Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Local news

SA presents an “immense” investment case (SAnews)

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is ripe with opportunities for among others, trade, investment and tourism. “The benefits of doing business in South Africa are immense indeed. We have a strong and well-regulated financial, banking and taxation system, world-class IT infrastructure, and a range of business and investor friendly regulations and policies.

“Most importantly, we have a ready and able workforce with the necessary skills and capabilities to take your business to new heights,” he said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted to the Expo that South Africa offers participation in a wide range of sectors – both traditional and modern. “Our diverse industries include traditional sectors such as agriculture and agribusiness, clothing and textiles, automotive, mining, capital equipment, tourism, hospitality and manufacturing.

Commodity boom remains untapped as South Africa fights rail woes (Engineering News)

South Africa is missing out on some of the riches on offer from the commodities boom as a rail network beset by problems hobbles its exports. While coal prices recently soared to a record and iron ore is historically high, miners are being forced to stockpile supplies as state-owned Transnet SOC’s rail network buckles under issues from cable theft to breakdowns, compounded by years of corruption. Last year alone, more than $2-billion in potential coal, iron ore and chrome exports were lost, an industry group said.

Botswana imports 20 800 tons of sugar via Namport (New Era)

The demand for Brazilian sugar is set to increase in the next coming months, with neighbouring Botswana recently importing massive quantities through the port of Walvis Bay. The first break bulk consignment of 20 800 tons was successfully offloaded at Namport. The importation and handling as well the storage of this consignment has been facilitated by Sea Rail Botswana, the terminal operator for the Botswana Dry Port, situated at Walvis.

Business development partner at Namport Phillemon Mupupa said the country’s port authority, together with the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), persistently promote the use of the port and the Namibian corridors as they link SADC with the rest of the world. “Major SADC markets, namely Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Angola and South Africa are a crucial hub for the Brazilian imports into southern Africa,” he said.

Busia Border Post generates Sh4 billion revenue collection (Kenya News Agency)

Annual revenue collection at the Busia border has risen from Sh. 400 million in 2018 to Sh. 4 billion in 2021 following the establishment of a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) in the area. The OSBP which was launched in 2018 has reduced turnaround time for travelers and cargo clearance at the same time sealed loopholes for revenue pilferation.

An ultra-modern drive through scanner, luggage scanners, detectors and CCTV surveillance installed at the border post, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Western Regional Coordinator Pamela Ahago added, has helped to ease flow of trucks at the same time net extra revenue which previously was being lost.

Dairy regulator sets sights on milk import (Business Daily)

The dairy regulator will import milk if supply gets worse at a time prices have risen twice within a month. Processors are grappling with a shortage of milk supplies owing to the dry spell that has impacted production at the farm level. The Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) managing director Margret Kibogy said they are monitoring the situation and are yet to make the decision on imports. “We will only make that decision (to import) if the supplies situation gets too low,” Ms Kibogy told the Business Daily. Ms Kibogy said the agency is monitoring to see if the rains that are forecast to start next week will have an impact on production.

Car sales defy Covid-fuelled price surge to grow by 14pc (Business Daily)

Car sales grew 14 percent last year, defying a record increase in vehicle prices amid a recovery from Covid-19 economic hardships. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that the number of newly registered units rose to 107,499 units last year up from 94,128 the previous year. The rise emerged in a year when second car prices increased by up to 52 percent due to a combination of factors including costly units in source markets like Japan, a weakened shilling against the dollar and supply hitches due to the Coronavirus restrictions. The costly cars were expected to dim demand in an economy that is yet to fully recover from Covid-19 effects which triggered layoffs, job cuts and business closures.

Japan-based firm eyes Kenya, EAC car market in duty-free deal (The Star, Kenya)

Japan-based car exporter– IBC Japan Ltd is now eying to increase its exports and dealings in Kenya, tapping into the government-driven Special Economic Zones (SEZs).The government is leveraging on the SEZs as part of its plans to boost Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) in post-Covid-19 economic recovery. The Kyoto headquartered firm has entered into a partnership with Nairobi-based local firm – Ziara SEZ Limited, in creating a base for used cars in Nairobi, which is expected to bring units closer to buyers.

