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A Liberia-flagged tanker carrying crude oil from Russia, which was hit by widespread sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, is expected at Saldanha Bay harbour on Sunday. By all accounts, it may just be an R&R break for the Elandra Denali. Or it might be a pit stop on a more complicated route to sidestep tightening sanctions imposed against Russia — from oligarchs to oil. But the arrival of a vessel carrying crude oil from a country under sanctions (Russia) at a South African port, puts into sharp relief domestic policy scurvy. This comes at a time when South Africa’s officially proclaimed neutrality on what the government usually calls a “conflict” has incurred significant criticism. Without at least a view on how to respond in global geopolitics and trade, South Africa seems to be flailing.
As to a policy on accepting vessels with cargo from sanctioned countries, the Transnet Port Authority Saldanha’s response also was crisp: “We follow directives from the government, if any stance [is] taken.” But then it got all fuzzy trying to discover if the government had a policy on dealing with vessels, goods and such from a sanctioned country.
Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, says Cabinet has welcomed the fruition of major investments and achievements made by local and international companies in the country. He was on Thursday briefing media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. “South Africa welcomes investments into our country and is committed to creating favourable conditions for inclusive growth and transformation of the economy,” Gungubele said.
Manufacturing production decreased by 0,8% in March 2022 compared with March 2021. The largest negative contributions were made by the following divisions: motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment (-11,3% and contributing -1,3 percentage points); and food and beverages (-2,6% and contributing -0,6 of a percentage point). The petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products division (4,1% and contributing 0,9 of a percentage point) was a significant positive contributor.
The largest contributions were made by the following divisions: petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products (7,6% and contributing 1,6 percentage points); food and beverages (5,0% and contributing 1,2 percentage points); basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metal products, metal products and machinery (5,7% and contributing 1,1 percentage points); and motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment (10,6% and contributing 1,0 percentage point).
Cabinet has given the go ahead for the implementation of South Africa’s Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LP Gas) Strategy to be implemented. This was announced on Thursday by Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, during a briefing on the outcomes of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
The strategy – when implemented – is expected to bring some relief to the country’s constrained energy supplies. “The strategy seeks to expand the LPG industry in the country. LPG will contribute meaningfully to the diversification of sources of energy.
“The strategy will amongst other interventions to regulate the pricing in the value chain, and support the manufacturing of LPG cylinders in the country. It will also educate the public about the benefits of using LPG as an alternative form of energy,” Gungubele said.
The Minerals Council of South Africa said that it was implementing eight priority interventions to arrest the regression in mine safety in the country.
The number of deaths recorded so far in the industry has raised alarm, more so among trade unions that blame mining companies for the fatalities.
This comes just as the industry was beginning to see the results of its “zero harm” strategy that was implemented when the figure surpassed 100 around 2009 and 2010. The mining council’s Roger Baxter: "The first one is visible felt leadership, the second one is stopping unauthorised and uncontrolled access to old mining areas which are not routinely mined and to rigorously and effectively conduct what we call proper risk assessments and implement controls where work in previously mined areas is routinely undertaken."
Agri SA welcomes ‘balanced’ Agri Masterplan (Engineering News)
Industry body Agri SA says the signing of the Agriculture and Agro Processing Masterplan (AAMP) by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza on May 12 has marked the culmination of years of negotiation and consensus building throughout the sector. Agri SA also deems the officiating of the plan testament to the sector and government’s shared commitment to the success and growth of agriculture.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on global agencies to assist in boosting the local manufacturing and production of COVID-19 vaccines by procuring vaccines and boosters from African manufacturers.
More countries pledge to increase trade with Zim (The Herald)
President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement policy, premised on trade and investment, continues to bear fruit as more countries come on board pledging their businesses’ commitment to invest in the country. Yesterday, four incoming Ambassadors presented, separately, their letters of credence to President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare, and their message as they departed his offices was the same – “increasing trade and investment with Zimbabwe”. This is one of the clearest signs of the success of the engagement and re-engagement policy, which also comes along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs charged with the added responsibility of International Trade.
New Singapore Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Zainal Arif Mantaha said there is a lot of potential for growth in the relations between the two countries. Ms Ofra Fahri, the incoming Israeli envoy to Zimbabwe, said she will be building on the already existing good relations between the two countries to deepen trade and investment.
Vietnam, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with a GDP of US$271 billion, was also represented by its new Ambassador, Mr Hoang Van Loi, who said his country is ready to take part in the country’s economic development. On his part, Mr Murad Baseer, the new Pakistani Ambassador to Zimbabwe, also echoed similar sentiments.
