tralac Daily News
South Africa recorded an agricultural trade surplus of $1.5 billion (about R22bn) in the second quarter of this year, which represented a year-on-year increase of 40 percent, according to the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said yesterday that agricultural exports amounted to $2.9bn in the first quarter, which was a year-on-year increase of 28 percent. “We now have the full data for the second quarter, which showed an even stronger performance, with exports valued at $3.2bn, up 36 percent year-on-year. This means that in the first half of 2021, South Africa’s agricultural exports amounted to $6.1bn, which is a 30 percent year-on-year increase. Compared with last year, the growth is partly because of base effects, as the first half of 2020 was heavily affected by the Covid-19-related disruptions to global supply chains. Still, the growth reflects rising export performance for various products,” said Sihlobo.
Draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050 gazetted for public comments (South African Government)
The draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050 (NIP 2050) has been gazetted for public comment by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. The plan was gazetted on Tuesday following six months of preparation by Infrastructure South Africa working with sector specialists and stakeholders. The NIP 2050 recommends a focus on strengthening the performance of state-owned enterprises, sector specific regulations, state capacity and private participation in public infrastructure delivery and management.
While the global focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues looks to phase out coal as an energy resource, the prospects for South African coal production remain strong for coming decades. SRK Consulting principal coal geologist Lesley Jeffrey said coal remains a key contributor to the country’s economy – both in terms of energy production and mineral export revenues. Coal was only recently overtaken by platinum group metals as the country’s leading commodity by sales, but it remains the most significant component of the country’s mining in terms of value added – accounting for 25%. The export market was vital to sustain, she emphasised, as it created the economic balance that keeps coal producers profitable while they continue to supply Eskom at low margins. Without the higher-value exports, local electricity prices would likely have to rise even faster to meet the full cost of mining.
Come December, when farmers near Cape Town harvest rooibos leaves, they will become the first generation to grow and sell a tea with a unique regional status, a designation awarded to other such products as French champagne or Irish whiskey. The rooibos tea, whose name means “red bush” in Afrikaans - the language of South Africa’s earliest European settlers - was the first African product to get such a status in the European Union in June. Farmers and agriculture experts now hope the EU’s treatment of rooibos could help boost demand and improve the crop’s profitability. “We expect there to be a considerably bigger market so definitely we will expand now that there is more stability and economic viability,” said 61-year old Deon Zandberg, a manager at Vanrhynsdorp farm.
SA, Kenya cement bonds (SAnews)
While South Africa and Kenya enjoy strong bilateral relations, the two countries will work together to address hindrances to bilateral cooperation. In a joint communiqué issued following the inaugural session of the South Africa-Kenya Joint Commission for Cooperation on Wednesday, the two Ministers reviewed and exchanged views on the status of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in various areas of cooperation since its signing. The two Ministers further exchanged views on possible areas of cooperation and collaboration and committed to, among others things, address all the impediments that hinder bilateral cooperation. These areas include trade and investment; agriculture, livestock and fisheries; science and technology; energy; maritime and air transport; Housing and human settlement and infrastructure development within the Lamu Port, South Sudan [and] Ethiopia (Lapsset) Corridor.
This week, former Botswana President Seretse Khama Ian Khama announced that his foundation has secured two million doses each of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for the government of Botswana. In a statement issued Aug. 9, the SKI Khama Foundation said the vaccines were “available to the country immediately upon submission of a purchase order and an end-user-certificate, both of which must come from the government of the receiving country as per established procedures and protocols for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Uganda plans new campaign to deal with plastic waste, conserve environment (The East African)
Uganda is embarking on a 10-year environmental restoration programme that will include a ban on polythene bags and a range of plastics. According to the Junior Minister for Environment Beatrice Anywar, the ban is one of the measures the Cabinet has passed as it gets down to fixing the mess that is environment conservation even as environmentalists argue there is still no political will to see them through. Section 2 of the 2009 Finance Act prohibits the importation, local manufacture, sale or use of plastic bags or bags of polymers of ethene and polyethene but implementation of the ban hit a snag following a disagreement on the back of intense lobbying by plastics manufacturers. Among the new measures, the government wants encroachers on forest reserves, lakeshores and riverbanks evicted while those on rural wetlands will be offered alternative sustainable models. Also, the growing of rice in the wetlands has been banned.
