tralac Daily News
Governments can build credibility over time through consistent commitment to implementing policies efficiently and effectively. South Africa hasn’t done well on this score. As a result of the poor record of policy implementation, investors and the general public have become sceptical of government policy pronouncements. Recent examples of this credibility gap include its handling of two major policy initiatives. The first is the National Development Plan launched in 2012. The second is the National Treasury’s 2019 economic policy paper titled “Economic transformation, inclusive growth, and competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa”. Neither was ever fully implemented. Once unveiled, it was up to government departments to pull ideas from them to enhance their strategies. But this wasn’t done.
The factors that lie behind poor policy implementation are varied and complex. They range from conflicting ideologies, a lack of capacity within the state and its institutions, corruption, and poor governance at local municipalities. But the government seems to be waking up to the fact that the key to success is public policy implementation. Take the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan launched in October 2020. The plan is focused on energy security, infrastructure development, green economy, food security, and the tourism sector, among others. Unlike the slow policy implementation observed over the past decade, government has followed through with reforms in the energy sector. It is worth highlighting that this is a sector that was already beset by crisis.
Namibia’s exports dropped by almost 50% (The Namibian)
According to the country’s latest trade statistics from the Namibia Statistics Agency, it stood at N$9,4 billion in June. Meanwhile, the country’s import bill stood at N$7,9 billion, a 23,1% decline, further translating to a deficit of N$3,2 billion. The drop in the value of exports is due to at least 41,2% less copper being exported over the review period. According to the trade statistics released yesterday, the widening trade deficit from N$902 million in June 2021 was due to a decline in the exportation of mineral products and fish.
The country’s imports from Asia, Africa and the United States all fell, but importing from Europe increased. The value of goods bought from Europe rose by N$651 million to N$1 billion, whereas Namibia’s exports to the continent decreased by N$88 million.
“Commodities from our local mines constitute about 60% of total exports. Standard trade theory would recommend that Namibia focuses on its comparative advantage and the resources which are in abundant supply. Given that labour, which is unskilled to a great extent, is in abundant supply, Namibia should focus on processes and activities which make extensive use of labour,” says Simonis Storm.
Agriculture posts second best growth in five years (Business Daily)
Agriculture posted a 4.8 percent growth last year, its second-best in five years, on improved demand for produce, defying the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that the sector growth increased by 2.2 percentage points from 2.6 percent in 2019. “Real gross value added of the sector grew by 4.8 percent in 2020 compared to a revised growth of 2.6 percent in 2019. This was mainly on account of favourable weather conditions in 2020 which improved production of food crops such as beans, rice, sorghum and millet and, livestock and related products such as milk and meat,” said bureau said in its Economic Survey 2021 report that was released Thursday. According to KNBS, the output of some key food crops was lower than the projected production partly due to underperformance of the short rains as well as reduced demand from restaurants and learning institutions that remained closed for a significant part of 2020.
Kenya rebases its contracted economy, pushing GDP up $4b (The East African)
The annual economic performance data released last week by the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani shows that the private sector terminated 206,700 jobs as part of cost cutting measures, with the informal sector letting go a massive 493,300 employees. The public sector however hired 19,400 more workers during the period, according to the delayed Economic Survey (2021).”Full resumption of activities in the education sector and the hotel industry that were almost halted for the better part of 2020, is likely to significantly boost the growth. Other key sectors like manufacturing and transportation are likely to rebound and support the country’s economic growth,” said Mr Yatani. During the period, the National Treasury rebased the country’s economy by changing the base year to 2016 from 2009 thereby pushing the nominal GDP upwards by 4.84 percent to Ksh10.75 trillion ($97.72 billion) from Ksh10.25 trillion($93.18 billion) in 2019. But the revising and the rebasing of the National accounts which started in 2017 could not neutralise the glaring impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, whose cases had reached over 214,783 last week and claimed over 4,830 lives.
