tralac Daily News
Enhancing the effectiveness and performance of the country’s ports was crucial in helping South Africa’s sluggish economy to recover and grow, President Cyril Ramaphosa said during his visit to the Port of Durban on Thursday. He said measures were put in place to ensure that all problems being experienced were addressed. “Significant progress has been made to reduce congestion and improve turnaround times at the port, as well as to increase rail utilization,” he said. “A multi-party work team has been established together with port users to address key issues related to port performance.”
“Public enterprises and transport departments are working to implement structural reforms that will modernize and increase investment in the transport sector,” he said, adding Transnet would form private partnerships with other businesses.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the progress made at the Durban Port following reports of congestion and backlog problems. Addressing media during a tour of inspection, President Ramaphosa said he has met with the local business people who raised concerns about the port’s inefficiencies. “They were complaining that their goods were not travelling as quickly as they should, and they were losing money and the waiting period was quite long. We took this to heart and… the Minister of Public Enterprises and I, together with the [KwaZulu-Natal] Premier, met with the business people.”
It is no secret that the country is not doing well from an economic perspective, with all indicators pointing to this continuing in the wrong direction. The issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment were expected to worsen and, therefore, much was required to turn this situation around, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busisiwe Mavuso, said during a live podcast hosted by The Free Marketeers on April 15.
The Hydrogen Council, a global CEO led initiative, estimates that the hydrogen economy will achieve annual revenues of more than $2,5-trillion, and create more than 30-million jobs globally by 2050.
There is a growing international interest and momentum in green hydrogen for the production of clean energy. This is a key factor involved in hydrogen’s use for solving daunting decarbonisation challenges, and transforming high-emitting industries, such as steel, cement, transport and petrochemicals, towards cleaner production.
South Africa’s rich endowment of renewable resources of solar, wind and biomass for power generation, together with the technological capabilities and skills around the Fischer-Tropsch process, and access to platinum resources, places the country at an advantage for developing the green hydrogen value chain, and being a key supplier into the global hydrogen market. South Africa is well-positioned to capitalise on the rapidly developing global hydrogen economy.
Botswana has banned the importation of poultry and poultry products from South Africa after an outbreak of avian influenza was detected on a chicken farm in South Africa, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday. “As a result, the import of domesticated and wild birds, their products (meat, eggs and feathers), from South Africa is banned with immediate effect,” Botswana’s Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security said in a statement.
Namibia on Thursday suspended all poultry and bird imports from neighboring South Africa following an avian flu outbreak there. Chief Veterinary Officer Albertina Shilongo with the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, said the suspension is in place as a pre-cautionary measure in the next 21 days. All consignments containing poultry products from South Africa, she said, will be blocked at the point of entry or sent back.
Namibia and Ghana on Thursday signed a cooperation framework agreement that seeks to promote bilateral trade ties and will see Namibia exporting meat to Ghana in West Africa soon. Namibia’s executive director for the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation Penda Naanda said the agreement comes on the back of building on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Namibia-Ghana bilateral relations continue to grow from strength to strength and are based on the premise that the two countries will become stronger and prosperous through combined efforts to address common challenges and take advantage of shared opportunities for mutual benefit,” he said.
Kenya: Tax, costs ‘bigger threat to businesses than Covid-19’ (Business Daily)
A majority of company chief executives in Kenya believe the high cost of doing business and taxation posed the biggest threat to their operations over the next 12 months, dwarfing the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows. The survey found that although most business leaders projected a substantial economic rebound in the second quarter of the current fiscal year on improving orders and sales, a challenging business environment posed the biggest threat to progression.
“The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were a lesser concern compared to taxation issues like withholding tax/VAT refunds and excise duty on fast-moving consumer goods, the introduction of new taxes,” CBK stated in the CEOs survey report. “Businesses were also concerned about the effects of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the success or otherwise of the vaccine rollout and the general decreased economic activity due to the pandemic.”
