tralac Daily News
Port of Cape Town requires urgent Presidential attention, says Maynier (Engineering News)
Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier says he is encouraged by the recent commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to make the country’s ports more efficient and competitive. However, he also notes his concern that the Port of Cape Town may be deprioritised in the overall strategy going forward, given the extensive focus on the Port of Durban.
When South Africa implemented lockdown restrictions, one of the sectors that was most affected was tourism, with businesses remaining shut even when economic activity resumed, “The plan represents the collective response by government and the tourism sector to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft plan was released for public consultation in August 2020,” said Acting Minister in The Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday. She said the plan proposes seven strategic interventions, which include stimulating domestic demand; launching investment and resource mobilisation programmes; and regional tourism integration
A second outbreak of avian influenza has been detected in the North West province, a week after it was found at a commercial layer farm in the east of Johannesburg. The South African Poultry Association reported that an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5 virus was detected on a broiler breeder farm in North West. The farm has had to cull 7,000 broiler breeder birds, the poultry industry body said in a statement. “Quarantine protocols remain in place on the farm concerned, the farm workers are issued personal protective equipment daily, and the farm is being sterilised before accepting new layers,” it said. In the meantime, Lesotho is the latest country to ban poultry products coming from South Africa. However, it has only banned eggs coming from Gauteng.
Namibia strides ahead with economic diplomacy (The Southern Times)
Namibia will continue to create synergies for local businesses with international partners as part of a deliberate economic diplomacy thrust to strategically position the economy to get as many benefits as possible out of the African Free Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Deputy Prime Minister and International Relations and Co-operation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has said. She was addressing parliament this week while motivating her ministry’s budget allocation. “In line with the strategic objectives of the ministry to pursue economic diplomacy with special emphasis on creating market access for our products, the ministry will seek niche markets for Namibian products. (For instance) Namibian salt is in demand in many parts of Africa and beyond for household and industrial purposes.
Namibia tourism sector to take years to recover (CAJ News Africa)
Analysts forecast it would take at least two years for Namibia’s tourism sector to recover from the decline fuelled by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is attributed to a decline in global tourism amid lockdowns as well as the Southern African country’s slow rate of vaccination. Daniel Kavishe and Neville Mandimika, the analysts at Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) made the projections. “We estimate that it will take 2-3 years before tourism and travel return to pre-pandemic levels, especially given generally weaker global tourism, but also in light of Namibia’s slow pace of vaccination relative to other tourist destinations in Africa,” the duo said in a joint statement.
Chopper border patrols deter smuggling (The Herald)
The introduction of helicopter patrols by security officials has resulted in reduced cases of smuggling along the country’s border with South Africa. “We are not going back with this operation “No to Cross-border Crimes’”. As the police, we encourage travellers and importers/exports to use formal borders rather than choosing to break the law. Let me warn such people that we will not fold our hands and allow lawlessness,” Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.
US seeks more time in Kenya trade talks (Business Daily)
A new trade deal between Kenya and the US may delay after President Joe Biden’s administration sought more time to scrutinise the pact that had been negotiated by his predecessor, Donald Trump. The request by Washington could affect a critical deadline for securing swift passage of the deal in the US Congress. “The US side requested us to give them a few weeks,” said Trade Principal Secretary Johnson Weru. “So they will get back to us soon.” The trade deal now stands a slim chance of being covered by a “fast-track” legislation known as the Trade Promotion Authority, (TPA) which expires in two months, raising the prospect of further delays. Technically, the current TPA allowing a special vote on trade deals with no amendments, expires July 1, 2021.
Trade deficits widens on fuel, manufactured goods imports (Business Daily)
Kenya’s trade deficit widened by 13.49 per cent in the first two months of the year, largely on increased expenditure on manufactured materials and fuel imports. The trade deficit – the gap between imports and exports – increased to Sh198.64 billion from Sh175.03 billion a year ago amid reduced disruptions in global supply chains and increased cost of shipping in fuel. The value of imports rose 10.78 per cent to Sh320.45 billion between January-February 2021, provisional trade data published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) suggests a higher growth than 6.63 per cent to Sh121.81 billion for exports. A persistently higher trade deficit, economists say, slows down the creation of new job opportunities for the growing skilled youth as most revenue earned within Kenya is spent on buying goods from foreign factories, raising production and job openings in source markets.