Civil society organizations under the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda are advising the Government to seek debt relief from her creditors to save resources necessary to fight the pandemic. This comes at the time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decides to issue new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to a tune of $650 billion USD to help address member countries’ liquidity challenges and enable them finance the fight against the COVID19 pandemic and support national recovery efforts because according to World Bank the pandemic pushed the country to a standing 11 million people into poverty. This is in response to the Covid pandemic disruption that has greatly affected the country’s domestic revenue collections with the finance ministry registering a shortfall of over Shs. 2.4 trillion in revenue collections within the previous financial year. According to SEATINI, the situation has pushed the government to borrow heavily with the country’s debt burden growing to over 70 trillion shillings in June 2021 from 65.8 trillion in June 2020.
Uganda has acquired prime land in Tanga, Tanzania, where its officials will be stationed to facilitate oil business between the two countries. The move is aimed at strengthening Uganda’s infrastructure diplomacy in the East African region and Southern Africa. “Yes, it is true, our Mission requested and acquired this strategic land at Tanga where the East African crude oil export pipeline will terminate,” said Uganda’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Amb Richard Kabonero when contacted by ChimpReports on Sunday morning.
Sudan, South Sudan resume trade activity (Al-Monitor)
As part of efforts to bolster peace between Sudan and South Sudan, the two governments last month signed a series of agreements on resuming trade and increasing cooperation in transportation and security. The signing came during a three-day visit by Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to Juba on Aug. 21, during which he met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and other officials. Hamdok led a delegation including the ministers of defense, trade, transportation and foreign affairs, in addition to a number of senior officials from Khartoum. Prior to the South Sudanese secession in 2011, many basic commodities used to be transported from the northern to the southern parts of the same country. Sudanese economist Mohamed al-Nayer told Al-Monitor the situation is different now. Had the two countries started trade exchange immediately after the secession 10 years ago, significant economic growth would have been achieved in the two countries if also based on sound foundations, he said, expecting the volume of trade exchange between the two countries to exceed $2 billion per year.
Nayer said the next steps include opening branches of Sudanese banks on the borderline and in areas between the two countries to ensure the revenues from the imports and exports are included in the trade balance between the two countries.
Lead Economist at the African Development Bank Group, Dr George Kararach says African countries need to devise and implement a long term diversification strategy in order to attain the transformation of their economies. Kararach was speaking during the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (the dtic) Trade and Investment Knowledge Network Dialogue, which was held virtually in partnership with Brand South Africa.
Kararach said for too long now, efforts to expand trade and investment in Africa, had been geared towards primary commodities rather than diversification. He added that more work needed to be done by governments in the continent to foster an environment that prioritises the development of human and social capital. “Such an environment would encourage individuals and organisations to develop their own capacities to actively participate in the global economy. African countries need to encourage the emergence of quality institutions to ensure the effective implementation of sustainable trade and investment programmes and policies through reforms in areas such as education, tax and labour regulations, as well as financial sector among others,” said Kararach.
The Director of Export Development, Promotion and Outward Investments at the dtic, Mr Thulani Mpetsheni told the meeting that global economic recovery would be accelerated by population vaccination. He presented findings of a recent study commissioned by the dtic which revealed that South Africa’s exports declined at an average of 2.2% between 2010 and 2019 with mining, beneficiation, automotive, chemicals and plastics as the key export sectors.
“South Africa is only outperforming global competitors in only two sectors, chemicals and oceans industry with Compound Annual Growth Rate of 1.5% and 7.6% respectively. South Africa needs to identify key markets and establish superior value propositions for its exports to out-compete other countries,” he added.
Africa Must Transit to A Manufacturing Hub to Make AfCFTA Effective (Proshare Nigeria)
The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will only succeed if the continent transits to a manufacturing hub. Mr. Charles Robertson, the Chief Global Economist, Renaissance Capital, highlighted this while examining "Prospects for Growth and Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa Beyond 2021".