Technical teams to draft Covid-19 travel protocol between UK and Kenya (The East African)
Technical teams formed by Kenya and the United Kingdom are expected to start talks on Friday to establish a bilateral protocol to be used in governing travel during this pandemic season. The teams were formed after the first meeting of a joint emergency taskforce of both countries, on Thursday, and their recommendations will be used to guide how the two countries manage passenger travel to control spread of Covid-19. These specialised committees could determine when a mutual travel ban imposed between the two countries will be lifted. On Thursday, officials from both sides, forming the Joint Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19, met virtually and agreed to delegate the specific tasks to the committees.
Kenya and Uganda sign pact to ease trade war (Business Daily)
Kenya and Uganda have agreed to abolish the trade barriers that have led to a sour relationship between the two neighbouring countries which saw various goods subjected to taxes against the East African Community (EAC) Customs Union Protocol. A delegation from Kenya led by Trade Secretary Betty Maina has been in Uganda to deliberate on the matter after Kampala raised concerns over Nairobi’s imposition of taxes on goods coming in from Uganda and banning milk and poultry products.
The Ugandan government rejected a China Exim Bank proposal to use revenue from Oil to pay for a loan to build the planned Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). This is according to information shared by Works and Transport Minister Gen Edward Katumba Wamala in a meeting with the Physical Infrastructure Committee of Parliament on Wednesday. The railway venture is part of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects that begins from Mombasa, through Nairobi, to Kampala, Kigali and Juba. The multi-billion-dollar railway line conceived under the East African Community (EAC) was agreed upon in 2011 by the presidents of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan. The plan was to have the railway run from Mombasa port to Kigali via Kampala with a connecting line to Juba. The 1,740km (1,081 miles) of the entire SGR project is expected to cost USD 12.8 billion while the Ugandan leg of 273 kilometres was expected to cost USD 2.3 billion, which initially was to be funded with a loan from Exim Bank.
Minister Bholah chairs high-level committee with Private sector on Free Trade Agreements (Government of Mauritius)
A high-level committee pertaining to the application of Free Trade Agreements signed with countries such as India, China and Africa, was held this morning, at Newton Tower in Port Louis. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and brought together several stakeholders of the Private Sector. For his part, the Secretary-General of the MCCI, Dr Yousouf Ismael, observed that it is time for other countries to believe in the potential of Mauritius and tap on the wealth of resources and build the value chain.
Producing high-end quality products will unlock new market access and foster export diversification that will ultimately build resilience to movements in demand due to global economic downturns, he said. He underpinned that a proper framework is necessary so as to make the most of the opportunities offered by the FTAs by boosting trade and commerce.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) says Nigeria remained Africa’s biggest economy and top investment destination. Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja. Akpanudoedehe was reacting to insinuation that Twitter’s decision to cite its African operations in Ghana was caused by bad governance in Nigeria. He said that Nigeria’s current status as Africa’s largest economy was attained under President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration.
United States (U.S) ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan has revealed that there is a US$300 million loan facility available to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana. According to her, US$10 million is the allocated amount per business.
In an unprecedented move to match local skills with the urgent needs of economic diversification, President Ali Bongo of the Republic of Gabon has launched the International Multisectoral Centre for Vocational Education and Training (CIMFEP, in French), in Nkok, near Libreville, in consonance with ECA’s prescription for a revolution in the development of skills and competences for economic diversification in Central Africa.
“We welcome and congratulate Gabon for its decision to align and target education policy, skills acquisition and the development of competences with market needs and its quest to build a diversified and competitive economy,” said an exhilarated Director of ECA’s Office for Central Africa, Antonio Pedro. “This is in full alignment with the recommendations of our 36th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICE) held in November 2020 on the theme Building skills and competences for economic diversification in Central Africa,” he noted.
The Government of Burkina Faso, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), launched Thursday in Ouagadougou, the work of the validation workshop for the National Strategy for the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the country.
The validation of this strategy will provide Burkina Faso with a quality document for the implementation of the AfCFTA. This national workshop to validate the provisional document of the National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy for Burkina Faso is one of the key actions of the project funded by the European Union: “Deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA to support economic integration”.
