tralac Daily News
The KwaZulu-Natal government has identified 20 products with “huge export potential” as part of a new strategy to develop its economy, Premier Sihle Zikalala said. The products will be traded across the top 21 countries on the continent through the newly promulgated Africa Free Continental Area Agreement (AfCFTA), Zikalala told a group of high profile foreign delegates in Gauteng province on Thursday. A copy of his speech was made available. “We have no doubt that this strategy will open up opportunities to grow the market share for KZN companies in already established African markets for their matured products or less matured products and a conduit into entering existing African markets with new products,” Zikalala said in his opening remarks.
South Africa’s localisation plan, which aims to reduce imports by at least 20% by channelling government procurement to locally produced goods, risks contravening international trade laws and triggering a backlash by the country’s trade partners, according to SA law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. In a web presentation to the European Union Chamber of Commerce and Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Herbert Smith Freehills partner Peter Leon said the localisation policy could trample international and regional trade deals like the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt).
South Africa’s trade balance is heavily skewed towards exporting raw materials and importing finished manufactured goods, although the Covid-19 impact on production and supply chains globally has seen imports fall off dramatically. The top three importers to South Africa are China, the US and Germany, accounting for more than 35% of total imports worth around R1.1-trillion in 2020. Re-industrialisation has failed to take off, with South African manufacturers struggling to compete with international competitors with higher levels of technological know-how and cheaper input costs. That inspired Pretoria to explore localisation to nurture local industries while running the risk of riling its powerful trade partners and stalling foreign direct investments.
South Africa – United States Joint Statement following the Working Group on African and Global Issues (US Embassy in South Africa)
South Africa hosted a successful meeting of the South Africa – United States Working Group on African and Global Issues (WGAGI) on 02 August 2021, at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria. The WGAGI, which forms part of the annual structured engagements between South Africa and the United States, focuses on Africa and global issues of common concern with a view to exploring opportunities for bilateral and multilateral collaboration. The two delegations reinforced their commitment to working with and strengthening the African Union in light of the unique role it can play to strengthen democratic institutions, further lasting peace and security, propel economic growth, trade, and investment, and promote health security, particularly in the context of COVID-19.
Work on the massive US$300 million modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post into a world class commercial hub has gathered momentum with major developments under the first phase of the project almost complete. The modernisation of Beitbridge is one of the key projects being undertaken by the Second Republic to promote the ease of doing business and trade facilitation. Civil works are being rolled out in three phases among them pre-commencement works (phase one), internal border infrastructure development (phase two) and outside border infrastructure development (phase three). The project will see new terminals being built for each vehicle category. They will include new vehicle parking areas and feeder roadways. New cargo scanning equipment will be installed to allow for faster inspection of cargo and detection of fraud, contraband and potential threats; explosives, radioactive materials, among others.
Completion of Karuma Dam pushed to 2022 (The East African)
The completion date for Karuma Dam – Uganda’s flagship $1.7 billion hydropower project – has been pushed to June 22, 2022 following routine inspection on June 25. “The remaining works may look small, but are enormous in terms of what needs to be rectified,” UEGCL board chairperson Proscovia Njuki told The EastAfrican. “We are impressed that the contractor has made overall progress and has also started working on the remedial works,” said Harrison Mutikanga, UEGCL’s chief executive officer. Initially, the project was to be commissioned in December 2019, but it missed the target date, and an extension of 12 months was granted, which the contractor again failed to meet in December last year after UEGCL raised concerns about quality issues and more defects.
Truck drivers from across southern Africa are threatening to blockade Mozambican border posts, in protest at corrupt behaviour by the Mozambican traffic police, according to a report in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticiasa”. The Association of Truck Drivers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) made the threat in a letter to the Sofala Provincial Office for the Fight against Corruption. The Association claims that the behaviour of the traffic police on the roads from Beira to Zimbabwe and to Tete “is intolerable, and, if it continues, the truck drivers will have no choice but to station their vehicles at the border”.
The Secretary of State for Planning, Milton Reis, who was speaking at the usual briefing of the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP), said that the figure represents an increase of 40.2 percent. He noted that this was the result of a 25.0 percent rise in exports, influenced by a 28.4 percent rise in exports from the oil sector. According to Milton Reis, the stock of Gross International Reserves stood at US$15.1 billion, against US$14.9 billion at the end of 2020, representing an increase of 1.8 percent, equivalent to 11.4 months of imports of goods and services.
How Crypto Can Help Nigeria’s Economy (Yahoo Finance)
Africa’s leading crude oil exporter and largest, most populous country – has about 40% of its population living below poverty levels. The COVID-19 pandemic caused falls in the output of goods and services, which negatively affected the economy and caused thousands of jobs to be lost. To strengthen the development of Africa’s largest economy, Nigerian regulators and stakeholders must tap into the potential inherent in crypto to improve such unimpressive economic data. A crypto economy can help Nigerians who lack bank accounts deal with many of the challenges of international trade.
