecosystem in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). The report, entitled “Fintech: The Middle East and Africa 2021”, aims to give a comprehensive overview of the fintech landscape in the region from an economic development context.
Richie Santosdiaz, Head of MEA at The Fintech Times and main author of the report, said: “The fintech landscape in the MEA region, minus a few pockets, as a whole is generally much more infant in its maturity of fintech. Nevertheless, by contextualizing all the changes the region has undergone, particularly from economic development and diversification lense, one can see the sudden growth and importance fintech plays in MEA. COVID-19 has further accelerated wider digital transformation and this plays true as well in the region.
“The report confirms, consolidates and offers insights to what many perceived in the MEA region. Given much information about MEA is either mostly fragmented, geographically split, or very high-level, my aim of the report was to be a comprehensive guide for both those who might know little about MEA let alone fintech in the region, as well as those who might be more in tune with its developments but might not see it from either an economic development light nor have validation of facts that until now remains generally limited.
Only 14 percent of the population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in Least Developed Countries (LDC). One amongst the few indicators to measure Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 7, i.e. to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy to all by 2030, is proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technologies. The article looks at the challenges associated with achieving universal access to clean cooking fuels and technologies from the perspective of LDCs.
UN can help us build back better (Gulf Times)
One year after the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, many of us are still grappling with the ‘new normal’. No-one has been spared from the impact of this crisis. Some 2.7 million people have succumbed to the effects of the Covid-19 virus, which has had a severe impact on families and communities. The global economy shrank by 4.4% as an estimated 255 million jobs were lost in 2020, pushing people back into poverty. Right now, 34 million people are on the brink of starvation, and 235 million people will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021 – an increase of 40% from last year.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need to bridge the digital divide, as 3.7 billion people now live without basic internet connectivity, experts say. The health crisis has exposed the structural weaknesses in the global digital inclusion agenda, bringing to the fore increasing inequalities between and within the countries, according to experts at an online panel discussion at the World Economic Forum’s Global Technology Governance Summit.
“Nearly 47 per cent of the world population is still excluded from connectivity and this exclusion accelerated during the crisis … Covid-19 is not likely the last crisis and more could come… this is a new normal that relies heavily on technology.” “The digital divide is a global challenge that we must take seriously… as seriously as we take the challenge that digitalisation poses to our competitiveness from an economic point of view,” Mr Iswaran said.
Here’s how to propel a green recovery for the poorest (Eco Business)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced at the recent Climate Adaptation Summit its intention to place climate change at the heart of its work – recognising the natural world and the economy are no longer at odds. With the growing climate stress and depletion of ecosystems, it is imperative that the renewed efforts are launched to propel a green recovery from the pandemic, preserving nature for future generations and giving it much needed economic value. As climate scenarios are integrated within economic frameworks climate-vulnerabilities will be more evident across the globe and strain the medium-term economic scenarios. “These $650 billion SDRs for green recovery would represent 65 times the size of the current Green Climate Fund (GCF) and if judiciously distributed could finance the much-needed climate adaptation and mitigations needs of low-income countries. Climate shocks could chop off up to 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year by 2030 in some vulnerable countries. This also means debt distress will limit the fiscal space to support an inclusive and effective green recovery post-Covid. What could help?