tralac Daily News
South Africa recorded a trade surplus in July of R36.9bn, down from a revised R54.5bn in June. Exports fell 11% month-on-month on the back of the disruptions caused to transport links by the riots in KwaZulu-Natal and the cyberattack on Transnet that stalled movement at the country’s busiest port for nearly a week. The R18-billion slide in monthly exports only dims some of the shine. Between January and July, exports increased by 45% to more than a trillion rand, compared with R716-billion over the same period during 2020. It could have been even better were it not for July’s looting, but analysts believe commodities still have legs and that South Africa’s current account will remain healthy for the rest of 2021. “The substantial drop in July’s export figure can largely be attributed to the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal that caused disruptions at the Durban port, while the cyberattack that crippled Transnet operations at ports also had a severe impact,” said Pieter du Preez of NKC African Economics.
South Africa has enjoyed its fattest trade surplus on record, now up to a cumulative R290-billion, buoyed by booming global commodity prices as major economies such as China and the United States, as well as European economies, ramp up activity and invest heavily in infrastructure building in a bid to shake off the downturn induced by Covid-19.
Trade, Industry and Competition on women empowerment | South African Government (South African Government)
Women must challenge the status quo and fight against inequality and poverty. They must never accept the status quo and the stereotypes. This was said by the Acting Deputy Director-General of Industrial Financing at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Ms Susan Mangole. Mangole made the call during a panel discussion of the Women in Public Sector Webinar held under the theme: Tackling gender boundaries and changing the narrative on women in leadership.
According to Mangole, women must take the lead in building the economy and each other. She said the recent unrests left many with destroyed companies, jobless and confused, and these unrests called for collaborations. She further urged women entrepreneurs to take up assistance offered through the recently announced economic recovery interventions administered by the Industrial Development Corporation that offers interest-free loans and grants.
South Africa retail store Game to exit East African market (The East African)
South African retail giant Massmart that operates the Game Stores has revealed its plan to sell its stores in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, marking the latest of a string of retreats from East Africa by a southern African firm.
Massmart chief executive Mitchell Slape said the chain had begun a formal sales process to divest in five Game stores in Nigeria, four in Ghana, three in Kenya, one in Uganda, and one in Tanzania. “We have reached the conclusion that the performance and complexity in running the 14 stores in five markets in the East and West Africa is something frankly that we needed to address,” said Mr Slape during the group’s virtual financial results presentation on Friday. The exit plan ends a five-year stint for the Sandton-headquartered retailer in Kenya and further extends the poor run by South African retailers and companies who have faced headwinds trying to crack the local market.
Kenya Has Not Cut Uganda's Sugar Export Quota – Trade Ministry (Chimp Reports)
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has dismissed media reports that Kenya has cut Uganda’s sugar export quota by 79% from 90,000 metric tons to 18,923 metric tons. The Trade Ministry Permanent Secretary, Geraldine Ssali described the reports as “misrepresentation of facts”. Mrs Ssali clarified that following the April 2021 Uganda’s Kenya bilateral Ministerial meeting, Uganda’s annual sugar export quota to Kenya has increased from 55,000 metric tons to 90,0000 metric tons, consisting of both the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Kenya sugar safeguard and the bilateral quotas.
Kenya-Pakistan end tariff wars, draft MoUs for more trade (The Star, Kenya)
Kenya and Pakistan have ended a long-standing tariff war that hurt trade between the two countries, mainly Kenyan tea exports. Yesterday, the two countries announced the removal of the 'Attestation Fee' that was charged by the Pakistan High Commission in Nairobi. Calculated at 0.5 per cent of the entire export volume for the tea exporters from Kenya, it made Kenyan tea costlier when it landed in Pakistan compared to other teas. Pakistan slapped the fee on Kenya tea when it initiated taxation of Pakistan rice at 75 per cent under the East African Community (EAC) protocol in 2007.
