Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News


Attaining port efficiency requires purpose rethink, says law firm (Engineering News)

South Africa’s maritime ports, known to be highly inefficient, need to be repurposed and redesignated to increase their efficient use, says law firm Norton Rose Fullbright South Africa chairperson Andrew Robinson. Speaking during an Infrastructure Africa panel discussion on transformation in the transport sector, on June 23, he reiterated that the World Bank recently ranked the Port of Durban among the bottom three of 351 global ports for its container handling competency.

Industry 4.0 training key to ensuring South Africa is not left behind (Engineering News)

To fully realise the potential of Industry 4.0 and remain relevant as the way of conducting business evolves, South African organisations should consider making strategic investments in infrastructure and technology as soon as possible. However, these investments will be rendered ineffective if organisations do not simultaneously ensure that the necessary skills development takes place in parallel to support the investments.

Study Shows South Africa is Well Placed to Lead the Production of Zero Carbon Shipping Fuels (Environmental Defense Fund)

A study by Ricardo and Environmental Defense Fund for the P4G Getting to Zero Coalition Partnership finds that South Africa holds an untapped opportunity to supply the global shipping industry with zero carbon fuels. “Our study shows that South Africa has an abundance of renewable energy potential. It is enough to supply the country’s domestic electrical demand as well as the production of zero carbon fuels to supply commercial vessels refueling in its international ports. The adoption of zero carbon propulsion technologies at South Africa’s ports could attract investment of between 122 and 175 billion Rand in onshore infrastructure by 2030. All that is needed to unlock this investment is the right policy incentives set at the International Maritime Organization,” says Aoife O’Leary, Director, International Climate, Environmental Defense Fund.

Ghana needs a ‘national branding’ strategy to fully enjoy AfCFTA benefits – Fatima Alimohamed (BusinessGhana)

Chairperson of the Agribusiness Sector at the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and CEO of Africa Brand Warrior, Fatima Alimohamed, says getting a “national branding” strategy remains one of the major hurdles Ghana needs to cross if the country can obtain maximum benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). She is of the view that a working plan for a national brand will not only make Ghana more attractive and marketable, but also make the country stand tall among its peers on the continent in the area of trade and export going forward. “Everything has to matter seamlessly anytime you walk in somewhere, and it must match the vision of the country. So obviously, the national branding ought to be looked at. It is the first step for us to take,” Fatima Alimohamed said. Sloganeering not branding

Come back home and let’s build Ghana together – Finance Minister to Ghanaians abroad (Modern Ghana)

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, has urged the diaspora community to return home with their talents, capital, skills and knowledge to facilitate Ghana’s growth. “There will be challenges but you need to exercise patience to tolerate the inefficiency in the system with the intention of helping it to be better. We will do all we can to help you settle in,” he said. Mr Ofori-Atta, who was speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Investment Summit that seeks to create an avenue to foster partnerships between local and Diaspora investors said returning home signified a sense of belonging and uniting with family.

Zimbabwe reaches another landmark in work on tariff matters (WCO)

Stepping up its efforts to implement the 2022 version of the Harmonized System (HS) in time, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) held a meeting of the Technical Working Group on HS 2022. The Working Group examined market access offers involving agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Eastern and Southern Africa. On the HS 2022 Nomenclature, and drafted the required statutory instruments. The Regulations are used by Customs alongside the national tariff with regard to imported goods when collecting VAT. In order to set up a solid framework for the implementation of HS amendments, the Working Group developed a scheme describing and sequencing all the major steps whereby national HS-based instruments are migrated to new editions of the HS, in consultation with the HS-Africa Programme. The ZIMRA and the HS-Africa Programme furthermore agreed on an action plan to join hands in ensuring a smooth and timely implementation of the HS 2022 amendments in Zimbabwe.

Construction of Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline begins (Pumps Africa)

Construction of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline has commenced. Chief Operating Officer of the gas and power of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Yusuf Usman announced the start of the project. The pipeline project falls in line with the “Decade of Gas Master Plan” that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari launched in 2020, which seeks to bolster Nigeria’s gas production and gas exports despite a global transition to clean energy. The pipeline project is expected to be mutually beneficial for Morocco, Nigeria, and a slew of countries along the pipeline’s route in West Africa. The pipeline will pass through West African countries such as Benin, Tago, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, and into Morocco.