African regional and continental news
The importance of regional integration in Africa is premised on the conviction that it can play a pivotal role in diversifying economies away from over dependence on the export of a few commodities, which characterizes a number of African economies. Economic cooperation and regional integration can therefore contribute to the continent’s economic development and poverty alleviation. This is gaining even greater importance with Covid-19 as regional integration, particularly through the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is expected to contribute to the economic recovery from the crisis. Regional integration is also a key priority for the African Union (AU) under the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD), “Agenda 2063”, and the regional economic communities (RECs).
The 2019 Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) report, officially launched in May 2020, is a second and improved edition from the 2016 inaugural one. It assesses the regional integration status and efforts of countries that are members of the eight regional economic communities (RECs) recognized by the African Union. It compares each country to the other countries within its REC(s) and to the rest of African countries.
Urgent need for African free-trade infrastructure (Business Daily)
Policy makers see risks to the inflation outlook as balanced and feel that they can continue to offer support to the economy, Kganyago says. The basis of the AfCFTA agreement is that the reduction of tariffs and nontariff barriers will boost intracontinental trade, and consequently encourage the integration of African businesses into global supply chains. Trade costs have become a focus of discussion in African trade policy circles due to their increased visibility when it comes to reducing trade barriers. In the context of Africa’s rapid integration under the AfCFTA, the imperative to reduce trade costs seems even more urgent than that of developing and improving trade enabling infrastructure.
African trade contracted 11.9% in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions to curb its spread pushed the continent into its first recession in a quarter of a century, according to a new report. “Although the contraction was synchronized across the whole region, the greatest impact was on economies dependent on tourism and commodities,” African Export-Import Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership of the African Development Bank said in the report. “Leading oil-producing countries, where oil exports account for more than 90% of foreign exchange earnings and more than 60% of fiscal revenues,” were particularly badly affected, they said.
Open global trade has had positive effects for African industrialization and development. This report looks at efforts to help African countries strengthen their trading capacity and take fuller advantage of the benefits that trade brings.
The East African Community (EAC) Deputy Secretary General Christophe Bazivamo has called on member states to speed up the process of harmonized procurement laws so as to improve regional apparel, footwear and medicine industry, Bazivamo, who is also in charge of Productive and Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat said that these three areas have a wide potential to grow but have not been developed due to lack of improvement in the manufacturing sector in the region. “We need to see the role of procurement in improving the regional manufacturing sector, which largely depends on imports yet the assessment we did shows that we have potential to produce our own shoes, medicine and clothing,” Bazivamo said at the 13th East African Procurement Forum (EAPF2021).
Bazivamo said that harmonisation of such policies will enable EAC to achieve its middle income economy status by 2032 through increasing the share of value added products at an average of 8.6% (in 2017) to 40% average.
With this background, the EAC Heads of State directed member states to put in place modalities to promote key sectors of textile, leather, automotive industry and pharmaceuticals in order to promote local industries by stopping importation of new and used products from outside the region.
‘Agenda 2063 and SDGs Implementation in Africa’ is the first report from the African Peer Review Mechanism focussing on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. Though there are other reports on progress towards meeting the targets of both the SDGs and Agenda 2063 at continental level, there is little information on institutional implementation mechanisms, levels of awareness, partnerships and coordination arrangements to enhance implementation of the SDGs and the AU Agenda 2063 at the national level. Also, the level of national engagement by stakeholders at national and regional levels in these development frameworks needs closer scrutiny.
This report examines the extent to which national systems have been structured to respond to, and facilitate the integration of SDGs and the AU Agenda 2063 into national structures, and assesses the various mechanisms that support the domestication and localisation of the two Agendas at national and sub-national levels. The report provides an important first step to understanding the critical governance structures and systems needed to realise the SDGs and the Aspirations in the AU Agenda 2063.
