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TFR to release tender in April for take-or-pay access to container corridors (Engineering News)
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) will release a request for proposals (RFP) on April 1 for the sale of slots to private operators on the key container corridor linking Gauteng and Durban, as well as parts of the Cape corridor. The State-owned utility tells Engineering News that it is in the process of finalising the number of slots to be made available during the first phase of the initiative, which is designed to arrest what has been a steady decline over several years, but which worsened considerably during the Covid lockdowns.
The corridor is currently running at a loss, while on-time arrival of trains averages 20% and train running time averages 36 hours against an 18-hour design. The unpredictability of service is undercutting TFR’s revenue and also negatively affecting the port system with containers arriving outside of the three-day stack window.
“The overall competitiveness remains a challenge hence we believe that the introduction of private operators will strengthen and densify the corridor, enhance efficiencies and contribute to growth in key sectors of the economy,” TFR explains.
It is once again time for the South African Investment Conference (SAIC), which is scheduled to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, on March 24. Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on February 28 outlined the preparations under way for the conference, highlighting that the conference serves as a platform for the private sector to make pledges of investment in productive enterprises, which will end up as fixed investment in the economy.
Special economic adviser to the Presidency Trudi Makhaya shared the theme for the fourth instalment of the SAIC as being “unlocking investment for growth and job creation” with objectives including taking stock of government’s actions to support these investments, including on the policy front.
Promising future of Namibian diamonds (The Namibian)
The Namibian diamonds sector has been described as a sunrise industry whose future lies in the sea. This was said by Veston Malango, the chief executive officer of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, when he gave various stakeholders and potential investors a virtual overview of the sector at the Dubai Expo 2020 during the official launch of the Namibia Diamond Week on Wednesday.
Since diamonds occur not only onshore, but also in submarine deposits, a unique high-tech offshore diamond mining industry has developed in Namibia and Malango said diamonds are a major contributor to the Namibian economy, contributing on average 6,4% to the gross domestic product in the last 30 years.
Statistics Botswana (SB) on Thursday indicated that exports destined to Asia, the European Union (EU) and Southern African Customs Union (SACU) in December accounted for 62.9 percent, 21.6 percent and 8.7 percent of the total exports, respectively. Imports from SACU, however, made a contribution of 67 percent, while those from the EU and Asia accounted for 17.4 and 6.7 percent of total imports, respectively, during the month under review. “Imports from South Africa accounted for 63.5 percent of total imports. Belgium and Canada provided imports representing 16.0 and 4.1 percent, respectively,” said Statistician-General Burton Mguni in the International Merchandise Trade Statistics monthly digest for December.
Shortage of raw materials to see food prices rally (Business Daily)
Prices of animal and human feed are set to rise further in the coming months as shortages of raw materials continue to bite.
Millers are struggling with low supplies of the staple maize, in particular, a move that has seen the price of a two-kilo packet of flour jump to a high of Sh126 from Sh108 in December. “Raw material prices are expected to remain high for the rest of the financial year (ending June 2022),” Unga said. “This may worsen the already soaring human food and animal feeds price situation.” Kenya households are set to feel the impact of rising cost of flour as maize stocks from Tanzania and Uganda, which play a significant role in checking high prices in the local market, are dwindling.
Eight firms in race to build gas import terminals (Business Daily)
Kenya is reviewing applications of companies seeking to build eight privately-owned import terminals for cooking gas in another attempt to lower prices in the absence of government price controls on the commodity. Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) director-general Daniel Kiptoo told the Business Daily that the State has approved Lake Oil to start constructing its terminal at Kwale while the other seven are at various stages of evaluation. Kenya currently imports Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) through a privately-owned facility at the Port of Mombasa and the Port of Dar-es-Salaam, locking out competition that is key to lowering the cost of cooking gas. The absence of competition, the 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) and a lack of common-user government-owned facility at the Port of Mombasa have been blamed for the high prices.
“We have eight privately-owned import terminals for LPG that are at various stages of approval. Some are already doing their Environmental Impact Assessment and two weeks ago we approved Lake Oil to do their plant in Kwale,” Mr Kiptoo said on Thursday.
Uganda coffee farmers unhappy over withdrawal from ICO (The East African)
Coffee farmers in Uganda are protesting the decision by authorities not to renew the country’s membership to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) fearing they could lose premium markets for their beans but the government maintains it is negotiating better terms. Uganda, which is currently Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, said recently that it will not renew its ICO membership over a series of “unreasonable articles” in the new two-year International Coffee Agreement issued to ICO member states. The ICO is the main intergovernmental organisation that brings together coffee exporting and importing governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation.
