Building capacity to help Africa trade better

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Country-related news

Cutting red tape to enhance growth (SAnews)

Work is underway to cut red tape in an effort to enhance the business environment and create much-needed jobs in South Africa. Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said there are too many regulations in the country that are unduly complicated, costly and difficult to comply with. “We are therefore working to improve the business environment for companies of all sizes through a dedicated capacity in the Presidency to reduce red tape. If we are to make progress in cutting unnecessary bureaucratic delays for businesses, we need dedicated capacity with the means to make changes.”

“The red tape team will identify priority reforms for the year ahead, including mechanisms to ensure government departments pay suppliers within the required 30 days.

South Africa’s maritime industry requires better structures, collaborative efforts (Engineering News)

There are considerable opportunities for South Africa’s maritime industry to capitalise on; however, it is critical that a concerted effort be undertaken by all stakeholders, to ensure that the issues facing the sector are addressed and circumvented, speakers said during a question and answer session hosted by industry organisation the Maritime Business Chamber’s on February 9. Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (Wista) board member Nomcebo Msibi said one of the issues that needed to be dealt with is for ports to be more effective and efficient. Current obstacles include infrastructure, technology, safety and security and competing corridors.

Manufacturing output showed recovery in 2021 (Engineering News)

Manufacturing production decreased by 0.1% in December, compared with December 2020, but total manufacturing production for 2021 increased by 6.4% compared with 2020. Statistics South Africa reports that the largest negative contributions to December’s manufacturing output was made by motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment, declining by 8% and contributing -0.5 of a percentage point.

Platinum firms want export tax deferred (The Herald)

Platinum miners are seeking extension of the grace period on the 5 percent tax on export of semi-processed platinum to give them time to invest in value addition plants. In efforts to nudge miners to invest in value addition, the Treasury in 2020 suspended the 5 percent tax to give the miners latitude to invest in value addition and beneficiation facilities. The concession was granted for a period of two years after which the tax incentive would come into effect. In a letter to Treasury chief, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube by Platinum Producers’ Association of Zimbabwe, chairman Alex Mhembere, said, “Can Treasury reconsider the policy and further defer the tax as this will allow the producers more time to invest in the beneficiation facilities while building sufficient feedstock.”

“The Treasury is analysing the matter and its implications, we will get back to them once we have concluded our analysis and reached a decision,” Minister Ncube said. Platinum miners have made “significant progress” towards value addition facilities, Mr Mhembere said.

After Zambia, Kenya explores possibility of a digital currency (TechCrunch)

Kenya’s central bank has called on the public to share their views, before May 20th, on the possibility of adopting a digital currency, just one day after it emerged that Zambia is also testing its viability too. Nigeria became the first country in Africa to pilot its central bank digital currency (CBDC), dubbed the eNaira, in October last year while Ghana is said to be at an advanced stage of launching its e-cedi. The Bank of Zambia is also carrying out research on digital currencies. The CBDCs, unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are developed by central banks and pegged on countries’ fiat currencies. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has today issued this document as the basis for a public discussion, noting that cost reduction, interoperability, and enhanced cross-border payments would be the main drivers for the digital currency’s adoption in the country. The CBK said that mobile money (e-money), which East Africa’s biggest economy pioneered in 2007, has already helped the country to enhance access to financial services — one of the value propositions of digital currencies. “The trend in Kenya’s domestic payments indicates the existence of a digital currency (e-money) that is robust, inclusive and highly active. Therefore, the consideration to introduce a CBDC in the payments system in Kenya would not majorly focus on enhancing access to financial services given the existing and growing penetration of mobile money,” said the CBK.

Manufacturers call for export-led industrialization for sustained economic growth (Capital Business)

Manufacturers have called on the government to prioritize export-led industrialization for sustained economic growth. This was said during the rollout of the annual Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Manufacturing Priority Agenda (MPA), themed, “Manufacturing sector recovery and sustained growth for Kenya’s shared prosperity.” Speaking during the launch, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Betty Maina noted that Government continues to engage the business community to improve competitiveness. “Following engagements with businesses over the years, we have made tremendous strides in enhancing our trade and industrialization capacity as a nation. One of the key initiatives has been preferential procurement for locally manufactured goods by Government to increase consumption of Kenyan goods and services,” said Maina.

