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The Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Maggie Sotyu says with women recognised as the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, inclusive economic growth is key to addressing gender inequality. Sotyu said this when she participated in the debate on International Women’s Day during a sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday. She said women are increasingly being recognised as more vulnerable to climate change impact than men as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor as they are more dependent on natural resources which climate change threatens the most. “It is therefore important that inclusive economic growth is key to addressing unemployment, gender equality, health and other poverty-related issues,” she said.
Economic reform critical for sustainable growth path – Seifsa (Engineering News)
South Africa’s lacklustre approach to implementing the economic reform programmes necessary to turn the economy around is one of the reasons the economy has not clawed back the ground lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, says metals and engineering industry body the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) COO Tafadzwa Chibanguza. “Gross fixed capital formation for 2021 increased by a disappointing 2.03%. The metals and engineering sector’s fortunes are linked to higher levels of economic activity, which is driven by greater investment into the economy, particularly fixed investment.
Safda warns sugar tax hike will be detrimental for sector (Vutivi Business News)
A fight is brewing between the SA Farmers Development Association (Safda) and National Treasury following its decision to increase the sugar tax. The organisation says the hike is a slap in the face for small-scale sugarcane growers and will ruin an already-crippled sector. Safda chairman Dr. Siyabonga Madlala warned that the increase undermined the Sugarcane Value Chain Masterplan in which the government undertook to put a moratorium on product tax policy changes. “The Health Promotion Levy (HPL) on sugary drinks was introduced in 2018 at a fixed rate of R2.1 per gram of the sugar content that exceeds four grams per 100ml,” he said. “The introduction of the HPL has had a devastating impact on sugar demand. It shrunk local market demand for sugar by about 20%, which contributed to a marked reduction in industry-related jobs, with many small-scale farmers exiting the industry due to the significant reduction in revenue.”
In collaboration with the Northern Cape Provincial Government, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is hosting the Northern Cape Mining and Minerals Investment Conference on 10-11 March 2022 in Kimberly. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has the mandate to regulate, transform and promote minerals and energy sectors while ensuring that all South Africans derive sustainable benefit from the country’s resource wealth. In line with this mandate, the Department has committed to hosting Provincial Conferences in Northern Cape, Limpopo and North-West as part of its investment attraction drive.
The Provincial Mining Investment Conference will be positioned as an effective business dialogue and investment promotion and exchange platform for the direct contact of stakeholders in the extraction, development and processing of minerals, with special emphasis on junior and emerging mining enterprises.
Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube claims Zimbabwe has lost at least US$42 billion because of sanctions imposed on the country by western powers since 2003. The amount is more than double the size of Zimbabwe’s economy. The European Union and the United States have recently renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe while other countries like Britain and Canada are expected to follow suit. They mainly cite human rights violations and insufficient political and economic reforms as a pretext to extent the embargos. Speaking at a youth program in Gweru Saturday, Ncube said the country is reeling from the effects of sanctions. “The over US$42 billion which we have lost since 2002 is almost double our economy which stands at US$25 billion. That’s quite a huge margin and people need to realise the effects of such a loss,” Ncube said. “Almost US$4,5 billion of that money was intended for donor support and US$18 billion was for financial support. Banks lost over 100 corresponding resources. We experienced massive loss of jobs and we were unable to create jobs easily. We have lost foreign direct investment,” he said. “FDI has been restricted and investors would be fearing to associate with us for fear of these sanctions. If you are to look at the FDI inflows in the 80s, they were about US$8 million per year, they increased to US$95 million in the 90s but then dropped to US$20 million per annum in the 2000s,” Ncube said.
Prices of goods seen rising 6pc despite favourable weather (Business Daily)
Average prices of goods and services are seen rising by six percent this year despite projected favourable weather which will likely boost food production that has a higher weighting in cost of living measure. A consensus outlook from 14 global banks, consultancies and think-tanks shows inflation — a gauge for annual changes in the cost of living — will average 6.1 percent in 2022 on the higher cost of key imports amid weakening shilling. This is despite inflation falling to a 16-month low of 5.1 percent in February, having dropped steadily since recent peak of 6.91 percent last September on the back of slower growth in food items, flat fuel prices and a fall in electricity bills. The outlook, compiled by Barcelona-based Focus Economics, does not factor in the debilitating impact of economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its brutal invasion of Ukraine which has worsened disruptions in global supply chains and trade. That has, as a result, constrained global distribution of oil, cooking gas and wheat whose prices have touched historic highs, hitting countries such as Kenya and posing higher upward pressure on the cost of living.