Uganda’s decision has left local farmers worried of the consequences which may include loss of premium markets especially in Europe to where the country exports about 80 percent of its total coffee produced annually.
Tanzania bags Sh17.3 trillion deals at Expo Dubai (The Citizen)
Tanzania’s public and private institutions have signed a total of 36 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) valued at $7.49 billion (nearly to Sh17.3 trillion) with their United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterparts. That was revealed yesterday by Investment, Industry and Trade minister, Dr Ashatu Kijaji when addressing the business and investment forum held alongside the Dubai Expo 2020.
“This forum provides opportunities for both countries to consolidate and strengthen economic relations through investment and trade which align with Tanzania government’s efforts to drive economic growth and sustainable development through industrialization,” she said.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the federal government to help drive growth in the manufacturing sector by ensuring that incentives, intervention programs and policies are broad enough to cover all sector payers, particularly those with linking activities. Mansur Ahmed, president, MAN said this at the 6th edition of the MAN reporter of the year award and presidential media luncheon, where he noted that although the government and its agencies are making efforts to improve economic and commercial activities for businesses through the provision of intervention funds, enabling policies, etc. This, he said, will have minimal impact if such efforts are restricted to specific sub-sectors or businesses. “Sometimes incentives don’t work if they are not all-encompassing for example, the CBN introduced the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) intervention for cotton growers but this has limited impact because that intervention was not really extended to manufacturers, hence the cotton was grown but there is little or no value for it,” he said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) since its commencement in January 2021, has recorded very little impact in boosting trade activities across the continent. According to experts, the sub-optimal impact of AfCFTA despite its potential rides on the back of a number of things including slow documentation, challenging payment systems, logistics challenges, among other things. Speaking at the Africa Business Convention 2022 recently organized by BusinessDay themed, ‘Africa recovery’, economic experts unanimously agreed that the trade agreement provides an opportunity for Africa to accelerate its economic recovery leveraging trade. A caveat to this however was that the provisions of the trade agreement be effectively and efficiently implemented optimizing three key tools which are industrialization, value addition and technology.
Heads of States in Africa have been urged to work at providing the needed transport infrastructure to engender connectivity to fast-track the implementation of the free trade agreement. They have also been asked to expedite investment into manufacturing of products through the identification and value addition to raw materials and create access to credit to private businesses.
Mr Doni-Kwame indicated that the most important thing was for States to create an enabling environment for the private sector to have access to affordable credit so they could produce more manufactured products. He noted that while AfCFTA guaranteed access to market, affordable credit to the private sector was critical to aid them enhance production and expansion.
Dr Doni-Kwame called for investment in infrastructural development and urged the Heads of States to ensure that: “There is intra country connectivity; be it rail, airlines, shipping lines, and once you have that, people know they can move their goods from one country to the other.” He stated that: “Once you do this, apart from your indigenes manufacturing, you can also attract the necessary investment.”
Women are key players in the realisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) according to discussions on the sidelines of the 8th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) in Kigali, Rwanda. The session entitled: ‘AfCFTA as a vehicle for gender equality towards agendas 2030 and 2063’ shed light on the significance of the AfCFTA in achieving gender equality towards achieving SDG 5 and Agenda 2063 in Africa; discussed the challenges and prospects for utilizing the opportunities presented by trade and AfCFTA towards gender equality in the realisation of SDG 5 and Agenda 2063.
Mama Keita, Director of ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for East Africa, noted that “African women-owned businesses contribute to 60% of gross domestic product. Women can only fully engage in trade if they live lives of self-determination. It is up to us to remove barriers in the development of the continent and offer opportunities and measure success through the eyes of women and youth.”
MSMEs, Key divers to inclusive and sustainable development for emerging markets in Africa (Virtual PIDA Information Centre)
Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) play outsized roles in African economies, contributing an estimated 80% of the continent’s workforce in both formal and informal sectors. The economic growth and long-term sustainability for emerging markets lie in the development of MSMEs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing containment measures not only affected large corporate entities but also MSMEs which experienced even greater challenges accessing finance. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) with GIZ technical advisory support to the Continental Business Network (CBN) responded to the needs of MSMEs. AUDA-NEPAD collaborated with GIZ to launch the Call for Proposals – COVID-19: Economic Recovery Through Infrastructure Service Delivery. The intended objective of the initiative was to support small-scale infrastructure projects by providing technical advisory support to MSMEs through CBN.
