tralac Daily News
The South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) decision to restructure the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA) into the new co-designed Payments Industry Body will stimulate innovation and promote collaboration and financial inclusion in SA’s financial sector. This was the word from Chris Wood, regional MD of Southern Africa and PALOPS region, at payments solutions firm Network International. Speaking to ITWeb on the side-lines of the ninth Africa Bank 4.0 Summit hosted by Network International, Wood discussed the current state of SA’s banking system and how the newly-formed Payments Industry Body is expected to boost digital inclusion by accelerating digital transformation in the sector. PASA is the payment system management body recognised by the SARB, in terms of the National Payment System Act of 1998.
In June 2021, the SARB announced plans to reform PASA into the new Payments Industry Body, in efforts to add an inclusive community of payment system stakeholders from other emerging industries, such as e-commerce and fintech players, as committee representatives. According to SARB, the new body was introduced in efforts to achieve and maintain interoperability, support the execution of Vision 2025 and other policy goals, in the interest of the National Payment System.
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has announced the publishing of a draft notice in the Government Gazette on August 31 which sets out proposed terms for a new block exemption for small-, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) to be exempted from certain categories of prohibited agreement practices laid out in Competition Act. Speaking at the sixteenth Annual Competition Law, Economics and Policy Conference in Sandton, Patel said the purpose of the exemption would be to enable greater collaboration between SMMEs that would otherwise contravene Sections 4.1 and 5.1 of the Competition Act.
South African energy issues need joint effort - Minerals Council (Engineering News)
South Africa’s energy conundrum will require a concerted effort by both industry and government, the Minerals Council South Africa said. Speaking to Mining Weekly Online on the sidelines of Paydirt’s Africa Downunder conference, in Perth, Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter said that the solution to solving South Africa’s energy crisis is unlocking ‘massive’ private sector investment.
South African, Egyptian competition authorities sign MoU (Engineering News)
The Competition Commission South Africa has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) to establish a general framework for bilateral communication and cooperation in the fields of competition law and policy, as well as enforcement. The MoU, which was signed at the sixteenth Annual Competition Law, Economics and Policy Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, on August 31, forms part of multilateral competition initiatives aimed at strengthening bilateral ties by enhancing technical cooperation and information sharing on respective competition laws and policies.
SA trade surplus widens to R24.76bn in July (Moneyweb)
A high-level delegation led by Hon. Tom Alweendo, Namibia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, is conducting a diplomatic visit to regional gas leader, Equatorial Guinea, this week with the aim of strengthening energy ties and expanding dialogue between the two nations.
Having made two sizeable oil and gas discoveries this year, Namibia is committed to seeing these developments come online as soon as possible. In May 2007, EG LNG’s first cargo was delivered, making it one of the fastest LNG projects in terms of the timeline it took from final investment decision to first cargo - and Namibia’s Minister Alweendo is hoping to replicate the project’s development. A group of Namibian engineers will stay on in Equatorial Guinea for the next four months, training and working closely with Equatorial Guinean nationals.
Minister Alweendo said, ”This way, it will accelerate the process for us to build the skills. It is a new industry for us so we need to start building those skills and this agreement will really help us and we are thankful for that. As Africa, we need to start increasing collaboration among ourselves.”
Mobile money agents handled a third of Kenya’s GDP in six months (Business Daily)
One in every three shillings spent by consumers, businesses, and the government in Kenya in the first six months of the year moved through mobile money, cementing the country’s position as a global leader in the mobile money revolution.
The latest data published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that the cash handled by mobile money agents in the first half of the year increased by 17.5 percent to Sh3.8 trillion. The data, which tracks the monthly performance of mobile money, shows growth from Sh3.26 trillion over the same period last year.
The cash, which is mainly handled by Safaricom’s M-Pesa agents, represents 31 percent of the country’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) that was recorded at Sh12 trillion.
The deepening of mobile money in the country is behind the push for full interoperability that was completed in July, as all the players demanded a share of the party.
The Kenyan economy is largely made up of the informal sector, and the adoption of other forms of sending money or settling payments has grown faster, giving commercial banks a run for their money.