US trade lobby group slams Biden’s delay to seal Kenya deal (Business Daily)
The United States Chamber of Commerce has hit out at President Joe Biden administration’s perceived delay in concluding a new trade deal with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump more than two years ago. Terming the Kenya deal as a low-hanging fruit that ought to have been concluded by now, the lobby, which is the biggest and most influential US business group, accused the Biden administration of dilly-dallying in signing the pact. “While other economies race to ink new deals, the US has not entered an agreement with a trade partner in a decade,” said chamber’s president Suzanne Clark in an update.“ And the current administration consumed by caution and internal reviews is doing little to change that. In fact, it is yet to pick even the lowest hanging fruit such as trade agreements that were already underway with the UK and Kenya, some of our closest allies.”
Her remarks also come as US rivals like China and Japan are seen to shape trade practices across the globe including in Kenya. There has also been growing unease in Nairobi about the Biden administration’s delay in concluding the free trade agreement with Kenya.
Nairobi is keen on signing a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the current arrangement under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.
Kenya’s tourism will soon receive a shot in the arm after local firms launched a campaign to promote the country as a tourism destination within the East African region. The campaign dubbed “Tembea Tujenge Afrika Mashariki” is aimed at promoting intra and inter-regional tourism as a way of reviving economies of East Africa Community member States post the COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the tourism sector globally due to travel restrictions.
Tembea Tujenge Kenya Ambassador Maina Kageni has said the road map for the East Africa tour will flow from Uganda, DRC Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and finally Zanzibar. “The new regional tourism campaign is aimed at sourcing for and market multi-country packages through local influencers in each country to showcase simulated experiences,” said Maina.
“We are ready to market Kenya to the rest of the EAC member States as a way of promoting our tourism sector which is now recovering well after the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the sector. So far the “Tembea Tujenge Kenya” has covered 37 Counties for the last two years and we are expected to visit all the counties by the end of 2022,” stated Isuzu East Africa Communications Manager Duncan Muhindi.
Rwanda’s economy maintained strong growth in the first quarter of this year, the central bank said on Thursday, reflecting sustained recovery from the 2020 Covid-19-induced contraction. A combination of policy initiatives including massive Covid-19 vaccination that led to a large scale opening of the economy as well as the central bank’s accommodative monetary policy supported the improvement of economic activity, the Bank said.
The strong economic performance was driven by services and industry sectors linked to the full reopening of the economy and government initiative that is supporting the manufacturing and other infrastructure projects.
On the basis of trade, the central bank data shows that exports improved by 44.6 per cent, mainly attributed to a combination of commodity prices of traditional products (tea, coffee, and minerals) and an increase in the volume of non-traditional exports that were driven by the recovery in the manufacturing sector. Imports also rose by 14.2 per cent owing to the rise in international commodity prices and high domestic demand. The bigger increase in export earnings reduced the trade deficit by 2.6 per cent in the first quarter.
Border infrastructure upgrade to boost trade (Zambia Daily Mail)
THE US$6.8 million European Union (EU)-funded border infrastructure upgrade will enhance trade, reduce smuggling and contribute to increased revenue collections, says Zambia Border Post Upgrading Project (ZBPUP) manager Simon Ng’ona. ZBPUP is funded under the EU-COMESA 11th European Development Fund trade facility programme grant to support trade facilitation activities, specifically the upgrading of soft border infrastructure at Chirundu, Mwami and Nakonde border posts.
Giving an update on the project, Dr Ng’ona said Zambia will increase its trade in the region and the rest of the world following the expected improvement in cross-border access to transport infrastructure and markets once the border post upgrading project is completed. He said as a land-linked country, Zambia has several border posts that link up the country with its eight neighbours, thereby making the country a key transit route for cargo across the north-south transport corridor. “However, the country’s border posts continue to experience infrastructure challenges [hard and soft] that undermine trade facilitation and consequently increases the cost of doing business.
Special Economic Zones To Create Jobs In Mombasa (Kenya News Agency)
Mombasa business community has called on the national government to expedite Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projected to create millions of direct and indirect jobs, attract massive investors and spur economy.
Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Mombasa chairman, Mustafa Ramadhan said the government should prioritize the Sh39.1 billion project to help address the current economic challenges. Ramadhan noted that the SEZ project, would further cement Mombasa’s regional strategic commercial location besides addressing social and economic challenges grappling local population.
Independent Tea Producers Welcome Gov’t Tea Reforms (Kenya News Agency)
Independent Tea Producers in the country have lauded the government for the tea reforms introduced in the country, which have addressed the drastic decline in market pricing of tea especially at the auction. There had been concerns before on the way the buyers have been bidding at the auction with prices going below production.
