tralac Daily News
Covid-19: Only 13% of small-scale farmers recovered (Food for Mzansi)
A shocking new survey reveals that while 63% of commercial-scale farmers are back to their pre-pandemic operational levels, only 13% of Mzansi’s up-and-coming farmers have managed to bounce back. This is according to the latest edition of the BeyondCovid Business Survey conducted by specialist management consultancy Redflank. “When we went into hard lockdown, with all the restrictions, they lost access to those markets. Because they don’t have the financial buffers large companies have, they were hit severely and are still struggling.”
“What doesn’t help is that many SMME off-takers of emerging farmers have been affected by the pandemic. The BeyondCovid survey has revealed that 54% of all small businesses surveyed were still operating below capacity. This impacts severely on emerging farmers, considering that SMMEs account for half their demand.”
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has started to prepare for the successful implementation of the Forestry Master-plan, which will ensure the creation and sustainability of decent employment, long-term investment, and the transfer of skills and expertise to the next generation. Addressing the National Assembly on Friday during the department’s Budget Vote for the 2021/22 financial year, Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Makhotso Sotyu said the Forestry Master-plan is a formal implementation plan that has been endorsed by Labour, Industry and Government. “To prepare for a successful implementation of this Master-plan, the Ministry has begun with inspection visits to all our regional offices across the nine Provinces, to ensure that, our structure and reconfiguration of our department is in line with the governance structure as adopted in our Departmental Master-Plans. “We want to ensure that our Department has a human capital/work-force that always offer well trained and skills graduates, vocational training in the Forestry, Fisheries and Environment sectors.
The Namibian manufacturing sector declined by almost 20% last year as it bore the brunt of the impact of Covid-19 and associated lockdown measures. This means that during 2020, several local manufacturers were forced to stop or minimise operations. According to FirstRand Namibia Economist Ruusa Nandago, the impact was further compounded by a decline in demand for manufacturing products as personal and corporate incomes in the domestic economy became constrained. “This contraction makes manufacturing the third-worst performing sector during 2020 after hotels and restaurants, which contracted by 33.1% y/y, and transport and storage, which contracted by 22.4% y/y over the same period. Given that this sector contributes 11% to GDP, this had a material impact on overall economic performance,” Nandago noted.
Government this week signed a financial cooperation agreement for loans following the 2019 governmental negotiations on development cooperation between Germany and Namibia. At Tuesday’s signing, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi stated that the agreement covers three programmes valued at approximately N$1.8 billion for which financing will be provided by interest-reduced loans in local currency, thereby securing favourable credit conditions for the government. “These projects will support the development of important water and other climate-related infrastructure projects in Namibia, and the promotion of agricultural households and micro, small and medium- sized enterprises through Agribank. The funding for the three projects under this agreement is provided by the KfW Development Bank,” he outlined. In efforts to boost infrastructure based on climate-friendly technologies in Namibia, about N$540 million will be provided to extend an existing credit line to the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) for climate-related infrastructure projects in the country.
Kenya body behind maize ban stripped of its powers (The Citizen)
Kenya’s regulatory authority behind the recent ban on maize imports from Tanzania has been stripped of its powers. From now on, the Agriculture and Food Authority (Afa) will be removed from clearing maize imports. Kenya’s media reported early this week that the move was taken by Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya. In removing Afa from the clearance chain, the regulator would have no powers to register maize at the border points. The measure, the ministry explained, would ease clearance of agricultural produce imports, among other things.
Museveni, Ndayishimiye Discuss Infrastructure Connectivity, Security Cooperation (Uganda Media Centre)
Évariste Ndayishimiye has said, with peace and reconciliation in Burundi, the country is going forward with economic transformation to improve peoples lives. “Now is a time for development to improve the lives of our people. We have natural resources; we are in a good region and we are good to do business with Uganda. We already see many Ugandans coming to Burundi. We want investors to come. We have many natural resources and tourism potential,” he said. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa, trade between Burundi and Uganda increased from US40million dollars per annum to US59million dollars of exports from Uganda to Burundi, mainly for Iron and steel products, maize, tobacco vegetable oils and others while imports from Burundi to Uganda are US33.8million dollars largely from gold, raw hides and skins and scrap iron.
