tralac Daily News
South Africa needs more power generation to overcome the supply gap and underpin economic growth, and investments by private companies, including mining houses, are essential to close that gap. Renewable energy projects provide good economic prospects, help to decarbonise the mining sector and ensure its resilience and global competitiveness, while supporting the transformation of mining-dependent communities and supply chains. Speaking during a ‘Decarbonisation & Going Green in the Mining Sector’ webinar hosted by Creamer Media on January 28, industry organisation Minerals Council South Africa environment, health and legacies senior executive Nikisi Lesufi said the council supports the decarbonisation of the mining industry and the South African economy, and recognises the need to move away from its reliance on coal-fired power generation. He stressed, however, that a pragmatic approach was needed, with security of energy supply being maintained and with any reduction in coal-fired power generation being matched by a commensurate upswing in renewable energy generation.
Zimra records Z$161bn gross revenue Q4 2021 (The Chronicle)
THE ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) has recorded Z$161 billion in gross revenue collections for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2021, which is 48,9 percent above target. Despite the inflationary pressures, the country’s monthly revenue collections have remained on a positive trajectory having recorded significant growth since 2020 in response to prudent Government economic policies and revenue mobilisation strategies being pursued by Zimra. In a revenue performance report for the period issued yesterday, Zimra deputy board chairperson, Mrs Josephine Matambo said the year 2021 ended on a positive note in terms of revenue collection as the country surpassed its set target.
Digital impetus to drive economic growth – Dr Muswere (The Chronicle)
THE on-going digitalisation drive is providing new impetus for sustainable economic growth in line with the country’s National Development Strategy (NDS1), which is a key building block towards attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030. Government has emphasised the need to mainstream use of information and communication technologies ICTs) as part of measures to transform Zimbabwe into a knowledge-based society and enhance the country’s competitiveness in the world in order to stimulate and sustain robust economic growth. “As the world gravitates towards the fourth industrial revolution, innovation, information and communication technologies (ICTs), have become indispensable to our daily lives. Zimbabwe cannot achieve its development goals without investing significant financial and human capital resources in innovation and ICTs,” said Dr Muswere.
Climate Change Bill to bolster national adaptation efforts (The Chronicle)
GOVERNMENT has begun the process of drafting a Climate Change Bill to provide a supportive legal framework that enhances stakeholder collaboration in mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation at all levels of development in the country. Establishing a climate change legal framework is critical towards consolidating broader implementation aspects and ensuring that project interventions are in line with the country’s economic blue-print, the National Development Strategy (NDS1:2022-2025) and Vision 2030 ideals. This comes at a time climate change is being mainstreamed in sub-national planning and budgetary processes.
Namibia, DRC in fishing quota dilemma (New Era)
The Namibian government will rely on international policy as well as the country’s legal framework to find a solution for the 27 300 metric tons of horse mackerel that was sold to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year. The full quota was never caught last year and cannot be transferred to the current fishing season, as stipulated by Namibia’s governing laws. Fisheries minister Derek Klazen indicated during the sale of the quota in September last year that the DRC was notified about the conditions of the agreement. The DRC government paid N$85 million last year for the quota, which was a remainder of the governmental objective quota that was auctioned off earlier last year.
Researchers have called for incentives to support organic farmers and also help link them to buyers inside and outside the country. The call is based on a study which established that the use of chemical fertilizers alone without organic fertilizers or using chemical fertilizers in improper ways is causing soil degradation and could trigger a decrease in agricultural productivity in the coming years if nothing is done.
Conservation researcher Elias Bizuru who is also a lecturer at University of Rwanda told Doing Business that, “There is need for more efforts to get more organic fertilizers available and accessible to farmers,” explaining that increasing the organic fertilizers ensures soil fertility improvement.