Port and rail service providers in Tanzania and Uganda have signed a freight forwarding agreement with Roofings Group of Uganda in a deliberate effort to raise the volume of cargo to and from the neighbouring land-locked country that passes through the Dar es Salaam port.The agreement signed yesterday involved the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC), the Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) and was facilitated under the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTTFA).Currently, it is only about two percent of Uganda’s cargo that passes through the Dar es Salaam port, according to TRC Director General Masanja Kadogosa.”This will mark an increase in shipping by 30 percent. It is a huge burden and as we speak here Uganda is adding to the Railways’ train heads to facilitate this trade” said Mr Kadogosa.
The TPA director general, Mr Erick Hamis said the authorities continue to promote Tanzania in the provision of port services to foreign countries by finding more traders and stakeholders in those countries, especially those located in East African Community, SADC, Comesa among others.
Rich Lamu oil prospects fuel Kenya’s economic plans dreams (The East African)
Kenya is just weeks away from announcing the discovery of new oil resources in the Lamu basin, bigger than what was found a decade ago in Turkana, in what could be a turning point for the country’s dreams of reaping petrodollars. Italian oil exploration company Eni — in partnership with France-based oil and gas company TotalEnergies and Qatar’s state-owned oil and gas firm Qatar Energy — is racing to conclude a five-kilometre exploratory drilling deep water well that will establish the potential oil resources in the Lamu basin.
The large fiscal windfall associated with new oil resource revenue could help Kenya boost development and improve the standards of living for citizens through access to key services and amenities such as roads, health, food security and education.
Inside Rwanda’s $5 million climate action initiative (The New Times)
Rwanda is among 12 countries that are set to benefit from a three-year project “GUARD AFRICA” to ensure just climate financing, just recovery from the impacts of climate change and Covid-19, promotion of green energy and accelerate the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — the pledges to combat climate change from 2021 to 2030. Rwanda submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2020 and its implementation started last year. The country needs over $11 billion to implement the measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38 per cent by 2030. At least $5.677 billion will be spent on mitigation measures to reduce causes of climate change while $5.364 billion will be spent on adapting to the effects of climate change.
The President of the Republic, Nana Akufo-Addo, says Ghana has moved away from the earlier uncertainties that clouded her path towards progress and prosperity, and the last 29 years of democratic governance in the 4th Republic have generally been the period of the greatest economic growth in our history. Delivering a statement on “Ghana Day” at the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020, on Tuesday, 8th March 2022, President Akufo-Addo noted that “Our engagement at the Expo is themed on Opportunity, because we are a nation of unquestionably attractive opportunities.” According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghana is, today, the safest country in West Africa, it is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in West Africa, and is ranked 3rd in the Ease of Doing Business Index in West Africa.
“We are the new commercial capital of Africa by virtue of our hosting of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we are the 2nd largest cocoa producer in the world, we are the largest producer of gold in Africa, we are endowed with considerable deposits of bauxite, iron ore, manganese, lithium, oil and gas, diamonds, and timber, and we are geographically closer than any other country to the centre of the planet,” the President added
Ethiopia Airlines to buy five Boeing cargo planes (Business Daily)
Ethiopian Airlines will purchase five 777-8 freighters after reaching a deal with the US plane maker Boeing as it seeks to ramp up its cargo services. The move is expected to tighten freight competition between the Addis-based carrier and Kenya Airways
The Ethiopian carrier has reached a preliminary deal with the Boeing for the purchase of the high-capacity aircraft, making it the second airline in the world to have made plans of buying the cargo version of the next generation 777 aircraft. Expanding the freighter fleet is part of Ethiopian Airlines’ long-term strategy for growing its cargo and logistics business at a time when the carriers are grappling with low demand for passengers on the back of Covid-19 restrictions.
