Building capacity to help Africa trade better

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South Africa Floods Could Hurt China Trade (Voice of America)

Some of the worst flooding in South Africa’s history has left more than 400 people dead and some 40,000 displaced, dealing a devastating blow to the eastern city of Durban, which has a seaport that has also been badly affected. With the port not fully functioning, there are supply chain concerns and China — South Africa’s biggest trading partner — and other nations, are likely to see their imports and exports disrupted. Earlier this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster because of the flooding — which he blames on climate change but which some critics blame on poor infrastructure and the fact that most of the people affected were living in makeshift shacks in informal settlements.

Ramaphosa stressed the importance of quickly fixing the situation at the port, saying, “The Port of Durban — which is one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals on the continent and which is vital to our country’s economy — has been severely affected.”

One of the countries likely to be affected by problems at the port is China, said Cobus van Staden, senior China-Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. “In relation to the situation in Durban, it’s very serious for the whole of China-Africa trade, rather than just for South Africa; this is because of the centrality of Durban port to Chinese exports,” he told VOA. “About 20 percent of total China-Africa trade goes out through Durban and this includes resources like cobalt, copper and lithium coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe particularly,” he added.

Sugarcane farmers report extensive damage, AgriSA calls for road repairs as a priority (Engineering News)

Sugarcane farming industry body South African Cane Growers (SA Canegrowers) says preliminary results from a survey of KwaZulu-Natal cane growers reveal extensive damage from the recent flooding to cane fields, farm infrastructure and access routes to deliver cane to mills.

By the afternoon of Tuesday, April 19, more than 300 growers had responded to the survey and reported that 2 516.65 ha of cane had extensive crop and root damage, therefore requiring the total replanting of these fields to bring them back into production. This damage comes to an estimated R194.9-million. Farm infrastructure to the value of R27.9-million has also been destroyed, bringing the total losses to R222.9-million, the association says. “A number of local roads and bridges were also washed away, which are not only the main transport nodes to mills, but also the access routes for farm inputs and workers employed on these farms,” SA Canegrowers CEO Dr Thomas Funke points out. This catastrophic damage comes just as many canegrowers had started recovering from the riots and arson attacks that took place in July last year, which saw 554 000 t of cane being burnt and R84-million in losses incurred.

Transnet works to restore port and rail operations (SAnews)

Transnet is working hard to ensure that port and rail services return to full operation after flooding in KwaZulu-Natal interrupted operations at the Durban Port and surrounding railway lines last week. The port is one of the biggest in the Southern African region and is a gateway to the country’s economic hub, Gauteng.

“The port is critical to the stability of the South African economy and Transnet will continue to work with all customers and industry to ensure that the logistics chain is enabled, in the interests of the economy,” said the State owned rail, port and pipeline company.

President Cyril Ramaphosa to attend Mining Indaba 2022 (Engineering News)

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver a keynote address at the 2022 Investing in African Mining Indaba, which takes place in Cape Town from May 9 to 12.

The mining industry more than proved its mettle during the Covid-19 pandemic, making a substantial contribution to taxes during a time when South Africa most needed it, the release added. The president’s participation in the Investing in African Mining Indaba, where he will address mining industry leaders and investors from many parts of the world, follows on the highly successful South Africa Investment Conference in March, and will further serve as a major network for driving investment in the country and on the continent.

Unlocking the potential of the oceans economy (SAnews)

As part of efforts to unlock the potential of the oceans economy and drive transformation in an aggressive way, government has prioritised the acceleration of interventions in the maritime sector. Among these is the establishment of a national shipping carrier as a means of building the strategic national shipping capacity and capability. “Enhancing our ship registration framework remains at the centre of our efforts not only to grow our shipping industry, but to transform the sector such that it makes a meaningful contribution to broadening economic participation,” Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, said on Wednesday. The Minister was addressing the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP) Mid-Term Review Conference aimed at building faster momentum for economic growth, transformation and job creation in the maritime sector.

South African vessels would be given preference to move cargo from one domestic port to the next, a move that could trigger growth of merchants and create new industries,” the Minister said. South Africa’s policy recognises the economy as intrinsically linked with other regional economies and prioritises regional coastal shipping as an important enabler in unlocking the potential of the oceans to the region.

