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South Africa is looking forward to broadening existing bilateral trade with Vietnam, says Deputy President Paul Mashatile. ”As South Africa we’d like to increase our exports to Vietnam because we believe there is big potential for growth,” said the Deputy President on Friday. He was speaking at the President Guesthouse in Pretoria where he was hosting his Vietnamese counterpart, Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan on an Official Visit to South Africa.
“Vietnam is also interested in acquiring coal from South Africa and we’ll be able to provide that.” While bilateral relations have been characterised by “good progress”, the country’s second in charge is of the view that there is room for improvement in some areas. ”There will be areas, Vice President, where we will continue to ask for your support. But we want in particular to work with Vietnam on a number of peace initiatives that we’re engaged with.
The Kenyan government has announced that it is to remove deposit fees on containers carrying Ugandan goods at Mombasa port. Kenya Ports Authority has been charging $3,000 (about Shs11m) per container, which the Ugandan business community has always opposed, saying it increases import costs. The decision to scrap the fees was reached at in meeting between Ugandan and Kenyan authorities at Mombasa Port yesterday.
In a statement issued yesterday, Capt William K. Ruto Afni, the managing director of Kenya Ports Authority, said the scrapping of the fees will ease trade between the two countries. “Capt Afni said Uganda remains a key trade partner for Kenya as its exports and imports passing through Mombasa are increasing. Almost 50 percent of the costs incurred by most Ugandan traders go into handling port and transport expenses. If these costs were mitigated price levels would fall significantly,” the statement reads in part. According to the existing rules, importers face a $40 daily charge 15 days from the time their goods reach the country, besides the $3,000 deposit paid to the shipping line. If the trader fails to return the container on time, he or she forfeits the deposited amount.
Tanzania’s tourism industry bounces back with 37.2% increase in tourist arrivals (Business Insider Africa)
The recent data from the Bank of Tanzania reveals that tourism has staged an impressive recovery, contributing $2.99 billion to foreign exchange earnings in July 2023, compared to $1.95 billion in July 2022.
According to the Bank of Tanzania, this represents a 33% surge in service receipts, reaching $5.49 billion in July 2023, up from $4.12 billion in July 2022. The bank also noted that this resurgence in tourism and increased earnings from gold have played a pivotal role in boosting Tanzania’s service earnings to over $5 billion for the first time in its history.
In 2019, Tanzania’s tourism sector generated approximately $2.52 billion, but by December 2020, its earnings had dropped significantly to just $1 billion. Gold emerged as the country’s primary foreign exchange earner during this period, generating $2.958 billion in December 2020.
Rwanda signs nuclear power generation deal (The East African)
The Rwandan government has signed a nuclear energy generation deal with Canadian-German nuclear company, Dual Fluid, as the country takes a big step in exploring nuclear in expanding its energy sources needed to power its development.
The first outcome of the deal signed this week by the Rwanda Atomic Energy Board (Raeb), will be the construction of a demonstration Dual Fluid nuclear reactor in the country, to be operational by 2026.What will follow is testing of the Dual Fluid technology expected to be completed by 2028.The nuclear energy project is expected to contribute up to 300 MW to the grid, according to Raeb CEO Ndahayo Fidele.
“This deal is intended to expand Rwanda’s energy generation mix, Dual Fluid has patents to this technology, it will provide laboratory equipment and set it up, train our people in this technology and conduct tests.” “Next will be the construction of a plant to generate nuclear energy to be added to the grid,” said Ndahayo.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has confirmed that South Africa will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) summit in November. This is despite earlier threats that the summit could be moved from South Africa to another country after calls by US lawmakers to move the summit away from South Africa because of Pretoria’s alleged involvement in the supply of weapons to Russia.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and Ntshavheni met with senior officials in the US a few months ago to try and get the Agoa deal extended. They even met with Coons, and Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi met his US counterpart Jake Sullivan a few months ago to discuss this matter.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai was in constant contact with Patel over the renewal of the Agoa deal, which is due to expire in 2025. Patel wanted Agoa to be renewed by 2024. Ntshavheni confirmed that the Agoa summit will go ahead as planned in November in South Africa.
Kenya’s President William Ruto will address leading US technology companies and investors on Friday at the US-Kenya Business Roadshow in San Francisco organised by the American government’s Prosper Africa initiative. The roadshow - also co-organised by the US Embassy in Nairobi - highlights the business and investment potential in Kenya’s booming tech sector, a statement from the US Embassy in Kenya said. The event is part of a three-city US-Kenya Roadshow tour showcasing opportunities for companies exploring doing business and investing in Kenya, it said.