Ojaamong welcomes plans to set up an EPZ in Busia (Capital Business)
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong has welcomed the move by the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) to establish an industrial park at the 843 acres piece of land in Nasewa, in Matayos sub-county. The project to be undertaken in three phases is expected to be one of Africa’s tech and business hubs offering employment and propelling economic growth and development of Busia County and the country at large. “The establishment of the Industrial Park at the Nasewa Nucleus Estate will be in line with two of the Big Four Agenda of manufacturing and food security; it will also create employment for unemployed youths in the county,” said Ojaamong.
Nigeria has agreed to supply natural gas to Equatorial Guinea at Nigeria’s International Energy Summit in Abuja. African energy experts are urging quick implementation of the gas deal amid high demand and supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This week’s signing of a gas deal by Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and his Guinean counterpart, Gabriel Lima, is a testament to Africa’s untapped gas market. The deal seeks to supply Nigerian gas to Guinea’s processing site in Punta Europa.
Nigeria ranks among nine countries with the highest gas reserves in the world. In January, Nigeria’s gas reserves rose by 1.4% from the previous year. But the market remains largely untapped and previous attempts by authorities to initiate gas deals fell apart. Nigerian authorities last week said they were willing to invest more and focus on natural gas exploration.
AFCTA urges women to take advantage of its trade and economic opportunities (Capital FM Kenya)
As the world marks International Women’s Day, it has emerged that fewer women than men are taking advantage of the trade and economic opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an African Union Agenda 2063 initiative that is expected to be a key driver for Africa’s continental structural transformation and industrialization. As a result, there is a need to consider implementation in a way that increases women’s economic participation and assists them in integrating more fully into high-paying sectors of the economy. “In this regard, to advance the objective of gender equality under the AfCFTA Agreement as a potential force for inclusive economic growth and transformative change, there needs to be a concerted effort by member States to mainstream gender into AfCFTA,” said Pamela Anyango, the Principal trade development officer, state department for trade during a workshop in Nairobi aimed at looking for ways to make the AfCTA work for women.
Furthermore, despite significant integration developments in the EAC and the potential of the AfCFTA agreement to transform lives on the African continent, awareness levels and knowledge on how to take advantage of the agreement have been very low amongst private sector players who are its primary beneficiaries. According to the forum, the level of awareness and knowledge among women in the EAC is even lower.
The African continent’s dependence on natural resources and rain-fed agriculture calls for urgency in meeting commitments to climate action and disaster risk reduction. The agricultural sector, which is highly susceptible to climate change and variability, provides a livelihood for 70% of Africans and contributes about 30% of the continent’s GDP. The heavy reliance on agriculture also means that women are highly exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and disasters, as they account for 90% of employment in the agricultural sector in many African countries.
As climate change impacts surge, women have been forced to invest more time in meeting family needs. For example, due to droughts, women are sometimes forced to travel longer distances to collect water, which not only exposes them to additional time losses, but also to increased risks of gender-based violence. Women’s reliance on agriculture and natural resources for their unpaid production and care activities makes them particularly vulnerable to climate fluctuations. Climate change shocks are superimposed on political, economic, social and health shocks in some sub-regions such as the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and the Horn of Africa, straining the resilience of communities in general, and women and girls in particular. However, despite women being disproportionately affected by climate change, they play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Women have the knowledge and understanding of what is needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to come up with practical solutions. Women and girls are essential, effective and powerful leaders and change-makers to address climate adaptation, mitigation and solutions. But they are still a largely untapped resource.
IWD: Gender equality highlighted in tackling climate change (The New Times)
The role of gender equality in the mitigation of climate change took centre stage as Rwanda joined the world in the marking of this year’s International Women’s Day on Tuesday March 8. At the national level, the celebration took place in Gakenke District, with the theme: “Gender Equality to Address Climate Change.” “There’s an important link between gender equality and climate change because we cannot hope to realise the future we want unless we focus on gender equality,” Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment, said on Tuesday. She added: “Research states that women are more affected by the impacts of climate change compared to men. This is because the majority of vulnerable people living in modest conditions are women; and their livelihoods depend on natural resources which are most affected by climate change.”
