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South African community fish catch recording technology company Abalobi has been announced as one of the 15 finalists in the Earthshot Prize for its groundbreaking solution to repair and regenerate the planet. Solving the overfishing problem and restoring fish populations requires the support of local communities who depend on fishing for their livelihoods. Abalobi uses easy-to-scale technology and works with small fishing communities to record their catch data to ensure a fair and improved livelihood from sustainable fishing.
The UK's Prince William launched Earthshot in 2020 as an environmental prize to celebrate and champion the work of innovators focused on solving the world's most pressing global climate challenges. Abalobi, founded by Serge Raemaekers and Nico Waldeck as a non-profit partnership between fishers and scientists, aims to protect small-scale fishing communities and nurture their ocean stewardship, while arming their customers with better information about where their seafood comes from.
Kenya debt stock surpasses $69bn (The East African)
The stock of Kenya’s overall debt has crossed the Ksh10 trillion ($68 billion) mark on increased borrowing during President William Ruto’s first year in office, burdening the taxpayer with more repayment obligations.
New data from the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) place Kenya’s debt stock at Ksh10.189 trillion ($69.3 billion) at the end of June 2023 in contrast to Ksh8.579 trillion ($58.4 billion) in June last year. The debt stock is also already above the Ksh10.13 trillion ($69 billion) that had been projected for June 2024 — mirroring the faster-than-expected accumulation of public debt and borrowing.
The split of Kenya’s public debt stands in favour of external borrowing at Ksh5.452 trillion ($37.1 billion) against Ksh4.736 trillion ($32.2 billion) in the domestic account.
First avocado consignment gets to India (People Daily)
India has expressed readiness to review tariffs on Kenya avocado exports, High Commissioner to Kenya Namgya Khampa has said. The envoy they have received petitions from Kenya on the tariff on her avocado exports. “Kenya is one of our key trading partners in Africa and therefore we are ready to listen to the appeals for the sake of growing trading among the two countries,” she said.
Kenya’s avocado exports to India are currently charged 30 per cent duty as compared to zero-rated fresh produce from the other East African Community (EAC) states. Globally, Kenya is categorised as a developing nation while EAC partners are classified as Least Developing Nations (LDC) giving them an opportunity to access most of the international market segments duty free.
The Indian government last month approved Kenya’s request to export avocados after notifying the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a new move expected to boost Kenya’s plan to expand her share in the international market. The Avocado Society of Kenya (ASOK) chief executive Ernst Muthomi welcomed the Indian government’s decision to review the export tax, saying it will make fruits from Kenya more competitive in that market.
Morocco: Solar generators offer relief to earthquake-hit villages (ESI-Africa.com)
A sustainable energy company has donated a range of solar generators to earthquake-hit Morocco as rescue and recovery efforts continue in the North African country. Joy Wu, Head of LAMEA & APAC at EcoFlow, said: “These power solutions will play a crucial role in maintaining essential communications, lighting and the storage of food and medicine.”
COMESA Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General conducted their 26th meeting today in Lusaka, Zambia, with the rallying call for domestication of legal instruments that have been developed over the years by the regional bloc to advance the regional integration agenda. Key speakers at the meeting including the Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe appealed to the Ministers to help accelerate the domestication of the instruments, as this has been a challenge.
“As we deepen and widen the integration of the region, there will be need for the development of necessary community laws and policies by your assembly to support and validate the integration,” she said.
Zambia Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Stanley Kakubo, who was the chief guest emphasized the need to expedite the process of implementing statutory instruments and decisions that were agreed upon in previous meetings. “The slowed signing and ratification of legal instruments is unfortunately hampering efforts to advance the programme of integrating the COMESA region as this prevents Member States from unlocking benefits embedded in these legal instruments,” said the Minister.
Nigeria’s trade with the rest of Africa increased by 40.8 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) in the first half of 2023 (H1’23) to N1.839 trillion from N1.306 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2022 (H1’22). This represents a reversal in the declining trend of the nation’s intra-African trade over the same period since 2020, in terms of value.
Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that Nigeria’s intra-African trade in H1’21 amounted to N1.47 trillion out of total foreign trade of N21.79 trillion; and N1.67 trillion in H1’20 out of N14.55 trillion total foreign trade recorded within the period.