Kenya, DRC sign deals on security, trade and transport (The East African)
Kenya has signed crucial agreements on transport, security and trade with the Democratic Republic of Congo, signalling a push to improve low figures of business between them. The Agreement on Maritime Freight Management, revised from earlier arrangements, will be the basic legal framework in handling all freight cargo coming through Mombasa destined for the DRC. When fully implemented, the deal will address delays on DRC imports by dedicating clearing channels for the goods headed for the DR Congo market.
Lapsset project works still on, nine years later (The East African)
As the region looks forward to the commencement of works on proposed joint Uganda, Tanzania East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), Kenya’s $1.5 billion Lokichar to Lamu Crude Oil Pipeline under the Lamu Port-South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) project has been in the works since 2012. According to Maina Kiondo, the director general of Lapsset, it is work in progress and currently, the environmental social impact assessment report on the project is undergoing public participation. “Our plans for the pipeline are advanced and the project has undergone a major transformation from completion of initial preliminary studies to completion of Front End Engineering Designs,” said Mr Kiondo.
Kenya plans to launch a strategy to drive the post-COVID-19 tourism recovery, a government official said Wednesday. Najib Balala, cabinet secretary with the Ministry for Tourism and Wildlife, told journalists in Nairobi that the sector has been the hardest hit by the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic. “We should complete the strategy in a couple of weeks and commission it in a month’s time,” Balala said during the official launch of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for all frontline workers in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Tanzania overtakes South Africa as Kenya’s top remittance source (The East African)
Dollar inflows from African countries into Kenya dropped 65.9 per cent in the first three months this year, with Tanzania overtaking South Africa as the biggest source of remittances. New data by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that Kenyans living across the continent sent home $39 million (Ksh4.2 billion) between January and March compared to $114.7 million (Ksh12.3 billion) in a similar period of 2020. The sharp decline in inflows was driven by lower remittances from South Africa, which was the biggest source last year but has since slipped behind Tanzania and Uganda. In Africa, most governments lacked adequate spending power amid falling tax revenues and huge debt payments, which left residents hit by the pandemic without any support.
Case against pipeline project delayed (Daily Monitor)
A case seeking to stop construction of the oil pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania for failing to conduct an environmental and social impact assessment has failed to take off even as the two countries proceed with implementation of the project. In November last year, four non-governmental organisations moved to the East African Court of Justice to block the construction of the 1,445-kilometre pipeline which starts in Hoima in the Albertine Graben, western Uganda, and ends at Tanga port in Tanzania. On April 11, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and his Tanzania counterpart President Samia Suluhu signed a deal for the $3.5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), now touted as a strategic win for Tanzania which will earn $12.7 off each barrel of oil transported through it.
Support EAC organs to stop endless trade wars (Business Daily)
The Kenya-Uganda trade war should be a wake-up call to the East African Community (EAC) whose key mandates include enhancing and smoothening commercial relations among the member states. It is now common to see countries making unilateral trade decisions, striking side deals and fighting each other, completely usurping the role of the EAC secretariat and negating the whole point of belonging to a common market. The latest tiff pits Kenya against Uganda, with the former seeking a review of taxes imposed on its exports by Kampala. Uganda is charging an 18 percent value added tax (VAT), a six percent withholding tax and a one percent railway levy on poultry products imported from Kenya.
Sugar Council chief: backward integration will create jobs (The Nation Online)
The Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Zacch Adedeji, yesterday said the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) designed for the sugar industry can tackle unemployment and socio-economic issues bedeviling the country. “The sugar sector is a goldmine that holds numerous potential and opportunities for Nigeria and Nigerians.” He called for concerted efforts toward full implementation of the Backward Integration Programme for the sugar industry which was crucial to Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in sugar production.
‘Nigerian ports undermining trade, industrialisation’ (Guardian Nigeria)
Stakeholders have decried the state of Nigerian seaports, saying they are largely underdeveloped, poorly ranked among their peers in the West Africa sub-region, and undermining the ease of doing business. According to the stakeholders, Nigerian seaports remain at the potential level despite their impacts on other value-chains of the economy. Speaking at the virtual inauguration of the maritime group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), yesterday, the President of the Chamber, Toki Mabogunje, stated that no economy can be competitive in the international trade circle without an efficient maritime sector. She added that over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s imports and exports to the rest of the world are conveyed via sea, underscoring the strategic importance of maritime to domestic and global trade.
