Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Domestic, country-related news

SA economy grows by 1.2% in fourth quarter of 2021 (SAnews)

Trade grew by at least 2.9%, manufacturing recorded an increase of about 2.8%, personal services added at least 2.7% growth and transport and communications grew by some 2.2%.

South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2021, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced on Tuesday. “The fourth quarter was upbeat, with personal services, trade, manufacturing and agriculture the key drivers of growth. An increase in demand for goods and services drove up the expenditure side of the economy, with exports and household expenditure the most significant contributors to growth,” said Stats SA. The growth seen in the fourth quarter follows an upward revision 1.7% decrease in the third quarter.

Stats SA said the fourth quarter growth spurred the GDP annual growth rate to about 4.9% after a “dismal” 6.4% contraction during 2020 when the country was hampered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maize imports reach N$100 million in January (Namibian)

NAMIBIA imported over N$100 million worth of maize in January this year. Some 96% of the maize imported came from South Africa, and 4% from Zambia. This was reported by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) in its recently released national trading account data for the month. It is argued that the balance could have been less if Namibian maize companies did not source from their parent and related companies in South Africa only.

According to the report, Namibia is a net importer of maize, with monthly imports averaging N$55,6 million. Overall trading in the country during the first month of the year was at N$19,3 billion, exports at N$7,6 billion, and imports at N$11,7 billion, leaving a deficit of N$4,1 billion.

Farming, textiles hold key to Kenya’s exports (The East African)

Agriculture, textiles and minerals could spur Kenya’s export output in the next decade, Standard Chartered Bank says. In a report titled Future of Trade 2030: Trends and Markets to Watch, the bank identifies major corridors and five trends shaping the future of global trade. Kenya is the only East African country in the top 13 countries that will experience major export growth in the next 10 years. The research also found that 10 percent of global companies currently are or plan to manufacture in Kenya within the next five to 10 years. Kenya is projected to grow its exports annually at more than seven percent to cross $10.2 billion by 2030, with Pakistan, Uganda and the US the fastest growing export corridors for Nairobi.

Car importers caught in KPA, private port fight (Business Daily)

Car importers who had selected Unifreight cargo handlers have been caught in a fight between the private port owner and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) which has blocked clearance of their vehicles for almost a month. A car dealer who requested anonymity said KPA blocked all vehicles imported through the container freight station (CFS) over a longstanding debt dispute with Unifreight. KPA confirmed the ongoing dispute but said talks are ongoing to unlock the stalemate over the next couple of days. The agency did not disclose how much it is owed and Unifreight had not responded to our queries by the time of going to press. “KPA are working with Unifreight CFS to resolve this long outstanding matter. And we expect to conclude in the coming days,” KPA acting managing director John Mwangemi said.

Biden signals resumption of free trade talks with Kenya (Business Daily)

The US government has signalled the resumption of stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Nairobi and Washington, amidst growing unease in Kenya about the delay to conclude the deal. In a new report submitted to the US Congress by Joe Biden’s top trade diplomat Ambassador Katherine Tai, the Biden Administration said it “will hold further conversations with the Kenyan Government to establish a shared vision and partnership for economic resilience and to promote investment.” “The United States is committed to continue working with Kenya to deepen our trade and investment relationship, including by advancing worker-centred trade policies and promoting regional and continental economic integration in Africa,” said the US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) in the report published on March 1. “The Biden Administration will hold further conversations with the Kenyan Government to establish a shared vision and partnership for economic resilience and to promote investment, equitable and inclusive development, sustainable trade, and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation.”

Kenyans face expensive breakfast on Russia invasion, export cuts (Business Daily)

Kenyan households are set to for an expensive breakfast as the ongoing war in Eastern Europe forces Ukraine to introduce export quotas on wheat days after Russia temporarily banned shipping out of the commodity. Ukraine, which is one of the world’s top wheat producers, has set export restrictions on the crop and other agricultural products. Kenya relies on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia and the two countries are currently at war following Moscow’s invasion of their western neighbour. A government decree published Sunday said a license issued by the authorities is now required in order to export wheat, poultry meat, eggs and sunflower oil, a move aimed at checking the volumes being shipped out in order to protect local stocks for consumption. Locally, millers have warned that the prices will be going up in the next couple of months on the account of the high international price.

