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Industry organisations the Motor Industry Staff Association (Misa) and Agri SA have strongly urged that government suspend fuel levies to relieve pressure on food and fuel prices, when it reviews the pricing methodology for petrol. Particularly, Misa asked to be included in the review process and for it to be expedited.
Although Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced in the 2022 Budget that there would be no increase in the fuel or Road Accident Fund levies for this year, about 36% of the retail price of fuel still goes to the fiscus.
Misa is concerned about the turmoil and rapid escalation in the price of crude oil and gas after US President Joe Biden announced a ban on all imports of oil and gas from Russia. European countries are also planning to phase out imports of oil and gas from Russia.
Gauteng, US govt launch trade-investment framework (Engineering News)
Gauteng Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development MEC Parks Tau and US Consul General in Johannesburg Vincent Spera have pledged to deepen cooperation and coordination to promote and increase bilateral trade and investment through various engagements, events and high-level interactions. This follows the US Consulate General in Johannesburg and the Gauteng provincial government jointly launching the Gauteng provincial government – government of the US: Trade-Investment Framework on March 10. The trade-investment framework intends to foster an equitable partnership to pave the way for agency-to-agency collaboration between the two governments, in five key areas, including digital technologies and information and communications technology, and urban development/township economy, tourism and creative industries.
It also aims to increase collaboration in transportation, infrastructure and logistics; agriculture; and climate and energy.
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) will set up a South African National Pavilion at the Sial Paris International Food Products Exhibition that will take place in France from 15-19 October 2022. Sial is the world’s leading exhibition network with unrivalled geographic coverage of Europe and the rest of the world.
Companies producing processed foods, non-alcoholic beverages, preserved foods, spices, soups, deep frozen products, cured meat, health and organic products, sweets, sea food and gourmet food products are invited to apply for the department’s assistance in showcasing their products and services at the exhibition. The deadline for the submission of completed application forms is 31 March 2022.
Qualifying companies will be assisted through the dtic’s Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) Scheme. The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services, and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is working with other countries to ensure reliable energy supply in the SADC region. This comes at a time when the country is facing electricity blackouts. The war in Ukraine has contributed to higher oil prices which will likely translate into higher fuel prices. Ramaphosa said this at the Presidential Imbizo in the North West on Saturday. The Imbizo aimed to look at the challenges facing South Africans and it was no surprise that the issues of electricity outages as well as expected higher fuel prices were high on the agenda. While the President called on the Minister of Energy to provide answers, Gwede Mantashe noted that Eskom fell under more than one ministry.
India, Namibia committed to partnership in pharma sector (The New Indian Express)
Trade between India and Namibia stood at approximately $80 million in the last few years. Namibia imports drugs and pharmaceuticals, chemicals and agricultural machinery from India. While as India is interested in Namibian diamonds, both countries are committed to a robust partnership in diamond and pharma sectors. The India-Africa Trade Council organised a summit on Saturday, which was attended by the business community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. President of Indian Economic Trade Organisation Dr Asif Iqbal and the High Commissioner of Namibia to India HE Gabriel Sinimbo pledged to strengthen trade relationship between the two nations. Trade Commissioner of Industrialists and Businessmen from Telangana, Dr Tasneem Shariff, spoke about accelerating India’s relationship with the Southern African region and its port proximity to Walvis Bay for the various other nations around the region.
“The Diamond Park project that can enable students to learn diamond trade and other related self-reliant skill sets. Very soon our students will go to Namibia to learn the intrinsic details of the Diamond sector,” said Dr Tasneem.
Uganda, Kenya end row on fish exports to DRC (The East African)
Uganda will compensate Kenyan fish exporters to the Democratic Republic of Congo whose catch officials confiscated on October 1, 2021 at Mpondwe border in Kasese district of Uganda. The decision follows a meeting last week chaired by Kenya’s Principal Secretary for East African Community and Regional Development Dr Kevit Desai, Uganda’s Agriculture PS Maj-Gen David Kasura Kyomukama, and Kenya’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy PS Francis Owino, at the Malaba-Busia-Kenya-Uganda border.
“Trade in fish exports to DRC has been going on for many decades though with intermittent disruptions occasioned by misunderstanding between Kenya and Uganda on the nationality of the fish with Uganda often suspecting that the fish are undersize fish sourced from Ugandan waters, specifically Lakes Victoria and Kyoga,” said Dr Kevit Desai, PS Ministry of EAC and Regional Development, who is also the chairperson of the EAC Principal Secretary/Permanent Secretaries Council.