Kenya is one of the United States’ most important African trading partners, and it has benefited greatly from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a preferential trade policy that will expire in 2025. The East African country is hoping to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) deal with the US. The two countries began discussions over the deal in 2020, under then-President Donald Trump and then-President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. However, the administration of President Joe Biden has not pursued the FTA talks further, instead launched the US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) in July 2022.
The roadshow started in New York City with a focus on the apparel sector, then traveled to Chicago on September 13 to highlight agri-business, and will conclude this week in San Francisco. Each stop featured a mix of panel discussions, business matchmaking, and networking.
“Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs” – Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanist and father of African independence.
“This statement made over 60 years ago continues to ring true today. It underlines the position that despite attaining political independence, Africa’s emancipation was far from complete and the quest for economic independence still lies ahead. This quest continues and makes it imperative for us to work collectively to find African solutions to the challenges facing our continent,” said Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, when making a clarion call for Nigeria to lead the charge of African trade in her opening remarks at the High-Level Business Roadshow in Lagos, Nigeria.
Mrs. Awani noted that it also encourages the Nigerian Public and Private Sector to actively participate, take advantage of these opportunities to grow and expand their business, drive intra-African trade, and support economic integration under the AfCFTA. This trade fair is meant to bridge the gap on trade and market information.
“Afreximbank remains committed to contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth as evident in several flagship projects underway,” she reiterated. She emphasised that “Afreximbank intends to double its financing of intra-African trade to US$40 billion on a revolving basis by 2026, up from US$ 20 billion in 2021.”
The African Climate Summit (The Independent Uganda)
As Africa embarks on its industrialisation drive, supported by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the realities of climate change are becoming more visible and acutely felt across the world. The continent faces an industrialisation journey unlike any other – it must lift millions out of poverty whilst adapting to climate change. The pathways to industrialisation will also be influenced by the transmitted effects of policies enacted elsewhere to mitigate climate change.
As highlighted by the African Climate Summit (ACS) in Nairobi, there are major new economic opportunities for Africa in view of the green transition: it supplies many of the critical raw materials inputs into required technologies. On the other hand, there is a need for greater understanding of the transmitted effects coming from mitigation policies in end markets, which, when combined, may induce a ‘green squeeze’ unless African producers and exporters have greater capacity to adapt to changing norms and standards.
With regard to entering new value chains, demand for critical raw material inputs into new technologies is rapidly increasing. However, the extent to which the continent can benefit economically from this situation depends on how much of the value addition in creating the final green technology products physically takes place on the continent.
In a quest to address the infrastructure deficit faced by the ECOWAS region, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State during its 60th Summit held in December 2021 approved the ECOWAS Regional Infrastructure Master Plan. This masterplan contains 201 integrated regional projects (146 regional investment projects and 55 soft projects) covering the Energy, ICT, Transport and Water Sectors and is estimated at $131 billion.
Mindful of the huge capital outlay required for the implementation of the Masterplan, there is clearly an urgent need for a concerted regional effort to confront this challenge of sustainable infrastructure financing. To this end, the PPDU convened a Consultative Meeting on Regional Infrastructure Financing on 7-8 September 2023 in Accra, Ghana. The meeting brought together the key actors in infrastructure resource mobilization from ECOWAS Member States and Development Partners in order to discuss on modalities of facilitating access to infrastructure finance. The meeting also enabled Development Partners to apprise the key actors on innovative financing instruments such as Green Financing.
The meeting discussed on a number of thematic issues on regional infrastructure finance and made a number of recommendations. Key among these is the need to integrate climate change and sustainable development into infrastructure projects in order to benefit from green financing opportunities. Furthermore, there was a strong recommendation for Development Banks and Regional Partners to leverage their interventions in the region on the ECOWAS Regional Infrastructure Masterplan.
Rwanda to become hub for AI research in Africa (The New Times)
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to take the world by storm, Rwanda is set to host a global technology company that will conduct AI research and solutions for Africa. The London-based company, InstaDeep, will open its office in Kigali, said CEO Karim Beguir during an annual meeting of the African machine learning and artificial intelligence community with the mission to strengthen African AI, on September 8.
