tralac Daily News
Further deterioration in the electricity crisis has been a major cause of delay in the implementation of agricultural programmes intended to grow the sector, according to the Agricultural Business Chamber’s Chief Economist Wandile Sihlobo.
Sihlobo said there was so much in the implementation pipeline of South Africa’s agriculture policy this year, after the past four years had largely seen through various initiatives that sought to inject confidence in the sector. These were now ripe for implementation, ahead of the 2024 elections.
“A major development in recent times was the launch of the Agriculture and Agro-processing Masterplan, which offers the government and the private sector a new possibility to grow the sector, build competitiveness, attract more investment, and ensure inclusion,” he said.
South Africa’s economy has performed surprisingly well lately, with gross domestic product trending at pre-pandemic levels; however, global and domestic challenges, especially energy impacts, are expected to play a considerable role in the outlook moving forward.
This was noted by Nedbank Group Economic Unit specialised economist Liandra da Silva during Nedbank Commercial Banking’s roundtable discussion on “Navigating the financial terrain ahead of a tough 2023”, held on February 20.
Da Silva pointed out that the domestic economy had proven resilient despite the many shocks experienced in 2022, and with the country still recovering from the pandemic impacts.
The global energy crisis also created policy reversals, with many countries now pursuing natural gas and other fossil fuel projects to meet their energy needs. Natural gas is also getting more traction as a “green investment”, a pivot from the pledges made at the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow in November 2021 to curtail development financing for natural gas projects. For African countries, this has meant a renewed interest in and fast-tracking of natural gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) projects, but mainly for export to Europe and others outside the continent.
While this may spell more investments in the energy sector on the continent, the benefit may not necessarily result in energy access for Africans themselves. Instead, this risks further perpetuating commodities-based economies, stunting the continent’s own industrialization ambitions.
EAC partner states on the spot over irregular excise tax (The East African)
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania may be denying smaller EAC economies a chance at regional trade by levying irregular excise duty. A study on discriminative taxes in the East African Community shows that Burundi and South Sudan, whose economies are smaller than the other four EAC counterparts, have been unable to make good sales in the region due to the irregular excise. In East Africa, excise duty is imposed on goods manufactured in a partner state by a licensed manufacturer; services supplied in the partner state by a licensed person; or goods imported into the partner states.
Excisable commodities include bottled water, soft drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, fuels and motor vehicles.
Trade CS Moses Kuria joins Cryptocurrency debate (Nairobi News)
Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has asked Kenyans to be at the forefront of changes happening across the world due to innovation. Speaking at the launch of the Showfa taxi platform, the CS said Kenya will not be harmed by legalizing the digital currency. He has asked the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), and the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to lower their guards on Cryptocurrency.
According to the CS, Kenya has the potential of dominating the international market with its innovation in fintech and technology. “It is beyond us now the current generation who have got this responsibility bestowed upon us that comes only once in a lifetime, once in history, not to be conservative. To look at things differently.”
Seychelles is living the consequences of climate impact daily, says Vice-President at AU Summit (Seychelles News Agency)
Afif gave a brief report on the activities undertaken in 2022 to promote the Africa Island States’ action for climate-resilient sustainable development.
Seychelles’ Vice-President Ahmed Afif congratulated the COP27 presidency for leading the historic decision to establish a new loss and damage response fund in Egypt, State House said on Sunday.
The ground-breaking decision to provide loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters was taken at the United Nations climate conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.
“Seychelles like the rest of the African continent, is living the consequences of climate impact daily and this, coupled with the increasing number of climate disasters, makes it obvious that the era of loss and damage is upon us,” said Afif.
Somali is inching closer to being admitted to the East African Community (EAC) as an eighth member. Its admission will, however, depend on a resolution by the Council of the ministers’ summit which is currently underway in Bujumbura, Burundi. The ministers are converging for their 43rd ordinary session.
The report from the verification team that visited Somalia last month will be tabled for consideration Thursday before it is presented to the summit of Heads of state summit for endorsement.
Somalia has been pushing for inclusion into the EAC following the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo last year. Somalia made its application to join the EAC in 2012 but since then its application has been pending due to various reasons.
President William Ruto has urged the European Union to fasten the process of concluding its economic partnership agreement with the East African Community. Speaking on Tuesday during the Kenya-European Union Business Council forum, Ruto said access to the EU market will enable Kenya to expand its export base and also create employment opportunities. “It is one of the notable interventions that can make a tremendous difference to our economic performance and there is an excellent reason, in the EU’s best interests, to conclude the deals,” he said.
The people of Africa and the Caribbean are poised to make the global capitalist economy, which was built on the sweat and blood of African slaves, work for them, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said. Addressing leaders of Caribbean nations during the 44th Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Nassau, The Bahamas, Prof. Oramah lamented that “for so many decades, the global capitalist economy, built on the sweat and blood of African slaves, has remained an unbearable burden on the shoulders of Africans; we are now poised to make it work for us.
He described the first-ever Afri-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF), co-hosted by Afreximbank, the African Union Commission, the Caricom Secretariat, and the Government of Barbados in September, as a watershed in the journey towards Afro-Caribbean economic cooperation, noting that it witnessed the opening for signature of the Partnership Agreement between Afreximbank and CARICOM States.