Kenya-Tanzania trade at $905.5 million - official (The Star, Kenya)

Kenya-Tanzania bilateral trade hit $905.5million (Sh102.8billion) in 2021 for the period January to November 2021, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.The details were presented at an East Africa Business Council (EABC) trade facilitation forum at Namanga border. “Kenya imports from Tanzania stood at $501 million (Sh56.8billion) and exports $403.9,” said EABC Chief Executive Officer, John Kalisa. He hailed Presidents Samia Suluhu and Uhuru Kenyatta for resolving some of the Non-Tariff Barriers leading to better trade ties. The Namanga border station manager said they clear 250 trucks daily, a three-fold increase from May last year. Freight forwarders called for the separation of the Import Declaration Forms from the Integrated Customs Management System and the setting up of a permanent cargo scanner at the border to facilitate trade.

A new dawn for Uganda’s Tourism as a new destination brand is launched (Travel Daily News International)

As the world starts to recover from the effects of the pandemic and opening up borders and skies to global tourism, Uganda, has refreshed its tourism destination brand promise, with the unveiling of a new brand identity that promises both domestic, regional and global tourists, an adventure of a lifetime. The brand identity - Explore Uganda, The Pearl of Africa, was unveiled on Friday, 21st January 2022, by the country’s president, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city

Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Lilly Ajarova said that the new brand promise seeks to reemphasise Uganda’s rare and precious range of tourism attractions to the world, thereby earning destination Uganda competitive market share. “Uganda is no doubt beautiful. Beautiful beyond measure. Yes, everyone knew that Uganda is and has always been the Pearl of Africa, - but there was a lack of clarity and consistency on, if Uganda is the Pearl of Africa- what pearls does it have to offer for each of the various travel segments and preferences,” she said, adding: “To win the marketplace; to achieve our Number One objective of “Sustainably Promoting Uganda as a Competitive Tourism Destination for Inclusive Development” it was therefore important that all stakeholders are aligned on what makes us the Pearl of Africa and how do we unpack that to the various travel markets/segments around the world.”

CFAN says Nigeria losing N60b yearly from income differential on cocoa (The Guardian, Nigeria)

President of the Cocoa Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Adeola Adegoke, has said the country is losing about N60 billion yearly as a result of refusal to collect Living Income Differential (LID) for cocoa producers. Adegoke, who disclosed this yesterday, in Abuja, during a workshop organised by Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA), in conjunction with the University of Ibadan, said there is the need to follow international best practices that support the production of cocoa in the world. LID is a cocoa pricing agreement first launched in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to help cocoa farmers escape from poverty by adding a premium to the prevailing market price. According to Adegoke, the foreign exchange deficit being experienced at the moment can only be solved by the cocoa economy. He said in the nation’s economic indices, cocoa is next to crude oil in terms of percentage as revealed by its potentials adding that the liberalisation business and the ‘all comers affairs’ syndrome has contributed in sinking the country to where it is at the moment. In the programme themed “Cocoa commercialisation in Nigeria: Issues, prospects and policy requirements”

Nigeria has key market role in AfCFTA, expert says (Daily Trust)

The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) provides a new opportunity for Nigeria to play the deserving role as the central market for the continent, especially within the West Africa coast, a financial expert, Dr Lizzie Kings-Wali has said. This is especially so in West Africa, where the country should serve as the natural pivot for economic activities and prosperity of the sub-region. According to Kings-Wali, boosting entrepreneurship and attracting investments requires creating the right environment.

Why is Ghana’s sovereign debt is raising eyebrows? (The Africa Report)

A darling of western investors, Ghana, may be losing some lustre. The country of about 32 million has long been viewed as an economic gateway to West Africa (alongside Nigeria) with many investors happy to overlook its high level of public debt, which is estimated at 81% of GDP at the end of 2021, according to Fitch Ratings. Tech companies were happy to come to Ghana with Google opening its first AI centre in the Ghanian capital of Accra in 2019. Twitter followed suit with its first African office in 2021. Manufacturing followed a similar path with German automobile maker Volkswagen opening an automobile assembly facility in Accra in 2020, which was the company’s fifth African assembly location (after Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa). Toyota opened a similar plant in Tema in 2021. South Korean carmakers Hyundai and KIA also announced plans to open plants in the country by the end of 2022. Lastly, the AFCFTA opened its secretariat in Accra in August 2020, which put the country at the centre of the world’s biggest free trade area calculated by the number of participating countries.