There’s a place for big and small farms in securing South Africa’s food supply (The Conversation Indonesia)

The farming sector is arguably the most important economic sector for South Africa’s development as it is directly linked to food security and poverty reduction. In 2019, 5.3% of employees in South Africa were in the agricultural sector and in 2020, agriculture contributed around 2.5% to the country’s GDP. The constitutional right to food puts food systems and agricultural development firmly on the national development agenda. South Africa’s history shaped farming into a two-part system: large-scale commercial farmers and small-scale farmers. Both types are important in the agricultural economy.

Government steps up crackdown on rogue oil dealers as supply normalizes (Nation)

The government is stepping up its crackdown on rogue oil marketing companies after censuring four retail stations that were found selling fuel at higher-than-recommended prices even as supply of the commodity normalises across the country. The long winding queues at petrol outlets have dissipated just days after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) on Thursday increased the cost of petrol, diesel and kerosene by Sh9.90 pushing the cost of the three products to a historic high.

The normal supply comes days after acting Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma lambasted oil companies accusing them of deliberately causing an artificial fuel shortage by withholding their stocks until fuel prices are pushed upwards to reap higher profits.

Fiber optics boom makes comeback (Nation)

Airtel plans to land a new submarine internet cable in Kenya, underpinning a fresh wave of connections that is expected to raise price competition in the race for the country’s booming internet economy. Airtel Networks Kenya has already made an application to the Communications Authority of Kenya for submarine cable landing rights. Barely two weeks ago, Kenya welcomed its sixth submarine internet cable as a partnership between Telkom Kenya and a consortium known as Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (Peace) — meaning the additional cables by Airtel and the big tech firms would underline a fresh wave off connectivity with benefits to consumers. “This ultra-high capacity cable will assist Kenya and the region in meeting its current and future broadband capacity requirements as well as assist carriers in providing affordable services to Kenyans,” Telkom Kenya’s Mugo Kibati said during the launch.

Japan overtakes China in fresh Kenya loans race (The East African)

China has cut fresh financial commitment to Kenya’s development projects by nearly four times in seven years, falling behind Japan on the list of top bilateral lenders to the East African nation for the second year running. The Treasury has in the budget estimates for the financial year starting July listed Japan as the largest source of bilateral loans and grants, leapfrogging China which has been the biggest financier for nearly a decade.

Beijing is projected to lend Kenya Ksh29.46 billion ($254.9 million) for the fiscal year 2022/23, a sharp cutback from Ksh140.03 billion ($1.2 billion) in the 2015/16 budget. That marks the second year in a row that China will trail Japan in bilateral loans, having committed Ksh21.25 billion ($183.9 million) in the current year ending June against Tokyo’s Ksh36.49 billion ($315.7 million), according to the Treasury’s budget books. China, however, remains the biggest bilateral creditor by far due to big-ticket deals it has inked with Kenya in the last decade to fund and build mega infrastructure projects such as roads and a modern railway.

Uganda’s Agoa export earnings drop drastically (Monitor)

Uganda’s export earnings have dropped tremendously in the last two years as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) officials have observed. Uganda is one African country whose exports are eligible for tariff and quota-free access to the US market under the Agoa initiative. Mr Benson Byaruhanga, the Agoa economist, told Monitor in an interview yesterday that the country’s export earnings dropped from Shs56.6b in 2019 to Shs46.1b in 2020 and to a further Shs40.5b last year due to Covid-19. “The drastic drop in export from Shs112.1b in 2017/18 to Shs56.6b in the year 2018/2019 was due to many factors. The quality of products dropped and then also the cost of doing business wasn’t favourable and people pulled out of Agoa,” Mr Byaruhanga said.

New report hints on Uganda’s tax opportunities (Independent)

A new report published by Oxfam, Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute and other non-governmental organisations has identified gaps related to gender taxation, policy and administration, and that once fixed could boost government’s ability to deliver services to its population. Titled ‘The Fair Tax Monitor Study or simply FTM’, the report reveals that Uganda has made minimal progress in making the Uganda tax system fair and gender responsive. This is mainly because the country depends largely on indirect taxes – excise duty, VAT, and customs – which disproportionally affect low-income earners, especially women, since they spend a higher proportion of their income on consumer goods for their families.

The report also notes that large tax incentives and exemptions and illicit financial flows drain critical resources that hinder government’s ability to provide critical public services. In FY2019/20, Uganda recorded approx. Shs5tn as incentives.

