tralac Daily News
A newly established forum to monitor infrastructure projects more effectively and put systems in place to detect and prevent corruption has been launched in Cape Town. Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) Minister, Patricia de Lille, and Head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Advocate Andy Mothibi, launched the Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum (IBACF) on Monday, an initiative by the Anti-Corruption Task Team, government and civil society, together with the built environment sector. De Lille said the initiative comes at a time when South Africa has embarked on the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment Plan, approved by Cabinet in May 2020. The plan forms an integral part of the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). “Cabinet has also approved the establishment of Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) as the administrative arm responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment Plan which is made up of projects from all three spheres of government, state-owned enterprises and the private sector.
A study has found that the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using ethanol derived from sugarcane is a viable major business opportunity for the South African sugarcane sector. The study was jointly undertaken by the South African Canegrowers Association (SA Canegrowers) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). The report was presented to the Value Chain Diversification Task Team, which includes representatives of the canegrowers as well as other stakeholders from industry and government, earlier this month. The Task Team was set up under the Sugar Industry Value Chain Masterplan, which in turn was created to draw up a medium- to long-term diversification strategy for the sugarcane value chain.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC), working with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs Special Operations continue to interject imports that are in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). From July 2020 to 31 March 2021, the commission issued 88 compliance notices to the value of about R18 million. “This was after the commission inspected consignments of goods from different countries that did not meet the labelling requirements of imports as provided for in the CPA. The goods in question include footwear, leather, clothing and textiles,” the commission said on Monday. “We will not tolerate non-compliance by different importers. We will continue with our efforts to ensure that South Africa does not become a dumping site for non-compliant goods,” the NCC’s acting Commissioner Joseph Selolo said.
SMMEs in South Africa in distress (Engineering News)
Small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) employing one to ten people represent 72% of the businesses that have approached nonprofit the Covid-19 Business Rescue Initiative (Cobra) for business rescue support, advice and assistance since March 2020. The sectors bearing the brunt of this impact are retail, construction, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality.
The Department of Transport has identified priority corridors across provinces for a service recovery by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in the financial year, Minister Fikile Mbalula said on May 24. PRASA will, over the medium term, be allocated 27.2% or about R57-billion of the department’s budget.
Local traders bemoan closed borders (The Namibian)
The recent announcement by the governor of Angola’s Cunene province that Angolan borders are to remain closed has irked locals who seek business opportunities in that country. Gerdina Didalelwa, who last week visited Namibia and met with the governors of the Ohangwena and Omusati regions, said the borders would remain closed due to a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Angola. Didalelwa said borders would remain closed indefinitely or “until the Covid situation normalises”. Immigration control officer for the Oshikango border Joseph Ndashe, however, suggested that the borders be opened to avoid illegal crossing, which has become prevalent since the borders’ closure early last year.
Consultations are underway to develop and draft the second National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACSAP) for the 2021 to 2025 term. The second NACSAP will replace the first plan for 2016-2019, which ended in March 2020. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is therefore carrying out consultative meetings and workshops around the country for input from both the private and public sectors to draft the plan. The strategy is being developed in line with Article 5 of the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which calls for states to develop and implement effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies with societal participation. The draft is expected to be tabled in parliament during August this year.
BURS exceeds 2020 target, rakes in P40bn (Mmegi Online)
The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) collected P40 billion in various taxes last year, exceeding the target set by the government of P37 billion despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, BusinessWeek has learnt. Initially, the government had given the BURS a target of P43 billion, but this was later revised due to the effects of the COVID-19, which paralysed the economy. Mineral taxes are forecast to reach P5.6 billion from P1.8 billion in the previous year, while customs and excise receipts are expected to decline to P13.5 billion from P16.2 billion. Customs and excise revenues are received through a revenue-sharing agreement under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
How COVID-19 affected informal cross-border trade between Uganda and DRC (The Conversation)
Informal cross-border trade, which includes smuggling, is hugely important for survival in, around and beyond border regions. Across the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo informal trade pays the bills and puts food on the table; it stocks the provision shops and pharmacies; and it keep youths out of trouble, communities on the move, and people employed. This trade is carried out both through unofficial crossings (where goods are smuggled across the border) and over official border points – where goods are not declared. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted cross-border mobility worldwide and its policy consequences are therefore particularly visible around borders. But, what has been the impact of the pandemic on informal cross-border trade along the Uganda-DRC border?