Uganda builds railway link to Kenya’s SGR (Business Daily)
Uganda has signed a Sh5 billion deal with a Chinese firm to revamp its century-old metre gauge railway line between Malaba and Kampala to create seamless travel from the Mombasa port. The 260 kilometre Kampala line will be linked to the standard gauge railway (SGR) track through the Naivasha to Malaba old railway, which Kenya is upgrading. Once completed, goods from the Mombasa port will be transported seamlessly via SGR and metre gauge rail to Uganda. The renewed focus on the metre gauge line in the country now dims hopes of fast-tracking the Chinese-funded SGR, which was expected to reach Kisumu by 2022 and link it to a sea port for shipping to Uganda.
On Friday, in a press conference at the airport in Bujumbura after a three-day visit to Uganda, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye announced that Uganda and Burundi will be using a new trade route via Tanzania. In a carefully worded declaration, he alleged that Rwanda (calling it a neighbour) blocked trade between Uganda and Burundi. In reality, Burundi blocked all goods and transit goods through the Rwanda-Burundi border. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last week of March 2020, Burundi refused all entry from Rwanda, including transit goods and passengers, through its land border crossing points. The move created gridlock in the EAC Northern Corridor (Burundi-Rwanda-Uganda-Kenya) and a diplomatic protest from Uganda and Kenya. With Burundi-bound cargo trucks stuck at the Rwanda-Burundi border, Rwanda logically advised Uganda and Kenya of the development asking them to seek alternative routes.
Available diplomatic notes verbal show that on the 31st of March 2020, Rwanda informed Kenya and Uganda of a blockade of goods heading to Burundi by Burundian officials. In the notes, Rwanda explained that as of the 30th March that year, there were 23 trucks stranded in Rwanda heading to Burundi despite an earlier EAC Ministerial meeting about transport of cargo goods during the Covid-19 outbreak. Effectively, Burundi sealed off its land border with Rwanda.
First ship docks at Lamu Port on Thursday ahead of launch (Business Daily)
Lamu Port will on Thursday come to life as 204-metre long Mv CAP Carmel, a Denmark-based shipping line, with general cargo from Port of Dar es Salaam, docks on its way to Salalah in Oman. Mv Seago Bremen Haven loaded with avocado from Mombasa will dock a few minutes later in an event expected to be graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta and other East and Horn of Africa leaders. The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Captain Geoffrey Namadoa said MV CAP Carmel sailing under flag of Singapore is a geared vessel and will be able to load and offload without the use of harbour cranes. “According to manifest, we expect to handle 100 containers on the first day in Lamu Port, which will be used to test local road connectivity, which is already complete. Lamu Port is strategic geographically positioned and it will give competition to already developed ports such as Durban,” said Mr Namadoa. Kenya will this week (May 20) commission the Sh310 billion Lamu Port in its quest to wrest the transshipment market from Djibouti and South Africa.
Lessons from Kazungula bridge (NewsDay)
The Kazungula bridge shows what Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries can achieve if they work together. On May 10, the Kazungula bridge, a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana was officially opened for traffic. Construction of the $260 million project, which includes international border facilities in Zambia and Botswana, started in October 2014 co-financed by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (ADB). The bridge, which comes with one-stop border facility, is seen as a major development towards improving regional trade and economic integration. However, its construction and official opening were not without controversy, thanks to the capriciousness of Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding Zimbabwe’s attitude, the Kazungula bridge is a good example of how Sadc countries can co-operate and do more to unleash the economic potential of its member States.
A troubled bridge over calm waters (Mmegi Online)
Apapa Traffic Gridlock May Hurt AfCFTA’s Gains, Operators Warn (THISDAY Newspapers)
Some members of the organised private sector (OPS) have decried the lack of political will to address the perennial traffic congestion around the Apapa ports, saying the gridlock could hurt the expected gains from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Speaking in separate interviews with THISDAY, they stressed that the challenges associated with moving cargoes in and outside the ports could defeat the federal government’s desire to diversify the economy and affect the expected benefits from Nigeria’s participation in the AfCFTA agreement. Traffic has worsened in Apapa and its environs in the past few weeks following the disruption of the electronic call-up system (ETO) introduced about two months ago by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with the support of the Lagos State Government to ensure free flow of vehicular movements.