Chairman Independent Tea Producers Association Collins Cheruiyot said that most producers who are processing green leaf from smallholder tea farmers are on board to support government’s setting up of the minimum tea price at the auction. “The market price of tea at the auction had put considerable strain on producers which in turn had reduced returns to farmers and to this end as independent producers, we support the steps set forth by the government to increase the minimum pricing at the Auction”, he said.
Mozambique-Malawi (MOMA) Power Interconnection Project launched in Mozambique (Construction Review)
The foundation stone has been laid to officially mark the start of the implementation of the Mozambique-Malawi Mozambique-Malawi (MOMA) power interconnection project in Mozambique. The stone was laid by Filipe Nyusi, the fourth President of Mozambique and his Malawian counterpart, Lazarus Chakwera. The 400-kilovolt transmission line that would provide Malawi with 50MW of power from Mozambique is projected to cost US$ 62M, with US$ 35M going toward the 142-kilometre line in Mozambique and the remaining funds going to the 76-kilometre line in Malawi. There will be 527 high voltage pylons in all.
A second component of the project is the US$ 21M enlargements of the Matambo substation, which will ensure the dependability of the power supply.
President Nyusi emphasised that the project’s development is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) master plan for energy infrastructure from 2018-to 2043. It will greatly contribute to strengthening Mozambique’s regional integration with neighbouring SADC nations.
Relationship with Neighboring Countries Top Priority - MoFA Spokesperson (Walta Information Centre)
Ethiopia’s relationship with neighboring countries is a top priority and the country is committed to realizing regional integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Spokesperson Dina Mufti said. In an exclusive interview with ENA, the spokesperson said “our relationship with the neighboring countries is critical and it is a top priority.” Stressing that neighboring countries are closer and more important, he pointed out that “whatever cooperation we forge with them in various aspects would be crucial.”
Cabinet has approved the National Quality Policy to operationalise a National Quality Infrastructure (NQI). The NQI is a system that spells out how goods and services must be produced to meet acceptable standards by all sectors of the economy, whether private or public. It will ensure that the production and provision of goods and services meet internationally acceptable quality standards.
The Head of Public Relations at the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Peter Agbeko, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the policy would guide the implementation of the NQI, the system which also captured the policies, relevant legal and regulatory framework, and practices needed to support and enhance the quality, safety and environmental soundness of goods, services and processes. Quality infrastructure, he explained, was required for the effective operation of domestic markets and their international recognition to ensure that products from the country were able to access foreign markets. “The NQI is a critical element in promoting and sustaining economic development, as well as environmental and social wellbeing. It relies on metrology, standardisation, accreditation, conformity assessment and market surveillance,” Mr Agbeko added.
The Member of Parliament for Ketu South, Dzifa Gomashie, has appealed to President Akufo-Addo to urge President Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo to open the land borders. She lamented that though Ghana has opened its land borders, it’s Togolese counterpart has refused to open its side of the boundary, despite the ECOWAS directive to the contrary. She indicated that the clarification that the boundaries would only be reaffirmed and re-demarcated as speculated, has allayed the fears that the exercise would antagonize any group of people.
Textile manufacturers demand market access (Daily Trust)
The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers have decried what they described as ‘the state of poor competitiveness of the textile industry’, which they said is dying and needs urgent interventions from the federal government. They lamented that despite efforts to revive the textile industry, the sector is still confronted with many challenges including high-cost of production that has rendered its product non-competitive; unrestrained snuggling and counterfeiting of Made-in-Nigeria textiles among others.
President of NTMA, Folorunsho Daniyan decried poor patronage in spite of the federal government of Nigeria’s Executive Order 003 of 2017. He listed other challenges facing the industry to include: inadequate and costly electricity supply, poor infrastructure, high taxation and interest rates, high cost of diesel and LPFO as well as depreciating value of the naira.
Major factors responsible for declining export capacity according to Daniyan are loss of preferential market access in the EU and US; inconsistent implementation of Export Expansion Grant (EEG) policy, particularly a perennial backlog of EEG claims; and inconsistencies in the implementation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalizatiin Scheme (ETLS).
Nigeria and five other coastal countries in West Africa (Togo, Benin, Ghana, Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire) have been meeting in Lagos to discuss progress on their efforts in stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in their waters.
The six countries had come together in 2007 as a body, the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), to tackle illegal fishing. It was estimated that between 40 and 60 per cent of fish caught in the West African waters were caught illegally, a situation the FCWC Secretary-General, Seraphin Dedi Nadje, described as among the highest levels of illegal fishing globally.