The NBS data on Nigeria’s external trade data with the rest of Africa also indicates that the intra-Africa trade is gaining more ground against total foreign trade recorded by the country in the past three years. Nigeria recorded N2.095 trillion trade with the rest of the African continent in H2’2022 out of a total foreign trade of N23.32 trillion within the period, representing 8.98 percent.
€10m project to address food security in Northern Ghana launched (Ghana Business News)
Government, European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have launched a €10 million project to support 50,000 vulnerable Ghanaians grappling with food security in some parts of the Northern Region of Ghana. The project is aimed at more economically sustainable and inclusive food systems, empowering communities to build resilient and profitable food production systems and reinforced environmental sustainability of food systems. It also aimed at enhancing social sustainability and gender responsiveness of food systems and improved governance and institutional sustainability of food systems.
The allocated funds will primarily focus on Planting for Food and Jobs, phase II (PFJ 2.0) target commodities. These efforts complement the Government initiatives to mitigate the adverse impacts of rising food, fertilizer, and fuel prices in vulnerable areas, to help alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
Seventy start-ups in Ghana are receiving support in digital innovations to enhance their opportunities to gain access to the African market. The opportunity provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area will give entrepreneurs access to 1.3 billion people across the continent. The European Union-funded AfriConEU initiative is empowering local entrepreneurs to tap into the market.
The AfriConEU project empowers digital innovation hubs to catalyse digital entrepreneurship across Africa. The Ghana Bootcamp of the initiative exposed young entrepreneurs to avenues in unlocking their economic potentials by leveraging the AfCFTA platform.
Acute deprivation is endemic in Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations. But West African sanctions aimed at forcing a return to democracy after a coup are making people’s lives worse. Food and medicines are scarce in the landlocked country, prices are skyrocketing and blackouts after regional powerhouse Nigeria cut its electricity supplies mean that factories are lying idle.
“Almost all prices have risen due to the sanctions,” shopkeeper Elhadj Ali tells his customers defensively at the bustling Dar-es-Salaam market in the capital Niamey. Regional bloc ECOWAS -- the Economic Community of West African States -- banned trade with Niger after rebel elite soldiers on July 26 overthrew Mohamed Bazoum, the democratically elected president.
Imported rice -- a national staple -- is way more expensive, with a 25-kilo bag now costing 14,500 CFA francs (about $25, 22 euros) against 11,500 CFA francs before the coup. “For the moment there are no shortages and the prevailing stocks will see us through till December,” said Chaibou Tchiombiano, general secretary of the main association of Nigerien exporters and importers. But he warned that reduced rice imports from China and Thailand could eventually lead to shortfalls.
Ghana is looking to supply Nigeria with its electricity needs following power grid shutdown (Business Insider Africa)
Mr. Hanson Monney, the Head of the Generation and Transmission Unit at the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy, emphasised that via effective policy development and implementation, Ghana has already attained an impressive 80% to 85% universal energy access inside its boundaries.
During his presentation in Lagos on the second day of the Nigeria Energy Leadership Summit, Money noted that Ghana has steadily been developing its power sector and may soon export electricity to Nigeria once the power system has been fully developed. “So, we are working on all these things to make sure that the power system of Ghana continues to be as good as it is or even better, and then, maybe, we can be exporting more to our big brothers in Nigeria when the grid is finally settled,” Mr. Hanson Monney said
In contrast, Ghana is aggressively pursuing various energy sources, including grid electricity, mini-grids, and solar-dominated renewable energy, to attain “Universal access to energy by 2024”, as instructed by the country’s President.
‘Streamlined trade, harmonised standards, others essential’ (The Guardian Nigeria)
A Fresh call has been made on the need for streamlined trade, harmonised standards and improved infrastructure in African agriculture to foster food security across the continent. President, Rest of Africa at AFEX, Sanne Steemers, who disclosed this, lamented that Africa lacks essential infrastructure for inter-continental trade, which is hindering the achievement of robust food security in the continent.
He noted that through the implementation of a more efficient agreement with African communities, the firm can promote sub-regional production networks and encourage cooperation initiatives, while promoting good agricultural practices throughout the continent. Currently, the intra-African trade stands at just 14.4 per cent of total African exports.
Steemers, who disclosed this during a session tagged: “The Real Cost of Food Security,” at the African Food System Forum 2023, said AFEX recently formed a partnership with Ghana Commodities Exchange, a move rooted in the belief that together, they can catalyse transformative change. “This partnership has been structured to facilitate cross-border knowledge exchange, foster synergistic research endeavours, and enable the seamless cross-listing of commodities, heralding a new era of progress and prosperity for Africa’s agricultural landscape.”