The chairman of BUA Group, said there is need to add local value to resources to avoid global shocks. BUA Group, has invested in a vertically integrated sugar facility in Nigeria’s Kwara state. The $400 million project includes a 20,000-hectare sugar plantation, a sugar milling plant, a sugar refinery, an ethanol plant and a 35 MW power plant fuelled by bagasse, a sugar cane residue.
Sugar may not get the attention of other crops, even though it is frequently in the top five crops traded globally by value. Africa has some important producers – notably in Southern Africa such as Eswatini and Mozambique, but countries such as Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria still import more than they consume. In Nigeria imports account for 90 per cent of consumption.
Rabiu, said sugar is one of many low-hanging fruits when it comes to the agricultural opportunity and to working within the country’s import substitution strategy, saying BUA group, one of the most important diversified conglomerates in Nigeria, is already the fourth largest listed company in Nigeria by market capitalisation, operating in foods, cement, mining and infrastructure, and now agricultural production and processing.
He said localised production is key, pointing out that, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has once again highlighted Africa’s vulnerabilities. “Countries that produce what they consume have been better able to manage their inflationary risk,” he said.
Two years on, Nigeria still preparing for AfCFTA (The Guardian Nigeria)
Almost two years after the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which came into force on January 1, 2021, Nigeria continues to lag behind in making the trade agreement operational owing to structural challenges, lack of consensus on trade protocols and strategy among stakeholders.
Though the country continues to express readiness to commence trading, the political will to implement the deal remains in doubt going by the pace and protectionist stance of Nigeria and other African governments.
Already, seven countries, including Rwanda, Cameroun, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania have been selected among countries to start trading under the AfCFTA framework in a pilot phase.
The move seeks to test the environmental, legal and trade policy basis for intra-African trade, according to the AfCFTA secretariat. The countries were selected from the 36 that had expressed interest in trading under the pilot phase. Each of the applicants had submitted its tariff schedule.
The Secretary said Nigeria must pay attention to trade facilitation, policies, infrastructure, trade information, free movement of people and goods, finance and institutional coordination between the federal government and private sector.
Nigeria’s Debt To Hit Record N53trn As FG plans Fresh N11trn Borrowing (The Whistler Nigeria)
If the proposal by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zaianb Ahmed to the Federal Government to borrow the sum of N11.3trn to finance the 2023 budget, then the total loan portfolio under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would hit a record N53trn. The Minister had told federal lawmakers that the Federal Government projects to borrow about N11.3trn and privatize some of its holdings in national enterprises to finance the budget deficit in 2023. She had told them the 2023 budget deficit is expected to exceed N12.42trn if it should keep petroleum subsidy for the entire 2023 fiscal year.
Data from the Debt Management Office showed that out of the $10.19bn proposed to be used for debt servicing, about $6.95bn representing 68.2 per cent would be spent to service the commercial portion of the external debt burden while the balance of $3.24bn or 31.79 per cent is being projected for payment of interest for multilateral debt obligation.
Nigeria and India have strengthened collaboration in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), green economy, artificial intelligence and entrepreneurship training as both countries boost their bilateral relations.
“We have in areas of business a very solid and growing relations. India is one of the largest investors in Nigeria and of course India is one of the largest markets for Nigerian crude.
“In Information Technology, India is the leader. So, we really feel that we can benefit enormously now in the relationship that we are building going forward,” Onyeama said.
“Today we have the opportunity to discuss on various bilateral aspects, including the trade, consular issues, the education and all these issues”, he said. He continued that the newly established NIBC will be a milestone in the improvement of the bilateral trade, investment in various sector, noting that India is ready to provide soft credit to Nigeria for to build solar power plants.
Nigeria displaces South Africa as Korea’s biggest African trade partner (The Guardian Nigeria)
Nigeria has displaced South Africa as the major trading partner of the Republic of Korea on the African continent, Director, Korea-Africa Foundation, Lyeo Woon-ki has said. Lyeo, who disclosed this in Abuja at a media parley, explained that trade between Nigeria and Korea was two billion dollars in 2021 but that the present figures indicate that the trade volume for 2022 has reached over $1.5 billion as of June this year which surpasses the trade volume between Korea and South Africa.