Small-Scale Trade Set to Rise at Kenya-Ethiopia Border (COMESA)

Small scale trade along the Kenya-Ethiopia border is poised to thrive following bilateral negotiations between the two parties to agree on a Common List of products to be traded under the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR). The negotiations took place on 1st March 2022 at the Moyale border post and addressed the implementation of the STR between two countries. The STR was launched in 2010, to enable small-scale traders’ benefit from COMESA’s trade liberalization programme by simplifying and formalizing the trade.

According to experts, effective implementation of the STR spurs growth, enhances production and productivity of the agricultural sectors through value addition and processing thereby creating jobs and increasing household incomes.

Uganda, USA discuss strengthening bilateral business relations (New Vision)

The Embassy of Uganda in Washington, DC, has hosted a Uganda-USA Business Breakfast Meeting in a drive to revitalize its Commercial Diplomacy and enhance Uganda-USA relations. Hosted at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, delegates at the meeting Thursday meeting included: US Trade Stakeholders, representatives of the U.S State Department, the IMF and the World Bank and diplomats of the East African Community.

The meeting themed, “Forging Towards Economic Recovery: We are Open For Business”, aimed towards economic recovery of Uganda and the U.S as the two countries gradually emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in the slowdown of the global economy over the last two years.

The objectives of the event were to reinvigorate efforts on boosting bilateral trade and investment flow between Uganda and USA; to share information about the current economic situation in Uganda and USA; to raise awareness about investment and business opportunities that exist in Uganda and USA; to create a platform for interaction between Uganda and USA businesses and private sectors as well as to identify areas that may need fast-tracking for economic recovery.

Can introduction of eNaira increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29bn? (Businessday)

Over the last few years, the fintech industry has taken the world by storm, with people constantly moving away from conventional payment and remittance methods. This has been clear to see with the growth of internet banking, cryptocurrency, and the introduction of new digital payment methods. At the end of October last year, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officially introduced the blockchain-based eNaira as a means of payment, making Nigeria the first African country with an official digital currency.

It is issued by the CBN and distributed to financial institutions. Transactions are recorded using blockchain technology, more specifically a permissioned (private) blockchain. This technology allows the CBN to control who can join the eNaira network and regulate all eNaira transactions.

CBN believes these 6 policies will save the Naira from the threat of collapse (Nairametrics)

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has had to battle continuous threats from multiple headwinds to value of the Naira. Specifically, numerous headwinds which exert pressure on the Naira exchange rate include Inflationary pressures, Inflation Rate Differential, Balance of Trade challenges, Foreign reserves balances, Interest rate differentials et al.

Regardless of the debate, Nigeria’s import bill continually outpaces its export bill. Thus, the country’s demand for foreign currencies appears insatiable despite underwhelming productivity rates (i.e., underwhelming GDP growth rates) which results in persistent pressure on Naira’s exchange rate. Consequently, from a monetary policy perspective, the Central Bank of Nigeria has deployed a plethora of initiatives intended to attract more dollar inflows to the country through official channels.

The underlying premise (at least from the CBN’s perspective) is to support Nigeria’s outsized import bill whilst combating multiple sources of exchange rate pressures.

Nigeria needs more trade negotiators to beat poverty – Ex WTO official (Businessday)

Prof. Dickson Yeboah, former head, Course on Intensive Trade Negotiations Skills, World Trade Organisation (WTO), said that Nigeria needs more skilled negotiators to lift the country out of poverty. Yeboah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja that training more trade negotiators would boost the strength of Nigeria’s negotiating team. “Nigeria is a big country, we need to train 1,000 people who are skillful in negotiations and can negotiate better investment deals for the country. “Trade negotiation skills are a way out of poverty, recession or economic slowdown,’’ Yeboah said. He added that a country could not attract better deals if it lacks skilled negotiators.