IMF Executive Board Concludes 2021 Article IV Consultation with Mauritius (IMF)

While the pandemic has hit the Mauritian economy hard, the authorities have been successful in containing the virus and mitigating the economic impact of the crisis. With tourism halted, real GDP contracted by 15 percent in 2020, and the current account deficit widened substantially. However, unemployment – while high – was contained by wage support schemes. In the face of falling revenue and urgent social spending needs, the fiscal deficit has widened notably. Inflation is low, while the banking and global business sectors appear to be sound. From the outset of the pandemic, the rapid closure of the border, imposition of a lockdown, and other public health measures have kept viral transmission to a low level. Vaccinations began in February 2021, and the authorities target vaccinating 60 percent of the population by end-September 2021.

Sector grapples with challenges (Botswana Daily News)

The informal sector is grappling with challenges emanating from lack of access to credit, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Ms Anna Mokgethi has said. She was speaking at the Women in Trade National Consultations in Botswana on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) meeting in Gaborone on Tuesday. Ms Mokgethi said, despite existing for a long time, the sector continued to face unsupportive regulatory framework and restricted operation space. Therefore, she said this called for appropriate policies and favourable laws that would encourage growth and productivity of informal enterprises.

Mixed reactions as govt slashes rice farm gate prices (The New Times)

Rice farmers have said that they are set to witness a decline in their fortunes after the government announced a reduction in farm gate prices. A kilogramme of unprocessed short-grain rice was reduced from Rwf270 to Rwf259 while that of long grain rice was reduced from Rwf290 Rwf279, according to new prices announced by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on June 24. The new prices will affect the harvest from agriculture season B, which started in March and ends June 30, this year.

Regional trade promotion – Kampala (Independent)

At a recent post-budget forum, organized by Absa Bank Uganda, experts including Daniel Birungi, the executive director for Uganda Manufacturers Association, said, Uganda needs an export guarantee scheme for trade with Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan given that the two countries have experienced political instability that has cost traders billions of shillings. “We have opened up South Sudan and DRC, which is very good work. But the aspect of volatility in these markets requires that we have an export guarantee scheme… so that, when a manufacturer transports their goods to these countries and loses them, they are able to have recourse.” An export credit guarantee provides safeguards and insurance for exports by a government or semi-government agency to ensure that an exporter receives payment for goods shipped overseas in the event the customer defaults.

Creating An African Medicine Agency: Cameroon Praised For Pushing Agenda (Actualités au cameroun)

The Republic of Cameroon has been acclaimed for supporting the idea of the creation of an African Medicine Agency (AMA) by accelerating the ratification process of the treaty. The remark was made by the African Union’s Special Envoy for AMA, Michel Sidibe after an audience granted him by the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute on June 22, 2021. “What was really important is the fact that the Prime Minister was very knowledgeable and shared with us the interest of his country (Cameroon) to be amongst the first 15 countries that will ratify this treaty. It is not just for the health of our people which is so critical because as at today, we don’t have even more than 80 million people who receive two doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Economically, it is important,” he noted, making comparison with the medicine market vis-à-vis Africa.

New Agreement in Ethiopia between Ministry of Trade and BRIDGES Programme to Spur Job Creation and Support MSMEs (AllAfrica)

Today, the BRIDGES Programme signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Trade and Industry that will lead to significant work opportunities for young people in Ethiopia. The collaboration will focus on enhancing the competitiveness of the industrial sector to attract qualified workers and will offer support to existing micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The parties agreed to cooperate, share information and resources, and enter necessary and specific agreements to realize the objectives of the initiative. This endeavour is expected to facilitate increased local manufacturing and create domestic linkages between MSMEs and large manufacturing firms in the country. This will lead to greater competitiveness for Ethiopia’s MSMEs, as well as the development of sustainable business linkages between large enterprises and MSMEs.