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Development Bank Group have concluded consultations for the mid-term assessment of the West Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper (RISP) 2020-2025.
The Bank Group approved the West Africa RISP 2020-2025 in May 2020 to support regional integration efforts in West Africa. With an initial indicative investment plan of $4.52 billion, the West African RISP focuses on improving resilient infrastructure and supporting the development of regional businesses.
The meetings took place from 5 to 15 September 2023 at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria. During the period, the two sides assessed the key midterm results alongside a performance review of the Bank’s regional portfolio.
The deployment of digital payments in emerging economies like Ghana continue to bring efficiency and improve transactions. For instance, Ghana’s mobile money market has been one of the fastest growing in Africa, and among the biggest with various firms providing the needed solutions to ease payments and enhance a cash lite agenda. One of such firms is eTranzact Ghana which is deploying rather pragmatic measures aimed at improving the digital payment space.
Chief Executive Officer of the firm, John Obeng Apea taking his turn on GhanaWeb TV’s BizTech shared how innovation continues to play a significant in Ghana’s payment space as well as the emergence of Artificial Intelligence in propelling the sector even further. He stressed that the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area presents a unique opportunity that will boost the digital payments ecosystem once the right trade barriers are eased with the needed reforms.
“I think the main role of government is to make the atmosphere conducive in terms of regulations and policies...taxes are good but overtaxing is also bad so we need to find an equilibrium to balance it out and make the digital payments space more conducive,” John Apea told Mawuli Ahorlumegah.
The Africa Internet Governance Forum (AIGF) has identified cybercrime as a big threat to Africa’s digital transformation strategy. This was one of the recommendations at the twelfth African Internet Governance Forum, with the theme ‘Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation’, which ended on 21 September 2023 in Abuja, Nigeria. The Forum also calls for an urgent need for governments across the continent to increase their investment in cyber security.
In a recommendation signed by all members, AIFG said “Cybercrime remains a potential threat to the implementation of AU 2063 agenda and AU’s digital transformation strategy. African Union and African government to ensure adequate investment to fight cybercrime activities, ensure international cooperation, and capacity building for lawmakers and enforcement actors, the judiciary and other necessary actors,” the AGIF said
The Forum noted that Africa’s digital workforce strategy is reactive and that urgent investment is required to bridge the digital divide and to develop the digital workforce that is needed for innovation.
The African Development Bank and Google on 20 September 2023 formalized cooperation aimed at advancing digital transformation in Africa. The parties signed a Letter of Intent during the Global Africa Business Initiative at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The agreement underscores a shared commitment to harness emerging technologies, extend and improve infrastructure, and refine talent and skills in the continent.
Both parties have a history of fostering digital evolution. Over the past decade, the African Development Bank has invested $1.9 billion in projects emphasizing the development of broadband infrastructure, conducive policy and regulatory environments, digital skills, and innovative technology startups.
“Our journey from a 2% telephony penetration in 1998 to today’s era of 4G, 5G, and AI signifies immense progress. With 70% of sub-Saharan Africans under 30, our focus is on catalyzing businesses to create jobs and offer innovative solutions,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
Google has been a longtime partner in Africa’s economic growth and digital transformation. In 2005 Google invested in a major submarine telecommunications cable - the Seacom cable. Since then, Google has been committed to digital transformation by supporting talent development, innovation, infrastructure, and regulatory advancements across the continent.
Digitalization is a transformative force as powerful as the advent of the printing press in the 15th century or electricity in the 19th. Yet some governments have been slow to harness the potential of digital technology to improve delivery of public services and strengthen public finance.
Emerging and developing countries have the most potential to leapfrog their development trajectory by adopting digital technologies. These countries lag considerably behind in internet connectivity, a key enabler for adopting and using digital technologies. Globally, about 2.7 billion people still need to be connected. Within countries, a digital divide persists across age and gender. Bridging this divide and benefiting from digitalization takes adequate digital infrastructure.
Our estimates show that $418 billion of investment in digital infrastructure is needed to connect unconnected households. The bulk of these investment needs are in emerging market and low-income developing economies, with the latter’s requirements estimated at 3.5 percent of GDP. Government support can be crucial in achieving universal connectivity by incentivizing or directly investing in building internet infrastructure, especially in regions where profitability remains challenging.
