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A World Bank diagnostic study has recommended that South Africa restructure its fragmented financial services ombudsman structure. The diagnostic study, titled: “South Africa – Financial Ombud System Diagnostic”, was commissioned by National Treasury and prepared by the World Bank Group (WBG). It aims to provide an independent review of South Africa’s financial ombud system. It also seeks to recommend reforms to enhance customer protection and good-quality outcomes in the financial services sector. Recommendations to address the findings include establishing a National Financial Ombud, a new non-statutory body to replace the current seven schemes except for retirement funds; the proposed reformed Pension Funds Adjudicator would become the Retirement Funds Ombud. The report also suggests that the country introduces enhancements to the current ombud council framework; as well as implementing an update of complaint-handling requirements to improve consistency among financial services providers.
The Port of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is running short of space to store containers and plug points to keep containers cool, which will result in massive food wastage if not resolved urgently. “Now that the Durban port has resumed operations, an urgent action plan by government is required to ensure imported perishable food containers are re-routed to inland cold storage facilities. “This is critical if South Africa wants to avoid chronic food shortages across the country,” say the two associations in a statement. “Besides requiring an urgent solution for cold storage of containers, an additional complication lies in the micro-biological, phytosanitary testing of food product coming into the port, and the authorities’ curtailed capacity to test arriving product due to the damage to some testing labs.”
Ramaphosa sees big green economy opportunity in ‘bold’ climate commitment (Engineering News)
President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is time for South Africa to “grasp the nettle” and embark on a “transformative path” towards a climate-resilient society both to fulfil its moral obligations in the face of an intensifying crisis, but also to seize the economic and job opportunities that are arising around the transition. Speaking during the third formal meeting of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), which he established in December 2020 and chairs, Ramaphosa said that, given the primacy of the climate crisis on the international agenda, South Africa could no longer be debating whether or not it should transition to a low-emissions society. “It is a must, otherwise we will be left behind on a number of fronts. “But the transition has got to be just, it’s got to be the type of transition that will take the interests of our people into account,” he said.
Govt to stimulate manufacturing diversification (The Herald)
The Government’s 2022 financial plan will carry measures aimed at diversifying Zimbabwe’s production structure as authorities target a dynamic economic development, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said. The local economy has for far too long been skewed towards the primary industries of agriculture and mining, which has meant that the country has been exporting mostly primary commodities. This dependency on primary commodities makes the country extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of the global market. And with the coming into play of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has provided an additional incentive for local manufacturers to up their game.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo has called for the sensitisation of the Medium, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to enable them benefit from the continental market. The minister, while commenting on a report on, “Continental Integration and the Nigerian Economy,” during a roundtable on AfCFTA agreement, which was organised by the Nigeria’s Employers Consultative Association (NECA) in Abuja, reiterated the need to fill the knowledge gap on the possible effects of AfCFTA on the economy. The report was based on the surveys conducted for 1,800 MSMEs in five states, covering multiple sociocultural zones, to evaluate the awareness and preparedness of MSMEs for the implementation of the agreement.
The 2021 Budget highlighted a few policy measures and programs that would help to increase the employment rate in the country. Policies issued through the African Continental Free Trade Area, ‘1 District 1 Factory’, Digitisation of the economy and the ‘e Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) Programme’ were highlighted as measures to provided alternative employment pathways for graduates.
Uganda petitions Kenya, Tanzania over milk exports (Daily Monitor)
Uganda has asked Kenya and Tanzania to remove prohibitive levies placed on its dairy products saying it could jeopardise trade relations and the East African Community spirit. In a July 19 letter , the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, has asked Kenya and Tanzania, after a flawed soft diplomacy strategy for the two countries, to allow Ugandan milk into their markets. Since 2020, Uganda has struggled to have its milk products sold in the two East African member states, something the minister said is a barrier to the EAC spirit and regional trade relations. Mr Tumwebaze also raised before the leadership of Kenya and Tanzania concerns of “ongoing taxes and levies charged on Ugandan dairy products” despite negotiation efforts.
In support of the preparations for the upcoming 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which will take place in Angola in 2022, and Angola’s six-month chairmanship of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors from 1 August 2021, the OACPS Secretariat hosted a two-day Seminar for senior officials from various Angolan ministries and institutions as well as economic operators and civil society representatives, on 26 to 27 July 2021.
In his closing remarks Dr Ibrahim Norbert Richard, Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Political Affairs and Human Development at the OACPS Secretariat, stated that, “We have reaffirmed our commitment, to support Angola as they take the helm of the OACPS Council of Ministers and thereafter President-in-Office of the 10th Summit… We believe that the presentations shared during the past two-days, provided further understanding of the work of the OACPS, and how Angola as a Member State can take advantage of the various opportunities presented.”
