tralac Daily News
South African cement industry to approach Itac for general tariff protection (Engineering News)
Cement and Concrete South Africa (CCSA) is preparing an application for generalised tariff protection on imported cement, arguing that antidumping duties against exporters from specific countries are taking too long to secure and are failing to safeguard the industry from what it regards as unfair competition. Despite having a yearly cement production capacity of about 20-million tons, the domestic industry is producing only 12-million tons currently, with more than one-million tons of cement being imported yearly.
CCSA CEO Bryan Perrie tells Engineering News that no decision has been made regarding the level of protection that will be requested, with investigations still under way. He also stresses that any tariff decision, which is likely to face stiff opposition from importers, rests entirely with the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac), which will have to weigh up the economic costs and benefits of introducing protection.
Kenya defended its most recent deployment of troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saying the move was aimed at protecting her ‘strategic interests’ which is code for expanding trade between the two States. There is also the issue of safeguarding investments worth millions of dollars by Kenyan companies operating in DRC.
This is not the first time Kenya is sending boots to DRC. Since 1999, Kenya has been part of the UN peacekeeping missions in the troubled central African nation. This time, Kenya has deployed an active military contingent as part of the East African Community regional force to stabilize the eastern part of the country. However, Kenya has been cautious to frame its military involvement as being about securing her interests, perhaps alive to the risk of getting sucked into the vortex of competing local and foreign interests that have been feeding off the vast mineral and natural wealth of DRC for decades.
Nairobi appears keen on charting a different path focused on trade and investment as opposed to extraction of resources, which would put it in direct competition with local and foreign interests involved in the legal and illegal exploitation of gold, diamonds, timber and other natural resources, in the process getting mired in the seemingly interminable conflict in DRC.
Pursuing a stronger bilateral trade relationship gives Kenya significant economic leverage over Kinshasa without being perceived as a ‘foreign exploiter’ not to mention significantly reduced risk of full military engagement that would be costly in the long run.
And to buttress this trade-not-resources policy, some large Kenyan businesses in the financial and telecommunication sectors have recently invested millions of dollars in DRC.
DRC becoming a member of the EAC trading bloc this year opened more opportunities to accelerate Kenya’s economic interests in this large but untapped market of over 95 million people.
Govt. calls for greater collaboration to tackle woes in sugar sector (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)
Crop Development Principal Secretary Kello Harsama has reiterated the need for a joint collaborative approach to address the challenges bedevilling the sugar industry. He decried the perennial problems and challenges plaguing Kenya’s sugar cane farmers despite the sector’s enormous potential in contributing to the national economy. “The sugar industry continues to face hurdles which have resulted in inadequate production of sugar for the national market,” Harsama stated. The challenges, Harsama said, manifest in form of the high cost of production, huge debt portfolio by state-owned millers, obsolete technologies, and small-scale farming that hampers the farmers to enjoy economies of scale.
He added that poor market integration and unfavourable market competition for cheaper sugar produced within COMESA countries and imports from other nations have led to higher inefficiencies that undermine the viability of the sector.
Niger’s finance minister says lack of support from rich countries makes it impossible for his impoverished nation to abandon revenue from oil. The landlocked Sahel state has launched a scheme to build Africa’s longest pipeline, shuttling crude oil over nearly 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) to a port in Benin.
Environmental campaigners are dismayed about initiatives that perpetuate the use of climate-damaging fossil fuels. But in an interview with AFP, Finance Minister Ahmat Jidoud said Niger had no alternative. “Right now it’s not possible,” he said. “It is important for us to be able to exploit our own resources until the conditions are there for the climate transition to unfold,” he said.
Zambia opts for Carbon markets to empower communities (Farmers Review Africa)
As countries seek to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change, Zambia wants to tap into carbon trading to raise funds with due consideration for the beneficiation of various communities as it envisions to migrate into a green economy. The increasing surge of climate crisis on developing countries, chiefly in Africa and other Least Developed Countries beyond the continent has continued heightening but Zambia, like many of the affected countries on the African continent, and despite contributing a paltry 4% to the global emission, Africa is devising options of raising capital as part of the benefit sharing mechanism its people.
Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Green Economy and Environment, John Msimuko says it was vital for the country to prepare for now and the future on how to fight climate change effects by raise own capital for mitigation.
Africa deserves right to use natural gas reserves – AfDB President (Blueprint Newspapers)
The right of African countries to use their natural gas reserves should be reflected in any deal at the COP27 climate talks, the president of the African Development Bank told Reuters, even as some nations push to see use of the fuel curtailed. Agreeing a deal on fossil fuels is among the key sticking points at the talks, with some countries including India keen to phase down the use of all such fuels, including gas, sources said.
A preliminary document from the conference hosts arrived late on Monday and made no mention of fossil fuels. While it forms the basis of any agreement, the all-important final wording has yet to be hammered out.
