tralac Daily News
In an unprecedented move, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) declared force majeure on Monday following the ongoing fallout from a cyber attack last week which hit the entire Transnet Group, South Africa’s state-run ports operator and freight rail monopoly. While the group has tried to play down the hacking – initially describing it as a “disruption on its IT network” – TPT’s confidential force majeure letter to customers on Monday confirmed that it is “an act of cyber-attack, security intrusion and sabotage”.
The letter is titled ‘Declaration of force majeure for Transnet Port Terminals container terminals in the Ports of Durban, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town – confidential notice to customers’. It was sent out by TPT chief executive Velile Dube. This confirms a major blow for Transnet Group, with TPT being one of its biggest and most important divisions. TPT operates the container handing facilities at Durban – sub-Saharan Africa’s busiest container port – as well as container terminals in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape ports of Ngqura and Port Elizabeth.
Namibia remains a net importer of white maize due to supply constraints faced by farmers, coupled with adverse climatic conditions. This year’s outlook on the local production of white maize from April to June 2021, shows the traditional harvesting season, is positive and some even expect a bumper harvest due to good rains received in the early months of 2021. However, should local demand outweighs local production, Namibia will be forced to import white maize, most likely from the country’s main trading partner, South Africa. The High Economic Intelligence (HEI) anticipates that the importation of white maize from South Africa in the coming months will be negatively affected due to compromised road infrastructure and supply chain disruptions as a result of the recent social unrest in that country.
Kenya, UK to use blockchain tech to free up trade logistics (The Star, Kenya)
An initiative to free up two-way trade between the UK and Kenya was launched in London on Monday. This was through the signing of an MoU between the Institute of Export and International Trade and TradeMark East Africa at the Kenya High Commission in London. The MoU provides a framework for collaboration to implement a digital trade corridor between the UK and Kenya. The UK-Kenya Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP) aims at eliminating paperwork and introduce a digital process that increases visibility up and down the supply chains.
Kenya, South Sudan abolish visa requirement for their nationals (The East African)
Kenya and South Sudan Monday announced an end to visa requirements for their nationals visiting the two countries in the latest move to boost integration. The decision means South Sudanese travelling to Kenya will be entitled to enter for free, as long as they carry a valid passport and meet other health conditions for travellers. In return, Kenyans will no longer need to apply and pay for South Sudanese visas online before travel. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said the move was in line with existing integration protocol at the East African Community. The countries said the move is in line with the treaty establishing the East African Community’s Common Market Protocol, an agreement providing for the free movement of labour and people from the member states.
Gold sustaining exports growth, says Finance Ministry (Daily Monitor)
Uganda’s earnings from commodity exports increased by 6.7 per cent, growing to $455.2m in May from $426.5m in April. According to the Ministry of Finance Monthly Performance of the Economy report for June, the growth was due to higher receipts from mainly non-coffee exports, among them mineral products, electricity, tea and beans among others. Gold, a key component in the mineral exports category, has become a major revenue earner for Uganda, making up at least 44 per cent of export receipts. However, the merchandise trade deficit widened by 50 per cent on a month-on-month basis from $269.2m in April to $322.1m in May. This was mainly on account of an increase in the import bill, which more than offset the growth in export receipts over the same period.
Tanzania snags South Sudan as market for maize, cereals (The East African)
The Cereals and Other Produce Board of Tanzania (CPB) will start exporting maize and other cereals to South Sudan after securing market in the country. Following a visit to Juba last month, the CPB director general Dr Anselm Moshi said they would export about 200,000 tonnes of cereals, starting with 60,000 tonnes of white sorghum this season. CPB is now in discussions with the World Food Programme over 50,000 tonnes of maize it wants to sell in the next harvesting season, to be distributed in South Sudan. Already, the CBP has entered into a partnership with Kapari Ltd to open warehouses in Nairobi, for storing 102,000 tonnes of maize in transit to South Sudan, said Dr Moshi. Minister for Agriculture Prof Adolf Mkenda said that Tanzania is now searching for maize and other grain markets in the region, taking advantage of the regional food markets. A team of is set to visit Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo to seek rice and maize markets.
Many of those zones were designed by Singaporean planners, who learned from Japan, the famous ‘flying geese’ development model through which capital and know-how cascades from country to country. Will geese land in Nigeria? The country has 33 such zones. But only 15 are active, and the government has not fully backed them in the past. For instance, during Sanusi’s term as central bank governor, it did not allow repatriation of profits.