With the growth of economies across Africa, competition law has remained one of the key drivers for effective market participation, consumer protection and fair business practices. However, the global pandemic introduced new challenges for competition authorities in Africa and abroad, with each enforcer pursuing the most beneficial enforcement method for its national or regional jurisdiction.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission’s Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development (AUC-DARBE) have launched a guide to boosting intra-African agricultural trade under the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The Framework for Boosting Intra-African Trade in Agricultural Commodities and Services is a blueprint for expanding agricultural trade between African countries and aims to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth for Africa. Increased trade represents a paradigm shift away from business as usual and is an important part of the collaborative work towards boosting food security and nutrition for all Africans.
“The Framework provides a timely catalyst for the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems, sustainable development and prosperity in Africa. A key priority is the pursuit of industrial transformation policies and programmes that support the private sector to add value to African exports, compete with imports from outside Africa and expand opportunities for job creation,” FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel, African Union Commissioner Josefa Sacko, and AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene jointly stated in the publication’s foreword.
Africa seeks to produce 60pc of its vaccines by 2040 (The East African)
The African Union (AU) has announced the launch of a partnership to manufacture vaccines at five research centres to be built on the continent in the coming 15 years. The continent seeks to be able to manufacture 60 percent of its vaccines by 2040. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the African Union Commission Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to boost African vaccine research and development as well as manufacturing. According to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the five centres will be set up over the next 10-15 years. They will be located in the north, south, east, west, and central parts of Africa.
Fight against violent extremism, and graft take toll on East Africa (The East African)
As East Africa struggles to recover from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the region is also fighting extremism, crime and corruption. In this mix is illicit trade that is increasingly rising as the principal financier of extremism, criminal enterprises and breeder of corruption in East Africa and its surrounding regions, says a report by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) released recently. The region’s woes are compounded by the fact that it is surrounded on all sides by potent terror groups, deeply penetrated by domestic and international crime groups and undermined from within by corrupt members of its business, civic and political classes. According to the report, terrorists and international crime groups are increasingly targeting East Africa as a destination market for illicit trade, as well as a transport hub for the mass import and export of illegal goods.
Green investment and its importance were highlighted in recent dialogues between the European Investment Bank, the Portuguese Embassy in Kenya, the financial community, and development stakeholders. “Recent innovative investment across East Africa has transformed access for millions of people to clean water, renewable energy and finance essential for a better and more sustainable future. Today’s Nairobi Green Talks allow innovative solutions and technical best-practice to be shared with the rest of Africa and the world.
Global economy news
Despite turning out better than expected, growth in 2020 is estimated to be the worst on record, at –1.9 percent, leading to a large increase in poverty. In 2021, the region’s economy is expected to resume expansion at 3.4 percent, weaker than the 6 percent for the rest of the world, amid a continued lack of access to vaccines and limited policy space to support the crisis response and recovery. Macroeconomic policies will in many countries entail some difficult choices. Saving lives remains the first priority, which will require access to affordable vaccines, ensuring that the logistical and administrative prerequisites of a vaccination rollout are in place, targeted containment efforts, and added spending to strengthen local health systems. The next priority is to unlock the region’s potential by creating more fiscal space and implementing transformative reforms. These include mobilizing domestic revenue, strengthening social protection, promoting digitalization, and improving transparency and governance. Countries will also have to consolidate their fiscal positions to bring debt back on a sustainable footing. Such measures will help lift longer-term growth and provide opportunities for the region’s new job seekers. The international community has a key role to play by ensuring more equitable and quicker access to vaccines and other medical products; and by providing low-income countries the external funding needed to pursue the policy priorities sketched above and avoid long-term scarring.
On Thursday 15 April 2021, the G20 Africa Advisory Group held its first meeting under the Italian G20 Finance Track Presidency. The Group, created under the German G20 Presidency in 2017, is responsible for steering policy actions under the G20 “Compact with Africa” (CwA) framework. Nurturing a propitious environment for private investment in African countries and fostering growth and sustainable development are listed among the main objectives of this Group.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the worst economic and social crisis in generations but the impact of the crisis has been disproportionally harsher in developing countries. In this sense, it is important to address the diverse needs and challenges faced by African countries, in particular to overcoming the pandemic and boosting the economic recovery.
