tralac Daily News
South Africa has been ranked as the top global business services sector location for 2021, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) has announced. “In a boost to business confidence, South Africa has won an award as the top global location for business process services, in a sector that is rapidly expanding locally and exporting call centre and related services to other parts of the world,” said the department on Friday. South Africa was named as the Most Favoured Offshore CX Delivery Location for 2021, in the Annual Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey on Thursday. The department welcomed the achievement for the country’s business service industry, which has positioned itself as one of the premier locations internationally for business services. “The business services sector, which includes call centres, technical support and back and front office services for major multinationals and South African firms, has seen exceptional growth in recent years, and has been a major source of job creation for young South Africans.”
Recovery from Covid-19 hinged on private sector growth (Engineering News)
Strategy consulting and market intelligence firm Frost & Sullivan says the economic growth prognosis for South Africa in the next five years is not all “doom and gloom”, as the private sector has the ability to grow and create jobs. For the private sector to flourish, however, it needs to function and operate in an open environment, the firm states.
Transformation in the aviation sector remains a challenge, with the 2020/21 financial year aviation statistics showing that no meaningful progress has been made in terms of transformation, particularly for previously disadvantaged individuals. Virtually addressing the National Aviation Conference on Thursday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said Africans, Coloureds and Indians represent 11% of licence holders, while at 89%, the proportion of White licence holders is still significantly higher.
“This scenario needs to change. The statistics must reflect the racial demographics of the country. Among other things that must be prioritised is the demystification of the industry from being an exclusive haven that is the sole preserve of a particular class in our society.
NDB approves $1bn loan to South Africa to support economic recovery (Engineering News)
NDB’s financing under the emergency programme is primarily aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 8 to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. The loan is part of the second batch of Covid-19 emergency programme loans to NDB’s member countries focusing on economic recovery. It focuses on supporting economic growth through employment generation as well as support for labour force participation.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat secretary general, Wamkele Mene yesterday congratulated Namibia on its excellent infrastructure, saying this is a solid foundation to benefit from the continental trade pact.
Visiting President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday, Mene made the remarks specifying Namport among his numerous visits in Namibia. He said he is overwhelmed by how Namport supports landlocked countries in the region in trade facilitation that supports the implementation of AfCFTA.
Namibia ready to trade under AfCFTA banner (Namibian)
NAMIBIA is ready to increase trade with other African countries under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement following its submission of the tariff concession last month. This was said by Ndiita Nghipondoka-Robiatti, the deputy executive director for international trade in the trade and industrialisation ministry at a business community event organised by the Africa Economic Leadership Council (AELC) at Swakopmund on Tuesday. Namibia, and other Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) members submitted tariff concessions as part of the 90% trade liberalisation on the continent. The tariff concession is a list of products on which customs duties will be charged or customs duties the country is willing to give up to allow free movement of goods and reduce the cost of trading. The tariff concessions are part of the country’s and Sacu customs books, Nghipondoka-Robiatti said.
Namibia: Days numbered for tax dodgers (New Era)
The discussion of a semi-autonomous tax body, which commenced more than 10 years ago, yesterday culminated in the official opening of the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) by President Hage Geingob. The establishment and operationalisation of NamRA are expected to significantly improve transparency in Namibia’s tax collection efforts to increase State revenue from the N$52 billion expected during the current financial year, which is already N$6 billion less than the N$58 billion collected during the 2020/21 financial year.The establishment of NamRA stems from a conscious decision by Cabinet to transform existing in-house departments of Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise within the Ministry of Finance into the semi-autonomous tax administration body.
NamRA was established against Namibia’s record of an already high revenue-to-GDP collection rate by the government, averaging 32% of GDP when Southern African Customs Union (SACU) receipts are included or some 22%, excluding SACU receipts.
“The transformation of tax, customs and excise administration function into a semi-autonomous institutional setting represents a distinct addition to the stock of robust national institutions with great latitude of transparency and accountability, thus enhancing public trust in the administration of tax laws. Notably, this institutional reform presents opportunity to achieve greater equity in the revenue administration function,” said Geingob at the launch.