Nigerian pharmacists have called for technological enhancement of local drug production towards advancing pharmacy practice and medicine security in the country. Adelusi-Adeluyi, who is the President of the Nigerian Academy of Pharmacy, stressed that without technological advancement, the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry would be left behind. “If you are an analog person in a digital world, you will be left behind by the train of development,” Adelusi-Adeluyi remarked. In his keynote address, the President of the Industrial Pharmacy Section of the International Pharmaceutical Federation, Pharm Sola Solarin, called for what he described as “revolution of the mind” among pharmacists if they are to remain relevant professionally.
When the federal government inaugurated the steering committee to implement its N50bn Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) under its Economic Sustainability Plan, its focus was clear: While its primary goal is to increase Nigeria’s export capacity in the near term and its export volumes in the medium term; the EEFP aims to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on non-oil export businesses, thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new jobs as well as accelerating growth of non-oil sector to effectively diversify the Nigerian economy.
“The Ultimate aim of the Export Expansion Facility Programme as an intervention following the devastating economic effects of COVID-19 to exporters and MSMEs in Nigeria will be to save jobs, create jobs, support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernisation of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support,” Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo said.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said the construction of a new double lane bridge on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon will facilitate free trade. Fashola said this on Monday while inspecting the newly constructed 1.5km, two-lane bridge on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon in Ekot-Mfum, Etung Local Government Area of Cross River. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that construction of the bridge began on April 28, 2017 and was completed in March 2021 at the cost of $35.9 billion. Fashola said that the administration’s plan to renew and expand old infrastructure would take the two countries to the future for many more decades and strengthen the relationship between them.
James F. P. Gomez, the minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters has said that The Gambia has great potential in the fisheries industry but was quick to add that, to achieve those potentials, “we need to develop certain issues in the industry.”
He further said “We want to have a situation where government can facilitate the involvement of more young people in the fisheries industry and ensure they have startup capital and/or equipment.” He noted that if all fisheries actors in the country come together as one they can make a big difference, adding that if fisheries is working in any country, it is because they have a common agenda. According to him, now is the time for Gambians to take over the fisheries industry.
Madam Roslyn Ngeno, Senior Investment Expert, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has urged Ghanaian women entrepreneurs to venture into technical oriented fields to pioneer innovation and be competitive in the free trade market. Women entrepreneurship, she said played an important indicator for the country’s development agenda because their work impacted positively on the socio-economic wellbeing of society. She urged businesses to ensure that the quality and packaging of their products met standards to attract the attention of consumers.
Dr Angela Lusigi, the UNDP Resident Representative, said research indicated that over 70 per cent of cross-border traders, especially those engaged in informal trade were women, and that understanding their needs and giving them platform would enhance their businesses. She said to ensure that the promise for women yielded expected results, it was critical that the unique challenges they faced were brought to the fore for solutions to foster utilisation of opportunities in the AfCFTA.
The Covid-19 pandemic crisis and the security situation continue to undermine the Nigerien economy, wiping out years of hard-won gains in poverty reduction. A number of fiscal policy options are, however, available to help the country enhance public expenditure efficiency and increase its GDP by up to 2%. These are the findings of the World Bank’s latest economic and poverty update for Niger, “Maximizing Public Expenditure Efficiency for Rebuilding Better“, published today.
Although the spread of coronavirus has highlighted the urgency of the continent’s new free-trade pact, it’s also stalled progress on putting it to work. Trading under the new AfCFTA rules was supposed to start in July 2020, but travel restrictions delayed discussions to finalize the legal arrangements, and it’s unclear when they’ll be completed. The economic damage from Covid-19 could also complicate negotiations over cutting tariffs within Africa, which countries will have to do within five to 15 years, depending on the size of their economies. Duties are an important source of revenue, and some countries burdened by high levels of debt before the pandemic are counting on relief programs to ease the strain. “The AfCFTA is absolutely necessary for Africa; we don’t have a choice,” says Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director of the Trade Law Centre (tralac) in Stellenbosch, South Africa. “But we have to be realistic about what the states are capable and willing to do, and that’s become even more complicated and more complex with Covid-19.”
It has been brought to the attention of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat that our strategic partner, a leading African financial institution supported a $200 million bid by Made in Africa to purchase Vlisco, a textile company that sells almost exclusively in Africa. Whilst we respect the rights of parties in a private transaction, as a matter of public interest for Africa’s market integration, regional and global competitiveness, we do find it curious that the bid of Made in Africa was rejected by the seller. We totally support the bid by Made in Africa, which is financially backed by one of the leading trade finance banks in Africa.