According to the West Africa Task Force (WATF), which the FCWC established as the inter-agency regional mechanism to combat IUU fishing, the crimes involved in IUU go beyond illegal fishing and fisheries issues alone, so much so they required countries to collaborate to tackle effectively, hence the creation of the FCWC. Illegal fishing operators are said to be committing a range of violations and crimes against national fisheries regulations, national laws, and regional and international laws. It was agreed that national fisheries authorities alone cannot effectively tackle the violators and, therefore, needed one another to contain them.
THE Chairman of Heir Holdings, Tony Elumelu, on Thursday said Nigeria is losing substantial private capital as a result of policy inconsistency and oil theft. Elumelu, who is also Chairman of the UBA Group, speaking at the 2022 African Finance Corporation (AFC) conference in Abuja, said investment perception on Nigeria was not looking good due to several reasons. According to Elumelu, “When we have policy inconsistencies, policy instability and insecurity, it affects our business perception and investment decisions. In business, perception counts.
Economic benefits of Lekki Deep Seaport (The Nation Newspaper)
Last week, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed and other top officials of the Ministry of Transportation visited the Lekki Deep Seaport to examine the benefits of the multibillion-dollar investment to the economy. The minister said the port would generate revenue of $201 billion for the Federal and Lagos State governments through taxes, duties and royalties during the 50-year concession period. The port, he added, would create over 170, 000 jobs.
Nigeria’s cryptocurrency problem has central bank scrambling (African Business)
When early in April the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) penalised six top banks a total of N1.3bn ($3.1m) for violating its directive against facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies, it was the latest sign that the country’s crypto problem won’t easily go away.
With the government prohibition, the onus has been on the banks to detect accounts used to trade in cryptocurrencies. The CBN says that with data provided, banks should be able to identify those suspected of dealing in cryptocurrencies, including unusual volumes of transactions for accounts that don’t belong to licensed financial institutions. By fining the banks, the regulator is holding them responsible where transactions turn out to be a cryptocurrency trade.
By 2019, Nigeria had become Africa’s biggest cryptocurrencies market and its citizens the biggest holders of digital currencies outside the US. For the country’s monetary authorities, this became a source of concern, as the move to acquire offshore assets became another source of exchange rate pressure at a time when the CBN, led by Godwin Emefiele, was working hard to curb demand for foreign currencies.
The latest slap on the wrist for the banks adds to growing signs that Nigeria’s crypto problem isn’t going away soon. But as much as the banks are still tempted to deal in crypto, the watchdog is equally determined to catch them.
Launched in 2016, the Equal Access and Simplified Environment for Investment (EASE) program in Egypt has laid the foundations for making it quicker and easier for local and foreign investors to obtain operating licenses from local governments to set up businesses and secure land for industrial use, such as factories for manufacturing goods.
EASE ended in 2021 but it has made its mark on the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones’ (GAFI) One Stop Shops that act as a window for would-be investors. It also helped the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to simplify, automate, and de-centralize industrial regulations in line with international good practice. And it helped the Egyptian Regulatory Reform and Development Authority expand its capacity to manage reform.
Having an investor-friendly business environment is crucial for allowing the private sector to become an engine for more jobs—and better jobs. The US$5 million World Bank program helps lay the foundations for this by supporting the implementation of a number of bold government reforms – turning them from laws on paper into practice. This includes the transformative Investment Law, the Industrial Licensing Law, the Industrial Development Authority Law, Amendments to the Company Law, the Modernization of the Investors Service Center, and the First Digital Investment Map of Egypt.
African trade news
The ECA’s Sub-Regional Offices (SROs) worked with more than 40 Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in 2021 on implementing national and regional strategies for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Presenting a report on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committees of Senior Officials and Experts, which govern the work of the five SROs, Ms. Keita said SROs “were also able to offer technical assistance, advisory services, training and analytical tools to governments and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)” on the AfCFTA which is a cross-regional priority.
As agribusiness becomes a focus in international trade, stakeholders in within African Union, has taken food safety to centre stage on export trade under the context African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, with bid to improve food security and ensure consumption of safe food for better health of Africans.
The Head of Agriculture and Food Security of the African Union Commission, Dr Simplice Nouala, Wednesday, pointed this at the ‘First workshop on Food Safety Information and Knowledge Management Systems in Africa’, held by African Union Commission, in Douala, Cameroon. Nouala further stated that the African Union is concerned with effective data generation, analysis and knowledge exchange to support risk assessment, decision making, inform food safety policy formulation and harmonisation at national, regional and continental level and conversely boost inter-African trade within the context AfCFTA.
How can Africa close its staggering financing gap? (The New Times)
Closing Africa’s financing gap requires that countries tackle issues such as unproductive tax policies, leakages in revenue collection and underdeveloped capital markets, Vera Songwe, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, stressed on Thursday, May 12. She stressed this in Dakar, Senegal, during the 54th session of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of Ministers which runs from May 11 to 18.