Tea exporters from Kenya were required to get their export documents confirmed and approved by the Pakistan High Commission, before shipping out consignments. Pakistan absorbs about 40 per cent of all tea exports from Kenya. In 2020, Kenya earned about Sh25.9 billion of the total $589.8 million (Sh64.7billion) worth of teas Pakistan imported from across the world. The two countries initiated talks on April 7 this year, which also included development of MoUs that will help increase and diversify bilateral trade.
IDB, others earmark $520m for Nigeria’s agro-industrial zones (Punch Newspapers)
The Senior Special Adviser to the President of the Africa Development Bank on Industrialisation, Prof Banji Oyeyinka, has disclosed that $520m has been earmarked for the development of the first phase of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones in some selected states across Nigeria. According to him, the AfDB committed $160m; the Africa Growing Together Fund $50m; the Islamic Development Bank, $150m, while the International Fund for Agricultural Development committed $160m for the development of the project in Nigeria. He added that the project would be inaugurated in the selected states before the end of the year.
She said this was based on an assessment of their state of readiness, adding that other states were to be selected to participate in subsequent phases. This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by the Special Adviser on Media to FCT Minister of State, Austine Elemue.
The statement was titled ‘Partners commit $520m to develop SAPZ in Nigeria’. It read, “The Senior Special Advisor to the President of the Africa Development Bank on Industrialization, Prof. Banji Oyeyinka, revealed that the AfDB has committed the sum of $160m, the Africa Growing Together Fund has committed $50m, the Islamic Development Bank has committed $150m, while the International Fund for Agricultural Development committed $160m, bringing the total to $520m for the development of the project in Nigeria.
Nigerian economy getting stronger –Minister (Daily Sun)
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, Tuesday declared that Nigeria’s economy was coming back strongly with foreign investors making a commitment to invest in the country. Adebayo who spoke at the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Diplomatic Luncheon in Abuja, said in a statement by his media aide, Ifedayo Sayo, said Nigeria was open for business and that the country’s investment climate was continually improving. The minister said although 2020 was challenging for all economies, Nigeria was coming back strong. He noted that in the first half of the year investment announcements were at $10.1 billion, an increase of 100 per cent from 2020.
He said the Federal Government recognised the importance of attracting and retaining patient investment into the economy, adding that this accounted for the ministry’s commitment to the strategic relationship that existed with the chamber.
Ghana records 874 million dollars of inbound Investments in first half of the year Ghana’s attractiveness as an investment destination has proved resilient amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country raking in 874.01 million dollars’ worth of investments from 122 projects in the first half of 2021. Of the total investment of US$874.01 million, The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) component amounted to US$829.29 million while the local component accounted for US$44.72 million. The FDI amount of US$ 829.29 million was a remarkable increase of 32.15 percent in inbound FDI compared to the FDI value of US$ 627.52 million recorded in the same period last year.
EABC applauds the Government of the Republic of Burundi for facilitating trade (East Africa Business Council)
EABC CEO Mr. John Bosco Kalisa joined Chairman Muzaneza Antoine of the Association of Burundi Traders (ACOBU) to the Burundi -Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Katumba- Kavivira border to assess the free movement of goods, services and people. In his remarks, EABC CEO commended the Government of Burundi for facilitating trade to unlock the great economic potential of Burundi.
Katumba-Kavivira border is a vibrant trade route for small cross-border traders but has been highly impacted by COVID-19 and the floods of River Rusizi and Lake Tanganyika. Mr Kalisa commended the Government of the Republic of Burundi for kick starting the industrial park set to attract more investors into Burundi.