Vaccines, digital infrastructure will prosper Africa – WTO, US (Punch Newspapers)
The World Trade Organisation and the US Ambassador to the United Nations say access to vaccines, digital infrastructure and women and youth inclusion will propel economic prosperity in Africa. Okonjo-Iweala said: “We have to talk of one important thing that will bring Africa back on that sustainable path and that is the vaccine inequity. “The second is youths and digital. Our youths are our resource and more than 40 per cent of them are on the internet doing amazing things, starting amazing businesses. “The other is women and micro, medium and small enterprises inclusion. If we can empower our women and get liquidity to our micro, medium and small enterprises and both work in tandem, because about 50 per cent of many of these enterprises are owned by women, I think that will help us propel a recovery.”
African womens’ decade on financial & economic inclusion (The East African)
The African Union’s Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) emphasises on the need for economic empowerment of women for Africa to achieve its goals for inclusive and sustainable development as envisioned in Agenda 2063. At the Global Gender Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2019, the idea for a dedicated period for Africa to work towards the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women was proposed, as a means to eliminate obstacles that impede equality between men and women, through the implementation of innovative solutions to provide financial access to women.
What followed was the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government convened in February 2020 that took up the mantle and declared the years 2020 to 2030 as the Decade on Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women. In their declaration, African leaders recommitted to scale up actions for progressive gender inclusion towards sustainable development at the national, regional and continental levels. “In addition to access to financial products, technologies and services, achieving financial inclusion for women would require overcoming socio-cultural norms and gender barriers.”
Economic impact studies by the World Bank in 2018 estimated that unsafe foods cost sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, about $110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses alone. African countries have also witnessed costly trade rejections and in some cases loss of market share due to trade in unsafe food. Despite the huge potential of Africa’s agricultural sector, the presence of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) risks and hazards are major constraints to Africa’s agricultural transformation agenda. Trading in safe food, thus, will require significant investment by both the public and private sector to improve compliance with internationally accepted food safety requirements.
Unfortunately, efforts by AU Member States to address food safety in their respective countries has not improved the overall situation in the continent because of different levels of capacities interms of operating functional and efficient national food safety control systems. Again, the capacity differential could undermine the integrity of the AfCFTA as some Member States may not have the requisite capacity to fully assert control and that could result in circulation of potentially unsafe or low quality food. The development of the AFSS therefore would empower all AU Member States to attain an acceptable threshold of capacity to effectively address food safety challenges and that would goa long way in building consumer trust, facilitate intra-African trade in food and boost confidence in the AfCFTA
To deliberate and validate a draft common position of Africa for the forthcoming United Nations Food System Summit (UNFSS) scheduled for September 2021. The UNFSS is aimed at galvanizing and pushing the world to take action to transform the world’s food systems as part of the Decade of Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The Summit will therefore bring together various stakeholders from the world of science, business, policy, healthcare, academia, farmers, indigenous people, youth organizations, and consumer groups and environmental activists among others to explore how to achieve that. The meeting, which was virtual, was to help establish a common position by African countries at the UNFSS, with focus on providing an aggregation of views on key issues that will shape the continent’s food systems over the next decade.
The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, H.E. Wamkele Mene, says the full implementation of the agreement will help cocoa-producing countries on the continent add value to their cocoa beans to boost revenue generation. Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria account for 68% of the global cocoa supply. Collectively, they produced 3.4 million tonnes out of a worldwide total of 5 million tonnes of the cocoa supply between 2019 to 2020. However, Africa’s cocoa-producing countries capture just 3% of global chocolate industry revenue as they continue to sell the product unprocessed. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are the top cocoa producers in the world, and are responsible for producing up to 60% of the world’s cocoa, but receive less than 6% of the plant’s $100 billion (USD) global processed cocoa market share. To avert this, and as part of the efforts to earn better income from the industry, both countries are considering value-added processing and marketing or trading of processed cocoa.
Missing links as fintech adoption in Africa grows (Business Daily)
The internet and the mobile phone have made the world a village. Of the top 10 companies globally, five are technology-focused, linking people socially via connected devices. A buyer from one part of the world can see the product range from a seller on the polar opposite side and initiate an exchange. The existing hurdles are culture, currency, and logistics, which have many solutions to address them. The fintech sector in Africa over the past 24 months has received the lion’s share of investor attention and coins. Unfortunately, there seems to be a template, from which most are reading, predicated on being marketplaces.
Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, the work in SACU under the Programme continued virtually. The SACU and WCO Secretariats facilitated the two more Regional Meetings, one in July 2020 and another one in April 2021. The purpose of these Meetings were to take stock of progress made on the Activity Plan for the implementation of the HS 2022 amendments in SACU and discuss the way forward to ensure successful implementation of HS 2022 amendments by January 2022.