Overall, Kenya imports an average of 4,000 to 7,000 units of used cars a month, based on seasonality and spending power, a market the firm wants to tap into to increase its share.

Ugandans feel the pinch of higher prices of goods (The East African)

High prices of imported raw materials and shipping costs, and the uncertainty of fuel supplies in Uganda have triggered inflationary effects in the past three months causing the prices of goods in the country to go up. The crisis presents difficult economic choices for both government and consumers. A quick survey at local retail outlets shows prices of common household items such as washing soap, sugar and cooking oil have increased by more than 50 percent since December 2021, with a notable price gap between supermarket chains and shops.

fuel prices have risen by more than 10 percent in the past three months despite the resolution of Covid-related bottlenecks at the Kenya-Uganda border. Higher petrol prices escalated the overall cost of doing business but public transport fares remain stable. Whereas Uganda Revenue Authority sources attribute the fuel scarcity to unpredictable deliveries at the port of Mombasa in the beginning of this year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will be a factor. Also, reopening of world economies saw manufacturers to quickly capitalise on growth opportunities. However, it is clear mass manufacturers like China cannot cope with the resumption of massive economic activity in 2022 globally. Critical imported raw materials sourced by Ugandan manufacturers include inputs required for production of cooking oil, beverages, plastics and pharmaceuticals.

What will it take for commodity prices to drop? (The New Times)

Economists have pointed out some factors that should come into play for the prices of essential commodities to go down. The country is experiencing a rise in prices of commodities like cooking oil, soap and sugar. It is a predicament shared by other countries within the region, at least on some of the commodities. The Ministry of Trade and Industry clarified that the prices did not just shoot up suddenly, but rather, they have been increasing steadily over the last two years due to the disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry added that shipment costs also increased, something that has affected prices of imported goods.

Debt payments surpass State running expenses (Business Daily)

Debt repayments will for the first overtake the national government’s recurrent spending on items like civil servant salaries under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor in the year starting July, underlining the burden of mounting State borrowing. Treasury chiefs project in the supplementary budget under parliamentary review that Kenya will spend Sh1.36 trillion annually in the year starting July for debt repayment, up from Sh1.15 trillion in the current fiscal period. The debt costs will for the first time in Kenya’s history surpass the recurrent expenditure, projected at Sh1.34 trillion in the coming year from the current Sh1.27 trillion.

Rwandan business delegation in Harare for trade conference (The New Times)

A high-level delegation from Rwanda’s business community is in Harare to attend the second leg of the Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference which kicks off on Monday. The chairperson of Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Robert Bafakulera urged the Zimbabwean business community to take advantage of the conference to expand their businesses. “We are interested in agriculture, agro-processing, agri-business, mining, energy and trade. I would call upon our friends here in Zimbabwe to find some time so that we sit down, we network and form some partnerships,” Bafakulera said.

“Zimbabwe has a strong financial sector, that financial sector needs to have a footprint in East Africa and the best entry point for them is in Rwanda using our finance centre called the Kigali International Finance Centre,” said Barigye.

Workshop probes the central role of urbanisation in Lesotho’s National Development Plan (UNECA)

A cross-sectoral implementation approach to the urban dimension of Lesotho’s National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) should be at the forefront if the country is to reduce poverty and deliver prosperity for all. This was an overarching message from a four-day workshop, hosted by the Government of Lesotho and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in the country’s capital Maseru from 21 to 24 March.

As part of this project, ECA presented the findings of its assessment to the workshop participants, which analysed the capacity of Lesotho’s national and local governments in implementing the New Urban Agenda. A key finding was the urgent need to bridge the gap between policy and practice, as well as the need to modernise the existing strategies in response to emerging threats such as climate change and COVID-19.

Ghana: Report warns that climate risks could cost Ghana’s transport sector $3.9 billion, but roadmap offers hope (AfDB)

A new report estimates that by 2050 climate risks could cause damage worth $3.9 billion in Ghana’s transport sector. But the report also offers a roadmap that could prevent the worst from happening. It also highlights extensive efforts by the government to counter climate risks. The potential damage of $3.9 billion is thrice the investment of $1.3 billion made in the sector in 2019, according to the study. The research was led by the national Ministry of Science, Environment, Technology and Innovation, in partnership with the Global Center on Adaptation. It reflects efforts by the government of Ghana to assess the threat that climate change poses to infrastructure assets. It also mentions government efforts to prioritize adaptation investments to mitigate the climate risks facing Ghana’s infrastructure in the energy, transport, and water sectors.