But the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, told THISDAY yesterday that, “if the Apapa traffic gridlock continues, our international trade process stands the risk of being completely paralysed. “The Apapa corridor accounts for an estimated 70 per cent of international merchandise trade- imports and exports. Therefore, this portends disturbing signals for the outlook for Nigeria’s participation in the AFCFTA. It is impossible to undertake any meaningful trade without an efficient maritime logistics chain.”
Egypt plans expansion of Suez Canal (The Africa Logistics)
The southern section of the Suez canal where Ever Given wedged sideways, blocking a key waterway and causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage to global trade will be expanded, head of Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Osama Rabie has said. Under the expansion project, the southernmost area of the canal, which is currently 30m long, will be widened by about 40m to the east. The expansion will take around two years, Rabie said.
The executive framework of the African Economic Integration Initiative has been finalised, according to Ibrahim Al-Arabi, President of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC). Al-Arabi added that the first phase will begin with the launch of a new website that offers investment opportunities and joint projects. This comes as part of the optimal exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, and will also present opportunities for developing intra-African trade in an integrated framework. He said that the volume of imports to African imports amounted to $564bn from 231 countries, while the volume of African exports is estimated at $452bn to 223 countries. The value of intra-continental trade is about $70bn annually, which represents 15% of the value of African trade.
It’s now easier to cross border at Namanga; few hurdles remain (The East African)
Resolution of existing trade barriers between Kenya and Tanzania may take longer than expected due to bureaucracy. The directive by presidents Samia Hassan and Uhuru Kenyatta that government officials waive work permit fees and clear maize imports from Tanzania took effect almost immediately, but Kenyan small-scale traders say they waiting for a similar gesture from Tanzania. Mr Munya went to Namanga to effect the presidential orders as a sign of the warming relations between the two largest EAC economies. Mr Munya also ordered that Covid-19 test results be released within 12 hours to enable fast movement of trucks across the border. This was in response to President Samia, who during her state visit to Nairobi requested that Covid-19 testing be harmonised to facilitate faster movement of goods. “We want the trucks ferrying goods across the border to move with speed, as this will assist increase the EAC Intra-trade,” said EAC Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki.
Brexit trade bonanza: UK eying ‘absolutely huge’ Nigeria deal (Express.co.uk)
Helen Grant, trade envoy to Nigeria and Tory MP for Maidstone and The Weald, said the UK was on the cusp of an ambitious era of trade with the major African state. Nigeria is Africa’s largest and fastest-growing economy and is being targeted by the UK for an ambitious trade agreement. Due to its economic size, Ms Grant claimed there were wide opportunities to increase UK plc in multiple areas such as tech, financial services, agriculture and green technologies. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Grant revealed any future deal may well surpass the current £3.4billion in trade between the UK and Nigeria.
200 mln-birr bus terminal starts operation (The Reporter Ethiopia)
The new Mercato Bus Terminal built with an outlay of 200 million birr begins operations as of today, according to the Addis Ababa City Administration Transport Bureau. The unique bus terminal named after Mercato – the largest open market in the country – is said to be the most convenient bus terminal only hosting Anbessa and Sheger city buses. Head of communication affairs at the transport bureau, Aregawi Maru, said that the latest facility is different from existing terminals in that it is not only an arrival and departure center for commuters, but also owns two story floors to host up to 20 buses at a time, which is a higher number than what the existing terminals could accommodate.
Algeria to reopen borders after year-long closure (Eyewitness News)
Algeria announced Sunday it plans to resume international flights from June 1 following a more than year-long closure of its borders to curb the spread of COVID-19. “The council of ministers approved proposals for a partial reopening of Algeria’s land and air borders at the start of June,” the presidency said in a statement after a cabinet meeting.
Ghana has managed very effectively the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, and thus succeeded in protecting lives… The launch of mass vaccine rollout has been a breakthrough, with the administration of approximatively a million doses as of end-May. The impact of the pandemic on the economy has been severe. Real GDP growth slowed to 0.4 percent in 2020 from 6.5 percent in 2019, due to lower activity in the extractive industries and a collapse in hospitality and retail services, including the informal sector that especially employs female workers.