DRC/Kenya/Rwanda: Equity Bank’s $6bn ‘Marshall Plan’ for SMEs (The Africa Report)
Through its Regional Private Sector Economic Recovery and Resilience Stimulus Plan, Equity Group intends to support SMEs in East and Central Africa’s agriculture, manufacturing and logistics, trade and investment, social and environmental sectors over the next five years. The package is substantial: 678bn shillings ($6bn or €5.5bn), which was equivalent to almost 70% of Equity’s total balance sheet in 2020. The group led by Kenya’s James Mwangi had a total balance sheet of about $9bn, according to the latest figures published on 31 December 2020.
Equity Group’s CEO explained this “ambitious plan to advance the African continent” more than a year ago, when the financial group obtained the support of a dozen financial partners.
“This recovery and resilience plan is a kind of Marshall Plan, in which we commit $6bn to support the continent’s industrialisation by helping SMEs and creating 50 million direct and indirect jobs in our countries of operation over five years,” Mwangi told The Africa Report.
On a practical level, Equity explained in a statement released on 7 March that the loans will be disbursed at an interest rate ranging from 13% to 18.5%. The bank wants to help businesses thrive and recover from the health, social, humanitarian and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The $6bn facility targets “five million businesses and 25 million individual borrowers.” It will focus in particular on youth and women.
90 scrap metal dealers to wait longer for licence (Business Daily)
Dealers will wait longer to know when a moratorium on the export or the buying or selling of any scrap material will be lifted. Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina told Parliament last week that there is no date set for lifting of the ban. She said a joint meeting has been set where public and private sector players will meet to scrutinise guidelines that have been developed to regulate the scrap metal sector .”There isn’t a date set for lifting of the moratorium but it will be announced at the highest level depending on the outcome of the meeting called between public institutions handling critical infrastructure and the private sector players dealing with scrap metal,” Ms Maina told the Trade committee of the National Assembly. Ms Maina revealed that out of over 700 scrap metal dealers in the country, only 20 were licensed under the Scrap Metal Act at the time of the moratorium.
She said 91 have since the ban applied to be licensed and their applications are undergoing rigorous review before a decision can be made.
War, oil and Nigeria’s endangered extractive economy (The Guardian Nigeria)
“Putin thinks he is strong because Russia is the second-largest oil exporter in the world. But he is weak because he has put himself in your hands and you are angry because he is terrorising Ukrainian civilians and threatening the world,” a traumatised Oleg Ustenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian President on economic issues, said in an article seeking global blockage of Russian oil. Reference to the article is not much about the Russian onslaught in Ukraine, but the importance crude plays in global politics, especially in wartime. Indeed, President Putin’s strongest convincing point that he can get away with what his critics have described as impunity is that “Russia is the second-largest oil exporter in the world” and that Europe, especially, cannot as much contemplate a world without Russia’s daily five-million-barrel supply.
As the federal government continue its borrowing spree and debt servicing constituting a major threat to Nigeria’s economy, it has emerged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spent $13.1billion in 11 years to settle Nigeria’s foreign debt obligations. The international payment data released by the CBN showed that from 2011 to 2021, the amount paid to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Exim Bank of China, among others for debt service and payments have continued to increase. The debt repayments, it was learnt, were made on behalf of the federal government alone excluding 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In 2019, the CBN withdraw $1.34 billion for debt servicing and payment, the international payment data revealed. Further analysis of the data revealed that in 2021, debt services and payment dropped by 63 per cent to $2.13 billion from $5.77 billion reported in 2020. The reported $5.77 billion is the highest debt services and payments recorded by the CBN, while a total of $242.8 million was the lowest in 2013.
The federal government will continue to welcome more investors to reposition the power sector, the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, has said. Aliyu said this on Friday while receiving a delegation from the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) lead by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, in Abuja. The Minister said President Muhammadu Buhari was working hard towards repositioning the infrastructural development in power sector as part of efforts to give the country a stable and reliable power supply system.
The country’s capital, Dodoma, will soon be a hub of business in East and Central Africa, thanks to the ambitious 215 million US dollars (about 497bn/) Dodoma City Outer Ring Road project which is expected to open business and investment space between Tanzania and other African countries. The project—which will see the country ripping benefits in the economy through the works and transport sectors, has drawn massive attention from economic pundits and normal Tanzanians.
