Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Country-related news

Red tape delaying R90bn investment in ready-to-go projects – Minerals Council (Mining Weekly)

Red tape is delaying investment worth R90-billion in ready-to-go mining-related projects, at a time when the South African economy is in desperate need of such projects proceeding, to create jobs and to stimulate economic growth. Projects worth R30-billion would be able to proceed if the 4 000-plus mining and prospecting rights backlog could be eliminated, and R60-billion worth of renewable energy projects could release 3 900 MW into the energy space if inhibiting bureaucracy were removed, Minerals Council South Africa has revealed in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address (SoNA).

Against the background of the President appointing stalwart Sipho Nkosi to remove red tape, Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter stated in a release to Mining Weekly: “We need to do things completely differently to get economic growth back to 5% per annum. The government should be the chief enabler and the private sector the chief doer,” said Baxter. The SoNA has opened the door for partnerships with the State to reverse the economic slump the government cannot address on its own.

PwC highlights Carbon Tax as single biggest revenue changer in upcoming Budget (Engineering News)

While professional services firm PwC foresees no significant tax changes in the upcoming 2022 Budget – to be delivered on February 23 – it does expect some Carbon Tax changes and more clarity on its third phase. Phase 1 of South Africa’s carbon tax comes to an end on December 31, this year, with Phase 2 to start thereafter. The carbon budget allowance will be phased out at the end of 2022. The Climate Change Bill will mandate participation in carbon budgets and it is expected that taxpayers that exceed their carbon budget will be subjected to a penal carbon tax rate of about R600 for every ton of emissions above their assigned budget, the firm warns.

Meanwhile, the firm says the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) was conservative in its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecasts for 2022 to 2024. PwC expects this conservative stance to continue in the 2022 Budget, although a slight upward revision could be expected for the current calendar year.

US investors eye bigger share of Kenyan market (Business Daily)

US President Joe Biden’s administration and American firms are expected to announce new investments in Kenya across sectors such as energy, health and agri-business as top officials and business delegation land in Nairobi this week. A brief released ahead of the visit by the US government seen by Business Daily said US deputy assistant secretary of State Akunna Cook and Prosper Africa acting chief operating officer Leslie Marbury will travel to Kenya alongside Nigeria, South Africa, and Namibia on an economic diplomacy visit, between February 14 and March 1. “The delegation will meet with entrepreneurs, women-owned and small and medium-sized enterprises, investors, and policy-makers to drive US trade and investment in Africa’s creative industries, ICT and digital technologies, and energy and infrastructure, among other fast-growing sectors,” said the US State Department. The visit by the US officials is part of president Biden’s new push to expand business ties between US companies and African countries like Kenya.

The effort is part of the revival of Prosper Africa, an initiative began by former US President Donald Trump in 2018 that the Biden administration aims to make the “centrepiece of US economic and commercial engagement with Africa.”

Kenya eyes direct flower exports to Gulf countries (Business Daily)

Kenya is looking to create a direct linkage of fresh flower cuts from farmers to United Arab Emirates and the other five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries as it seeks to diversify exports. The government is holding bilateral talks with GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – to remove tariffs and logistics constraints to increase export volumes. Currently, over 70 percent of the country’s flowers are exported to the Netherlands with only less than one percent into GCC. The country is eyeing the projected demand from the gulf region with over 54 million population, available cold storage facilities and direct flights, especially between Kenya and UAE.

21 export items: Uganda’s opportunity in Africa Trade Zone (Daily Monitor)

It is no longer a secret that most of Uganda’s products, despite being referred to as “good,”struggle to access prime markets. According to market research analysts and economic sector players, the market accessibility challenge is not a “new disease” but rather a “growing one”. This is because the market access issue has not only been neglected but also allowed to mushroom to a point that is now affecting the country’s products across the globe. The Covid -19 pandemic interruptions have taken a toll on the economy, impairing the country’s market access to the traditional market. The good news is that through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA,) there is a window that if well executed can turn Uganda into a top notch continental producer and provider of some of the needed goods and services. However, all this will depend on how well Uganda goes about its business in the continental trade.

While presenting the AfCFTA market Assessment Report publication (UNCCI, 2022) that sought to establish the potential product mix for Uganda’s exports to the AfCFTA to both private and public players at the launch of free trade awareness project last week in Kampala, Mr William Babigumira, team lead project said there are 21 products that have potential for expanded exports into 11 priority AfCFTA markets.

