Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Somalia’s Institutions get a Boost to Help Bring the Country Closer to Debt Relief (World Bank)

Somalia's efforts toward building strong institutions received a boost with a new $75 million grant, the second in a series of two grants that is helping the country make progress on its path to qualify for full and irrevocable debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

In a context of multiple and overlapping shocks related to frequent climatic hazards, as well as widespread fragility, the Somali government is implementing an ambitious reform program to build institutions, attract investments, and achieve inclusive economic growth and job creation, aligned with the ninth National Development Plan which outlines numerous priority areas for moving the country forward, several of which are supported by this Development Policy Financing (DPF).

To develop high-potential sectors for economic growth, Somalia has approved new laws that establish the institutional environment in key sectors such as fisheries and electricity. To mobilize much needed private capital to develop these sectors, a new investment and investor protection law was enacted. To increase access to finance, a digital identification law was approved, which can support better know-your-customer protocols, alongside a data protection law to provide safeguards on the use of personal data.

Strategic partnerships key to unlock EU’s market for agricultural produce (Tanzania Daily News)

When it comes to the economies of the East African Community (EAC), agriculture stands tall as the backbone. Not only does it contribute to food security, but it also fuels employment, industrial development, trade and investment. In a recent report by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics authority, it was revealed that in 2022, the EAC exported agri-food products worth a staggering 2.16 billion Euros (Sh330b) to the EU. This figure represented an impressive increase of 26.2 per cent from the previous year. Moreover, intra-EAC trade in agricultural products witnessed a remarkable 33 per cent growth from 2018 to 2022.

However, despite the significant strides made in value addition, a considerable proportion of agricultural products from the region are still exported in their raw form, due to a combination of demand and supply-side challenges. These statistics highlight the EAC’s untapped potential if supply side and market access obstacles are effectively addressed. The hurdles encompass access to market information, enhanced productivity throughout the value chain, compliance with international standards, improved post-harvest handling, logistics, branding, and more. 

Can AI address Africa’s agricultural trade deficit? (African Business)

A majority of African countries are losing billions of dollars of foreign exchange annually through food imports. In 2022, 38 countries had a negative trade balance in agricultural products, with Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco and Angola leading the ranking with more than $3bn lost over the year.

Set this against two important facts: that agriculture remains a main source of revenue for many households, contributing close to 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and employing more than 60% of its population; and that the continent has 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land.

The trade imbalance also weighs on countries’ fiscal health. When they cannot compensate through other exports – such as oil in the case of Nigeria, Angola, and Algeria – countries become extremely vulnerable to external shocks. Recent disruptions in the cereal value chain due to the Black Sea blockade resulting from the conflict in Ukraine are seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back for many leaders across the continent. These disruptions coincided, however, with a year marked by unprecedented development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Though AI has recently been the subject of much hype, it was being considered as a tool to help farmers improve their income two years ago. In 2021 Daphney-Stavroula Zois, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the State University of New York at Albany in the US, worked with the non-profit AGRI-WEB to help smallholder farmers in Ghana develop better prediction models for their crop yields using artificial intelligence. But “there are many other uses of AI,” she says.

“As I have already said, Russia can well fill in the gap left by the withdrawal of the Ukrainian grain from the global market, either by selling its grain or by transferring it for free to the neediest countries in Africa, especially considering that this year we once again expect to have a record-high harvest.

To be more specific, let me say that in the next three to four months, we will be ready to provide, free of charge, a supply of 25,000–50,000 tonnes of grain each to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic and Eritrea, delivered at no cost,” said President Putin.

Why SADC countries should protect women cross-border traders (Daily Maverick)

For decades informal cross-border trade has been a cornerstone of African economies. It is an occupation dominated by resilient and resourceful women.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the significant role informal cross-border trade plays in reducing poverty and food insecurity for millions of households that are excluded from formal employment opportunities. Yet women traders like Chenai continue to face a host of challenges, including gender-based violence, administrative harassment, corruption and excessive taxation.

This month marks two decades since the adoption of the Maputo Protocol, arguably the most progressive instrument on women’s rights in international law. Adopted by the African Union (AU) on 11 July 2003, the protocol seeks to guarantee the empowerment of women in southern Africa by upholding their rights to inheritance, economic and social welfare, education and training and equal protection before the law, among others. Despite some progress, many challenges persist in realising the rights enshrined in this treaty. 

Public finance management transformation needed in Africa (Engineering News)

African governments are unable to finance the $2.8-trillion needed for climate responses beyond the 10% of costs, or $250-billion, they have already committed as of 2022, owing to existing high levels of public debt.

However, public finance management transformation can help to correct these countries' fiscal trajectories, free up domestic capital for the climate agenda and create transparency and confidence around the management of fiscal funds that international funders will look for, management advisory and services company PwC Africa states in its 'Implementing Green Public Finance Management in Debt Distressed Countries' report.

The remaining $2.5-trillion is what the region needs to implement climate action commitments and achieve Nationally Determined Contributions. This figure is equal to the value of total gross domestic product during 2022 in sub-Saharan Africa, says PwC Ghana assurance, government and public services leader Hayfron Aboagye.

However, public finance management transformation can help to correct these countries' fiscal trajectories, free up domestic capital for the climate agenda and create transparency and confidence around the management of fiscal funds that international funders will look for, management advisory and services company PwC Africa states in its 'Implementing Green Public Finance Management in Debt Distressed Countries' report.