The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has launched a co-investment partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), through its Business Incubation Platform (IITA BIP), to boost the soybean value chain in Nigeria. The IITA BIP provides expertise and training in commercial agriculture and farm management, as well as opportunities for market expansion. According to IITA BIP, the demand for soybean in the country far exceeds the supply, with average yields below current rates in other parts of Africa and the world. To help counter this, IITA BIP will leverage a $300,000 co-investment grant from the Trade Hub to accelerate the production of a new variety of high yielding soybean seed for uptake by commercial seed companies in Nigeria.
Senate Seeks Policies to Encourage Local Investors in Cement Production (THISDAY Newspapers)
The Senate has called on the federal government to provide more industrial incentives and protections such as concessionary loans and larger tax incentives for new entrants into the local cement production with a view to boosting production, reduction of price and encouragement of more valuable producers in the country. The Senate passed a resolution at yesterday’s plenary, following the adoption of a motion, entitled, ‘Need for Liberalisation of Cement policy in Nigeria,’ sponsored by Senator Ashiru Yisa (Kwara South) and five others.
Heads of National Shippers Councils are in Democratic Republic Congo’s capital Kinshasa, to roll out strategies and cooperation mechanism with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat for a successful implementation. “The start of trading under this initiative has shown that we will become economically independent in Africa. I want to declare that my desire is to see this collective effort transform our economies,” DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi, said. Africa is endowed with a lot of natural resources but most of its exports are unprocessed. “When we join our efforts as a bloc, we become stronger but if we are going individually we will not be strong enough and the sense of the African Continental Free Trade Area is that. We need to be a strong bloc of Africans,” Sayiba Tambwe, CEO DRC Multimodal Freight Management Office.
Ghana begins digital verification of COVID-19 test results (Graphic Online)
Ghana(GHS) has become the first country in the ECOWAS Sub region to deploy a system for digital verification of COVID-19 PCR test results. The platform, based on the African Union Trusted Travel and ECOWAS BIOMARS standard, would help stop the circulation of fake test results.
Duty free import regulation on basic food items necessary and timely (Ethiopian Press Agency)
Last week the Ministry of trade and industry issued a timely regulation which allowed companies to import basic food items like rice, flour and other food items on duty free. Over the last two years, particularly in the advent of COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia, the government has issued far reaching austerity measures that helped to make the national economy to stay on track. Ministry of Trade and Industry Communication Affairs Director, Mr Wondimu Flate, said food, sugar, bread, rice and baby milk are allowed to be imported duty-free.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a loan of US$174.08mn to finance reliability and performance upgrades to the country’s rail system under the Egypt National Railways Modernisation Project (ENRMP). Rail transport is central to Egypt’s economy and competitiveness. Rail passenger and freight traffic are expected to increase to 15% and 10% respectively by 2029 as a result of the bank’s loan and other investments in the project. Currently, 8% of passenger traffic and 6% of freight traffic respectively move by rail. The planned upgrades are expected to benefit low-income Egyptians, about 40% of the population, who rely on trains as an affordable mode of transport.
Ministry: Egypt world’s 1st exporter of citrus (EgyptToday)
During an interview with Extra News channel, Qersh noted that the Egyptian products reach all the world’s continents, pointing to a plan which is based on three major axes to increase the agricultural exports by opening new markets in new countries, monitoring the quality, and increasing the farmers’ awareness.
African regional and continental news
The AfCFTA Secretariat is committed to promoting trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. One of the key elements of the Agreement is the Dispute Settlement Body Protocol that will be officially inaugurated by the Senior Trade Officials Meeting Monday 26th of April 2021. The officials will Election of New Bureau.
The system is inspired by those aspects of the WTO system that have proved effective such as trusted panels appointed by Members, an Appellate Body steeped in trade expertise, reverse consensus on key decisions etc. But it departs from and improves on those aspects that have not worked such as only one term for AB members, no single Member State can block the appointment of AB, and has fixed the conflict of “sequencing” that is a feature of the WTO system.