Zambia Transport Report 2022 (Business Wire)

The “Transport in Zambia 2022” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering. Zambia is a landlocked country and depends on a strong and efficient transport system for the smooth transit of exports and imports and growth of its economy. However, economic conditions and poor maintenance of transport infrastructure mean that this industry faces significant challenges, and requires further investment. The 923m Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi river and one-stop border post facilities opened on 10 May 2021, aimed at easing the flow of trade and people between Botswana and Zambia. It will also provide alternative trade routes between SADC countries, and relieve some pressure off the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This report covers the Zambian Transport Industry, which includes road, rail, air, water and pipeline transport systems for passengers, freight, cargo, and crude oil. The report includes country information, developments, regulations and corporate actions and the factors that influence the industry,

World Bank Supports Cameroon and Chad to Improve Regional Connectivity and Resilience (World Bank)

Central African country Cameroon and its landlocked neighbor Chad are getting a significant boost to improve the efficiency and safety of cross-border trade and transit. The World Bank today approved a financing package to boost regional connectivity through a regional Cameroon-Chad Transport Corridor project. The World Bank also established Cameroon and Chad’s eligibility for the Prevention and Resilience Allocation. The Cameroon-Chad Transport Corridor Project will be supported by $538 million from the International Development Association (IDA). It combines investments in rail and road infrastructure, with interventions on trade facilitation to improve the flow of people, goods, and services along the multimodal Douala-N’Djamena corridor—that concentrates 35 percent of the GDP for both countries, 20 percent of Chad’s population, and 35 percent of Cameroon’s population. “Improving the rail and road corridor between Cameroon and Chad is essential for the competitiveness and improved integration of both countries into the regional market,” said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon. “This project is a real window of opportunity to improve the lives of people living in the Lake Chad region, which is affected by climate change, political unrest, and violence,” added Clara de Sousa, Country Director for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger.

African trade news

Making the continental free trade area work is a mountain before us – traders don’t realise this (Namibia Economist)

It is now one year since the Africa Continental Free Trade Area was supposed to start with tariff-free trading, an event that was much publicised with two container loads of goods shipped from Ghana, but that was also the last of any free trade. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area reminds me a lot about the ostrich industry in Namibia. Here we had a completely new commodity with a great future until the government started interfering around 2012 with grandiose ideas of creating an ostrich production hub in the south. But it was all centrally planned and like all communist systems, it went the way of the dodo.

According to the Trade Law Centre (Tralac) in South Africa, by September last year, the number of countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission, has grown to 38 with another three pending, despite the immense drag from Covid-19. This shows that a sizeable majority of all members of the African Union has put in place the instruments and structures to take the FTA from a concept to a functional entity. But Tralac, in their December 2021 bulletin, also highlights a number of issues indicating that the African Continental Free Trade Area is at this stage still just an idea and that many years and many multilateral agreements will still be required before it becomes a real thing.

Africa: AfCFTA update – the streamlining of intra-African trade gathers momentum (Lexology)

Just over a year ago, on 1 January 2021, trading began in African countries that had ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and submitted their tariff offers. All countries in Africa, except for Eritrea, have now signed the agreement and 39 countries have ratified it so far, including most of Africa’s major economies (South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, for example). AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene said recently that the negotiations on the rules of origin had been completed and 87.7% of the rules agreed. He said AfCFTA member states would now gazette these legal instruments nationally so that the rules of origin could be applied. Further, the Protocol on Dispute Settlement has been operationalized and the negotiation of rules for appointing members of the dispute-settlement body is in progress. The AfCFTA tariff book, which will include rules of origin and the customs procedures that apply to products, will be published imminently. This tariff book will enable traders to identify and apply the correct rules of origin and associated tariffs to each specific product.

A sophisticated pan-African legal and regulatory framework that enables digital trade transactions is also vital for the success of AfCFTA. Phase two of AfCFTA negotiations have begun, which include discussions on competition policy, investment protection and intellectual property rights, as well as deciding on the rules for governing trade on digital platforms. The intention is to conclude these negotiations by the end of 2022. Further, the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a platform that facilitates free trading, was launched in January 2022, with the African Export-Import Bank providing liquidity for the settlements and the technology. The AfCFTA secretariat provided the legal framework for the platform, which will be legally tied and anchored to the AfCFTA.

