tralac Daily News
Over 100 business leaders from the European Union (EU) participated in the first ever EU-Rwanda Business Forum to engage the Rwandan private sector and explore trade and investment opportunities in the country.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr. Édouard Ngirente officially opened the forum noting: ”Over the years, we have seen investments, with the EU as the largest source, yield tangible results in Rwanda. Between 2018 and 2022, investments worth over US$ 870 million were registered in Rwanda. These investments are transforming the lives of our people through job creation and empowering the private sector, which is a key driver of economic growth.”
On his part, Koen Doens, EU Director General for International Partnerships noted that Africa plays a key role in addressing global challenges through private sector investments. “The global supply chain is reliant on a limited number of countries, which makes it very fragile when challenges happen. This is why we are looking at diversification and see Africa presenting huge opportunities to address these challenges. Rwanda has put in place the right regulatory environment and is attracting investments. The Government has positioned itself on a number of critical issues as a regional hub and do hope that this forum creates the right dynamic to move forward as soon as possible,” he explained.
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) is pleased to announce the upcoming African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Provincial Consultative Dialogue, themed “Understanding the Benefit of AGOA to SA Exporters.” These consultative dialogues aim to engage with AGOA beneficiary export companies and identify the challenges faced by exporters, fostering productive dialogue and collaboration. In the first phase, the consulative dialogues will be rolled out across five provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, and Western Cape.
AGOA, which is a piece of legislation that was passed by the United States (U.S.) Congress in May 2000. It provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S market for over 1,800 products, in addition to the more than 5,000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the Generalised System of Preferences program. The dialogues will provide a platform for exporters to gain a deeper understanding of AGOA and its immense potential to drive trade and investment in the region.
The symposium will focus on the following key areas: Enhancing knowledge and understanding of AGOA regulations and requirements. Identifying barriers and challenges faced by exporters Providing guidance on accessing support services, incentives, and resources available to exporters.
Kenya’s imports from Tanzania dipped to the lowest level in three years between January and March partly on renewed trade tensions between the two neighbours, bucking a trend of gains under truce deals by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzania counterpart Samia Suluhu.
The value of goods ordered from Tanzania dropped for the second quarter in a row to Sh7.89 billion in the first quarter of 2023, which is the lowest since the second quarter of 2020 when the imports were reduced to just Sh5.21 billion due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Tanzania is the third largest exporter of goods to Kenya in Africa only behind her East African Community (EAC) fellow Uganda and South Africa which is now the leading exporter of goods to the country on the continent.
Zim, Bots moot export corridor (The Standard)
The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is negotiating with its Botswana counterpart to establish an export corridor that will see local horticultural players exporting their products to the neighbouring country.
Speaking after meeting a Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) delegation in Harare last week, AMA chief executive officer Clever Isaya said modalities were already in place for local farmers to export their produce to Botswana. “We should take advantage of the fact that demand for local horticultural products is high in Botswana. Our objective is to grow trade between Botswana and Zimbabwe, and by engaging BAMB we have the right partner to achieve that,” he said.
Head of the Botswana delegation only identified as T Baitshoki said even though local horticultural products, especially fruits and vegetables, were already in Botswana, there was room for expansion. “I have no doubt that Zimbabwe has the capacity to supply the Botswana market. What is now required is for Zimbabwean farmers to take advantage of existing bilateral relations between the two countries to cement trade relations,” Baitshoki said.
Rwempasha border ‘will boost trade, help curb illegal crossings’ (The New Times)
Residents in Rwempasha sector, Nyagatare District, can now enjoy the convenience of shorter travel distances to and from Uganda with the reopening of Rwempasha border post. The border post, which officially opened on Wednesday, July 5 aims to encourage cross-border trade and reduce illicit movements between residents of Rwempasha, Musheri, and their Ugandan neighbours.