Burkina Faso is leading importer of NTEs from Ghana – GEPA (Myjoyonline)

Burkina Faso came up top in ECOWAS and Africa as the lead importing country of Non-Traditional Exports (NTES) from Ghana in 2020. According to the Ghana Export Promotion Center, it maintained its position as the top importer in 2020 from 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2020, it imported NTEs worth $242.7m from Ghana, representing 31.68% of total top 10 ECOWAS markets, showing a growth of 11.57% over its previous year’s contribution. Togo ($149.8m) and Senegal ($100m) were the second and third lead importing countries of NTEs from Ghana in ECOWAS, respectively.

Meanwhile, average export value for the 10 top ECOWAS States in 2020 stood at $76.62 million relative to US$82.86 million in 2019. This shows a fall of 5.70% in average exports value.

Morocco braces for deepening budget, trade deficits on back of global economic uncertainties (The North Africa Post)

The surge of commodities prices and its impact on subsidized products augurs ill for the Moroccan economy which has to prepare for a deepening budget and trade deficits. The price of oil has increased from an average of $70 per barrel to $120 while wheat prices tripled, smashing a record high of $375/t as the war in Ukraine chokes trade. Morocco, a major African wheat and oil importer, expects its trade deficit to widen eating into its foreign currency reserves which cover near 7 months of imports. The subsidies cost is set to implode as the country continues to control soft wheat and cooking gas oil.

Djibouti Economic Monitor, Winter 2021: Navigating through the Pandemic and Regional Tensions (World Bank)

Titled “Navigating through the Pandemic and Regional Tensions”, the Winter 2021 edition of the World Bank’s Djibouti Economic Monitor is the first in a series of semi-annual reports aimed at analyzing development trends and constraints in Djibouti. Severely impacted by the pandemic in 2020, Djibouti’s economic activity has shown signs of recovery in 2021. GDP growth rate in 2020 dropped to a decade low of about 0.5% but rebounded in 2021 to a projected 5.1%. The recovery is mostly driven by a withdrawal of COVID-19 related lockdown measures in late 2020, which has facilitated a rebound in investment and construction. Broad containment of the virus and continued government support has also bolstered household consumption. However, the economic rebound was dampened by a fall in the Ethiopian demand for logistics services during the second half of 2021.

African trade

AfCFTA: Negotiations on rules of origin, Customs cooperation gradual to dissuade dumping (ICIR)

THE Director-General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Yonov Fred Agah has said that the ongoing African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations on rules of origin and Customs cooperation are slow and gradual in order to ensure that Nigeria is not a dumping ground. Yonov, who spoke at the closing ceremony of the National Simulation Skills Course organised by the (NOTN) held on Friday in Abuja, said the trade negotiation office was taking steps in engagement with stakeholders to enable Nigeria got a better deal from AfCFTA. “It’s not a matter of being in a hurry; it’s a matter of getting it right in our negotiation deals. We are doing this so that the continent and our country do not become a market for third parties, but truly a market for African companies for value additions and better value chains that creates wealth.”

Intra-Africa trade in need of more investment to move cargo (The East African)

Lack of infrastructure is a bigger hurdle to trade within Africa than uncertain non-tariff barriers, eating up close to 40 percent of logistics expenses and affecting free movement of goods, officials have warned. Amani Abou-Zeid, the commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, has urged countries to embrace transnational projects to facilitate the movement of cargo, noting that no meaningful development can take place without significant investment in infrastructure. “We need to invest in infrastructure to boost our intra-trade on the continent. This can only be achieved by increasing budgetary allocation toward infrastructure projects,” said Ms Zeid in a speech during the official launch of the Programme For Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) Week in Nairobi, organised by the African Union Development Agency (Auda)-Nepad.

How will the Russia-Ukraine war affect Africa? (African Business)

Eight days into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the fallout of the war and unprecedented sanctions on Moscow are shaking global supply chains and financial markets. With Russia a major producer of commodities such as oil, gas, aluminium, palladium, nickel, wheat and corn, sanctions and market concerns about the war’s disruption on supply chains have caused commodity prices to soar. Surging commodity prices will create winners and losers across Africa and the world.