Current account deficit surpasses CBK forecast (Business Daily)
Kenya’s current account deficit ended 2021 above the central bank’s projection on the back of higher than anticipated oil prices, defying record diaspora emittances and higher earnings from tourism and horticulture exports. The deficit stood at 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the year, preliminary data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows, against an earlier projection of 5.2 percent. The deficit stood at 4.6 percent in 2020. Higher imports of industrial and consumer goods also strained the country’s forex flows as the economy reopened and pent-up demand raised external purchases.
Kenya, EU launch talks to elevate ties ‘beyond aid’ (The East African)
Kenya and the European Union on Friday launched vital talks to elevate their ties beyond aid and focus on issues of long-term peace and development. At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and visiting EU top diplomat Josep Borrell Fontelles signed a joint declaration to formally begin discussions on a Strategic Dialogue, a guiding document that could turn relations to “common problems.”
Mr Fontelles, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said: “We have been having, the European Union and Kenya, a long standing relationship. But we are no longer the donor of development aid. We are a strategic partner.”
The Strategic Dialogue, he said, will “bring concrete results, because it will focus on delivering on commitments, actions, investments, and sharing objectives among our people.” Those commitments will target long-term peace and security in the region, fighting poverty through trade and investment, environmental conservation and fighting climate change, defending democracy and the rule of law, and human rights, “as well as many sectors in Kenya’s priority development agenda,” Ms Omamo said
Optimism as Rwanda agrees to reopen border with Uganda after three years (The East African)
Rwanda has agreed to reopen its common border with Uganda. The move comes three years after it closed it in protest against alleged mistreatment of Rwandans in Uganda, and hosting of dissident groups plotting to overthrow Paul Kagame’s government. While Rwanda had insisted that the border would remain closed until the contentious issues are resolved, on Friday Kigali announced that it would reopen border points on Monday, January 31, as both countries continue to work on the resolving the dispute.
John Ruku Rwabyoma, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Security told The EastAfrican that the recent meeting between President Kagame and Lt Gen Muhoozi could change the status quo. Foreign Affairs minister Jeje Odongo says Uganda has complied with Rwanda’s conditions.
Rwandan traders rush back to Gatuna as Kigali prepares to reopen border (The East African)
A day after Rwanda announced the reopening of the border effective January 31, business operators, including clearing agents, customs, immigration staff and logistics sector players, rushed back to the border area to book space as they prepared for the resumption of operations. The businesses, like workers in services and activities that depended on the border traffic such as money changers, vendors, taxi operators and others, closed shop and traders left soon after the border was closed in February 2019. Kigali, which accused Kampala of mistreating Rwanda and supporting groups working against Rwanda, recently announced the border reopening following meetings between officials, and a commitment to address contentious issues.
Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner of Customs, Abel Kagumire made the assurance when speaking at the EABC-TMEA public-private dialogue at Malaba OSBP. He stated that the backlog of 4000 trucks has been reduced to 2500 trucks and the traffic queue has been reduced from 40KM to 25KMs following the implementation of the resolutions for the bilateral meeting between the Ministers of Works and Transport of the Republics of Uganda and Kenya held on Saturday. EABC CEO John Bosco Kalisa said: “In future solution to NTBs should be derived without waiting for Ministerial and Head of State decisions.”
The EABC boss also called for a borderless East Africa for free flow of cargo. He further urged for closer collaboration among transporters, importers, exporters, cross-border traders, customs, immigration and other trade facilitation agencies on both sides of Uganda and Kenya.
New NTBs add more bottlenecks at Malaba, Busia (The East African)
Kenya and Uganda face fresh logistical, bureaucratic and infrastructural challenges that are further obstructing the smooth flow of cargo on the Malaba and Busia borders. This is despite the two countries signing bilateral agreements to ease traffic snarl-ups by trucks that are hindering trade between them. Unilateral bans on products, high fees by Agriculture and Food Authority-Kenya, trade information asymmetry and single lane roads on the Kenya side stifle cross border business between Kenya and Uganda via Malaba and Busia One-Stop Border Posts. The private sector including the transporters, importers, exporters, cross-border traders, Customs, immigration and other trade facilitation agencies on both sides of Uganda and Kenya, have raised alarm that emergence of new Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) is stifling cross-border trade.