Traders from the East African Community (EAC) stand to benefit from faster clearance of their goods and lower costs of running their business following the signing of a Joint Action Plan between the EAC and the Government of India. The Joint Action Plan will pave the way for a full Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between the two parties. The MRA once realised, will benefit companies under the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) Programme run by the EAC Partner States under the coordination of the EAC Secretariat since 2008. “Besides the optimism, however, we are aware that the path to an MRA is usually lengthy, meticulous and tedious. The signing of the Joint Action Plan which we are doing today, signals an important milestone in this journey that we have started, and we are delighted to undertake it,” said EAC Director General for Customs and Trade, Mr. Kenneth Bagamuhunda.
EAC secretariat keen to protect local industries, grow trade (The Star, Kenya)
Whilst consensus has been achieved on the lower tariff bands of CET, it is yet to be achieved for the upper tariff band. In Kenya, manufacturers holds that Kenya should adopt 35 per cent as the fourth tariff band, to support the industrialisation agenda. “We are looking at a comprehensive review of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET) to be concluded by December,” Mathuki said. He is also leading the push to remove Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which are hindering growth of intra-EAC trade, where some countries have been playing protectionism on their markets. NTBs generally include laws, regulations and administrative and technical requirements (other than tariffs) imposed by a partner state, whose effect is to impede trade.
Rwanda to host headquarters of AU backed e-commerce platform (The New Times)
Rwanda will host the continental headquarters of Sokokuu, an e-commerce platform aimed at enhancing the role of Africa’s small and medium enterprises in inter and intra-African trade. This emerged following a meeting of President Paul Kagame and former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the Patron for The Africa Electronic Trade Group and Mulualem Syoum, the Group’s CEO & Board Chair. The Africa Electronic Trade Group is developing a comprehensive e-commerce platform, Sokokuu, to enhance the role of Africa’s small and medium enterprises in inter and intra-African trade. Rwanda will host the Group’s continental headquarters working closely with regional offices. The A-eTrade Group works to empower the African digital economy. This work focuses on a trading platform and capabilities that boost intra-African and inter-African trade.
Analysts and experts are warning of many years of instability across Africa, possibly leading to wars and political upheavals, as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic deepens across the continent. Though many have been encouraged and inspired by the response of African countries to the pandemic, led by the newly created African Union’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the economic effects of the pandemic have been drastic. Ahunna Eziakonwa, the director of the United Nations Development Programme’s regional bureau for Africa, said African countries had been disproportionately hit by the economic shock from Covid-19.
The Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) was launched by H.E Felix Tshisekedi, Chair of the African Union and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a virtual summit hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on 12-13th April 2021 under the theme “Expanding Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing for Health Security: Building back better, bolder and bigger.” Strong political commitments were made to drive momentum for the African Union’s bold vision to manufacture about 60% of its vaccines on the continent by 2040, an initiative that will be led by Africa CDC.
Most money, most capital in the world, lies in the private sector. Most invested money lies in the pension fund systems, the sovereign funds, and endowments, and most of that money is in the U.S. Accelerating U.S. pension fund money, endowment money, foundation, and family office money into Africa can transform the whole continent. If it is done well, through the right companies, and with responsible fund managers, then this will catalyze the continent. Africa today is in a place where the basics are there in most of the countries. There is an entrepreneurial mentality. Throughout Africa, there are ecosystems of startups. Look at Nigeria, technology companies are doing extremely well there.
Malawi’s deputy leader, Saulos Chilima, has called on Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states to consider adopting recommendations he made in his public lecture delivered on Thursday at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) on the sidelines on the 41st Ordinary Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government. “There is an urgent need for serious investment and budgets in the Sadc region should support ICT as a transition to digital economies. Sadc member states should swiftly adopt online marketing for the tourism and other industries and the use of internet and mobile money platforms to create employment,” Chilima said.
BAT explores new export markets as Kenyan sales dip (Business Daily)
Kenya is seeking new exports markets to compensate for lower consumption of cigarettes in Kenya. “Our objective is to continue increasing share of exports looking at the current regulatory framework. We expect that over the medium to long term period revenue from the export stream will continue to increase with the investment we are making,” said BAT finance director Philemon Kipkemoi. BAT supplies 15 countries with cigarette and cut rag tobacco from its Kenyan plant. Export revenues hit Sh13.7 billion last year, representing 54.2 percent of Sh25.3 billion total revenues especially due to growth in volumes to Egypt and Sudan. The revenues as a percentage of total earnings increased to 54.2 percent last year from 44.3 percent in 2015, while Kenyan sales has dropped to 48.8 percent from 55.7 percent over the period.