Egypt among top 10 investment destinations in Africa (Egypttoday)

Business Insider, the American online platform, nominated Egypt in its list of the top 10 investment destinations in the African continent, as the list included Egypt, along with the countries of Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Angola, and Cote d’Ivoire. This came according to a report issued by the Information and Decision Support Center, quoting the Business Insider report that Egypt’s economic growth rate increased by 9.8 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021-2022, according to the latest statistics published by the Reuters

It stressed that these statistics also show that Egypt is one of the richest countries. Africa in terms of GDP for the year 2021, as it has the second highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the African continent with a value of $394 billion.

The report indicated that despite the negative economic effects resulting from the spread of the “Coronavirus, Egypt’s GDP achieved growth in 2021, thanks to the country’s enjoyment of a diversified economy that depends on fossil fuel exports and agricultural and tourism activities, describing the Egyptian economy as an “ideal economy for investors.” .

Sudan export highway blockaded as protests stoked by trade woes (Reuters)

Hundreds of truck drivers are stuck in a blockade of a major export route out of Sudan into Egypt, hampering exports of camels and other livestock as opposition to a military takeover has fuelled festering grievances over trade. The blockade of the route known as the Northern Artery by the protesters, using waves of rocks and other barriers to barricade the road, began last month after Sudan sharply raised electricity prices for farmers. By late January some 1,500 drivers were stuck as they tried to return to Egypt, an Egyptian trucking union said, giving the latest numbers available, with no signs of the protests waning.

“These are the fruits of our country passing through this road, this is why the Sudanese people must unite and hold a position,” protester Rashid Abuzeid said. The blockade shows the vulnerability of Sudan’s economy, already mired in crisis, to political tumult. It follows weeks of protests that stopped shipping at Port Sudan, the country’s main trade hub, late last year. Traders who share the sentiment of those blocking the highway say they lose out because Egyptian truckers dominate transport within Sudan, while internal restrictions hamper livestock exports, especially of camels, which can be a lucrative business in the region. “They come into the country and our trucks have to stop at the border,” said Abdelhameed Mustafa Ismael, a trucking manager for livestock in Omdurman, which adjoins the capital, Khartoum.

African trade

Greater and More Diverse Participation in Global Trade is Key to Achieving Africa’s Economic Transformation, says New World Bank Book (World Bank)

African countries must expand and diversify their participation in international trade and global value chains to reduce poverty on a large scale and transform their economies, says a new World Bank book released today. The continent must go beyond trade in raw materials and link its production and trade to the global economy to take advantage of the unlimited demand and innovation along the supply chain. This requires comprehensive and dynamic efforts that bolster Africa’s export market access and diversifies its markets to new regions and new products while also strengthening regional trade, says the ‘Africa In the New Trade Environment: Market Access in Troubled Times’ book. “The global econ­omy is a source of growth that African economies cannot afford to ignore. While African exports of goods and services have seen their fastest growth in the past decade, the volumes remain low at just 3 percent of global trade. The time is ripe for policymakers to expand their thinking beyond traditional approaches and traditional markets if they want to play an active role in international trade in the 21st century,” said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa.

Development levels should guide rules of origin … as automotive industry prepares for free African trade (New Era)

Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda and Ghana need rules of origin that will allow participation and further development of the automotive industry by new players in the sector. This request was made recently during the eighth meeting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) council of ministers responsible for trade in Ghana, where Namibia was represented by trade minister Lucia Iipumbu. According to the council briefing, a number of countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Sudan and Nigeria aim to include a higher level of value addition on a number of tariff lines under this chapter. The briefing noted that negotiators did not reach an agreement on a number of tariff lines under this chapter.

“A strict rule of origin will, therefore, allow few countries in Africa to dominate this sector and as a result, trade under this sector would be skewed. There is a need for the ministers to provide guidance that will allow countries with semi-knockdown automotive industries to trade under this agreement, and to be allowed sufficient time of between 10 to 20 years to move to a higher level of value addition,” stated the briefing.