The 2021 budget’s recent policy pivot towards fiscal consolidation is an important step in the right direction and a difficult one in a pandemic. Fiscal consolidation should be deepened and anchored around debt and debt service reduction to create space for social, health, and development spending.
Boom times for organic cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire (CGTN Africa)
Cacao farmers across Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s biggest producer of the key ingredient for chocolate, are down in the dumps after prices for their commodity have fallen for the second year running. Cacao growing was massively promoted by Côte d’Ivoire’s government following independence in 1960, becoming the backbone of the country’s rise as one of West Africa’s leading economies. Today, Côte d’Ivoire produces two million tonnes of cacao per year, equivalent to more than 40 percent of the world’s market. But expansion has also come at a grim price for the environment and fuelled a dependency that ratchets up rural poverty whenever prices slump.
Govt committed to re-engagement (sundaymail.co.zw)
Government remains committed to pursuing its policy of re-engagement with erstwhile adversary nations while continuing to build strong alliances with friendly states in order to position the country in its rightful place in the community of nations, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Fredrick Shava, has said. In an interview with The Sunday Mail after his inaugural interface with editors from local and international media organisations in Harare on Friday, Ambassador Shava, said the country was pursuing readmission into the Commonwealth as part of the re-engagement process. “We are very committed and we are still pushing to re-join the Commonwealth and other international blocs that we had left or did not enjoy good relations with in the past,” said Ambassador Shava. “But we are not desperate, it’s a bilateral process which requires effort from both sides and we are doing this in a true spirit of friendship.
AfCFTA: Revamping Nigeria’s Infrastructure for Global Trade (Proshare Nigeria)
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could deliver an additional $500 billion worth of economic growth to Africa, a tremendous opportunity for Nigeria to generate jobs and boost foreign exchange earnings. But more export-oriented and more industrialised African economies like Morocco, South Africa and Kenya also pose a big threat to Nigerian firms and jobs. While Nigeria’s exports consist overwhelmingly of oil (87%), Morocco’s top five exports are Electrical machinery and equipment (18.1%), Vehicles (13%), Fertilizers (9.9%), Clothing accessories (8.3%) and Inorganic chemicals (4.9%), complemented by agriculture exports such as fish, vegetable, fruits and nuts.
The event will be an interactive conversation between policy makers, exporting conglomerates, SMEs and financiers and investors in infrastructure with a view to generating ideas on new ways to build, finance and maintain export-critical infrastructure. It will underscore the potential of infrastructure related policy reforms to diversify and boost Nigeria’s exports, create jobs and reduce poverty.
African regional and continental news
International summit will seek ways to ease Africa’s economic woes (Manila Standard)
French President Emmanuel Macron will on Tuesday host a virtual summit of European and African leaders to seek solutions to the financial crisis in Africa, where governments hope to boost development while managing massive debts. The “summit on financing African economies”, bringing together 30 heads of state and government via videoconference, was planned last year after the International Monetary Fund calculated that African economies risk running into a total “financial gap” of $290 billion by 2023.
Economic growth on the continent, which experienced its first recession last year, is expected to rebound to 3.4 percent this year and 4.0 percent in 2022. A moratorium on debt servicing, put in place in April 2020 by the G20 and Paris Club group of creditor nations, has given Africa a bit of breathing space, suspending the repayment of 5.7 billion euros ($6.9 billion) by 50 countries. The G20 also convinced China, by far the biggest bilateral lender on the continent, and private creditors to take part in future debt negotiations. But this won’t be enough. “We are collectively in the process of abandoning Africa to solutions that date from the ‘60s”, Macron said last month, calling for a bold “New Deal” for Africa.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems on the continent. Although Africa has so far counted 130,000 deaths from coronavirus – behind most world regions – eighteen African leaders in mid-April warned that “only a total victory, including the whole of Africa, will bring this pandemic to an end”. Many have warned that developed nations are busily vaccinating their own nationals and leaving poorer countries behind. The African leaders called for an “immediate moratorium” on the servicing of all external debts until the end of the pandemic, and the ring-fencing of development aid.