Agenda 2063 may be 41 years ahead, but newly appointed African Union Development Agency (Auda) chief executive Nardos Bekele-Thomas is confident that the continent’s blueprint for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse of the future is not far-fetched.
Addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday – along with African Union goodwill ambassador and globally acclaimed artist Yvonne Chaka Chaka – Bekele-Thomas said although Africa was endowed with natural resources, it resembled “a continent of paradox, with very high poverty levels”. “Beneficiation of our natural resources is very crucial and Africa has to ensure that it has the right policies, legal framework and the right environment for businesses to operate,” said Bekele-Thomas.
Financing energy project development in Africa (Engineering News)
Raising capital for energy projects and building sustainable pipelines is complex in a market that is challenged by demand for fossil fuels, while simultaneously trying to satisfy carbon-neutral policies and commitments. Data shows that despite Africa’s sizeable population, it only attracts sub-5 % of global energy investment. Undoubtedly, Africa is abundant in opportunities and resources, but many of the continent’s countries have yet to unlock barriers to trade and prove themselves to be reliable global partners. The countries that stand to benefit from energy project development and attract meaningful investments are those with governments that seek to lower risks through pricing reforms, transparent tendering systems, strong anti-corruption law enforcement, and the development of skilled labour.
African e-payments Could Grow to Reach $40billion by 2025 (The Fintech Times)
The success of Africa’s fastest-growing start-up industry has been driven by a range of trends. Increasing smartphone ownership, reduced internet costs, expanded network coverage, and a young, fast-growing population have all helped grow African fintech. The African fintech industry’s continuing success has the potential to quickly advance Africa’s global competitiveness; with an increasing amount of fintech services exported globally. Despite the success, it has become clear that the industry is not without its obstacles. Regulatory differences between countries on the continent are slowing down the expansion of financial inclusion across Africa. Calls for a pan-African regulatory body that can define policies have been also been heard. However, a body such as this does not appear particularly close to being created.
According to McKinsey & Company’s ‘The future of payments in Africa’, Africa’s domestic e-payments market is expected to see revenues grow by approximately 20 per cent per year. By 2025, the market is expected to reach around $40billion.Despite the difficulties, Africa has made moves to ease payment constraints. The ‘PanAfrican Payment and Settlement System’ development by the African Continental Free Trade Area has made it easier to make payments across 50 countries and their 40 currencies.
African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development have called for a swift and decisive collective action to address the growing liquidity challenges and food and energy insecurity on the continent. They were speaking during a meeting of the High-Level Working Group on the Global Financial Architecture (the Group), held on the margins of the 2022 Annual Meetings in Washington DC to discuss Africa’s urgent financial needs amid worsening global economic conditions and recurring global shocks.
After a year of intense negotiations and a difficult global economic outlook, development partners of the African Development Fund (ADF) have agreed to commit a total package of $8.9 billion to its 2023 to 2025 financing cycle. It is the largest replenishment in the history of the Fund. ADF is the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, providing grants and soft loans to the continent’s low-income countries.
The $8.9 billion replenishment package includes $8.5 billion in core ADF funding and $429 million for the newly created Climate Action Window.
A five-day training workshop for customs officers and customs brokers from four Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States, namely Eswatini, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia was conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 28th November to 2nd December 2022. The training was organised by the SADC Secretariat, Finance, Investment and Customs (FIC) Directorate with support by the European Union-SADC Trade Facilitation Programme under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11). The overall training objective was to equip border managers and key customs brokers from clearing firms that have a presence at the borders with the right skills and knowledge in handling clearance of goods which have been issued with a SADC Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CoO).
The e-CoO was officially launched in Blantyre, Malawi, in September 2022 as a modern trade facilitation instrument which contributes to ease of doing business and promotes integrity and environmental protection, after the successful completion of the development and test of the e-CoO module of Eswatini, Malawi and Zambia.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa – COMESA has developed regional policy frameworks that will assist Member States to improve the quality of solar products that are allowed into the region and achieve the ease the doing of business across borders due to predictable duty regimes. This is intended to address the proliferation of low quality of solar energy products which have eroded the confidence in the reliability of solar energy as a viable solution to electrification challenges in the COMESA region. Studies have also revealed that the high level of variances in customs duties across the region has been a hindrance to trade and adoption of off grid renewable technologies.
The frameworks so far developed are the COMESA Model Solar Standards, the COMESA Model Common Customs Tariff Framework for Solar Products and COMESA Model Energy Policy. These were presented to experts in energy, customs and standards from Member States for validation in a workshop conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, on 5 – 7 December 2022.
The EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki has handed over laboratory equipment and consumables to the Focal Points of the EAC Affairs Ministries on behalf of National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) in the Partner States under an EAC-GIZ project called “Improvement of Regional Trade with Seed Potatoes in Eastern Africa.” The aim of the project is to provide framework conditions for the development of trade in seed potatoes through support to development of regional strategies and action plans, capacity development of NPPOs in SPS measure as well as development and harmonization of regional seed potato standards.