How Togo, one of West Africa’s smallest countries, became the region’s trade hub (How we made it in Africa)

Togo has staked its future on becoming West Africa’s trade and logistics hub. In the constraint of its borders, Togo found an opportunity. Togo became a transit country – a trade entrepôt. With its small size, Togo could play off currency differentials, tax, and duty regimes to attract trade. Like any place rooted in arbitrage, it indirectly benefits from its neighbours’ woes, whether political instability, trade bans, or congested port infrastructure. Togo capitalised on its small size to turn into West Africa’s largest trade hub. Today, Lomé port is West Africa’s busiest port. It is the vital node connecting the region to global markets. How did a small country like Togo turn into a trade powerhouse, exerting a significant influence on the region?

Support for Economic Transformation in Côte d’Ivoire (World Bank)

The World Bank approved this Wednesday new financing to support Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen the competitiveness of export-oriented agro-industrial and manufacturing value, a key objective of the government’s Vision 2030. The financing also aims to increase access to long-term finance for start-ups, young small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as large enterprises carrying out green investments. With $200 million in total financing from the International Development Association (IDA), the Competitive Value Chains for Jobs and Economic Transformation Project (PCCET) will support the efforts by the Ivorian authorities to ensure the structural transformation of the national economy through economic diversification and strengthening the competitiveness of its key sectors, notably agricultural, agro-industry and manufacturing. The project will assist actors in supported value chains to overcome market failures by providing services aiming to improve the quality standards, add value to their products and access higher value markets.

Tunisians and Africans take part in 4th Financing Investment & Trade in Africa conference (TAP)

In a statement to the media at the start of the event, President of the Tunisian-African Business Council (TABC) Anis Jaziri pointed out that several representatives of international and African banks are also taking part in the conference and will propose their financing solutions to economic actors. “The objective is to propose financing mechanisms for African operators in a pandemic context, to promote investment in Africa and to boost Tunisian exports to this continent,” he indicated. The themes of financial support in Africa, the major structuring themes for African economies, the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the business environment, sectoral development strategies, local transformation and industrialisation as well as the stepping up of competitiveness are the themes that will be debated during the conference.


AfCFTA updates

AfCFTA targets zero duty on 97% products traded in Africa in 15yrs (Vanguard)

The target of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is to achieve zero duty on 97 percent of all products traded in Africa in the next 15 years, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, has stated. Mene who is currently on an official tour to Nigeria, said: “I think Africans should be patient and understand that we are in the initial stages of significance to go together under a single set of rules.”

Africa needs to industrialise to create jobs – AfCFTA (BusinessGhana)

Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), has reiterated that Africa needs to industrialise to create jobs for the people. Speaking on the topic, “The AfCFTA and the New Age of African Enterprise,” Mr Mene said it was estimated that the African labour force would swell by more than 170 million people between 2010 and 2020. “If there are no productive jobs for these people, the fight against poverty will be lost given that the most important determinant of whether someone in Africa is in poverty, or not, is whether they have a job,” Mr Mene stated.

Mr Mene argued that industrialization was crucial for African countries to transform their economies, create jobs, add value and promote trade through greater integration into regional/global value chains. He said Africa, despite failing to industrialize in the past, might have a new window of opportunity.

AfCFTA to boost private sector growth in Africa (Engineering News)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will boost private sector growth and reach in the continent, panellists participating in an Infrastructure Africa session on restoring economic growth, connecting African countries and optimising the AfCFTA, on June 22, concurred. AfCFTA policy network Ghana executive director Louis Afful said the AfCFTA was a good option to enable African markets to have access to each other and was the “best opportunity perspective” in the area of boosting intra-African trade. He noted that Africa had not performed well in terms of countries on the continent trading with each other, especially compared with other regions of the world that had been trading “massively” among themselves for some time.

African Rail Industry Association CEO Mesela Nhlapo said the AfCFTA was an instrument that could bring about the vision that Africans were looking for, from an African perspective. She says Africans, embracing the AfCFTA, should no longer continue being separated from each other and that to achieve the most benefits from the trade agreement, they had to work together. One key area of development and integration was that of transport, where Nhlapo said shifts needed to be made away from road-based transport which fulfilled 90% of the needs of transporting goods and people in Africa.