Macron Hosts Africa Summits on Sudan, Post-Covid Finance (Asharq Al-awsat)
Angolan president to attend summit on African economy (Prensa Latina)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote sustainable private sector development in Africa. The MoU is expected to help catalyse new sources of financing to help bridge the $2.5-trillion-a-year financing gap for development in Africa.
Ecommerce players step up their game to survive and thrive (Logistics Update Africa)
Early day ecommerce businesses in Africa were plagued by several challenges – starting with trust deficit from customers to patchy Internet to unreliable online payments infrastructure. Even if these issues were overlooked, the logistics of ensuring deliveries within the stipulated period was equally tricky. However, over the years, there has been a lot of innovation around the supply chain and payment mechanisms, which has been a silver lining for many economies in the region. A shot in the arm for the sector was the Covid-19 crisis, which opened up a plethora of new opportunities for players in this sector.
Digital revolution for boosting AfCFTA (Logistics Update Africa)
Achieving the gains from AfCFTA is especially important due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 encouraged the adoption of technology; before the pandemic, transporters still preferred the use of paper for invoices and because of social distancing policies, there is a spike in automated invoices. To make the trade seamless, digital platforms are becoming an important module for facilitating an uninterrupted supply chain.
Achieving the gains from AfCFTA is especially important due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To make the trade seamless, digital platforms are becoming an important module for facilitating an uninterrupted supply chain. Under the direction of the Digital Hub Logistics, European and African digital innovation hubs have come together in the DIGILOGIC project, to exchange best practices and learn from each other - in the first pan-European-African network with a focus on intelligent logistics solutions. The H2020-funded project kicked off in January 2021 and will last three years, till the end of 2023.
COLLECTIVELY ENDORSES an adapted joint continental strategy with focus on enhanced Prevention, Monitoring, and Treatment (PMT) in order to meet the changing dimensions of the COVID-19 on the continent as well as the evolving nature of the global pandemic.
ALSO CALL UPON AU Member States to take up their COVID-19 vaccine allocations through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team platform and engage with the African Export Import Bank to work out the details for the advance purchase agreement.
ALSO WELCOMES the United States of America’s support for the World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver proposal and ENCOURAGES other countries to join the AU and the USA in making the right decision, by supporting the WTO TRIPS waiver.◊ ACKNOWLEDGES that the WTO waiver proposal is the first important step to expand manufacturing of COVID-19 related tools including vaccines, and a relevant initiative to ensure truly equitable access to vaccines, medicines and tools during the pandemic.
ENCOURAGES all countries, including those manufacturing vaccines and relevant COVID-19 tools, to fulfil the promise of vaccine equity, by ensuring that the WTO waiver is accompanied by the necessary and relevant transfer of technology and know-how to support and secure African manufacturing.◊ ENDORSES and supports the Africa Common Position on COVID-19 Passport, which calls for a global moratorium against the mandatory and unilateral imposition of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for international travel whilst encouraging the continued development of digital vaccine wallets and related technology tools, especially those based on the African Union Trusted Vaccines toolkit, to maximise the benefits of vaccination to the African public.
APPEALS to all AU Member States to leverage harmonized continental digital technologies for the response to COVID-19, including for addressing its socioeconomic impact, paying particular attention to digital inclusion, patient empowerment, data privacy, and security, legal and ethical issues, and the protection of personal data, which are values enshrined in the official African Union Trusted Health framework, and its digital archetypes: the Trusted Travel and Trusted Vaccines (platforms, provided at no cost to all member states to drive the digitization of their COVID-19 response efforts.
COVID-19: Africa Needs To Break The Circle Of Dependency – Interview (Eurasia Review)
Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI) primarily aims at promoting the establishment of sustainable human vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa. Since its establishment, AVMI together with multiple and different partners, have been advocating for the establishment of vaccine development and manufacturing in Africa. With the outbreak of coronavirus, AVMI has embarked on public education on the risk of the pandemic and further been persuading African leaders about the need to seriously prioritize the manufacturing of vaccines instead of depending on external supply. In this snapshot interview, Patrick Tippoo, Executive Director at the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative, explains that vaccine manufacturing is a complex, time-consuming exercise requiring considerable commitment, and financial as well as technical resources. He further underscores the fact that the capital investment required is considerable and equally essential is a long-term future view for the health system and population in Africa.