Vodacom, AUDA-Nepad launch mVacciNation digital toolbox (Engineering News)
Telecommunications giant Vodacom Group and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-Nepad) have joined forces to deploy a mobile technology platform that manages vaccination appointments and stock availability. Developed by Vodacom Group member Mezzanine, the mVacciNation digital toolbox will be offered to African Union member States to accelerate the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. This is the first project within the public-private partnership formed between Vodacom Group and AUDA-Nepad to boost Africa’s digital transformation and build resilience for the post-Covid world.
H.E Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy convened an extra ordinary meeting of Ministers of Air Transport and key stakeholders on 15th April 2021 to discuss this issue of green vaccine passport/certificates with objective to agree on a common African position and establish a mechanism to properly communicate the position to responsible institutions and partners. H.E Abou-Zeid informed the meeting that the various initiatives taken by the AU Department of Infrastructure and Energy in collaboration with African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Africa CDC, ICAO, AFRAA, IATA and other air transport stakeholders to ensure a sustainable restart and recovery of the African air transport sector are facing important challenges including travel bans and restrictions preventing African citizen to travel to other continents. Moreover, some developed countries have recently introduced an initiative of green vaccine passports/certificates, making it a mandatory entry requirement for African countries.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has amplified the need to address issues related to Intellectual Property (IP) and human rights as well as for taking steps to benefit from TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to medicines for all. As least developed countries (LDCs) join the rest of the world in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, there are concerns over access, transparency, equity and human rights violations. Against this backdrop, SADC Members of Parliament last week called for all hands on board to build the region’s capacity to produce medicines and ensure citizens benefit from their vast medicinal plant resources.
EAC governments need budgets of survival and recovery (The Independent)
Uganda on April 14-16, hosted the third East African Congress of Accountants to deliberate about economic integration issues. Uganda’s Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, who officially opened the congress on April 15, told participants that regional integration is no longer a matter of choice or debate but has been recognised as one of the key drivers of economic growth and sustainable development.
The 20th Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health is currently underway via hybrid (physical and virtual) means. Among the items on the agenda are the consideration of various reports including those on; implementation and development of a monitoring and evaluation mechanism of previous decisions of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health; status of the Covid-19 pandemic in the EAC region and updates on implementation of the response plan; as well as reports on the operationalization and implementation of the Multi-national East African Regional Centres of Excellence for Skills and Tertiary Education in Higher Medical and Health Sciences Education Program.
Africa quick to take to digital currencies (Business Day)
Economies in sub-Saharan Africa are developing digital financial services. In the larger markets, regulators have taken policy and regulatory measures to support financial institutions’ digital transformation. Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) have grabbed the attention of financial authorities worldwide, with governments weighing their feasibility and inherent risks against the potential economic value. Five of the 40 countries the IMF has approved to issue digital currencies are in Africa. African nations’ progress in CBDC research and implementation lays the groundwork for successful adoption in the future. Moreover, it signals the continent’s ability to participate meaningfully in the emerging universal digital payments network.
The ECOWAS Commission is set to organize, from 28th April to 10th May 2021, by videoconference, an international conference to share with its partners and the other regions of the world, the experience of its regional food security storage system. The overall objective is to lay the foundations for a renewed multilateral partnership to strengthen, in a sustainable manner, the resilience of the West African Food Security Storage System and its capacity to respond effectively to the amplification and complexity of food, nutrition, and pastoral crises in the region.
Africa’s international relations
Ghana is the United Kingdom’s 75th largest trading partner, accounting for around 0.1% of total trade. Total trade in goods and services between the United Kingdom and Ghana was £1.2 billion in 2019. HM Government expects the United Kingdom-Ghana TPA to support jobs and economic development in Ghana by replicating the effects of its previous trading arrangements with the United Kingdom including duty free and quota free access. This could be of benefit to partner firms producing goods for which the United Kingdom is an important export market and of benefit to consumers through lower prices. In 2019, the United Kingdom’s market accounted for around 39% of Ghana’s exports of tinned tuna, and 21% of Ghana’s exports of bananas.
Commander Says Africa Too Important For US To Ignore (Eurasia Review)
Africa is a fascinating continent of tremendous possibilities but also tremendous dangers, and the U.S. ignores the nations of Africa at its own peril, the commander of the U.S. Africa Command said during an interview. Africa has 13 of the 25 fastest growing economies in the world, Townsend said. In a time of climate change, Africa has 60% of the arable land on the globe. “This fact alone should show how important Africa is for the world,” he added. The continent also has a plethora of strategic materials, such as cobalt, chromium, tantalum and more. African resources are critical to 21st century progress.