AfDB is the main financier of the project after its Board approved funding for the Dodoma City Outer Ring Road project in 2019.
The Bank Group is financing 64 per cent of the total cost or 137.3 million US dollars (about 317bn/). The government of Tanzania’s contribution is 34.5 million US dollars (about 79.7bn/-), while an additional 41.8 million US dollars (about 94.8bn/-) comes from the Africa Growing Together Fund, financed by the People’s Bank of China. “By funding this project, the bank has really demonstrated that it is the bank of Africa which is really committed to African development,” said President Samia during a colorful event to lay the foundation stone to the project, an event which was also attended by AfDB’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
In partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Interior, the Sub-regional Office of North Africa, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) held on Wednesday 9 March 2022 in Rabat a workshop on “Migration statistics and recognition of migrant skills in Morocco: Perspectives and Outlook”. The meeting aimed to present two analytical reports on migration statistics and migrant skills in Morocco, introduce national capacity building plan and discuss options to share lessons learned with other African countries seeking to equip themselves with similar systems.
Morocco was previously known for being a country of origin, a country of transit, and is now becoming a country of destination for migrants. Given the sheer size of this issue and Morocco’s many years of experience, Morocco has a leading role on the policy level, said Zuzana Brixiova Schwidrowski, Director of the Sub-regional Office of North Africa, who noted the country’s positive approach to migration.
Egypt has announced that it has imposed a three-month export ban on green wheat, cooking oil, and corn, local newspaper Ahram reported, citing the Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea. This comes as the African country attempts to secure citizens’ need for basic commodities as the month of Ramadan approaches amid concerns over global supply issues exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ramadan usually sees the rate of consumption of food products steadily rise in the country. Globally there has been an increase in the price of oil and non-oil commodities as a result of the military conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, both key exporters of wheat and some types of cooking oil. Egypt imports 80 percent of its wheat from Russia.
Envoy stresses need for enhancing trade with Niger (The Express Tribune)
Africa is an emerging continent with a consumer market of over 1.2 billion and Pakistani business community should focus on Niger to widen its access to the African market for trade and exports, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to Niger Ahmed Ali Sirohey. Interacting with the business community at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday, the envoy said that Niger was a gateway between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa and the country was keen to promote business relations with Pakistan. He stressed upon Pakistan’s private sector to explore Niger for business and investment avenues in order to gain better market access to African countries.
Speaking on the occasion, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir said that Africa was a massive market however Pakistan failed to tap its actual potential as the bilateral trade volume clocked in at around $4 billion in 2019-20.
Cameroon, the largest economy in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), continues to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the IMF’s Executive Board approved three-year arrangements under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for SDR 483 million (about US$ 689.5 million, or 175 percent of Cameroon’s quota) to support the country’s economic and financial reform program. This followed two disbursements in 2020 under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) totaling SDR 276 million, equivalent to about US$382 million or 100 percent of Cameroon’s quota.
How supply chain laundering hurts Africa (1) (BusinessAMLive)
Countries with economies that are predominantly commodities-based need to take this rather seriously. Africa is well endowed with commodities. Those at the lower rungs of the ladder and are at the weaker points in value chains should be worried about their future in such economic circumstances. African countries are squarely within this bracket and so much needs to be done to take the countries further up on the value chains so they could play more prominent roles and be better rewarded. Extractive industries define African economy, have been the economic mainstay of most African countries and still remain so till now. From minerals to agriculture, African countries generally depend on going back to the soil to generate the needed revenues to run their economies that remain mostly backward and underdeveloped. These do not guarantee real development within the continent in the foreseeable future.
The newly established African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will do nothing extraordinary as long as the values of the commodities in the mostly commodities-based trade remain low. Moreover, with great questions on issues of transparency in supply chain, a lot less revenue will continue to be recorded on tradable commodities and the data generated will continue to be at variance with realities. There is yet to be a proof that Africa’s economy is about to make a transition to manufacturing or service industry-based economy. So, while the status quo lasts, a lot needs to be done to meet with globally accepted criteria in the commodities industries and trade.
The paradox of Africa’s development is encapsulated in the fact that the continent exports low-value primary commodities and import high-value finished products. Africa produces premium quality raw cocoa, coffee, tea, timber, copper, diamond, gold, cobalt, uranium, petroleum and many more primary commodities which are exported to countries that turn them into products of high values and high prices, from which the finished products are imported back into Africa.