H E Nana Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO, President of the Republic of Ghana will be the Guest of honour and keynote speaker at the Opening Ceremony of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The ceremony is scheduled to take place on 24 May 2021 at the PAP precincts in Midrand, South Africa. “President Akufo-Addo’s initiative to reconnect African Americans to the continent was poignant and it is a continuation of Ghana’s history of a Pan-African movement which is central to the progress of Africa and Black people in general. His presence at the next ordinary session, as we commemorate Africa’s culture and heritage, is fitting. We look forward to his message on unity for the social, economic and political progress of the continent as well as the importance of the continent growing together, charting and redefining its own way,” says Hon. Charumbira.
How to turn around a continent (Fin24)
An effective Marshall Plan for Africa should concentrate exclusively on business development. As with the original, the business sector must lead it. Administrators and decision-makers should, once again, be drawn from that sector – present in flesh and spirit. Like the original, the plan should focus on business infrastructure. In Africa, that would mean not just hardware – upgrades in electricity distribution, telecommunications and transportation – but also a sort of software. This software would include financial institutions, business schools and associations, anti-corruption units and courts – all of which must be improved or created in most African countries to enable their business communities to expand.
Whilst Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the economic fortunes of the AU, the fact that economic integration is progressing under AfCFTA and that international organisations are providing support, will likely fuel investor confidence in the long-term prospects of the region. Thereby accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Harmonise all business laws to ease EAC trade (Business Daily)
The State visit by President Samia Suluhu of Tanzania to Kenya two weeks ago offers renewed hopes of increased trade between the two countries. There have been issues including allegations of discriminatory trade practices as well as non-tariff barriers to trade. It is hoped that the visit by the Tanzanian president is a sign of better times to come. World trade is moving away from protectionism and towards liberalisation which is enhanced by the removal of trade barriers between two countries, be they tariff or non-tariff. The East African Community (EAC) of which both Kenya and Tanzania are members, supports liberalisation and removal of trade barriers. The EAC Treaty and the EAC protocols especially the EAC Common Market Protocol contain very good provisions on liberalisation. However, there still exists a lot of non-tariff barriers. For the intention of the EAC Treaty to come to fruition, then these barriers to trade ought to be removed. There need to be proactive steps by all the member states to eliminate barriers and avoid trade-related spats.
EAC Economic Department must analyse linkages to achieve Regions Transformation (Uganda Media Centre)
President Yoweri Museveni has tasked the new East Africa Community Secretary General to ensure that the EAC economic department analyses linkages of job and wealth creation including in tourism that will strengthen and grow the regions integration. “The issue of market must be solved. Internal market is not enough, you need regional, African (continental) and international. How will people become prosperous? To be prosperous you need two things. You need wealth and jobs. But wealth in a modern way. If you got wealth like Masai of cattle and none monetary, that is traditional wealth but no money. How will you built a good house, buy a car without money,” he said.
Sadc agric sector beyond Covid-19 (Chronicle)
COVID-19 has affected global value chains by interrupting activity in three areas: transport and logistics, supply and production dynamics, and demand and consumption patterns. These effects have also been felt in the Sadc region across agricultural value chains, which comprise producers (farmers), suppliers (industries), distributors (transport and logistics) and consumers in the region.
Sadc agricultural value chains face a number of challenges to food security systems, intra-regional integration, trade and co-operation, and economic growth, chief among them being climate change, low levels of agricultural infrastructure development, poverty and food insecurity, the predominance of subsistence farming over export-oriented agriculture and, more recently, delays in the implementation of the AfCFTA. Although the agricultural sector in Sadc has largely been spared the negative fallout from Covid-19 compared to other sectors, the latter has still exacerbated existing challenges facing the sector. There are, however, opportunities for Sadc to build more robust and inclusive agricultural value chains. Importantly, small-scale subsistence farming needs to be supported along with export-orientated commercial farming, with the help of appropriate interventions.