The European Union (EU), through the European Commission, and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) has agreed to provide €60 million to the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) joint Boost Africa Initiative to support higher risk investment in Africa. “Young African entrepreneurial talent is thriving. Boost Africa is there to help them in two ways: supporting their business projects financially and also accompanying them in the difficult process from design to implementation,” European Commission Director-General for International Partnerships Koen Doens explained.
Cotton made in Africa cooperates with African Cotton Foundation (Fashion United)
The Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative will join forces with the African Cotton Foundation (ACF) to promote socially and ecologically sustainable cotton cultivation. This includes training and other implementation measures conducted by cotton companies in the CmiA project countries, which will be coordinated by the AFC. They can now apply to the Aid by Trade Foundation – the CmiA’s parent organisation – for co-financing for the implementation of specific activities, especially regarding innovative measures to protect the soil or to promote integrated farming.
The second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will be held from Sept 26 to 28 in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan province, according to its organizers. Trade between China and Africa surged by 27 percent on a yearly basis to 52.1 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest data released by the General Administration of Customs. Ren Hongbin, assistant minister of commerce, said that building a pilot zone for in-depth economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa is one of the three strategic tasks of the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone.
Creating a New Foreign Policy Agenda for Africa-US Engagement (Premium Times)
I think that the U.S. could work with Africa, either under the auspices of the African Union or indeed through individual countries like Nigeria, to build a better world. Africa should not be seen or used as a pawn in great power games nor as an arena in the contest to secure strategic minerals and natural resources but rather as a partner in building a more secure, a more peaceful and prosperous world.
Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) is the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is the text of the remarks delivered at the 2021 Johns Hopkins African Studies Programme Conference held on Monday April 19.
Global economy news
The clean text on e-signatures and authentication seeks to ensure that the electronic signatures used in an online transaction are not denied their value or legal effect because they are submitted in electronic format. The facilitator of the small group discussion on this topic, Mrs Gintare Kemekliene (European Union), reported that the clean text is the result of the hard work and flexibility of members and derives from 11 proposals tabled by members at the start of the process.
“We will be asking ministers to meet virtually in July with a focus on fisheries subsidies and possibly one or two other topics,” Director-General Okonjo-Iweala said at a meeting on fisheries subsidies of the Negotiating Group on Rules, which was convened at the level of heads of delegations. “The aim of that meeting will be for ministers to review a very advanced, hopefully final, text,” she said. Before then, an intermediate text containing middle-ground provisions will be important to capture progress made since the most recent version of the draft consolidated text was circulated in December, the chair said.
WTO eyes larger deal on vaccine, medical goods (Times of India)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is looking to go beyond India and South Africa’s proposal on flexibility in patents for vaccines to discuss a possible larger deal on health that includes unhindered movement of vaccines across customs checkpoints and free shipment of medical goods and material across borders to combat Covid. The multilateral body, which sets global trade rules, has been discussing a proposal from India and South Africa for flexibility in the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) so that countries can access technology for vaccine production, especially when the poorer nations, especially in Africa, are finding it difficult. “Mere access to the recipe will not result in production of vaccines,” a source said ahead of the meeting of the TRIPS Council, where the joint proposal is being discussed.
Ahead of a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting on Thursday to discuss a proposal to waive certain intellectual property on COVID-19 medical tools during the pandemic, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) commended a recent statement by the new WTO General Director Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, calling on governments to move forward with negotiations on the landmark proposal initially made by India and South Africa last year. As COVID-19 continues to ravage countries across the globe, MSF urged all governments to act in solidarity and support, or at least not block, this crucial proposal.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns drew cross-border activities to a halt, hitting small-scale traders hard. With hardly any business, they had no choice but to use their savings to meet their family's needs. When borders reopened, many traders found themselves unable to restart their business at a level comparable to before the lockdown. New requirements such as holding health certificates to cross borders, and related costs, even made them reconsider their business strategies. But trading is a necessity for these micro entrepreneurs, especially for women who are the most active in this field in Africa.