“The trade volume between Nigeria and Korea is bigger than between Korea and South Africa. In 2021, the figure was around $2 billion and by the half of this year, the figure has gone beyond $1.5 billion. All of these happened despite the COVID-19 pandemic and limited trading. We are sure it will be about two billion dollars by the end of the current year. The balance of trade between both countries is almost equal,” he stated. He added that the Korea-Africa Foundation was established to foster business and cultural cooperation between Korea and the continent.
Liberia Can Hit Billions in Revenue Says LRA CG-Designate (Global News Network)
Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General-designate Thomas Doe Nah Monday faced Senate’s confirmation hearing for a second term and expressed the possibility of taking the country’s annual revenue collection to a billion United States dollars or more. At his confirmation hearing, CG Nah stated the LRA remains committed to surpassing last year’s collection of US$579 Million.
With the 2022 revenue target at 809 million, Mr. Nah assured the Senate’s Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance that Liberia can reach the billion-dollar target or more in revenue in the next few years with their full support. The Commissioner General designate noted, “Liberia is a country, and we deserve to be dividing a billion dollars and not 500 million” to foster national developments that will improve the people and the country’s welfare.
The LRA CG designate told the Senate that with the help of his dedicated employees, he has successfully steered the affairs of the LRA, stabilizing it through innovation and technology, despite global economic meltdowns worsened by the Covid 19 pandemic. The LRA has since digitized tax payment through several means, including mobile money transfer, direct bank transfer, electronic filing, among others, to boost revenue collection in what he called ‘changing the digital ecosystem of tax collection.’
Gambia pays D1.6M commitment to WTO (The Point)
Dwelling on the benefits gained by the country as a member of WTO, PS Dampha explained that WTO provides lots of training to his ministry, saying one of their staff is currently at WTO for a 10-month internship. “Every four years we normally do a trade policy review and WTO provides that support. If we have a trade dispute with any of the countries, we can address it to the level of WTO because it is rule-based that facilitates a multilateral trading system.” As regards the government’s commitment to implement WTO’s commitments per the rules, he said “The Gambia is currently implementing all WTO’s commitments and the trade ministry annually provides them with regular notification reports.”
EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Not Ratified 7 Years On (East African Business Week)
The East African Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement has not been put into force despite member countries signing it 7 years ago. According to a document seen by EABW NEWS, the delay in ratification is due to a slow response from member countries that have not yet signed the ratification treaty. “Most of the remaining countries indicate the process to ratify is still in progress. “So, the process is on course but the pace is slow,” said Mwangi Gakunga the COMESA Communications Manager.
The EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement has a total of 29 member countries representing 53% of the African Union membership and more than 60% of the Africa Continent GDP ($1.88 Trillion) with a population of over 800 million people. In 2015, 22 of the 29 member countries signed in acceptance of the treaty but only 11 have ratified it. “For the agreement to go into full force or be implemented, at least 14 member countries have to ratify,” added Gakunga. The 11 member countries that have ratified are Egypt, Eswatini, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
President unveils new-look Beitbridge Border Post (The Herald)
President Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned the modernised Beitbridge Border Post and said all border posts would be upgraded to improve the quality of services in the transport sub-sector. He directed Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona to ensure the speedy upgrading of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said the upgrading and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post was “a key milestone in the operationalisation of the Integrated Beitbridge Development Master Plan and stands out as one of the signature infrastructure projects being implemented, to date, by the Second Republic. “In line with international trends, and to further improve the quality of our services in the transport sub-sector, my Government will accelerate the upgrade and modernisation of other border posts, including Chirundu, Forbes, Plumtree, Nyamapanda, Kazungula, and Victoria Falls.
“We are also aware that the development of these border posts must be augmented by other complementing infrastructure for the efficient transportation of goods, movement of people and provision of services.
President Mnangagwa said the scope of works undertaken at the Beitbridge Border Post, “will undoubtedly see this port of entry facilitate the smooth discharge of the statutory functions of various stakeholders, as well as result in a seamless link of our economy with other jurisdictions along the North-South Corridor.