Lobby roots for seamless trade across borders (The Standard)
The East African Business Council is pushing for the revival of business committees to facilitate the flow of goods and services at border points. The council is seeking to revamp joint border committees in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Burundi under the East Africa trade protocol. “We are focused on revamping the joint border committees in collaboration with Kenya and Uganda revenue authorities and other relevant agencies,” said John Kalisa, the council CEO. Kalisa, who spoke at a forum that brought together different actors from Kenya and Uganda at the Malaba border on Monday, said they are focused on formulating systems that will guarantee fast clearance of cargo trucks.
The Ghana Shippers’ Authority has constructed an ultra modern freight park at Elubo in the Western Region to ease both human and vehicular congestion. The freight park, would provide adequate and secured parking space and enhance the safety of motorists within the enclave. The freight park can house 40 trucks bound for transit trade and other logistics operators along the Abidjan-Lagos corridor. Ms Wilson described the facility as timely especially in the wake of the call for more intra Africa trade.
The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, has charged the Staff and Management of the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) to make their impact felt in Ghana, especially in the various mining communities across the country. He said it is important Ghanaians benefit from the inflows of revenue from the Minerals Development Fund especially what is detailed to the fund from the Minerals Income Investment Fund. He stressed that it is very important they decentralise the inflows of the revenue for mining communities to be developed, especially those in Tarkwa as the town hosts about 60% of Ghana’s Gold threshold.
Given a rapidly rising population, African economies must rely less on exporting raw materials and more on trading with each other especially through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This was disclosed by Andrew Nevin, Financial Services Leader and Chief Economist at PwC Nigeria while speaking at the Nairametrics Economic Outlook webinar, themed, ”Your Money, The Economy and Government Policies”. He stated that this is one of the major implications of rising population levels in Africa, compared to the rest of the world.
Infrastructure development is crucial for Nigeria’s economic growth, particularly for the realization of the federal government’s economic diversification agenda. The lack of adequate fiscal revenue to finance infrastructural development has however left the Nigerian economy grossly in deficit in this area. Infrastructures are the basic essential facilities and services that should be put in place for development. It facilitates and accelerates economic development, such that where there are no infrastructures, economic development and growth would be difficult to achieve. Economic development or growth is virtually impossible without a thriving infrastructure sector.
Indeed, poor quality of infrastructure is the longest standing problem of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria and it has contributed to the high cost of production. Some of the infrastructure challenges are bad road network system, inadequate electricity supply, Port Congestion and logistics bottlenecks and forex scarcity.
African trade news
AFCFTA makes giant strides in ensuring effective intra-Africa trade (GBC Ghana Online)
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AFCFTA, has made giant strides in ensuring effective intra Africa trade following a number of ground breaking decisions made by the Council of Ministers of Trade of AU member states. These include a One-billion-dollar Adjustment Fund and a 1.2 Billion Automobile Fund. Secretary General of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, Wamkele Mene said the Automobile Fund will assist African Countries to exceed the target of manufacturing at least four point five million vehicles annually to match the growing population.
“The ACFTA Adjustment Fund is intended for those countries who in a short term will experience revenue loses as a result of reducing or eliminating their tariffs. It is an initial amount of $1bn that has been made available for this purpose by Afreximbank. Our studies indicate that we will need between $6n-$7bn to pluck the gap that will be created by revenue loses in the short term”.
Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, says his outfit will launch the African Trade Gateway for small and medium enterprises in Africa. This, he believes, will support young entrepreneurs in their quest to make their businesses thrive and take advantage of the secretariat. At a media briefing for the 10th meeting of the council of ministers he opined that the African Trade Gateway will provide the needed information for SMEs across the continent to access the activities of the secretariat. He said the initiative will be a tool for small business connectivity with information ranging from marketing strategy, due diligence of the marketing partners on the continent and the pan African payment and settlement system.