New web portal to boost tourism in East Africa (The East African)
The East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) has introduced a regional web portal as part of efforts to promote the region as a single tourist destination amid the ravaging effects of covid-19 pandemic. The region’s tourism private sector body has launched the www.visiteastafrica.net portal that will enable tourists to plan and book tourist packages and offers from service providers of the region’s various tourist attractions in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Skills for Africa’s Economic Growth (AUDA-NEPAD)
Africa is known as the fastest growing labour force in the world yet needs to create 15-20 million jobs per year. The ‘Africa Creates Jobs’ initiative that was created in 2017 is a dialogue platform to develop a continental response to youth employment and skills promotion. Piloted by the African Union Commission (AUC), AUDA-NEPAD with support of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and European Union (EU) under the Skills Initiative for Africa programme (SIFA), its objective is to mobilize and strengthen partnerships to transform skills development delivery and employment prospects for youth. The East Africa Regional “Africa Creates Jobs (ACJ)” will hold the first workshop under the theme “Skills for Africa’s Economic Growth” virtually on 16 and 17 August 2021.
African Union Commemorates the African Day of Seas and Oceans (African Union)
The commemoration of the 2021 edition of African Day of Seas and Oceans was held in Mahe, Republic of Seychelles under the theme “Transforming the challenges of African seas and oceans into opportunities”, with the objective of raising awareness on the critical role played by Africa’s oceans and seas in attaining sustainable development within the framework of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In his keynote address H.E Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan, President of the Republic of Seychelles and African Union Champion for Blue Economy called for a push for continued scientific research; for oceans and seas not only to have ecological, nutritional and economic values, but also to recognise their role as key climate regulators that influence global weather systems. “Our nations need to know the ripple effects of human interventions specially when there is over exploitation and sustainability is threatened. Our ‘blue’ blind spot or ocean-related scientific knowledge gaps need to be filled.”.
Africa’s Blue Economic potential under serious threats (Ghana Business News)
Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE), says Africa’s Blue Economy is under serious threats largely due to governance, capacity issues, and pollution. “The huge opportunities around Africa’s Blue Economy can change the narrative for the continent as an engine for socio-economic development and industrialization. “It can further create job opportunities and improve livelihoods for the teeming population in the continent, particularly for women and youth,” Ambassador Sacko added.
To Tackle China, the US Should Invest More in Africa (Independent Women’s Forum)
The Biden administration has requested that Congress approve an $80 million package to finance the newly launched Prosper Africa Build Together initiative. The project will focus on fostering trade and investment between the world’s poorest continent and the United States. Given Africa’s ambitious free trade aspirations and China’s ever-growing obsession with the continent, such a move couldn’t come at a better time. The past few years can hardly be seen as the golden age of free trade in the West. However, while European Union governments and the U.S. have imposed sanctions, blocked exports as part of COVID measures, and failed to negotiate new agreements, Africa has been silently making strides toward its own free trading future – with China’s help.
Although ambitious, the AfCFTA is also riddled with implementation problems. Decades of socialist African governments whose main objective was their own enrichment have resulted in substantial infrastructure problems, among other things, in many countries. The construction and modernization of infrastructure combined with establishing efficient customs check procedures is key to making the AfCFTA succeed. This is where China has stepped in to fill the gap.
The digital revolution affecting so much change across the world is coming to international trade processing and logistics. The transition to all digital documentation and processing from formerly inefficient analog systems is well underway. To comply with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, most countries have implemented “single window” customs processing of imports and exports electronically through a single electronic website, although the efforts vary widely as to filing requirements and means. Sensors allow tracking of goods and data collection from mine or farm to the ultimate sales outlet. Blockchain systems allow decentralized storage of information with high security and transparency. Machine learning and AI offer empowered analytical techniques for businesses to extract value and implement advanced strategy with their competitors.
For women in e-commerce, ‘entrepreneurship means freedom’ (Modern Diplomacy)
Entrepreneurship can mean more freedom for women according to the first Latin-American advocate of eTrade for All, an initiative developed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to expand and promote the digital economy, especially in low and middle-income countries. In 2019, 1.5 billion people, or approximately 27 per cent of the world’s adult population, made purchases online, according to UNCTAD. The overall number is increasing annually and is expected to grow further as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the proportion of people using e-commerce in low- and middle-income countries is much lower compared to high-income nations.
How to cushion consumers from high maritime freight rates (Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide)
Containerised shipping underpins the transport and delivery of global manufactured goods, including inputs, parts, components and consumer goods. On the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, the cost of shipping containers has reached historical highs. The cost of shipping one standard 20-foot container from Shanghai to Brazil, for example, is today nearly five times higher than the average of the last 12 years. The surge in freight rates and surcharges in container shipping are occurring in tandem with reduced service reliability, a key performance metric for shippers and supply chain managers.
Digital platforms can provide scale and access through partnerships (Engineering News)
The use and growth of digital platforms worldwide will provide greater value to users, but also enable and require a variety of companies to provide their services at scale to solve specific user requirements, which necessitates partnerships and greater collaboration among value chain stakeholders. The development of digital platforms worldwide is part of a cycle in which financial technology innovations provide unbundled financial services, which are now being recombined with a range of ancillary and non-financial services on digital platforms, to provide greater convenience and lower costs for users and financial services firms, explains business digital transformation company Platformation Labs founder and author of Platform Revolution and Platform Scale Sangeet Paul Choudary.