AfDB to Close Infrastructure Gap in Africa with Approved PPP Frameworks (Energy Capital & Power)

Development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), has approved its first strategic framework for the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in an attempt to address and close Africa’s investment gap, which is estimated at over $100 billion a year. According to banking and financial experts, PPPs offer the potential to increase private sector investments while promoting efficiency in the development and operation of infrastructure projects in Africa, thus promoting higher standards of living and global competitiveness. “This eagerly awaited strategic framework will go a long way to enabling the Bank to provide much required assistance for the development and implementation of public-private partnerships in our regional member countries, and we look forward to its success,” stated Bank Group President, Akinwumi A. Adesina, adding that the strategic framework will provide a foundation for the AfDB’s engagement in the infrastructure sector.

To achieve its development goals, the AfDB is already engaged in a number of key PPPs, most notably in several key transport and energy sector projects and will root its framework in three pillars that streamline the Bank’s efforts across various departments, providing financial and resource assistance.

“The current global and African context, widening infrastructure gap and limited fiscal space, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, among other factors, builds a strong case for the Bank to scale up its support for public-private partnerships, to crowd in more private sector investment in both economic and social infrastructure, and provides a foundation for the Bank to become a leading voice and financier of public-private projects in Africa.” Solomon Quaynor, Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization at the AfDB, stated.

Serving as a key driver to support progress across Africa, infrastructure development will be a critical enabler in the facilitation of productivity and economic growth in the continent, thus contributing to human development, improved standards of living, a reduction in poverty, and the attainment of sustainable development goals.

Mobilizing financing for Africa’s accelerated economic recovery, development and integration (Sun Nigeria)

Africa urged to speedup AU financial institutions’ formation (New Business Ethiopia)

African countries need to speedup the efforts of the African Union Commission which has been working for the establishment of central bank of Africa, African monetary fund, Pan-African stock exchange, and African investment bank, says African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner.

Briefing Journalists this morning on the side-lines of AU Summit Ambassador Albert Muchanga AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining stressed the need to speed the efforts to enable the continent self-finance its development projects and improve productivity and benefit from intra-Africa trade regime. “…Improving productivity and financial independence is crucial in building robust and resilient economies that are not being held back by high an unsustainable debt burden,” he said. “Accelerating the establishment of the African Union financial institutions namely, the African investment bank, African monetary fund, African central bank, and the Pan-African stock exchange remain strategic growth to build the continent’s financial autonomy that will facilitate self-financing development projects and programs as well as caution the continent against huge shocks.”

AfCFTA Secretariat and Afreximbank sign an agreement for the management of the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund (Afeximbank)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), today in Cairo signed an Agreement relating to the management of the Base Fund of the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund. The Fund will support African countries and the private sector to effectively participate in the new trading environment established under the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA Secretariat and Afreximbank were mandated by the African Union (AU) Summit of Heads of State and Government and the AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for Trade to establish the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund to support AfCFTA State Parties to adjust to the new liberalised and integrated trading environment established under the AfCFTA Agreement. The Adjustment Fund consists of a Base Fund, a General Fund and a Credit Fund. The Base Fund will consist of contributions from State Parties, grants and technical assistance funds to address tariff revenue losses as tariffs are progressively eliminated. It will also support countries to implement various provisions of the AfCFTA Agreement, its Protocols and Annexes. The General Fund will mobilise concessional funding, while the Credit Fund will mobilise commercial funding to support both the public and private sectors, enabling them to adjust and take advantage of the opportunities created by the AfCFTA.

Africa’s transport sector to strongly benefit from continental free trade area (How we made it in Africa)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to increase intra-African trade in transport services by nearly 50%, according to the latest estimates by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The estimates on, ‘Implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area for demand for transport, infrastructure and services’, released by ECA at the fifth African Business Forum on February 7, indicate that with AfCFTA in absolute terms, over 25% of intra-African trade gains in services would go to transport alone; and nearly 40% of the increase in Africa’s services production would be in transport.

The research conducted by experts in the Energy, Infrastructure and Services Section of ECA unpacks AfCFTA investment opportunities in the transport sector.

2nd Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 (AUDA-NEPAD)

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s development blueprint to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over a 50-year period. The continent aims to achieve this objective through the realisation of five ten-year implementation plans. The First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, spanning 2014 to 2023, outlines a set of goals, priority areas and targets that the continent aims to achieve at national, regional and continental levels. Against this background, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) were tasked by policy organs of the African Union to coordinate and prepare continental-level biennial performance reports to track progress made towards the goals and targets of Agenda 2063.