Climate change is impacting southern Africa in many ways, with hazards such as flooding and droughts causing serious harm to people, including death. However, the impacts of climate change affect men and women differently.
The impacts of climate change are gendered, and women in most countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are disproportionately affected and experience the effects more severely than their male counterparts.
The SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi said in his statement on International Women’s Day, that there is need to mainstream gender in all climate change initiatives to cushion the burden that most women face in their daily lives, while removing the barriers that hinder acceleration of gender equality.
Governments in Africa have shown commitment to the promotion of women empowerment by the ratification of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Many have also ratified the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. The role of women in Africa has been largely that of keeping the home i.e. house managers. The AfCFTA in 2021 promised to unlock the potential for African women to move from micro to macro businesses and the Declaration 2020 – 2030 as the new decade of women’s Financial and Economic inclusion. African leaders are committed to scaling up actions for progressive gender inclusion towards sustainable development. It must be noted that though the AfCFTA is a continental agreement, the implementation is primarily at the national level and based on domestic context and realities. Therefore, this domestication must have women leading in the negotiation in fulfilment of gender equality and inclusion.
Despite their overwhelming participation in agriculture, women are still subjected to discriminatory practices. These were the remarks of Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during a dialogue session with women farmers in Limpopo. “Historically, women farmers experience socioeconomic barriers including a lack of access to financial services that assist in sustaining their farm expenses. This is despite women farmers using environmentally conscious practices in comparison to their counterparts,” the Minister said on Tuesday. Nkoana-Mashabane noted that women, who end up in the agricultural business, often do so through the support of other women farmers. “They create and are part of organisations and communities that assist women in all things farming [and] this allows them to network, seek advice and make friendships. Unlike their male counterparts, women are more focused on stewardship and tend to prefer smaller organic and sustainable farms. “As such, they push for advocacy and stand behind eco-friendly ideals. They are also looking for ways to improve farming and make it accessible. Women are making great strides in the world of agriculture,” the Minister said.
$60b lost to gender inequality every year (The Guardian Nigeria)
The United Nation’s Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Comfort Lamptey, lamented the fact that $60 billion is lost to gender inequality every year and might degenerate further if the situation is not corrected. Speaking at the inaugural International Women’s Day (IWD) Awards Gala held in partnership with UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) over the weekend to mark this year’s women’s day and month, Lamptey reiterated that when women are given unfettered access to participate actively in the economy of the country, the entire nation benefits immensely. “Those that hold the key must unlock the door to welcome women and also unlock their potentials so they can participate in rebuilding Nigeria. Elections are coming up next year and women are already facing so many stumbling blocks even before it commences.”
Kigali forum marks a new development era for Africa (Africa Renewal)
Despite these successes, the continued economic impact of the pandemic is spurring African leaders to also reflect on strategies to revamp the development model that can help African countries collectively achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These collective experiences shared across the continent make up the backdrop of the 8th African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD) scheduled for the Rwandan capital, Kigali from March 3-5.
ARFSD is clued-up to reflect African-centric perspectives and adopts two main outcomes. The first, “Summary and Key messages” is the collective input and deliberations of the forum. The second is the “Declaration of the Forum”, which is christened in the name of the host city, distills the deliberations of the forum to come up with Africa’s collective position on issues of concern.
Over the past two decades, Africa has made remarkable progress in a range of key development areas: there have been substantial declines in maternal and child deaths as well as steady decreases in the incidence rates of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis (Min, 2021), and considerable progress has been made in primary school enrolment and youth literacy (Min, 2021). Women’s representation is key to accelerating progress on gender equality and empowerment. Between 2013 and 2019, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in Africa (excluding Northern Africa) increased by three percentage points. The report also highlights how the majority of governments in Africa have made significant efforts to incorporate the SDGs and Agenda 2063 into their national development plans. However, the economic downturn and social disruption caused by the pandemic is reversing decades of hard-won development gains.
Countries across Africa need tailored support so that they can be part of a growing green recovery. To this end, it is critical that all partners continue to work to ensure that people across the continent gain access to vaccines. In many ways, delayed access to the COVID-19 vaccine is development denied for Africa. Crucially, countries across Africa need new access to finance and debt relief measures as well as innovative financing solutions, to achieve the SDGs and invest in key areas such as social protection. Governments and businesses also need support to make strategic investments in the burgeoning African Continental Free Trade Area, an immense market of 1.2 billion people.