Report lists green recovery plan for West Africa countries (Guardian Nigeria)
A fresh report on COVID-19 recovery plans has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to champion a push for ‘win-win recovery’ that are underpinned by green economic thinking and efforts to address climate change. The report developed by the Society for Planet and Prosperity (SPP) implored the regional body to promote options that seek to address risks associated with the pandemic while building climate-resilient economies through investment in green innovation, renewable energy, transformative adaptation and biodiversity preservation as central parts of recovery plans by the members’ states. The group made the recommendations in a policy paper on Africa’s Post COVID-19 Green Recovery – Towards a Green and resilient recovery in West Africa: Nigeria and Ghana, which is being presented to help West African countries integrate climate change action as a central objective in the planning and implementation of their respective economic recovery plans to build back a safer, green and resilient economy towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Agenda 2030, and African Union agenda 2063.
Transforming agri-food systems can unlock Africa’s potential (Sierra Leone Telegraph)
Africa depends on its exports to the rest of the world of agricultural commodities such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, tobacco and spices to generate much-needed foreign exchange. But the continent is a net importer of staple foods such as cereals, vegetable oils, dairy products and meat. Intra-African agricultural trade as a percentage of total African agricultural trade consistently remains below 20 per cent, one of the lowest for any region. It is in agriculture where the AfCFTA’s ambitions can find the most fertile ground, in particular through developing inclusive regional value chains around priority commodities, led by a dynamic and diverse private sector of smallholders, commercial farmers, processors and service providers. Africa’s single market has the potential to create a positive, more competitive business environment for agriculture, encouraging further investments and ultimately a modern, dynamic, productive, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agriculture sector that can lift millions of Africans out of poverty.
Agriculture is a major source of income in Africa, with 50-70% of Africans relying on agriculture for their livelihoods but the sector’s true potential remains untapped, limiting economic development and contributing to persistent poverty and deteriorating food and nutrition security across the continent. The continent is seeing demand for animal source foods increase rapidly as incomes rise, driven by population growth, economic growth and urbanisation, which offers an unprecedented opportunity to reposition livestock as a business activity with the potential to significantly improve food and nutrition security, drive inclusive growth, create millions of new jobs along several value chains and support the continent’s efforts to become a major player in global export markets.
China and Africa have seen rapid growth in bilateral collaboration in recent decades, and infrastructure is one of the most important areas, based on the essential need of the development of African economies and China’s world-renowned skills in building infrastructure. However, against the backdrop of the US-led Western nations’ indulging in vilifying cooperation between Africa and China, including playing up the so-called “debt trap” cliché, any projects with even a speck of participation from Chinese companies or institutions would draw attention from Western media and anti-China forces.
The truth is that the US, never giving up its hegemonic mindset, has tried all sorts of means to impede the development of China, including pouring cold water on China’s warming relations with other developing nations. The livelihood of African people is not on the list of the Washington’s overseas agenda, as the US has for decades looked down upon Africa and the people living there. Inversely, China has been joining hands with African countries, bringing tangible benefits to local folks. For instance, the 82 overseas cooperation zones jointly built by China and countries under the Belt and Road Initiative have created up to 300,000 local jobs, greatly boosting the development of local economies and the people’s livelihood.
Getting trade policy right is crucial to global COVID-19 vaccination (East Asia Forum)
Trade is a crucial element in the fight against the pandemic. Some countries, such as China, have sought credit for providing vaccines to others, while cooperation via the COVAX initiative has seen vaccines shipped from India’s Serum Institute to some of the poorest countries in the world. But trade policy has also been a serious impediment to the free flow of vaccines, vital vaccine inputs and the knowledge behind their production. At critical times, several countries – including the United States, the European Union and more recently India – have placed embargoes or administrative impediments on the export of vaccines. Perversely, India has also had a 10 per cent customs duty on imported vaccines. Restrictions have also been placed on the materials needed for vaccine manufacture. In February, the invocation by the United States of the Defense Production Act – which requires US suppliers of materials and equipment for vaccine production to seek approval to export – put global access to 37 critical vaccine inputs at risk.
Ensuring the free flow of necessary inputs within the supply chain is vital to fostering global vaccine production. On 14 April 2021, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met with government and industry representatives to discuss ways of strengthening supply chains. A guiding principle in facilitating trade will be the provision in GATT Article XI that any restrictions on export be temporary, noting that even a ‘temporary’ restriction can be highly disruptive within a complex global supply chain. More ambitiously – with a focus on facilitating cooperation rather than just avoiding restrictions – there may be scope to build on the Trade and Health Initiative proposed by a group of WTO members in late 2020. This would involve the establishment of an internationally coordinated program of fragmented and subsidised production of vaccine components.