Pre Covid-19, the continent needed $200 billion, every year, to achieve agenda 2030. Post-pandemic, an additional $150 billion, annually, is needed to implement the SDGs. It is also noted that the continent’s adequate recovery requires an additional $285 billion for the next five years, as per IMF estimates.
Douglas Kigabo Bitonda, an economist in the macro-economics division at ECA, told The New Times that there are two main options when it comes to financing Africa’s recovery, post-Covid-19 and the Ukraine conflict. He said: “Option one is actually an internal factor; within our continent. And that is being serious with domestic resource mobilisation. This involves reducing leakages in financial resources flows or illicit financial flows.”
“Second is an external factor. This is all about having a voice to influence or to shape existing global financial instruments such as the SDRs to make them align with the continent’s needs,” Kigabo said.
Presently, Kigabo explained, the way the SDRs are designed limits access for African countries yet it is African countries that need them the most.
In response to economic challenges created by the global pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is launching a US$2billion facility to support recovery and resilience in Africa. AFC has committed to funding up to 50% of the new African Economic Resilience Facility and mobilising the remainder through the Corporation’s network of international partners and investors. The facility will be disbursed through loans from AFC to selected commercial banks, regional development banks and central banks in various African countries, providing them with much needed hard currency liquidity to finance trade and other economic activities in their jurisdictions. These institutions will be able to leverage AFC’s proven access to global funding to receive financing at competitive rates.
Speaking on the rationale behind the launch, Head of Treasury and Financial Institutions, Banji Fehintola, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic set back Africa’s economic growth trajectory and widened the trade financing gap, while the Russia-Ukraine conflict has added a further set of challenges negatively impacting growth prospects across the continent. We are determined to play a leading role in helping the continent’s recovery and resilience, not only though the work we do in bridging Africa’s infrastructure gap, but also through targeted interventions such as this $2billion economic resilience facility.”
While there are a variety of approaches for comparing different countries’ wealth, one of the most effective is to examine the individual country’s gross domestic product, also known as GDP. During a given period, the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country is the conventional metric of value-added via the production of goods and services in that country, as measured by the United Nations. The amount paid on finished goods and services, as well as the amount of income produced from that output, is included in this calculation (fewer imports). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country gives an economic snapshot that may be used as a tool for estimating a country’s economic size and growth rate.
Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, has called for the establishment of a digital platform for trade access on the African continent. Describing the digital platform as a “crucial” mechanism, he believes it would led to more seamless trade interaction on the continent and would further enhance the integration of Africa’s trade blocs as the African Free Trade agreement picks up. Also, “Member countries should buy into this innovative approach.”
His call comes at a time where economies across the globe are reeling from the economic aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine war.
With the risk of recessions hitting some economies due to their rapidly shrinking economies, Annoh-Dompreh’s call emphasises the need for a larger market for African economies through the rapid integration of continental trade blocs to offset the risk of recession often weak African economies may face in the coming months.
PwC study shows African governments focusing on expanding the tax net (Engineering News)
Within Africa, governments continue to focus on expanding the tax net by improving revenue collection through efficient compliance systems and procedures. Assurance, tax and advisory services company PwC Africa has observed that revenue authorities also continue to take a keen interest in indirect taxes as part of revenue mobilisation initiatives. PwC Africa has released the eighth edition of the value-added tax (VAT) in Africa Guide under the theme ‘Africa re-emerging’. This forms the backdrop of renewal that informs the theme and its purpose of focusing on the re-emergence of African economies and societies which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company says.
Five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are set to benefit from a new eight million euros project: Enhancement of Governance and Enabling Environment in the ICT sector (EGEE-ICT), funded by the European Union. It will support the review and/or development of various regional policy and regulatory framework in a harmonized manner that will contribute to enhancing competition, improved access to cost effective and secure ICT services.
The programme will coordinate regional public and private sector ICT policy development, enhance policy and regulatory environment for competitive markets and gender sensitive ICT markets and improve infrastructure connectivity and access to ICT.
“ICT accessibility and affordability is the key for utilizing e-services and for reaching all groups of society in remote areas and other disadvantaged groups in order to transform the landscape for development,” said Dr Kipyego Cheluget, COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes.
The EGEE-ICT will leverage on available opportunities to enhance the capacities of public and private sector institutions and the civil society to develop, implement and monitor harmonized ICT policies and regulations. The programme will also develop model policy and regulatory frameworks that enhance cross-border interconnection, competition, trade facilitation, e-commerce as well as gender perspectives in regional ICT markets.