He argued that without manufacturing activities, the AFCFTA will only be helpful to the African region in terms of investments but cannot serve as a gamechanger for the economies. "Africa should explore public-private partnership models and investment opportunities that can transform critical sectors like the electricity sector, to drive a productive economy", Robertson added.
Tanzania, Burundi join EAC member states in AfCFTA deal (The Star, Kenya)
East African Community Secretary General Peter Mathuki has hailed Burundi and Tanzania for ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).Burundi ratified the AfCFTA on June 17, while Tanzania endorsed on September 9. So far, 42 countries have ratified the AfCFTA that seeks to boost intra-African trade. Mathuki said that the AfCFTA would allow East Africans to access a large continental market and increase EAC’s exports to African countries outside the bloc.
“It will also improve movement of people across Africa, advance trade and development aspirations and ultimately put the region in a better position to trade more with the rest of the world,” said Mathuki. He further disclosed that the EAC had initiated a number of steps towards the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, adding that the ratification by Burundi and Tanzania would expedite the implementation of the agreement. Other EAC Partner States that have ratified the agreement are Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
South Sudan has signed the AfCFTA but is yet to ratify it. “We have also prepared a draft strategy for the implementation of the Agreement, which takes into account the need for capacity building. It is presently under consideration by the Partner States,” said Mathuki. “Further, we are also fully involved in negotiations on the outstanding areas such as Rules of Origin, Trade in services as well as the phase II issues on investment, competition, intellectual property rights and e-commerce.
The Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria, (CICAN), Abuja has expressed concern over the possible economic sabotage the African Continental Free Trade Area may cause Nigeria if the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is not repositioned for increased productivity. Speaking in Abuja, the Chairman of CICAN, Mr Fred Idehai advised the federal government against making Nigeria a dumping ground as a result of AFCFTA, calling on stakeholders in the economic sector to support SMEs as a way of repositioning the nation’s economy.
The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), organized the 2nd virtual Regional Workshop on the African Trade Observatory (ATO) on 8 September 2021 for Experts from Ministries of Trade and National Statistics Agencies, as well as representatives of Customs Authorities to review status of development of the Observatory. The African Trade Observatory, is one of the five African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) operational instruments along with the rules of origin; the online negotiating forum; the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers; and the digital payment system, that was launched at the African Union 12th Extraordinary Summit held in July 2019 in Niamey – Niger.
This second regional meeting on the African Trade Observatory provided an update on the operational development of the observatory. During the meeting, ITC provided participants with an overview of the observatory, including its main features and how national experts can engage with the platform.
The African Trade Observatory seeks to provide real-time and reliable data, as well as equip African businesses with trade intelligence on trends, opportunities, and market access conditions. Furthermore, the ATO Monitor module, empowers government agencies and policymakers in monitoring the AfCFTA implementation process and evaluating its impact on their economies. The African Trade Observatory has four main features including Automatic data transfer system; the Monitor module; the Business intelligence dashboard and the trade analysis unit. The West African Trade & Competitiveness Observatory being developed by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration by ITC, under the framework of the West African Competitiveness Programme, which is financed by the European Union, will further compliment the functions of the ATO.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, over recent political unrest and its impact on the implementation of the AfCFTA, Dr Osei-Assibey said such conflicts would have a ripple effect on the Agreement as they posed major threats to free trade and dampen investor confidence.
“It is obviously a problem having this kind of geopolitical tension across borders because the uncertainties that it creates in the minds of investors and businesses is enormous. Obviously, nobody wants to do business in an environment that has heightened tension and risk and therefore it is definitely going to have a militating effect on our competitiveness, our ability to compete effectively with our peers across the continent and region,” he noted.