“Ghana: Roadmap for Resilient Infrastructure in a Changing Climate” was carried out under the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, a partnership of the African Development Bank Group and the Global Center on Adaptation, with support from the United Nations Office for Project Services, the United Nations Environment Program, and the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

The Future of the Egyptian Industry in light of Global Transformations Conference (State Information Service)

The Future of the Egyptian Industry in light of Global Transformations Conference, organized by the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS), was launched on Saturday morning, March 26, 2022.

The conference discussed, during the first session, qualitative transformations globally and their impact on the industry, while the conference discussed, during the second and last session, a roadmap for the localization and development of the industrial sector. The conference, also, discussed the successive global developments with the view to understanding their repercussions on the future of industrial business systems.

Senator Dr. Abdel Moneim Saeed, Head of the advisory body at the Egyptian Center for Thought and Strategic Studies, confirmed that Egypt faces international challenges in the field of industry, noting that globalization has dominated the global system during recent decades in a way that the world has become a small village, however this small village has returned to its vast differences now. He explained that these differences are in the heart of the European continent, where the two world wars took place, and not in any other country such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Georgia as happened before.

Malawi Renews Commitment to Regional Integration (COMESA)

The Government of Malawi has renewed its commitment to regional integration as championed by COMESA. High Commissioner of Malawi to Zambia, Her Excellency Margaret Constance Kamoto states that Malawi has always believed in the ideals of COMESA and continues to positively contribute to the deepening of regional integration among the 21 Member States.

Ms Kamoto acknowledged the negative impact of COVID-19 on intra-regional trade and called for measures to cushion the impact on traders and businesses. She applauded COMESA Secretariat for its unwavering financial, technical and material support rendered towards Malawi’s economic development agenda adding that with the finances received, the country has embarked on massive industrialization, investment and trade growth efforts but still needs support amid COVID-19 setbacks. “The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to us that regional integration can play a critical role in meeting the supply and demand needs of goods and services in our region and its time that Member States take advantage of the situation by standing together to boost intra-African trade by producing goods and services which will benefit us,” she added.

African trade news

Boosting Labor Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Countries Could Bring Transformational Economic Benefits to the Region (World Bank)

A comprehensive agenda to boost worker output in Africa is vital for the continent’s post-pandemic recovery and long-term prosperity, as well as protection against the impacts of climate change, says a new World Bank report. Sluggish growth in productivity, a key driver of growth and development, has left the region lagging behind many developing countries which have powered to prosperity on the back of productivity gains, says the ‘Boosting Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa’ report. It calls for efforts to better direct resources to the most productive firms in the sectors that hold the most promise for the continent. These include policies that would boost productivity in the agricultural sector, on which the vast majority of Africa’s poor people depend and create non-farm jobs through improved access to finance and more efficient tax systems.

“Continual and sustained increases in productivity are critical for ending poverty and improving prosperity in Africa. Given the host of global and local challenges confronting Africa, policymakers must ensure that precious resources are optimally allocated to sectors which are important for durable long-term growth that is inclusive, resilient and sustainable,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

IATF endorsed as booster for African trade, development goal (Businessday)

The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) has been endorsed by key stakeholders as the pathway to boosting African trade and accelerating economic development in the continent following successes recorded from previous editions. Organized by the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Union (AU), the IATF which started in 2018 has recorded significant success in trade and investment deals, while providing a platform for investors to see numerous opportunities and for African businesses to increase their prospects. Speaking during the signing ceremony to officially confer Côte d’Ivoire as the Host of IATF2023 in Abidjan, Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank said the IATF has become a platform for actualising the vision of the African continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He added that the universal access to trade information was the ‘hammer ‘ needed to break down the 110 borders that divide Africans in order to achieve a resounding success in Africa.