He noted that the COVID-19 has disrupted global and regional value chains impacting international trade and reducing warehouse receipts. The East African Business Council in partnership with the Association of Burundi Traders (ACOBU) urges the Government of the Republic of Burundi to champion:
Women traders in AfCFTA event – Expo 2020 Dubai (etrade hubs)
Are you a business leader or a woman doing business in Africa? Then be part of the "Women Traders in AfCFTA" event at EXPO 2020 Dubai, in person or virtual on 16th October 2021, at the Women's Pavilion. The event is a unique opportunity to bring together AfCFTA entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders, highlighting outstanding contributions, successes and challenges and showcasing creativity. To Register, visit: https://lnkd.in/eVAaeUwR
Expected benefits for women under AfCFTA should be real (BusinessGhana)
The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must be accompanied by policies supported by Regional Economies to ensure the inclusion of women and youth. AfCFTA in the Futures Report, “Making the AfCFTA Work for Women and Youth,” said the implementation should also improve the cooperation of Customs to reduce trade costs. The Report is a narrative about the promise of AfCFTA as told through the voices of Africa’s producers, traders, policy officials and regulators. Under the Agreement, African Union Member States, now also AfCFTA State parties, explicitly seek to achieve gender equality and enhance the export capacity of women and youth. The Report said limited property rights for women farmers led to low levels of investment, which limited the full potential of export-led growth. Similarly, women and youth may be limited from gains in agriculture due to barriers in accessing finance, productive resources and other assets. That, in addition to foreign direct investment, flows towards high productivity and better-established exporting operations to capture scale economies, may increase the gap.
The Africa World Trade Network (AWTN) has partnered with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to accelerate intra-regional trade and investment through exhibitions, meetings and events. The partnership seeks to mobilise private sector actors across Africa to drive the attainment of strategic objectives that underpin the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The partnership between AWTN and the AfCFTA Secretariat is meant to work towards three common objectives that support continental trade and investment promotions across Africa and promote the overall objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement:
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Board Chair of AWTN, Otwasuom Osae Nyampong VI, said: “Intra-regional trade promises a real win for Africa, and the AfCFTA Secretariat is at the forefront of this significant progress in the continent’s history; it is a second Pan-African victory after Independence.
Opening of COMESA trade office gives Seychellois women a business boost (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychellois women entrepreneurs gained additional support for trade activity in the African region with the opening of an office of the COMESA Federation of Women in Business. The Seychelles' chapter of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Federation of Women in Business was officially launched in a ceremony on Tuesday at Eden Bleu by President Wavel Ramkalawan.
"SIB opens the door to many investments. It is only the beginning in our step to improving facilitation services in the country as we are working very hard to ease the procedures of doing business in Seychelles. COMFWB and SIB is a very good opportunity to marry the public and private partnership and it will be good support for our entrepreneurs," she said. Minister Vidot hopes that the new desk will help in supporting and empowering women throughout the country and make the visions of women a reality. Claudette Albert, the chairperson of the Seychelles Chapter of COMESA Federation of Women in Business, said this "represents the support the government is offering to us by giving us an office so that we can give business advisory, support and training for the women. If women need any help in finding business partners or markets in the African region, our office will act as the liaison for them. Now we are going to organise ourselves so that we can provide training to the women."
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has engendered women empowerment and gender equality across sectors at regional and national levels, and in 2019 adopted a Regional Multi-Dimensional Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme aimed promoting women’s economic empowerment and gender-responsive development. This was said by outgoing SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, in a keynote address at a webinar on Empowering Women and Achieving Gender Equality to Date organised by the Department of Government Communications and Information Systems of the Republic of South Africa on 30 August 2021.
Dr Tax said economic empowerment of women is central to sustainable development and poverty alleviation and that poverty eradication can be addressed meaningfully through programmes that target women, and facilitate women economic independence and reduction of exploitation, feminisation of poverty, discrimination, and disregard of women’s fundamental human rights.
Dr Tax called upon SADC Member States to include women in the ongoing digitisation initiatives at the regional and national levels and improve the plight of women and gender equality.
Information, communication and technology (ICT), she said, is among sectors where women are under-represented, and such a gender gap also exists in the digital economy that is growing very fast globally. It was therefore important to strengthen women empowerment in the ICT sector by developing national and regional initiatives that foster participation of women and girls in the ICT sector.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has announced her invitation to sector champions in various industries to be a part of Regional Business Forum structured around high-level meetings, consultations with Business Champions, the youth and women in the West African business ecosystems . The 3-day Forum will be held in Lagos, Nigeria from September 21st – 23rd, 2021, at The Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, using a hybrid format i.e. physical and virtual, due to COVID-19 The Regional Business Forum will be held in collaboration with strategic partners from across the region/Continent at, bringing together women and youth from across the 15 West African countries, business leaders, the private sector, and SMEs. The forum is set to encompass various activities such as panel discussions, exhibitions, mentoring sessions, presentations and many more.