The African Development Bank President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has pledged his institution’s full support to the United Nations Secretary General’s Early Warning for All initiative and the Systematic Observations’ Financing Facility. The Bank is the implementing entity for the Facility in Africa.
Speaking yesterday at the United Nation’s Climate Ambition Summit session, Delivering Climate Justice: accelerating ambition and implementation on adaptation and early warning systems for all, Adesina said climate change was devastating Africa’s economies.
He pointed out that the continent accounted for just 3% of total emissions globally and was losing $7-$15 billion annually from climate change, an amount that is projected to rise to $50 billion in the next seven years.
The African Development Bank chief emphasised that despite its relatively minuscule level of total emissions globally, Africa receives a mere 3% of total global climate finance. He said the continent was facing a climate finance gap of $213 billion through 2030.
President William Ruto revisited the debate on the international financing model during the Global Africa Business Initiative forum in New York. In a discussion attended by African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina among other leaders, Ruto sustained his call to have reforms at the IMF and World Bank undertaken. Ruto, in his presentation, expressed optimism that the much-needed reforms that favour African nations will soon be realised as the matter was now a discussion among global leaders.
“They are listening. The conversation about IMF reforms was in murmurs a few years ago, today it is being talked by no less than the President of the United States,” Ruto said. He added: “They have come to the realization that it is no longer possible to run the system the way it has been run...so everybody is listening so what is remaining is the how and we are going to show them the how.”
Ruto has been vocal in calling for a total overhaul of the current financial institutions saying their conditionality is unfair to African countries. “We also insist quite firmly that international development financing must be more appropriate for the needs of our existential moment, in terms of accessibility, affordability, and adequacy,” Ruto said five months ago during the third Regional Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa.
Ruto added: “That is why we are insisting we must rethink the international financial system, we align it with reality. The model is not sustainable.”
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging market and developing economies are grappling with economic scarring, social tension, and reduced policy space. Policy actions are already urgently needed to boost growth in the near term and support the ongoing green transition. At the same time, high public debt and persistently high inflation have constrained policy space, posing difficult policy trade-offs.
This Staff Discussion Note focuses on emerging market and developing economies and proposes a framework for prioritization, packaging, and sequencing of macrostructural reforms to accelerate growth, alleviate policy trade-offs, and support the green transition. The note shows that prioritizing the removal of the most binding constraints on economic activity, bundling reforms (governance, business deregulation, and external sector reforms), and appropriate sequencing of other reforms (such as labor market and credit sector reforms) can help front-load reform gains.
In emerging market and developing economies with large initial structural gaps, the estimated output effects of such a major reform package are sizable—about 4 percent in two years and 8 percent in four years. Achieving higher growth and lower absolute carbon emissions over time requires a well-designed strategy that includes both macrostructural and green reforms.
Decarbonizing Urban Transport for Development (World Bank)
For many countries, especially the Small Island Developing States, the matter at hand represents an existential threat. ”This is not a speculation or over-exaggeration. It is real,” explained Mr. Francis, substantiating his words with data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UN body assessing the science related to climate change, estimates that under current conditions the global-mean sea level is likely to rise between eight and 29 centimetres by 2030, with equatorial regions suffering the most.
“Not only do we risk losing land, but also the rich cultural and historical heritage of these islands and regions that have helped to shape people’s identities,” alerted Mr. Francis the dignitaries, who gathered at the early morning event.
WTO members discussed electronic commerce and technology transfer on 21 September as part of the eighth dedicated discussion held this year under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.
Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, the facilitator of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce , welcomed the exchanges which took place at the meeting. These included experience-sharing by members and discussions on technical assistance aimed at helping developing members bring technology to the forefront of their economic development.
The meeting included a presentation by Egypt on an African Group communication regarding the role of transfer of technology in resilience building.
At a meeting of the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade on 21 September, WTO members and stakeholders discussed the first draft of a potential statement on plastics pollution to be issued at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024. The coordinators of the Dialogue welcomed positive feedback from participants, describing the revised draft as an important step closer to achieving “concrete, pragmatic, and effective” outcomes at MC13.
Ambassador Matthew Wilson from Barbados, Chair of the meeting, reiterated the challenging nature of the battle against plastics pollution. He pointed out that the world currently has 170 trillion plastic particles floating in the ocean, and by 2050, there will be more plastics than fish. In response, the WTO has taken action through the work of the Dialogue, as shown in the recent draft statement, he said.