Hope for Kenya-US trade deal as talks resume (The Star)
Kenya and the United States have resumed talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) ongoing since last year. Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and US Trade representative Katherine Tai held talks that focussed on the importance of the trade relations between Kenya and Africa as important partners to the US. The bilateral trade talks paused in the wake of American presidential elections last November.
During the talks, it emerged that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are keen on supporting increased contribution of developing countries to the global economy. With respect to Africa and in recognition of Africa’s fragile position in the global trade architecture, the FTA resonates with the desire by African countries to forge an economic partnership through the greater regional integration and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The travel ban comes into effect today( April 9), effectively restricting Kenyans or anybody transiting through Kenyan airports from setting foot in the UK. It had however not imposed any restrictions on its citizens until Kenya, on Saturday, retaliated by banning visitors from the UK.The two countries have restricting commercial passenger flights from landing in their territories.
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has put on notice transporters across the country over ferrying excess loads. KeNHA senior engineer from the axial load control unit, Kennedy Ndugire says failure by some transporters to comply with the laid down regulations on loading control has not only caused damage to roads but also endangered the lives of motorists and other road users.
“The transporters through their SACCOs are well aware of Section 55 and 56 of the Traffic Act which outlaws the use of overloaded vehicles on public roads. There is also the East African Community Vehicle Load Control Act (2016) enacted by member States and assented to by the respective presidents,” said Ndugire.
Mombasa port handled 9.54 million tons of cargo in the first three months of this year up from 8.62 million tons it processed in the same period last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on Thursday said the 10.7 per cent growth in the volume of business at the port was due to the opening up of ports in China and increased efficiency at the facility. In the latest report, KPA said the port recorded the highest performance in terms of average container traffic handling an average of 4, 662 Twenty Equivalent Units (TEU) per day.
Private firms to import Covid jabs from July (Business Daily)
Wealthy Kenyans will start getting Covid-19 jabs from private hospitals in July after the government strikes an import deal with a global partnership under the World Health Organisation (WHO).Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe told Parliament Thursday that the talks would conclude end of June, paving the way for top private hospitals to join in the second phase of the inoculation plan set for July. The government seeks to create an option for private hospitals to acquire the vaccines and charge a “minimum surcharge” in the race to broaden inoculation coverage.
Zimbabwe is targeting to attain food security by 2022 and to increase household income by 100 percent by the year 2024, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said on Wednesday. Apart from eliminating food imports that are resulting in a bloated import bill, the government is also targeting 40 percent value addition, to create about 1 million jobs and to increase total exports by 60 percent by the year 2024. In addition, the government also aims to transform about 18,000 small-scale farmers into agricultural entrepreneurs by the year 2025, Masuka said.
The ambitious targets follow the launch of the Agriculture and Food security system Transformative Strategy (AFTSTS) last year with the aim of accelerating agriculture production, productivity and growth.
Ugandan official, truckers calls for improved security on South Sudan road (The East African)
Kampala has called for enhanced security on the Nimule-Juba road in South Sudan where attacks in the last week of March resulted in the killing of eight Ugandan drivers. “We are engaging with the government of South Sudan to ensure security from Uganda border points to Juba,” said Arthur Kafeero, Uganda’s Director for Regional and International Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Kafeero said the Elegu-Nimule-Juba route is a major
COVID’s Heavy Blow to Nigeria’s Manufacturing (Proshare Nigeria)
The FGN has plans and high hopes for Nigeria’s manufacturing sector. This became clear when Niyi Adebayo, the federal minister for industry, trade and investment, told a virtual event on 30 March that the sector had a target of a 20% share in GDP by 2023. This would mark an impressive step up from the 12.8% attained at current prices in 2020. Adebayo also told the event, co-chaired by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), that his ministry would have strategic plans for three segments (clothing and textiles, oil palm and auto assembly) in place by end-year. Manufacturing in Nigeria, as elsewhere, had a very difficult 2020, contracting by -8.8% y/y in Q2 due to the lockdown and by -2.8% over the full year.