Dr Osei-Assibey, who is also the Dean of International Programmes at the University, urged continental and regional bodies including, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to proffer stiffer punishment to such countries to serve as deterrent to other member states. “This would ensure stability, enhance trading activities and boost investor confidence. He said it was a problem, which one would have expected that given the increasing democratization in recent time, the sub-region was going to see a much more deepening in the consolidation of our democracy but from nowhere there was an upsurge in some of these political upheavals, coup d’etats, takeovers and all of which obviously took away the efforts that had been put in over the years.
Building a comprehensive digital infrastructure is imperative to realizing Africa’s enormous economic potential, according to a senior advisor from the International Trade Centre – the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations.
“Making e-commerce a success on the African continent is challenging. Approximately, only 11% of platforms in Africa take electronic payments, and others deal in cash,” James Howe, Senior Advisor at the International Trade Centre, explained today at the inaugural Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (Egypt-ICF) in Cairo, launched by the country’s Ministry of International Cooperation.
Howe added that through trust, the continent’s digital development will be accelerated. “The single biggest challenge is trust – a commodity in short supply. It is important to develop trust to address issues on the continent, and this will help facilitate an environment for e-commerce in Africa,” he elaborated at a workshop entitled ‘Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Prospects and Challenges of Digital Trade for the Private Sector’ at the start of the second day of the Egypt-ICF.
THE African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents a window of opportunity for regional businesses and public entities to harness widening digital or electronic trading gains. Electronic commerce has recently become a huge part of the global economy with businesses riding on digital resources to sell their products or services online.
With so many people migrating to online and projected to make their purchases remotely, experts view e-commerce as the fastest-growing retail market. The operationalisation of the AfCFTA in January this year has come in handy for those businesses with a keen focus on digital trading.
How social media is powering Africa’s small businesses (Business Daily)
Social media platforms are accelerating economic growth and opportunity across the continent, a new study by Genesis Analytics has shown. The independent study aimed at exploring the impact of the digital economy on small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) was conducted in eight African countries – Kenya, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Mauritius. The survey explored the adoption and use of social media and messaging platforms; value to SMBs; barriers to usage; and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus was on the Facebook company technologies, being Facebook app, Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger. The report shows that surveyed SMBs that use the Facebook apps have younger employees with an average share of 45 percent of employees under 30. Additionally, SMBs using Facebook apps reported a higher frequency of being owned by women, while SMBs in the manufacturing sector ranked the ability to access new foreign markets as the most beneficial advantage of the apps.
Start-ups in Africa look to AfCFTA for funding growth (The Citizen)
African start-ups are beginning to see the opening up of the world’s largest single market - the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) – as more and more of an opportunity to raise seed funding and support regional growth – and a recent report says the trend is likely to continue as the AfCTFA gains ground. The African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association highlights AfCFTA’s potential to deliver high-value investment deals for local start-ups with a presence in multiple regions, in their report. “Multi-region VC deals continue to account for the largest share of deals by value, and this trend will likely persist as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gains traction, enabling regional integration and consequently supporting startups with a multi-region focus in Africa,” said the association in a report, Venture Capital in Africa.
‘African airlines to lose $8.2b’ (The Nation)
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has forecast an $8.2 billion revenue loss for carriers on the continent in the year. The loss, according to the continental body, is 47.2 per cent of the full year revenue for carriers in 2019. The report came just as AFRAA released updates for the eighth month of the year, indicating that air passenger traffic reached 46.8 per cent compared to the same month in 2019 while capacity pegged at 54.6 per cent. Last year, African airlines made a cumulative loss of $10.21billion, that is, 58.8 per cent of 2019 revenue.
Transporters say Northern Corridor is a non-trade barrier (The East African)
The Northern Corridor, a lifeline of the region, is continuously facing challenges that affect cross border trade, slowing down commerce and causing shocks to economies struggling to recover from effects of the pandemic. South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya are still working through the recent resumption of cargo trucks movement to Juba following weeks of blockade. But just as soon, this month, South Sudan asked the Uganda Revenue Authority to start implementing the Electronic Cargo Traffic Note Certificates (ECTN), adding another layer of costly regulation to be borne by importers and transporters, increasing the cost of using the Northern Corridor. This means all goods destined for South Sudan and the DR Congo from either the port of Mombasa or Dar es Salaam through the border points of Kenya and Uganda will have to be issued an Electronic Cargo Traffic Note Certificates at a minimum cost of $75 for both exports and imports.
