tralac Daily News
Stakeholders are divided over South Africa’s prospects of containing the Avian Influenza (AI) as the outbreak spreads in the commercial hub of Gauteng. The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) and Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) have assured that every measure is being taken to contain the recent outbreak. “As it stands, the poultry industry sees another blow after the outbreak of avian flu on a second farm in Gauteng,” Denise Rapitsi, AMEI Chief Strategy Officer, said. “It has also been noteworthy how swiftly our SADC trading partners reacted to the news and halted imports of South African chicken.”
Kazungula Bridge opening to boost Sadc trade (Chronicle)
The official opening of the Kazungula Bridge and One-Stop Border Post facilities next week Monday is expected to enhance Southern Africa’s access to international markets through connectivity with major seaports. The new bridge provides a vital link between neighbouring Botswana and Zambia. Its operationalising is seen as a giant step towards maximising the operational efficiency of the Sadc north-south corridor and enhancing regional economic integration. The facility is also expected to ease congestion at the Beitbridge Border Post, touted as the busiest regional inland port of entry through Zimbabwe.
US $300m Beitbridge Border Post modernisation project in Zimbabwe underway (Construction Review)
The government of Zimbabwe and the Zimborders consortium is currently implementing a US $300m Beitbridge Border Post modernisation project, a move that is expected to boost capacity fivefold for human and vehicular traffic at SADC’s busiest inland port. According to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), the construction project will result in the required improvement to the current infrastructure, which will go a long way in creating efficient and effective traffic management for all stakeholders and the economy.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora last year sent home a total of US$1 billion, the highest ever contribution made to the local economy. Addressing journalists in Bulawayo over the last weekend, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube revealed that diaspora remittances have since overtaken foreign aid to Zimbabwe. Ncube said the remittances surpassed the previous year’s amount of US$635.7 million. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had projected diaspora remittances to be US$940 million last year.
Local banks’ failure to fully embrace trade financing is hindering growth of Kenya, regional exports to international markets, experts now say. This comes even as the country continues to push for trade deals, among them the recently concluded Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the UK, and the ongoing talks for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US. While the country is seeking to grow its exports to the United States, it barely serves 23 per cent of the potential under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which expires in 2025, which eliminates import tariffs on goods from eligible African nations. According to the Export Promotion Council of Kenya, the country is doing only one per cent (1%) of the potential in textile and apparel, where 10 countries account for almost 80 per cent of all US apparel imports with China topping the list with a 30 per cent share.
Kenya and Tanzania agree to eliminate barriers to trade, movement of people (Capital Business)
Kenya and Tanzania have today agreed to eliminate barriers hindering the smooth flow of trade and people between the two East African nations. A joint team of experts will be set up to address the disjointed enforcement of cross-border Covid-19 containment protocols, one of the most pronounced non-tariff trade barrier between the two nations. “First, we noted that trade between Kenya and Tanzania is facing some administrative challenges. They include non-tariff barriers and other restrictions which are frustrating trade and investment between our two countries,” President Kenyatta said.
Kenya, Tanzania agree on gas pipeline plans (The East African)
Kenya and Tanzania on Tuesday signed an agreement to start working on a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa in what the two countries’ leaders said was part of a long-term project to share energy resources. At a joint Press conference in Nairobi, Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu and her Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta said they had agreed to build more interconnecting infrastructure, starting with a gas pipeline and roads. The MoU on Cooperation in Natural Gas Transportation means respective Ministers of Energy can start negotiating the design, cost and other logistical needs for the pipeline to be built. A joint communique said it will enhance “energy sufficiency” with Kenya keen on importing gas from Tanzania’s nascent plant.
Botswana launches revised AGOA strategy (Botswana Daily News)
The revised African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) National Response Strategy for Botswana remains one of the mechanisms towards economic diversification and SME sustainable development. Speaking at launch of the revised strategy on Thursday April 29, the Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry, Mr Mmusi Kgafela, said the strategy resonated well with national priorities of promoting an export-led and knowledge-based economy as contained in Vision 2036 and the National Development Plan 11. Elements of the revised strategy included, among other interventions, identifying sector representation to ensure in-depth and adequate sectoral coverage.
The Rwandan economy is on the path of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock, which is strengthened by the country’s effective control of the virus, Rwandan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana said Tuesday. The economy is expected to grow at 5.1 percent in 2021, 7 percent in 2022 and at above 7.8 percent in 2023 and 2024, said Ndagijimana at the cross-listing event of mobile network operator MTN Rwanda in the capital city Kigali. This outlook is an opportunity for investment and private sector development in the central African nation, said Ndagijimana, adding that the cross-listing is a testimony of the confidence in Rwanda’s economy.