The export of coconut oil and its derivatives have continued to generate huge revenue for Nigeria, as the country recorded at least 150 million U.S. dollars in 2020 alone, said an official on Thursday. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Abuja that coconut has so far proved to be a major non-oil export foreign exchange earner for Nigeria. Coconut, Nanono said, currently accounts for 10 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural exports, and by the end of this year, it is expected to generate more than 250 million dollars.
Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project, the best alternative to Nord Stream 2 – Newslooks (The North Africa Post)
The Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline project is the best alternative to the Nord-Stream 2 natural gas Russian pipeline project which is at the heart of tensions between the United States, the European Union, and Russia, American news outlet Newslooks states.
In an article entitled “The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the EU-US alliance”, Newslooks affirms that the Nigerian-Moroccan gas pipeline project would serve the interest of Europe and the United States, and would benefit economically and politically the United States and about 300 million African citizens.
AfCFTA brings together 54 African countries with a combined GDP of more than US$3.4 trillion Ghana did beat other competing countries including Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal to win the bid to host the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. A great news to the average Ghanaian, member countries of the AfCFTA have agreed not to impose tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers on goods and services. The agreement is meant partly to encourage the expansion of markets and diversify exports specifically manufactured goods instead of the raw material export which Africa is known for.
Cameroon: Public debt rose by over XAF4,000 bln in 2016-2020 (CAA) (Business in Cameroon)
At end-December 2020, Cameroon’s public debt was XAF10,334 billion (46.9% of GDP), according to “provisional data” from the National Sinking Fund (CAA). This figure is up by 5.6% year-on-year. The sinking fund explains that such a rise was due to the disbursement obtained under the Rapid Credit Facility set up by the IMF to help countries fight the coronavirus pandemic, the new domestic debt agreements, and the significantly high volume of public securities issued during the period under review.
This increase in the country’s public debt is mainly due to external financial assistance, generally provided by international partners. At the same time, the state’s domestic debt has also been rising during the said period.
African regional and continental news
Africa and China have an “unprecedented” opportunity for collaboration through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, the AfCFTA chief told Xinhua News Agency. Calling China “a strong partner to Africa,” Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat Wamkele Mene said that China has provided Africa with “significant development support and investment support” over the past decade. “We are now in a position to offer China, as a partner, an investment destination that is based on the free trade area,” he said, adding that the scope for cooperation could be in intellectual property rights, manufacturing and the services sector. “This AfCFTA provides the framework for us to continue that collaboration with China,” said Mene, adding that with the establishment of the AfCFTA framework, Africa has “overcome the market fragmentation that was there before”.
In Kenya, there are concerns over the cost of doing business which is said to be “relatively high” compared to peer member countries in the AfCFTA, making local products uncompetitive. “This needs to be improved through elimination of multiple taxations and lowering of transactions costs, so as to create more jobs and a good business environment,” KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga said.
KAM yesterday said overlapping membership to trading blocs also stands as a hindrance to speedy adoption of the continental trade pact. There is also non-uniform order clearance logistics across the continent, and unfamiliar customs and administrative procedures and transit policies of goods across different Regional Economic Communities (RECs), among countries with no functional trade arrangements. “It is our hope that in the current framework, there will be robust mechanisms to deter the increase in non-tariff barriers that have largely contributed to the low levels of intra-African trade,” said Wakiaga.
‘Africa will still trade with the world under AfCFTA’ (Graphic Online)
The Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement does not mean the continent will close itself in and trade among itself only, Director, Trade and Services at the AfCFTA Secretariat, Mrs Emily Mburu-Ndoria has said. She said Africa would continue to trade with the rest of the World under AfCFTA, but would do so in a more coordinated manner.
“AfCFTA will not mean we will close ourselves in and trade among ourselves. We will trade with the rest of the world but we want to do that in a more coordinated manner,” she stated.