African bank grants $50m for women projects in EAC (The Citizen)
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has earmarked $50 million for women business projects in the eastern Africa region. This was revealed this week by the regional director of the continental bank during his visit to the East African Community (EAC) and affiliated bodies in Arusha.
Mr Cheptoo Kipronoh who heads AfDB operations in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Seychelles said this was part of a wider support to the region. “Some $50 million have been earmarked to support women in business,” he said during his visit to the East African Business Council (EABC) head offices.
What DRC brings to the EAC table (Business Daily)
The Democratic Republic Of Congo (DRC) is a large country with a population of 90 million people and it is one of the biggest countries in Africa .It is a country well-endowed with natural resources and has the world’s second largest rain forest. The DRC has applied to join the East African Community (EAC) and is slated to become the EAC’s seventh member after Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi. Before the DRC can fully join the EAC there is a verification process which has been completed and thereafter a presentation to the EAC heads of state for acceptance. The pending acceptance of DRC into the EAC has many benefits to countries in the region, the DRC and Kenya in particular. Regional blocs operate on the principle of liberalisation of the market and removal of market barriers. Liberalisation has the effect of opening up markets to fair competition. This in the long run is good both for regional trade and the consumers.
Tanzania is East Africa’s food forte. That is how it was seen during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2021 Summit in Nairobi held between 7-10 September, which sought to highlight pathways to recovery and a resilient food systems. Only recently this year the government started buying maize (the main staple food in East Africa) from farmers because the precious commodities was produced in surplus and there was no adequate local market.
An alliance of faith-based and civil society groups working for food sovereignty and sustainability in Africa called on donors to stop funding the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and other programs that promote industrialized agriculture on the continent. This week, AFSA delivered a letter — endorsed by international organizations — to AGRA donors, saying “AGRA has unequivocally failed in its mission to increase productivity and incomes and reduce food insecurity,” and stated in a press release that AGRA “does not speak for African small-scale farmers.”
Time to move up the food chain (The Southern Times)
In a paper published by the respected journal Nature, Emmanuel Margolin, Wendy Burgers and Edward Sturrock et al (“Prospects for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines in Africa”), a strong case is made to develop Africa’s pharmaceutical capacity. By providing empirical evidence of how the pandemic has spread across the continent and how access to vaccines remains the elephant in the room, the researchers make it clear that the only sustainably future for Africa’s health and socio-economic wellbeing is by upgrading the continental pharmaceutical value chain. They write, “Clearly, there is an urgent need for capacity development and the available resources should focus on solutions that are specific to the needs of the continent. For example, there is an urgent need to inexpensively manufacture viral antigens for serological testing…
“Appropriate manufacturing partnerships need to be established to produce vaccines that could be tested and licensed on the continent, to limit reliance on global initiatives that may be overwhelmed by the global demand for a vaccine. In fact, this may present an opportunity for governments to finally invest in much-needed cGMP-compliant vaccine manufacturing facilities.
Region shows it means business (The Southern Times)
A new report by Knowledge Executive says SADC member states will play a major role in Africa’s global business services and business process outsourcing (GBS/BPO) growth, which is expected to reach almost US$20 billion by 2023. According to the research, five African countries are positioned as maturing and emerging GBS/BPO locations: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda and Botswana. The report says apart from South Africa and Botswana, other SADC countries to watch out for are Zimbabwe and Mauritius.
“Notably, the combined African domestic and international GBS/BPO sector is estimated to be US$15.1 billion and is expected to grow to US$19.8 billion by 2023,” the report says.