Rwanda is recognised as one of the first African nations to introduce a national AI policy. This policy focuses on six key areas: AI literacy, infrastructure, data strategy, AI adoption in both the public and private sectors and ethical implementation. “Rwanda is at the forefront of policy, with the recent example of hosting a top AI global conference—ICLR—for the first time in Africa. Having an office in Kigali makes it possible for us to give many more opportunities for African AI talent from all corners of the continent.”
Currently, InstaDeep is present in Tunis, London, Lagos, Dubai, Berlin, Cape Town, Paris, Boston, and San Francisco.
Africa’s payment revolution takes centre stage at Sibos 2023 (Trade Finance Global)
Over the past year, Africa has made notable strides in digitizing its payments landscape, culminating in South Africa’s recent entry into the global low-cost real-time payments network. “From the launch of PayShap and the rapid payments platform in South Africa’s modernization drive to the progress made by the Southern African Development Community’s Transactions Cleared on an Immediate Basis (TCIB) Payment Scheme, Africa continues its push for financial inclusion,” said Roshan Moonsamy, Interim CEO at BankservAfrica.
PayShap, a revolutionary digital payment platform based in South Africa, has played a pivotal role in reshaping the country’s financial landscape. With a steadfast commitment to modernization and accessibility, PayShap has rapidly gained ground, nearing an impressive milestone of one million transactions. This innovative platform has simplified financial transactions, offering a user-friendly experience that empowers both individuals and businesses to manage their finances seamlessly. Its real-time capabilities ensure swift and secure payments, marking a significant contribution to South Africa’s modernization journey and the drive for financial inclusivity.
The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Transactions Cleared on an Immediate Basis (TCIB) Payment Scheme represents a remarkable leap towards enhancing financial cooperation within the SADC region. This initiative is focused on clearing and settling transactions immediately, streamlining cross-border payments and curtailing associated costs.
BankservAfrica, in collaboration with Rand Merchant Bank, is set to host the African Pavilion at Sibos, scheduled between September 18th and 21st in Toronto, Canada.
Samia wants EAC matters prioritised (Tanzania Daily News)
Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday said that the recent changes in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation are aimed at enhancing efficiency in dealing with various matters related to the EAC integration process. The Head of State revealed that in Dar es Salaam after swearing in 24 judges of the High Court and Court of Appeal and other government officials.
The President said that she was previously advised to form a new Ministry of East African Cooperation so that issues relating to the regional bloc could be given priority but she could not do so because the decision would place more financial burden to the government. “I have decided to appoint the two executives who are experienced in international affairs. Thus they are in better position to deal with EAC issues.”
“The aim is to address the shortcomings that were noted when dealing with issues of East African Cooperation, especially on integration and participation in the debate of having single currency, as more countries want to be part of the regional bloc,” said President Samia.
The African Development Bank and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) have renewed a project partnership to support policy and regulatory reforms increasing access to financing for Africa’s women-led small and medium-sized enterprises, for a further four years.
The Bank’s Gender Equality Trust Fund will contribute over $4 million in grant funding to the project. The announcement came on 13 September during the 2023 AFI Global Policy Forum in Manila. AFI is a global policy leadership alliance owned and led by central banks and financial regulatory institutions with the common purpose of advancing financial inclusion around the world.
Under the new agreement, the African Development Bank and AFI will carry out new research in 13 additional African countries to identify opportunities for reform in policies and regulations that would have the greatest impact in addressing obstacles to accessing finance. The partners will work with policymakers, financial regulators, and other key stakeholders across the 20 target countries to design and implement these reforms.
The Bank’s flagship Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative will implement the project in conjunction with AFI. AFAWA works to close the finance gap for African women entrepreneurs.
Women and Youth form the biggest part of Africa’s population at about 75%. Yet, they face significant socio-economic barriers that constrain their ability to contribute meaningfully to their communities, countries, and continental development and jeopardizes their opportunity to fully unleash their potential to ensure the realization of an Africa that is people driven as per Agenda 2063’s Aspiration 6.
From 14-15 September 2023, a validation workshop on the development of the AUC Gender & Youth Mainstreaming Framework in aims to compile the active efforts being deployed and the policies being implemented separately under the respective thematic areas in regard to women and youth in a common, inclusive and comprehensive document that reflects both demographics, needs, constraints and characteristics.