Focus on investments, knowledge and skills to facilitate trade – Wamkele Mene to Diaspora (GhanaWeb)

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene has stated that, the diaspora has positive development potential which when well harnessed, will help mitigate the development challenges of Africa and Ghana, as a whole. He said there is still potential to enhance engagements not just in dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 but also in the pursuit of national economic development and the AU’s Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa We Want’, as well as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. He also said the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative is a step in the right direction, and the diaspora has played a significant role in government’s developmental effort.

ECA partners ODI and ACET to research into how AfCFTA will promote post COVID-19 economic recovery (UNECA)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is to assist member states to develop their national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation strategy with an environmental bias in anticipation of challenges of COVID-19 and climate change. The assistance will be underpinned by an assessment of the environmental impacts that could result from increased economic and trade activities under the AfCFTA in order to devise mitigation actions, the Coordinator of the ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), David Luke, said today. Speaking at the inception meeting of a complementary research project the Centre is starting together with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), he said that the joint research would determine how climate change-related risks could alter comparative advantages and trade patterns or affect infrastructure, and identify adverse effects on particular sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

Opportunities abound in Agriculture as a driver of AfCFTA – PEF (News Ghana)

DP World and Somaliland opened a new container terminal at Berbera Port, with work under way to further expand the terminal’s capacity and develop it into a major regional trade hub serving the Horn of Africa. The newly opened container terminal increases the port’s container capacity from current 150,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) to 500,000 TEUs annually. “With the new terminal, along with the second phase of expansion and economic zone along the Berbera corridor, we are now firmly positioned to further develop and grow our economy through increased trade, attracting foreign direct investment and creating jobs,” Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somaliland, said.

‘Pan-African Settlement System to Slash Transaction Costs by $5bn Annually’ (THISDAY Newspapers)

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Mr. Wamkele Mene, has said that the full implementation of Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) will cut annual cost of transactions by $5 billion. The amount he said represented the aggregate amount spent on currency convertibility. While pointing out that the pilot implementation of the platform had already started in six countries in West Africa, which have switched on unto the system, Mene added that the system is currently running smoothly. said: “We have started a piloting phase of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS); six countries in West Africa which have switched on unto the platform. Transactions are already happening within these six countries that are at the advanced stage of pilot project.”

“Africa has 42 currencies and the cost of the currency convertibility actually is a constraint to intra-African trade.” He said: “It makes us inefficient and makes our trade unnecessarily expensive and adds to the cost of doing business for the SMEs. “So the payment settlement platform will really make a significant contribution and our estimates that it would reduce the cost of transactions by $5 billion annually and that is the aggregate amount that is the aggregate amount that is spent on currency convertibility.”

2021 Annual Meetings: A call for bold domestic reforms, efficient international support to boost African economies and avoid debt overload (AfDB)

The 2021 African Development Bank Group Annual Meetings, held virtually starting on Wednesday, opened with discussions on African debt management. The pandemic has created huge financing needs for governments, widened budget deficits and driven governments into debt. On Wednesday, the African Development Bank hosted panel discussions on the issue. One knowledge event was titled “From Debt Resolution to Growth: The Way Forward for Africa”. African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said: “The deep scars left by the Covid-19 pandemic (in Africa) will take time to heal.” As a result of the pandemic, the continent’s GDP fell by 2.1% in 2020 and poverty and inequality are increasing. The debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to increase by 10-15 percentage points in 2021 and debt is a pervasive concern.

African Development Bank 2021 Annual Meetings – Building resilient economies in post-Covid-19 Africa: African women crucial to the journey to recovery (AfDB)

Women and gender-focused policies have a pivotal role in African recovery programs following the Covid-19 pandemic, affirm some of the continent’s top development leaders. “Women have to be part of the decision-making process…it is critical that gender equality, women entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment are at the center, when it comes to solutions for economic resilience on the continent. This is the path to putting Africa back on the economic growth trajectory,” said Atsuko Toda, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “As long as women entrepreneurs remain in the informal sector, we will not really see [them] benefiting from all these different investments,” said Dassanou.

Investment: Post-pandemic prospects for Africa (The Africa Report)

2020 was a particularly mediocre year for foreign investment in Africa due to the pandemic and the fall in commodity prices. However, with a drop of 16% ($40bn in 2020 against $47bn in 2019), Africa does not seem to be doing as badly as Europe (-80%) or North America (-40%), according to the World Investment Report 2021 published on 21 June by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). There are several factors that give hope for recovery. “Global recovery will generate an increase in demand for metals and energy, of which Africa is a producer, and therefore investments in these sectors,” says the analyst, who also expects global value chains to be reconfigured and “take on a more regional dimension”.