Mrs Mburu-Ndoria pointed out that Africa had about 107 borders and that if one wanted trade within Africa, the person must go through 107 borders.”So you can imagine the amount of work to be done to harmonise trade within Africa. AfCFTA is meant to deal with some of these issues and ensure that goods and services can move across borders.”Services are borderless but you still have to move people across borders so we need to ensure that we make it as easy as possible,” she said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must be seen as a pillar of the broader development integration agenda, says Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Fikile Majola. Majola said integration is seen as essential to overcoming the limitations of small fragmented economies established under colonialism. The Deputy Minister made these comments in his address to the Progressive Business Forum’s (PBF) webinar on trade opportunities for South African businesses in Africa on Thursday. He said the AfCFTA brought the African continent a step closer to realising the historic vision of an integrated market and creating a basis for increasing intra-African trade.
AfCFTA must be about industrialisation, not just trade (Business Day)
Industrial capacity, capabilities and competence vary across countries and regions, which can open countries to uneven trade dynamics. Implementation of the AfCFTA is under way; yet more action is required to transform policy into action. AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene shared these sentiments during the fourth instalment of the AfCFTA and transformative industrialisation webinar series hosted by the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance. Mene stated that “what is required [is] a set of harmonised action plans focused on industrial development, to be implemented on a continental basis, a pan-African basis and in each region”.
A single trade currency for Africa - Mene (Independent Online)
The secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA’s) secretariat announced that the continent will soon have its own uniform payments and settlement platform to ease the burden of doing business in 42 currencies. Wamkele Mene revealed the plans at a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum on the AfCFTA on Friday .”Working with the Afreximbank (the African Export–Import Bank established to finance, promote and expand intra-African and extra-African trade) we are developing a pan-African payments and settlement platform to overcome this challenge of a multiplicity of currencies on the African continent,” Mene said.
There are 42 currencies in Africa but Mene is confident that through this platform for payments and settlements and in the absence of a common currency some of the present challenges will be overcome. He said he expected Africa to become a monetary union but that this will take time.
Rob Davies, former South African trade minister, said, as African countries chiefly continue to export primary commodities, without value addition, the continent remains an enrichment source for other economies (mainly developed) that add value to the raw materials from Africa. As these developed economies package and brand the primary commodities from Africa, they in turn, reap heavily from exports to Africa, Davies noted.
The former South Africa trade & industry minister, giving the 2021 Adebayo Adedeji memorial lecture recently cited Adedeji’s seminal work, the “African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programmes for socio-economic recovery and transformation (AAF SAP), said, AAF SAP became a major beacon looked to by many then who doubted that externally-imposed Structural Adjustment Programmes were the best, or only, way forward for Africa’s development.
Davies, advocating for adoption of AAF SAP as framework to transform Africa, said, Adedeji’s AAF SAP had identified what it saw as the structural weaknesses in most African economies, which included: a weak productive base characterised by low productivity, and productive activities dominated by either subsistence or export-orientated primary product production.
Nairobi is the most innovative city in Africa, Knight Frank report (Africa Business Communities)
Nairobi is the top city in Africa for innovation and ranks among the top 100 globally according to Knight Frank’s Africa Horizons Report 2021/22, Nairobi ranked ahead of Cape Town which was second, Kampala third with Cairo and Johannesburg at fourth and fifth place respectively. The report notes that the ability of African cities to emerge resilient from the pandemic will depend on their ability to innovate, providing long term social solutions to their residents, attracting funding and generating new demand for space.
Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank Researcher for Africa notes, “Innovation coupled with economic growth will drive the next decade of investment in Africa. Lower risk investors will likely favour cities with above-average innovation scores and a robust economy. These include Cairo, Egypt – the stand-out performer – and Johannesburg, South Africa. These cities have the greatest potential to remain economically resilient in the long-term despite undergoing short-term shocks. Cities that score higher for innovation but have less robust economies will attract those willing to take more risk, such as private equity investors. These cities include Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town in South Africa and Kampala, Uganda.”
