tralac Daily News
Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Fikile Majola on Thursday reiterated his department’s commitment to enhancing support to Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which are important instruments for growing the economy.
Addressing the Special Economic Zones Chief Executive Officers’ Forum in Kempton Park on Thursday, he emphasised that the commitment of provincial governments was crucial in ensuring that the SEZs succeed in achieving the economic objectives that national government has set for them.
“There are currently around 15 projects that are at different stages of development across the different SEZs. Significantly, these are mostly expected to be operationalised before the close of the 2023/24 financial year, thus adding to the 190 that are already operational in the 10 designated SEZs.
“These SEZs are pillars of our economy and those that are not optimally operating are a disservice to our people,” Majola said.
Digitisation, sustainability pivotal to bolstering food & beverage industry (Engineering News)
There are various trends that are currently impacting the food and beverage (F&B) industry and digital automation and energy management company Schneider Electric has solutions that can assist to navigate this, with digital technology and sustainability highlighted as key to driving this industry forward.
This was noted during Schneider Electric’s Food and Beverage Innovation Day, held in Johannesburg, on June 21.
The first trend is around commodity prices, with these fluctuating depending on elements such as location, geopolitical tensions, where materials are sourced and inflation, besides others.
A second trend being observed is that with a new, younger generation entering the workforce, the culture of manufacturing is changing, and further, knowledge is being lost as the older generation leaves with this having not been institutionalised.
Zambia Wins More Time to Pay Its Debts (Bloomberg)
Zambia has won debt relief from its bilateral creditors, a huge breakthrough in an almost three-year saga since it became the first African country to default during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also gives hope to other indebted nations from Ghana and Ethiopia to Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The agreement, announced at a summit in Paris that aims to overhaul the global financial architecture to make it fairer to emerging nations, is the first major concession won by a developing country under the Group of 20 nations’ Common Framework.
The value of Kenya’s sugar imports hit Sh23.92 billion last year, a newly published document by the Agriculture Ministry shows, a pointer to the lucrative production investment opportunities in the domestic market. The country remains a net importer of sugar, mainly from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), despite having the potential to produce and meet her domestic consumption and surplus for export.
“The country continues to rely on imports to bridge the deficit. For instance, in 2022, sugar valued at Sh 23.923 billion was imported. This is a drain to the country’s foreign exchange” the Agriculture Ministry said in the newly published policy document which doesn’t provide the comparative value of imports in previous years.
The industry has the potential of producing over 1.47 million tonnes of sugar which would meet the domestic demand and provide a sustained surplus for export to the Comesa region which is generally a net importing region.
“Due to industry inefficiencies, this capacity is currently underutilized,” the Agriculture ministry said.
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi acknowledged on Thursday in Maputo that the country’s economy has grown below the natural resources available to it, advocating a focus on industrialisation to diversify the production base.
“We can grow more, and we should grow more,” Nyusi said, speaking at the opening speech of the 18th Annual Private Sector Conference (CASP), which brings together businesspeople, members of the government and representatives of national and international financial institutions.
The productive fabric and economic growth should reflect the quantity and quality of resources available to Mozambique, he added. In that sense, he continued, the country must focus on industrialisation, taking advantage of its agricultural, energy and water potential, as well as the logistics platform provided by its ports and road corridors.
“Mozambique today should be seen as a hub and logistics platform, not only as the gateway to the six landlocked countries of the SADC – Southern African Development Community SADC but also as the African Continental Free Trade Area, a market with around 1.3 million consumers,” he said.
Nyusi stressed that the Mozambican economy was following a path of notable growth, although far from its potential, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 4.1% by 2022.
What EAC plan to ditch dollar means for Kenya (The East African)
The East African Community (EAC) has stepped up the push for member states to adopt local currencies in trading with one another, in the latest push to drop the bullish US dollar that is hurting economies in the region.
David Ole Sankok, a Kenyan member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), has tabled a resolution recommending the EAC use local currencies to boost cross-border trade.
Dr Kennedy Manyala, an economist who has worked at the EAC, says that the dollar has only been used where it can be obtained with ease.
The legislator’s recommendation to the EAC’s council of ministers and partner states adds to the push by emerging and frontier economies to dump the use of dollars in settling cross-border trade, in what is known as de-dollarisation.
Mr Sankok’s proposal echoes recent remarks by President William Ruto in address to the Djibouti Parliament urging African countries to consider settling cross-border transactions in their respective currencies instead of the dollar.