Looking forward to the rest of 2021 towards January 2022, an intense work programme lies ahead for SACU. It is expected that by October 2021, most of the work on preparation of amendments for implementation will be complete. After October, more work will be addressed at national level as Member States will be undertaking final national processes to meet the January 2022 target. Another Regional Meeting is also anticipated before January 2022 to make a final assessment of the Member States’ readiness.
Public debt for SADC (Southern African Development Community) member states is expected to worsen this year and surpass 60% of their GDP, largely due to investment in the public health system to curb the spread of Covid-19. According to the latest pdf SADC Regional Economic Performance and The Business Environment in 2020 and Medium-Term Prospects report (1.13 MB) , public debt for member states is forecasted to increase to 69% of GDP this year.
Although FDI flows in Africa are expected to decline by between 25% to 40% due to the pandemic, Africa could draw some strength from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, which came into effect in January. “In addition, investment initiatives for Africa by major developed and emerging economies could help the recovery. In 2019, FDI flows to Africa had already declined by 10% to $45 billion. Increased FDI flows to some of the continent’s major economies, including Egypt, were offset by reductions in others, such as Nigeria and South Africa.”
Fresh bid to market EA as a single tourist destination (The East African)
Tanzania has in the past been opposed to the protocol on grounds that it proposes to promote the use of an EAC Single Tourist Visa (STV) as a means of collecting revenue in the tourism sector. The argument back then was that, the country stood to lose revenue in case tourists chose to visit Tanzania via another country as the entry point into the region, thus paying visa fees to that country. Now, Tanzania wants the application of STV to be managed by Immigration departments as opposed to having it under the tourism docket. The proposed amendment calls for use of a Single Tourist Visa for the six EAC partner states among other proposals, and which has been a subject of delays. It will now be forwarded to the Council of Ministers for adoption.
The Secretary General of the EAC, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki has reaffirmed EAC’s commitment to make the private sector a top priority in driving the regional integration agenda. Dr. Mathuki said that the private sector was the engine of regional integration and therefore called for the private sector in the region to bring to the table the challenges the sector encounters. The Secretary General informed his guests about plans to steer the EAC bloc to greater heights by spearheading EAC economic recovery from Covid-19 and repositioning the bloc into opportunities availed by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Dr Mathuki urged the private sector in the region to work closely with the youth by creating mentorship programmes which will not only give the youth experience and provide opportunities for self-employment, but will also develop a succession plan for the business community.
COMESA Secretariat through the Climate Change Programme has developed a virtual knowledge management portal. The portal is intended to promote national and regional sharing of information on diverse activities on climate action being undertaken in the region. The portal was activated on 14 July 2021 during a webinar which brought together COMESA Member States and non-members. It was developed by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), a longstanding COMESA partner and will be populated with content by users (Member States). The portal is expected to increase understanding of critical issues around climate change, while providing a broad knowledge-hub to strengthen cooperation between technical organisations and Member States. It will respond to the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) pilot programmes coordinated by COMESA involving five member states: Eswatini, Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe.
Africa is poised to make a bold move that could turn around its fortunes in coronavirus vaccine manufacturing – taking the continent from import dependence to self-sufficient production of life-saving jabs for coronavirus, TB and maybe even one day for HIV. Two manufacturers are establishing an mRNA vaccine technology-transfer hub at the tip of the continent that could let it produce its own vaccines, on its own terms. It’s a way to address just how exposed countries are if they don’t have their own vaccine manufacturing capacity. Africa imports about 99 percent of routine immunizations – and is the least vaccinated against coronavirus in the world. One counter-measure to address this dearth of vaccines kicked off in October 2020, when South Africa and India, scrambling for options, proposed an intellectual property waiver at the World Trade Organization. The move would allow lower-income countries to produce coronavirus vaccines without fear of infringing on patents. The proposal has remained deadlocked, with the EU being the major blocker. But even if the proposal were accepted, it wouldn’t address one important problem – how to actually produce the vaccines.
Preparations for the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) 13th U.S.-Africa Business Summit being held virtually on July 27 – 29, 2021 are well under way. The Summit is CCA’s flagship conference that is considered essential for those doing business on the continent as well as the U.S. and African leaders shaping U.S.-Africa economic engagement. The theme of this year’s Summit is “New Pathways to a Stronger U.S.-Africa Economic Partnership” and will focus on the unique opportunity for the new U.S. Administration and its African partners to reset and redefine their relationship, working together to shape the path for economic recovery needed as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Much has happened since the last U.S.-Africa Business Summit held in Maputo, Mozambique in 2019. As countries and companies look to recover from the health and economic impacts of the COVID pandemic, 2021 presents a special time and opportunity to relaunch and even redefine the commitment to developing and, more importantly, implementing business-friendly initiatives and policies that foster a stronger U.S.-Africa economic partnership.