Africa must remove barriers to trade, says Kenyan minister (CNN)

More than a year on, governments are now working to facilitate trade by removing tariffs on thousands of products across Africa. Kenya, Africa’s sixth-largest economy, hopes that the deal will cement the country’s position as a regional commercial hub and trade center. Speaking to CNN Business last month at Expo 2020 Dubai, Betty Maina, Kenya’s Minister of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, says the private sector’s involvement in the trade agreement can help the country achieve that goal. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.It’s easy for Kenya to trade with Uganda and Rwanda because we have road connections, but to get goods from Kenya to Nigeria requires us to use the sea, because we don’t have a road. But [the AfCFTA] shows that there are structures in place to start trading within Africa as we finalize the modalities.

Use of Technology Key to Boost Intra-Africa Trade (COMESA)

COMESA will continue to leverage on technology to create cheaper and easily accessible processes under its Trade Facilitation Programme to further deepen intra-regional trade and take advantage of recent revelations that the bloc has a trade potential of over USD$100bn. Using digital platforms coupled with advocacy, sensitization and information dissemination, the bloc is expected to help deepen intra-regional trade which in turn will enhance intra-African trade. In line with this, COMESA Secretariat has so far pioneered several instruments, projects and programs under trade facilitation such as the Yellow Card Scheme, Regional Customs Transit Guarantee (RCTG), Simplified Trade Regime (STR), simple rules of Origin, Certificate of Origin and One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) to assist further push intra-trade levels. Digitalization of trade Instruments including e-CO (the Electronic Certificate of Origin), Online information exchange platform, E-Trade, E-Logistics and E-Legislation are some of the key interventions that are expected to boost trade in the region.

This was said by Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe during the African Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) Roundtable Conference organized by the African Union Commission on the side-lines of the Expo Dubai 2020 held in the United Arab Emirates on 15 March 2022.

Kagame stresses AfCFTA opportunities for young entrepreneurs (The New Times)

President Paul Kagame has said that capitalising on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is now operational, to create opportunities for young entrepreneurs is essential for the continent’s sustainable development. He made the case while portraying the need to identify new areas of cooperation between Rwanda and Egypt, according to the Presidency. Kagame added that it is critical to get both economies back on track and strengthen the resilience against future shocks. “Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us that we are inter-connected, more than ever before and that no country can tackle global crises alone,” he said.

COMESA Calls on Member States to Utilise Online Payment Platform, REPSS (COMESA)

Nine out of 21 countries are currently live on the COMESA Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) since it was launched some six years ago. The value of transactions processed on the system has however been increasing, a sign that the platform is steadily being accepted in the regional trade bloc. Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe has stated that implementation of REPSS is a great milestone in COMESA’s quest to achieve regional economic integration and all Member States need to get on board. Once fully operational, REPSS is expected to significantly contribute to the expansion of intra-COMESA trade by facilitating online payments of all intra-COMESA transactions. This move is expected to foster a reduction in transaction and operational costs and bring about a switching of relationships for trade transactions from between commercial banks and foreign correspondents to commercial banks and central banks thus making intra-regional trade transactions cheaper.

Platform bridges gap between cargo transporters and clients (Business Daily)

Software engineer Jonathan Ndede, the founder of Ngamia Africa began by reaching out to local investors who helped him raise about Sh50 million to launch the e-platform Ngamia Africa. “We knew that there was an issue in terms of logistics transportation, supply chain and commercial movement of goods from point A to point B. Movement of people has been easy because of availability of platforms such as Uber and motorbikes, but it hasn’t been the same in the transportation of goods. The only solution was to go digital, riding on the fact that smartphone usage in Kenya had increased,” he says.

The design of the platform was such that once a user registers and makes a request to have their goods transported, they would get a list of transporters registered on the platform as third-party service providers. The transporters would start to competitively bid based on the customers’ request.

EAC in crisis once again as funding model splits partner states (The East African)

An impasse has hit the East African Community once again, with Kenya being accused of taking a hardline stance on a proposal that would see contributions from partner states based on gross domestic product (GDP). The EAC Finance and Administration Committee has raised the red flag over remittance arrears amounting to $50 million, a situation that has left the Secretariat and its organs almost in limbo.