The global market for cashews is booming, but the African countries growing more than half the world’s supply aren’t cashing in, an UNCTAD report says, due to their lack of processing industries. Between 2000 and 2018, world trade in raw cashew nuts more than doubled to 2.1 billion kilograms, and African producers – led by Côte d’Ivoire – accounted for almost two-thirds of the growth. But the continent’s farmers and exporters get only a fraction of the final retail price, according to the report, Commodities at a Glance: Special issue on cashew nuts. “Countries that grow cashews but don’t process them at a significant scale retain only a small share of the value created as the nut travels from the farm to store,” said Miho Shirotori, who leads UNCTAD’s work on trade negotiations and commercial diplomacy. “African farmers, exporters and workers are missing out on a wealth of opportunities,” Ms. Shirotori said.
The EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific Community on Thursday (15 April) finalised the successor to the Cotonou agreement, bringing a close to two and a half years of negotiations and repeated delays.
Speaking at the initialling ceremony in Brussels, Commissioner for International Partnerships and EU chief negotiator, Jutta Urpilainen, said the agreement was a “turning point that will make our relationship more political and fit for the future”. At the heart of the pact is the promise of greater political dialogue and development cooperation. It also includes text on security and migration, one of the most controversial issues throughout the talks, including new commitments from the ACP countries on return and re-admission of failed economic migrants. It also includes text on agreeing “circular migration” and legal pathways.
Ministers and other high-level officials concluded the 2021 Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up today, reaffirming their commitment to strengthen multilateral cooperation and solidarity to combat COVID-19’s frustration of global implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, tenuous even before the unprecedented crisis exacerbated existing ones. “We are now facing a multidimensional health and socioeconomic crisis that is compounded by climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation,” they stated in a 13-page outcome document of agreed conclusions and recommendations (document E/FFDF/2021/L.1). “Although the virus has impacted everyone, everywhere, developing countries, especially the most vulnerable countries, have been disproportionately affected.” The Forum’s outcome document — which states that “equitable, affordable access for all” to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics is “at the center of global recovery” — is structured around the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s seven chapters: domestic public resources; domestic and international private business and finance; international development cooperation; international trade as an engine for development; debt sustainability; addressing systemic issues; and science, technology, innovation and capacity-building; as well as an additional section on data, monitoring and follow-up. It also includes a discussion of cross-cutting issues in recognition of the devastating global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant risk of losing years of development progress, such as pre-existing inequalities within and between countries and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls.
Global maritime transport plays a crucial role in both facilitating trade and fostering economic development at an international scale. However, the sector also contributes to global climate change and local air pollution, producing around three percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and emitting an estimated 15 percent of some of the world’s major air pollutants annually.
A new series of reports by the World Bank with valuable expert support from University Maritime Advisory Services (UMAS) highlights, however, that decarbonizing maritime transport offers a unique business and development opportunity for countries, including developing and emerging economies. For developing countries with large renewable energy resources, this could mean tapping into an estimated $1+ trillion future fuel market, while modernizing their own domestic energy and industrial infrastructure.
Aviation Sector Calls for Unified Cybersecurity Practices to Mitigate Growing Risks (World Economic Forum)
The aviation industry needs to unify its approach to prevent cybersecurity shocks, according to a new study released today by the World Economic Forum. The increased level of interdependencies can lead to systemic risks and cascading effects as airlines, airports and aircraft manufacturing take different approaches to countering cyber risks. To guard against these risks and create a streamlined approach with civil aviation authorities, the World Economic Forum has launched the Cyber Resilience in Aviation initiative in collaboration with more than 50 companies. The latest report, Pathways to a Cyber Resilient Aviation Industry, developed in collaboration with Deloitte, outlines how the industry – from airlines to airports to manufacturing and the supply chain – can work with a common language and baseline of practices. The report focuses on mitigating the impact of future digital threats on multiple levels: