tralac Daily News
In 2019, SA celebrated its first smartphone factory. Now it is empty and going on auction (Business Insider South Africa)
Towards the end of 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa described the launch of the Mara smartphone factory outside Durban as “a great moment in South Africa’s drive to be a producer of advanced goods”. That factory is now empty, and on auction.
The sale includes the manufacturing and assembly plant, equipment, and components for smartphones, plus already completed phones in storage. The equipment is said to be state-of-the-art equipment, and is relatively new, Green said.
The United Nations Women last Friday launched a multi-lingual book that aims to promote intra African trade for women by simplifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The book titled Understanding Of The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) And How it relates to Zimbabwean Women In Trade” was launched in three languages, Shona, Ndebele and English.
Speaking at the launch, Un Women Country Representative, Delphine Serumagaat noted that it is imperative for women to be included in all economic spheres. “Research has demonstrated that increasing women’s human capital is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. A slight increase in women’s assets, education and income have immediate positive multiplier effects such as increasing agricultural productivity and economic gains.
“Our intention and hope is that through the process of engaging with Women in Zimbabwe and those in the private and public spaces of Zimbabwe, we will contribute greatly to increasing human capital and reducing poverty,” she said.
Namibia aims for first-ever oil output by 2026 after Shell discovery (Engineering News)
Namibia aims to fast track the development of its first oilfield to have production by 2026 following a significant offshore discovery by Shell, a senior energy official told Reuters on Monday. Shell on Friday said the exploration well off the coast of the southern African country had shown “encouraging” results with the presence of a working petroleum system with light oil.
Rwanda plans to increase its 2021/2022 spending by $608.7 million to $4.2 billion as government plans for debt repayment and Covid-19-related expenditure, including vaccine rollout. The country’s overall budget for the current fiscal year will rise from the initial $3.6 billion under the changes tabled in Parliament for approval Monday. Debt servicing takes a big chunk of the additional spending at $327.6 million. The government has also earmarked $4.7 million additional allocations to expenses related to its Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022.
Botswana: 2022 Budget Speech (Mmegi Online)
It is important to recognise that our economy needs deep structural reforms to achieve growth and transformation. The structural reforms needed to increase the growth rate, boost job creation, improve productivity and reduce poverty and inequality were prioritized for the second half of NDP 11 and beyond. The reform agenda has to some extent been disrupted by COVID-19, but the need to implement these structural reforms remains critical. Our economy continues to have a narrow export base, which must be diversified and expanded. We have an external imbalance, with more imports than exports, resulting in persistent balance of payments deficits. Our fiscal revenue base remains concentrated on external sources, from minerals and SACU, with inadequate domestic revenue mobilisation and high levels of spending, and structural budget deficits. As a result, our economy has “twin deficits” that are of great concern, and which are not sustainable. In addition, there is still weak implementation of programmes and projects. Examples include the lengthy delays with the restructuring and privatisation of Air Botswana and the Botswana Meat Commission, which have long been agreed but the results are unsatisfactory and not much has been achieved. It is, therefore, critical to strengthen accountability within Government for the implementation of agreed policies.
US to give update on trade deal with Kenya in coming weeks (The Star, Kenya)
The U.S. government is engaging in robust talks with Kenya as part of its drive to expand equitable and inclusive U.S. trade investment on the African continent. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told a trade conference that USTR would have more to say on Kenya in coming weeks, but gave no details. “We have been doing a lot of robust engagement with Kenya. We’re exploring ways to deepen our trade and investment relationship there,” she said. “We’ll have more to say on Kenya in the coming weeks, but we do want to keep a really deep engagement going.”
World Bank to give Kenya $200m agriculture loan (The East African)
The World Bank will give Kenya $200 million to support various development projects to improve food security in the country. Vinay Kunar Vutukru, a senior agriculture economist with the bank, said on Monday that the institution is negotiating with the State on the new loan that will be channelled to various agriculture value chains. He said they expect to conclude the talks and have the financial assistance approved within the next two months. “We are currently in talks with the government with a view to continue our support to the agriculture sector to enhance food production,” said Mr Vutukuru. The World Bank is currently funding various projects in the sector valued at $500 million.
Kenya, Ethiopia reach new power purchase deal (The East African)
Kenya has reached a new agreement with Ethiopia in a bid to further expedite purchase of hydro-processed cheap power from Addis Ababa. The new arrangement was reached after an Ethiopian delegation, led by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalign, visited Nairobi from February 2-4, 2022. The two nations deliberated on previously signed Power Trade Agreements, finalisation and operationalisation guidelines and procedures, as well as interconnection agreements in light of progresses made on each side.
Despite the government’s policy to promote a circular economy, there is a need for improved strategies in collecting electronic waste for recycling according to players in waste management.
Between 10,000 tons and 15,000 tonnes of electronic waste are expected to be collected every year in Rwanda. However less than 10 per cent of that is annually being collected from homes across the country. Experts say that electronic waste is increasing by between 8 percent and 11 percent every year which requires improved efforts in collection and recycling.
World Bank: DRC is Rwanda’s most promising trade partner (The New Times)
The neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo has great trade potential with Rwanda, with data from recent years showing growing trade and currently is Rwanda’s biggest regional trading partner. The latest World Bank report on Rwanda themed ‘Boosting regional trade integration in the post-Covid era’ observed that DRC is a growing trade opportunity for Rwanda. Exports have grown considerably in the last decade, analysts said adding that Rwanda exports to DRC are more than to East African Community countries combined. By 2019, Rwanda had exported more goods to the DRC than to the EAC. The main exports to the DRC include livestock and crops, but cross-border trade in services, such as finance, transportation, and wholesale trading, are also important, the report noted in part.
Ghana, Rwanda sign MoU to deepen trade relations (Graphic Online)
The government of Ghana has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Rwanda to deepen bilateral trade relations between the two countries. This is on the back of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which is expected to boost intra-Africa trade. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyerematen, signed on behalf of Ghana, while the Minister of Trade and Industry for Rwanda, Ms. Beata Habyarimana, initialed on behalf of her country. Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Kyeramaten said he was confident that the MoU would blossom in the very near future into a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. He said the MoU was aimed at strengthening and developing trade ties between the two countries, as well as expand and diversify commercial exchanges among the private sector operators.
Freight costs double ahead of Valentine’s (Business Daily)
Airfreight costs have doubled ahead of Valentine’s season, in what could deny the horticulture sector the windfall that comes with the yearly celebrations. The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) said on Monday that insufficient airfreight capacity, high costs and costlier fertiliser are also weighing down the outlook for the sector.
KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi who spoke ahead of Valentine’s Day, celebrated every year on February 14, said the limited capacity and higher freight rates mean more expensive Kenyan flowers when they eventually get to key markets compared to rivals.
Textile export earnings rise by Sh8 billion (Business Daily)
Earnings from textile and apparel accessories grew by Sh8 billion in the nine months to September last year, boosted by higher sales to the United States (US) and the Netherlands.
Data from the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (Keproba) shows that revenue for textile firms rose to Sh33.7 billion in the review period compared to Sh25.7 billion a year earlier. This represented a 31.1 percentage growth. Keproba’s chief executive officer Wilfred Marube said in the report that the Netherlands and US were Kenya’s largest export markets in the period.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) – the US free trade scheme- allows Kenya to export selected goods at preferential terms to the US, exempting them from paying tax. The initiative, which was expected to end in 2015 after an initial deadline of September 2012, was extended by US lawmakers for 10 years until 2025.
The Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to scrap the electronic invoicing and electronic evaluator which it recently introduced, saying, it would further worsen the challenges businesses face in the trade processes in the country. The chief executive of the CPPE, Muda Yusuf, said the e-invoice and e-evaluator policy will only worsen an already bad international trade transactions process. The CBN had recently introduced the e-evaluator and e-invoicing to curb foreign exchange malpractices. However, CPPE boss noted bossp that the policy will increase transaction cost, entrench red tape, increase uncertainty, escalate business disruption, weaken investors’ confidence and heighten corruption risk. “The truth is that there is a strong correlation between red tape and corruption. “The increasing incursion of the CBN into the trade policy space is an aberration in our economic management system and a serious cause for concern to the business community. Issues of import valuation and classification are statutory functions of the Nigeria Customs Service, with the Finance Ministry as the supervising organ.
“The decision of the CBN to now undertake valuation and product price benchmarking of imports and exports is a duplication of the statutory responsibility of the Nigeria Customs Service. It will create an additional regulatory compliance burden and costs for the business community.
Nigeria runs major risk in AfCFTA, says Vitafoam CEO (Businessday)
Vitafoam Nigeria Plc’s Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Taiwo Adeniyi have identified some structural issues that Nigeria should address in order to benefit from its membership in the African Continental Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). By its formation, AfCFTA aims at reducing tariffs among members and covers policy areas such as trade facilitation and services. The Continental body operates a range of regulatory measures to prevent standards and technical barriers to trade. Prompted by media enquiry, Adeniyi identified the factors that may put Nigeria’s membership of AfCTA at a disadvantage as influx of foreign products which may orchestrate price war against the similar products that are made in the country, porous border and inefficient ports with multiple charges of various government law enforcement agencies
The Nigerian economy is recovering from a historic downturn benefitting from government policy support, rising oil prices and international financial assistance. Nigeria exited the recession in 2020 Q4 and output rose by 4.1 percent (y-o-y) in the third quarter, with broad-based growth except for the oil sector, which is facing security and technical challenges. Growth is projected at 3 percent for 2021. Headline inflation rose sharply during the pandemic reaching a peak of 18.2 percent y-o-y in March 2021 but has since declined to 15.6 percent in December helped by the new harvest season and opening of land borders. Reported unemployment rates (end 2020) are yet to come down but more recent COVID-19 monthly surveys show employment back at its pre-pandemic level.
Trade between Tunisia and Algeria would increase by 1/3 this year (African Manager)
Algeria has undertaken to benefit Tunisian products imported into its market of exemption from the payment of customs duties, according to what was recently announced by the Center for Export Promotion (CEPEX).
The CEPEX said all Tunisian products exported to the neighboring country are eligible for this measure which is part of the agreement of the Great Arab Free Trade Area (French: GZALE), except those on the negative list common to all Arab countries identified by the agreement for many health, environmental, religious and security requirements.
In fact, Algeria has canceled, since January 1, 2022, the negative list relating to products imported from Arab countries that are not covered by the tax benefits granted under the Great Arab Free Trade Zone.
Gambia receives agricultural materials (Farmers Review Africa)
The government of Gambia has received donated agricultural materials like fertilizers and certified rice seeds from Rice Value Chain Transportation Project located at Sapu in Central River Region South of The Gambia. The Ministry of Agriculture revealed the report and said the donation seeks to enhance the nation’s rice self-sufficiency, transform and modernize agriculture for sustained economic growth, food and nutritional security, reduce poverty and create employment opportunities for women and youths Speaking at the ceremony, Honorable Amie Fabureh, Minister of Agriculture announced that the donation saying it aims to transform and modernize Agriculture for sustained economic growth, food and nutritional security, reduce poverty and create employment opportunities for women and youths.
African trade news
The Republic of Cabo Verde became the forty-first (41st) State Party to deposit the instrument of ratification of the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
To date, the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA has been signed by 54 AU Member States. Forty-one (41) African Union Member States are also State Parties to the Agreement by virtue of their deposits of the instruments of ratification of the Agreement, demonstrating an unequivocal political will to achieve market integration in Africa.
Under the AfCFTA, African countries have collectively undertaken commitments to substantially liberalise all trade by eliminating tariffs on 97% of tariff lines – over a 13-year period from the start of implementation. So far, the AfCFTA Secretariat 44 countries representing 80% of African Union membership have submitted their tariff offers, with Algeria being the latest. Regarding Trade in Services, so far, the Secretariat has received 46 initial offers submitted by State and non-State Parties, covering the five priority sectors, namely: Business, Communication, Financial, Tourism and Transport services sectors. On Trade in Services, there have been some progress in the implementation of the objectives of the Protocol on Trade in Services. So far, the AfCFTA Secretariat has received 46 initial offers submitted by State and non-State Parties, covering the five priority sectors, namely: Business, Communication, Financial, Tourism and Transport services sectors. Some State and non-State Parties, namely members of CEMAC, EAC, and ECOWAS, have all presented consolidated offers as part of this process.
Africa’s Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to be a boon for the creative sector and generate jobs for the youth.
On 1 January 2021, trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) kicked off. The trade pact, which seeks to create a single market for goods and services and promote cross-border movement of capital and people, should boost intra-African trade, currently at only 18% and regional integration. It is also expected to be a boon for the creative sector. Key players in the creatives industry said as much when they met in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2019, even before the trade area launched. “We wanted to deconstruct the AfCFTA,” said Josh Nyapimbi, Executive Director of Nhimbe Trust, a pan-African creative civil society organization based in Zimbabwe, adding that the creative and cultural industries can “leverage the agreement to advance our economies.”
Similarly, Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, has emphasized the need for youth involvement in cross-border trade through the creative industry and technology. He says that the active participation of young people in the free trade area could boost jobs creation and catalyze economic development.
Africa’s creative sector is diverse and includes visual and performing arts, crafts, cultural festivals, paintings, sculptures, photography, publishing, music, dance, film, radio, design, fashion, video games, digital animation, architecture, and advertising, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Decade of Action: Fixing Africa’s development deficit (Africa Renewal)
Over the past two decades, Africa has remained home to some of the fastest-growing economies globally, despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the year 2000 of the top 20 fastest growing economies in the world, Africa accounts each year for anywhere between 3 and 12 countries – a statistic worth celebrating. Africa, however, cannot take a lot of comfort in this impressive statistic given the profound challenges the continent continues to face.
Africa needs to focus on accomplishing the goals of the Agenda 2063 to have peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa, Ambassador of Angola to Ethiopia said. Agenda 2063 is one of the grand development programs of the African Union that aspires a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development by integrating the continent on the ideals of Pan-Africanism.
In an exclusive Interview with ENA, Ambassador Francisco José da Cruz said Africans are making progress. “It is a long road that we need to remain focused and be proud of what we have accomplished so far.” “We are at the right direction,” he said, adding what is important is to re-engage every day and try to do more based on our experience, especially trying more than ever to work together for the common good and mutual benefit. “We need to be focused on accomplishing the goals of the Agenda 2063 to have peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa. That is why we need to make an effort working together. By doing so we will be able to mitigate any attempt from outside which intends to undermine our unity and stability,” the ambassador underscored.
He further stated “It is important for us to find not only our own solutions but also have our resources. And that is why we need to overcome the shortage of vaccines by starting manufacturing our own vaccine.” On other hand, Ambassador Jose Da Cruz pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a very important initiative to realizing economic integration in the continent.
António Guterres also argued that, for the last 20 years, the African Union (AU) “has helped to bring this hope to life, in order to enable the continent to realize its enormous potential.”
According to Mr. Guterres, the collaboration between the UN and AU “is stronger than ever”, with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 (Africa’s blueprint for a peaceful, integrated and more prosperous continent) as the central pillars. The Secretary-General argued that “injustice is deeply embedded in global systems”, but it is Africans who “are paying the heaviest price.”
Mr. Guterres said Member States need to ignite the engine of economic recovery by reforming the global financial system. “But the deck is stacked against Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is facing cumulative economic growth per capita over the next five years that is 75 per cent less than the rest of the world”, he said.
The African Union Commission Department of Economic Development, Trade, Industry and, Mining, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Electronic Trade Group (AeTrade), as a framework of cooperation on the implementation of the digital capacity building initiatives in AU member states including the Sokokuu platform, as an enabler for SMEs, women, and youth to access regional, continental, and global markets. The operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity for Africa to make meaningful economic progress towards electronic trade and the adoption of technological tools to enhance efficiencies in governance with the support and participation of the private sector. The collaboration will enhance efforts to digitalize trade in Africa at a larger scale by encouraging impact investment in small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to create more jobs for the growing youth population and generate wealth across the continent.
“An equal opportunity is availed to all AU Member States to be part of the foundation for Africa’s grassroots digital transformation. All countries are encouraged to indicate their interest to host a country programme through the AU Commission for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining”, stated the Mr. Mulualem Syoum, CEO of the AeTrade Group.
The Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government today commenced its 35th Ordinary session and the first to be held in person following a hiatus in 2021 wherein the Assembly was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The opening session was marked with calls for continued African solidarity in addressing the impact of covid-19 on the continent and the urgent need to address the emerging scourge of coup d’états and the threat of terrorism.
On multilateralism, the AUC Chairperson further noted the increased interest in the continent but observed that it has not yet translated into substantial development in favour of Africa. He said any Marshall Plan arrangement would require a surge in the mobilisation of endogenous resources. He called for a revisiting of the Union’s approach to partnerships, saying that such partnerships should focus on concrete, transformative and integrating mega projects in the five priority areas of peace and security, infrastructure and energy, climate change, innovative development financing, and training youth and women’s empowerment.
While noting that the ongoing institutional reform of the Union has improved internal management and efficiency, Mr Moussa Faki pointed to legal and political limits that impact the powers and leadership of the AU Commission on matters of regional and continental importance. He noted in particular the need to clarify the relationship of subsidiarity and complementarity between the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the AU, to avoid any detrimental effect on the functioning of the Union’s political and security architecture; and the issue of sovereignty of states, which can act as a protective shield against abuses occurring in a member country, and used as a wall against intervention by the continental organisation. He reiterated that the double handicap was not unrelated to the conduct of the AU Commission in the face of unconstitutional changes of government witnessed in parts of the continent.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says a unilateral approach for all African countries in the transition from high to low carbon emissions will not work for the continent.
The President was addressing the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change during the 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU). “COP26 recognises our right to develop our own development pathways towards shared global objectives, based on our national circumstances and the guiding principles of the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. Foremost amongst them is equity, and the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities. “A one-size-fits-all approach to complex issues such as a transition from fossil fuels that disregards the realties on the ground in Africa will simply not work, and is neither just nor equitable. Africa’s Special Needs and Circumstances need to be recognised globally because of our natural resource based economies, and owing to high levels of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment,” the President said.
It’s Time to Rethink the Oil and Gas Game in Africa (African Energy Chamber)
While international oil companies gradually divest from African hydrocarbon assets, and capital expenditure is redirected towards alternative energy sources, Africa is seeing production declines across key assets.
These Oil and Gas producing countries rely heavily on the exportation of Hydrocarbons to sustain their economies, in some cases like Equatorial Guinea, Oil and Gas represents almost 90% of the GDP. Declining production means a serious impact on the Treasury revenues, this is very unfortunate because the increasing prices of hydrocarbons in the international markets could help tackle the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the Economies of these Nations. People are not aware of the consequences of the anti-fossil fuels narrative in the lives of the people in Africa. It’s unfair, especially if we take into account that Africa is not the region of the planet that pollutes more, but actually Africa is one of the main lungs of the planet. I think we deserve better.
Secretary General of COMESA Her Excellency Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe has signed the Protocol on Relations between the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) meant to consolidate relations with the mother body.
The Protocol aims to among other things; formalise, consolidate and promote closer cooperation among the RECS and between them and the AU through coordination and harmonisation of their policies, measures, programmes and activities in all fields and sectors in line with the principle of subsidiarity and complementarity.
Experts from EAC Partner States’ National Medicines Regulatory Authorities have convened in Entebbe, Uganda to conduct a joint scientific review to assess the safety, efficacy and quality of 20 medical products. The five-day joint assessment aims at streamlining medicines evaluation and registration procedures in an effort to enhance access to good quality, safe and efficacious medicines in the region. ”As a region, we are now able to facilitate timely assessments and approvals of medicinal product dossiers by the regulatory authorities for pre-marketing evaluation, marketing authorization/registration and post-marketing review through such regional joint assessment sessions,” said Dr. Chepwogen.
African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina has said that the most important lesson of the Covid-19 pandemic for Africa is the need to build a defense mechanism against external shocks, especially in healthcare and financial security. “Investing in health is investing in national security,” Adesina told African leaders on Saturday, at the opening of the 35th African Union Assembly in the Ethiopian capital. “Africa cannot afford to outsource the healthcare security of its 1.4 billion citizens to the benevolence of others.” The Bank chief said the continent needed $484 billion over the next three years to address the socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and support economic recovery.
Speaking about other critical areas for the continent, such as managing debt, Adesina said: “Africa’s public debt, currently estimated at $546 billion, represents one-quarter of the continent’s GDP and is higher than the combined total annual government revenues of $501 billion.”
China-Africa trade reached an all-time high in 2021 (Quartz Africa)
Trade between Africa and China rose to a record high last year, according to recently released data by China’s customs agency. China is Africa’s largest trading partner, and last year’s growth strengthens this position. The value of trade between Africa and China rose by 35% from 2020 to $254 billion last year, mainly due to an increase in Chinese exports to the continent. This rise occurred despite last year’s global supply chain challenges and other interruptions caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
The growth can be attributed to China’s export of essential pandemic goods such as pharmaceuticals, PPEs, masks, hazmat suits, chemicals, and digital hardware, says Zainab Usman, senior fellow and director of the Africa Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. China is a big player and producer in this area, which had sustained demand in 2020 and 2021, she says .”The pandemic might have disrupted trade and economic activity globally, but it did not really dampen demand for essential goods during the pandemic such as pharmaceuticals,” she tells Quartz. Another factor is increased exports to China by African countries. Exports from Libya and Benin, for example, went up by more than 400%. Those for Togo, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, and Eswatini doubled.
Despite the increase in trade, China’s exports to China continue to exceed Africa’s exports to the Asian country. There needs to be a “deliberate and concerted effort across the board” to reduce the trade deficit, says Usman. African policymakers, she says, need to pursue and implement productivity-enhancing policies including road, rail, electricity, digital, and other connectivity infrastructure to give African enterprises the opportunity to access export markets including China’s.
The African Continental Free Trade Area: Opportunities for India (Observer Research Foundation)
Unlike in other regions of the world, the value of intra-Africa trade has remained low over the years. Moreover, Africa accounts for just 2 percent of global trade. In 2021, African countries launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to create a single African market for the free movement of goods, services, labour, and capital, and increase intra-African trade. AfCFTA may be able to provide Indian firms and investors certain opportunities to tap into a larger, unified, and robust African market. This paper outlines those opportunities, and the concomitant challenges that need to be addressed in order for India to integrate with the African economy.
Biden’s new Africa strategy shouldn’t focus on countering China (Responsible Statecraft)
As President Biden enters 2022, his administration is setting its sights on an Africa strategy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the continent for the first time in November and promised the administration would “do things differently” to engage with African nations on more equitable terms, a commitment made in reference to China’s growing commercial presence on the continent. As Chinese investment in Africa has grown, so too have debates in the U.S. policy community over what, if anything, Washington should do to stop it. But if Biden’s goals for Africa are truly to strengthen democracy and build lasting economic partnerships, confronting China in Africa is not the way to go about it. To avoid making Africa policy into China policy, Biden must take his own rhetoric seriously.
The president appointed former Africa program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Judd Devermont to oversee the creation of an Africa strategy late last year, and the Biden administration unveiled a modestly-funded initiative to strengthen U.S.-Africa business. Increasing economic and political engagement equitably is a good instinct — despite high economic growth in most African states and a thriving African middle class, U.S. bulk trade with Africa was halved over the past 10 years. Restoring commercial ties and developing new opportunities for U.S.-Africa engagement ought to be the centerpiece for any long-term Africa strategy. Unfortunately, the new plan looks a lot like the old one.
International Finance Corporation plans to ramp up its new investments in Africa to $10 billion annually in support of businesses that it sees helping to drive economic recovery and growth on the continent. The member of the World Bank Group plans to add about $1 billion to the amount it invests every year until it hits the target, according to managing director Makhtar Diop. It invested and mobilised $6.4 billion in Africa in the 12 months through June. While government spending has helped African nations to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, weather-related disasters and conflict, the number of people in absolute poverty remains high. The IFC, venture capitalists and private equity firms are expanding or starting investments in Africa to create jobs and help boost household incomes.
Relief as Tanzania agrees to approve EU trade deal (Business Daily)
The East African Community could finally sign the new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union this month as a bloc after Tanzania changed its initial stance. Josep Borrel, the EU Foreign Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, says Tanzania has agreed to join the rest of the EAC countries in ratifying the deal that will see the region enjoy quota-free and duty-free access to the lucrative European market.
Mr Borrel in an interview with The East African said President Uhuru Kenyatta has indicated that Tanzania is ready to sign the deal following the change of leadership. “President Uhuru Kenyatta told me that, finally, it seems that we could have an agreement for the whole region because the new government in Tanzania is accepting to sign the agreement,” said Mr Borrel.
European Union targeting Comprehensive Partnership with Africa (Modern Diplomacy)
With highly expected symbolism, Russia’s primary focus at the forthcoming November summit in St. Petersburg with African leaders, corporate business directors, representatives from the academic community, civil society organizations and media will largely be renewing most of its unfulfilled bilateral agreements, and making new pledges that will, as usual, be incorporated into a second joint declaration.
Despite the growth of external player’s influence and presence in Africa, Russia has to intensify and redefine its parameters. Russia’s foreign policy strategy regarding Africa has to spell out and incorporate the development needs of African countries. Unlike most competitors, Russia has to promote an understandable agenda for Africa: working more on sovereignty, continental integration, infrastructure development, human development (education and medicine), security (including the fight against hunger and epidemics), normal universal human values, the idea that people should live with dignity and feel protected.
Russia has to set different narratives about its aspirations and intentions of returning to Africa. The approach has to move from rhetoric and mere declarations of interests. Since the basis of the summit remains the economic interaction between Russia and Africa, “the ideas currently being worked out on new possible instruments to encourage Russian exports to Africa, Russian investments to the continent, such as a fund to support direct investment in Africa, all these deserve special attention,” Tkachenko says.
2022 Challenges for developing economies (The New Times)
As the new year has started, the global economy continues to face a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous conditions. Risks abound and are diverse in nature and all countries are being shaped or forced to react by the interplay of several forces. Today we continue to face the strain of Covid and its variants, disrupted trade links, supply-side bottlenecks, soaring energy prices and labour-mismatches. This is the background to a fragile economic recovery which however will not automatically take us back to the pre-pandemic normal.
The developing world faces several key challenges; however, I believe that three stand out: Rising macroeconomic risks, Climate challenges, and Digital disruption.
This report is divided into four sections. Chapter 1 addresses the role of African countries within the G20 decision making processes. Starting with a reflection on the impact of COVID-19 for Africa, the section then focuses on the role and agency of LDCs and African countries in the G20 policy mechanisms. Chapter 2 analyses the role of quality and climate-resilient infrastructure to boost sustainable and long-term recovery and development for LDCs. Chapter 3 focuses on development finance with the aim to reflect on how the G20 can support and identify innovative mechanisms to mobilize financial resources for the LDCs.
G-20 Can Become G-21 by Adding African Representation (Foreign Policy)
From the G-20 to the United Nations, Africa’s agency and decision-making competence are hardly recognized—especially economically. Considered as a region, as Europe often is, Africa is the world’s eighth-largest economy, and by 2063, the continent is aiming to become the world’s third largest. Put differently, that would mean growing to be the world’s Japan right now—and would put the continent ahead of the likes of Germany, France, India, and the United Kingdom in terms of economic might.
This fact has huge implications for the way the global economic decision-making order is structured now and by 2063. In such forums, African countries have often been seen as passive recipients of support or, at most, partners to consult with on specific questions. The idea that Africans might have interests beyond their own region, or a say in the global order, is rare. Hence, the international bodies that could benefit from African voices often exclude or marginalize them. From the G-20 to the United Nations, Africa’s agency and decision-making competence are hardly recognized—especially economically.
The regional representation is highly pertinent for Africa. Like the European Union, the African continent could easily be represented in the G-20 by the elected African Union Commission chair—currently Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad—and the annually rotating chair of the AU, always an African head of state and is President Macky Sall of Senegal for 2022. The AU representatives could receive their mandate through the annual meetings of African heads of state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which recently concluded. .
Like the EU, the AU through its Agenda 2063 also envisions monetary union, as well as various infrastructural, policy, and cultural integration efforts. With a growing population, estimated to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, Agenda 2063 envisions the continent becoming the world’s hub for manufactured goods in the same way that China is now, albeit with a greener hue. The fact is, the continent has decision-making capacity—and its leaders know best how to harness this capacity, not only for the continent but also for the rest of the world.
At the 2 February meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), WTO members received briefings on the three new environmental initiatives launched on 15 December 2021 at the WTO. Members also discussed in-depth the respective efforts of the European Union and the United Kingdom to prevent global deforestation by regulating trade in agriculture.