Angelique Mukamana, a resident of Rwempasha, expressed her excitement as one of the first individuals to cross the reopened border. She highlighted the opportunities for cross-border business that have emerged with the reopening.
“I now have easy access to buy lotion at a nearby location in Nyagatare. It’s beneficial for all of us. Business in our area will flourish since most traders previously hesitated due to high transportation costs to Kagitumba or Buziba from Rwempasha.”
Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Company, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, says it will be beneficial if Nigerian shipowners operating in the oil and gas sub-sector concentrate more on the tanker trade than operating liner services.
Speaking on shipping services and the better options, Iheanacho said “From my experience, one area we should have just mastered easily, arising from the activities involved is the tanker trade, because the tanker trade is so easy, you carry only one cargo, one Bill of Lading.
if you were operating a liner service, which requires you to carry thousands of containers and in each container you have more thousands of small goods; you have the administrative requirement to sort all of those things out and also be at the port promptly to the owners of the cargo. “There is really a lot that we could have done to harvest and to develop our shipping potentials, which can still be done.”
AfCFTA: South Africa seeks seamless intra-Africa trade (Peoples Gazette)
South Africa’s Business Council of the BRICS has called on African governments to ensure the seamless movement of goods and services across the continent to improve trade and investments. “To improve trade and investments in Africa, enabling easier mobility between business communities is important,” stated the council chairman, Busi Mabuza. She made the call at a business roundtable and dialogue session organised by the South African consulate general in Lagos and Brand South Africa.
Ms Mabuza said peculiar visa regimes of each African country should be reviewed to encourage Africans to travel across the continent unimpeded. She stressed that Africans must realise that trade could improve only when there were interactions.
Ms Mabuza identified lack of finance as the major challenge the organisation had been confronted with. She noted that trade between South Africa and other member nations of the BRICS had almost doubled over the past five years. Ms Mabuza assured South Africa would explore trade opportunities in agriculture, tourism and aviation.
“The components of trade are not in our favour yet because we still export raw materials, but we want to improve on value addition so as to close the trade gap in the next 10 years,” she said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents significant opportunities for South Africa and Nigeria, according to Evelyn Ngige, the Nigerian Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade, and Investment. Ngige’s remarks came during her visit to South Africa, where the West African nation seeks to enhance trade relations with its southern counterpart. The Nigerian High Commission hosted the meeting to foster partnership between the two continental giants.
With a focus on strengthening trade ties, South Africa and Nigeria, recognised as the two largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa, are placing their hopes on the AfCFTA to rejuvenate their economies. Ngige emphasised the numerous benefits of AfCFTA, including increased intra-Africa trade, skills transfer, cross-border expansion, socio-economic development, comprehensive border management approaches, and the boost to trade and tourism in both countries and the wider continent.
Lekki deep sea port promotes AFCFTA gains, but local communities seek environmental protection (Premium Times Nigeria)
The Lekki Deep Sea Port seeks to position Nigeria for the big gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), competitive transhipment, and status upgrade as the maritime hub of West Africa, but neighbouring local communities also want a share of this prosperity and protection against adverse sustainability and human rights issues.
The Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited was the Special Purpose Vehicle awarded the concession to develop the deep sea port in 2011, according to Dinesh Rathi, the MD of Lagos Free Trade Zone. It took five years to get all required registration permits and documentation before the commencement of the 27 months of construction and completion of phase 1 of the Lekki Deep Sea Port, located 65km east of the Lagos Free Trade Zone.
Prior to the operationalisation of the port, which recently acquired the status of a transhipment hub, the African continent lacked a regional trading hub aside from South Africa, which may be described as the trading hub for Southern Africa. The emergence of the deep seaport in Nigeria positions it on the path to acquiring the status of West Africa’s trading hub.
Before its operation, significant revenue had been lost due to bottlenecks in Nigeria’s maritime sector as neighbouring countries had become the preferred berthing and transhipment points. As a result, landlocked nations like Chad and the Republic of Niger, which previously used Nigeria’s ports as transit hubs for their shipments, switched to neighbouring Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon.