Mozambique to Export Electricity to Botswana (allAfrica)

Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company, EDM, will provide 100 megawatts of non-firm power to Botswana, under a contract, valid for a year, signed on Thursday between EDM and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). The capacity agreed under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) seeks to help meet the growing demand for electricity in Botswana. But the supply of power by EDM will be subject to a request by BPC, and the availability of surplus power from the Mozambican grid. At the signing ceremony in Gaborone, EDM chairperson Marcelino Alberto stressed the new opportunities for the energy market of SADC (Southern African Development Community), that will be created when the new gas-fired power station at Temane, in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, begins to operate.

I’m Sad Our Neigbouring Countries Still Have Their Borders Closed - Nana Akomea (Peace FM Online)

STC Boss, Nana Akomea has raised concerns about the closure of borders in Ghana’s neighbouring countries. As Ghana has opened her land borders to foster trade, her neighbouring countries, primarily Togo and La Cote d’Ivoire, haven’t yet opened their borders; according to sources. President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the opening of the land borders in his latest update on COVID-19 as he lifted the Coronavirus restrictions and was optimistic the move will help inject capital in order to boost economic growth.

New railway connecting northern Nigeria with Niger expected to boost trade (How we made it in Africa)

Nigeria is in the process of linking its northern states with Niger, with a 284-kilometre railway running from Kano in Nigeria, to Maradi in Niger. The move will strengthen trade between the two inland trade hubs, while further boosting African economic integration in the Sahel region.

Construction work on a 284-kilometre railway line linking Kano – the greatest trade hub in northern Nigeria – with Maradi, the second-largest city in Niger, is underway as Nigeria pushes to take on a substantial portion of the transit freight market in the region, local media reported. Work is being undertaken by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

According to Nigerian transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s fast-growing rail infrastructure offers a compelling route for goods bound from, and to, the Sahel. “It is simple, currently, the Niger Republic is exporting through Benin Republic. All the countries that are landlocked in the West African region are exporting through Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast. Why are they not exporting through Nigeria?” Amaechi said at a ceremony in Kano.

Burundi Set to Establish Financial Intelligence Unit (COMESA)

Burundi is set to join the global agenda cracking-down financial crimes including money laundering by creating its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Towards this goal, COMESA is supporting the country to conform to the international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in line with Burundian needs. Recently, Burundi FIU Board officials comprising of security and customs officers undertook a benchmarking tour of the FIU Unit in Mauritius. The trip was sponsored by the COMESA Regional Maritime Security (MASE) programme, which covers Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region. A similar trip is planned to the Uganda Financial Intelligence Authority towards end of April 2022. The core functions of FIUs are receipt and analysis of suspicions transaction and activity reports identified and filed by reporting entities, and disseminate the intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other FIUs, upon request. The FATF is the global money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing watchdog and sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.

IMF to Guinea Bissau: Quit relying on cashew nut, diversify exports (The East African)

Guinea Bissau’s economy is excessively dependent on the production and export of cashew nuts, leaving the country highly exposed to fluctuations in international prices and local weather conditions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. As a way out, the IMF suggests that diversifying its output and exports can contribute to higher and more sustainable growth. Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has the vital cashew nut crop as its main source of foreign exchange that provides a modest living for most of Guinea Bissau’s farmers. The West African country, has a massive foreign debt and an economy that relies heavily on foreign aid. “Opportunities lie in a range of areas such as agriculture, processing industries, natural resources and tourism,” the IMF said. “Taking advantage of these opportunities requires addressing constraints that have hindered diversification to date”.

World Bank Commits to Strengthening Madagascar’s Post-Cyclone Recovery Plan, Pandemic Response, and Energy and Transport Sectors (World Bank)

Today, the Government of Madagascar and the World Bank signed two recently approved projects for Madagascar totaling $534,9 million. The Connecting Madagascar for Inclusive Growth project and the Pandemic Preparedness and Basic Health Services Delivery Project are key to unlocking opportunities for the people of Madagascar and strengthening their resilience against future shocks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on Madagascar’s economy and people. The World Bank has worked alongside the Malagasy government and population to support recovery efforts during this period, and is committed to accompanying the country to strengthen its health system in the face of future pandemics,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa. “The World Bank is also strongly committed to improving the transport and connectivity sector as it is key to unlocking Madagascar’s economic and social development.”