Assurance, advisory and tax services multinational PwC’s yearly ‘Africa Capital Markets Watch’ report shows that African markets have continued with a modest recovery through 2021, reflected in higher values of non-local corporate, sovereign and supranational debt raised during the year. Average issuances were larger than in the prior year, with 94 issuances valued at $47.5-billion in 2021, compared with 81 issuances worth $28.5-billion in 2020.
How Can African Countries Avoid the Middle-Income Trap? (Institute for Global Change)
The middle-income trap is a critical development challenge affecting more than 100 countries, home to over 60 per cent of the world’s poor. Poverty traps are evident in low-income countries, and the middle-income trap is a phenomenon associated with middle-income economies, measured by the growth of gross national income (GNI) per capita.
While the notion of the trap is a point of debate among scholars, as GNI per capita may not capture the quality of growth, most would agree that it is a critical development challenge of our time. It assists in raising fundamental issues that require long-term perspective and building path dependency, reinforcing a positive, sustained-growth trajectory. Hence, the timing is right to make this challenge a focus of African policymakers and researchers.
East Africa should heed warnings on ballooning debt (The East African)
In a region that is more often at war than in tandem over trade, the news that the East African Community Secretariat had, without breaking ranks, agreed on a 35 percent Common External Tariff, on a range of imported products is bittersweet. But, following almost immediately, were the twin revelations that Kenya had flexed its debt ceiling to accommodate additional borrowing and the World Bank was warning Tanzania of rising debt. Even after rapidly piling up debt over the past two years as concessional lenders, spurred by the Covid-19 crisis, relaxed their guard, East Africa’s appetite for debt continues unabated. In 2021, the average government debt in the region shot up 10 percent to 72.5 percent of the regional GDP. That is 22.5 percent higher than the agreed monetary convergence criteria ceiling of 50 percent of GDP.
Local manufacturers of cosmetics have been urged to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area to expand their horizon to African markets to rope in more revenue and grow their bottom-line. Speaking at the launch of the maiden Made-in-Ghana fragrances, Eternal Legends, Chief Executive of Ghandour Cosmetics, Tanal Ghandou, said his outfit is setting a precedent for local cosmetic manufacturers to take advantage of AfCFTA. “The perfume market is quite big here, but I think we shouldn’t underestimate the mass market which needs affordable perfumes. Scent of Africa is the first perfume brand to target the Africa market exclusively in 2016. Other perfumers upon knowing this, started making perfumes targeted at the continent and the market keeps growing.” “However, I do not want this perfume to be successful in Europe for Europeans. Our aim is to make this perfume an example for people here who can develop perfumes locally,” he said.
How EAC can maximise AfCFTA trade opportunities (Independent)
Before COVID-19 hit world economies two years ago, there was optimism that Africa’s flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would quickly reshape markets across the region. One year down the road, trading under this bloc has largely been insignificant and there are no concrete figures to determine the journey made so far. But some experts believe it is not too late now that most economies have reopened fully to conduct trade after lockdown disruptions. Experts gathering at a meeting in Kampala on Feb.28 organised by Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda, shared ideas on how East African Community member states can prepare to benefit from this arrangement.
African economists sound the alarm over a looming and likely catastrophic lowering of trade volumes between the continent and its warring partners if Russia’s widely condemned incursion into Ukraine isn’t short-lived. Russia and Ukraine are key players in the global agricultural trade, with both nations accounting for a quarter of the world’s wheat exports, including at least 14 percent of corn exports in 2020, and a joint 58 percent of global sunflower oil exports in the same year, analysis show. Trade between African countries and the former Soviet neighbors, especially Russia, has flourished in recent years with Russian exports to the continent valued at $14 billion annually, and imports from Africa pegged at around $5 billion per year. But these gains are on the verge of eroding quickly, analysts worry, signaling a severe disruption in Africa’s food conditions if Russia’s military operation in Ukraine persists.