Why Mauritius is key to unlocking Africa’s blue economy (How We Made It In Africa)
Various propositions have been recommended to tap into the ocean economy for more than a decade with a view to unleash the next phase of Mauritius’ economic development. Indeed, one may say that the blue economy in Mauritius is not fully utilised yet, therefore there is no reason to look for new shores. Undoubtedly, the country should continue to tap into its blue economic resources – after all, Mauritius is truly blessed on this front with a vast ocean territory comprising an Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.3 million square kilometres and a continental shelf of 396,000 square kilometres co-managed with the Republic of Seychelles. However, it is also an opportune time for the country to consider regional scaling through transferring its knowledge and experience of the sector while leveraging on partnerships for mutually beneficial expansion programmes across Africa, thereby leading the way in weaving a strong and sustainable growth story on the back of the blue economy.
Tanzania joins One Network Area for lower cross-border call tariffs (The East African)
After years of dithering, Tanzania has finally joined the East African Community One Network Area, which promises cheaper calls across the bloc due to harmonised calling rates. This means that charges on roaming voice calls in Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania will be eliminated. The benefits include easier and cheaper communication that will promote the ease of doing business in the region. Pressure on Tanzania to join the network peaked at the June 2019 meeting of the EAC Transport, Communications and Meteorology Sector Council held in Kampala, where Dar es Salaam was given a deadline of March 31 to complete its analysis on the implementation of One Network Area. But it has emerged that Tanzania made the decision to join the ONA late last year, and Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Stephen Mbundi wrote to the EAC Secretariat expressing interest in the deal.
Fastest growing sectors in Nigeria as of Q1 2021 (Nairametrics)
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s real GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2021 was 0.51%. This comes after a 0.11% GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2020, which effectively pulled Nigeria out of recession. Hence, it would be prudent to access the fastest growing sectors in the Nigerian economy. Agriculture increased by 2.28% compared to 3.42% in the previous year. Manufacturing has recovered from the recession, rising at a rate of 3.4%. Trade contracted more slowly. Construction increased by 1.42% in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to 1.21% in the previous quarter. According to Nairametrics, Nigeria could have achieved a GDP growth rate of at least 1.7% if the Agriculture and Information and Communication sectors had maintained their growth paths into the fourth quarter of 2020. The performance of the Communications industry was the cause for the weak GDP growth in the first quarter of the year.
The Federal government of Nigeria has instructed a ministerial delegation to visit Ghana to resolve the lingering conflict between the Nigerian traders in Ghana and the local authorities. The delegation which is said to arrive in Ghana on May 31, 2021, will be led by the Minister of Trade, Niyi Adebayo. However, speaking to some Nigerians in Ghana on their expectations ahead of the dialogue, some were of the view that the meeting with the authorities is a step in the right direction and would possibly help resolve the conflicts. Others believed the meeting would not change anything as these talks have been held on several occasions but no achievements.
The World Bank has approved additional financing of $11 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to improve connectivity in Togo and develop the country’s digital economy. “The COVID-19 crisis has shown that there is a heavy reliance on digital technology and a need for Togo to strengthen its digital infrastructure and enhance the resilience of its economy and services,” says Hawa Cissé Wagué, World Bank Resident Representative for Togo. “The development of the infrastructure provided for under this project will result in lower international connectivity costs, as well as support for Togo’s digital transformation agenda.”
Africa Day 2021 amid new challenges on the continent (Africanews)
On Tuesday 25 May, African governments would commemorate what is known as “Africa Day”. The day (formerly known as African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day) is the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 5 May 1963. This year’s theme of Africa Day is Arts, Culture And Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. The celebration however comes on a backheel of a number of issues.- the Covid-19 pandemic having piled up pressure on the African economy.