The West Africa Business Forum is the first edition in a series of stakeholders’ engagements by the Economic Commission for Africa with top business leaders, and sector champions in Africa. The theme of the first ever forum is “Empowering Women and Youths to Spur Africa’s Transformation Agenda”. With Africa being the youngest continent and a projection of Africans constituting a whooping quarter of the world’s labor force by 2050 due to high fertility and declining child mortality rates, it has become imperative to pivot the continent’s demographic dynamics for sustainable development.
On September 2, 2021, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the PSF Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), will launch a SheTrades Hub in Rwanda to bolster the competitiveness and market access of Rwandan women-led businesses. Speaking about the importance of the upcoming SheTrades Hub, Jeanne Françoise Mubiligi, the Chairperson of Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs hailed ITC for bringing this Hub to Rwanda noting that it will go a long way in facilitating women in business to realize their dream of exporting their goods to international market and maximizing profitability.
“This SheTrades Hub will support Rwandan women entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness, connect them to new markets and internationalize their businesses. The Hub will also serve as a resource centre for women-owned businesses giving them access to more than 100 relevant trade-related modules, webinars, and trainings in addition to market access and investment opportunities. Mubiligi said.
The recently concluded Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank remind us that the consequences of Covid-19 will weigh on the continent’s economic prospects for the foreseeable future, with between $145-$190 billion lost in terms of GDP, 30 million people falling into extreme poverty, and economic growth in 2021 less than half the world average. In a world faced with a crisis of such magnitude, the temptation to protectionism is gaining ground. Africa must avoid this trap at all costs. Even more so as the African integration was given a huge boost just before the crisis, thanks to the adoption of the AfCFTA. This ambitious project must not be allowed to suffer. To the contrary, it should be used as the powerful tool it is, both to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic and to transition to a more unified Africa. AFIS – the leading pan-African financial industry platform that brings together private operators and public institutions – calls for a critical acceleration of financial reforms as a priority step to achieve the overarching goals of the AfCFTA. We think that the African financial industry has a decisive part to play in supporting companies and individuals to trade and invest across the continent and ease cross-country payments and capital flows.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has stated that the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) will not fully succeed unless there are policies for the free movement of people in the area. This was disclosed by Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director, Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, UNECA on Tuesday during the Africa Regional Review of the Implementation of the Global Compact For Migration conference in Rabat, Morocco. She added that the leading role of the Global Compact For Migration review and its other related initiatives all aimed to help Africa retain skills, improve migration data collection and assist in the implementation of the continent’s integration through facilitating portability of skills and qualifications as well as trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
The 2021 East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week, which opened today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, centred the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as an impetus to the region's integration process. "The African Continental Free Trade Area is a crucial stage in achieving regional integration, which has remained a key objective of the East African Community as a means to sustainably develop economies," Secretary-General of the East Africa Community, Hon. Dr Peter Mathuki said at the opening of the East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week (EATIW).
On his part, Hon. Prof Kitila Mkumbo, Minister for Industry and Trade of the United Republic of Tanzania stated that the theme resonated well with the East African Community's vision and mission as it is consolidating its external trade policy by undertaking trade negotiations as a bloc with partners, a key feature of the implementation of AfCFTA. Therefore, he challenged the private sector to get involved in the integration process.