On the continent, the countries most vulnerable to the conflict are those which import a large share of the wheat they consume, like Egypt. Meanwhile, African oil importers like Kenya will also feel the heat of surging oil prices as Russia, one of the world’s largest exporters of crude, is hit by sanctions, disruptions to energy exports and a potential embargo. Commodity exporters, like Nigeria and Angola, are likely to be the biggest winners of the war as the supply constraint-induced commodity price boom that began in 2021 will be prolonged, says Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-headquartered bank.

With Russia just a small African trading partner, the impact on trade will be marginal, Mhango says. Yet a few countries, such as Uganda, will be more exposed. Russia only accounts for 2-3% of Africa’s trade with the world, according to UNCTAD data, which is mostly made up of exports. Russia also accounts for 2% of the world’s exports to Africa, and only 0.5% of imports from the continent. But there are outliers on the continent. In 2020, 8.1% of Malawi’s total trade was with Russia, followed by Uganda with 7.2%, Senegal 4.4%, Niger 4.1% and Republic of Congo 4%, according to Renaissance Capital.

Russia is now looking beyond SA, as it tries to replace European imports with African (Business Insider South Africa)

Russia wants to expand its trade presence in Africa, as its invasion of Ukraine – and subsequent sanctions – strangles trade with its European neighbours. And that could see it effectively de-focus from South Africa. A meeting on support for Russian organisations entering African markets saw “a proposal to expand the network of trade missions in Africa in the countries, which are priority for trade,” the vice president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vladimir Padalko, told Russian state-owned media agency TASS. That plan is now to be put into action by the various Russian ministries, including those for trade and for foreign affairs.

Central banks raise doubts on East Africa single currency by 2024 (The East African)

East African central banks have cast a shadow of doubt over the proposed implementation of a single currency regime by the year 2024, citing delays by member countries in realising targets set out in the Monetary Union roadmap. The single currency regime is expected to eliminate transaction costs of exchanging currencies and remove exchange rate volatility in cross-border trading activities. The banking regulators, through the East African Community Monetary Affairs Committee (MAC), noted that while significant progress has been made towards the realisation of a monetary union there are several challenges which could still impede the timely implementation of its protocol.

“The Committee noted that there have been delays in realising targets set out in the EAMU roadmap and that there are several challenges that could further impede the timely implementation of EAMU protocol,” according to a communique released on Monday. “Therefore, the Committee pledged to work with the EAC Secretariat and other stakeholders in the EAC integration process to fast-track pending activities of the EAMU roadmap.”

Communiqué: 25th Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Monetary Affairs Committee (EAC)

Women hold key to region’s economic success, says EAC Secretary General (EAC)

The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Hon. (Dr) Peter Mathuki said women constitute more than 50 percent of the population of the EAC and therefore hold the key to the region’s economic success.

“We need to include women as active participants in decision-making at both the national and regional levels. The purpose of this is to ensure that decisions are inclusive and reflect the desires of the entire population,” said Dr. Mathuki. The EAC boss informed the conference that at the national level, the Constitutions of the respective Partner States guarantee one-third majority for women in elective positions and this has considerably increased the number of women legislators in elective positions across the region. Dr. Mathuki further said that Partner States have also institutionalized Gender Equality with each having autonomous Ministries responsible for Gender with their respective policies, strategies, action plans and gender focal persons to promote, coordinate, implement, and monitor gender equality and equity.

SADC’s draft model law on public financial management ‘will bolster existing checks and balances’ (Daily Maverick)

Many countries, including those in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, have signed up to a plethora of regional and international instruments that seek to improve the living standards of their citizens.

National parliaments all over the world are mandated to hold their governments to account with respect to the use of state resources in the realisation of the rights encapsulated in these instruments. For many years, some national parliaments have struggled to play this role due to a range of challenges, including the lack of an effective public financial management architecture and inadequate support of parliamentary committees. To fill this gap, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which brings together 15 SADC national parliaments, is developing the SADC model law on public financial management to – among other objectives – promote good governance, accountability and transparency in the use of public resources.