This second continental-level report consolidates progress reports from 38 of the 55 AU Member States. The report analyses progress made on the implementation of Agenda 2063 against 2021 targets.

At aspirational level, Africa recorded a positive upward trend in respect of all seven aspirations vis-à-vis the 2021 targets. The continent made significant progress in the attainment of Aspiration 2 “An integrated continent politically united and based on the ideal of Pan-Africanism and the Vision for Africa’s Renaissance”. The strong performance of 84% was realised mainly through progress in the signature and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which came into effect on 1 January 2021, and the establishment and operationalisation of a well-functioning AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana. During the period under review there was significant progress in this domain, evidenced by improvements in road networks, air transport, electrification and ICT.

Africa achieved low progress for Aspiration 1 “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” with an overall score of 37% against the 2021 targets. This can be attributed mainly to a decrease in GDP per capita from USD3,170 in 2019 to USD2,910 in 2021 and high employment rates. Notwithstanding the moderate performance under this aspiration, there was commendable progress in access to electricity and internet. Furthermore, there were substantial gains in health-related goals including increased access to sexual and reproductive health services and reduced maternal mortality.

Africa needs smarter investment in digital infrastructure: Strategies for enticing the private sector (Brookings)

Weak infrastructure is widely accepted as a fundamental limitation to growth in Africa. Governments in the region struggle to meet the basic needs of residents, including access to food, education, health, and livelihoods, much less invest in critical, reusable infrastructure that could provide long-term solutions to social problems.

By design, private sector solutions must be commercially sustainable in order to deliver at scale and long-term. We would be better served as a global community to entice, encourage, and de-risk private sector engagement in the infrastructure challenge by channeling existing ODA, private philanthropy, and government resources towards creating an enabling environment for the private sector to innovate, deliver, and employ.

Developing and managing secure digital solutions requires extensive knowledge across issues like data privacy and security, interoperability standards, franchise management, biometric tokenization, device security, and more. This knowledge resides with the private sector companies that are investing billions to continually innovate, to prevent fraud, and to prevent bad actors from accessing personal data. However, four fundamental challenges to private sector engagement in fragile contexts persist:

There is too much reliance on sub-standard, expensive products; There are too few entities at the last-mile servicing rural communities; Sustainable commercial models are lacking; and The regulatory landscape for digital transactions in emerging markets is nascent, murky, and complex

SADC embarks on policy dialogues to ease trade and movement of goods and services across the Region (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is convening policy dialogues to ease trade, transportation and movement of goods and services across the Region to facilitate regional integration. Regional integration helps SADC countries overcome divisions that impede the flow of goods, services, capital, people and ideas. These divisions between countries created by geography, poor infrastructure and inefficient policies are an impediment to economic growth. The policy dialogues are among the activities under the SADC Dialogue Facility (SDF) which is a programme funded by the European Union to the tune of €3 million as part the cooperation and support to SADC regional integration agenda. The SDF is expected to aid regional integration goals so that the citizens of the SADC Region will benefit from stronger, equitable and sustainable economic growth, increased collective leverage in global platforms and enhanced social opportunities.

COVID-19: CSOs call on EAC heads to ease cross border trade (New Vision)

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the East African Community (EAC) heads to fast track the free movement of people for seamless trade to take place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. CSOs comprised of EASSI, SEATINI and CEFROHT said that although the EAC heads of state committed themselves to free movement of goods, persons and services, this hasn’t been materialised. They added that the situation has been made worse at the recently opened border between Rwanda and Uganda, where traders still find it hard to freely cross over to carry out trade. The situation has been made worse with COVID-19 standard operating procedures, where traders are required to be tested every time they cross the border of which results are valid for only 72 hours. Sheila Kawamara-Mishambi, the executive director of the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) added that such a situation is likely to discourage cross border trade, especially for women.

New EAC trade watchdog now expected April (Business Daily)

A new regulator or ombudsman for regional trade disputes is now likely to be in place by April after missing an earlier December target, a regional bloc official has said. East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary-General Peter Mathuki told the Business Daily the Trade Remedies Committee (TRC) could be in place by end of the first quarter or beginning of the second quarter. The body will assist businesses in the bloc’s five-member States when they have concerns over unfair trade deals from foreign rivals. It will have powers to investigate and address unfair trade practices and subsidies. TRC will investigate any complaints and make recommendations to government ministers for corrective anti-subsidy or anti-dumping measures that could be imposed to address any injury caused to the domestic industry in question.