The East African Community (EAC) regional economic community officials have called on women to report cases of abuse, harassment and corruption encountered during the implementation of the regional Simplified Trade Regime (STR). The call comes after new evidence shows slow uptake of implementing the STR policy which was put in place to ease doing business for women and youth who are the largest number of cross border traders
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) launched the STR in 2010 to simplify and streamline the documentation and procedures for the clearance of small cross border traders’ consignments, while enabling them to benefit from the COMESA preferential tariffs trading environment.
The STR is a special provision aimed specifically at small traders who regularly transact in low value consignments and an approved simplified certificate of origin (SCOO) exempts consignments of goods that originate in the EAC and are valued at under US$ 2,000 from payment of import duty in any EAC destination country. However, reports indicate that most traders lack sufficient knowledge about the rights provided under the protocols and how these provisions are applied, the obligatory customs procedures and documentation.
The 2022 findings by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment show that cross border businesses are affected by non tariff barriers The findings show that small traders, 80% of them women and youth, face a number of difficulties such as harassment, corruption, including bribery, excessive charges, impounding of goods and difficulties in obtaining passports and visas.
Countries in southern Africa are under a crushing burden brought about by a confluence of factors. These include the unprecedented growth in the number of young people, the remarkable speed of urbanisation and the rise of informal settlements in urban centres. The physical infrastructure needed to meet these challenges requires exceptional solutions. But these call for alternative approaches. These include deep collaboration between member states and the private sector. And the development of a robust relationship between economic and social infrastructure, on the one hand, and the underlying policy framework that drives decisions on the other.
Infrastructure projects take a long time to come to fruition - often in the order of one or two decades. This introduces a whole range of uncertainties. To better navigate uncertainty, upheaval and inevitable change decision makers should employ strategic foresight. It’s an approach that helps the development of alternative futures and options that better anticipate and prepare for new opportunities and challenges. Strategic foresight spurs new thinking about the best policies to address long term opportunities and challenges through proactive and adaptive policy innovation.
The East African Community (EAC) partner states have begun to share lessons and best practices in land policy development. This is being done within the realm of Article 15 of the EAC Market Protocol which provides that access to, and use of land and premises, shall be governed by national policies and laws of individual partner states.
The states are currently at different levels of land policy development. For instance, while South Sudan is yet to complete the formulation of its land policy, Rwanda reviewed its 2004 land policy in 2019, and moved on to the second implementation phase.
Improvement in land governance within the region is expected to make significant contribution to the realisation of some of the regional co-operation areas. These include agriculture and food security, tourism and wildlife, infrastructure, and also environment and natural resources management.
How multinational tobacco companies aid Illicit financial flows in Nigeria, others – Report (The Guardian Nigeria)
Tobacco multinationals in Nigeria and other African Countries are contributing significantly to illicit financial flows in the continent mainly through tax avoidance and evasion, a new report said. The report titled ‘Tobacco Industry and Illicit Financial Flows in Africa” was conducted by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) with a focus on documenting the extent of the tobacco industry’s involvement in tax avoidance and evasion in Africa.
Quoting a 2020 data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Economic Development that Africa is now losing over $88.6 billion to IFFs, executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani said the illegal acts is mainly perpetrated by multinational companies. He said: “We have to show the world the negative effects and manner in which tobacco companies are destroying the health of Africans, and at same time, promote corruption in the continent. Over the years, tobacco have done a lot of harm to the health and wellbeing of Nigerians and Africans. In abroad, especially in the Western world, the tobacco consumption is reducing but in Africa the consumption rate is increasing. When we look at the major diseases that are killing people across the globe, particularly in Africa, tobacco is at the forefront.
He said the Civil Society Organisations are working with ECOWAS to highlight and show the danger and the risks for the continuation of allowing the tobacco companies to have their way. “So we suggest to governments in Africa that they need to increase the taxes for tobacco consumption, and tobacco multinational corporation. Because what they are doing in their country is not what they’re doing here Africa. In their country, they follow the rules and regulations but in Africa, those rules or regulations that guarantee the safety of the people are not even there”
“Tobacco money is made in Africa, money goes elsewhere to shareholders outside the continent. That is more reason higher taxes would benefit the host countries. We however risk having smokers spend more money on smoking than say education or food as price of cigarettes and other tobacco products go up”, he stated.