“I hear it is Kenya that has delayed that mechanism,” said Mr Namara. But Kenya, which is the current EAC chair and the region’s largest economy, distanced itself from the blame, stating that member countries must fulfil their financial obligations to the bloc that’s the problem. Nairobi has cleared its dues. The EAC budget for the fiscal year 2021/22 is $91.7 million. If paid, the arrears would cover more than half of the budget. According to the EAC Council of Ministers, $54.1 million (59 percent) was to be contributed by partner states or raised as other internal revenues and $37.6 million (41 percent) from development partners.

The 12th Meeting of Sectoral Council on Finance and Economic Affairs held on the May 7, 2021 proposed hybrid model in which partner states would contribute 50 percent of the budget on equal ratios and the remaining 50 percent would be assessed based on GDP per capita to cover 40 percent, then intra-EAC trade would cover five percent and imports from outside EAC five percent. The Council later approved a model that stipulated that 65 percent be contributed by partner states on equal ratios and 35 percent be assessed based on partner states’ nominal GDP per capita for the past five years, as done by the World Bank. But Kenya called for further consultations. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning Ukur Yatani, who chaired a Finance Ministers meeting in Mombasa late last year, said the proposal was under review.

It’s all systems go for admission of DR Congo into EAC (The Citizen)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is all set to be admitted as the seventh member of the East African Community. The EAC secretariat says all arrangements are in place for the Extraordinary Heads of State Summit on March 29, when Kinshasa will be formally received in a virtual session. The Council of Ministers held the 48th Extraordinary Council meeting on Friday to put the final touches on the admission plan. “There is only one issue that we are discussing, and that is DRC,” Dr Kevit Desai, Kenyan Principal Secretary, EAC and Regional Affairs, told The EastAfrican. “The review mission is over, the negotiations are over. We are on the ninth step, which is basically creating a format for the Summit.” The Council is set to present to the Heads of State the decision for adoption.

Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat to hold Namibian leg of information sessions this week in Swakopmund (Namibia Economist)

The easing of trade across borders is an important attribute that defines and shapes the Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS). In a bid to ensure continuity of the same, the corridor management institute has organised yet another Information Session scheduled for 30 March. The Information Session will be held in Swakopmund at the Sea Side Hotel. The theme of the information session is ‘Enhancing Trade Facilitation through Innovative Solutions.’

The Deputy Executive Director in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Jonas Sheelongo will give the welcome remarks, TKCS Executive Director, Mr Leslie Mpofu will give a Statement and objectives of the information session, and the Director of Infrastructure at South African Development Committee (SADC) Ms Mmapolao Mokoena will give the Keynote address.

How much did African startups raise in 2021? (TechCabal)

In 2021, African startups raised over $4 billion across 355 funding deals. Across Africa, this number is almost 3x times what was raised in 2020 and 2019, where the ecosystem recorded $1.7 billion and $1.3 billion respectively. While 2021’s total tech funding in Africa is certainly the most impressive factor for the ecosystem, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Across Africa’s 4 regions, many new firsts were achieved in 2021. It was the year $100 million single-round raises were normalised with 10 startups—including unicorns Wave, OPay, Flutterwave, and Chipper Cash—raising $100 million and breaking the records. That’s a significant increase from 2020, where no African startup raised $100 million in a single round, and a 400% total increase from the only 2 startups that raised such amounts pre-2021.

Commodities Update — Ukraine’s grain export falls, Africa raises $1bn for agri production (Arab News)

Ukraine’s new agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi on Saturday said Ukraine’s ability to export grains was getting worse by the day and would only improve if the war with Russia ended. The African Development Bank, or AfDB, aims to raise $1 billion to rapidly ramp up agricultural production in Africa and stave off a potential food crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its president told Reuters on Friday. “Already, coming out of COVID, we have 24 million people falling further into extreme poverty, and that’s going to worsen the situation,” said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina in an interview. To avoid a food crisis, he said the AfDB was planning to launch an emergency food production plan that would focus on rapidly boosting wheat, maize, rice, and soybean.