Africa will rebound in its post-pandemic economic recovery and rediscover its pre-pandemic growth levels as it shrugs off the slump caused by the coronavirus, according to a continental socioeconomic commentator.
Dr. Aslam Dasoo, convener of the Progressive Health Forum, however, said the rebound, though uneven, will taper off with time and the continent must take advantage of the coming windfalls and build their capacities for posterity.
“We are optimistic that governments and private sector enterprises will begin to see the merits of taking the learnings that the pandemic has given and capitalizing on them through greater collaboration, greater synergy, focus on investment on growth and social protection,” Dasoo said.
Africa experienced a sharp economic downturn and slid into recession in 2020 with several key sectors, such as agriculture, transport (particularly aviation), tourism, mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing, being adversely affected. This, in turn, resulted in financial losses worth billions of dollars, business closures and job losses in addition to millions of people being pushed into extreme poverty. Dasoo noted that while the effects of the pandemic on African economies were devastating and uneven, more developed economies, like South Africa and Kenya, that implemented tough measures, like lockdowns, early on were hardest hit.
“The pandemic represents, not only the worst health calamity in 100 years, it also represents the biggest shock to the global economy in 100 years. Africa, whose fragile economies get swayed by the global winds of trade, are buffeted and often left at a disadvantage in these ‘trade winds’, bore the brunt of that shutdown.”
“What the pandemic delivered a very acute lesson on is the need to make sure that countries have healthcare resilience, capacity and capability. It exposed the very uneven presence of robust health systems, even here in South Africa, which has, probably, the most developed healthcare system on the continent.” African governments were also urged to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in order to rapidly accelerate intra-African trade as the bedrock of the continent’s future economic development.
Hard economic times in East Africa as commodity prices go through the roof (The East African)
March has been a hard month for the citizens of East Africa as the cost of living soared, leaving the poor staring at destitution and businesses reeling. While the situation has been largely blamed on external factors such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month and the subsequent disruption of the global supply chain, citizens have been petitioning their governments to urgently find measures to cushion them.
In Uganda, for instance, citizens are hanging on to the hope that a crisis meeting between the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and manufacturers of soap, cooking oil, salt and other household items will lead to a reduction in the prices of essential commodities which have skyrocketed in recent weeks. Captains of industry warned last week that the cost of living on account of the surging prices of essential household items will get worse before it gets better as external shocks causing prices to skyrocket are not about to ease. Last week, the situation prompted a debate in Cabinet and parliament, which resulted in a meeting on Friday between the prime minister and executives of companies that manufacture household items, to persuade them to ease the prices and the cost of living.
“Cabinet directed that we meet these companies on Friday and produce another paper for Monday’s session,” Ms Nabbanja told The EastAfrican. “It is the bulk importers that are taking advantage of this situation to raise the price and distort the market. Some companies have increased the price by a small margin, but others have hiked it to exploit Ugandans.”
In Kenya, manufacturers have issued an alert over the impending decision to increase prices for finished products as the cost of crude oil soars to $130 a barrel, amid escalating war between Russia-Ukraine which has taken a toll on the global economy, pushing households to the verge of financial distress.
The East African Community makes huge post-harvest losses in food products annually in the range of 30% in cereals, 50% in roots & tubers, and up to 70% in fruits and vegetables. The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, said that Partner States could reverse this situation through deployment of better storage and processing technologies and enhanced packaging techniques can greatly contribute to the regional development objectives; ensure food security and result in higher earnings for farmers and SMEs. Hon. Bazivamo said that to counter these challenges, the EAC has developed clear policy directions to signal to the investors the Community’s strategic intent, adding the bloc has established a public private sector fruits and vegetables platform to drive faster development in the sector.
“In our recently adopted fruits and vegetables strategy and post-harvest loss management action plan we aim to unlock this potential by, among other things, pursuing best practices in contract farming, productivity, inputs; utilization of modern and new technologies, capacity building,” said the DSG.