Knowledge Executive says According to the report, Egypt has the second largest GBS/BPO market share in Africa, valued at over US$4 billion (excluding IT services), which operates within Africa’s second-largest economy (GDP of $363 billion).
Africa’s largest economy by GDP (US$448 billion), Nigeria, boasts of the continent’s largest ICT sector, which serves as the foundation for developing the country’s GBS/BPO industry, which is valued at an estimated US$286.8 million with 16,540 workers.
The case for a SADC Fund (The Southern Times)
Southern Africa’s ability to be the main driver and funder of its own integration, development and growth agenda is one of the imperatives for the region to attain its goals as envisaged in SADC Vision 2050. The region envisions “a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle-to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic wellbeing, justice and freedom” in the next 30 years. One of the key targets in pursuit of this objective is acceleration of resource mobilisation and putting in place of mechanisms “to shift away from a previous reliance on international cooperating partners towards a more diversified approach that is better integrated and complementary”.
For the region’s long-term desire to come to life, it therefore becomes imperative for all SADC member states to fully support the SADC Regional Development Fund (SADC RDF). Proposed nearly a decade ago, the SADC RDF is a self-financing and revolving mechanism intended to end the reliance on external support to drive its development agenda. The Fund will provide a window for financing economic development and sustainable growth through supporting regional infrastructure development, industrial development, integration and economic adjustment as well as social development at concessionary rates.
Mining Opportunities in SADC will Favour those in the Know (Energy Capital & Power)
With mining seeing a more sustained improvement in many Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, fortune will favour those miners and supply partners with experience on the ground. It has been an encouraging few months for mining in the region. While the annual growth figures for March and April this year were expected – as they were off a low base from the COVID-19 lockdowns last year – the positive trend has continued from June. Strong commodities include iron ore, platinum group metals, gold, manganese, copper and cobalt, benefiting the economies especially of South Africa and Zambia Improving prospects for diamonds, uranium and coal also make for some optimism in countries like Botswana, Namibia and Angola. In the longer term, there is a hopeful outlook for platinum and other minerals in Zimbabwe. The key to mining success in the region, however, lies not with commodity prices; these will always be cyclical and unpredictable. It resides really in the institutionalised knowledge of the companies that operate here, and their understanding of how to respond constructively to the prevailing conditions and future trends.
Remittance to Africa Projected to Decrease in 2021 (Africanews)
Remittances to African countries are expected to decrease by 5.4 percent from $44 billion in 2020 to a projected total of $41 billion in 2021, due to the effects of Covid 19 pandemic, according to findings of Continental Migration Report 2021. The report titled, “African regional review of implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” was produced by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC). It builds from four sub-regional reports compiled by AUC and a summary from stakeholder consultations at the just concluded 2021 African regional review meeting on the Global Compact for migration (August 26 to September 1, Morocco ).
The African Union (AU) in collaboration with the Republic of Senegal, with support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), today launched the 6th Pan African Forum on Migration (PAFOM6) in Dakar under the theme: “Strengthening Labor Migration Governance in Africa in the context of a pandemic for accelerated socioeconomic development and continental Integration” to provide a more focused engagement with all relevant Migration stakeholders including Regional Economic Communities (RECs), AU Member States, private sector, academia, parliamentarians, African diaspora community and civil society organizations in Africa and to discuss among others; achievements and challenges of free movement of persons regimes in Africa and examine the urgency to promote effective labour migration governance.
The PAFOM6 was opened officially by H.E. Madame Aïssata TALL SALL, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, the Republic of Senegal, in the presence of H. E. Moise SARR, the State Secretary in charge of Senegalese Abroad. H.E. Madame Aïssata TALL SALL thanked the AU Commission for organizing the Pan African Forum on Migration and welcomed on behalf of His Excellency Macky SALL, President of the Republic, all participants to the meeting. She further highlighted the need to strengthen governance of labor migration framework in Africa through measures to be adopted towards socio-economic development and the acceleration of continental integration. “Indeed, the integration of migrant workers in development would promote the development of skills and the establishment of linkages that create values”, said Madame Aïssata TALL SALL.