The world economy is suddenly running low on everything (Engineering News)
A year ago, as the pandemic ravaged country after country and economies shuddered, consumers were the ones panic-buying. Today, on the rebound, it’s companies furiously stocking up. Copper, iron-ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. “You name it, and we have a shortage on it,” Tom Linebarger, chairperson and CE of engine and generator manufacturer Cummins, said on a call this month. Clients are “trying to get everything they can because they see high demand,” Jennifer Rumsey, the Columbus, Indiana-based company’s president, said. “They think it’s going to extend into next year.” Copper, iron-ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. Clients are “trying to get everything they can because they see high demand,” Jennifer Rumsey, the Columbus, Indiana-based company’s president, said. “They think it’s going to extend into next year.”
Access denied: Ensuring vaccines for the world’s poorest countries (Trade 4 Dev News)
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the fragile economies of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). The ensuing global recession has led to a slump in external demand for goods and services from LDCs, reduced prices of key exports and constrained inflows of investment and other resources. With limited productive capabilities and diversification, LDCs generally lack the resilience to withstand the multiple economic shocks of the pandemic. In 2020, the combined GDP of the 47 LDCs declined by 5%, dropping from pre-pandemic estimates of US$1,057 billion to $1,003 billion.
LDCs do not have the financial resources to negotiate or pre-order vaccines from multiple suppliers, as done by many advanced countries. Their main sources of revenue – typically commodities exports, remittances and tourism income – largely dried up as a result of the pandemic, and financing constraints will remain a major challenge in the short-to-medium term due to the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19. Coordinated regional approaches can help LDCs to procure and administer COVID-19 vaccines. This requires effective collaboration between governments, international institutions, regulatory partners, donors and the private sector.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across the planet, millions worldwide still lack Internet access, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday, highlighting why information and communication technologies (ICTs) must be “a force for good.” In his message for World Telecommunication and Information Science Day, celebrated annually on 17 May, the UN chief called for action to conquer both the pandemic and the digital divide.
Can the G7 Countries Create an Alternative to China’s Belt and Road? (The Maritime Executive)
Western nations have been critical of China’s outpouring of development capital in Africa under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and have even urged African governments to avoid Chinese financing. With huge infrastructural investment gaps to cover, it has been imperative for Africa to seek a lenient development partner for its projects. Additionally, most African leaders – specially those with a history of corruption – normally shun the West’s Bretton Woods institutions (the World Bank and IMF), which tend to demand high accountability on their loan facilities. From mega-port investments in Kenya to profitable fish meal factories on the West African coastline, half of the 100-plus countries that are recipients of BRI investment are located in Africa. Indeed, the BRI’s flexible terms are a unique and an attractive proposition for the African politicians. BRI has placed China on a competing trajectory in the geopolitical scene against other global super-powers. However, can Western nations combine their efforts to rival the BRI?
UK foreign aid: where does the money go? (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Britain has cut its commitment to foreign aid spending in 2021, pledging to spend 0.5% of gross national income, instead of the promised 0.7%. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in April outlined a breakdown of Britain’s development budget, with humanitarian aid mostly impacted. Aid groups say that reducing the aid budget would harm the world’s poorest, hinder climate action and damage Britain’s reputation as a leader in international development. “At a time when the UK should be leading the international community in responding to the climate crisis ahead of the climate summit, it is slashing aid to communities on the front line of that crisis. The UK’s hard-won reputation for international leadership in aid is in tatters.”
Europe’s carbon tax, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), is intended to target products with significant carbon footprints. Unfortunately, the implementation of this tax would have the effect of punishing developing countries, even driving them into environmentally harmful practices. But the requirements of the European Green Deal have been designed for wealthy, developed economies, not for nations that have few economic lifelines other than the products Europe is so concerned by. By pushing the Global South towards unrealistic standards, Europe will only push the Global South into less restrictive trade deals – deals that do not reward or incentivize environmental progress.