Addressing the workshop, Ms. Prudence Ngwenya, Director, WGYD underscored that gender and youth mainstreaming represents a pivotal paradigm shift in our approach to societal progress and development. “At its core, this multifaceted concept recognizes that achieving sustainable and inclusive growth requires deliberate and comprehensive integration of gender and youth considerations into all aspects of policies, programs, and initiatives.”
She further adder that “Gender mainstreaming involves systematically analyzing and addressing the different needs, roles, and opportunities of individuals based on their gender identity, with the aim of rectifying existing disparities and fostering gender equity. Simultaneously, youth mainstreaming acknowledges the unique potential, perspectives, and challenges that young people bring to the table. It seeks to empower youth by actively involving them in decision-making processes and creating opportunities for their meaningful participation in various spheres of society. Together, these approaches drive social and economic progress by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity, ultimately shaping a future where all individuals, regardless of their age or gender, can fully contribute to and benefit from societal advancements,” said Ms. Prudence Ngwenya.
A meeting of African ministers in charge of transport and energy held from12-15 September on the theme, “Accelerating Infrastructure to Deliver on the AU Agenda 2063 Aspirations” has concluded with an action-oriented Zanzibar Declaration aimed at spurring the Continent’s transport and energy sectors. Convened under the auspices of the African Union’s Fourth Ordinary Specialized Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure and Energy
Speaking at the Ministerial segment of the meeting, Robert Lisinge, Acting Director of the Private Sector Development and Finance Division at the ECA called on member states to address the barriers limiting private sector investments in infrastructure and energy, urging them to facilitate investments by creating conducive policy and regulatory environments. “The requirements of continental infrastructure development and the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 far exceed current levels of public sector investment,” he said.
He stressed that over the next ten years, there is a need for concerted action to address energy transition and security issues, in order to open up opportunities for the transformation of the continent. He cited ECA’s analytical work on the AfCFTA, which demonstrates there are investment opportunities for infrastructure development in the area of transport and energy and added that digitization and artificial intelligence offer great opportunities for the efficient operation of infrastructure.
According to the Zanzibar Declaration, the Ministers adopted the AUC and ECA continental regulatory framework for crowding-in private sector investment in Africa’s electricity markets. This framework will be used as an instrument for fast-tracking private sector investment participation in Africa’s electricity markets. The Declaration also called on ECA and partners to develop a continental energy security policy framework as called for by the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council and an Energy Security Index and Dashboard to track advancements in achieving Africa’s energy security.
There are tentative signs of a bounce back in global trade, according to the CEO of shipping titan Maersk. “Barring any negative surprises, we would hope for a slow pickup as we get into 2024, a pickup that will not be a boom like what we have known in the past few years, but certainly ... a demand that is a bit more in line with what we see in terms of consumption, and not so much an inventory correction,” Vincent Clerc told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro this week. Consumers in the U.S. and Europe have been key drivers in this demand uptick, Clerc said, and those markets have continued to “surprise on the upside.”
In 2022, the shipping firm warned of weak demand as warehouses filled up with unwanted goods, with consumer confidence stuttering and supply chains congested. The upcoming pickup would be fueled by consumption, he said, rather than the “inventory correction” which has featured heavily during 2023. Emerging markets are proving resilient, despite the difficult economic climate, Clerc said, particularly in the cases of India, Latin America and Africa.
But the road to bolstering global trade and growth isn’t necessarily a smooth one, as highlighted by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in a recent interview with CNBC. “What we see today is very troubling,” Georgieva told CNBC’s Martin Soong on Sept. 10 on the sidelines of the Group of 20 nations leaders’ summit in New Delhi. “There is fragmentation in our world. For the first time global trade grows slower than the global economy, 2% trade, 3% global growth. If we want trade to become, again, an engine of growth, then we have to create corridors and opportunities,” she said, referencing a planned rail-to-sea economic corridor linking India with Middle Eastern and European countries.
Despite geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions, countries continue to improve the trading environment by simplifying and digitalizing trade processes. According to the UN’s fifth global survey on digital and sustainable trade facilitation, an average of 68.6% -- up by 6% since 2021 – of the general and digital trade facilitation measures outlined in the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been implemented by countries worldwide.
The survey analysed trade facilitation progress across 161 countries worldwide, as outlined in the “Digital and sustainable trade facilitation: Global report 2023” launched on 15 September. The survey shows that developed economies have implemented the most trade facilitation measures, leading the global pack with an overall rate of 85.3%.In comparison, 54 out of 90, or 60% of developing countries with a GDP per capita below $10,000 have achieved implementation rates of over 50%.
The average implementation rates for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states are similar, ranging between 53% and 61% -- significantly below the global average. This is in part due to persisting challenges related to weaker digital infrastructure and a lack of adequate legal framework to support cross-border data and documents exchanges.
The results reaffirm the need to step up technical assistance and capacity-building efforts to help these vulnerable economies bridge the existing implementation gap in trade facilitation.
Noting that the outlook for FDI in 2023 appears weak, Ambassador Boza emphasized the great potential of an IFD Agreement, which would be “the first of its kind to set global benchmarks for helping WTO members create an environment conducive to attracting investment.” WTO members participating in the talks on investment facilitation for development (IFD) announced on 6 July the conclusion of the negotiations on the text of the Agreement following three years of intense text-based negotiations amongst over 110 WTO members at all levels of development.
Insufficient progress towards climate goals is slowing down the global fight against poverty, hunger and deadly diseases, according to a report released on Thursday by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed that message, warning that record temperatures and extreme weather were “causing havoc” around the world. The global response has fallen “far short”, Mr. Guterres insisted, just as latest UN data indicates that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are only 15 per cent on track at the midway point of the 2030 Agenda.
According to WMO, current policies will lead to global warming of at least 2.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the course of this century – well above the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. This year’s northern hemisphere summer has been the hottest on record, prompting the UN chief last week to reiterate his call for a “surge in action”.
In his foreword to the report, Mr. Guterres underscored that weather, climate, and water-related sciences can “supercharge progress on the SDGs across the board”.
“Thriving businesses and flourishing economies are the critical engines that will power global efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty, and strengthen international peace and security”, said Ms. McCain. “Sadly, today the humanitarian sector is one of the world’s biggest growth industries,” the WFP chief said. “War, economic turmoil, and increasingly, climate change and environmental degradation - are driving millions of people into poverty and despair each year.” Recalling that nearly 783 million people live in deep food insecurity, and 47 million of them in 50 countries, are on the brink of famine - while 45 million children under five suffer from acute malnutrition – Ms. McCain was pessimistic about the humanitarian crises ahead.
Rather than resign herself to “powerlessness” the WFP chief called for greater use of the private sector, which has over 200 years helped reduce global poverty through the power of private enterprise. She said the time has come, in the face of the new realities and budget cuts, to “rethink how we engage and find new models” of partnership. The WFP chief said a new and more effective collaboration would be of benefit to all.
Halfway into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a lot of the progress made towards its food and agriculture-related targets has stagnated or reversed, compounding the challenges in eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health and nutrition, and combating climate change, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The report, entitled Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2023, was published today, just days before world leaders gather in New York to attend the UN’s SDG Summit to review the state of the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The main conclusions of the report are that while the world was already off track from meeting the SDGs even prior to 2020, the past few years have seen multiple shocks that have further stalled or even reversed progress across several targets. These include the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of armed conflicts around the world, high inflation, along with the escalating effects of the climate crisis.
The food and agriculture-related SDG indicators, of which FAO is among the UN agencies’ main custodian, are in a particularly critical state. The proportion of the world population facing chronic hunger in 2022 was about 9.2 percent, compared to 7.9 percent in 2015 (the latest FAO estimates put the global hunger figure for 2022 between 691 million and 783 million people). Investment in agriculture has stalled, there is no progress in conserving animal genetic resources, and forest area across the globe continues to shrink.
The Status of Women in Agrifood Systems (SWAFS) report, launched in April 2023, provides new evidence that demonstrates where gender gaps persist – costing sub-Saharan Africa USD 95 billion annually – and how they can be tackled. While the report brings forth alarming figures, it also highlights progress achieved, particularly in policymaking and women’s rights to land. It also contains clear calls to action that can be adopted by stakeholders in the private, public and international spheres – and those present at the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) 2023.
The message delivered by the SWAFS report is clear. To achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in agrifood systems, three main targets must be prioritized: investment in high-quality research and sex- and age-disaggregated data; interventions at scale using proven approaches which close asset and resource gaps such as gender-transformative approaches; and intentional interventions focused on women’s empowerment. Hitting the three targets above could increase global GDP by 1 percent (USD 1 trillion), provide food security for 45 million people, and increase the incomes of an additional 58 million people and the resilience of 235 million people.
UN marks halftime for the SDGs (UN News)