AfCFTA members conclude talks on rules of origin to boost free trade (Daily News Egypt)
Member states of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) concluded on Saturday their negotiations on rules of origin, a move expected to further reduce tariffs on original goods within the African continent. Ebrahim Patel, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Ministers of Trade, told a press briefing that the adopted rules could cover 87.7 percent of goods on the tariff lines of the AU member states. “That is a big breakthrough,” said Patel, adding that the agreed rules of origin would become the basis for full-scale trade among the various member states under the free trade agreement to boost Africa’s economic growth.
The Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the AfCFTA Secretariat today convened a workshop to validate the report on the role of RECs in gender responsive implementation of the AfCFTA. The objective of the workshop was to review of the status of gender mainstreaming in trade at the REC level, to identify best practices and success stories, highlight challenges in gender mainstreaming in trade policy, and provide policy recommendations for gender sensitive AfCFTA implementation.
“The effectiveness of the AfCFTA will be limited if women, youth, SMEs, and informal traders are ignored,” Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the ECA, Dr. Stephen Karingi said. The findings of the report are based on a literature review, a data collection exercise in selected regional economic communities, a desk review, and the outcomes of continental workshops on trade and gender issues. The report identifies challenges and opportunities for building on the frameworks, programmes, networks, and capacities of the Regional Economic Communities to address trade and gender concerns.
The Department of Trade, Customs and Free Movement, through the Trade Directorate, of the ECOWAS Commission has organised a three-day meeting for the ECOWAS Institutions Technical Working Groups (TWGs) established within the Framework of the Negotiations of the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA) from January 25 – 27, 2022 in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. The Technical Working Groups (TWG) constituted by officials from various ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies was put in place to facilitate support to Member States during the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation, as well as to ensure ECOWAS’ active engagement of key stakeholders during all phases of the negotiations.
The three-day coordination meeting provides a platform for the presentation of updates regarding the AfCFTA negotiations under the various Protocols and facilitate exchange of views amongst participants in a bid to further reinforce ECOWAS’ technical contributions both in its capacity as a REC and building bloc of the African Union as well as in its support to Member States, who are the primary negotiators within this process.
Access to trade finance remains a significant challenge for African firms. Recent estimates from the AfDB and Afreximbank (2020) shows that the estimated value of unmet demand for trade finance in Africa was US$ 81.80 billion in 2019 and has averaged USD 91 billion over the past decade. Indeed, this is reflected by the low percentage (40%) of African trade that is bank intermediated compared to 80% globally. 13 duplicates removed
Given the wide array of actors engaged with the African Union (AU) on its many agendas, and oft-cited frustrations among policymakers and their international partners about progress and implementation gaps, ECDPM has been working to understand the Political Economy Dynamics of Regional Organisations (PEDRO).
This research is focused on better understanding, and promoting discussion of, the interests and incentives of the range of different actors who seek to cooperate and integrate around regional agendas and ambitions, including international partners. That means exploring the interaction of a range of actors and factors that shape domestic politics, and how they interact with regional, continental, and international relations.
Recent years have seen a new wave of dynamism at the African Union. Two main areas stand out: Connecting markets and people – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and Free Movement of People Protocol, a highly ambitious project that seeks to alter the development trajectory of the entire continent by promoting trade within the continent, both agreements opened for signature at the same time. Institutional reforms of the AU – a range of proposals have emerged to address the issues raised by Kagame, in terms of internal functioning of the AUC, and its role in representing member states externally and the outreach of the Union to citizens.
EABL optimistic on 2022 after 131% jump in half-year profit (The Star, Kenya)
East African Breweries (EABL) is optimistic of continued growth in the second half of the current financial year after a strong performance in the six months ended December 31. This, even as it remains concerned over the uncertain trading environment with the lingering socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, excise tax volatility, and shifting political changes. “We are cautiously optimistic that improved consumer incomes, on-trade recovery, and off-trade resilience will continue apace, fueling our net sales growth momentum across East Africa,” managing director Jane Karuku said.