The digital revolution currently underway in Sub-Saharan Africa offers enormous potential for economic growth and agricultural productivity. Coastal countries benefit from fast internet, thanks to undersea cables, and 4G mobile networks are expanding rapidly across the continent. Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is referred to as the “Silicon Savannah” of Africa because of its buzzing digital economy. In spite of such success stories, much of sub-Saharan Africa remains unconnected: About one-third of the population is still out of reach of mobile broadband signals, and only 28 percent has any access to the internet. This has implications for the local agricultural sector, where productivity could be easily boosted by new digital technologies such as e-commerce, sensors, drones and better weather forecasts. A new report co-published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) offers one of the most comprehensive overviews to date on the status of digitalization in the region, focusing on digital agriculture transformation.
The report - Status of Digital Agriculture in 47 Sub-Saharan African Countries - takes a deep dive into the status quo and the challenges that countries face along their digital transformation journeys. An overview is given for each of the 47 countries on a variety of key indicators, such as access to electricity, ownership of mobile devices, number of apps in the national language, the gender gap in social media use, and regulatory frameworks.
Growth on the horizon for African e-commerce and logistics in 2022 (Logistics Update Africa)
Countries across Africa present huge opportunities in e-commerce but businesses must quickly overcome challenges around infrastructure, logistics, and financial inclusion to fully realize the potential. Since 2020, we have witnessed African markets embracing the e-commerce revolution. Thanks to rising disposable incomes, growing internet penetration, and emerging cross-border e-commerce markets, the continent is poised to become the world’s next big online retail destination. To realize this ambition, e-commerce platforms must now focus on building this momentum in the wake of increased economic and logistical pressure.
A report from 2021 conducted by global fintech business, PayU, revealed the massive potential for digital businesses across the continent, with South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya experiencing a major increase in internet and e-commerce penetration (37 percent in both Nigeria and SA, and 25 percent in Kenya).
The growth potential for these countries is overwhelming, but it is not only these economic centers that are experiencing a new digital dawn. According to analysts at Statista.com, e-commerce in Rwanda was projected to reach USD 79 million in 2021, with an annual growth of around 12.5 percent year-on-year until 2025. In only six months of operating in Rwanda, DUBUY.com has received over 500,000 website visits from sellers and buyers and has built a community of more than 4,000 active merchants on the platform.
With an additional five million users expected to begin using e-commerce services in Rwanda alone by 2025, it is up to the logistics sector to keep up with growing demand across the entire continent.
African airports offer new opportunities for investors (Logistics Update Africa)
Airport infrastructure across Africa requires a major overhaul. The pandemic exposed both the strengths and weaknesses of the aviation industry in the continent. Infusion of funds to enhance the existing infrastructure and new investments into modern passenger and cargo facilities are urgent for Africa to realize its aviation potential. The unprecedented demand for airport capacity to handle essential cargo such as temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and Covid-19 vaccines over the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the massive shortage of airport infrastructure in Africa. Even among major airport hubs in various parts of Africa, passenger and cargo figures have overwhelmed available capacity or would do so in the near future. This poor capacity restricts African airports’ growth and associated revenue.
Currently, a number of African airports and airport authorities are already developing or executing future expansion plans to meet crucial current and future demand, ensure steady growth and development of their airports, and contribution to their economies.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), which refers to itself as “the largest air freight service provider in Africa”, is implementing its Air Cargo Strategy 2019-2022 to drive cargo development. At Isiolo International Airport, KAA says cargo handling sheds have been completed to take care of the export of agricultural produce and Miraa. Construction of a modern transit shed is underway at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport, and a new cold storage room and specialized consolidation area will form part of the upgrade planned for the airport. Kisumu is being positioned to attract massive trade and investment in its Great Lakes region.
Partnerships are vital to reposition African airports to meet the current and future needs of airport users including airlines, tourists, and business meetings. Public-private partnership is instrumental to the development of Kenya airports, and this offers the solution to develop Africa’s remote airports where agriculture and other primary produce are generated.
Both Kenya and Ethiopian Airports expansion are significantly driven by their well-established national carriers, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian, respectively, which spearhead cargo and passenger traffic to the airports.