Industry leaders committed to transformation, barometer shows (Engineering News)
The first African Financial Industry Barometer, developed by Deloitte in partnership with the Africa CEO Forum, reveals how, in the exceptional context of the Covid-19 pandemic, financial institutions operating in Africa are undertaking a transformation of their business model, governance and risk management capabilities. The survey reveals that the top three priorities for financial institutions over the next 12 months are digitisation, being the top priority for a large majority of respondents, with 56% having started a digitisation programme and 31% of respondents set to start one within the next 12 months.
Africa bets on digital Covid-19 passports to boost air travel (The East African)
Air travellers across Africa can now enjoy faster clearances at airports, thanks to a common continental Covid-19 digital passport innovation developed by the African Union (AU) through its lead health agency, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and private sector technical partners PanaBIOS and Econet. Delays and long queues at airports are gradually becoming a thing of the past for passengers boarding Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Asky Airlines.
“We are incredibly proud to be part of AU and Africa CDC’s journey of ensuring hassle-free and compliant travel across the world, while preventing cross-border spread of Covid-19 infection,” noted Julius Thairu, Kenya Airways acting chief commercial officer.
The African Union’s disease control body said on Thursday it had dropped plans to secure AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for its members from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine supplier, amid global shortfalls of the shot. AstraZeneca’s $3 shot is by far the cheapest coronavirus vaccine launched so far, and the easiest to store and transport, making it well suited to developing countries. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said the AU was focusing on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing a deal announced last week to supply Africa with up to 400 million doses.
The seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development convened on the theme of “Building forward better towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 & 2063 Agenda” and promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Ms. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations said developing a just economic model that embraced renewable energy, green and resilient infrastructure, and digitalization, while protecting natural resources by broadening partnerships for science, technology, and innovation could unleash the region’s green potential and fuel economic transformation.
Mozambique attacks impact SA businesses (Moneyweb)
It’s not a problem to be solved by one single company or even a group of companies; it has to be solved by a more regional approach: Andres Vega – International Associate, Centurion Law Group. It does appear that the Mozambique gas complex – where several multinational companies, including Sasol, have heavily invested – has been deliberately targeted by terrorists, given its economic strategic nature. That’s despite the government having designated that complex as a safe zone that should be protected. This is quite a worrying development.
EAC: Standards in the maize value chain (Independent)
The East African Community (EAC) regional maize trade is approximately 1.5 million Metric Tons per annum valued at US$ 260 million. Uganda is a leading net maize exporter in the region. Its largest maize markets are Kenya and the Sudans. Kenya is a net leading importer of maize in the region. In the EAC regional trade integration context, maize is better produced by Tanzania and Uganda and Kenya buys cheaply from both countries. Therefore, there are mutual trade gains for each member state in the maize regional trade that fosters regional efficient allocation of resources and pro-people centered integration through both agricultural and industrial intra-regional value chains. When regional maize trade is disrupted, EAC economy overall loses; the regional GDP goes down and regional wealth and welfare declines. This is bad economics. Recently, Kenyan authorities disrupted the regional maize trade citing poor quality of maize from Uganda and Tanzania. A number of stakeholders came forward with varied propositions including both political and technical interventions. In this article, as a representative of the farmers, I list a 13 point plan with a farmer’s perspective. As a representative of the affected farmers in this development, I propose a 13 point plan or farmer led program to integrate smallholder farmers within the national, regional and international maize value chain.
Nearly 20 million people face a food crisis in West Africa and the Sahel region as the vast area is torn by conflicts and the coronavirus pandemic, experts warned Thursday. The situation could worsen between June and August, with as many as 27 million people needing immediate food aid or nearly one in 10 people in 14 countries, the experts said.
In Nigeria alone, 12.8 million people could face a food crisis “or worse” this summer, according to the Food Crisis Prevention Network, which includes representatives of governments, NGOs, lenders and UN agencies. In addition to conflict, the displacement of 5.6 million people, weak economies and the pandemic has worsened food shortages in the region, according to the network.