The impact of COVID-19 has provided further impetus for African governments to overhaul national regulation relating to tariffs, bilateral trade, cross-border initiatives as well as capital flows – which will all allow for the full and successful implementation of AfCFTA. Domestic policies will also play a crucial role in alleviating some of the current trade barriers that are not related to tariffs, such as issues around corruption, infrastructure development, onerous regulations, liquidity and security threats. However, even after tariffs are lowered and simplified procedures put in place, the full benefits of AfCFTA may not be realized unless other barriers to intra-regional trade have also been addressed. In light of these challenges, it is expected AfCFTA’s momentum will build gradually, with tangible benefits expected from 2030 onwards.

Regional plan focuses on SMEs in plan to ease import, export trade (Business Daily)

Regional revenue authorities will now focus on Small and Medium Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to improve uptake of Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) initiative, which has remained low since it was implemented in 2006. Tedious application processes that take long without sufficient guarantee that a company will be accredited has been cited as one of the major obstacles in the implementation of the AEO programme run by the customs authorities in East Africa, the latest report on logistics has revealed. SMMEs have over the years complained of being cost-disadvantaged and have not been able to keep up with the high standards and stringent measures adopted by customs in vetting the companies for AEOs accreditation. AEOs are compliant and trusted traders who are allowed to operate with minimal customs controls. The scheme significantly reduces the physical and document-based controls, offers priority treatment in customs, and guarantees easy access to customs by businesses, among other benefits. A study by the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), revealed that low uptake of the AEO scheme by SMMEs is due to low level of awareness, the complexity of the programme, and the insufficient capacity of most businesses to meet requirements.

TradeMark East Africa turns west, aims to improve Lagos-Abidjan trade route (The Africa Report)

The secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) asked TradeMark to look at West Africa, and it has secured an initial grant from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Matsaert says. TradeMark will be seeking to get further grants and private-sector funding, he adds. “Our aim is to become a pan-African trade facilitator.”

Northern Corridor seeks new routes to ease congestion at Malaba, Busia​ (The East African)

The Northern Corridor is surveying alternative transit routes within East Africa to increase cargo haulage and reduce backlog at border points. The transport corridor, long disadvantaged by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and facing fierce competition from the Central Corridor, is now eyeing alternative transit routes through Lwakhakha (Kenya-Uganda border), Nadapal (Kenya-South Sudan border), and Todonyang (Kenya-Uganda-Ethiopia border). The Northern Corridor links the Kenya sea port of Mombasa to the hinterland countries of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. “To ease congestion of traffic at Malaba and Busia border stations and to offer alternative transit routes for truckers, the NCTTCA Policy Organs in their August 2021 session, directed the Secretariat to undertake a trade and transport logistics survey of Northern Corridor alternative transit routes through Lwakhakha and Nadapal,” said Justus Omae Nyarandi, the executive secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA).

Despite Kenya having many border stations in operation, only two — Busia and Malaba — are used by heavy commercial vehicles. However, with increasing volumes of traffic on the Northern Corridor, these stations are stretched, often leading to long queues of trucks and delays in clearance of freight. Total cargo throughput at Mombasa increased in the past five years, from 27 million tonnes in 2016 to 34 million tonnes in 2020 against a target of 35.90 million tonnes, the June 2021 Northern Corridor Observatory Report shows.

East Africa plans integrated approach to reap from migration (Independent)

The East African Community (EAC) is consulting widely on ways of streamlining migration in the region to make it more beneficial to the development of the member countries. The ministers in charge of EAC, internal and labour, directorates of immigration from the region, as well as the EAC Secretariat, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other UN agencies hope to establish a Regional Consultative Process on Migration (RCP) after their meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. According to the Secretariat, the RCP is aimed at addressing migration in “a holistic approach and build effective consultation networks on migration governance and policy frameworks that promote migration and development.”

Empowering farmers with innovative financing (Business Daily)

In sub-Saharan Africa, around 80 percent of agricultural production is by smallholder farmers, who are mostly rural women. Most economies are predominantly agriculture-based. However, the limited investment in value-addition is making farming mostly low-income activity, not able to provide the rural population with adequate income. As a way of addressing some of the challenges collectively, smallholder farmers have resorted to forming and running their own collectives in form of cooperatives and other outfits. The cooperative sector is considered a lifeline for many women, men and young people because of the concept of pooling resources. While these farmer-based organisations have weathered some challenges through a value chain approach to production, there are still outstanding challenges.