African trade news

AfCFTA Adjustment Facility Sets In Motion (News Ghana)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat has packaged a private sector engagement plan in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation to enhance private participation in African economic development. The plan focuses on four initial priority sectors or value chains, namely agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and transportation and logistics for quick wins, based on the potential for import substitution and existing production capabilities on the continent. Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, speaking at the Chatham House Members Event, said the Secretariat also in partnership with the Afreximbank, was finalising arrangements for the operationalisation of an AfCFTA Adjustment Facility.

The Facility will provide a mechanism for Member States to access financial and technical resources to implement the Agreement and mitigate the short-term disruptions and associated costs. He said in February, the Secretariat signed a $10 billion AfCFTA Adjustment Fund Management Agreement in Cairo, Egypt. The signing was to pave way for the operationalisation of the Adjustment Facility to enable countries access the funds subject to certain criteria.

AfCFTA Secretariat: Conclusion of AfCFTA Phase II negotiations our priority - Secretary-General (GNA)

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat says it has prioritised the conclusion of the AfCFTA Phase II negotiations, covering protocols on Women and Youth in Trade, Investment, Competition Policy, Digital Trade, and Intellectual Property Rights. The finalisation of all these protocols, especially the phase II protocols, will greatly contribute to deepening economic integration in Africa.

Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, speaking at the Chatham House Members Event, said with these additional protocols, “we are further transforming the continent by removing physical and commercial barriers that have hitherto hindered trade among our countries.” The event was on the theme: “Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area: priorities and prospects.”

Mr Mene said regarding the outstanding negotiations on the rules of origin, while significant progress had been made with agreement of 87.7 per cent of tariff lines. He said this meant that the AfCFTA had now defined for each of them what constituted the minimum African content for a product to be traded among countries of the continent based on preferences. “It is critical that the outstanding 12.3 per cent is completed as soon as practicable,” he added.

SACU Investment Roundtable targets accelerated recovery (New Era)

The first ever Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Investment Roundtable event was successfully hosted by Botswana under the theme: “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African continent and beyond”. The investment seminar was held on 12 and 13 April 2022 in Gaborone, Botswana and aims to achieve accelerated industrialisation and pave way for economic recovery among SACU member states. The objective of the gathering was to showcase investment opportunities in selected priority sectors across the SACU region, targeting: textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and essential oils as well as agro-processing, specifically leather and leather products, meat and meat products, and fruits and vegetables. These sectors offer extensive opportunities for the development of regional value chains across the SACU region.

Namibia’s trade and industrialisation minister Lucia Iipumbu emphasised the need to guard the natural active ingredients sector against under exploitation. Most importantly, she said, is the need to deliberate on an industrial policy perspective on how to harness the SACU rebates and draw linked value chains.

DRC entry into EAC reinforces Kenya’s geo-economic leadership (Capital News)

The entry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into the East Africa Community (EAC) marks a significant milestone for Kenya in terms of advancing her geo-economic influence in the region while strengthening intra-regional trade and investment.

In appending their signatures to the document, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and his Kenya counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, in his capacity as EAC Chair, paved way not only for the integration of the expansive central African nation into the six-member strong East African union, but also the creation of a regional market with a GDP conservatively estimated at $ 250 billion (Ksh. 24.3 trillion). Essentially, the move ushers in a common market stretching from the Indian Ocean in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and home to more than 270 million people. DRC alone has a population of 95 million people, signifying its vital importance in the expanded bloc.

Also, apart from being the largest country geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, almost the size of Western Europe, DRC has vast natural resources including 60 per cent of the global cobalt reserves. Cobalt is a precious metal used in the manufacture of batteries that power smartphones and electric cars. The country also exports gold, copper and timber. DRC also has significant energy resources and arable land that if harnessed, alongside its abundant mineral wealth, are capable of transforming the East and Central African regional bloc into an economic powerhouse. Additionally, it is an important connectivity hub given that eleven major transport corridors facilitating trade in the Central, Eastern and Southern traverse it.

Calls grow for EAC to reduce reliance on imported pharmaceuticals (The New Times)

What would happen to the people of the East African Community if donors who fund most regional programmes on malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS decided, overnight, that they are no longer giving us medicines? The question was posed Monday, April 19, by Jean Baptiste Havugimana, the EAC director for productive sectors, while shedding light on the status of the regional pharmaceutical industry during a meeting in Kigali where local stakeholders shared views on how to improve a related draft legislation. A team of members of the East African Legislative Assembly are gathering inputs from stakeholders so as to polish the EAC Pharmaceuticals Bill which aims to, among others, promote access to essential medicines and facilitate the promotion and development of the regional pharmaceutical industry.