The African fisheries sector could benefit substantially from proper infrastructure and support services, which are generally lacking. The sector currently grapples with fragile value chains and marketing, weak management institutions and serious issues relating to the governance of fisheries
The use of hydrogen for fuel, also known as the hydrogen economy, is a concept that has been around for a while. Due to the aggravation of climate change, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the necessity to achieve energy security, one aspect of this economy has been gaining widespread attention in recent years: green hydrogen. This term describes the process in which renewable energy sources such as solar, thermal or wind are used to generate electricity using hydrogen, contrasting with grey hydrogen (produced using fossil fuels emitting carbon dioxide) and blue hydrogen (produced using natural gas and storing carbon dioxide). Currently, countries including Chile, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Australia are leading the charge in the race to find efficient, affordable and sustainable ways to use green hydrogen technology.
One of the main advantages of green hydrogen is that it is a flexible energy source that can be used in a wide variety of sectors that are proving hard to decarbonise, namely, the transport sector, heavy industries such as steel production, and electricity generation sectors. The assimilation
Financial support for Africa to adapt to climate change is crucial, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as he addressed an online dialogue for leaders convened by the African Development Bank (AfDB). He appealed for greater action to provide renewable energy to the hundreds of millions who still lack reliable and affordable electricity. “As the continent that has contributed least to the climate crisis, Africa deserves the strongest possible support and solidarity,” said Guterres. Pointing out that although Africa has abundant and untapped renewable resources, it has received just 2% of global investment in renewable energy over the past decade, warning that “adaptation must not be the neglected half of the climate equation”.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is helping prepare African countries in readiness for the global UN climate change summit (COP26) to be held in Glasgow, UK, later in the year. Jean Paul Adam, the director of the ECA’s Technology, Climate Change, Natural Resources Division (TCND), said this during the think tank’s 2021 First Quarter Accountability and Programme Performance Review (APPR) Meeting. According to Mr. Adam, there has been an increased number of initiatives in line with ECA recommendations undertaken by member States at national, sub-regional and regional level to harness green and blue economy to build forward better from the COVID-19 crisis and achieve sustainable development. Alongside these initiatives, he noted an increase in the integration of climate resilience in national sustainable development plans in the continent as well as augmented investment in climate action. ECA is supporting countries to revise their Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs), boosting the overall continental commitments in raising global climate change ambitions.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is working with African countries to increase investment in infrastructure and agriculture on the continent. In a presentation during the ECA’s first quarter Accountability and Programme Performance Review Meeting (APPRM), Habiba Ben Barka, Economic Affairs Officer with the Private Sector Development and Finance Division, said the ECA was working to strengthen the private sector business environment in energy and infrastructure development, and increasing the use of public-private-partnerships (PPPs) as one of the means to scale-up investment in infrastructure, especially in the context of COVID-19. To achieve this specific outcome, the ECA has identified three key strategic activities which are; supporting a number of member-states to implement infrastructure planning tools, focusing on energy and transport, and apply methodologies developed by ECA for increased private sector participation in road safety; bring more countries to adopt policies that will attract more private sector investment through the use of PPP frameworks and other means for scaling-up infrastructure investment; and foster more engagements between actors in the aviation industry and financial institutions within the context of COVID-19 economic recovery on the continent.
The Elysée’s stated aim of the summit is to “give a big boost” to the countries on the continent that have been affected by the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the avenues to be explored are debt relief – or even, as French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for in April 2020, debt cancellation – or exceptional support from the IMF through special drawing rights. It is also expected that many talks will be held about providing financial support to the African private sector.