Some of the current challenges are lack of suitable financial products, high cost of inputs, unfavourable agricultural and financing policies, a lack of knowledge in farming as a business, negative perception by members, weak management and governance and issues of climate change. These are but just a few.

African tech startups could unlock $90bn with reforms (African Business)

Africa could secure tech startup funding of more than $90bn by 2030, if policymakers pursue significant reforms to drive growth, according to a new report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Using data that covers the past six years, the former UK prime minister’s institute projected a business-as-usual scenario versus an improved policy-environment scenario. Projected until 2030, this scenario sees African startup funding reaching $93.9bn, based on the assumption that gains from the past few years are maintained. To achieve the goal, governments need to enable more tech financing, cultivate the business environment and strengthen networks, says the institute. The improved policy-environment case is based on the compound annual growth rate of venture-capital funding to Africa between 2015 and 2020. “Recognising the importance of these ecosystems for jobs and growth, governments are putting in place bold measures to support tech entrepreneurs. With the creation of the AfCFTA, the possibility of a continent-wide single digital market is now real. If current positive trends are sustained, and the transformative potential of technology is unlocked, Africa could secure tech-startup funding of more than $90bn by 2030,” the report says.

Winning imperatives for Africa’s power and energy industry in 2022 (ESI Africa)

Access to power and energy is the key to industrialisation, modernisation, and socio-economic development of the African continent. With an abundance of natural resources and unprecedented renewable energy potential, Africa is on the path to reap maximum benefits from the power and energy sector in 2022. It is also expected to boost the economy of the region through employment and new industry establishment. Oil and gas are valuable energy resources and lifelines of developed economies. It supports socio-economic development and ensures energy security. As the foundation of global energy and economic development, oil and gas has the potential to eradicate the energy crisis, and enable economic growth. Positioned as the world’s last frontier in oil exploration, Africa is accelerating oil and gas exploration activities, making important discoveries in the past year that mark the beginning of a promising decade for the continent.

Sustainable and green energy has massive potential if done right with the proper measures. Multinational companies and international organisations have joined hands to promote sustainable energy development and enable universal access to electricity through programmes like “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” and the “2030 Agenda”. However, difficult operating environments, lack of transparency, regulatory uncertainty, political instability, and ongoing lack of infrastructure might hinder investment opportunities.

For the power and energy market, 2022 will be the year that defines the decade as many leaders, organisations and businesses have expressed their interest and commitment to attain inclusive and sustainable growth in Africa.

There is a need to improve access to modern energy to boost Africa’s economic development. Currently, in sub-Saharan Africa, fossil fuels make up about 40% of the total energy mix. We can expect a rise in these numbers as oil and natural gas exploration projects accelerates throughout the continent. Despite the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fossil fuel development and investment, the discovery of new light oil and shale gas reservoirs has reaffirmed Africa’s position and potential to be a key oil-producing region.

Rwanda gears up to host Commonwealth meeting (The East African)

Rwanda has allocated $4.7 million towards preparation to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that will take place in Kigali in June. The meeting, which was first set for June 2020, has already been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the first postponement, Rwanda had put aside up to Rwf10 billion ($10.5 million) to improve and build infrastructure needed for the event.

“We have been preparing for CHOGM for a long time so most of what was supposed to be done has been done. In this budget we allocated money for those things that haven’t yet been completed. The rest of the money will meet expenses related to receiving and hosting CHOGM delegates,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana.

Will EU-African summit reform Europe-Africa relations? (Africanews)

The whole idea for the EU-African Union Summit, which is expected to take place in Brussels next Thursday (17 February), started some two years ago after the EU set out its plan for a ‘strategic partnership’ with Africa. The EU plans to unveil six initiatives at the Summit, including three investment packages, as part of what it calls a ‘Prosperous and Sustainable Partnership’. “At the summit, investments will be at the heart of the discussions because they are the means of our shared ambition,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Senegal’s capital Dakar on Thursday, after announcing that the Global Gateway would comprise an investment plan worth more than €150 billion for Africa. Though the summit promises to establish an EU investment platform in each Africa, it will not be backed by any new financing commitment by Brussels. Most importantly is to find out how much of the $450 billion Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund last year, a large chunk of which was allocated to EU member states, will be reallocated to Africa to help cover the costs of the COVID pandemic.