MP Francine Rutazana, a Rwandan who initiated the idea of the Bill in December 2019, told The New Times she hopes that after the ongoing public hearings, the regional Parliament could pass the Bill during the June sitting. “The Bill builds on the African Union model law on medical products regulation which seeks to harmonise regulation of medical products within member states,” the lawmaker said. “The objective is to facilitate access to essential medicines in the Community; promote pharmaceuticals produced within the Community; promote good manufacturing practices and quality standards in producing pharmaceuticals; promote preference for pharmaceuticals produced in Community during public procurement and for related matters.”

Cemac: Economy expected to improve in Q2 2022, despite gloomy international context (Business in Cameroon)

The central African region’s economy is expected to improve in the second quarter of this year, despite a not-so-helping international context. This is revealed in the latest Beac business survey. This improvement forecast comes at a time when inflation is growing in the region and the global environment is shaken by the war in Ukraine, which has further increased the cost of raw materials and freight on the international market. The central bank projects inflation in the Cemac at 3.6% in 2022, 0.6 points above the tolerance threshold accepted within the region.

Throwing away keys to borders will get rid of some Africa crises (The East African)

In an interview with the London publication, The Telegraph, African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina painted an unsettling picture of how the disruptions to grain and fuel supplies caused by the war could result in food riots, political upheaval and turn back the clock on the progress Africa has made in recent years. “The price of wheat has gone up by 62 percent since the beginning of the war. The price of maize has gone up by 36 percent. The price of soya beans by 29 percent. Now the price of fertilisers, which are very critical for food production, has gone up by 300 percent — that’s three times.” Why? Because, as The Telegraph noted, Ukraine and Russia export about 25 percent of the world’s wheat, and together the two countries make up about 80 per cent of the world’s sunflower oil trade. Africa relies heavily on both countries for food imports.

“East Africa is particularly of concern to us. Russia and Ukraine supply most of the grains to this region. In fact, East Africa relies on these two countries for 90 percent of their wheat,” he said. Dr Adesina and the bank are putting their money where their mouths are, announcing plans to raise $1 billion to boost food production in Africa to stem shortages.

Boosting Africa’s resilience to the adverse impact of the Ukraine crisis (UNECA)

From expanding social safety nets and improving governance to boosting intra-African trade, the chief economist of a United Nations regional body in Africa proposed a series of measures to boost Africa’s resilience in the face of the risks and uncertainties arising from the Ukraine crisis, which has deteriorated the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the major global suppliers of agricultural commodities, fertilizers and energy. “These two countries together account for over half of the global market share in sunflower oil, for example. A third of the world’s wheat production comes from Ukraine and Russia, and they supply nearly a fifth of maize globally,” Hanan Morsy, Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the major global suppliers of agricultural commodities, fertilizers and energy. “These two countries together account for over half of the global market share in sunflower oil, for example. A third of the world’s wheat production comes from Ukraine and Russia, and they supply nearly a fifth of maize globally,” she said.

Italy pursues African gas to end dependence on Russia (CGTN Africa)

Italian ministers head to central Africa Wednesday in an urgent quest for new energy deals as Italy scrambles to break away from Russian gas. Prime Minister Mario Draghi is looking to add Angola and the Congo Republic to a portfolio of suppliers to substitute Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italian gas.

“We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection”, he said in an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily published on Sunday. “Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time — quicker than we imagined just a month ago,” he said.

Algeria is currently Italy’s second-largest supplier, providing around 30 percent of its consumption.

How Huawei’s Localization in North Africa Delivered Mixed Returns (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Trade between China and North Africa has increased significantly since the early 2000s, but it has largely reproduced patterns of unequal exchange. Since they were unveiled, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Chinese government’s 2016 Arab Policy Paper have signaled the promise of a qualitative shift in China’s engagement with the region. China has committed to increase investments in high-value-added sectors and to boost cooperation in science and technology with countries across North Africa. The digital space is a notable aspect of recent China–North African partnerships. Chinese tech firms are becoming ever more important actors in North Africa through the Digital Silk Road, the digital component of the BRI. North African governments see the Digital Silk Road as an opportunity to help bridge the digital divide and bolster their own national efforts to build digital economies and create high-quality jobs for the millions of unemployed university graduates across the region. In recent years, the region has become home to notable Digital Silk Road projects such as smart cities, satellite navigation centers, data centers, and network infrastructure. Huawei’s localization strategies in Algeria and Egypt show that, far from imposing a one-size-fits-all blueprint on other countries, as Beijing is often depicted as doing in U.S. and European media and policy discussions, Chinese tech players adapt their engagement depending on local development agendas. Flexibility, customization, and services tailored to local demand have been cornerstones of Huawei’s localization strategies in North Africa.