The Minister concluded by calling upon AU Member States to support Senegal during the one-year Chairmanship period for PAFOM to address common concerns related to the migration issues.
Singapore-based artificial intelligence startup Sqreem was already present in South Africa, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. As such, it was able to leverage on technologies it had been working on since 2014 to develop a real-time contact tracing and COVID-19 communication system for the South African government. “We built a COVID-19 tracking and tracing platform, and then we introduced it to some of the companies which were working for the South African government in contact tracing,” said Mr Ian Chapman-Banks, CEO of Sqreem Technologies.
Africa as a continent offers businesses many digital opportunities. The mobile phone opened up opportunities for banking, money transfers and payments on the continent. According to the African Development Bank, 20 per cent of Africa’s 1.4 billion population owns mobile accounts. Eighty per cent of SMEs have mobile accounts, which allow them to make digital payments. It is estimated that only about a third of those mobile phones are smartphones, so there is potential for further growth in the sector. “They leapfrogged to mobile, but only about 35 per cent to 40 per cent of those mobile phones are smartphones. And I think that as you get more cheap mobile phones and smartphones, that again will increase,” said Mr V Shankar, CEO of Gateway Partners.
A collaboration between UNCTAD and SAP has yielded a new digital tool for exploring how UNCTAD’s daily work contributes to sustainable development. The Wheel of Purpose, launched today, puts sustainability and learning side-by-side in a digital environment. Powered by SAP’s software, the Wheel of Purpose encourages a global audience to spin a digital wheel and take a quiz on UNCTAD’s work related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Players must then select the correct answer to a question posed about the SDGs. The wheel is a new tool for sustainable development communications, says UNCTAD. “Sustainable development is a complex challenge, but it is a responsibility shared by everyone,” said Arlette Verploegh, UNCTAD chief of communications and external relations. “We need tools that humanize and explain different pathways to sustainability. The Wheel of Purpose does that. Applied to UNCTAD’s work, it showcases what we do in a simple, gamified way. The wheel is at once educational and inspirational to our audiences and reinforces our commitment to the 2030 Agenda.”
Speaking at the event, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that ”as the world seeks to ramp up COVID-19 response and recovery and tackle the existential threat of climate change, South-South and triangular cooperation is more essential than ever.” The initiative comes just two days before the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, marked on 12 September.
António Guterres called the COVID-19 pandemic ”the most complex immediate challenge facing our world and it is undermining hard won social, economic and environmental gains.”
“Throughout the pandemic, countries of the Global South have shared their knowledge and resources to support response and recovery efforts. But, together, we must do much more,” he said.
The first expansion of the BRICS bank to now include the UAE, Bangladesh and Uruguay sets the bank on a growth trajectory that will give the Developing World more choices in terms of financing. The New Development Bank (NDB) was always intended to offer an alternative to the Western-led development banks, specifically the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The objective was to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects for emerging economies and developing countries. The NDB’s strategy is to be positioned as the premier development institution for emerging economies.
At the 6th Summit of the BRICS bloc of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in July 2014, the bloc agreed to create a “BRICS Bank” as an alternative to the unchallenged dominance of the World Bank and the IMF. BRICS member states saw the establishment of their bank as providing them leverage to urge reform of the IMF as well as impact broader global economic issues and the leadership of international organisations such the World Trade Organization.
To date, the NDB has provided financing to its five member states, and has an authorised capital of $100 billion (about R1.4 trillion), which is open for subscription by members of the UN. Since its founding in 2015, the NDB has signed onto more than 80 projects worth $30bn. The projects cover sector of transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development.
The BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, which aims at promoting women’s economic participation and empowerment in BRICS countries, has recommended the five partner nations to explore setting up of a Credit Guarantee Fund to address challenges around access to credit and financial or digital literacy faced by women entrepreneurs. The alliance in its report, which was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by BRICS India chapter Chairperson and Joint Managing Director at Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Sangita Reddy at the 13th BRICS Summit on Thursday, said the fund can be administered by a national rural or agricultural bank or developmental finance institutions for each BRICS country, viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
to promote women participation in technology and innovation-led sectors, the alliance recommended BRICS, first, Technology School for Women Entrepreneurs — a distance learning educational platform for women to learn different uses of technology and creating access to resources to learn and upskill.
Second, it sought a BRICS Venture Fund for Women Run Digital Companies — a fund to provide low-cost financing for innovation-driven projects led by women entrepreneurs. Third, the alliance suggested a Women’s Business Alliance Digital Platform – a digital platform serving as a one-stop to get in touch with potential partners and investors. The platform will also entail a joint database of women-owned SMEs from BRICS, an e-platform for exporters and importers, and an educational online platform.
According to the latest Gender Gap Report (March 2021) by World Economic Forum, while the gender gaps on educational attainment and health and survival are nearly closed globally, in terms of economic participation and opportunity, the gap remains the second largest after political empowerment, the alliance noted. The report suggested that at the current pace of achievements, around 267.6 years will be taken to close the gap in terms of economic participation and opportunity. Moreover, the economic participation of women saw an adverse impact due to Covid.
Considering an effective and representative multilateralism the need of the hour in order to improvise and strengthen resilience to fight the prevailing as well as future global challenges, the 13th BRICS summit on Thursday took the pledge to integrate “new life” in the discussions regarding the much needed reshuffle of the UN Security Council and revitalisation of the General Assembly.
In the Delhi Declaration, which was adopted following completion of the summit, all the leaders of the member states of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa concurrently resolved towards taking effective measures in a bid to accomplish further strengthening and reforming of the multilateral system to transform the current global governance into a more responsive, agile, effective, transparent, democratic, representative and accountable to member states.
“The pandemic has reinforced our belief that effective and representative multilateralism is essential for building resilience against current and future global challenges, promoting well-being of our people and building a sustainable future for the planet,” said the declaration
The BRICS nations appreciated the New Development Bank’s substantive progress in membership expansion despite challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. “We reiterate that the process of expansion should be gradual and balanced in terms of geographic representation in its membership as well as supportive of the NDB’s goals of attaining the highest possible credit rating and institutional development,” the BRICS said.
As countries reconvene tomorrow for another round of discussions on the “TRIPS Waiver” proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO), after a gap of over two months, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls on the European Union (EU), strongly backed by Germany, and the UK, Norway, and Switzerland to stop blocking this initiative on lifting the monopolies on lifesaving COVID-19 medical tools.
Nearly a year after the Waiver was first proposed by India and South Africa in October 2020 – and now supported by over 100 nations – a small group of opposing WTO members including the EU, UK, Norway and Switzerland continue to stall constructive discussions on this proposal, which would waive patents and other intellectual property (IP) on urgently needed COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, tests and other health tools, for the duration of the pandemic, and pave the way for many countries to increase production and supply of these lifesaving medical tools. “Despite the groundbreaking medical innovations delivered in the past year, and tall commitments by some powerful nations promising global solidarity and equity, access to these innovative COVID-19 medical tools remains scant in too many low- and middle-income countries,” said Candice Sehoma, South Africa Advocacy Officer, MSF Access Campaign. “People in these countries, facing life or death in this pandemic, can no longer rely merely on charitable or voluntary measures dictated by only a small number of high-income countries and the pharmaceutical industry they host. We demand the countries opposing the TRIPS Waiver to stop blocking the will of the majority of the world to obtain this additional legal tool in the pandemic to achieve self-reliance in producing COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.”