How regional 'roadblocks' are derailing EAC trade (Daily Monitor)
The unending conflict in South Sudan is slowly taking a toll on Uganda’s economy and becoming a threat to regional trade. The power struggle in South Sudan has been brewing for a while despite the formation of the national unity government following the signing of a peace agreement in 2018 under the watchful eyes and facilitation of regional blocs, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
South Sudan, a member of the East African Community (EAC), continues to be a fragile economy despite its enormous untapped economic potential, largely being derailed on the power struggle between President Silva Kiir and first Vice President, Dr Riek Machar. According to regional business experts, integration analysts, and Afro-centric researchers, the reputation of the EAC region as a trade and investment hub, will remain blemished until total stability in the region is restored. If nothing is done to prevail over the cause of the uncertainty, in this case bringing an end to the political stability in South Sudan, the biggest losers apart from lives and properties, will be trade and investment, with Uganda particularly bearing the biggest brunt.
Freight costs go up as container shortage persists (The East African)
Sea freight charges have doubled in the past one month due to a global shortage of containers as players in the logistic sector urge ports management in East Africa to increase empty container limitations at their facilities to allow more containers to be shipped back. Shipping agents and Container Freight Stations (CFSs) officials said the cost of importing a 20ft container from China to East African ports has risen from $1,500 to $2,500 while that of 40ft container doubled from $2,000 to $4,000. Kenya Ships Agents Association chief executive Juma Tellah accused Kenya Ports Authority and Tanzania Ports Authority of allocating limited space for empty containers at the ports meaning very few empties were being shipped back. Tellah said most ports prioritise exports leaving empties piled up at different container depots. “We are having empties piled up in our CFSs since very few containers are being returned as a result of imbalance of trade and limited space allocated for empties at the ports. There is a limited space at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports, which has hampered return of empties,” said Tellah.
East African states work to reduce regional air travel costs (The East African)
Plans are underway to reduce air travel charges in East Africa to ease the free movement of people, goods and services. The process includes the harmonisation of air travel policies of each partner state, examination of the factors that determine air ticket costs and development of uniform air travel regulations. A meeting of Transport and Communication ministers from the EAC partner states chaired by Kenya has since issued a directive to the East African Community secretariat to initiate the process. “It was proposed that the EAC Secretariat convenes the meeting in consultation with the hosting Partner States and the outcomes of the Forum be channelled to EAC policy organs through the Sub-committee on Air Transport,” said Wavinya Ndeti, Kenya’s chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, adding, “On Liberalisation of Air Transport in the EAC, the regulations have been developed and the process of finalising these regulations is ongoing.”
Report encourages fit-for-purpose cross-border road transport interventions (Engineering News)
South Africa has seen a 6% fall in exports, from R253-billion in 2019 to R238-billion in 2020, which the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) largely attributed to the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic, it said, severely affected South Africa’s exports owing to the shutdown of economies implemented to contain the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus. The report, titled ‘Statistics on Trade Volumes and Values Moved by Road Through South African Commercial Border Posts and Destination Countries’, was commissioned by C-BRTA, and found that, in 2020, South Africa exported 27.2-billion units of goods, valued at about R238-billion, to neighbouring countries by road.
As per the report, South Africa exported the highest trade volumes to Mozambique through the Lebombo border post. The Lebombo border post handled the highest trade volumes (46%) of all border posts in South Africa. Mineral ores accounted for the highest volume of South Africa’s exports to Mozambique, at about 9.8-billion kilograms. Minerals ores accounted for 72% of Mozambique’s total imports from South Africa. Meanwhile, in 2020, Botswana was the major importing trading partner for South Africa, with goods valued at about R74-billion imported from South Africa.
The EA Customs Union operations have remained opaque to traders since its launch in 2005, claims the business community at Isebania border town. The traders in Migori County say that the ineffectiveness results from poor understanding of its concept by the business people in the region. Although there had been an improvement in the amount of goods traded between Kenya and Tanzania, the group points out that more efforts are still needed to make the union a
Africa has all the ingredients to be a globally competitive energy and industry leader, and with policies such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) serving as a key driver of intra-African trade, the continent is well-equipped to accelerate economic development and enhance industrialization. However, even with the right policies and available resources, the continent has been slow to take advantage of these new and improved trade opportunities. Therefore, African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town has placed a focus on driving regional trade deals, urging countries to leverage the AfCFTA as a catalyst for enhanced cross-border cooperation, driving continent wide poverty alleviation and industrialization.
