tralac Daily News
Policy, admin have a long way to go before ‘open’ energy market can thrive (Engineering News)
While State-owned power utility Eskom is in the process of undergoing major structural changes and making strides to play its part in South Africa’s decarbonisation, some stakeholders believe there is more to be done before a just energy transition can be realised. From a regulatory and policy perspective, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter deemed it prudent that government create policy alignment and complementarity between four major policy streams – energy, fiscal, industrial and environmental. “With smart policies, we can also drive additional local content manufacturing, and have a targeted, strategic approach to it, instead of a brute force percentage requirement for project developers,” he explained, adding that government would do well to focus its efforts on giving certainty of demand for longer periods, as well as supporting supply chain development.
The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) says it is in full support of the establishment of a fully-fledged logistics hub at Katima Mulilo as this aligns perfectly with Namibia’s Logistics Hub Master Plan, of which the WBCG is the executing agency. The support for the hub comes as cargo volumes along Namibia’s transport corridors have increased significantly since 2016.
Upon enquiry, the WBCG explained to New Era that the Logistics Hub Masterplan has made provision for the development of bypass roads to alleviate congestion, as well as the need for truck stops and warehouse developments. These proposed developments are expected to assist the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development as the line manager of local authorities to justify the submission for decentralisation via Katima Mulilo.
“In addition to the critical projects outlined in the Logistics Hub Master Plan, Namibia also prioritised supplementary projects in the road, rail and aviation subsectors, which are crucial links to neighbouring countries,” he stated.
The overall aim of the Logistics Hub Project is to deepen regional economic integration, implement measures to improve competitiveness and also enhance closer trade and investment linkages.
Kenya mulls over socioeconomic transformation plan (Capital Business)
Kenya is developing a plan that will help accelerate socioeconomic transformation as well as build resilience amid the COVID-19 disruptions, Ukur Yatani, the cabinet secretary for National Treasury and Planning, said on Wednesday at a briefing in Nairobi. Yatani said the plan dubbed the Fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP) will cover the period 2023-2027 and will focus on implementing strategic interventions aimed at driving Kenya’s economy toward a sustainable growth path. “The fourth MTP will seek to continue implementing the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals and aspirations of the Africa Agenda 2063,” said Yatani. “The plan will also incorporate strategic programs and projects aimed at addressing climate change, gender equality and plight of the vulnerable groups in the society,” he added.
Zim Sugar Industry Uncompetitive: Report (263chat)
Zimbabwe’s sugar industry is being hampered by a monopoly and a combination of policy and value chain inefficiencies which have rendered locally produced sugar and related products uncompetitive for export market, according to the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) sugar value chain report. Currently the price of locally produced sugar averages US$738 per tonne, above SADC average of US$500. The NCC is interrogating value chains of strategic sectors to understand the cost drivers with the hope of making local production competitive.
The Government of Ghana has through the Trade and Industry Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rwanda to deepen bilateral trade relations between the two countries. Speaking at the signing ceremony of MoU on trade and economic cooperation at the Africa Trade House on Thursday January 27, the minister of Trade Alan Kyerematen expressed optimism that the agreement signed will develop into a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. He noted in his speech the significant role Rwanda has played in some of Africa’s business-oriented policies including the establishment the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Minister, whiles acknowledging the seemingly low level of trade between Ghana and Rwanda despite their good relations over the years, indicated that he hoped the signing of the MoU will change that narrative.
GITFiC commences survey on African Continental Free Trade Area (BusinessGhana)
Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) will soon embark on a survey research primarily to assess the knowledge that the Ghanaian private and government sectors have on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the declaration of Accra as the commercial capital of Africa.
A statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday said the survey would further assess the private sector’s readiness towards the implementation of the AfCFTA as well as provide a comprehensive and reliable information source to help the government, local authorities, and private economic sectors to build up socio-economic development plans to improve intra African trade.
”This initiative will generate a diagnostics report which would help to develop practical steps or a road map in addressing the gaps and challenges. The quality of the survey is greatly subjected to the information provided by our experienced field personnel.”
DRC Africa’s next economic frontier (Capital FM)
When businesses are looking to expand internationally, several factors are put into consideration before deciding to invest. However, the decision-making process is usually lengthy because more often than not SMEs and entrepreneurs are cautious and prefer to do their due diligence before making the decision.
Recently, economists and political analysts have described the current DRC government as one that is keen to establish and implement infrastructure and policies that support the modernization and growth of the local economy. The DRC government has also made a formal application to join the EAC and this was approved at the 18th Extra-Ordinary Heads of State Summit making the nation the 7th member of the trade bloc. The application to join the East African Community followed the signing of bilateral agreements with other member states of EAC including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda aimed at improving infrastructure, transport, mining and security as well as promoting trade and protecting investments.
Nigeria loses $4 billion annually to oil theft – NUPRC (Nairametrics)
The Federal Government has disclosed it is finalizing plans to deal with the issue of oil theft, which forces Nigeria to lose $4 billion annually or 150,000 BPD. This was disclosed in a Bloomberg interview with Gbenga Komolafe, CEO of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC). He stated that Nigeria plans to increase its current production capacity to 3 million as it struggles to hit its OPEC production quota.
South Sudan’s oil production plummets due to Covid-19, floods (The East African)
South Sudan’s oil production has reduced from the previous 170,000 barrels a day to the current 156,000 bpd amid negative impacts of Covid-19 pandemic and heavy flooding since 2020, an official said Wednesday. While tabling the 2021/22 fiscal budget before the transitional national legislative assembly, Agak Achuil Lual, minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the projected reduction in oil production is due to depletion of some oil wells as well as effects of floods. South Sudan earned $1.4 billion in gross oil revenues of which $1.1 billion went to direct transfers and $148 million were paid to neighbouring Sudan as cost for processing, transportation and transit fees. The east African Nation is projected to collect $135 million in non-oil revenues in this fiscal year, an increase of 31.1 percent from the $103 million collected in 2020/21 fiscal year.
“The projected increase in non-oil revenues is on account of the tax administration reforms that we are implementing at the national revenue authority, which include digitisation of tax collections, broadening the tax base and the proposal to fully deploy national revenue authority staff in all the non-oil revenue collecting institutions,” said Mr Lual.
African trade news
Africa’s startup scene is booming. The sector attracted a record $5 billion last year and saw the creation of five unicorns, companies that have achieved a pre-market valuation of more than $1 billion, including Nigeria’s Flutterwave. There were more than 500 early-stage deals in Africa last year, most valued at less than $5 million, setting the stage for a jump in demand for new capital, according to research provider Briter Bridges. This year is looking even more promising. Investment bankers plan to set up a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to target technology companies in Africa and Swedish unicorn founders have committed to a growth fund to back startups across the continent.
Covid-19 Pandemic, Insecurity and Instability, and Socio-Economic development of the continent among others, at the centre of discussion: 40th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU (African Union)
Addressing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing threats of insecurity from conflicts and terrorism, the unconstitutional changes of governments in African states and the socio-economic development on the continent, dominated the discussions of the Executive Council session of the African Union. The two-day session of the African Ministers of Foreign Affairs kicked off today, 2 February 2022, at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convening physically for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
The socio economic impact of the pandemic has translated into a recession witnessed for the first time in decades, and has led to rising inflation and debt burden on member states. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Executive Council, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) noted that the continent needs 154 billion dollars to effectively respond to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. His statement was echoed by the Executive Secretary of the UNECA H.E. Vera Songwe, who highlighted the depressed economic growth, high level of unemployment and the increasing number of states debt distress. She stated “the economic cost of managing the pandemic has been high. Debt to GDP has risen from 40% in 2014 to almost 70% today. While in 2014, only 4 African countries were in high risk of debt distress, today 17 countries are in high risk of debt distress. Already, 4 countries are in debt distress.”
African countries and partners need to transform the agriculture systems of the continent destructed by many factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development Josepha Sacko said.
Briefing the press during the 35th AU Summit on Building Resilient Food Systems in Africa Post COVID-19: Call for Action today, Sacko stated that “it is important that we, as a continent, take bold actions to make sure that we not only recover from the impact of the pandemic but also build sustainable and resilient food systems that will reduce vulnerability to future pandemics.” Building resilient food systems requires addressing factors that make Africa’s food systems fragile and vulnerable to shocks, according to the commissioner.
“People are having to skip meals to feed their children, selling livestock and other assets, begging, pulling children out of school, or harvesting immature crops. Over three million people in Somalia have recently migrated, in large part because of hunger, while millions of households in pastoralist communities in Chad, Benin, Niger, Mali and Mauritania say they are having to sell more animals than they otherwise would to pay for more food”, said Kamalingin.
“While the deck seems stacked against Africa, there is a lot more that African leaders can do to improve food security. Instead of allocating 15% of national budgets to the health sector and 10% to agriculture, military spending across Africa rose by over 5% in 2020. African leaders must prioritize food, trade and medicines over bullets, guns and bombs” said Kamalingin. Twenty African countries are today facing insecurity and conflict including seven coups in the last year alone.
Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), a development impact-oriented subsidiary of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has announced that it has invested into Ecow-Gas B.V. (Ecowgas), a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) distribution infrastructure platform in the West Africa region. Due to limited power supply from the grid, the industrial sector in Africa suffers severe energy shortages with attendant high production costs, inneficient operations and reduced global competitiveness, amongst others. Off-grid solutions are required to address these challenges and put Africa firmly on the path to energy sustainability.
FEDA’s investment in Ecow-Gas will support the creation, in partnership with a leading international oil company, of the infrastructure to provide access to cheaper and cleaner fuels for underserved industrial customers across the region using LNG. This will also promote efforts to minimize CO2 emission by replacing environment-polluting fuels currently in use.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania…East Africa’s recovery growth machine (The Africa Report)
Back in 2019, East Africa housed three of the world’s fastest-growing economies – Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Sudan. Then two major events upset the regional apple cart. While 2020 will be remembered by many as an annus horribilis, for East Africa the stakes were high. First, the Covid-19 pandemic, which by 2 April had entirely shut down both local and international flights. Tourism contributes around 17% to export earnings, accounting for around 10% of regional GDP. And then war broke out in Ethiopia, sending shockwaves throughout the region and the country.
The regional meeting on the establishment of the EAC Regional Consultative Process on Migration (RCP) organized by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scheduled to take place from 14th – 16th February 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda. The overall objective of the meeting is to share experiences on migration governance in the regional and international perspective.
Speaking ahead of the RCP meeting, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo
disclosed that once the EAC RCP is established and operationalized, it will provide an opportunity for EAC Partner States to collectively mobilize resources to expedite the implementation of EAC migration governance such as: harmonization of migration policies, capacity building initiatives, and research on migration concepts to support and achieve safe, regular and humane migration management in the region.
World in brief: AU-EU summit (Chatham House)
The sixth African Union-European Union summit taking place in mid-February faces a fresh set of challenges as the world emerges from the Covid pandemic. Traditionally held every three years, the previous summit was in 2017 in Côte d’Ivoire with this sixth summit being postponed due to the pandemic. The two-day conference in Brussels from February 17 will move forward the debate on vaccine production and licensing, as well as exploring the deepening concerns over debt financing, infrastructure, migration, climate and security in the Sahel. The African continent has been hard hit by the pandemic, with World Bank figures showing levels of debt in sub-Saharan low to middle-income countries reaching $702 billion in 2020, the highest in a decade.
‘Covid is shaping the entire economic and political terrain of African states at the moment and there is a lot of bad blood,’ said Phil Clark, a professor of international politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Lopsided EU trade agreements are harming Africa (African Business)
For many nations in Africa, the turn of the New Year was marked by a sense of hope. After a period of economically damaging lockdowns – the only public health tool at most African governments’ disposal owing to a continent-wide dearth of vaccines – economies are now beginning to reopen. We are at last embarking on our respective, though interconnected, journeys to economic recovery.
However, the lingering economic impact of the pandemic is not the only hurdle to our efforts to industrialise. Restrictive trade policies from wealthy, western countries and blocs keep African countries chained to raw materials exports while hampering our efforts to move up the manufacturing value chain. These policies keep Africa prisoner, while making the countries and blocs that implement them wealthier still. It is of course natural that any trading entity should seek terms most favourable to them. But the deals African countries are forced into are unique in just how lopsided they are; and more so in how they are prevented from making any progress to improve their lot.
Moreover, lopsided EU trade agreements see African countries flooded with cheap, subsidised goods while able to export little in return. Africa imports a staggering 80% of its food, despite being a continent dominated by agriculture.
The recent establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) promises some hope in providing African nations for the first time a platform to trade as a bloc and speak with one voice. But if divisive EU trade policies continue to create incentives for struggling, individual African nations to enter into separate and typically unfavourable bilateral agreements, the issue can only persist.
China is now trying to gain strategic influence in the Horn of Africa, considered one of the most strategically important regions in the world, located on the main shipping route for the transport of oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe and the United States.
The foreign minister first visited Eritrea, a country that has joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in November last year. During China’s Foreign Minister visit, both the countries exchanged views on the situation in Horn of Africa and both sides expressed opposition to non-regional forces’ destabilizing and creating conflicts in the region while undermining regional peace and stability.
The visit to Eritrea signalled China’s interest to take a more active role in the Horn of Africa’s security issues. Wang Yi, during his visit to Eritrea, spoke out against US sanctions as an intervention in the domestic affairs of the country, as noted by Hong Kong Post.
UNCTAD has made its database for national trade facilitation committees (NTFCs) available online to provide real-time insights on how countries are implementing their commitments under the World Trade Organization’s landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement.
It launched the online database during the Global Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees taking place from 1 to 4 February.
The database, which came into being in 2010, incorporates several new features and allows users to explore information on country-based NTFCs and compare statistics globally, regionally and by development groupings.
COVID-19-induced disruptions to trade since early 2020 have highlighted the importance of trade facilitation. “Implementing trade facilitation reforms requires a high level of coordination among parties to simplify, modernize and harmonize import and export processes,” said Shamika Sirimanne, who heads the technology and logistics division of UNCTAD. “That’s where NTFCs come in, with a role to support countries’ efforts to align with the historic Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization,” Ms. Sirimanne added. However, experience shows that establishing and maintaining an NFTC is not as easy as it sounds.
World IG exports grew by 27 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, compared to the 47 per cent rise recorded in the second quarter. Trade in IGs, which are inputs used to produce a final product, is an indicator of the robustness of global supply chains. The product category “Other industrial supplies,” which made up almost half of total IG exports in the third quarter, grew the fastest among all IG categories, rising 38 per cent year-on-year and amounting to US$ 1.225 billion. It comprises IGs such as vaccine products, medical parts and accessories, diagnostic or laboratory reagents, and other medical intermediate goods. The category also includes raw or semi-manufactured metals such as copper cathodes, articles of iron or steel and aluminium. The high growth rate of the category follows a 52 per cent rise recorded in the second quarter.
The massive volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga last month, followed by last week’s earthquake and aftershocks, have highlighted the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a global meeting focused on the countries and convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has heard. In opening remarks at the Global SIDS Solutions Dialogue, FAO’s Chief Economist, Máximo Torero Cullen, underscored “the severe challenge that SIDS face in moving towards the (UN’s) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the pressing need to build the resilience of these states to climate change, natural disasters and other external shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developing countries’ efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic are faltering amid ponderous debt burdens, “vaccine apartheid” and yawning chasms of inequality, said the keynote speaker at the Economic and Social Council’s annual Partnerships Forum today, adding that the wealth of a handful of billionaires is growing exponentially as the world continues to scramble.
“As we enter 2022, we are almost halfway to the Sustainable Development Goals deadline, yet COVID-19 is throwing into reverse so much of the progress we had been making,” said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International. Noting that the pandemic created an explosion in inequality which now poses an existential threat to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, she said that, even before COVID-19, 3.4 billion people were living on less than $5.50 per day while billionaires amassed incredible wealth. The world’s 10 richest men saw their fortunes double since the pandemic began, while at the same time global poverty rose for the first time in decades.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned these cracks and fractures of inequality into chasms,” she said.
Asian countries graduating from the least developed countries (LDCs) category need to take measures to bolster the textile and clothing sector as they graduate from this category, particularly in response to the economic impact of COVID-19, recommends a joint report by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and three UN bodies.
The report entitled “The Textile and Clothing Sector in Asian Graduating Least Developed Countries: Challenges and Ways Forward” and published on 1 February focuses on countries such as Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal, where the textile and clothing (T&C) sector is a major industry and will be significantly impacted by graduation. “This timely study highlights the distinct patterns of insertion of graduating LDCs into the textile and clothing global value chains and discusses how LDC graduation may affect related outcomes, said Rolf Traeger, chief of the LDC section at UNCTAD.
“Given the level of competitiveness of the garment industry, the prospect of losing preferential market access makes the imperatives of diversification and development of productive capacities is critical as ever for graduating LDCs. Hence the importance of their implementing effective industrial policies,” he said.