NTBs removal bolsters trading across borders (IPPmedia)

John Bosco Kalisa, chief executive officer for the East African Business Council (EABC) said yesterday that Kenya’s imports from Tanzania stood at $501m and exports reached $403.9m, on the basis of EAC customs data. At an EABC trade facilitation forum at the Namanga one-stop border post (OSBP) he applauded presidents Samia Suluhu Hassan and Uhuru Kenyatta for eliminating the nauseating barriers, at the forum supported by the German development cooperation group GIZ, which operates the ‘Supporting East African market-driven and people-centred integration’ (SEAMPEC) programme.

EAC Council approves DRC admission (The East African)

The East African Community Council of Ministers has now approved the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the regional bloc. The approval follows negotiations held between the EAC and the DRC from January 15th to 24th in Nairobi. The EAC Negotiations Team was led by Dr. Alice Yalla, Integration Secretary at the Ministry of EAC and Regional development and Prof Serge Tshibangu, special envoy of DRC President Felix Tshisekedi. “As you are aware the DRC delegation was in Nairobi in the last week of January 2021. The negotiations with the DRC have been concluded and a negotiation framework matrix jointly adopted,” said Adan Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, EAC and Regional Development soon after an Extra-ordinary Council meeting virtually on 8th February, 2022. “We have now recommended to the summit to consider admitting the DRC into the Community in accordance with Article 3 of the EAC Treaty.”

The Council has now directed the EAC secretariat to develop a draft roadmap for the integration of the DRC into the community and submit it to the Council for consideration.

Africa forum to discuss place of tech in health transformation (Business Daily)

Health and technology stakeholders will be converging in Nairobi for this year’s East Africa Edition of the Africa Healthcare Supply Chain Dialogue. Ministers of Health from five East African countries, the EAC secretariat, tech leaders, multilateral agencies, financial sector and donor organisations will discuss ways technology can be used to leverage healthcare delivery through partnerships between private sector and public institutions. “Healthcare is one of the sectors hardest hit by supply chain challenges during the Covid pandemic. Stakeholders in health service provision including governments and industry players can leverage technology to mitigate against risk, build efficiencies and resilience moving forward, and this forms the core objective of this event,” Xetova chief executive officer Bramuel Mwalo said.

West African Monetary Union: African Development Bank approves $750,000 grant for the development of the regional financial market (AfDB)

The African Development Bank on 9 February approved a $750,000 grant to drive reforms that will deepen the West African Monetary Union (WAMU) regional financial market and make it more competitive and attractive to investors. The grant will be sourced from the Capital Markets Development Trust Fund, a multi-donor fund administered by the African Development Bank and financed by the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Trade and Cooperation. Under the second phase of the African Development Bank’s Regional Financial Market Development Support Project, the grant funding will cover the development of a monetary and financial code for the WAMU region. It will also promote the deepening of mortgage and securitization markets through capacity building and the overhaul of relevant legal and regulatory frameworks. The project is expected to define an operational framework for setting benchmark rates in close alignment with international best practices as set out by the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

Harmonisation of standards will grow organic agriculture in West Africa —ECOWAS (Tribune Online)

The Head of Agriculture Division, ECOWAS Commission Abuja, Mr Ernest Aubee says harmonisation of Organic Agriculture standards in West Africa will help grow trade in the region. Aubee made the assertion during an online presentation on the `Benefits and Opportunities of Organic Agriculture’ organised by Journalists Go Organic Initiative. He said that there is a need for harmonised Organic Standards for Participatory Guaranteed System (PGS) activities in West Africa to encourage quality regional trade. “The standards will enhance the visibility of organic agriculture and market driven development of the sector in the whole region. “Key in this regard are diversity of produce, simplicity of the process, empowerment of farmers, development of sustainable agriculture, easy access to standardised produce and products. “This will also lead to awareness of health benefits of organic products, easy access in sharing of practical experience, the possibility of an expanded market and premium for producers.”