Statement by His Excellency, Dr Nangolo Mbumba Vice President of the Republic Of Namibia, on the Occasion of the Visit to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Headquarters, March 02, 2022 – Windhoek

Namibia commends and recognises SACU, as one of its key strategic partners working, among others, towards a post-COVID economic recovery. As you are all aware, post-COVID-19 recovery requires a committed focus on economic transformation, competitiveness, collaboration and diversification. These are all achievable through strategic partnership and enhanced cooperation going forward.

In these times of global economic instability, framed by fragile world economic recovery and outlook; effective regional integration is now of paramount significance.

Embracing regional integration was seen, as a vehicle for overcoming the constraints of a small domestic market, integrating into the global economy, and, as a means to facilitate the structural transformation of our national economy. 11. In this context, Namibia recognises that its continued involvement in regional integration efforts by virtue of being a member of SACU, is thus a strategic response to the growing demand for market enlargement within the context of globalisation. We prioritize regional integration efforts, as a credible strategy for tackling our development challenges. It is an ideal platform for promoting large scale investment and economic efficiency required for economic growth and employment creation.

Strengthening the WAEMU Regional Fiscal Framework (IMF)

This paper assesses the adequacy and effectiveness of the WAEMU fiscal framework along three pillars that have proven to effectively support fiscal discipline in monetary unions—common fiscal rules (including adequacy of numerical ceilings as well as elements of design and enforcement), shared public financial management systems, and coordination mechanisms for decentralized fiscal policies. We undertake a calibration of regional debt and fiscal deficit ceilings taking into account different macroeconomic tradeoffs and risks and conclude that numerical ceilings that prevailed before the suspension of the fiscal rules remain adequate and strike the right balance between growth and fiscal sustainability. The paper also proposes reform options to strengthen the WAEMU regional fiscal surveillance framework, with a view to more effectively supporting fiscal discipline.

African nations reiterate commitment to accelerate the achievement of SDGs (UNECA)

The Eight Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2022) ended on 05 March 2022, with the adoption of the Kigali Declaration on good practices and solutions to enhance implementation of the sustainable development goals in Africa. Adopted by all 54 member states in attendance, the Kigali Declaration urges African countries to link mutually reinforcing policies for sustainable development and COVID-19 recovery to ensure inclusive emergence from the pandemic. The document calls on African countries to leverage new tools, innovative solutions, and technology, including through enhanced partnerships with the private sector, academia, non-governmental, civil-society, and other stakeholders to build strong, agile, sustainable, and resilient national statistical systems. It also highlighted the need for countries to leverage the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) to support the development of regional value chains, citing the case of minerals used in the production of batteries and electric vehicles as an example.

Eighth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2022) (UNECA)

Women and e-commerce in Africa: The $15 billion opportunity (Brookings)

Given that Africa’s internet economy could reach $180 billion by 2025 alone, we at International Finance Corporation (IFC) were keen to examine whether e-commerce platforms support women entrepreneurs, or whether such tools remain stymied by women’s low access to the internet, mobile phone, and other fundamental tools of the digital economy. Combining vendor surveys and performance data from one of Africa’s largest e-commerce platforms, Jumia, we produced the first regional view into women’s challenges and successes in e-commerce and found that closing gender gaps in this arena could add nearly $15 billion to the value of Africa’s e-commerce industry between 2025-2030 alone—putting billions in the hands of women entrepreneurs.

Recovery for Africa pegged on preparation (The East African)

Africa’s path to economic recovery from the Covid-19 disruption may lie in addressing income inequalities and expanding digitisation. A study focusing on the economic pains of Covid-19 says job losses, poor vaccination rates and, in some cases, illiteracy, must be reversed for Africa’s quicker recovery. According to “The economic impact of Covid-19 and prospects for a post-pandemic economic recovery in Africa”, economies contracted in 2020, leading to mass job losses, a drop in manufacturing, and a decline in foreign direct investment. The study carried out in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia cites African governments’ poor preparedness for the pandemic or any crisis for that matter as the main reason economic recovery has been slow, and might continue to hamper growth if no serious intervention is made.