With regards to Africa’s energy sector, the agreement offers valuable opportunities to expand regional trade and enhance intra-African collaboration. Notably, in addition to international exports, emerging natural gas economies across Africa can redirect their attention to regional exports, boosting industrialization through the consistent supply of petrochemicals and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). By establishing regional supply networks, Africa can construct and position fertilizer plants, manufacturing facilities, and gas-to-power projects in key locations, boosting economic development, job creation and energy access continent wide.
With regards to regional trade, one of the most notable challenges has been foreign exchange (forex) barriers. Uncertain and unproductive forex policies have not only restricted regional trade, but have essentially limited both national and international oil company activities. In order for countries to fully exploit the benefits of the AfCFTA, there is a need for central banks to create an enabling financial climate for business, stimulating economic activities by independent companies – such as Springfield and Afentra -, international investors, and regional stakeholders. The AfCFTA has presented the opportunity for regional governments to create an enabling environment for foreign investors, and by removing forex challenges that plagued regional trade before its implementation, the agreement will drive investment and development across a regional base.
Industrial agriculture is no solution for Africa (Capital Business)
Around the globe, agribusinesses, driven by initiatives like AGRA, have been trying to convince governments and financial institutions that they hold the answer to solve the world’s hunger problems through improved production. However, this concept has been debunked by food system research and a complete lack of success. The world does not have a food production problem, rather hunger is a result of lack of access and inequality.
The “Green Revolution” has already failed in India where recent widespread farmer protests made it crystal clear that this approach does not work out fairly for small farmers. In Africa, small holder farmers, oftentimes women, are indispensable to its nutritional and climate resilient future. Those funding AGRA need to take stock of its failures to date and realise that farmers already know what they need to tackle climate change and need support to do so.
The theme for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) to be held in Nairobi from September 6-10 is ‘Pathways to Recovery and Resilient Food Systems’.
The Impact of Telematics in Africa's E-Commerce Market - BORGEN (Borgen Project)
Telematics is a technology used in companies’ transportation cars that gathers information on the car’s whereabouts and utilization. For instance, when the vehicle stops, gas levels, required servicing and repairs are reported via a tracker placed inside the car. This tracker is connected through the car’s “onboard diagnostics (ODBII) or CAN-BUS port with a SIM card, and an onboard modem enables communication through a wireless network.” Through these reported data, telematics enhances E-commerce in Africa and improves the continent’s economy as a whole.
According to IT News Africa, telematics can tremendously improve the online business sector in Africa. This is especially true during the pandemic. Based on Mastercard’s research, 68% of South Africans have increased their e-commerce purchasing due to COVID-19. As a result, product deliveries rose to satisfy customers. In addition, lockdowns and pandemic policies have caused many people to rely more on goods being delivered to their doorsteps. Telematics tremendously enhanced how vehicles operate and enable a safer ride for employees and packaged goods. Telematics became necessary for carrier organizations because it allows employees to satisfy customers by providing them with faster deliveries. As a result, telematics enhances e-commerce in Africa by minimizing package mix-ups and delivery failures. In addition, telematics makes consumers trust the business more by ensuring that they will receive their products. As a result, customers are more willing to make online purchases.
Jumia is an example of a successful digital organization in Africa. It experienced a 50% increase in online shopping within the first half of 2020. Jumia started in 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria, and is now the region’s most prominent digital organization. In addition, GetBoda, an online shopping carrier firm in Kenya, experienced an increase of 150% in purchases at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the world continues to recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, coping mechanisms such as increased use of virtual workspaces, online marketplaces and e-governance have become the norm. While this presents opportunities to revamp economies and streamline public service delivery, it may also heighten exposure to cybercrime. In Africa, many countries have seen a rise in reports of digital threats and malicious cyber activities. The results include sabotaged public infrastructure, losses from digital fraud and illicit financial flows, and national security breaches involving espionage and intelligence theft by militant groups. Addressing these vulnerabilities requires a greater commitment to cybersecurity. This requires enforceable policy safeguards, risk prevention and management approaches, along with technologies and infrastructure that can protect each country’s cyber environment, as well as individual and corporate end-user assets. However, the latest Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), released this June by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), suggests Africa’s levels of commitment to cybersecurity – as well as capacity for response to threats – remain low compared to other continents.