“During this pandemic, our strategic clarity enabled us to maintain focus on brand-building, active portfolio management, consumer-led innovation, and digital transformation, all executed through extra-ordinary efforts and resilience of our people,” she said.
ECOWAS working on regional hamonised organic standard practices (Blueprint Newspaper)
The Head of the ECOWAS Commission, Agriculture Division, in Abuja, Nigeria and Chairman of Regional Steering Committee for Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative- West Africa, Mr Ernest Aubee, has revealed that the Commission with other stakeholders are working on an Hamonised Organic Standard for the region. According to Aubee who spoke recently while presenting a lecture on the “Benefits of Hamonised Organic Standard in West Africa said the General Assembly of West Africa Organic Network (WAfrONet) that took place during the 5th West Africa Organic Conference in Ghana recommended the need for an harmonized Organic Standard for PGS activities in West Africa to encourage regional trade and the establishment of BioWest Africa Fair (regional organic exhibition in West Africa) to enhance visibility of organic agriculture sector in the region and market driven development of the sector.
The China Africa Business Council (CABC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos. Vice Chairman of CABC Chief Diana Chen said the MoU would drive the economic advancement and Industrialisation of the nation through deliberate strategic partnerships and collaboration fostered by this agreement.
“China will encourage its businesses to invest no less than $10 billion in Africa in the next three years, and will establish a platform for China-Africa private investment promotion. China will undertake 10 industrialisation and employment promotion projects for Africa, provide credit facilities of $10 billion to African financial institutions, support the development of African SMEs on a priority basis, and establish a China-Africa cross-border RMB centre.”
Africa’s giant China export opportunity (African Business Magazine)
January 19 2022 is a day the ambassador of Ethiopia to China, Teshome Toga, is likely to remember for years to come. That day was the day he – and Chinese livestreaming star Austin Li Jiaqi, also known as the “Lipstick King” – helped sell over 11,000 bags of three brands of coffee from his country in one second.
It’s easy to dismiss this as a marketing gimmick promoting Alibaba, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms. But it is also an example of a serious trend that is worth understanding, particularly because it also has links and implications for Africa’s new continental free trade area.
New trade commitments set the framework under which those coffee bags were sold, commitments that ambassador Toga and others worked hard to proposed and negotiate, and which we believe will have an impact on African businesses over 2022 and the rest of the new lunar Year of the Tiger. In headline numbers, the documents included a commitment by China to reach $300bn worth of annual imports from Africa by 2025. This is not a particularly large step up – given that imports even in 2021 were at $106bn – but it could nevertheless make China Africa’s largest export destination, ahead of the EU, especially because the commitments were backed up with three specific measures.
Countries are at a turning point amid the COVID-19 crisis, and the decisions their policymakers make to ease trade will go a long way in determining the strength of their recovery from the pandemic. UNCTAD’s global forum for national trade facilitation committees (NTFCs) to be held online from 1 to 4 February will examine how to accelerate the implementation of trade facilitation reforms through these committees during and after the pandemic. To participate in the forum, register here. Trade facilitation entails expediting the clearance of goods to reduce the time and cost of import, export and transit procedures to ensure the free flow of goods across borders. “COVID-19 has been a stark reminder that the pains caused by trade disruptions are real. These pains were already daily realities for people in vulnerable nations, who rely on trade for essential goods,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan. “Making it easier and less costly to move goods across seas and borders is critical to ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery. Because trade is about people and about improving their lives,” Ms. Grynspan said.
Many governments are using trade policy measures to increase the availability of medical and food products during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracking them is important for assessing their incidence, effectiveness, and potential international spillover effects—particularly on countries that depend on imports of these critical products. This database is derived from official sources, media reports and other public sources and is updated on a monthly basis. The underlying data can be found here.
DG Okonjo-Iweala noted sustainable development was a goal written into the WTO’s founding agreements in 1994, and that “exciting initiatives are underway at the WTO” to respond to sustainability challenges such as plastics pollution and climate change. “If you take one thing away from what I say here today, please make it this: trade is part of the solution to the challenges we face, far more than it is part of the problem. Across every dimension of sustainability – economic development, social inclusion, and environmental conservation – leveraging the full power of trade and trade policy will help us achieve our goals more effectively and efficiently.”