Uganda’s debt burden (The Independent)
Julius Kapwepwe, the director of programmes at Uganda Debt Network, a debt monitoring NGO, Uganda’s national says, to control the country’s spiraling debt, the Ministry of Finance officials must ask themselves some questions every time they are packaging a loan request. The spiraling national debt was in the news for the last one week and the Ministry of Finance officials appearing before the parliament committee on budget had no clear answers as they took the heat from committee members led by chairman Amos Lugoloobi on how to rein in uncontrolled borrowing and spending. The debt was Shs68trillion on April 15. “The debt burden is unbearable. As a committee we want to know how you are going to bring down this problem.”
FMITI lists requirements for full AfCFTA benefits (Nigerian Tribune)
The Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI) on Tuesday, listed the requirements for Nigeria to fully benefit from Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the ministry said that for Nigeria to benefit maximally from the AfCFTA, its goods must be produced with high standard and with equity in mind. Mr Emmanuel Ebukanson, the South-South Coordinator, Department of Weights and Measures, FMITI, made the call in Calabar at a one-day sensitisation workshop organised by the ministry. The workshop was with the theme: ‘How Nigeria Will Leverage on the AfCFTA Treaty and the National Quality Policy Implementation – Weights and Measures Perspective’.
Morocco Strengthens South-South Cooperation with Nigeria, Djibouti (Morocco World News)
Morocco’s latest efforts to develop South-South cooperation have seen renewed diplomatic talks with the foreign ministers of Nigeria and Djibouti, on May 4. Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, held a video conference with his Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss various bilateral issues. While Morocco’s foreign ministry has not released specifics of the conversations, it is likely, considering recent developments between the two countries, that it is at least somewhat related to the Nigeria-Morocco oil pipeline, and OCP’s efforts to help Nigeria stabilize its fertilizer production.
Dairibord cautious of AfCFTA (NewsDay)
Dairibord Holdings Limited (DHL) has said although the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could unlock a string of spinoffs, significant threats to intra-African trade would also arise. Zimbabwe’s biggest dairy producer reported a 12,5% volumes slowdown during the year ended December 31, 2020 after COVID-19-induced restrictions affected demand for milk across markets, just as Africa was fine-tuning the birth of the multi-country bloc. But last week, DHL said it would be treading with significant caution. “Our strategy is founded on leveraging investment in brands, human capital, plant equipment as well as focusing on collaboration across the value chain to optimise business results.”
Mauritius has over the years been an offshore gateway to Africa. It has long been an advocate for developing economic bridges between itself and other African states, leveraging its position as Africa’s best place to conduct business as recognized by The World Bank. Through its Global Business sector, Mauritius has firmly established and promoted itself as a regional hub for facilitating investments on the continent. It is thus undeniable that AfCFTA will add further to the attractiveness of Africa as a place to do business. The AfCFTA provides a platform for Mauritius to contribute significantly to the new African impetus by making available to investors and businessmen an ecosystem that not only makes it easier for them to do business with Africa, but also enhances and safeguards their investments.
African regional and continental news
AfCFTA’s success hinges on quality Standards – ARSO (News Ghana)
Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, the Secretary-General and President of African Organisations for Standardization says the approval of the Pan African Quality Policy will improve product standards for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The need to develop a Pan-African Quality Policy is derived from Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the blueprint and master plan for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse of the future. Mr Silver Ojakol, the Chief of Staff, AfCFTA Secretariat emphasized on the importance of standardization, which he said played a critical role in the success of African trade.
Financial restrictions limit COVID-19 response in Africa (Rhodes University)
On Thursday, 22 April 2021, the Rhodes University African Studies Centre, in association with the Institute for Africa and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Lagos, hosted the first day of a two-day colloquium aimed at examining fundamental questions relating to the politics of global health and Africa’s position in the world health systems architecture. More specifically, the colloquium explored some of the African governments’ readiness and response in acquiring COVID-19 vaccinations.
Mining sector key to kickstarting hydrogen industry, says consultant (Engineering News)
Hydrogen is set to play a key role in achieving carbon-neutral mining, an industry that is being touted as a key enabler of the global hydrogen industry, Engie Impact consultant Jasper Schrijvers said during a virtual presentation at this year’s Energy & Mines Africa conference. During his presentation on May 4, he noted that kickstarting the hydrogen economy within the mining segment “makes a lot of sense” owing to it being an energy-intensive industry that has stated goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 or 2050.
SADC, partners strategize on energy cooperation (sardc.net)
The SADC Secretariat and its energy sector cooperating partners will this week meet to discuss initiatives being undertaken by the region to ensure that power supplies meet demand. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is endowed with a wealth of energy resources that include solar, hydro, wind and coal, however, the region continues to be affected by a crippling power shortage. While load shedding has to some extent succeeded in restraining the overall electricity demand in the region, the measure has greatly affected socio-economic development since the availability of energy is one of the key enablers of sustainable development.