African airlines struggle to recover in the near term (The East African)

African airlines face a difficult comeback as projections point to a slow recovery in international traffic. Passenger traffic is projected to remain low subdued in the near term, compounded by the slow progress in vaccination against Covid-19 and the overall impact of the crisis on developing countries. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) now predicts that passenger numbers within the continent, will recover over a shallower gradient, achieving 76 percent of 2019 levels this year, 85 percent next year and 93 percent in 2024, before surging to 101 percent in 2025, a year later than the global industry average. IATA is now asking governments to lift all barriers to travel, including quarantine and testing for passengers that are fully vaccinated and to replace PCR tests with pre-departure antigen testing for non-vaccinated travellers to ease movement. The industry lobby also wants all travel bans removed and faster easing of movement restrictions given the general acceptance that travellers do not pose a greater risk for Covid-19 spread than already exists in the general population.

African airlines’ performance updates by AFRAA - February 2022 (African Airlines Associations)

Oil and Gas Exploration is on The Rise In Africa - African Business (African Business)

Increasing exploration activities in 2022 and onwards is a top priority for African hydrocarbon producers as they seek to expand production and establish the continent as an energy hub. According to the African Energy Chamber (AEC) Q1 2022 Outlook, “The State of African Energy,” supply from legacy oil and gas fields across Africa is diminishing, resulting in a decline in production by African hydrocarbon producing countries, and creating a dire need for the increase in exploration activities. Enhancing exploration will be critical for Africa to address energy poverty and establish itself as a global energy hub.

Discoveries made in Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Gabon and Egypt improved Africa’s oil and gas portfolio in 2019 whilst the Luiperd gas-condensate discovery offshore South Africa supported the 2020 portfolio of discoveries made. In 2021, Africa recorded a further 30% drop in discovered reserves volume, a state which could have been made worse without the Baleine discovery in Cote d’Ivoire.

African Development Bank grant to improve governance of natural resource outflows in six African countries (AfDB)

Six African countries will soon benefit from a grant from the Transitional Support Facility (TSF) of the African Development Fund, through a project designed to strengthen national capacity for governing natural resource outflows in Africa. The African Development Fund is the concessional lending arm of the African Development Bank Group. The Transitional Support Facility has awarded a $2.8 million grant for the Governing Natural Resource Outflows for Enhanced Economic Resilience in Fragile and Transitional Countries (GONAT) project in the selected fragile and transitional countries: the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. The project was approved in February this year and is expected to be completed by the end-2023.

The project will be implemented by the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Centre, building on its ongoing work around illicit trade in Africa’s natural resources and resource-backed loans. It will strengthen the capacity to analyse, monitor, and govern natural resource outflows. In addition, the project will provide policymakers with technical assistance and policy advice.

“Natural resources have the potential to catalyse growth and development in transitional countries. Improved governance of natural resource outflows will support countries’ efforts to achieve sustained recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, help them to better manage their debts, and reposition their economies for the future,” said Vanessa Ushie, the Acting Director of the African Natural Resources Centre.

Energy Experts Validate Market Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanism Guidelines (COMESA)

Regional energy experts have approved a set of tools to promote renewable energy and efficiency. Among them is the grid capacity guideline report for integrating renewable energy, monitoring tool for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan (REEESAP) for the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region.

Nine guidelines on renewable energy and energy efficiency and a monitoring tool to assess progress made by Member States towards achieving renewable energy and energy efficiency targets have since been developed. These are expected to take the region to the next level of green and clean economy and an enhanced sustainable energy security and accessibility.

The COMESA Regional Association of Energy Regulators for Eastern and Southern Africa (RAERESA) coordinates the implementation of the programme. The programme has three results areas namely; a regionally harmonized energy regulatory and policy framework that integrates gender perspectives; enhancement of regulatory capacity of the National Regulatory Authorities and Power Pools to proactively influence developments in the energy sector; and lastly, enhancement of renewable energy and energy efficiency to attract investments in clean energy and build capacity in clean energy in the region as well as the domestication on a demand driven basis.