How US Exports to Africa Help Fight Global Poverty (Borgen Project)
Despite being the second most populous continent, Africa represents only about 1% of U.S. trade goods. The value of trade to Africa continues to decline while China grows as the largest trading partner of the continent. The U.S. has a history of passing legislation to reverse this trend, first with the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 and then with Prosper Africa under the previous administration, both attempting to strengthen trade ties. However, these initiatives did not significantly increase U.S. exports to Africa because of a lack of direct support to potential investors and a lack of trade-enabling environments.
The latest tensions between New Zealand and China have renewed the push to find more trading partners, but few people are talking about a brand new trading block with 1.2 billion people and a growing middle class. “Africa is a continent that has a huge amount of opportunity and potential that we have undercooked so far,” says Esther Guy-Meakin, who handles trade and strategy for the Meat Industry Association. The industry itself exports $34 million worth of product to African nations, a tiny fraction of its total $9.2 billion of exports.
Guy-Meakin points to the challenges of exporting to Africa and the fact that New Zealand does not have long-standing traditional trade relationships with the region. “It is a more difficult part of the world to export to,” she says. “And there are a variety of reasons. “There are a range of tricky import requirements in many of those countries. Those issues take a lot of time and resource to resolve and to date that has held back trade with Africa.”
The maritime industry and ports are capital-intensive sectors. They’ve transitioned over the decades, based on the principle of economies of scale, massification and the integration of several key players into giant logistics supply chains. Over the last few months, a series of negative shocks that have rippled in a short period at an unprecedented scale have exposed serious weaknesses in global supply chains. These include trade imbalances, lockdowns (full and partial), quarantines, shortages of critical staff, scarcity of medical supply, high dependency on self-limited factories around the world, operational challenges beyond existing scenarios and sophisticated cyberattacks. The global transport and logistics system is built on taking advantage of optimal costs of inputs and creating added value around the world with the lowest possible maritime transport costs.
“Policymakers need timely economic data and more granular information to detect inequalities that may have been exacerbated by the health crisis,” said UNCTAD senior statistician, Anu Peltola. “Also, more transparency is needed on financial leakages, especially illicit financial flows, to harness resources for an equitable recovery,” she added. The pandemic has exacerbated imbalances and disrupted progress towards the 2030 Agenda, making it crucial to keep an eye on inequalities. “International trade affects these imbalances with differentiated impacts across society, including on women and men,” Ms. Peltola said. She said policymakers need better indicators to shed light on gender issues in trade.
An urgent global effort to rebalance the inequity between rich, vaccinated nations and poor nations sliding further into pandemic misery is colliding with an immovable calendar conflict: the European summer holiday. Next week World Trade Organization delegates are planning to depart Geneva for their August break and, in doing so, pause their fractious debate over a proposal to waive intellectual-property protections for Covid-19 shots until the second week of September. Before they leave, members will adopt a report that acknowledges they’ve made scant headway on the proposal aimed at making doses more widely available, which the world’s top health expert says is critical to ending a “moral failure.” “With so many lives on the line, profits and patents must come second,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual summit last week.
As countries prepare for the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council meeting tomorrow, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged the European Union (EU), Norway, the UK, and Switzerland to stop stalling the landmark proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) on lifesaving COVID-19 medical tools at the WTO, and join forces with more than 100 countries supporting it by openly engaging in formal negotiations to expedite the consensus. Since the proposal was first tabled nearly 10 months ago, the pandemic has worsened and increasingly hit many countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia, with the disease having killed officially more than 4 million people globally.
Dr Tom Ellman, director of MSF’s Southern Africa Medical Unit, said: “It is outrageous to see countries blocking the TRIPS Waiver that is desperately needed as an important tool to remove legal barriers and allow production to be scaled up by multiple manufacturers for critical COVID-19 drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.”
Vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa is urgent (The East African)
The Group of Seven (G7), at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, recently committed to immediately share at least 870 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, supporting global access and helping to end the acute phase of the pandemic. The G-7 leaders also reaffirmed their support for the UN-led equitable vaccine distribution initiative Covax. Though the move is a step in the right direction and has been welcomed, a global vaccination plan is still needed.
The pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing challenges and will have grave and long-term socio-economic implications, making it ever harder for countries in the region to achieve pre-pandemic objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals. Covid-19 has reinforced tendencies to further shrink political space and derail democratic processes, challenged the implementation of reforms and peace agreements and slowed down peace talks. Lockdowns reduced economic activity and constrained the operations of governmental institutions and aid agencies, further straining service delivery.