Vietnam is willing to share its socio-economic development experience and lessons with Tanzania, especially in attracting foreign investment and developing garment, footwear, and seafood sectors, Vietnam Ambassador to Tanzania Nguyen Nam Tien has said. During a meeting with Tanzanian Minister of Investment Geoffrey Mwambe on August 10, the Vietnamese diplomat suggested the two sides complete legal frameworks for bilateral investment activities, and proposed specific cooperation orientations and plans between the two nations in the fields of agriculture, education and infrastructure development. Amid complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, partners of the two sides should enhance online meetings to maintain information exchange and strengthen connectivity, Tien said.
Unlocking export market opportunities for women, youth (The Nation Newspaper)
The Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) Bank has over time intervened in key non-oil sectors that are high employers of women and youth such as the cleaning and packaging of shea, cashew, hibiscus and ginger for exports. However, the Export Credit Agency and the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria are focusing on diversification of the external sector of Nigerian economy towards increased jobs creation and foreign exchange earnings from the non-oil export sector. Having observed the unfolding dynamics of the Nigerian economic environment and the need for specific policy intervention to promote economic and social inclusion of key segments of the country’s population, in particular the women and youth, the bank recently launched the Women and Youth Export Facility (WAYEF) to reduce poverty and contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Gov’t is determined to boost APRM capacity – Foreign Minister (Business & Financial Times)
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has said that government is determined to boost the capacity of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in the performance of the needed analytical work that underpins targeted review processes. The meeting discussed the expanded mandate of the APRM, the need for increased resources, the Council’s membership and the country’s plan for a targeted review. The meeting was to enable the Governing Council to seek the Minister’s opinion on the themes for the targeted review, to request for the Ministry’s support in obtaining legal backing for the work of the APRM and also request the Ministry’s assistance for befitting office space and logistics to enhance the work of the Council.
According to the recent World Bank “Mali Economic Update: Protecting the vulnerable during the recovery”, measures adopted by authorities to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, did not prevent the slowdown of Mali’s economy. Following a sustained period of expansion with economic growth averaging 5.1% between 2013 and 2019, real GDP contracted by 2% in 2020.
“All drivers of economic growth in Mali were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The slowdown in global economic activity and disruptions to international trade were strongly felt by Malian households, who experienced an abrupt welfare deterioration,” highlights Xun Yan, economist at the World Bank and author of the report. The economic recession and the slowdown in international trade induced a mechanic decline in fiscal revenues. Additional spending in the context of the COVID-19 emergency program (2.3% of GDP), drove up the fiscal deficit to 5.5% of GDP in 2020. Public debt rose to reach 44.1% of GDP in 2020.
4 ways Africa’s AfCFTA will benefit the Islamic economy (Salaam Gateway)
Africa is at a turning point in its history. The continent has the opportunity to transform itself from a fragmented group of economies dependent on commodities into an integrated global powerhouse under the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. With 27 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries also members of the African Union – representing half of all the nations on the continent – the Islamic economy is expected to make significant gains from this landmark deal. These 27 OIC countries collectively account for more than 60% of total GDP and more than 55% of total trade of African countries, according to the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).
AfCFTA’s main aim is to remove trade barriers, chief of which is the scrapping of custom duties on at least 97% of tariff lines that account for 90% of intra-Africa trade over five years for developing countries, and 10 years for the least developed nations. A new study from the ITFC and SESRIC on the impact of the AfCFTA on six OIC countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Mozambique, Tunisia and Uganda – found that their total trade could grow by 30% with other African countries. Two additional ITFC studies, scheduled for 2022 and 2023, will look at the free trade area’s impacts on countries along the trans-Saharan road and landlocked countries, according to Sonbol.
FDA establishes two new centres to support AfCFTA (Business & Financial Times)
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has established the Centre for Laboratory Services and Research and the Centre for Import and Export Control as part of strengthening its regulatory function to deliver improved services to support a strong implementation of the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) regime. The two new facilities are also expected to monitor and control imports of unregistered products into the country. Addressing the media at a press engagement in Accra, the CEO was positive the Laboratory Centre, which she described as having the “largest testing scope under one roof in Africa,” would support the “implementation of the One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative and be a key collaborator to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”
What is driving COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Sub-Saharan Africa? (World Bank Blog)
As African countries accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccines, the issue of vaccine hesitancy looms. Globally, there has been a rise in general vaccine hesitancy but especially towards COVID-19 vaccines. In Africa, hesitancy must be viewed in the context of significant vaccine shortage; hesitancy does not explain fully the low vaccination rates in Africa. The slow vaccine rollout on the continent is due to supply constraints, structural issues, and logistical barriers. The critical question is how to increase both supply and demand.