African Development Institute and partners explore options for prudent public finance management to propel sustainable recovery from Covid-19 in Africa (AfDB)

The African Development Institute of the African Development Bank Group and its partners hosted the 8th Global Community of Practice policy dialogue on managing public finances in times of crisis in Africa on 28 February and 1 March 2022.

Opening the meetings, the Bank Group’s Senior Vice President, Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, warned that the continent would not achieve the 2030 global Sustainable Development Goals without affordable financing and prudent public finance management systems. Tshabalala lauded the partners for working together to convene the dialogue on such an important subject. “There is an urgent need for better-focused policy support to African countries, structured within a framework that incorporates both crisis management and post-pandemic resilience and green recovery,” she said.

Global economy

How to close the digital gender divide and empower women (WEF)

Our world has undergone a historical moment of change. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our lives and societies are more digital than ever before, shifting the paradigm of our economies from the physical to the digital space. On the one hand, COVID-19 increased the existing digital gender divide, setting equality between men and women back a generation. On the other hand, the digital acceleration fueled by the current sanitary and economic crisis, represents a historic opportunity we must seize for radical change.

Globally, men are 21% more likely to have access to the internet than women. In the world’s least developed countries, this likelihood rises to 52%. Women facing intersectional discrimination, living in communities with lower socioeconomic status, have even lower access to connectivity or any digital device, leading to a string of tremendous consequences, sometimes even vital ones.

Members exchange views, challenges and lessons learnt on trade in COVID-19 related goods (WTO)

Geneva and capital-based delegates offered a diverse range of perspectives on the definition and updating of what they consider essential or critical goods to fight the pandemic. Canada, China, Ecuador, the European Union, Singapore and the United Kingdom took the floor to report on the way they established the definition of “essential goods”. They also addressed the issues faced when addressing tariff classification of these products within the Harmonized System (HS) and for national tariff lines in order to better target trade policy.

While many of the products were already duty-free, certain imports of essential goods were still subject to customs duties and benefited from various forms of relief mechanisms during the COVID-19 crisis, members said. Internal coordination by many government agencies and the involvement of traders and other stakeholders also played a key role in identifying critical goods and providing additional classification guidance.

International organizations discuss how to ensure rapid delivery, administration of COVID-19 vaccines (WTO)

“In the past few months, we have seen unprecedented levels of disease transmission across the world due to the Omicron variant. Still, unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments is rampant, prolonging the pandemic. 23 countries are yet to fully vaccinate 10% of their populations, 73 countries are yet to achieve 40% coverage and many more are projected to miss the 70% target by middle of this year. The biggest challenges are in low-income countries (LICs), which are concentrated in Africa. Only 7% of people in LICs have been fully vaccinated, compared with 73% in high-income countries. Safeguarding the health of people living in the world’s poorest countries in the face of a changing pandemic is a key priority. We must and can ensure that these countries have the access, the means, and the capacity to vaccinate their populations, especially those who are most at risk.

A top priority to end the pandemic is deploying financing quickly to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries. Fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is critical.

DDG González: We need a plan, not just a promise, to revitalize trade cooperation (WTO)

DDG González observed that trade was changing rapidly and profoundly, yet trade cooperation was lagging behind. The risk is that trade tensions and power-based trade relations increasingly fill the void left by reduced trade cooperation, she said. DDG González added that global value chains are being organized more and more around intangibles such as data-driven services and intellectual property, and less and less around manufacturing. But trade policies have not adapted to this new reality, she said, as barriers to services trade remain high, digital protectionism is on the rise and many legal, regulatory and procedural barriers continue to affect investment. She emphasized that strengthening resilience of global value chains is essential but that policy decisions in this area should be firmly based on hard evidence. To think that reshoring, promoting self-sufficiency or unwinding trade integration would magically improve resilience is both wrong-headed and dangerous, she said.


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