With an estimated return on investment of 230 times the cost of the project, the creation of about 170,000 jobs when in full operation, and revenue to federal and state agencies of $201 billion, the country will be more competitive under the AFCFTA, but neighbouring communities around the deep seaport do not want to be left out of these gains and protection against sustainability issues and human rights issues.
PM points path for TZ to exploit AfCFTA opportunities (Tanzania Daily News)
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has issued several directives to improve the business environment and encourage traders to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to expand their businesses.
He said the government continues to address various challenges aimed at improving the environment of doing business in the country, by reviewing several laws, policies and regulations.
He added, “For those who have products that meet the standards and criteria are encouraged to start registering through the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade in order to benefit from this market. It is important to make a sincere effort to reach these markets”.
African Integration Day 2023 (African Union)
The African Union led by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism, Trade, Industry, Mining (ETTIM) will commemorate the African Integration Day 2023 under the theme ”Accelerating Job Creation, Digital and Financial Inclusion in the AfCFTA market”
A historic milestone for regional integration in Africa was recorded on 1 January 2021 with the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The remarkable speed of negotiations, signature, ratifications and entry into force of the AfCFTA Agreement took place between June 2015 and May 2019 and is unprecedented in the treaty making history of the African Union just behind the Constitutive Act of the Union. Despite the adoption and implementation of the AfCFTA, the results in attaining the objectives of the Abuja Treaty remain rather mixed with the RECs at different stages of implementation of the Treaty. In addition, more effort is needed to make the ordinary African Citizens understand and own the regional integration process.
The overall objective of the commemoration is to deliberate on how to use integration including the AfCFTA as a tool for the continent’s economic recovery due to the multiple crises and shocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine crisis and its impact on the global economy as well as the challenges due to climate change inter alia. The African continent faces a more immediate threat, and this is due to the rising unemployment, especially for the 18 million youth that enter the job market every year who are unable to find jobs. It is therefore imperative for the AfCFTA implementation to specifically focus on the creation of jobs in order to drive shared prosperity across the continent.
There is a growing community of businesses, women and youth led that are keen to participate in the AfCFTA process. The Guided Trade Initiative has demonstrated that Africans are ready to trade under the AfCFTA rules and they need more support to be able to do so in large numbers. This is why enabling tools and mechanisms are critical to the acceleration of intra-African trade, which is why it is necessary to become concrete and provide specific tools that can be used to participate meaningfully in the AfCFTA.
The AUC, OECD and the AeTrade Group will also officially unveil products and services under the Smart Finance and Digital Banking Initiative endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2022. This commemoration will provide a platform that ensure broad participation of all actors at the national, regional and continental levels, including Member States, RECs, the African Diaspora, Development Partners, Academia, Private Sector, Civil Society, Women and Youth to put a spotlight on the AU Theme of the Year on accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA.
The urgency to revive the timber industry in Africa amid growing local demand and competition from imports was reinforced by policymakers, forestry experts and industry leaders attending a continental forum held Wednesday in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. The status of the timber industry in Africa was one of the key themes discussed by more than 70 delegates from 26 African countries attending a week-long conference ending Friday.
Home to 16 percent of the world’s forests, translating into more than 636,000 million hectares, Africa has the potential to become a global leader in wood processing to help meet the growing demand for furniture, pulp, paper and construction materials, said the experts attending the forum organized by Nairobi-based African Forest Forum (AFF).
Suzana Augustino, a Tanzanian forestry and climate change expert, stressed that Africa’s timber industry can regain the vitality of yesteryears, subject to policy reforms and investments in new sawmilling technologies. Augustino said that strengthening institutional capacity, empowering artisanal saw millers and investing in value addition will boost the competitiveness of Africa’s timber in the international market.
Southern African Development Committee (SADC) urgently needs to enter the data agricultural revolution, Parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda has said.