Growing Green: Enablers and Barriers for Africa (AfDB Working Paper)

Discussions about green growth transition in Africa have mostly been silent on quantifying Africa’s progress and assessing countries’ “green” versus “brown” growth performance. We construct a measure of Africa’s green growth performance using an emissions-adjusted production technology framework that jointly accounts for the production of desirable and undesirable outputs over the period 2000-2019. We also identify the important country-level characteristics that drive green productivity growth. The computed green Malmquist-Luenberger productivity indexes penalize countries for the production of “bad” outputs and credit countries for the reduction in emissions and production of “good” outputs. Our main results indicate that Africa’s productivity growth is overstated when undesirable outputs are ignored in the measurement of Africa’s growth performance. Second, it is technological progress and not efficiency change—i.e., the catch-up effect—that has been the primary source of Africa’s green economy transition, implying a reduction in the gap to the technological frontier for most countries. Our analysis of the drivers of green growth shows that high-income levels, trade-embodied R&D, and domestic R&D are the main enablers of green growth, while high energy intensity is the main barrier to green productivity growth. We also find evidence of nonlinearities between income level and green growth performance, consistent with the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis. The paper ends with far-reaching policy recommendations for accelerating Africa’s green growth transition. 129 duplicates removed

Discussions about green growth transition in Africa have mostly been silent on quantifying Africa’s progress and assessing countries’ “green” versus “brown” growth performance. We construct a measure of Africa’s green growth performance using an emissions-adjusted production technology framework that jointly accounts for the production of desirable and undesirable outputs over the period 2000-2019. We also identify the important country-level characteristics that drive green productivity growth. The computed green Malmquist-Luenberger productivity indexes penalize countries for the production of “bad” outputs and credit countries for the reduction in emissions and production of “good” outputs. Our main results indicate that Africa’s productivity growth is overstated when undesirable outputs are ignored in the measurement of Africa’s growth performance. Second, it is technological progress and not efficiency change—i.e., the catch-up effect—that has been the primary source of Africa’s green economy transition, implying a reduction in the gap to the technological frontier for most countries. Our analysis of the drivers of green growth shows that high-income levels, trade-embodied R&D, and domestic R&D are the main enablers of green growth, while high energy intensity is the main barrier to green productivity growth. We also find evidence of nonlinearities between income level and green growth performance, consistent with the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis. The paper ends with far-reaching policy recommendations for accelerating Africa’s green growth transition.

African Development Bank Group signs Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS for $3.56 million grant to develop West Africa pharmaceutical industry (AfDB)

The African Development Bank and the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding for $3.56 million in grant funding to support the development of pharmaceutical industries in West Africa.

The project’s total cost is $3.77 million, to which the ECOWAS Commission will provide $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in-kind. The funds will support the implementation of regulations to allow duty-free access to pharmaceutical raw materials, packaging, and finished products under the ECOWAS Common External Tariff. It will also help establish an effective regional pharmaceutical regulatory ecosystem by providing technical assistance programs for regional regulatory authorities. Commissioner Traoré said: “Local production of pharmaceuticals and biologicals has become an imperative and a regional priority, as is the provision of healthcare delivery services. The African Development Bank’s support of these priorities will help ECOWAS achieve its development objectives.”

The EU is hurting itself with its one-sided Africa trade policy (EU Reporter)

Ukraine’s descent into hell has driven thousands of its citizens into European Union countries for safety. The kindness shown by Ukraine’s neighbours has been tremendous, but this almost biblical exodus is set to create severe pressures within the EU, on a scale surpassing even that of the Syrian crisis

Africa’s youth are no different to any other: they want to be educated, healthy and safe, and free to realise their dreams. Should they find stable and fulfilling jobs at home, they will no longer feel the pressure to take life-threatening journeys to unwelcoming lands. Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent, with a 1.3bn population set to double by 2050

To create sustainable employment, Africa needs to shift from a primary economy dominated by agriculture and raw materials into developed agro-processing and light industrial sectors. This vital change could bring millions out of poverty and help turn off the migration tap. Growing prosperity creates deeper pockets too. A burgeoning middle class means more consumers for European exports. The opportunity is there for the taking.

Global economy news

Fisheries subsidies deal: Why we need it and how to implement it (UNCTAD)

Governments face multiple challenges to sustainably manage marine natural resources. Effects of habitat degradation, overfishing, pollution and climate change are exacerbated by the growing capacity of fishing vessels, including high-efficiency fleets. These are magnified by the distortive effects of public fisheries support, the insufficient availability of scientific data and the weak enforcement of ocean governance. This combination of challenges calls for a profound transformation of the fisheries sector to align it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the area of fisheries subsidies, 20 years of negotiations by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are now at an advanced stage, with only a few issues left to address. WTO members have pledged to conclude the negotiations before the 12th ministerial conference scheduled for June 2022, though they’re already behind the original deadline of 2020. Sustainability is at the core of the negotiations and a WTO outcome on fisheries subsidies is at our doorstep – an opportunity that cannot be missed.