Pan-African crypto currency ‘can ease business costs’ (Ventureburn)

A common crypto currency and an integrated capital market could boost trade in Africa and sustain growth after the Covid-19 crisis. As such, a collaborative effort was needed with financial institutions on the digitalisation of delivery and payment channels. This was the view of experts at the African Economic Conference held in Cape Verde. They, however, reiterated that the continent first needed to harmonise national rules and protocols governing the financial systems of individual countries to make the reforms workable.

Anouar Hassoune, professor of finance and chief executive of the West Africa Rating Agency, participated in a discussion on reforming Africa’s financial system. He said a common crypto currency will ease the cost of doing business and give the continent an identity. “We need to come up with a crypto currency that is acceptable to each member state. It’s better to do it at the continental level, and we have the expertise to do it. It’s a matter of governance, not an issue of technology,” Hassoune stressed.

He added that the proposed crypto currency could serve as an alternative to monetise some of the continent’s endowments, such as gold and other commodities.

Digital banking is the in-thing - but it excludes many users in Tanzania and Senegal (The Conversation)

Across countries in Africa, only 33% of adults have an account at a bank or another financial institution. Among the women, this rate is only 27%. Financial services like accounts, credit cards and retirement plans allow people to protect their savings, earn interest, borrow for big expenses like a house or medical bills, and even start their own businesses. This is why financial inclusion is mentioned in eight out of 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals. But opening and maintaining these kinds of accounts can be difficult when banks are difficult to reach. To solve this, some have proposed using digital technologies to reach the “unbanked”. Services like mobile money, which allow people to use their mobile phones to make or receive payments, have become quite popular. In recent years, more than 157 mobile money operators like M-Pesa and Orange have taken off across the African continent.

Africa has what it takes to accelerate climate action through fourth industrial revolution technologies and innovations, experts say (AfDB)

The African Development Bank brought together various development and industry experts to discuss the potential of fourth industrial revolution technologies and innovations to tackle climate change in Africa.

The virtual panel — “Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to Build Africa’s Climate Resilience: Practical case studies and experiences” — took place on the 31st March 2022 as part of the Second Global Gobeshona Conference.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Hamndou Dorsouma, Officer-In-Charge of the Climate Change and Green Growth Department at the African Development Bank, noted that technologies were already being applied on the continent to enhance climate-related research, enable precision agriculture and observe climatic and weather patterns, with impactful results. To demonstrate this, he cited the work of the Bank’s ClimDev Africa Special Fund, which supported the procurement of supercomputers that were instrumental in successfully monitoring and tackling the outbreak of desert locusts in East Africa in 2020. “This goes to demonstrate that fourth industrial revolution technologies and innovations can be leveraged towards solving problems that build resilience and enhance adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change,” he concluded.

Green Banks can plug climate finance gap—participants at MENA Climate Week hear (AfDB)

Green Banks have a critical role to play in overcoming climate finance gaps, participants of an African Development Bank event held on the side lines of Middle East and North Africa Climate Week. Organized in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank, A Green Finance Facilities Ecosystem: a $3tn opportunity for Africa brought together climate finance experts from both multilateral development banks, the Nordic Development Fund, and Pollination Group, a climate change investment and advisory firm, to share perspectives on how sustainable investments represent an opportunity for Africa and the MENA region.

The Egyptian government is creating an enabling environment and strategically aligning its policies with the needs of the private sector. Ahead of COP27, Egypt is preparing a guidebook to help Governments, Multilateral Development Banks and the private sector engage in the mobilization of climate finance.

African Development Bank earmarks €10 million equity investment to drive technologies in the wake of Covid-19 (AfDB)

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved an equity investment of €9.8 million to support venture capital investments in African start-ups, from seed to growth stages.