The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting Africa’s development trajectory. It is exacting a substantial socio-economic toll and putting the survival of half of the continent’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) at risk. Four in five African businesses are witnessing a dramatic reduction in sales. As African countries restart their economies and phase out COVID-19 restrictions, the ripple effects of the Ukraine crisis increase daily. The effects are particularly acute in terms of food security, given the continent’s reliance on food imports from the region of conflict. In addition, the rising cost of fertilisers and the impact of climate change are exacerbating food shortages. These shocks have slowed progress towards achieving SDG2, which is zero hunger by 2030.
Due to the current harsh economic realities in countries, the International Monetary Fund is encouraging governments worldwide to subsidize the cost of food and energy for their poor. Such a social intervention presents a huge fiscal challenge for many African countries.
An effective solution is to boost intra-African trade, which has the potential to pave the way to food security. Africa has enough food to ensure its citizens do not face hunger; however, the challenge is how to ensure that trade contributes significantly to food security.
Didiza: Africa must improve on-farm productivity (Food for Mzansi)
Skyrocketing food prices and supply chain disruptions are cutting deeper than the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. And if Africa wants to get back onto a path of sustainable development, it will need survival plans to overcome stressors and shocks to people’s lives and livelihoods. This was the message shared by agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza during a regional policy dialogue with key stakeholders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Addressing the audience, Didiza said that, at the start of the pandemic, many people were worried that the African continent would face increased food insecurity, particularly as a net importer of agricultural and food products.
Africa has an abundance of land and workforce to change its agricultural fortunes, Didiza said. She warned, however that it would not happen automatically. “We have to increase investment and spending in research and development, infrastructure, and improving land governance on the continent to support private-sector investments.” The continent needs to focus on improving agricultural productivity so that it doesn’t need disproportionately large areas for food production, the minister said.
The minister for Investment, Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji, has challenged public and private sectors to make efforts towards making Tanzania the centre of Africa and the world when it comes to food trade. She made the challenge ahead of an agriculture forum. The five-day African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) is slated to start next Monday in Kigali, Rwanda, where President Samia Suluhu Hassan is scheduled to be a keynote speaker.
Addressing the Tanzania Agribusiness Investment Summit 2022 in Dar es Salaam yesterday, , Dr Kijaji said Tanzania’s vision was to be a global food supplier and the market leader in agro-industrialisation in Africa. She said the achievement would be realised with the public and private sectors working together to benefit smallholder farmers.
The Summit also involved Tanzania business pitching at The African Agribusiness Dealroom a year-round matchmaking platform at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), which brings together capital seekers and providers.
Amid a call for urgent action to safeguard the continent from climate change, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba opened the 2022 Africa Climate Week by highlighting his country’s efforts to boost climate action and calling for continuous collective efforts. Africa Climate Week is taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and is a crucial step on the road to COP27, which will be held in Egypt in November 2022.
In her address, Patricia Janet Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, said: “If we choose, we can be the solution we need, Africa can be the answer. And this is our time. We are the first generation to suffer the consequences of climate change but we are the last generation able to do anything about it.” Egyptian Foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, the designated president of COP27, said that Africans should work to secure climate, given the disproportionate impact climate change is projected to have on Africa as compared to other regions. He said: “African governments and all other African voices, be they civil society, youth, women’s groups, farmers, workers, academia and the thriving African private sector, should all continue to call for climate justice.”
The African Union’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Sacko, urged African countries to maintain a common stance as the continent tackles the impacts of climate change to achieve its long-term goals.
Africa Should Trade its Carbon Credits to Fund Renewable Energy – UNECA (Inter Press Service)
Africa needs to trade in carbon credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, finance the transition to renewable energy, and boost economic development, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says. Carbon credits present an opportunity for African countries – many dependent on fossil fuels for energy – to protect themselves against climate change while raising much-needed finance for the transition to renewable energy transition, said Jean-Paul Adam, Director for Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management Division at UNECA.