Transporters call for easing of Covid curbs to boost trade (Business Daily)
Logistics players in East Africa want governments to ease Covid test protocols in the wake of a decline in positivity rate and vaccination rollout across the region. The stakeholders urged health officials across East Africa states to allow fully vaccinated drivers to only present 14 days negative PCR tests when crossing borders as a means of reducing Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).”Many countries in the world have adopted this system and we view it as the best way forward under the prevailing circumstances. We should allow drivers tested within 14 days to cross the borders to reduce congestion,” said the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) chairman Newton Wang’oo. The transporters’ association with more than 5,000 members in a statement addressed to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan authorities said Covid-19 protocols ought to be eased to boost cross-border trade. The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (EAFFA) president Fred Seka had earlier asked EAC partner states to slacken Covid-9 protocols to ease congestion at border points.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is strengthening the COVID-19 related Pharmaceutical Products (CMPPs) value chains, given their significant potential for job creation. Targeting the CMPPs, along with the leather and agro-processing sectors, under the Support towards Industrialisation and the Productive Sectors (SIPS) in the SADC Region, will encourage SADC Member States to address obstacles to regional integration, as well as assist the private sector to upgrade their production processes and capacity. SIPS is a Joint Action supported by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Government. It aims to assist the SADC industrialisation and regional integration agenda. A total amount of €20,83 million has been provided for the programme for the period 2019-2023, out of which €2,83 million is from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); and €18 million is from the EU.
New African medicines agency a timely venture (Business Daily)
Healthcare often follows the pathway of complex adaptive systems. This means that the building blocks of a healthcare system can influence each other differently in different settings resulting into varied outcomes. Therefore, a key focus of savvy policymakers is to endeavor to positively influence these components so as to cause an overall positive impact. One pursuit that highlights such progressive thinking is the recent creation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA). The agency was launched in September 2021 and is tasked with enhancing regulatory oversight across the 55 countries of Africa and availing access to quality, safe, and efficacious medicines.
Africa has salient deficits in ensuring good access to vital life-saving drugs, vaccines, and health technologies. Further, it has the highest prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines resulting in poor healthcare quality. Such longstanding challenges can be addressed by AMA’s mandate of monitoring and mitigating the risk of shortages of critical medicines and providing scientific advice on medicines.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is expected to be transformative for the African economy, but only if African countries can produce a financial eco-system that allows African entities to trade with one another. This might sound obvious but as the leading Pan-African banking group, we get to see a lot of financial technology systems being developed and rolled out and many of the solutions are not built with emerging markets such as Africa in mind. It is estimated that the trade finance gap in Africa is between $80bn and $100bn at any point in time and this creates a bottleneck that is stifling growth and the creation of jobs. We are told: “Technology and digitisation are the answer” but whenever this statement is made in our cluster or in presentations we have to stop and ask ourselves: “What does digitising actually mean?” Intra-African trade is held back due to very low levels of financial integration across systems and regulators.
It is estimated that only 17% of the various financial technology solutions can share data with one another. Now add in the complication of cross border trade for things like Foreign Exchange payments and one starts to realise that we have a lot of work to do to make AfCFTA work.
Blockchain technology is hacking down the forest of fees that has made remittances such a lucrative business for banks and transferring agents.
“For years we’ve heard talk of how blockchain technology will revolutionise business, but now we are seeing the evidence,” says Sonya Kuhnel, director of Bitcoin Events. “The big use case for blockchain in Africa is remittances, and in some countries these inflows account for 4% to 5% of GDP. So to have 12% of that swallowed in costs is massive. Here is an excellent example of the kind of disruption blockchain technology is bringing to Africa.” The Blockchain Africa Conference 2022, a virtual conference that take place on March 17-18, features some astonishing African blockchain entrepreneurs, such as Uche Elendu, founder and CEO of AppZone Switch, which is a blockchain-based platform designed to facilitate both local and intra-African payments in fiat and digital currencies such as stablecoins
President Joe Biden declares that “America is back” in terms of global standing, but the global economic landscape has changed, and other players are concerned, owing to former President Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign. African actors in the international arena, for example, are calling for an Afrocentric policy framework and approach to a wide variety of issues in international relations, including peace and security, conflict resolution, bilateral and multilateral engagements, financial aid and development mechanisms, trade relations, and democracy, highlighting the significance of African agency in the discussion. African countries should base their approaches to the United States on pragmatic analysis
The UK has an Opportunity to Boost Trade with Africa (International Policy Digest)
In August 2018, the British government revealed its goal to become the largest G7 investor in Africa by 2022, as British companies started to show a strong interest in Africa’s consumer markets. However, the pandemic negatively affected British international investments – with earnings falling by £82 billion, according to the Office for National Statistics. While on the other hand, recipient African countries experienced a 16% decrease in overall foreign direct investments in the first half of 2020. Although the Johnson government was clear that the aim of the January 2020 UK-Africa Investment Summit is to position the UK as “Africa’s partner of choice for trade and investment,” the UK hosted a second summit in January to discuss sustainable investment as a means to assure long-term mutual gains and support the continent’s green economic transition.