Focus Africa 2023 (ReliefWeb)
Africa and Spain are close neighbours and strategic partners. Together we can face common challenges, such as economic development and employment, decarbonisation, fight against poverty, women’s empowerment, migration management or peace and stability, in better way. The Spanish Government approved in 2019 the Third Plan Africa “Spain and Africa, challenges and opportunities”, a strategic framework of Spain’s foreign action in and with Africa. Focus Africa 2023 implements the Third Plan Africa for the current parliamentary period, until 2023. Focus Africa 2023 defines Spanish foreign action in Africa until 2023 and forms part of the Spanish Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024. In line with the principle of unity in foreign action, it includes the specific actions of government and other key Spanish stakeholders in Africa. Moreover, it is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda. The strategic objectives of the Third Plan Africa - Peace and security; Sustainable development, inclusive and resilient economic growth; Institutional strengthening; and Safe, orderly and regular movement- are reflected in seven priorities in Focus Africa 2023
In his first foreign policy speech, President Joe Biden made clear that human rights will be central to U.S. efforts to rejoin the community of nations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s March 10 appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee outlined important areas of focus for U.S. engagement with the world. But beyond a few country-specific references to Ethiopia, Mozambique, and a handful of others, the administration has yet to articulate a broader policy toward Africa. Those plans should provide for robust engagement on Africa alongside regional partners. Concrete policy changes would go a long way toward restoring relations with civil society organizations and grassroots movements across the continent, and make clear that the United States supports the African people, not just African governments.
Global economy news
BRICS@15: India to Chair 13th BRICS Summit (Valdai Club)
The 13th BRICS Summit is going to be held under India’s Chairship. It will be the third time that India will be hosting the BRICS Summit after 2012 and 2016. India kicked off its BRICS Chairship with the inaugural three-day-long Sherpas’ meeting from 24-26 February 2021. India presented its priorities for its Chairship in 2021 under the theme – “[email protected]: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus”. The 13th BRICS summit will review the achievements and contributions of BRICS for the global agenda and assess each BRICS nation’s growth stories to celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2021. The theme reflects the approach to strengthen the founding principles of BRICS cooperation based on continuity, consolidation and consensus.
Over the last one year, the world has drastically changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Also, the worsening of India-China ties and escalation of tensions between the two most influential member states of BRICS, namely, China and India, caused anxiety over the last year and created some destruction and differences within the grouping. The 12th BRICS Summit was held virtually amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by Russia on November 17, 2020, on the theme of global stability, shared security and innovative growth. Economic and counter-terrorism were the two key themes at the summit, and two declarations were adopted; these are (1) BRICS economic partnership strategy 2025 and (2) the BRICS counter-terrorism strategy. The economic partnership focuses on trade, investment, finance, digital economy and sustainable development, while the counter-terrorism strategy condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It calls upon the BRICS nations to strengthen cooperation to fight terrorism through groupings like the UN, G20 (Group of 20) and FATF (The Financial Action Task Force).
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for more trade and investment among members of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), according to a statement issued by the presidency in Nairobi on Friday. The OACPS needs to leverage on its past successes such as the existing Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), a trade and development deal between the European Union and OACPS, to become a more influential actor in the global economic arena, Kenyatta said.
“With a combined population of over 1.1 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of about 3.2 trillion U.S. dollars, the transition from ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific group) to OACPS presents enormous opportunities for intra-OACPS trade and investments; and the achievement of greater shared prosperity for all our people,” Kenyatta told a virtual town hall meeting of the OACPS on Thursday night.
Over 160 participants from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions and Europe gathered online to take part in the official launch of the Intra-ACP Climate Services and Related Applications Programme (ClimSA). Endowed with a budget of EUR 85 million, the intra-ACP ClimSA programme is a joint initiative of the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union EU) to support the climate information services value chain in ACP Regions, through the provision of technical assistance, financial assistance, infrastructure, and capacity building to improve and widen access and use of climate information.
The African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, HE Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, in her intervention, recognised that the “ClimSA programme addresses the need for adequate and reliable climate services, which responds to the African Union’s Development Goal. The programme enhances the capacity of our Member States as well as Regional Institutions in order for them to be able to develop and mainstream science-based climate information services and prediction into policy and decision making.”