Africa’s Shot at Local Pharma Production (IFC)

“Africa must begin to produce medicines for Africa, with raw material produced in Africa,” Margaret Ilomuanya, Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Journal of Pharmacy and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Lagos said. “There’s a big risk in relying on elaborate global supply chains in which the supply of many essential and critical drugs is dependent on overseas suppliers. We have the wherewithal to build the local pharmaceutical industry, and we have the hands. We can take it from bench to bedside.” The Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, rolled out in 2005 by the African Union Development Agency, created a business plan to boost local pharmaceutical production and improve public health outcomes. Other strategies to promote African pharmaceutical manufacturing include initiatives from the African Medicines Agency and the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum. In late May, 54 African countries co-sponsored a resolution on the local manufacturing of medicines, medical technologies, and vaccines that was presented at the WHO’s World Health Assembly.

Rich countries ‘deliberately’ keeping Covid vaccines from Africa, says envoy (The Guardian)

African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa has accused the world’s richest nations of deliberately failing to provide enough Covid-19 vaccines to the continent. Masiyiwa, the union’s special envoy to the African vaccine acquisition task team, said the Covax scheme had failed to keep its promise to secure production of 700 million doses of vaccines in time for delivery by December 2021. “It’s not a question of if this was a moral failure, it was deliberate. Those with the resources pushed their way to the front of the queue and took control of their production assets,” Masiyiwa told a panel discussion hosted by CNBC on Wednesday.

The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria deposits the instrument of ratification of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) (African Union)

The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria becomes the ninth (9th) Member State to deposit the instrument of ratification of the African Medicines Agency (AMA). The Republic of Algeria ratified the Treaty for the establishment of AMA on 10 June 2021 and deposited the instrument of accession, to the Commission of the African Union (AU) on 22 June 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohamed noted that the need for Africa to produce its medicines and vaccines has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and without a regulatory body this cannot be achieved. “AMA as a regulatory body will harmonize the policies as well as strengthen the capacity for Member States to produce medicines and medical products,” she noted.

DP World and Somaliland open new terminal at Berbera port (The National)

DP World and Somaliland opened a new container terminal at Berbera Port, with work under way to further expand the terminal’s capacity and develop it into a major regional trade hub serving the Horn of Africa. The newly opened container terminal increases the port’s container capacity from current 150,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) to 500,000 TEUs annually. “With the new terminal, along with the second phase of expansion and economic zone along the Berbera corridor, we are now firmly positioned to further develop and grow our economy through increased trade, attracting foreign direct investment and creating jobs,” Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somaliland, said.

ATU signs digital transformation MoU with Huawei (Developing Telecoms)

The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei that will see African countries and organizations build capacity for ICT transformation. Under the agreement, Huawei will provide training on skills development, including reskilling and upskilling for ATU members. The MoU will also see the two organisations collaborate to support local innovation, share information on latest trends, challenges and solutions in Africa and globally, and expand the digital economy as well as rural connectivity in the continent through furthering research. “The document we are signing today aims at strengthening this partnership… Africa has a tremendous opportunity to fully grasp the potential from new technologies,” concluded Omo.

Fintech firms find it hard to gain a foothold in Africa’s fragmented markets (BusinessLIVE)

Telecom operators are ramping up to make a play for market share in Africa’s fast-growing fintech space, but in a diverse, fragmented and rapidly changing landscape the path to rapid scaling remains unclear. The scramble for market share in Africa’s burgeoning payments sector is gaining momentum. Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest percentages of unbanked adults in the world, according to the World Bank Findex study, but also the highest percentage (21%) of adults with a mobile money account – and the Covid-19 pandemic has only underscored the social and economic importance of such services. What’s more, no major tech companies have yet emerged to dominate the market. This opens the door for telecoms players that, on the surface, are ideally placed to lead in this space.