On the Covid-19 pandemic, African government leaders would want to increase vaccination efforts on the continent after what has appeared strongly to be vaccine apathy across several African countries. But defying the odds by managing to control the pandemic that has ravaged other parts of the world is in itself something many analysts praise the continent for, a continent least impacted globally by the pandemic. And that may be worth celebrating at the very least.
This week civil society will mark Africa Day with trans-continental events to celebrate the continent’s triumphs and discuss its collective obstacles. And, activists continue to make international connections to push for a fast and fairer global vaccine roll-out. On Tuesday, 25 May, Good Governance Africa will host a webinar with a panel of prominent speakers to discuss and depart from the report on cartel power dynamics in Zimbabwe. This report was published in Maverick Citizen and editor Mark Heywood will present the key findings during the webinar.
Climate Change Threatens Africa’s Cultural Heritage (Union of Concerned Scientists)
Africa Day celebrates independence, freedom from colonialism, and looking forwards to a peaceful and thriving future in the 55 African Union nations. This year’s theme is ”Arts, Culture and Heritage” and UCS is helping to raise up climate change in that context. Climate change is probably the fastest-growing threat to African cultural heritage, much of which was left in a parlous position because of the legacies and structural inequalities of past colonial rule. The Climate Vulnerability Africa (CVI) Project, is being launched to address the gap that exists in understanding climate impacts on cultural heritage in Africa and to help build capacity amongst the continent’s heritage professionals.
Although available data suggest that trade finance accounts for 3% of global trade, worth some $3 trillion annually, the subject of trade finance within the global financial ecosystem remains inexplicable to the financially uninitiated. Trade finance basically helps deal with some of the challenges with trading; both domestic and international. Trade finance facilitates the exchange of goods and/or services for money. For instance, when two individuals, a buyer and a seller, want to transact business, they would want to agree on the terms and conditions under which the transaction would be done. These such transactions are sometimes surrounded with mistrust and other uncertainties thereby highlighting the need for instruments which are appropriate for specific products/occasions to help deal with all those uncertainties.
The Implementation Strategy of the COMESA Local Content Policy Framework on Industrialization is set for adoption this week, 24 – 27 May 2021 as the technical and ministerial committees on industry conduct their 4th meetings. The experts begun meeting on Monday, 24 May 2021 with the key agenda being the adoption of the draft harmonized COMESA Framework of Managing Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks. It will then be presented before the ministerial meeting on 27 May 2021. The decision to develop an Implementation Strategy of the COMESA Local Content Policy Framework was issued by the Ministers in 2019. Its objective is to ensure that a high proportion of project inputs are sourced from the host country without compromising the economics of the project or sector being leveraged.
A cross-border data collaboration project involving 23 African countries above the Equator is proving to be a game-changer for the tracking and management of COVID-19 and other epidemic-prone diseases in the region – and is launching the first ever daily public COVID dashboard for countries in the Horn of Africa next month. The USAID-funded Regional Action Through Data (RAD) programme is tackling COVID-19 in West and East Africa through two initiatives, respectively involving the sharing of real-time regional disease data online and tech-enabled cross-border immunisations. These initiatives are enabling governments to better collaborate to protect their roving pastoral populations from epidemics and to overcome the data issues of the Ebola era.
This report was commissioned at by the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) of the African Development Bank based on discussions with regional member countries at a regional workshop organized by the African Forest Forum (AFF) in Accra, Ghana in 2017, and in Yaounde, Cameroon in 2018, to generating data to fill gaps in knowledge on intra-African trade in wood products. This was understood as an important contribution to guide policy makers in formulating policies and strategies to encourage such trade by the forest-endowed with the less forest-endowed countries.
The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors have approved a new policy on water which prioritises water security and the transformation of water assets to foster sustainable, green and inclusive economic growth in regional member countries. Since 2010, the AfDB has invested an estimated $6.2billion in water supply and sanitation services delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic though has exposed vulnerabilities caused by under-investment in water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) across the African continent. Despite these challenges the Bank’s active water sector portfolio stood at $4.3billion, comprises of nearly one hundred national projects implemented in 40 countries, and six multinational projects.