The global economy is recovering from the crisis faster than expected last October, thanks to an unprecedented policy response and rapid progress in vaccine development. But the prospects for recovery are highly uncertain and uneven within and across countries due to varying policy space, different economic structures and rigidities, preexisting vulnerabilities, and uneven access to vaccines. Elevated financial vulnerabilities could pose risks, should global financial conditions tighten swiftly. The crisis may cause extended scarring and exacerbate poverty and inequalities, while climate change and other shared challenges are becoming more pressing.
We will also strengthen multilateral cooperation to ensure an inclusive and resilient global economy. In line with the Paris Agreement, we commit strongly to addressing climate change through measures to accelerate the transitions to greener societies and job-rich economies, while protecting those adversely affected. These comprise a range of fiscal, market, and regulatory actions, mechanisms, and policy mixes, taking into account country-specific factors. We will continue to collaborate to unlock the potential of the digital economy, and accelerate efforts toward a modern and globally fair international tax system. We reaffirm our commitment to strong governance, including by tackling corruption. We agree on the need to promote more open, stable, fair, and transparent trade policies and to modernize the rules-based trading system under the World Trade Organization, which are key to boosting global growth. We are taking comprehensive action to help vulnerable countries meet their financing needs. We will work together to continue strengthening debt transparency practices by both debtors and creditors, public and private, and supporting countries’ efforts to maintain debt sustainability. Where appropriate, we will facilitate swift debt treatment together with broad participation by official and private creditors in line with the comparability of treatment principle.
The first delivery of lifesaving jabs arrived in Ghana on 24 February. Announcing the news on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that more than 38 million doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Serum Institute of India-produced shots (one of the AstraZeneca vaccines known as COVISHIELD) have been transported globally so far.
The development comes as WHO and other health regulators reaffirmed the overwhelming value of the AstraZeneca (or AZ) COVID-19 vaccine, amid ongoing concerns about clotting events among a very small number who’ve had the jab.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers.”
Climate, debt and resource needs important for world recovery - World Bank (Engineering News)
Development cooperation institution the World Bank president David Malpass in a speech to leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) developed countries emphasised the importance of climate financing to transition carbon-intensive industries, debt relief and rescheduling, and global vaccination progress to support global recovery. The World Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan includes ambitious new targets for climate financing and steps to have as much impact as possible in improving the trajectory of greenhouse-gas emissions and saving lives and livelihoods through adaptation.
He welcomed a decision by the G20 to extend the World Bank-led Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) through 2021. The World Bank is also working closely with the IMF to support the implementation of the G20 Common Framework.
“Covid-19 will leave lasting scars on developing countries, from closed schools and physical stunting of children to lost jobs, the depletion of savings and assets, and growing debt overhangs. The crisis came on top of persistent development challenges, including stagnant median incomes, fragility and violence, and damage caused by climate change,” he said on April 7.
“Debt relief efforts are providing some welcome fiscal space, but international finance institution International Development Association (IDA) countries need major new resources too, including grants and highly concessional resources. From April to December 2020, the first DSSI period, our net transfers to IDA and least developed countries were close to $17-billion, of which $5.8-billion were on grant terms.
The 30th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change has urged developed countries to revisit their climate change mitigation targets while also urging them to provide support to developing countries. In a joint statement at the conclusion of the 30th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change on Thursday, Ministers said the substantial gaps in mitigation, adaptation and support provided by developed countries to developing countries in the pre-2020 period must be counter-balanced by ambitious climate change action by developed countries in the post-2020 period. “They urged developed countries to revisit their targets on mitigation under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, and fulfil their commitments of providing support to developing countries,” said the Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) Ministers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on both women’s and men’s employment – but at different stages of the crisis due to the gender segregation of economic activities in many countries. UNCTAD analysis shows that early measures to curb the spread of the virus first hit jobs held predominantly by women, such as personal services. At the outset of the pandemic, a higher prevalence of the virus correlated with a higher rate of female unemployment
But as the crisis worsened and disrupted cross-border value chains, the impact on men’s employment increased because they tend to work in sectors and jobs that are more dependent on international trade. Even more worrisome, though, than how the pandemic has affected unemployment rates is its impact on women’s participation in the labour market.