Zanzibar offers tax benefits for residency, real estate investors (The East African)
Zanzibar is seeking to join countries such as Mauritius, Dubai, Oman, Singapore which have attracted real estate investors by offering tax incentives and non-citizen residence permits to three special categories of investors. The isles, through its Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) is in the process of reviewing the law to add real estate buyers, scientists and prominent retired personalities as new categories of foreign investors who can settle on the archipelago as soon as the end of this year. ZIPA executive director Shariff A. Shariff said the current ZIPA law, enacted in 2018 and the archipelago’s “outdated” Investment Policy of 2005 will be changed to legalise the stay of the new categories of investors and their families. Mr Sharrif said the recently introduced “strategic investor” category has yielded the intended results. Strategic investors are required to have a minimum investment capital of $100 million in areas such as high end buildings and tourist hotels.
Can domestic tourism lay the groundwork for something bigger in Comoros and Djibouti? (Trade for Development News)
Djibouti is a least developed country (LDC), and for many such struggling economies, tourism offers promise of foreign dollars, jobs, better infrastructure and a route out of poverty. In its “Djibouti Vision 2035” plan for economic development created in 2014, the government recognized that promise and made tourism one of its priority sectors. Farther south, another LDC also set its sights on tourism. Comoros, although blessed with tropical landscapes and craggy black volcanic shores, also does not have a huge tourism market. The country’s National Tourism Office was implementing its own action plan to spur more tourism and to run through 2021. Then COVID-19 happened. The governments of both Djibouti and Comoros shifted their strategies, including taking a fresh look toward their own citizens as domestic tourists. Although the market may have changed, the pivot meant that burgeoning tourism sites and strategies could continue to be developed and refined while borders were closed.
When the United Nations started framing its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2012 – a shared blueprint for working towards global peace and prosperity by 2030 – Africa was the first region to submit its list of priorities. The continent was quick to act as it was in the process of finalising its Agenda 2063 framework, which sought to articulate African aspirations for the coming decades. It was a product of the celebrations of the 50th year of the Organisation of African Unity, now known as the African Union. Such a symbolic year was a cause for celebration and prompted reflection on what kind of Africa member states wanted to build in the next 50 years. As the continent battles to contain and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is confronted with a similar moment of reckoning. And the answer is the same: unify around a shared framework for the future that provides strategic direction for meaningful change. But it can’t be all talk, no action.
Washington Consensus Reforms and Lessons for Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa (American Economic Association)
Over three decades after market-oriented structural reforms termed “Washington Consensus” policies were first implemented, we revisit the evidence on policy adoption and the effects of these policies on socio-economic performance in sub-Saharan African countries. We focus on three key ubiquitous reform policies around privatization, fiscal discipline, and trade openness and document significant improvements in economic performance for reformers over the past two decades. Following initial declines in per capita economic growth over the 1980s and 1990s, reform adopters experienced notable increases in per capita real GDP growth in the post-2000 period. We complement aggregate analysis with four country case studies that highlight important lessons for effective reform. Notably, the ability to implement pro-poor policies alongside market-oriented reforms played a central role in successful policy performance.
The ECA Office for North Africa completed today in Khartoum (Republic of the Sudan) a five-day capacity building workshop on national goods’ access to the African market, jointly organized with the Ministry of Trade and Supply of Sudan and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC). This training aimed to assist Sudan in developing a national action strategy to maximize economic and trade gains from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA) and help formulate national strategies for export promotion. Building on the stakeholder awareness raising workshop held last December, this training aimed to improve Sudanese officials’ capacity to design and implement national trade policies that will help turn these strong points into exports.
The East African Community (EAC) has hailed the decision by the Republic of Kenya to waive the requirement of obtaining a visa to enter Kenya for the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan holding a valid passport issued by the Government of South Sudan. The EAC Secretary General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki, said that the move was in line with the decision announced by the Chair of the EAC Heads of State, H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held on 27th February, 2021. “This demonstrates the goodwill among the EAC Heads of State in promoting regional integration and revamping relations, which is set to boost intra-EAC trade,” said Dr. Mathuki. “This is a positive step towards realizing the gains of the Protocol on Establishment of the EAC Common Market and a win for the Community. It is set to expand trade and investment opportunities and scale up economic and social progression across the bloc,” he said.