Addressing delegates at the 53rd SADC Parliamentary Forum Assembly in Tanzania, Mudenda said even though the region was boasting 60% of arable land, its agricultural sector had remained poor, lacking new modern mechanization techniques.
“Despite the continent boasting of 60% of arable land, its agricultural sector remains dwarfed. Why? Our agricultural sector lacks modernization and mechanization in Africa in general and in the SADC region in particular. “It is imperative, therefore, that the SADC region speedily embraces the smart agriculture ecosystem. The region should urgently enter the data agricultural revolution,” he said.
The forum assembly was running under the theme, Modernising Agriculture to address Food Insecurity and Youth Unemployment in the SADC Region: The Role of Parliaments. Mudenda told delegates that SADC needed this technological shift more than ever. “These smart agricultural technologies would ensure that the small holder farmers who comprise 60% of the farming population access them.
Africa aviation set for major transformation (The Chronicle)
Africa’s commercial aviation is set for major transformation after the African Development Bank (AfDB) held discussion workshops with aircraft manufacturers — Airbus and ATR — to explore ways of strengthening access to finance for African airlines. The Pan African bank is studying the feasibility of setting up an aircraft leasing platform. Operating leases account for more than 45 percent of operational fleets worldwide.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a negative blow on the continent’s air travel. Before its onset, African aviation represented a roughly three percent share of the global market, although the continent has 17 percent of the world’s population, said the bank. However, Africa’s economies are expected to rebound to growth from the pandemic.
AfDB said owing to a difficult operating environment that includes constrained access to credit, only a few African airlines are profitable.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana says tax administration tools are imperative to countering illicit financial flows and ensuring that governments can continue to collect revenue and serve society. He was addressing the 13th Africa Initiative Meeting held by Tax Transparency in Cape Town on Thursday.
The Minister highlighted that in Africa, illicit financial flows are costing governments between €48 billion and €77 billion – valuable resources needed for functioning governments.
The Minister reflected on the efficiency of international tax standards and how these have become an “effective tool” in curbing tax evasion and other illicit financial flows. “During the past eight years, the Africa Initiative has changed the tax transparency landscape in Africa, enabling the mobilisation of more than €310 million in domestic resources. However, continuous action is needed to ensure a long-lasting positive impact.
While many African countries heavily depend on oil and gas exports, the continent experiences the harshest impacts of climate change despite contributing only 3% of global CO2 emissions.
The need for decarbonization is evident, with South Africa leading the way after securing $8 billion in loans for its energy transition at COP26. However, power cuts have posed challenges to the country’s industrialized economy.
According to NJ Ayuk JD, Director General of the African Chamber of Energies, an effective energy transition requires considering natural gas. African voices must be heard in climate conferences, and African leaders must take action to change the situation. The African Energy Chamber aims to play a pivotal role in fostering an African energy pact.
‘Solar is the oil of 21st century’ (The East African)
Solar is the “oil of the 21st century,” and the most powerful economies will be those that have the cheapest energy, says renowned African banker and entrepreneur Tidjane Thiam. “If we don’t participate in that (solar) revolution, America is going to have the cheapest and the cleanest energy in the world.
He was speaking at the 2023 shareholders AGM of the African infrastructure lender Africa50 in Lome, Togo, on July 3. He compared the energy revolution with the internet one, noting that production has become decentralised and hence more accessible and much cheaper.
Dr Ajay Mathur, director-general of International Solar Alliance (ISA)
noted that Africa has the best solar potential in the world, with a practical potential of 4.5 kilowatt-hour peak per day, making solar a viable alternative to meet the continent’s power needs. But they noted that investment in the sector is still negligible.
“Last year, even though globally $250 billion was invested in solar, only two percent of it came to Africa. Why? While the risk premium on Africa was relatively high, this is quite at variance with the reality: the default rates are less than two percent!”