ECCAS assesses e-communication infrastructure (ANGOP)

Ministers of Telecommunications and Information Technologies of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) discussed Thursday the consensual action plan for the implementation of electronic communications infrastructure in the region. The plan will allow the provision of electronic communications services and the integration of infrastructure between governments, states and companies, in addition to strengthening information security and electronic commerce, especially in rural areas. “The continent must continue to address the improvement of telecommunications infrastructure, a project of the 20/63 agenda of the African Union, which will allow a digital agenda for the continent,” he stressed.

East African Countries Unveil Optimistic Budgets as They Recover from an Economic Slump (East Africa Monitor)

East African countries have tabled their budget allocation as they prepare for uncertain economic times. However, the budgetary estimates paint an optimistic future buttressed by tax waivers and economic incentives. In uncertain times, the countries have put in place measures to jumpstart their pandemic hit economies. Moreover, the countries are bracing themselves for declining revenue collection and increased government expenditure. Uganda’s budget allocation stands at $12.61 billion, Tanzania’s at $15.59 billion and Kenya has laid out a budget of $33.3 billion. In addition, Kenya has set aside $133 million for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, while Uganda will use $159 million.

Convention to Promote Fair Trade in Agriculture Commodities (COMESA)

The COMESA-SADC-EAC tripartite agreement and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) present huge opportunities for enhancing intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and food. According to the Secretary General of COMESA, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe, while the African continent has the potential to feed itself as well as export to the rest of the world, trade data disappointingly shows that over the last 15 years the African countries have been net food importers. “Diversification of agricultural exports, away from primary commodities is key to intra-African trade expansion,” she said. “There is potential for intensifying intra-regional trade by building on localized comparative advantages within the region for selected regional agricultural value chains.”

States Urged to Honour Contributions as Remittances Fall (COMESA)

The 42nd Meeting of the COMESA Committee on Administrative and Budget matters met Wednesday, June 23, 2021, with a call to Member States to meet their budgetary contributions to the annual budget of the Secretariat and its institutions. This follows a slow funding of the annual budget with four out the 21 Members States having fully paid their contributions for 2021. Secretary General of COMESA, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe, noted that the slow remittance to the budget has resulted in the utilization of reserves to fund the planned activities. “Over the years approved sanctions have not been rigorously applied on member States that have defaulted in paying their contributions to the annual budget and this needs to change. This has been a major contributory factor to the financial position that we now find ourselves in, where a few member States fund the organization,” said the Secretary General.

AU, EU and ICMPD launched a study on Return, Readmission and Reintegration programmes in Africa (African Union)

Within the framework of the AU-EU Continent-to-Continent Migration and Mobility Dialogue, the African Union Commission and European Union Commission, in partnership with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) conducted a study on Return, Readmission and Reintegration programs in Africa. The study includes nine country briefs of selected African Union Members States. “AU Member States and all stakeholders are invited to adopt out-of-the-box and flexible approaches to reintegration, in order to harness long-term added value impact on the life of returnees and the return communities and achieve impetus on socio-economic sustainability,” concluded H.E. Commissioner Amira Elfadil. The Commissioner emphasized the necessary linkage between reintegration and development programmes.

African Union strategy for gender equality & women’s empowerment (The East African)

These legal frameworks along with other key decisions and declarations of the African Union as well as international conventions on the rights of women and girls are at the core of the African Union’s Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE). The GEWE strategy for the period of years from 2018 – 2028 identifies and proposes practical measures to eliminate the major social and economic constraints hindering gender equality and women’s empowerment if Africa is to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063 and specifically Aspiration 6 which envisions “An Africa where development is people driven, relying upon the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth and caring for children.”

Chinese logistics network launches China-Africa air cargo route (Xinhua)

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, announced on Thursday the launch of its first air cargo route between China and Africa, aiming to enhance cross-border parcel shipping efficiency. “As one of Cainiao’s key emerging markets, Africa has witnessed a booming demand from local consumers purchasing items such as apparel, home appliances and electronic accessories from China,” Cainiao said. The launch of the air cargo route will support the surge in trade volume and rise of e-commerce in Africa, with the African e-commerce market projected to reach about 34.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2024, an average annual growth rate of 17.1 percent, according to Cainao.