EU will continue to partner with Nigeria on investments – Official (Premium Times Nigeria)

The European Union (EU) Commission on Tuesday said it would continue to partner Nigeria on business opportunities, investments and other developmental issues. The Executive Vice President of the European Union (EU), Margrethe Vestager, gave the assurance during a visit to the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Adeniyi Adebayo, at the Old Federal Secretariat Complex in Abuja.

According to Ms Vestager, “I have trust in agriculture as it has the capacity to create access to trade channels that would otherwise be difficult.” She said the EU was open to holding high level talks with Nigerian authorities with a view to knowing specific priorities that benefit the citizenry. “We are open to holding high level talks with Nigerian authorities to know specific areas of priority especially as it pertains the industrialization of the nation. In the coming days, we hope to intensify discussion that will lead to signing investment agreements with Nigeria which will facilitate industrialization.

Africa’s Ties With Europe Should Be Shaped by African Agency (World Politics Review)

The sixth leaders’ summit between the African Union and European Union will finally take place this week in Brussels, following several postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally occurring every three years, the summit was initially scheduled for 2020. The AU-EU summit is often touted as the ideal venue for European and African elites to discuss issues of mutual concern. But this one is particularly significant, as it provides the opportunity for both sides to unpack the new EU strategy directed toward Africa, which was launched in 2020

EU aims to counter China’s Africa drive with €20bn plan (BusinessLIVE)

The EU is working on a €20bn financing package to support African transport networks, as well as energy, digital, education and health projects to counter China’s reach in the continent. Member states, however, have yet to commit to financing the infrastructure plans, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The bloc’s plan includes strategic corridors, international submarine cables, new energy interconnections and investments in renewable sources in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Morocco and Kenya, according to a draft of the package seen by Bloomberg. The investment is aimed at underpinning the new partnership that the EU and Africa want to seal at a February 17-18 summit in Brussels.

African leaders have prioritised roads, railways and bridges. But some EU governments face national budgetary constraints that make it hard for them to pledge significant funding ahead of the meeting, while others, including Germany, remain sceptical about the readiness of some of the proposals, officials added.

EU, Gates Foundation to support African medicines agency – source (Reuters)

The European Union and the Gates Foundation are set to announce financial support for nascent efforts to set up an African medicines regulator to boost the continent’s drugs and vaccine production, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. The treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency (AMA) came into force in November but the agency currently exists only on paper. So far just over half of the 55 African Union (AU) member states have ratified the treaty setting up the AMA. Financial and technical support to the new agency is seen as crucial to help it to begin operations. This in turn would be a boost for the continent’s vaccine and drugs industry, which needs a trusted regulator to flourish.

African countries must protect their fish stocks from the European Union – here’s how (The Conversation Africa)

Fisheries serve as a source of employment for millions of people in the small scale sector on the coastline of Africa. Their fishing activities, in turn, provide food security to over 200 million Africans. To regulate the fishing industry, African countries have signed numerous agreements with trading blocs such as the European Union (EU). The EU has two forms of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements with African states: the tuna agreement and the mixed agreement. The tuna agreement allows EU vessels to pursue migrating tuna stocks as they move along the shores of Africa and through the Indian ocean. The mixed agreement allows EU vessels access to a wide range of fish stocks in the coastal state’s exclusive economic zones.

While these agreements contribute revenue to coastal states, who cannot extract the resources themselves, they are not all that they seem.

UK-Africa relations: The need for an urgent reset (Brookings Institution)

The COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit economic and political orientation towards the Asia-Pacific, and cuts in development assistance all appear to have widened the political and economic distance between the U.K. and Africa in recent years. But these changes are part of a long-term trend of a slow decline in the relationship: For example, Africa’s share of U.K. imports has fallen from 2.1 percent to 1.7 percent over the last 10 years (ONS). The trade, aid, and financing environment within Africa is also changing: Despite delays in its negotiation and implementation, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), under which trading began in 2021, represents a significant opportunity for many African countries to transform their economies and develop regional value chains, reducing reliance on trade and investment with the U.K. and other traditional partners. Both Africa and the U.K. can benefit from a reversal of this trend. Indeed, given the dynamism of many African economies, technological innovations, and the climate change challenge, stronger strategic engagement with Africa is essential for the U.K., now more than ever. From a commercial point of view, demand from Africa is not only increasing but also becoming more sophisticated as its middle class expands. This growth generates medium- and long-term opportunities for investment in critical sectors such as business services, in which the U.K. has substantial expertise.