Carbon credits are globally traded commodities or permits that allow the emission of one tonne of CO2 or one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent gases to be traded on national or international carbon markets. These credits, which can be used to boost economic growth and attract financing for various projects, are traded on the carbon offset markets. By selling carbon credits, African countries can also tackle climate change by protecting their forests which absorb and store a measured amount of carbon. Besides, the carbon credits can also be sold as ‘offsets’ to companies unable to cut pollution to reduce emissions elsewhere. Lack of finance and capacity to trade on the global carbon markets are hurdles for African countries have to overcome in the growing global carbon markets, where the carbon pricing revenue increased by almost 60 percent last year to about $84 billion, according to the World Bank.
China’s scramble for Africa’s rare earth elements (Observer Research Foundation)
With countries around the world pledging to zero-emission goals, the global demand for rare earth minerals has amplified. Rare earths comprise of 17 minerals that are indispensable to the manufacturing of smartphones, electric vehicles, military weapons systems, and countless other advanced technologies. Africa holds the promise of large, high-grade deposits of rare earth metals. For three decades, China has managed to secure mining deals across the African continent with the availability of cheap labour and weak regulations. Currently, the global annual demand for rare earth elements (REEs) is largely met by China, which has devoted itself to increasing its presence in Africa guaranteeing ambitious energy and technological transitions. However, even with the abundant availability of rare earth deposits in southern and eastern African countries, the region has not yet reached its full potential.
Towards the end of 2010, the hunt for rare earths hit a high point as China, Japan, and South Korea showed keenness in acquiring these elements, with China raising trade-related disputes and controlling exports of rare earths and other metals. After the mining companies started realising the supply shortage, several new ventures were launched around the world, especially in Africa as the continent presented a perfect opportunity for these companies given the uncertainties in the field.
The Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) highlighted the importance of achieving “human security” in Africa by realizing structural transformation for sustainable economic growth and social development, a resilient and sustainable society, and sustainable peace and stability. The conference convened in Tunis, Tunisia, from 27-28 August 2022, at the level of Heads of State and Government.
Its outcome document, ‘TICAD8 Tunis Declaration,’ highlights the importance of investing in people to promote human security, which “will enhance the significant potential of Africa as a driving force of global growth.” The declaration underscores the need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing socio-political and environmental crises by advancing action under three pillars: Realizing structural transformation for sustainable economic growth and social development, including by: promoting private sector investment in Africa; public-private partnerships (PPPs) like the Japan Business Council for Africa and the Japan-Africa Infrastructure Development Association; addressing Africa’s climate vulnerabilities; supporting Africa’s economic resilience; and attracting sound development finance; Realizing a resilient and sustainable society, to be characterized by human security and achievement of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and the SDGs; and Realizing sustainable peace and stability, by, among other actions, promoting good governance, democracy, and the rule of law.
Great Expectations (The Foreign Service Journal)
The promised U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, scheduled for Dec. 13-15 this year, will be the first head of state gathering of African leaders and a U.S. president since 2014, and marks only the second time Washington has accorded this level of attention to a partnership dialogue with the region. Though the United States has an annual trade forum through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, convening trade ministers and a number of bilateral strategic dialogues with key country partners at the foreign minister level, these gatherings don’t confer presidential-level priority.
The hope now is that the summit will usher in more consistent head-of-state engagement, treat Africa as a strategic priority for the United States and give a dynamic boost to mutually beneficial U.S. engagement on the continent.
Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Africa was home to six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world. The United States has a growing two-way trade relationship with the continent that exceeded $64 billion in 2021, but this only represents 1 percent of U.S. trade, and there is plenty of room to grow America’s economic partnership with Africa as the continent continues to grow and attract global trade and investment. The continent that gave rise to mobile money and digital payments set record highs in 2021 for venture capital (VC) investments in its fintech sector, according to Partech’s 2021 Africa Tech Venture Capital Report. That report showed that African VC investments tripled from the prior year, grew faster than any other region and are growing three times faster than global VC investment. Africa also has an exciting new trade bloc, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), that unites the continent into a single giant market and promises to reduce red tape, harmonize the regulatory burden, and significantly diminish tariffs and customs procedures.