Supply Chains and Port Congestion Around the World (IMF)

Rising prices and reports of empty shelves in major economies have drawn attention to the functioning of supply chains that normally operate smoothly in the background. Among the issues, the long delays that port congestion may have caused in delivering goods to consumers and firms have been gathering increasing attention. We shed light on these issues leveraging a unique data set on maritime transport. Two main features emerge. First, at the world level, we find that shipping times jumped upwards as soon as the COVID crisis hit, and after a marked acceleration from end-2020, delays surpassed 1.5 days on average by December 2021 – or roughly a 25 percent increase in global travel times. The estimated additional days in transit for the average shipment in December 2021 can be compared to an ad-valorem tariff of 0.9 to 3.1 percent. The midpoint of this range is approximately equal, in absolute value, to the global applied tariff reduction achieved over the 14-year period from 2003 to 2017. Second, not all congestion appears related to increased demand. Many ports, especially since mid-2021, exhibit longer wait times despite handling less cargo than pre-pandemic. Infrastructure upgrading is therefore likely a necessary, but not sufficient condition for building resilience during a crisis where other factors (such as labor shortages) may also become binding.

Full speed ahead with digital connectivity and Equiano (The Media Online)

Google’s state-of-the-art Equiano submarine cable is expected to be operational by end 2022, as the infrastructure installation project proceeds. Equiano is Google’s 14 000km submarine cable that will run from London to Cape Town, with other confirmed landing points being Portugal, Nigeria, Namibia and St Helena. Other countries will be able to join the network in the future.

The cable project was announced in 2019 and was originally scheduled to go into operation in 2021. The latest update is that the cable will probably be operational by year end, and no doubt the delay is due to the long Covid-19 lockdowns. Togo celebrated its landing last week – the first in Africa – while the Namibian landing station is ready and waiting, having been completed last month.

Equiano is fully-funded by Google and is part of its US$1 billion investment in building digital capacity on the continent. It will provide fifth-generation 5G service and “20 times more network capacity” to West Africa and SADC than these regions currently enjoy. I

Poor and Vulnerable Countries Need Support to Adapt to Climate Change (IMF Blog)

All countries, rich and poor, must adapt to climate change. A recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spelled out the dramatic consequences of failing to curb the rise in global temperature and adapting to a hotter planet. Adaptation should address risks from climate change and extreme weather, for example by safeguarding agriculture, managing the impact of rising seas, and making infrastructure more resilient.

The benefits of adaptation are sometimes difficult to estimate because they depend on specific factors such as how well-adapted a country is to its current climate. Nevertheless, well-crafted policies can produce large returns, as we show in three papers published today covering climate adaptation and fiscal policy, macro-fiscal implications, and bringing climate adaptation into the mainstream of fiscal planning.

IMF to Cut Growth Forecast as Some Weaker Nations Risk Recession (Bloomberg)

The International Monetary Fund is poised to cut its global growth forecast for 2022 as a result of the war in Ukraine, and sees recession risks in a growing number of countries, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said. The world economy is still set to expand in 2022, though by less than the 4.4% previously anticipated, Georgieva said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine broadcast Tuesday. The IMF is set to update its projections in April when the fund holds its annual spring meetings.

Global food security: These are the main challenges to feeding the world – and how we can solve them (WEF)

Experts are warning about the impact the Russian invasion of Ukraine will have on global food security.

“Conflict and hunger are closely intertwined – when one escalates, the other usually follows. As in any crisis, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are hardest hit, and in our globalized world, the impact of this conflict will reverberate across continents.” These are the words of Gilbert Houngbo, former Prime Minister of Togo now President of the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD is “very concerned” that an extended conflict in Ukraine could limit the world’s supply of staple crops such as wheat, corn and sunflower oil, resulting in skyrocketing food prices and hunger, he adds. “This could jeopardize global food security and heighten geopolitical tensions.”


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