AUDA-NEPAD called upon MSMEs and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from the AU Members States to submit infrastructure project proposals for further technical advisory and market packaging to facilitate access to finance. Sixty-one MSMEs project applications were received through the call for proposal.
The support to MSMEs continues with AUDA-NEPAD and GIZ Green Infrastructure Corridors for the Intra-Africa Trade (support to PIDA) program. The focus is on assisting MSMEs to access capital through sound technical advice with a focus on commercial viability, regulatory, procurement compliance, and trade readiness. GIZ support to AUDA-NEPAD will focus on digital solutions within the green infrastructure and trade domains. The second call for proposals will be opened by mid-2022 to early-stage and established MSME where the aim is to develop viable business models to attract financing to pilot projects and later stage MSMEs for expansion. Error: request timed out
Five Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States, namely Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi are voluntarily participating in the Corridor Trip Monitoring System (CTMS) pilot being implemented on sections of the Trans Kalahari, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi, Beira, Nacala and North-South Corridors. The pilot is to test the CTMS feasibility and functionalities with a view to improving it for full implementation in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The current extent of the pilot is reflected in the map accompanying this article which reflects CTMS deployment across sections of major regional trade corridors. The CTMS is an initiative of the three Regional Economic Communities - COMESA, EAC and the SADC - under the Tripartite Arrangement/Framework and is aimed at facilitating safe regional trade and transport facilitation, tourism and the reopening of economies following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
he Government of Zambia in partnership with the European Union (EU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have conducted the official launch of the 6.8 million Euros project to upgrade Zambian border posts. The project, Zambia Border Posts Upgrade Project (ZBPUP), whose implementation has been underway since the signing of the financing agreement in November 2020, aims at improving intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services. It focuses on interventions identified as key to improving the trade and trade facilitation profile of Zambia. So far, considerable progress has been made in capacity building and sensitization at the three border posts namely Mwami (Zambia/ Malawi), Chirundu (Zambia /Zimbabwe) and Nakonde (Zambia/Tanzania). “This project will assist to improve, import and export procedures, transit requirements, customs and reduce time spent at the border,” Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Chipoka Mulenga said during the launch ceremony in Lusaka on Thursday 24 February 2022. “The removal of incentives that contribute to corrupt practices will contribute to enhanced revenue collection and improve business competitiveness in Zambia.”
COMESA has conducted two studies to address bottlenecks that impede small scale trade flows within the region. The first study aims at determining the best approach towards smooth implementation of the Simplified Trade Regime (STR). The second relates to the sustainability of trade information desks currently established at border points. The studies were inspired by the need to increase formal small-scale cross-border trade, to enhance revenue collection for governments at the borders, generate higher incomes for small-scale cross-border traders and increase security, among others. The STR is a COMESA initiative whose implementation started in 2010 and has since been adopted in other regions. The STR formalizes cross-border transactions enabling small scale cross border traders to benefit from the tariff preferences available under regional integration. It makes it easier to collect information and data and ultimately improve domestic and regional policy making on trade and trade-related activities in the region. Small scale traders also have ease of access across borders if their goods fall within the Common List of products agreed upon between neighbouring States.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) have a long standing development partnership on priority areas of regional economic integration, peace and security, regional natural resources management, and institutional capacity building. These priority areas are aligned with SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-2030 and Vision 2050. The priority areas are an all-encompassing approach to regional integration for the peace and prosperity of citizens of Southern Africa. In support of the SADC’s integration agenda, objectives and strategies, the EU is supporting a number of programmes which include, SADC Dialogue Facility, Integrated Institutional Capacity Building (IICB), Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Action + Programme in SADC Region (GCCA+), Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region (SPSS), Support to Improving the Investment and Business Environment (SIBE): Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) and Support Programme towards Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors (SIPS).
Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP): TFP aims to increase intra-regional trade by strengthening capacities for streamlining border processes and monitoring and resolving non-tariff and technical barriers to trade; and by promoting implementation of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership agreement by developing a more favourable trading environment, SADC Member States will be able to better integrate in global value chains, creating wealth, jobs and additional government revenues.
Mobile drives Africa’s booming digital economy (IT-Online)
Kathy Gibson is at Mobile World Congress 2022 – Africa’s digital economy, driven by mobile commerce, could be worth as much as $180-billion by 2025. This is one of the conclusions from a new white paper, “Towards a Flourishing Digital Economy for all – a Spotlight on Africa”, commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Trade and conducted by GSMA’s Mobile World Live team of analysts and presented today on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress 2022.