EAC pushes for coordinated approach in tackling pandemic (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been challenged to embrace a coordinated approach in the fight against Covid-19. Consequently, EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki is pushing for harmonization of COVID-19 testing charges and quarantine administrative procedures across the region in addition to strengthening public-private sector cooperation for joint investment in the manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines. The Secretary-General, however, noted that there was immense hope on the horizon with all Partner States having embarked on national vaccination drives, adding that more work needs to be done to increase vaccination levels in the region that currently stand at 2% vis-à-vis 70% in other parts of the world.
The United Republic of Tanzania becomes the twenty second (22nd) African Union (AU) Member State to sign the Treaty for the establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) on 10 August 2021, at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. H.E. Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa noted that Tanzania has been a key leader in supporting the efforts of the Commission and the East African Community, in the harmonization of regulatory policies, under the African Medicines Harmonization Initiative, being led by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). “The current pandemic has reinforced the need for the continent to have very strong continental health institutions and the AMA working in tandem with the African CDC will be the key to collectively address the continental health challenges,” she added. She encouraged Tanzania to move to the next step of ratifying the Treaty for the establishment of AMA.
Report on DR Congo admission to EAC awaits ministerial decision (The New Times)
The process of admitting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the East African Community (EAC) is in advanced stages, and a report on their eligibility to join the six-nation group is now awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers. This was highlighted on Wednesday, August 11, by Peter Mathuki, the Secretary General of the EAC as he addressed the media on the occasion of his 100 days at the helm of the Tanzania-based secretariat of the regional bloc. DRC’s request to join the bloc took centre stage in February 2021, after the EAC Summit approved their application and later on in June, launched a verification mission to assess its suitability for admission into the Community, in line with the EAC’s procedures for admission of new members. DR Congo gets only 11 percent of its imports from East Africa. With their coming on board to take advantage of the frameworks that we (EAC) have, it is possible this 11 percent is going to increase four-fold to almost 50 percent,” he added.
Africa still at sea over its vision of a thriving blue economy (The East African)
Unresolved maritime boundary disputes, illegal arms, drug trafficking and piracy continue to hamper Africa’s dreams of a thriving blue economy, warns a report by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) on African maritime safety and security issues. The AU organ is apprehensive of the sector’s returns, seeing as violence and corruption hold sway. Thirty-eight of Africa’s 54 countries boast of a coastal boundary while 90 percent of import-export occur via the sea. The PSC recommends that member states move from acknowledging that maritime insecurity poses severe threats to Africa’s security and development agenda to crafting and implementing effective responses that connect and complement cross-cutting intervention efforts at all levels.
Biden’s different approach to Africa (Christian Science Monitor)
For each new American president in recent decades, one rite of passage has been to launch a U.S. initiative to lift up Africa. For Barack Obama, the focus was on more electricity for the continent. For Donald Trump, it was negotiating trade pacts with individual countries. The emphasis was on tangible help. For President Joe Biden, whose initiative was launched in July, the starting point is more intangible. The focus is on partnerships with Africans, mainly youth and women, who share American values such as democratic governance and accountability. To make his point, Mr. Biden sent a high-level delegation to Africa in early August, but only to four of its stronger democracies (South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and Niger). His top official for foreign aid, Samantha Power, speaks of treating Africans as equals, not dependents, based on “mutual respect.”
The geopolitical wind is behind the president’s approach. “The pandemic has created unique momentum for engagement with Africa,” says Landry Signé of the Brookings Institution. “When the U.S. is engaged [with Africa], we have better quality; we have more accountability and sustainable development which will also follow,” says Mr. Signé. In particular, the Biden administration wants to steer Africa away from nonsustainable fossil fuels and toward a reliance on wind and solar power.