CEMAC in working order for the implementation of HS 2022 amendments (World Customs Organization)
From July 12 to 16, 2021, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) held a meeting of its Nomenclature and Tariff Committee in Douala, Cameroon, as part of its ongoing work to prepare for the implementation of the 2022 version of the Harmonized System (HS). This meeting, which was a follow-up to the initial work undertaken over the past 18 months, was organized in close cooperation with the WCO, within the framework of the EU-WCO Programme for Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme) funded by the European Union. The Committee concluded the meeting by provisionally adopting a draft CET based on the HS 2022 and giving discharge to the Cameroon team to carry out final proofreading before transmitting the CET to the publishing house for printing.
Why central Africa is lagging behind in e-commerce (Quartz Africa)
Central Africa lags behind other regions in the continent in e-commerce but the region can progress quickly if governments implement policies to hasten the development of digital and e-commerce services, a new report says. The report by GSMA – an organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide – and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) identifies areas where action is required to increase access to e-commerce services, and digital services in general. Largely driven by expanding internet access, increasing uptake of digital payments, and changing consumer habits, e-commerce is scaling up in Africa. In the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), a body of 11 countries, mobile subscriber penetration rose from 18% in 2000 to 42% by the end of 2019 and is set to reach 46% by 2025, the report says. The number of mobile internet users was 52 million in 2020 and is expected to reach 86 million by 2025, it adds.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have reaffirmed their commitment towards strengthening proactive and functional early warning systems to improve food and nutrition security and, ultimately, end hunger in the Region. The commitment was expressed during a virtual courtesy call by the new WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa, Dr Manghestab Haile, to the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, on 23rd July, 2021. The Executive Secretary highlighted that without food security, the SADC Region cannot achieve its aspiration of a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice and freedom as envisioned in the SADC Vision 2050. To achieve this aspiration, Dr Tax said SADC needs the support of partners towards the implementation of activities and development priorities outlined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 and other instruments.
The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number 2 is striving to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the world by 2030. The goal is to ensure that all world citizens, especially children, have sufficient and nutritious food. In Africa, this is articulated by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 Goal Number 6, which encourages Member States to pursue adequate agriculture to bolster food production and security to feed their citizenry. Therefore, the African Union is challenging Member States to ensure food security through the adoption of sustainable agriculture by supporting small-scale farmers. African countries are also encouraged to ensure that women, girls, and the most vulnerable groups have equal access to land, technology, and markets.
CFA franc reform has been delayed (yet again) to 2027 (The Africa Report)
During the latest summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which took place in Accra in late June 2021, the ministerial committee chaired by Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s finance minister, endorsed a new roadmap for the launch of the eco, the future single currency’s name, which is now scheduled for 2027. While waiting for this latest development, the Community was exempted from complying with the convergence criteria this year, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on states’ macroeconomic performance.
As we look to rebuild our economy in the wake of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, corridor financing and investing in productive infrastructure will be key to economic recovery and growth not only in South Africa, but across the African continent. Economic activity and connectivity are inextricably bound together. Thus, any plan to stimulate economic growth requires investment in transport infrastructure to feature prominently. Without reliable routes to market, we will not be able to attract the investment required to put us on a road to long-term, sustainable economic growth. Corridor financing therefore emphasises improvement that promotes economic activity and growth all along a transport value chain.
Participants at a day’s seminar organised by Imani Center for Policy and Education, a Ghanaian Think Tank, have considered the resolution of the Western Sahara issue a necessary step to enhance the continent’s economic integration. The seminar, which was held in Accra, was on the theme “The Imperative of Economic Recovery: How can the Resolution of the Sahara Issue Strengthen Africa’s Regional and Continental Integration?” A communique, issued at the end of the seminar, said, “In the current context, marked by the urgency of economic recovery – for the unity, the integration and the overall safety of the continent – the recent incident in Guerguerat demonstrates the need to overcome political deadlocks and unproductive ideological positions.”
Four months remain until the start of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), which will take place in Geneva from 30 November to 3 December. Members are currently engaged on a wide range of issues where they are hoping to achieve outcomes in the run-up to, or at, MC12, including a global agreement on addressing harmful fisheries subsidies, ensuring rapid and equitable access for products critical in combatting COVID-19, securing progress on agricultural reform, and others. “We are operating in very challenging times,” Ambassador Castillo said. “For this Conference to be successful and to put the WTO on a positive trajectory, it will be essential that we focus our efforts on a few key areas.”
Tariffs are delaying the COVID response. The WTO must act (World Economic Forum)
When World Trade Organization (WTO) members meet in Geneva in November, they must do more than agree a high-level trade and health declaration. They should take concrete action to eliminate the trade-distorting measures affecting global value chains for the vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics needed to fight the pandemic. Measures such as tariffs and export restrictions continue to create unnecessary costs in these value chains, undermining the COVID-19 response and setting back efforts to extend manufacturing capacity. Ministers should launch new talks to address these trade barriers.