Digital commerce is growing fast all over the world, removing physical barriers to trade and increasing choice for millions of people. It also frees up time to pursue other activities. This is especially the case in developing economies, with the United Nations estimating that Internet business in Africa could add $180-billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025. However, Africa is a mobile-first continent, with leading digital vendors estimating that 75% of their transactions are made via smartphone.
The 7th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week 2021 has kicked off in Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) Nairobi, through a hybrid format and will take place from 28th February to 4th March 2022.
Speaking during a pre-opening session, Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina, said governments are responsible for creation of conducive environment for business. She underscored the role of SMEs in the growth of the economy noting that in Africa, the SMEs make up 90 percent of the private sector and provide an estimated 80 percent of jobs across the continent.
This years event will focus on how Africa can lead the way in the delivery of infrastructure in a post-COVID era, supporting the economic and social imperatives of the continent in the digital age.
African airlines revenue loss to be $4.9 billion in 2022: AFRAA (Logistics Update Africa)
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) noted that airline revenues remained low with many operators battling with cash-flow issues. “Full year revenue loss for 2022 is estimated at US$4.9 billion, equivalent to 28 percent of the 2019 revenues. In 2021, African airlines cumulatively lost $8.6b in revenues due to the impact of the pandemic, representing 49 percent of 2019 revenues,” reads the release. In the month of February 2022, AFRAA estimates that African airlines’ capacity reached 64 percent compared to same month in 2019. Similarly, traffic is estimated at 49 percent.
With a growing number of African leaders taking steps to drive Africa’s clean energy transition, the African Investment Forum (AIF) has announced plans to showcase the $50 billion worth of bankable projects in the works. The multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary platform announced its plans to hold virtual boardroom sessions, discussing the 45 advance deals in the pipeline. Some of these included an investment to develop over 220km of electric transmission lines under a long term public-private partnership agreement (PPA). The investment also outlines a project with a ten-year goal to roll out broadband infrastructure to over 800,000 residential and small business customers. The projects promise not only to progress Africa’s clean energy standards but to provide employment and social development opportunities across Africa.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) has approved its Strategy for Quality Health Infrastructure in Africa 2022-2030, a historic first for the Bank. The strategy was developed in response to a call by the Bank’s Governors for the institution to define its role in addressing Africa’s health infrastructure deficits, highlighted by the ongoing pandemic. The strategy focuses on three categories of health infrastructure that match the African Development Bank’s comparative advantage, providing the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of the Bank’s African member countries. It will be anchored in national health systems and sets out three cross-cutting themes: improved internet and communications technology connectivity, to strengthen health information systems and support innovation; promoting regional collaboration and harmonizing health policies and regulation; and policy dialogue and technical assistance.
China-Africa trade has bucked the global economic downward trend, and analysts believe it has contributed to the African economy’s resilience in the face of COVID-19 challenges.
China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years. According to the latest data released by the General Administration of Customs of China, the total bilateral trade between China and Africa in 2021 reached 254.3 billion U.S. dollars, up 35.3 percent year on year, among which, Africa exported 105.9 billion dollars of goods to China, up 43.7 percent year on year. China has maintained its position as the largest investor in Africa over the last 10 years, according to a new report by Swiss-African Business Circle released in February.
The United States is the second-largest investor in Africa, followed by France and Turkey, in third and fourth positions, respectively. Globally, Africa’s external trade performance in 2021 was very strong. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) data in November, Africa’s import and export of goods increased by 31 percent and 40 percent respectively in the third quarter of 2021.
South Africa is an important trading partner of China, with bilateral trade accounting for more than one-fifth of the total China-Africa trade. In 2021, the total trade volume between China and South Africa reached 54.35 billion dollars, with a year-on-year growth of 50.7 percent. In the same year, Chinese investment in South Africa reached 280 million dollars, including 130 million dollars in non-financial investment and 150 million dollars in financial investment.
United States Congressman Gregory Meeks has warned that the United States will only be part of the future if it invests in Africa now. The congressman from New York and Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee was speaking during a visit to the African Development Bank Group on Saturday, as he and a team of congressional colleagues concluded a tour of three West African countries. African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina and several senior Bank officials welcomed the group to the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan. “If the United States is not investing in Africa today – especially when we look at the size of Africa’s youth population, which is larger than America’s entire population– then we are not going to be a part of the future,” Meeks said.