China port closures cause panic in global supply chain (The East African)
Partial closure of ports in China as a result of an increase in Covid-19 infections is expected to cause shortage of commodities globally in the next few weeks, with Africa likely to be most affected. China is one of Africa’s leading market sources, with data indicating that China-Africa trade reached $185.2 billion between January and September 2021, up 38.2 percent year on year. Some shipping lines have suspended operations as at least three Chinese ports, including Shanghai and Shenzhen, remain partially closed. The shipping companies said they are re-assessing the situation before resuming operations.
Ships looking to avoid Covid-induced delays in China are causing growing congestion at the world’s biggest container ports.
World’s Best Trade Finance Providers 2022 (Global Finance)
Global trade has been rocked by seismic changes to supply chains and subdued economic outputs over the course of the Covid pandemic; but increased innovation and digitalization of trade finance has ensured that businesses can still operate and provide a more sustainable future with greater transparency, which bodes well for a new trade finance ecosystem. Trade finance is playing an increasingly crucial role in supporting companies’ efforts in meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets and opportunities, be it from paperless processes or green financing; and these are being enabled by the digital efforts of both banks and technology companies.
Societe Generale, which is present in 19 African countries, won the regional crown for its continued support of trade finance in Africa. A cooperation agreement with Absa Group has increased client coverage across 27 countries, while a new Payment Division dedicated to Africa, a regional foreign exchange trading room, participation in the “China-Africa Corridor” and development of intra-African corridors all provide support and impetus to increasing trade. Societe Generale has also introduced several solutions to help digitalize trade finance documentation, such as automated document checking in the framework, the transformation of images into text thanks to OCR technology, and the classification of documents and automatic extraction of data using named-entity recognition and natural language processing.
More than 90% of the production of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils. However, according to the FAO, a third of the world’s soil has degraded and over 90% could become degraded by 2050. Our current agriculture is putting the food security of future generations at risk. We face an unprecedented challenge: to produce more food for the world’s growing population with limited land resources and to regenerate soil for tomorrow’s food security. In this context I would like to share three points about the role of trade for food security: First, the role of trade. Trade not only allows food to be produced where it is most economically and environmentally efficient, but also facilitates access to digital and other technologies and services needed to improve soil management and monitor soil quality. Second, how governments spend their money matters. More than US$600 billion is spent by governments on agriculture each year.
Third, we have an opportunity to update the WTO’s agricultural rulebook to enable it to address such contemporary challenges more effectively. The opportunity is now to secure an outcome at the forthcoming 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. Strengthening the rules on harmful subsidies and making trade flows more predictable and seamless would be an important commitment to future food security.
IDR 2022 (UNIDO)
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that manufacturing remains the backbone of our economies. Yet, it also shows the vulnerability of our production systems to sudden shocks. For the recovery to take hold, it is critical to understand how the pandemic has affected the industrial sector—and the prospects for the future of industrialization as economies all over the world continue to rebound and recover. The Industrial Development Report 2022 contributes to this discussion by providing evidence at the country, industry and firm level that documents the impacts of the crisis, and by examining the drivers of resilience and vulnerability in those same contexts. Findings documented in the report strongly re-affirm the centrality of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9—which is at the core of UNIDO’s mandate—to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Members of the Advisory Board of UNCTAD’s eTrade for Women initiative reaffirmed their commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs in the digital economy during their first meeting on 20 January. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan led a discussion on priority actions for helping more women reap the benefits of the digital economy with eTrade for Women advocates, a select group of women leaders in the tech sector. “The COVID-19 crisis has made the digitalization of the economy more decisive, but unfortunately, it has also widened the gaps,” Ms. Grynspan said. “If we continue with the same business-as-usual mentality as before the pandemic, digitalization will not reduce gender gaps, it will increase them.”