Aviation cannot develop in a silo. Airports development stakeholders must collaborate with especially cargo sources such as the agricultural sector and the transport and packaging value-chain to develop and facilitate acceptable products and package standards for movement by air. This would reduce
Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced on 7 March 2022 that it would develop a site in Kenya to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. The company holds much of the key intellectual property relating to the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Due to their higher efficacy, mRNA vaccines are the preferred option in developed countries. They account for 92% of all vaccinations to date in the US and European Union. Moderna’s decision to continue making the vaccine itself, though on the Kenyan site, is a signal that the company (at least for the moment) is not considering licensing its technology to a third party for local manufacture. In this way, the company keeps closer control over who has full knowledge of, and is able to use productively, its technology. Licensing is an arrangement which has lower cost but greater vulnerabilities for licensors. The decision is significant for the mRNA Technology Transfer Hub in Cape Town, South Africa. The hub was established in June 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other parties. The idea was to develop a mRNA vaccine manufacturing technology platform. This would initially be for COVID-19, but eventually for a range of infectious diseases including TB and HIV. Once the platform has been fully developed and tested in Cape Town, it will facilitate technology transfer to at least 12 low- and middle-income countries. This will considerably expand global mRNA manufacturing capacity.
Funding, in the form of European Union (EU) combined member funds, member state investments and capital from investment banks, is earmarked for Africa. The European Commission recently announced investment funding for Africa worth €150 billion (approximately $165bn) as part of the EU Global Gateway Investment Scheme. Baker McKenzie’s Global Head of Project, Trade & Export Finance and Africa Steering Committee Chair, Michael Foundethakis, explains that the scheme is seen as a way for the EU to build influence around the world, and is considered by some to be a counter to China’s Bridge and Road Initiative (BRI), which began in 2013. “It is also intended to boost post-pandemic growth in regions that were badly economically impacted by the pandemic. Although the current conflict in Ukraine could, of course, affect or change the dynamics and/or timing of these proposals,” he notes.
Foundethakis says that the Global Gateway Africa-Europe investment package will allow the EU to support projects in priority areas on the continent, with a focus on the green transition, sustainable growth and job creation. As part of this initiative, the Commission recently announced it would invest €1.6bn (roughly $1,75bn) to support Morocco’s energy and digital transition projects.
Eighth Annual U.S.-AUC High-Level Dialogue Joint Statement (United States Department of State)
The United States and African Union Commission (AUC) convened the eighth annual U.S.-AUC High-Level Dialogue on March 11 in Washington, D.C., led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and AUC Head of Delegation Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Secretary Blinken and Chairperson Moussa Faki discussed strengthening the U.S.-AUC partnership to focus on shared global concerns including ending the current COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for future health threats; partnering on climate change strategies addressing threats to global stability; and bolstering democracy and democratically elected governments on the continent.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Akunna Cook and AUC Commissioner for Economic Development, Tourism, Trade, Industry, and Minerals Albert Muchanga led a strategic discussion on inclusive economic growth and investment opportunities. Noting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies in the region, officials discussed the importance of spurring economic growth as a response to the pandemic. Officials reaffirmed U.S. support for the AfCFTA and other Agenda 2063 programs and projects to achieve sustainable economic development, build regional value chains, and increase both competitiveness and investment opportunities for mutual benefit. Participants discussed the importance of engaging with the private sector to increase trade and investment with Africa in pursuit of inclusive economic development, including by enhancing AGOA beyond its current framework.
Global economy news
Some of the members participating since December 2021 in the high-level talks - the European Union, India, South Africa and the United States - expressed cautious optimism about a possible outcome and asked for patience from the rest of the membership. These members said that the small-group discussions continue to take place in good faith, with the objective of finding a landing zone that delivers on the common purpose of ensuring equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. They stressed that any framework that emerges from this process, under the coordination of WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Deputy Director-General Anabel González, will be subject to consideration by the TRIPS Council and its full membership. They also underlined that achieving an effective outcome on this critical issue would serve the ultimate purpose of tackling the ongoing crisis as well as ensuring that the credibility of the WTO is restored.
UN Tech Bank calls on countries to join in helping least developed countries (Yeni Şafak English)
Launched in 2018, the UN Technology Bank serves the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs), of which 33 are in Africa, according to the acting managing director of the organization. In an exclusive interview, Taffere Tesfachew called on countries across the globe to join in on helping LDCs as he expressed his gratitude to Turkey for its “genuine” support. The UN Technology Bank has been “implementing, instigating activities and projects” since its establishment, Tesfachew said, adding that one of those projects was to establish academies of science.
In March 2021, the UN organization teamed up with the Network of African Science Academies and launched two such academies, one in the Southern African nation of Lesotho and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “This is helping some LDCs who require some technical knowledge, capacity building, partnership with UN agencies, with other stakeholders,” he said.