This ambitious project, which entered into force in May 2019, is in its first phase of implementation, with negotiations underway to set the terms for trade in goods and services, and second-phase talks also in progress to address investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy, among other things. The third phase will include the digital economy and a special protocol on women and youth. As of the Tralac Law Centre’s May 2022 status update, no trade had yet taken place under the AfCFTA regime, but there is significant interest in supporting its successful implementation.
New boost for Arab-Africa trade? (African Business)
While there has always been a strong desire to boost Arab-Africa trade, the rhetoric has largely failed to match the delivery. Arab-Africa trade has been static at 17% of the continent’s total trade for the last seven years, with China and the EU by far its two largest trading partners. Continental trade with its Arab neighbours according to Afreximbank is estimated at a mere $80bn in 2021. But the signs are that the trade and investment winds of change are blowing over the continent from the north-eastern enclave of Arab countries centred around Egypt, the new gateway to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
In an interview, Oramah candidly laid out the scale of Africa’s financing needs and the potential role of Arab financial muscle in reducing this gap. “Africa’s trade finance gap remains significantly high at over $90bn,” he said, “and the participation rates of African banks in the trade finance space have been declining at a fast pace. “The trade insurance and guarantee markets remain underdeveloped to provide the kinds of protections that traders and commercial banks would require to provide financing for cross-border trade. Africa is not adequately supplied as financial institutions are not able to meet the increasing opportunities that abound because of not having sufficient capital.”
The game changer could be the landmark multi-billion-dollar Arab-Africa Guarantee Fund (AAGF) approved by the AATB Board in March, which is due to start operations in 2023.
The first-ever AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2022), being held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 1 to 3 September
The theme for ACTIF2022 is ‘One People, One Destiny: Uniting and Reimagining Our Future’. Presentations and panel sessions will address key topics around deepening the trade and investment linkages between Africa and the Caribbean. These include accelerating industrialisation and manufacturing in Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks; financing trade and investments; opportunities across the cultural and creative industries; leveraging the power of the African Continental Free Trade Area; improving logistics to promote tourism, trade and telecommunications; improving agricultural productivity, agribusiness and food security; healthcare and life sciences; accelerating private sector trade and investment; creating opportunities for youth and SMEs; and building Africa-Caribbean value chains.
ACTIF2022 has been structured to provide an important opportunity for the Caribbean and African business communities to establish new commercial and strategic relationships to expand trade between the two regions and to source necessary inputs for the design and manufacture of high-value products. It will also enhance Government-Business relationships between Africa and the Caribbean and increase inter-regional trade and investment leads through effective business matchmaking.
Brics reserve currency (Observer Research Foundation)
Whilst Russia and China are leading de-dollarisation initiatives due to their geopolitical rivalry with the US, India, Brazil, and South Africa have supported BRICS’ statements on altering the global financial system for their own interests. In his recent address to the BRICS Business Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the minilateral member states were working on developing a new global reserve currency. It is presumed that this global reserve currency, containing the national currencies of the BRICS member states, will be an alternative to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Right (SDR). At a time when Russia is facing unprecedented global sanctions in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, Putin’s announcement has underscored the importance of recognising the heterogeneous motives of the BRICS nations to not only facilitate intra-BRICS trade in local currencies, but also firewall their global financial interests.
As the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) kicked off Wednesday in Beijing, the country has shown the world its unwavering commitment to wider opening-up in the services trade sector and a firm determination to further promote global economic recovery. Themed "Cooperate for Better Development, Innovate for a Greener Future," the 2022 CIFTIS includes a global services trade summit, exhibitions, forums, new product and technology releases, business promotions and discussions, and supporting activities.
While delivering a keynote speech at the Summit of 2022 CIFTIS Wednesday, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng called for efforts to promote the healthy and sustainable development of services trade to make a greater contribution to the recovery of the global economy.