From Ashanti gold to southern Africa’s diamond mines, and more recently cobalt, lithium and coltan: For centuries, people around the world have exploited Africa’s precious minerals. But despite Africa’s immense mineral wealth, the continent is yet to reap the financial benefits.
In a country built on its mineral wealth, South Africa’s small scale artisanal miners are left digging for mere morsels of gold and diamonds. Turf wars and meagre yields mean many miners live a life of poverty. Diamonds, gold, bauxite, iron ore: You name it, Sierra Leone’s got it. 20 years after the civil war, the West African country is no longer ruled by conflict diamonds. But does the modern-day mineral sector really benefit the people of Sierra Leone? Edith Kimani heads to Koidu town in the diamond-rich Kono District to find out.
Facing multiple food and health crises, Africa must lead boldly (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Africa’s leaders to rally together for urgent, practical responses to protect the most vulnerable from a tsunami of shocks undermining the livelihoods of millions
The world is in crisis, and it would be easy to be dismayed by what lies ahead for so many of us. In Africa, the last five years have been a roller coaster with COVID-19, climate and conflict undermining progress and compounding an already dire humanitarian situation in many regions.
Over 27 million people are going hungry in West-Africa due to drought and conflict. Supply chains have been disrupted. Fertiliser prices are skyrocketing. We need Africa’s leaders to rally together for urgent, practical responses to protect the most vulnerable. The war in Ukraine has sent fuel and food prices to record levels. Some African countries have been getting more than 60% of their wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine and many are beginning to feel the impacts of shortages. This is a tsunami of shocks undermining the livelihoods of millions and years’ worth of development gains.
As some countries impose export bans and private sector hoarding occurs due to speculation, the global community must ensure trade stays open, as it is a key contributor to fighting hunger. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, when optimized, can help reduce dependence on imports, deliver better prices for farmers, and lower the carbon footprint of food by reducing loss and waste. At present, significant volumes of food – estimated at US$4 billion dollars’ worth of grains alone – are lost every year. This exceeds the value of the total food aid received in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Africa has an opportunity to pursue diversified production systems to increase productivity and strengthen resilience. African leaders can prevent this crisis from becoming a disaster by ensuring farmers have the means to sow the next crop to build stronger resilience for agriculture systems.
The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) has ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, becoming the 43rd African State to ratify the Protocol and committing to advance the reality of the rights of women, gender equality and women’s empowerment in that country. Saharawi deposited the Instruments of Ratification with the African Union Commission on the 29th of April 2022.
The fight against all forms of discrimination against women through appropriate legislative, institutional and other measures has been a continuous journey since July 2003, when African Union Member States adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol). The Protocol remains the most comprehensive and progressive instrument on women’s rights, laying out provisions for women’s inclusion in socio-economic and political spaces, and places a responsibility on African States to eliminate discrimination against women and promote their rights by introducing and effectively implementing legislative, institutional and programmatic measures.
Kenya likely to host new African Medicines Agency (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
On Thursday, the cabinet chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the ratification of the African Union Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), which now awaits the passing of the necessary legislative instruments at the National Assembly. The establishment of AMA in Kenya, he said, will provide the country with an opportunity to leverage foreign direct investment flows estimated at more than 570 billion in the short-to-medium term.
Bilateral trade rose 23 per cent to US$64.8 billion, compared to the same period in 2021, boosted by African exports of minerals and metals. But pandemic-related disruptions, like the lockdown in Shanghai, could limit activity in months ahead, analysts say
Trade between China and Africa rose 23 per cent to US$64.8 billion in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, boosted by increased imports of minerals and metals from the continent. Chinese imports from Africa increased by 29.3 per cent to US$29.7 billion while exports to Africa rose by 18.2 per cent to US$35.16 billion during the first three months of 2022, according to China’s General Administration of Customs data.
African Trade Deal Exposes Brexit Britain’s Myths (Byline Times)
As Brexit sends the UK lurching from one crisis to another, and while the Government still hasn’t fully implemented checks on EU imports for fear of economic disaster, another continent has taken a vital step towards full regional economic integration. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into force one month before Brexit and has now reached an agreement to eliminate tariffs on nearly 90% of non-sensitive goods. “It makes economic sense, as well as social and political sense, to integrate the continent,” says Stephen Karingi, director of regional integration and trade division of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.
Contradicting the Conservative Party’s ‘Global Britain’ mantra, which claims that Britain has been restrained by close economic ties with its neighbours, the AfCFTA seeks to catalyse trade across Africa to the benefit of the whole continent.