Africa Must Produce Its Own Vaccines by Landry Signé (Project Sybndicate)
During the pandemic, wealthy countries led the way in rapidly developing and producing COVID-19 vaccines. The same countries then bought up and administered those vaccines to their own populations, and have even ordered boosters for already-vaccinated people. Meanwhile, many developing countries have not been able to deliver even one dose to most of their populations. Africa, in particular, is struggling with limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. As of August 31, African countries had administered 94 million doses to the continent’s population of nearly 1.4 billion, with a total supply of 134.5 million. By contrast, the United States – with a total population of 332 million – has administered over 375 million vaccine doses. This disparity partly reflects the fact that most African countries are not able to produce the vaccines needed to protect their populations against not only COVID-19, but also the myriad other diseases that plague the continent. Africa is home to only four local drug substance vaccine manufacturers – two more are in development – and two “fill-and-finish” facilities that rely on imported vaccine substances to produce distributable doses. Supply-chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic showed just how risky this dependence on imports of critical medical supplies can be.
Africa is almost totally dependent on vaccine imports, producing just 1% of the vaccines it administers. So far during the pandemic, African countries have received most of their COVID-19 vaccine doses through either bilateral agreements or the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility, an initiative launched last year by the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. COVAX aims to provide vaccines for 20% of people in low- and middle-income countries. But while initiatives like COVAX are clearly needed to fulfill Africa’s short-term needs, they will do little to improve the continent’s capacity to provide crucial vaccines for itself in the future.
It's time to build BRICS better (The Hindu)
The 13th BRICS summit is set to be held on September 9 in digital format under India’s chairmanship. This plurilateral grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is chaired by turn. India held the chair in 2012 and 2016 too. The preparatory meeting of Foreign Ministers in June and dialogue at the BRICS Academic Forum in early August offered an important opportunity to present an objective assessment of the grouping’s record amid differing views of believers and sceptics. The importance of BRICS is self-evident: it represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of international trade.External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, noting that BRICS was 15 years old, recently portrayed it as a young adult, equipped with “thoughts shaped and a worldview concretised, and with a growing sense of responsibilities.” Others tend to view it as caught up in angst and confusion typical of a teenager.
Launched by a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2006 and riding on the political synergy created by regular summits since 2009, BRIC turned itself into BRICS in 2010, with the entry of South Africa. The grouping has gone through a reasonably productive journey. It strove to serve as a bridge between the Global North and Global South. It developed a common perspective on a wide range of global and regional issues; established the New Development Bank; created a financial stability net in the form of Contingency Reserve Arrangement; and is on the verge of setting up a Vaccine Research and Development Virtual Center.
What are its immediate goals now? As the current chair, India has outlined four priorities. The first is to pursue reform of multilateral institutions ranging from the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the World Trade Organization and now even the World Health Organization. The second is the resolve to combat terrorism. Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals and expanding people-to-people cooperation are the other two BRICS priorities.
Europe’s glory days of trade deals are over (POLITICO)
Striking trade deals is only getting tougher for the EU. Under previous European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Brussels' trade negotiators were on a deal-making roll, concluding or signing landmark pacts with Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Mexico. That seems a distant memory now for the world's biggest trade bloc.
At the meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 30 August, WTO members agreed to the establishment of a dispute panel at the request of China to determine whether China complied with an earlier WTO ruling regarding the administration of its tariff rate quotas (TRQs), including those for wheat, rice, and corn.
Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released July 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that demand continued its strong growth trend. “July was another solid month for global air cargo demand. Economic conditions indicate that the strong growth trend will continue into the peak year-end demand period. The Delta variant of COVID-19 could bring some risks. If supply chains and production lines are disrupted, there is potential for a knock-on effect for air cargo shipments,” said Wille Walsh, IATA’s Director General.