The 54-nation AfCFTA economic bloc came into effect at the start of 2021 and aims to create a single, continent-wide market for goods and services and to promote the movement of capital and people¸ facilitating greater trade flows between African countries. “By increasing regional trade, lowering trade costs and streamlining border procedures, full implementation of AfCFTA would help African countries increase their resiliency in the face of future economic shocks and help usher in the kinds of deep reforms that are necessary to enhance long-term growth,” according to the World Bank. Long-term trends measured over decades show that African countries have now emerged as very attractive investment destinations, according to Ernst & Young: “All this is happening in the last region of the world offering a demographic dividend: sub-Saharan Africa will soon be the only place with birth rates at replacement level or higher.” Overall, the UAE’s trade with African countries surged to $50 billion in 2019 and around $40 billion in the first nine months of 2020, according to Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade.
Where trade thrives, people thrive. This has been true for centuries. Opportunity was a matter of getting to the marketplace. These days, more and more of the work we do and the widgets we exchange are digitized. Even before the pandemic sparked a rapid shift to e-commerce and digitization, services and data flows were outpacing goods as the main units of trade. In theory, the internet became the global commons, a place where anyone with a solid business idea and internet access could link up to the supply chain system and become a legitimate entrepreneur. The problem, however, is that while technology serves as a gateway for many, a lack of internet access, affordable tools and the skills to use them and navigate the system safely and beneficially has effectively created a digital divide. If we don’t find a way to close that divide soon, we will be barring the pathway to growth and opportunity for all.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and UNCTAD have extended their collaboration to facilitate international trade, particularly e-commerce. The extended partnership will enrich their history of working together. This includes the successful integration of air cargo messaging standards (Cargo-XML) into UNCTAD’s automated customs management system, ASYCUDAWorld. For the 100 counties choosing to deploy the latest version of ASYCUDAWorld, this enables more efficient processing of air cargo shipments. “Through this extended partnership, we look forward to leveraging the leadership of UNCTAD and IATA in their respective fields to boost e-commerce in developing countries through improved exchanges of trade data,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne UNCTAD’s Technology and Logistics Director.
Preparing for the next pandemic requires greater multilateralism, not ad hoc bilateral funding, according to experts advising the G-20 group of nations. “We should not be thinking about it as helping other countries,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a senior minister in Singapore and one of the experts, in a session held on Thursday. “We should be thinking about this within the framework of global public goods.” Amanda Glassman, an adviser who works for the Center for Global Development, said international finance institutions can have a key role in helping the world get ready for future shocks.
Global airlines book Sh13trn loss as Covid grounds planes (Business Daily)
The airline industry recorded a total loss of $126 billion dollars in 2020 as the sector grappled with the effects of the Covid-19, which saw passenger aircraft grounded worldwide, posting the worst year on record. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in the recently released World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) that the losses were occasioned by a sharp decline on number of passengers, which was down by 60.2 percent from the previous year. The statistics show that passengers who travelled by air in the review period were 1.8 billion from 4.5 billion in corresponding period in 2019. The agency says air connectivity declined by more than half in 2020 with the number of routes connecting airports falling dramatically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60 percent year-on-year in April 2020.
World Maritime theme 2022: New technologies for greener shipping (Graphic Online)
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council, meeting for its 125th session, endorsed the theme following a proposal by the Secretary-General of the IMO, Mr Kitack Lim. Mr Lim said the theme would provide an opportunity to focus on the importance of a sustainable maritime sector and the need to build back better and greener in a post pandemic world. “The IMO actively supports a greener transition of the shipping sector into a sustainable future and showcases maritime innovation, research and development, and the demonstration and deployment of new technologies. The theme will allow for a range of activities to delve into specific topics related to promotion of inclusive innovation and uptake of new technologies to support the needs for a greener transition of the maritime sector, especially in the context of developing countries and in particular the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).”
To achieve inclusive growth globally, we must invest in our women (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
The world will only achieve its economic potential when its women are fully empowered to participate in their communities and their economies. Perhaps no country more than Liberia understands the essential role women play in forging peace and stability. Liberia’s women continue to be cornerstones of political and economic activity, running many of the businesses that form the backbone of the national economy and carrying out most of the unpaid work that sustains families and communities.
As in Liberia, women around the world are challenged at almost every turn to fully participate in the economy and build a secure future for themselves and their families. They are less likely to work in the formal economy, hold a position in management, earn a living wage, and have access to financial services. These disparities exist everywhere, but they are most pronounced in developing countries, where women are also more likely to bear responsibility for carrying out the unpaid work of caring for their families and maintaining the smallholder farms that provide essential food. There are many factors underlying gender disparities, but they are often rooted in restrictive government policies and patriarchal cultural norms.