Adesina and the visiting members of Congress agreed on the need for closer cooperation between the African Development Bank and US investors. Adesina said the Bank would open an office in Washington, D.C., once Board approval was secured. He explained that the office would provide guidance about how to structure substantive US private sector investment in Africa. “We’d like to see a lot more US direct investment in infrastructure,” Adesina said. “We look forward to working with the United States Trade and Development Agency and others on this.”
Adesina said African economies were rebounding, but the continent faced mounting commercial debt, the adverse impacts of climate change, lack of opportunities for youth, and poor access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Trade accounts for 50% of global GDP, making it a significant economic driver. That means trade – around two-thirds of which is conducted across value chains – plays a big role in shaping how we consume resources and our impact on the planet. Trade is also an important means of technology and new services diffusion that will be vital to tackling climate change and ensuring material circularity.
Debates on the sustainability of trade are not new – longstanding concerns exist around transport emissions, emissions outsourcing, traded-commodity driven deforestation and supply chain linked environmental destruction, pollution and waste dumping abroad, among others. Yet, trade has also been an enormous source of growth and prosperity, and contributed to lifting millions out of poverty over the past decades.
Looking ahead, 2022 will be an important year for the sustainable trade agenda, with new initiatives and debates emerging. Here’s five to follow:
Four United Nations organizations issued a joint statement on 28 February calling for continued global collaboration to address the crew change crisis that at times during the COVID-19 pandemic has left more than 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea. The International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), UNCTAD and the World Health Organization (WHO) urge governments, the shipping industry and other stakeholders to scale up efforts to safeguard seafarer health and safety and avoid supply chain disruptions during the ongoing pandemic. The organizations note that as COVID-19 travel restrictions eased and vaccination rates increased among maritime personnel, the humanitarian crisis at sea showed signs of improvement before the Omicron variant appeared.
Over 80% of the volume of global trade in goods is carried by sea. And throughout the pandemic, the world’s 1.9 million seafarers have played a vital role in keeping ships moving and ensuring critical goods such as food, medical equipment and vaccines are delivered. But restrictions to fight the spread of the pandemic have meant many seafarers couldn’t leave ships. They remained stranded at sea far beyond the expiration of their work contracts and often beyond the default 11-month maximum period of continuous service on board, as required by the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, as amended.
This paper empirically investigates the impact of tariffs when production is organized in global value chains. Using global input-output matrices, the researchers construct four different tariff measures that capture the direct and indirect exposure to tariffs at different stages of the production chain for a broad set of countries and industries. The results suggest that tariffs have significant effects on economic outcomes, including on countries and sectors not directly targeted. The authors find that tariffs higher up and further down in the value chain depress value added, employment, labor productivity and total factor productivity to varying degrees. They find no benefits for the sector that enjoys additional protection, yet there is some evidence of economic activity being diverted, i.e. positive effects on value added and employment from tariffs imposed on competitors. The paper relates to recent innovations in theoretical gravity models and provides an empirical assessment of possible long-term effects of recent trade tensions.
‘Our vulnerabilities laid bare’: Least developed countries react to IPCC’s Working Group II report (Down to Earth Magazine)
The group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) reacted to the Working Group II report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) February 28, 2022, stating that their vulnerabilities had been laid bare by it. Madeleine Diouf Sarr, chair of the LDC group, representing 46 of the world’s poorest countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, also urged rich countries to deliver their promises made to poor ones regarding climate finance, loss and damage and reducing emissions. “Our vulnerabilities are laid bare in this report. The science is telling us we are already reaching the limits of what we can adapt to at 1.1 degrees Celsius (°C). At 1.5°C, we know we will lose more still. The world must pursue both mitigation and adaptation at speeds and scales beyond what we have seen,” Diouff Sarr said in a statement. She said it was confirmed last year that developed countries had failed in their commitment to deliver $100 billion in climate finance by 2020. “The short fall must be made up urgently, to support our people to adapt to the worsening impacts the report confirms are coming,” she added.
The world has a rare opportunity to clean up the planet for future generations by uniting behind an ambitious treaty to tackle plastic trash, the UN environment chief told AFP. Inger Andersen said a global plastics treaty being negotiated in Nairobi “holds the potential and the promise of being the biggest multilateral environmental breakthrough” since the Paris climate accords signed in 2015. “This is a big moment. This is one for the history books,” the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) told AFP in an interview. The framework for a legally binding plastics agreement is still being hammered out ahead of a UN environment summit starting on Monday in Nairobi, where UNEP is headquartered.