How illicit Trade destabilises the Swahili Coast (CNBC Africa)
The ancient trade routes of East Africa’s Swahili Coast – a 3,000 kilometre littoral stretching from Somalia in the north to Northern Mozambique in the south – is riddled with illegal trading. Former British diplomat, Sir Ivor Roberts describes the scale of the problem as ‘staggering’. He writes that a recent survey in Kenya determined that 40 percent of consumer products, including cigarettes and alcohol, are illicit. As much as 70 percent of the alcohol sold in Uganda is thought to be illegal and a billion illegal cigarettes are sold in the region each year. Counterfeit goods alone rob Kenya of US$900 million a year, Roberts estimates. The deepest implication of the problem is the power the illicit trade gives to those who carry it out and the extent to which this undermines legitimate governance.
UK – Africa: Looking to become the continent’s investment partner of choice (The Africa Report)
“One thing that absolutely has not changed is my ambition for the UK to be Africa’s investment partner of choice,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a virus-quietened second edition of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in January 2021. This is echoed by the UK’s senior trade-focused diplomat, Emma Wade-Smith. Based in South Africa, she says her teams have been doubled over the past 18 months as the government ramps up its post-European future. “Every day I see the importance of Africa in global trade and investment in general, and the UK in particular,” says Wade-Smith. “And we are not alone, of course, in our interest in Africa’s vast prospects.”
Global economy news
19 vaccine patents dominate global trade talks (Financial Post)
World Trade Organization members will assess on Wednesday signs of progress in talks on a proposal by South Africa and India to waive patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines in order to boost supply to developing countries. They want to ease rules of the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement. WTO decisions are based on consensus, so all 164 members need to agree. Ten meetings in seven months have failed to produce a breakthrough, with 60 proposal sponsors from emerging economies, backed by a chorus of campaign groups, Nobel laureates and former world leaders, pitted against richer developed countries, such as Switzerland, the United States and in the European Union, where many pharmaceutical companies are based.
Using case studies from various countries, including Cambodia, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia, the briefs recommend measures that LDCs could take at both the policy and institutional levels to improve trading opportunities. A major focus is on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and governments’ policy responses. The analysis is the latest example of the EIF’s efforts to help LDCs develop strong trade policies and institutions that support global trade. It draws on collaboration between LDC governments, the EIF and partner agencies on supporting trade in LDCs across a range of sectors.
The global economy’s uneven recovery from COVID-19 continues and the unequal distribution of vaccines will affect countries’ abilities to recover from the crisis, UNCTAD warned on 4 May in a new portal tracking the pandemic’s impact on trade and development. The portal seeks to enhance policymakers’ understanding of the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic and help them design suitable recovery policies. “As countries and the international community design recovery policies to help build resilient and more inclusive and sustainable economies, up-to-date analysis is critical,” UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released March 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that air cargo demand continued to outperform pre-COVID levels (March 2019) with demand up 4.4%. March demand reached the highest level recorded since the series began in 1990. Month-on-month demand also increased albeit at a slower pace than the previous month with volumes up 0.4% in March over February 2021 levels.
African airlines’ cargo demand in March increased 24.6% compared to the same month in 2019, the strongest of all regions. Robust expansion on the Asia-Africa trade lanes contributed to the strong growth. March international capacity decreased by 2.1% compared to March 2019.
International cooperation and the era of digital currency growth (World Economic Forum)
The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent economic crisis have indelibly altered our daily lives. One of the profound changes has been the acceleration in the shift towards digital payments, as customers avoided cash over fears it might spread the virus, and as retailers adapted by moving their activity online. These challenges provided fertile grounds for exploring new digital forms of payment. How the world coordinates over the treatment of these new, potentially disruptive, technologies will critically shape whether the opportunities they present can be harnessed and the risks mitigated.
Asian container ports are the most efficient in the world, dominating the Top 50 spots according to the new global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) launched by the World Bank and IHS Markit. The report scored ports against different metrics, making the efficiency ranking comparable around the globe by assessing and standardizing for different ship sizes and container moves per call. The CPPI is intended to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement that will benefit stakeholders from shipping lines to national governments to consumers.
Transforming food systems is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a video message for the event. She highlighted how “food is much bigger than what is on your plate”, noting key connections with health, environment and culture. “This is a complex challenge, but only together will we transform our food systems to be more equitable, inclusive and sustainable and deliver the SDGs by 2030”, she said.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Integrity Initiatives International (III), along with 96 civil society organizations from over 50 countries, have called on the UN General Assembly to establish an intergovernmental working group to develop proposals for new frameworks and mechanisms to address weaknesses in current international anti-corruption legal frameworks. Corruption is one of the underlying causes of some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis, and access to healthcare and education. It is also one of the leading impediments to ameliorating them. One major challenge of the international anti-corruption legal framework is the lack of targeted, sustained enforcement efforts.
A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report is warning of a potential supply deficit for some of the ‘critical minerals’ needed to support a global shift in the energy system that is aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as the growing number of country commitments to cutting carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Titled ‘The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions’, the report outlines the metals- and minerals-intensity of technologies such as solar photovoltaic, wind and electric vehicles (EVs) when compared with their fossil fuel-based counterparts – a reality that is transforming the energy sector into a major force in mineral markets.