Of the equity investment, €7 million will be sourced from the African Development Bank’s own resources; the additional €2.8 million represents funds provided by the European Union (EU) through a partnership with the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).

The investment will help Cathay-AfricInvest Innovation Fund meet its target of securing €110m to invest in over 20 early-stage ventures across sub-Saharan Africa. The Innovation Fund focuses on financial inclusion (financial tech and insurance tech), retail and logistics platforms targeting online and mobile consumers, healthcare technologies, and pay as you go, off-grid energy technologies.

Global economy news

Africa, South America businesses most concerned about high transportation costs: DP World study (Gulf News)

Businesses based in South America and Africa have a more ‘negative’ outlook due amid rising inflation, geopolitical tensions and port congestion. For example, 42.5 per cent and 49.5 per cent of executives surveyed in South America and Africa, respectively, identified higher transport costs as the top limitation for increasing exports. This compared to 19.9 per cent for those in China, 27.5 per cent in India and 25 per cent in UAE. The study, conducted by Economist Impact, surveyed executive-level participants representing businesses in 26 countries. The research was commissioned by DP World, global logistics company and a key participant in the World Logistics Passport. “This new data tells us that different countries and regions are having remarkably different experiences of the same supply chain pressures,” said Mahmood Al Bastaki, General Manager of the World Logistics Passport, the DP World initiative that aims at creating a smoother flow for global trade. “With export prospects for businesses in South America and Africa more likely to be impacted by rising transport costs, the private sector is in need of solutions that will help increase efficiencies and lower these costs to help ease inflationary pressures.”

Countries raise 10 new concerns at WTO meeting (Food Safety News)

The United States was involved in one of the 10 new issues raised at a recent World Trade Organization meeting on food safety and trade. Almost 50 specific trade concerns (STC) were discussed at the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures meeting in March. Issues included pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs), animal diseases, and COVID-19 related measures. Ten concerns came up for the first time including one from Brazil about undue delays by the United States in opening its citrus market. Three new concerns were withdrawn, following progress in negotiations. Others involved pesticide tolerances and the environment, collagen for human consumption, and phytosanitary certification requirements.

World Bank Group Ramps Up Financing to Help Countries Amid Multiple Crises (World Bank)

The World Bank Group has announced that over the coming weeks it will be discussing with its Governors and Board of Executive Directors a 15-month crisis response financing package of around $170 billion to help countries address multiple overlapping crises. Of this, the Bank Group is working to provide an initial crisis response of around $50 billion by June 30, 2022. The response also includes analytical work and policy advice at the country, regional, and global levels to inform well targeted crisis and medium-term interventions. “Developing countries are facing multiple overlapping crises, including the pandemic, rising inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, large macroeconomic imbalances, and energy and food supply shortages. These are causing massive reversals in poverty reduction, education, health, and gender equality,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “The World Bank Group will respond to these crises with impact, speed, and scale.”

New report makes a case for sustainable farming (Business Daily)

A new report has called on African countries to give priority to sustainable farming practices in their national policies and budgets to ensure food and nutrition security and build resilience against climate shocks. The report by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food warns that the promotion of industrialised food systems at the expense of environment-friendly agricultural production systems like agroecology is aggravating biodiversity loss, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. “The industrialised food system is one of the greatest stressors to the health of the planet, causing 80 percent of biodiversity loss and generating almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, agroecology, regenerative practices and indigenous knowledge are avenues that can lead to sustainable food systems and repair the relationship between people and nature,” the alliance says. “However, the evidence supporting these practices, although abundant, is not prioritised in government policies or budgets, due to the limited frames of traditional analysis. Scepticism ends up holding back the urgent transformation of food systems.”

Germany calls for global food security alliance (EURACTIV)

German development minister Svenja Schulze is travelling to the World Bank Group’s spring meetings in Washington with a clear mission: G7 and donor countries should form a food security alliance to tackle the global food crisis.

On Wednesday (20 April), Schulze said she wants to achieve “stronger coordination of the G7 and other donors and international organisations in the fight against the food crisis” at the conference, which is set to start on Thursday. The proposal has already been presented to the G7, of which Germany currently holds the presidency. Now, the minister wants to lobby for international support in Washington. Food prices have hit record highs since war broke out in Ukraine, one of the world’s most important wheat exporters and a major supplier for the UN World Food Programme. Export-dependent countries in Asia and Africa have been hit the hardest.


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