Global economy

Outlook 2022: Global Trade Trends in 2021 – US, China, and the Rest of the World (Proshare Nigeria)

On a global scale, trade growth continued in 2021. The value of global trade in goods increased in each quarter of 2021 although recovery was more muted for trade in services, remaining below its pre-pandemic levels. Global trade stabilized Q-o-Q growth was still positive in Q3 2021. The value of global trade in goods and services added about 1 % to the already high level of the previous quarter. Global trade growth was about 24 % in Q3 2021, on a year-over-year basis, significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, with an increase of about 13% relative to Q3 2019. Valued at about USUS$ 5.6 trillion, the global trade in goods set a new all-time record in Q3 2021. Trade-in services stood at about USUS$ 1.5 trillion. The quarter-over-quarter growth of trade in goods was about 0.7%, while that of services was about 2.5%. On a year-on-year basis, the trade growth rate for goods remains substantially higher than for services (22 % vs 6 %). Both the trend of slower growth for the trade in goods, as well as a more positive trend for services, will probably continue in Q4 2021. Trade-in goods are expected to remain constant at about USUS$ 5.6 trillion in Q4 2021, while the trade-in services will likely continue to slowly recover.

A glance at the major trading economies shows that as of Q3 2021 shows that compared to the average before the pandemic, US Import of Goods rose by 14% while exports only a managed 7% increase. In the case of Brazil, good imports rose by 20% while the import of services fell by 25%. China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, and the EU all recorded services import lower pre-pandemic levels.

Greater Transparency on Hidden and Distressed Debt Can Reduce Global Financial Risks and Support Recovery (World Bank)

Developing countries face growing risks from financial fragility created by the COVID-19 crisis and non-transparent debt, says a new World Bank report. As rising inflation and interest rate increases pose further challenges to recovery, developing countries need to focus on creating healthier financial sectors. According to World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery, risks may be hidden because the balance sheets of households, businesses, banks, and governments are tightly interrelated. Today, high levels of non-performing loans and hidden debt impair access to credit, and disproportionately reduce access to finance for low-income households and small businesses. “The risk is that the economic crisis of inflation and higher interest rates will spread due to financial fragility. Tighter global financial conditions and shallow domestic debt markets in many developing countries are crowding out private investment and dampening the recovery,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “It is critical to work toward broad-based access to credit and growth-oriented capital allocation. This would enable smaller and more dynamic firms – and sectors with higher growth potential -- to invest and create jobs.”

Ensuring Equitable Digital Futures for Everyone (UNDP)

The strategy will also help guide the organization in its efforts to tackle the emerging challenges associated with our new digital world. If left unchecked, digital technology can exacerbate existing inequalities and reinforce biases. And while some progress has been made in closing the digital divide, 2.9 billion people – mostly in developing countries, and mostly women, remain without access to the Internet. “We’re committed to a rights-based, whole-of-society approach to digital transformation that leaves no one behind. We want to make digital work for everyone, everywhere – this generation, and future ones,” added Robert Opp.

UNDP will also engage with global and local businesses and entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, young people, and policymakers to foster collaboration around the responsible and sustainable use of technology. This necessary conversation will feed into the work of the UNDP Accelerator Labs network as it surfaces and scales up local development solutions – many of which are digital.

‘Historic expansion’ of joint UN fund to boost sustainable development (UN News)

“The Fund is in a position to bridge the gap in giving and impact investing”, said Hiro Mizuno, UN Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments, adding that it offers “a sustainable investment model by leveraging the power of markets to accelerate businesses, empower communities, and provide a clear path to self-sufficiency.”. From health in a world still plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic to youth empowerment and climate change, the investments will respond to the challenges of our time, said the Fund in a press release. The Fund is in a position to bridge the gap in giving and impact investing – UN Special Envoy Kenya, Madagascar, North Macedonia, Suriname, and Zimbabwe were selected from proposals submitted by over 100 countries, as being the most impactful and investment-ready to take public.

Emerging strategies for ports during the pandemic (pdf, UNCTAD)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on humankind and on global commerce. Ports and port communities have experienced major changes to normal operating environments. The strategies used by ports to remain open and continue to facilitate sustainable economic development throughout the pandemic may provide useful lessons for policymakers, particularly in relation to the protocols and innovative measures that have been employed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the movement of imports and exports as well as ships’ crew and essential port workers.


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