Customs laments impact of insecurity in West Africa on cross border trade (Business & Financial Times Online)

A Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority in charge of Ethics and Good Governance, Alhaji Seidu Iddrisu Iddisah, has bemoaned the growing spate of political insecurity in the West African sub region, hinting that they may have a dire impact on cross border trading.

Speaking on the Eye on Port program, he said, the ongoing political upheavals add up to existing security threats such as maritime piracy and kidnapping, extremism, illegal bunkering, drugs and arms trafficking, and cyber security threats.

According to him, the total impact of these security threats is sabotaging regional integration efforts. “West Africa as a subregion is an economic unit. Certain protocols have been passed and rules, procedures put in place to facilitate trade. Normally, when there are coup d’états, countries pay attention to regime survival rather than implementing some of these protocols. For instance, the coup in Mali has made ECOWAS suspend the country. This suspension means all the cooperation that existed will end. And with goods not destined for Mali, but using the corridors of Mali, trade would be affected,” Alhaji Seidu explained.

EU earmarks 150 billion euros for investment in Africa (Reuters)

The European Union has earmarked over 150 billion euros ($170 billion) for investments in Africa under a global fund launched to offer an alternative to Chinese money, the European Commission said on Thursday. The investment would take up half of the EU’s 300-billion-euro Global Gateway scheme, which that was launched in December with the aim of strengthening Europe’s supply chains and fighting climate change in sectors including health, energy and transport. read more It comes as many European states seek to reduce illegal migration from Africa, driven in part by poverty and joblessness, and as fossil fuel producers in Africa bristle against the strict carbon reduction goals set by richer nations to reduce global warming.

Towards a renewed partnership between Africa and the EU (EU Reporter)

Africa and the EU must establish a new partnership as equals, focusing on people’s needs and adjusting to the needs of a post-COVID world, World. African and European societies face common issues and shared challenges, such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, creating the need for closer and more equitable collaboration. On 25 March 2021, MEPs approved Parliament’s proposals for a new EU-Africa strategy laying the foundation for a partnership that reflects the interests of both sides and gives African countries the means to achieve sustainable development

The EU-Africa relationship “must move beyond the donor-recipient relationship”, according to the Parliament report, emphasising the importance of supporting Africa’s domestic production through sustainable investment. It also proposes boosting intra-African trade through the continental free trade area, investment in transport infrastructure and better access to global markets. Public-private partnerships and funding small and medium enterprises are considered essential, as these smaller firms represent 95% of businesses in Africa and the private sector is expected to be decisive in the post-Covid recovery. All agreements should be compatible with human rights, labour and environmental standards and in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals, said the report. The report also calls on international lenders, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to do more to relieve the debt burdens of African countries, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Global economy

WTO members, international organizations outline Aid for Trade activities amid COVID-19 (WTO)

An overview of recent Aid for Trade activities was given by WTO members, international financial institutions and observer organisations at a session of the Committee on Trade and Development on 8 February dedicated to the Aid for Trade initiative. A workshop organized by the Committee on 7 February explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards the digital economy and the constraints that developing countries face.

Participants discuss work plan for new trade and environmental sustainability talks (WTO)

WTO members taking part in a new initiative on trade and environmental sustainability met on 7 February to review a proposed 2022 work plan and exchange views on priorities for discussion. Representatives from international organizations and civil society groups also offered their views on the focus for work in the coming year.

Not a moment to lose, in race to meet Sustainable Development Goals: Guterres (UN News)

“The well-being of people around the world, the health of our planet, and the survival of future generations depend on our willingness to come together around a commitment to collective problem-solving and action”, said UN chief António Guterres. “We don’t have a moment to lose”. He urged those attending the first of five thematic consultations at UN Headquarters, the first devoted to Accelerating and Scaling up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to “make progress on the substance and the search for consensus, as much as possible this year”.

Noting that “there is no one-size-fits-all social contract”, Mr. Guterres reminded that Our Common Agenda proposes an intergovernmental World Social Summit in 2025 to “coordinate action and create momentum on a global scale” towards reaching the goals, while taking stock of efforts to renew the social contract. “The ending of poverty in all its forms everywhere is not just the objective of SDG 1, but the primary objective of the 2030 Agenda itself”, he stated. “Poverty is not only the absence of income”, he said, advocating for a global economy that works for all, including safeguarding public health, reforming the world’s financial system, and protecting the environment.


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