Staging a comeback, re-energising India’s Africa policy (The Hindu)

Africa is considered a foreign policy priority by India. Even as the COVID-19 era began in March 2020, New Delhi took new initiatives to assist Africa through prompt despatch of medicines and later vaccines. But now the policy implementation needs a critical review. According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, in 2020-21, India’s exports to and imports from Africa stood, respectively, at $27.7 billion and $28.2 billion, a reduction of 4.4% and 25% over the previous year. Thus, bilateral trade valued at $55.9 billion in 2020-21, fell by $10.8 billion compared to 2019-20, and $15.5 billion compared to the peak year of 2014-15. India’s investments in Africa too saw a decrease from $3.2 billion in 2019-20 to $2.9 billion in 2020-21.


Merchandise trade posts strong gains in first quarter despite growing regional disparities (WTO)

The volume of world merchandise trade grew 2.1% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, which is equivalent to an annual rate of 8.7%. Year-on-year growth picked up to 4.3% in the same period. A bigger increase is expected in the second quarter due to the steep decline in the same quarter a year ago. Inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to pose the greatest threat to the economic outlook since a failure to protect all people regardless of income leaves populations vulnerable to further waves of infection.

Most regions have seen merchandise exports and imports recover to varying degrees since trade bottomed out in the second quarter of last year. They were down more substantially in Africa (‑4.6%), the Middle East (‑8.4%) and the CIS (‑13.9%). By comparison, merchandise import volumes were up year-on-year in all regions except Africa (‑0.9%) and the Middle East (‑2.7%). Overall, it appears that the trade recovery to date has been strongest in Asia and weakest in regions that export natural resources disproportionately.

Directors-General of WHO, WIPO and WTO agree on intensified cooperation in support of access to medical technologies worldwide to tackle COVID-19 pandemic (WTO)

On 15 June 2021, we, the Directors-General of WHO, WIPO and the WTO, met in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity to map out further collaboration to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressing global challenges at the intersection of public health, intellectual property and trade. Acutely conscious of our shared responsibility to communities across the world as they confront a health crisis of unprecedented severity and scale, we pledged to bring the full extent of the expertise and resources of our respective institutions to bear in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the health and well-being of all people, everywhere around the globe.

Why is Global Air Cargo Demand on the Rise (Global Trade Magazine)

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the official global body of the airline industry, the demand for global air cargo reached its highest level since IATA began collecting the data in 1990. In March 2020, the demand was 4.4 percent higher than in March 2019. This was the month before the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the statistics don’t necessarily explain why global air cargo demand is at such an all-time high.

New global index seeks to transform how developing nations are supported (The Commonwealth)

The Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has spoken today urging the international community to make crucial changes to how it delivers finance to developing nations, proposing a new system that moves beyond the use of GDP as the sole criteria for receiving certain types of support. The proposed Universal Vulnerability Index (UVI) has been shared with Commonwealth member countries for their review in ongoing consultations. If endorsed globally, the Index could transform the way development finance is delivered to developing nations. “We must do better and act smarter when it comes to the support the international community gives to more vulnerable countries. If we are to rise above the current interlinked global crises we face, we need to muster all our resources in the most effective way.”

Why African women lag in mobile Internet usage (Business Daily)

An estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet for the first time last year across low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), according to the 2021 GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report. However, there are still 74 million unconnected women in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and women are still less likely to own a mobile phone than men in the region. However, there has been some improvement, with the global mobile gender gap shrinking over the past year to 15 percent from 19 percent in 2019. The improvement was mostly because a record number of women in South Asia are now using mobile Internet services, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for sub-Saharan Africa where things got worse over the past year. Women in SSA are 37 percent less likely to use mobile Internet compared to men, slightly worse than 36 percent in 2019, making it the region with the largest mobile gender gap globally.

Global roadmap to sustainable energy by 2030 (Africa Renewal)

In order to achieve the SDGs and Paris Agreement targets, energy transition must become a transformational effort, a system overhaul, the proposed roadmap suggests. The reports recommend a rapid scale-up of available solutions to reach 8000 GW of renewables by 2030 from 2800 GW currently, and to increase the average annual rate of energy efficiency improvement from the current 0.8 to 3 per cent. By 2025, 100 countries should establish targets for 100% renewable-based power, and there should be no new coal plants in the pipeline globally.


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