“This report clearly suggests that trade policy restraint by WTO members has helped limit harm to the world economy. However, some pandemic-related trade restrictions do remain in place and the challenge is to ensure that they are indeed transparent and temporary.” said Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who presented the report to WTO members. “The multilateral trading system has shown resilience despite the severity of the global health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a platform for transparency, the WTO has a central role to play in ensuring that supply chains are kept open – which is an essential part of increasing vaccine production and distribution on the scale needed to end the pandemic.”
The World Trade Organization (WTO) moved closer to a ministerial deliverable this month, following the meeting of the WTO’s informal working group on trade and gender on 16 July and its “Friends of Gender” drafting group on 20 July. In parallel, the WTO Secretariat is implementing work on trade and gender, which also looks set to gain momentum. WTO work in this area builds on the Buenos Aires Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment, adopted in 2017 at the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11). In contrast to several other areas of the WTO’s work, the gender agenda seems to be encountering little opposition from WTO members, and views appear to be converging smoothly as the outcome on gender and trade planned for MC12 takes shape. Civil society groups and academics have however voiced criticism of the WTO’s approach to the issue.
UK Launch Scheme to Drive Trade with Nigeria, Boost Jobs (THISDAYLIVE)
The UK Government has launched a consultation on new trading rules that will help countries like Nigeria grow their trade and build back better businesses and help British businesses and consumers at the same time. The UK Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) is a major opportunity to grow free and fair trade with developing nations. The proposed scheme will apply to 70 qualifying countries, including Nigeria, and include improvements such as lower tariffs and simpler rules of origin requirements for countries exporting to the UK, allowing countries to diversify their exports and grow their economies. The proposed new UK scheme will mean more opportunity and less bureaucracy for developing countries, for example by simplifying rules of origin requirements or reducing tariffs on imports. For instance, this could mean lowering tariffs on products including rice from Pakistan and raw materials from Nigeria.
Maritime trade is indispensable for global growth and prosperity – around 80 per cent of world trade by volume and more than 70 per cent by value is seaborne. The maritime sector is also at the heart of trade and economic activity for the Commonwealth. Many Commonwealth countries have invested significantly in developing their port capacity and this is reflected in a stellar performance historically. However, the unprecedented pandemic has severely affected maritime trade, shipping and seaports that connect Commonwealth countries to each other and world markets. This webinar discussed the findings of a recent study by the Commonwealth Secretariat on the impact of COVID-19 on maritime trade. It explored maritime trade landscape in the Commonwealth and demonstrated how maritime trade and shipping can help to revitalise Commonwealth trade post-COVID.
IATA pushes for digital Covid test checks at airports (The East African)
Passengers could be exposed to inordinately long processing times at airports if travel rebounds to 2019 levels amid slow adoption of digital Covid-19 test verification by governments. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is asking governments to adopt the use of its TravelPass – an application that eliminates the use of paper documents to verify travellers’ Covid-19 test status. Speaking during a media round table recently, Willie Walsh, the director-general and chief executive of IATA, said departure and arrival processing times for passengers could increase from the current average of 1.5 hours to as long as eight hours. “If we continue using paper-based processes, waiting times would go from 1.5 hours to eight hours at 2019 levels of traffic,” Mr Walsh said, adding that were that to happen, the industry risks collapse again because a majority of people would simply give up on travelling.
History moves in uneven steps. Just as the telegraph erased time and distance in the 19th century, today’s innovations in digital money may bring significant changes in the way we lead our lives. The shift to electronic payments and social interactions brought on by the pandemic may cause similarly rapid and widespread transformations. The rapid pace of change is a call to action – for countries to guide, and not be guided by, today’s transformations. There is a window of opportunity to maintain control over monetary and financial conditions, and to enhance market integration, financial inclusion, economic efficiency, productivity, and financial integrity. But there are also risks of stepping back on each of these fronts. We must enact the right policies today to reap the gains tomorrow.
If wealthy nations – currently flush with COVID-19 vaccines – decide to give their populations booster shots, it could have “huge implications” for the availability of doses globally, a World Health Organization official said during a press conference Thursday. The statement by Africa Regional Director Matshidiso Moeti came a day after Pfizer said a third dose of its vaccine could improve immunity. While receiving two doses still provides strong, sustained protection against serious disease, effectiveness decreases over six months. The company said it plans to seek U.S. approval for a booster shot.