“Under the AfCFTA, Nigeria stands to gain from increased access to cheaper goods and services from other African countries,” argues John Oseji, director of policy advocacy at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) – a Nigerian Government agency founded to encourage investment in Nigeria.
Nigeria was initially hesitant about joining the AfCFTA, mirroring Britain in Europe. As Africa’s largest economy – though Britain was Europe’s second – it had concerns about rules of origin, commercial competition from cheaper foreign imports and from the other advanced African economies, primarily South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.
Global economy news
Developing a Stronger Global Trade Architecture in 2022 (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
From the lingering COVID-19 pandemic to supply chain shortages to inflation, global challenges are impacting business and trade worldwide. Day two of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Global Forum examined how civilians, businesses, and leaders are dealing with these substantial shifts to the global trade landscape in 2022.
Recently, people have started talking about de-globalization in trade — a rising skepticism Dr. Okonjo-Iweala feels had started even before the pandemic. However, she said, COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine have exacerbated those fears. “I think the pandemic and the war on Ukraine just accelerated and heightened this feeling that the multilateral trading system and multilateralism as a whole [are] in trouble and can no longer deliver,” said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. However, the data continues to show the success of globalized trade. “If you look at the actual numbers of trade flows, you will see what’s happening on the ground doesn’t speak to the multilateral trading system not working.” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala continued. “Consumers seem to be doing something somewhat different from what politicians are saying.”
At a recent supply chain conference, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said she and her team identified the problems to be solved within supply chains, including a lack of truck drivers, a lack of port operators and airports, and shipping backups in Shanghai. Many of these issues were related to pandemic restrictions. “We’ve gone from 119 export restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic down to about five,” said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.
In late April 2022, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the MC12, and other leaders informed delegates the previously postponed event would take place in June 2022. The date fix, caused by a COVID omicron outbreak in Europe, falls amid lingering pandemic issues and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“The strategy is to try to work on food security issues,” explained Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. “We hope [the delegates] will have something on the response to the pandemic, [on] issues of transparency and export restrictions, fisheries, and agriculture to at least advance the negotiations.”
Most of the products we consume daily travel through ports, making them a key link in the global production and supply chains we rely on. “Our livelihoods – food, jobs, energy – depend on functioning and resilient supply chains,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. How ports are managed has implications for economic growth, crisis response efforts, environmental protection and gender equality, placing them at the heart of sustainable development.
The efficiency of a port directly affects the economies of the countries it serves, since more than 80% of global trade is carried by sea. The percentage is even higher for many developing countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that when ports slow down, everyone suffers.
UNCTAD analysis has shown how surges in freight rates can raise the prices of goods, especially in least developed countries and small island developing states.
While ports are vital for economic development and crisis response, the associated maritime traffic, handling of goods, and road and rail transport take a toll on the environment through air and water pollution.
Ports are an important source of local employment, but they have historically created more jobs for men than women. Data from over 50 ports working with UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade port management programme show that women held just 18% of official port jobs in 2021. The ports are spread out across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The highest regional average was 22%, reported by the European ports that participated in the study. A closer look showed a more encouraging average of 42% for management and administrative roles in ports. But in cargo handling and operations, just 6% of workers were women. The figures highlight the need to empower women port workers and to continue working towards gender equality in the sector.
Commodity Markets Book 2022 (World Bank)
Global commodity markets are being reshaped in lasting ways as a result of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the impacts of climate change—a transformation that is likely to have profound implications for developing economies over the coming decades, a new World Bank study has found. The study, Commodity Markets: Evolution, Challenges, and Policies, offers the first comprehensive analysis—encompassing all major commodities—of how these markets evolved over the past 100 years and the directions they are likely to take over the next 30. It predicts that growth in overall global demand for commodities is likely to decelerate as population growth slows and developing economies mature, although demand for some commodities is likely to rise.
Moreover, the transition to cleaner energy is likely to be challenging. Demand for metals necessary to build the infrastructure for renewable energy and to produce electric vehicles is likely to surge in the coming decades, driving up the price of metals and delivering windfall gains for countries that export them. Although renewable energy is fast becoming the lowest-cost source of energy in many countries, fossil fuels will probably retain some of their appeal, especially in countries with ample domestic reserves. In the short-run, with inadequate investment in low-carbon technologies—just one-third of the required level—energy demand could continue to outstrip supply, keeping prices at elevated levels.