Globally, around 1 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, and some estimates link global trade to nearly one-third of the species under threat. Coffee, chocolate and beef are just a few examples of products consumed daily across the globe that are linked to biodiversity loss. Over the decades, trade’s share of GDP has steadily increased – from 36% in 1979 to 60% in 2020. Today, most of what we buy and consume comes from another country, meaning our biodiversity footprint may be larger abroad than at home. “We must be mindful of the link between biodiversity and trade when examining the causes of biodiversity loss and discussing the possible solutions,” said Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD’s acting secretary-general. “For trade to play a leading role in the battle against biodiversity loss, it must be sustainable throughout the value chain.”
Despite making progress in areas such as clean water, sanitation, clean energy and forest management, the world is still living unsustainably and biodiversity loss and climate change have continued to deteriorate. “We have still not embraced the rate of change necessary to come in line with the 2030 Agenda,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which produced the study together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “The report makes it clear that we are falling short, and, in some cases, actually receding. The world cannot sustain our rate of use and abuse forever, and it is imperative that we accept the changes in lifestyles and livelihoods necessary to achieve the 2030 goals.”
New approaches made possible through improved access and Internet connectivity can raise the standard of living for approximately 3.4 billion people living in rural areas, without them having to migrate to cities, according to the newly released 2021 World Social Report “Reconsidering Rural Development.” The COVID-19 pandemic, together with already persistent high levels of poverty and inequalities, are threatening to stall progress for the world’s rural populations. But the pandemic has also proven that new technologies can enable rural populations to flourish, ending the rural-urban divide. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the new technologies opened up new opportunities for rural development. “Opportunities exist to build a greener, more inclusive and resilient future. The experience of the pandemic has shown, for example, that where high-quality Internet connectivity is coupled with flexible working arrangements, many jobs that were traditionally considered to be urban can be performed in rural areas too.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the agreement by the G20 Tourism Ministers to support the safe restoration of mobility by following the G20 Rome Guidelines for the Future of Tourism. IATA urged G20 governments to quickly follow up their endorsement of the guidelines with actions, particularly the five-point agenda to safely restore mobility: Sharing information among industry and governments to inform policies and decisions to ensure safe mobility. Agreeing common international approaches to COVID-19 testing, vaccination, certification and information. Promoting digital traveler identity, biometrics and contactless transactions for safe and seamless travel. Providing accessible, consistent, clear and updated information to travelers to encourage and facilitate travel planning and journeys. Maintaining and improving the connectivity, safety and sustainability of transport systems.
The rise of digital technologies and ways of working offers extraordinary new opportunities to further global sustainable development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, from increasing economic resilience to mitigating the damage of COVID-19 and delivering more effective public services. Yet not everyone is equally able to take advantage of these opportunities, particularly as the rapid pace of digital change places further demands on resource-constrained governments and societies. Bridging the world’s digital divide is increasingly urgent, as those who are left out of today’s digital transformation are in danger of falling further behind. This means ensuring that digital services are available everywhere, as well as affordable and accessible to all. To address this key issue, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a Joint Facility for Digital Capacity Development to support those not currently served by existing digital capacity development resources or channels.
In his opening remarks to the World Health Assembly, World Health Organisation Director-General Ghebreyesus called on nations to share doses through COVAX and underlined the need to scale-up manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines. He said the “bottom line” is that “we need a lot more doses, we need them fast, and we must leave no stone unturned to get them.” While noting that several manufacturers have said they have capacity to produce vaccines if the originator companies are willing to share licenses, technology and know-how, he voiced concern that he finds it “difficult to understand why this has not happened yet.
Developing Countries Desperately Need COVID-19 Financing (Inter Press Service)
After over a year, “Poor countries are facing severe setbacks on their development paths, encumbered by ballooning debts, high risks of default and limited ability to inject desperately needed liquidity”, observed participants at a recent UN Forum. International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief economist, Gita Gopinath, estimates US$9 trillion in economic benefits from adequately accelerating affordable mass vaccination, testing, tracing and treatment at a cost of US$50bn. Overall global projections obscure disparities among and within countries. With vaccine apartheid and developing countries’ constraints, uneven pandemic containment and recovery have been worsening prior inequalities, further setting back poor countries and people.