“Why is it necessary for us to buy things from Djibouti and pay in dollars? Why? There is no reason. And we are not against the US dollar, we just want to trade much more freely. Let us pay in US dollars what we are buying from the US,” said Dr Ruto.
EAC countries challenged on meeting agric targets (The New Times)
With only two years remaining until the deadline set by the East African Community (EAC) Member States to end hunger in line with the continental agricultural development plan, hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have said.
During a plenary session held in Arusha on June 21, the lawmakers expressed concern about this situation, and urged the EAC Member States to take firm action to address it.
To this end, EALA adopted the motion urging the EAC Council of Ministers and the Partner States to fast-track the implementation of the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation of Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.
It was moved by MP Woda Jeremiah from South Sudan, who said it would help EAC “to attain food security and rational agricultural development.”
Political will needed to implement Africa free trade area (The Chronicle)
AFRICA needs the political will to collectively remove cross-border barriers and successfully implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Implementation of the AfCFTA is the main focus of the 9th edition of the Africa Public Service Day commemorations underway in Victoria Falls under the theme: “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) requires a fit for purpose African Public Administration to succeed.”
Addressing delegates, the chairman of Public Service Commission in Zimbabwe Dr Vincent Hungwe said the opening up of borders and increasing mobility will assist in the cross-pollination of ideas, skills transfer and innovation which are critical to the Africa Agenda and reversing colonial educational and economic system.
He said public administration and management is going to be the foundation for creating inclusive and sustainable product and service value and supply chains that will underpin meaningful trade within the AfCFTA.
Project Management Institute (PMI), has encouraged the African Union (AU) to accelerate infrastructure development that would promote intra-continental trade among the member states. The appeal was contained in a statement made available to the media in Lagos recently.
Highlighting the importance of infrastructure development in continental trade the Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, PMI, George Asamani, stated that infrastructure is among the key elements essential to making the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) work effectively.
Asamani said, “Developing and improving power, transport, and communications infrastructure and establishing efficient road, air, port, and rail networks are crucial for enabling seamless trade facilitation and promoting economic integration,”.
African countries have called for the formation of a joint working committee with the G7, central banks and civil society to stop large sums of money being lost by the continent each year to illicit capital outflows.
The call was made on Friday at the two-day Summit for a New Global Financing Pact held in Paris, France, which started on Thursday.
It comes almost a decade after former South African President Thabo Mbeki sounded the alarm on the shocking scale at which Africa was losing-billions each year to illicit capital outflows.
Akufo-Addo said that stopping this illicit flow and bringing the money into play in the most impoverished continent could drastically reduce poverty and accelerate climate change goals. As a result, he said, African countries had called for the establishment of a committee to look into this illicit money flow.
Akufo-Addo said: We have proposed that the G7 establish a joint working committee to track and seek ways of stemming the flow of this money laundering while finding ways of ensuring that this money is reintroduced to the African fiscus.
Importance of empowering women and youth in trade highlighted at regional workshop (Namibian Economist)
The African Continental Free Trade Area – Southern Africa Development Community (AfCFTA-SADC) regional consultation workshop was recently held in Windhoek to address the challenges faced by women and youth in cross-border trade and explore opportunities in the digital economy.
During the opening of the workshop, Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu emphasized the importance of empowering women and youth to actively participate in trade and benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
“Women and youth face various challenges in trading across borders and are confronted by many barriers to trade, such as complex export procedures, intimidation, extortions, and harassment at borders, particularly in Africa. I believe the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade should address the persistent challenges faced by women in trade and provide solutions in terms of better border governance and trade facilitation,” she said.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) hosted an expert group meeting in Addis Ababa this week, bringing together policy specialists and academics to review its upcoming African Women’s Report on costing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development along with its 17 goals, including SDG 5, which is considered fundamental to the overall progress on the agenda. However, the evidence presented at the meeting indicates that no country in Africa is currently on track to meet any of the goals by 2030. In addition, estimates from the African Centre for Statistics reveal that, at the current pace, gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa will only be achieved by 2094.
Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Sweta Saxena, Chief of Staff and acting Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at ECA, said
that implementing measures to achieve gender equality commitments by 2030 requires countries to first understand the additional investments required and subsequently mobilise the necessary resources to finance such actions. Ms. Saxena continued: “In this report, ECA has endeavoured to demonstrate in a practical way and with examples and case studies, how to estimate the investments needed for interventions towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
The Government of Senegal, through the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Cooperation, launched, on Thursday in Dakar, the work of the Regional Forum of West African Intergovernmental Organizations on “Promoting Regional Value chains and food security for strengthening regional integration and sustainable development in West Africa”.
The Director of the ECA/SRO-WA, Mr. Ngone Diop, stated that “the warning sign triggered in April by the Food Crisis Prevention Network (FCPN), with nearly 42.5 million people concerned by the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel and West Africa during the hunger gap (June-August 2023), is a call out for us to take both immediate and medium- to long-term actions”.
To achieve it, continued the Director of the ECA/SRO-WA, “the ECA is recommending new financial resources mobilization and value chains development”.
According to the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Senegal, Mrs. Aminata Maiga, “By providing appropriate responses to these two issues, namely the promotion of value chains and food security, we will be helping to speed up the implementation of the 2030 and 2063 agendas, particularly by reducing poverty, achieving food security, promoting decent work and sustainable growth, inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and sustainable production and consumption”.
On the sidelines of the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris, African leaders, investors and development partners, including the African Development Bank Group, have highlighted their steadfast support for the Alliance for Green Infrastructure in Africa as it advances toward a first close of $500 million for green infrastructure projects in Africa.
“The Alliance will mobilize $100 million in grants for project preparation, $400 million in blended financing through grants, concessional resources, and commercial investments for project development,” Adesina said, explaining how the initiative will work.
Kenyan President William Ruto said Africa’s already low share of global energy investments had fallen sharply over the last five years. Africa’s cost of borrowing, which is eight times higher than other regions, was another challenge. “Let us have a different conversation,” Ruto said. Let us not have a conversation about us versus them, north versus south. Let us have a conversation of win-win.”
World leaders attending this week’s Summit for a New Global Financing Pact praised the African Development Bank for finding a solution that would enable rich countries to reallocate part of their Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to low-income countries through multilateral development banks. The technical solution preserves the asset reserve status of the SDRs and would unlock hundreds of billions for Africa.
Speaking at the pre-summit forum’s opening on Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The African Development Bank has launched an initiative to channel SDRs to multilateral development banks, which would increase their impact five-fold—this initiative should be a source of inspiration.”
The French President said: “First, no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and protecting the planet. Second, each country must follow its own path because there is no single model. Third, we need to take on a public funding shock. And fourth, we need more from the private sector to mobilize a lot of money.”
Paris Summit: Commonwealth and OIF stress need for Vulnerability Index (The Commonwealth)
The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) joined forces this week to convene a high-level side event during the Paris Summit for a New Global Financial Pact on June 22. The side event focused on the measures required to: ‘Take account of multidimensional vulnerability in the allocation of new development funding’.
The Paris Summit serves as a vital platform to deliberate on how to reform development financing and deliver more effective assistance to nations.
During the discussion, the panellists emphasised the urgent need for a global effort to swiftly implement new financing mechanisms for sustainable development that prioritise countries with the greatest need. These mechanisms should consider the structural vulnerabilities beyond GNI per capita.
To achieve this goal, all participants deemed it necessary to adopt a universal index reflecting various dimensions of a country’s structural vulnerability and to utilise it in the allocation of funding.
“Let’s keep the momentum up”, stressed the co-conveners of the e-commerce negotiations — Japan, Australia and Singapore — at their latest meeting with WTO members participating in the negotiations from 19 to 22 June 2023. They urged negotiators to consider carefully how the initiative can achieve the objective of securing substantial results by the end of the year, using the remaining four rounds of negotiations to find common ground on various issues.
International trade is key to unlocking the potential of least-developed countries (LDCs) and enabling them to achieve their socio-economic development ambitions. To achieve the goals of the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2022-2031, it is also essential that LDCs increase their participation in international trade.
However, if LDCs are to reap the maximum benefits from trade — and from their membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) — they must be more fully integrated into the multilateral trading system.
To achieve this, new ways for LDCs to engage proactively in WTO activities must be identified, and LDCs’ international partners must collaborate on LDC priorities and provide them with targeted support. A new collection of essays, titled “LDCs and the multilateral trading system”, sheds light on the current challenges facing LDCs and makes practical proposals on how LDCs can seize the opportunities provided by trade.