Speaking during the handover ceremony at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, the Secretary General disclosed that the equipment is expected to be a game changer in the Partner States seed potato trade especially in strengthening the technical and implementation capacity of staff and laboratories to effectively operationalize required Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures to facilitate seed potato trade in the region.
Germany is set to increase its state guarantees for business investments in African countries, a move aimed at diversifying trade relations and to make it more independent from China. “There will be additional incentives to invest in regions like sub-Saharan Africa where we want more German investments and more German trade,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said opening a German-African business conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The announcement reflects Germany’s strategy to diversify its global trade relations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Habeck recently tweaked the country’s foreign risk insurance to reduce the country’s focus on China. Habeck, who is also Vice Chancellor, views the African continent as an ideal place to boost the production of renewable energies as an alternative to Russian gas.
Opening statement by Minister of State Katja Keul at the German-African Business Summit 2022 (Germany Federal Foreign Office)
New strategy to kickstart the bioeconomy in East Africa (Stockholm Environment Institute)
SEI played a leading role in a partnership to develop a Regional Bioeconomy Strategy for East Africa, the first of its kind for the continent. The Strategy will catalyze policies for sustainable, bio-based and inclusive economic growth in the region. In the face of rapid population growth, policymakers in Eastern Africa are under pressure to grow economies, create new jobs and provide better opportunities for young people and women. At the same time, it is crucial to protect the environment and ecosystems, and ensure resilience to climate change impacts and disease.
The bioeconomy will play a key role in overcoming these challenges. In Eastern Africa, as throughout the world, countries and businesses are making the bioeconomy a priority, and asking how to transform bio-based sectors to support sustainable economic growth and development. To achieve a transformation of this kind, policymakers in the region need to work in partnership and set out a strategic direction.
Covid-19 spurs growth of e-commerce in Kenya, study reveals (Capital Business)
The Covid-19 pandemic has unlocked the growth of e-commerce opportunities, with millions of consumers preferring to shop online. This is according to a recent global survey conducted by MARCO, a Madrid-based communications agency. Dubbed “MARCO Survey: Post-COVID-19 Consumption Behaviour II”, the survey, conducted from May to June, covers more countries and is a sequel to “MARCO Research: Post Covid Consumer Behaviour” carried out in April to May 2022. In Africa, the survey was conducted in Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, and Ivory Coast.
Stronger multilateral solutions are urgently needed to tackle the debt crisis facing developing countries, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said at the opening of the organization’s 13th Debt Management Conference. The event, which runs from 5 to 7 December in Geneva and online, takes place as a wave of global crises has led many developing countries to take on more debt to address the needs of their populations.
Government debt levels as a share of GDP increased in over 100 developing countries between 2019 and 2021. Excluding China, this increase is estimated at about $2 trillion.
UNCTAD advocates for the creation of a multilateral legal framework for debt restructuring and relief. Such a framework is needed to facilitate timely and orderly debt crisis resolution with the involvement of all creditors, building on the debt reduction programme established by the Group of 20 major economies (G20) known as the Common Framework.
The poorest countries eligible to borrow from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) now spend over a tenth of their export revenues to service their long-term public and publicly guaranteed external debt—the highest proportion since 2000, shortly after the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative was established, the World Bank’s new International Debt Report shows.
The report highlights rising debt-related risks for all developing economies—low- as well as middle-income economies. At the end of 2021, the external debt of these economies totaled $9 trillion, more than double the amount a decade ago. During the same period, the total external debt of IDA countries, meanwhile, nearly tripled to $1 trillion. Rising interest rates and slowing global growth risk tipping a large number of countries into debt crises. About 60% of the poorest countries are already at high risk of debt distress or already in distress.
Leading EU member states are calling on Brussels to tweak its sanctions on Moscow to make a clearer exemption for supplies of Russian grain and fertiliser, claiming the current rules are delaying vital shipments to poor countries. Germany, France and the Netherlands are among the countries urging the European Commission to introduce an amendment clarifying the sanctions around Russia’s food exports, according to a position paper seen by the Financial Times. African nations struggling with shortages of food and agricultural feedstocks have attacked the EU sanctions. Macky Sall, Senegal’s president and chair of the African Union, claimed the continent had become “collateral damage” in the western allies’ clampdown on Russia.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on WTO members to refrain from adopting new trade-restrictive measures, particularly export restrictions, that can further contribute to a worsening of the global economic outlook and urged them to cooperate to keep markets open and predictable in order to allow goods to move around the world to where they are needed.
“Members have increasingly implemented new trade restrictions, in particular on the export side, first in the context of the pandemic and more recently in the context of the war in Ukraine and the food security crisis. Although some of these export restrictions have been lifted, many others persist,” she said. “Out of the 78 export restrictive measures on food, feed, and fertilizers introduced since the start of the war in late February, 58 are still in place, covering roughly USD 56.6 billion of trade. These numbers have increased since mid-October, which should be a cause for concern.”