President Ramaphosa calls for shift to high value exports (SAnews)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has boldly declared Africa’s intention to prioritise the export of valuable finished products instead of raw materials from the continent’s minerals.  President Ramaphosa told his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, that Africa wants to export finished products, which will set Africa on a path to unlock unparalleled opportunities for the continent’s economies.  The President was speaking during a plenary session at the second Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation. The two-day summit kicked off on 27 July. 

“We no longer want to export ore, soil, dusts and rocks from the minerals of our continent. We want to export finished products that have value.  “There must be respect also for what we do as countries, and we must stop those countries that count their wealth and their assets in terms of minerals that reside in the African soil like they did in the past when they counted their wealth in the number of slaves that they owned, taken from the African continent.  “Respect and mutual benefit underpin what we as Africa do when we relate to other countries in the world,” the President said. 

“African countries should, as sovereign States, be able to pursue their own independent foreign policy approaches that are not beholden to any of the major global powers or blocs. 

Moscow Has Forgiven $23Billion Debts Owed By African Countries - Russian President, Putin (Sahara Reporters)

The Russian government has written off over $20 billion of debt historically owed by African nations, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

President Putin who announced the debts forgiveness at a plenary session of the Russia-Africa forum in St. Petersburg, also said that Moscow would allocate more funds to help with the development of the continent, according to RT report.   “The total amount of debt of the African countries written off by Russia amounts to $23 billion dollars with another $90 million to be allocated for the same purposes,” Putin stated, with reference to historical trade and finance links between Moscow and Africa.

Russia-Africa Agric trade grows despite Western sanctions (The Chronicle)

Speaking during a plenary session of the Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum at the Second Russia-Africa Summit here on Thursday, President Putin said his government, businesses and the public are interested in further deepening multifaceted trade, investment and humanitarian ties with the continent to promote stable growth and prosperity.

“Friends, the numbers speak for themselves: last year Russia’s trade with African countries in agricultural products increased by 10 percent to $6.7 billion, and has already demonstrated record growth in January-June of this year by increasing by 60 percent. Russia exported 11.5 million tonnes of grain to Africa in 2022, and almost 10 million tonnes in the first six months of 2023. All this has been taking place despite the illegal sanctions imposed on our exports, which constitute a serious impediment for exporting Russian food, complicating transport, logistics, insurance and bank transactions.”

Singapore woos Africa for mutual benefits (BusinessGhana)

A Director at Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), Rahul Ghosh, has called for a strong collaboration between Singapore and Africa to establish global firms for mutual benefits.

The collaboration should precede the creation of a robust environment that will thrive on strong commitment to accelerate economic growth but resilient enough to birth international firms to serve both markets, Mr Ghosh who is in-charge of Middle East and Africa, said at a virtual media briefing on July 20.

He was speaking ahead of the seventh Africa Singapore Business Forum (ASBF) scheduled between August 29 and 31, 2023 at Singapore. On the theme “Driving Africa’s growth through digitalisation, manufacturing and sustainability,” the forum seeks to bring together more than 500 business and government leaders on a single platform to interact and propel solutions for mutual benefit.

Mr Rahul Ghosh stated that Africa was a very important market that should not to be ignored. He said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has created the largest free trade area in the world with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) value of $3 trillion. He explained that Singapore companies were drawn by its potential and were eager to explore new opportunities for collaboration in areas such as manufacturing and digital solutions. According to him, Singapore companies can also share knowledge and innovative solutions with Africa, contributing to the continent’s development and creating mutually beneficial partnerships.

He added that companies in Africa should use Singapore as the gateway to reach consumers in Asia.

E-commerce co-convenors to issue updated negotiating text (WTO)

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Hung Seng Tan of Singapore, co-convenor of the initiative and chair of the 2023 plenary meetings, said: “We need to exercise greater flexibility and we need to really put our shoulders to the plough and push together as we head towards the finishing line.”

In closing the meeting, he said that the co-convenors will take time to reflect over the summer and take stock of progress made so far. He added: “We will develop a roadmap for us to double down our efforts from September to November.” He also announced that a text on “single windows” — the practice of establishing a single entry point for the exchange of information between trader and government — has been “parked”, meaning the technical work on this topic has been finalized.

Developing countries cannot preserve biodiversity without support from developed counterparts (Engineering News)

In an address to delegates of the G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Ministers Meeting, in India, on July 28, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said ambitious targets to preserve the planet were meaningless unless they are backed with enabling means of implementation for developing countries.

Creecy added that 17 of the major biodiverse countries in the world are developing countries. She emphasised further that developed countries need to assist with securing at-scale, predictable and appropriate funding streams for developing countries’ efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity. Particularly, she said, the G20 countries can work together to protect biological diversity.

In South Africa’s case, mega-diversity is both a natural and cultural asset, as well as a source of socioeconomic development through the use of plants, marine living organisms and wildlife, which the South African government has vowed to protect in the White Paper on the Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity.

DRC mobilising stakeholders for COP28 (CAJ News Africa)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is encouraging local companies to capitalise on the potential of green business models and create opportunities from the carbon credit prospects. Sama Lukonde, Head of Government and Prime Minister of the DRC, made the call at the recent Economic Forum on the New Climate Economy.

“The DRC’s solution to the global climate threat must first be locally beneficial before it can be considered on a planetary scale,” Lukonde said. “Our climate action must therefore respond to internal and external challenges to sustainable economic development because solidarity between nations must consider the principle of responsibility towards our respective populations and the requirements of community development.” In addition, the just-concluded forum offered a unique opportunity to identify and select the Congolese companies that will accompany President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi to the upcoming COP28 in Dubai.

“The energy and digital transitions are two major transformations underway,” said Patricia Katshabala, Head of External Relations at Vodacom Congo.


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