Addressing trade barriers between the UK and Africa was one of the key points of the recent summit, particularly for African leaders, as the continent tries to recover from the pandemic. Since sustainable British foreign investments have the potential to stimulate lasting economic growth in African countries, particularly in terms of industrial capacity and import-export rates, the UK has a responsibility to question its implication in trade facilitation with and within Africa.
Trade must be used as a vehicle for ending the marginalization of women in the global economy amid widening gender inequalities stemming from the COVID-19 crisis, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a video message released on 8 March to mark International Women’s Day. Work in the WTO can help reduce trade-related costs for all businesses, including women-owned companies, and also put in place targeted policies to make the multilateral trading system more gender-responsive, the Director-General said.
Women play a key role in fighting climate change (Trade for Development News)
Women are 14 times more likely to die from a climate disaster than men. That finding, by UN Women, reflects growing acknowledgment that the adverse effects of natural disasters affect marginalized groups, including women and children, more disproportionally.
women are poorer because they earn less, have less-secure jobs, and are more dependent on the natural resources which climate change threatens the most, according to a report by Care, an international charity. Similarly, the World Bank notes that micro, small and medium enterprises, in which many women work, are less able to bear the costs of climate change than larger firms. Despite being face-to-face with the problem, women are often not part of the solution. The UN’s Gender Action Plan notes that sustainable development can only be achieved if women are involved in developing and implementing all aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This requires making women’s economic empowerment a central pillar in climate policy and action.
For instance, trade-driven growth is vital to eliminating extreme poverty but can increase the emissions that cause global warming. One pathway to sustainable development is to ensure that this growth is low-carbon and climate-resilient. Enhancing the place of women in trade allows them to play a key role in addressing climate change while raising their incomes and driving overall growth.
India has suggested to convene a meeting under the aegis of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss the role of e-commerce during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a statement delivered by Ambassador of India to the WTO Brajendra Navnit at the General Council meeting held on February 23 to 24, many members have spoken about how e-commerce helped their economies during pandemic-led lockdowns. “India suggests holding a discussion on the role of e-commerce during the time of the pandemic… Within the boundaries of every country, there may have been positive examples. But, did international e-commerce play a big role? It will be good to hear member experiences specifically linked to cross-border trade,” he has said. He has suggested that this agenda item should be adopted by the General Council as a standing agenda item for every meeting. India has been a votary of rejuvenation of the work programme on e-commerce.
The New Development Bank (NDB), set up by BRICS countries to reduce the influence of what they consider Western-dominated finance institutions, has stopped doing business with Russia. The bank announced the move in a statement that made no mention of sanctions, invasion, or Ukraine – and which used 101 characters, (including a full stop) to announce its decision: “In light of unfolding uncertainties and restrictions, NDB has put new transactions in Russia on hold. “That was sandwiched between a generic statement on its application of ”sound banking principles” and a commitment to continuing to be “in full conformity with the highest compliance standards”, which required a further 254 characters. South Africa has put R25.5 billion into the bank to date.
How To Develop A Global Partnership For Development? (ICTSD Bridges News)
Establish further measures that are consistent with established rules and based on predictable results. Provide special treatment to all countries in need. Atmosalicos should be recognized as especially vulnerable groups. Put in place a comprehensive debt settlement program for developing countries. Provide pharmaceutical companies with affordable products with the help of these companies.