As the planet warms, compounding crises are pushing poor countries toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Global warming disproportionately threatens the developing world with rising sea levels, more intense storms, and scorching heat waves. At the same time, crippling debt is making it harder for many of these countries to prepare for and recover from these disasters. A prime example is Eritrea, whose gross public debt is projected to exceed 160 percent of its GDP this year, causing the African Development Bank Group to label the country “in debt distress.” This debt may sap funds away from much-needed measures to adapt to temperature increases above the global average, extreme drought, and famine conditions like those that are currently wreaking havoc on the Horn of Africa. Without urgent action, experts warn of a “doom loop” of deepening debt and deteriorating environmental conditions. A new report from the Climate and Community Project — a coalition of academics and policy experts working to advance climate justice — urges the United States and European countries to provide immediate relief through a program of “climate reparations,” including through large-scale debt cancellation and restructuring.
Even though the least developed countries have only contributed about 8 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1850, they are poised to bear the brunt of climate change’s devastating impacts.
Discussions began last week within the World Trade Organization over a proposal to temporarily waive patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines. Even as WTO officials press for a resolution ahead of a long-delayed ministerial conference in June, the halting reactions of members to the document signal that reaching consensus in a month — or at all — will not be easy. The agreement, described by WTO as an “outcome document,” emerged from discussions between the so-called Quad, comprised of the European Union, the United States, South Africa, and India. Meanwhile, it has drawn significant criticism from access-to-medicines activists for what it does not include.
SPS regulators and practitioners shared examples of how GRPs – such as transparency, consultations, stocktaking and forward-looking regulatory agendas – are being used across Asia to modernize and improve SPS regulations. "GRPs encourage good governance and have the potential to increase public trust and the confidence of investors and trading partners in the long run," said WTO Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam, referencing the STDF GRP Guide as a practical resource for SPS regulators.
now is the time to end decades of negotiations and conclude the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations so that the results can be adopted by ministers,” the chair said in the video message. “To this end, from May 16 to 20, delegates representing the members of the WTO will gather in Geneva for a “Fish Week”.
“There is no doubt that a worldwide deal is within reach — never has it been this close and we must not miss this opportunity. Ultimately, we should not be negotiating against each other but against the unrelenting depletion of global fish stocks so vital for livelihoods, food security, and a healthy planet. The longer we wait, the more the fish lose. And the more the fish lose, the more we all lose,” he said.
The launch of the UN-Energy Plan of Action towards 2025, which seeks to realize the global roadmap to accelerate action on SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), followed up on the September 2021 High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE). The Global Energy Compact Network was launched at the same time, to support governments and stakeholders in achieving their voluntary commitments on energy. This policy brief ties together the discussions during the HLDE in September 2021 and those during last week’s launch event to help SDG Knowledge Hub readers understand this shift from goal setting to implementation.
The energy action plan and network were launched during a half-day event titled, ‘Transforming Commitments into Action: Delivering on the Outcomes of the High-level Dialogue on Energy’ – a “framework for collective action by nearly thirty UN and international organizations” to implement the SDG 7 roadmap in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change – which convened virtually on 4 May 2022.
APEC: Free trade pandemic to head meeting agenda (Bangkok Post)
Free trade and pandemic issues make up the bulk of recommendations submitted to the trade ministers’ meeting held as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit. The meeting hosted by the Commerce Ministry in Bangkok is scheduled to take place from May 19-22.
"Eight recommendations aimed at strengthening economic integration and businesses of all sizes will be presented to Apec ministers responsible for the trade meeting," said Poj Aramwattananont, chairman of the Apec CEO Summit and a member of the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) Thailand. Among the recommendations are issues pertaining to the long-delayed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), preparations for future pandemic shocks, reopening borders for safe and seamless travel, and support for a rules-based multilateral trading system.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of countries will hold the 14th edition of their annual summit in China next month with a focus on a ‘new era of global development’ as the world continues to grapple with the mounting repercussions of the Ukraine conflict leaving the world divided as West vs the Rest. There is no surprise that no BRICS member took a position that was uncomfortable to Moscow. They all were guided by trade and economic concerns, diplomatic traditions and historical connections in firming up their positions on Ukraine.
the western sanctions have made life difficult for people doing business with Russia. And all of the BRICS countries are victims of that. Following the military conflict in Ukraine, Moscow has been hit by unprecedented Western sanctions that have knocked Russia off the global financial system. Almost half of Russia’s $600 billion in foreign exchange is stuck and Russia’s biggest banks have also lost access to the SWIFT global banking messaging system. To make things more precarious, among the five BRICS countries, three of them, Russia, Brazil and South Africa face an economic downturn. The border tussle between two of Asia’s biggest economies, India and China, has come in the way of their economic ties realizing greater potential. That being the case, the BRICS grouping remains at the cusp of a changing global order where the Ukraine conflict has brought to the fore sharp divisions between the west and the rest. As developing countries and members of the G 20 grouping, BRICS nations need a more coordinated approach in dealing with political developments that affect their national economic goals.