The African Development Bank and KfW, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), on 5 July announced the replenishment of the NEPAD – Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Special Fund, which aims to boost regional infrastructure in Africa. The German Government will provide €10 million to replenish the Special Fund.
Germany’s support will bolster NEPAD-IPPF’s efforts towards priority areas such as green, climate-smart infrastructure and a stronger focus on the second Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa for the period 2021-2030 (PIDA-PAP 2). It will also support Africa’s transformation under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area by boosting intra- and extra-African trade.
“The partnership aims to support infrastructure development with a focus on areas such as climate change, gender, Agenda 2063, and a stronger focus on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals,” said KfW Director, Christoph Tiskens.
“As economies in Africa navigate new challenges in the face of overlapping global crises, the support of partners such as Germany will enable the African Development Bank to deliver on its important development mission,” AfDB Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Hassatou N’Sele noted. “With the replenishment of NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, we are determined to further support our clients while helping them realize their economic potential through increased infrastructure investments, contributing to green growth, inclusion, and job creation,” she said.
Prominent African and global institutional investors have signed on to the new $500 million Africa50 Infrastructure Acceleration Fund - a move described as an unprecedented milestone for Africa. The fund is the first private vehicle infrastructure platform launched by Africa50.
The fund will catalyse further investment flows to the development of critical infrastructure across the African continent, including energy, transportation, telecommunications, and water, among other areas.
Speaking at the signing event, African Development Bank president, and chair of the Africa50 board, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said: “This is impressive and a first for Africa. It is remarkable and unprecedented to have 17 African institutions participating in such a transforming initiative to invest in an African infrastructure fund. With the Fund, we are positioning the Africa50 Group to play a lead role in helping to tap into the more than $98 trillion of global assets under management.”
UN 2023 Global Survey: The rise of digital trade facilitation (Trade Finance Global)
Persisting ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating geopolitical uncertainties, and soaring inflation continue to plague international commerce. Yet, in the face of these worldwide disruptions, nations are making significant strides towards a streamlined, efficient trade environment through the simplification and digitalisation of international trade protocols.
The latest report by the United Nations, the Fifth Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, provides insightful data from 161 countries. It indicates that the implementation rate of both general and digital trade facilitation measures has increased by over six percentage points from 2021 to 2023, with the global average now standing at a promising 68.7%.
The WTO issued today (6 July) the 2023 edition of “World Tariff Profiles”, an annual publication providing comprehensive information on tariffs imposed on imports by over 170 countries and customs territories. The report — jointly prepared with the International Trade Centre and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) — also provides data on non-tariff measures, such as anti-dumping actions, countervailing duties and safeguard measures.
The United Nations called Wednesday for massive investment in clean energy in developing countries, saying there was otherwise little hope of achieving any climate goals by 2030. Developing countries need renewable energy investments of about $1.7 trillion annually but attracted foreign direct investment in clean energy worth only $544 billion in 2022, the UN’s trade and development agency UNCTAD said. “We cannot fulfill the world’s energy needs and safeguard our planet and our future without massive private sector investment in renewables in developing countries,” said UN chief Antonio Guterres.
“We are at least a decade late in our efforts to combat global warming. Investment in renewable energy in developing countries is therefore essential and often the most economical way to bridge the energy gap. “But while the transition to renewable energy is a global priority, investments in energy infrastructure and efficiency still fall far short of what is needed.” International investment in renewable energy has nearly tripled since the Paris climate accord was struck in 2015, UNCTAD noted in its annual World Investment Report.
Global agricultural and food production are projected to continue to increase over the next ten years, but at a slower pace of growth than the previous decade due to demographic trends, according to a report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032 is the key global reference for medium-term prospects for agricultural commodity markets. While uncertainty has risen due to geopolitical tensions, adverse climate trends, animal and plant diseases and increased price volatility for key agricultural inputs, global production of crops, livestock products and fish are projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent during the period, half the pace recorded in the decade ending in 2015.