“Since then, nine CARICOM member states have signed the Agreement, which has now come into force,” he said. Through that Agreement, which is similar to the Agreement for the Establishment of Afreximbank, signed by African States, Afreximbank was providing to Africa and the CARICOM “a financially-resourced platform for a credible pursuit of our collective aspirations to exploit our markets for our own good and in our own way”.
SMEs need energy solution, transport infrastructure and industry development (Engineering News)
Arguably, the most immediate concern for South Africa’s SME sector is the impact of the worsening energy crisis, says small business financier Business Partners chief investment officer Jeremy Lang.
Rescuing the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector requires fundamental and large-scale interventions aimed at addressing their specific problems, including the energy crisis, the need for transport infrastructure and the need for supportive policy.
“Bringing SMEs into the supply chain for alternative, renewable sources of energy that will relieve pressure on the grid is one way in which government can boost the sector. Involving small businesses in the process of building an energy secure nation will also be a step in the right direction,” says Lang.
The pandemic and war in Ukraine highlighted weaknesses in commodity markets where a ‘significant’ concentration of firms, banks, exchanges and clearing houses threatens to transmit losses to the wider economy, the G20’s financial watchdog said on Monday.
The Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) deep dive into commodity markets came after regulators voiced concern that they were unable to get a full picture of a sprawling sector comprising on and off exchange derivatives trading, physical stocks, patchy data and producers spread across the world.
European natural gas and metals prices doubled while oil and wheat gained sharply after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing a spike in cash or margin calls on related derivatives.
Africa cargo market huge but remains untapped: Study (Africa Aviation News)
The Africa air cargo market is estimated at 2-2.5 percent share of the global market but that belies its enormous-yet-seemingly-elusive promise, says the latest study Africa Cargo Outlook 2023 by Trade and Transport Group, promoted by Tom Crabtree and Frederic Horst.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the air transport capacity – particularly freighter aircraft – was re-oriented towards developed world markets in East Asia, Europe and North America, usually at the expense of developing world markets. Africa was hit particularly hard. While African passenger connections are being restored, freighter capacity has yet to return to pre-Covid levels.”
Economy is another concern: while economic growth remains concentrated in a few African countries, “the overall economic outlook for the continent is one of accelerating growth in 2023 (3.8 percent) and 2024 (4.1 percent) with some mid-size African countries offering interesting growth opportunities.”
Opec’s quiet offensive in Africa (The Africa Report)
Last December, the OPEC Fund approved $280m in loans to the continent – from Côte d’Ivoire ($75m) to Benin ($14m). In early February, a $50m contribution to the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the institution dedicated to supporting infrastructure on the continent, was announced. A first and previous loan of the same amount was approved in early 2021.
The continent has a de facto particularly high share in the OPEC Fund’s resource allocations. “Exposure to African countries stood at $2.86bn in September 2022, compared to $2.56bn (an increase of $300m) in December 2021,” the Vienna-based multilateral institution, which also hosts OPEC, told
The Doha Programme of Action, as it’s formally known, has been designed as a roadmap up to 2031, to foster strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their development partners.
“The world is reeling under the cascading impacts of complex, interlocking challenges and structural limitations and constrained fiscal capabilities make least developed countries the ones first and often most severely impacted,” said Csaba Kőrösi at the opening of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) high-level event on the plan being an accelerator of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UNDP at LDC5 Conference: From Potential to Prosperity (United Nations Development Programme)
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) need bold investments in health, education and social protection systems— and all the resources required to fully implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are currently 46 countries recognized as part of the LDC group – 33 in Africa, 12 in Asia and the Pacific, and one in the Caribbean region – some are islands and others are landlocked. Collectively they constitute around 880 million people, or 12 percent of the world population. Eight are Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The fifth United Nations Conference on the LDCs comes at a critical moment as the timeline to achieving the SDGs by 2030 hits the mid-point mark this year. Taking take place in Doha, Qatar, from 5-9 March 2023 under the theme - “From Potential to Prosperity”, the conference will be attended by Heads of States, governments, civil society organizations, youth, parliamentarians, and the international community.
The objective of the Conference is to build momentum around the implementation of the Doha Programme Of Action (DPoA), which is an ambitious and forward-looking agenda.
There is a breath of fresh air flowing from China after the country’s Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee recently stated that it had “decisively beaten” the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a bold statement to make, similar to the one made by President Xi Jinping in December 2020 that China had eradicated extreme poverty.
Data shows that more than 200 million of its citizens have been diagnosed and treated for COVID-19 since it lifted strict containment measures beginning in November. In addition, 800,000 of the most critically ill patients recovered.
Even as China now transits to a post-pandemic stage after a long and successful fight against the pandemic which Xinhua termed as “extraordinary in the extreme,” the government has promised to “optimize and adjust prevention and control policies and measures according to the times and situations with a strong historical responsibility and strong strategic determination.”
Natural gas prices hit a fresh multi-month low on Monday; on some measures, the six-month slide is beginning to look stretched and what is the outlook and what are the signposts to watch?