tralac Daily News
A slice of opportunity: Benin joins China’s fruit export market (Ventures Africa)
The recent visit of Benin’s President Talon to China did not hit many international headlines. However, it was particularly interesting for Africans because during the visit he secured a new agreement granting permission to export the West African nation’s fresh pineapples to China. Alongside Kenyan, South African and Tanzanian avocados, Rwandan chilis, South African citrus fruits, and Tanzanian soybeans – Beninese pineapples are joining a rapidly growing list of fresh products that are finally allowed to be exported to the Chinese market.
Although this is a huge success on paper, there are many challenges to overcome if Benin is to really capitalise on this deal.
Tanzania buys gold in new move to bolster foreign reserves (The East African)
The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has started a large gold-buying initiative as part of a strategic drive to support the expansion of the mining industry and strengthen foreign exchange reserves. Under the initiative, BoT has already acquired and refined 418 kilogrammes of gold.
“As highlighted in the budget by the Minister for Finance Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, the government has allocated funds for the purchase of gold. This year, our target is to procure six tonnes of gold, both from small-scale, middle-scale, and large-scale miners,” he said. He also said BoT purchases gold to diversify the country’s foreign exchange reserve and reduce reliance on a single currency.
This diversification intends to safeguard Tanzania’s wealth against currency devaluation or economic stability caused by global shocks. “Now for the first time, we have both a gold and dollar reserve. Previously, we only had the US dollar as a foreign exchange reserve,” he added. During recent months, Tanzania just like other economies, has been adversely affected by a decision by America’s Federal Reserve to embark on aggressive rate hikes as a measure to fight domestic inflation in the US economy.
This has seen various central banks around the world embark on measures that have resulted in a reduction in the amount of dollars in circulation and a steep depreciation of their domestic currencies, resulting in a rise in the prices of imported goods and products, including petroleum.
“Due to poor local market prices against the ever-rising cost of inputs, coupled with devastating climatic conditions, we as smallholders are forced to invest with a lot of caution because many are times when we end up with losses,” said Kenneth Kurui, a smallholder wheat farmer in Narok County, who also works in Nairobi to supplement his wheat farming venture.
However, the recently released 2023 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) points out that there is still a window of hope for smallholder farmers like Kurui, but only if governments puts in place policies that are friendly to local agro-processing and also if the leaders embrace the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“Unless we put in place correct policies that will favour local manufacturing, we will continue talking about cocoa in Ghana and Chocolate from Switzerland,” said Mohammed Dewji, President of MeTL Group of Companies in Tanzania.
Beyond value addition, the AASR calls for lowering of trade costs through strengthening regional trade infrastructure such as transport networks, trade finance and telecommunications and eliminating non-tariff barriers. This, says the report, will facilitate access to cheaper inputs and allow small and medium entrepreneurs to participate in bits and parts of a production process that provides affordable food to African consumers.
A four-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for Central and Eastern Africa, jointly organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Burundi, opens on 26 September in Bujumbura, the Economic city of Burundi. This annual meeting will bring together ministers and high-level policymakers, international organizations, private sector actors, youth representatives, UN officials, academics and media practitioners, and will focus on the theme: “Establishing Central and East Africa as Sources of Quality Products and Investment Destinations of Choice, to Accelerate Industrialization and Economic Diversification, and to Strengthen Food Security”.
According to Mama Keita, ECA Director in Eastern Africa, the Bujumbura meeting will discuss food insecurity because climate change, high food prices, and supply chain disruptions cause hunger and malnutrition for millions in Central and East Africa . Mama Keita says that the meeting will look at the barriers to food security and the potential of digital food platforms, which can help producers, consumers, and traders exchange food products and information more easily and cheaply.
The ICSOE will propose policies, strategies and options for implementing a “quality culture” and promoting intra-African trade in order to increase the quantity and quality of production in the region so as to strengthen food security, promote economic diversification and attract more investment.
Nigerian gov’t advocates open, secure internet (Premium Times Nigeria)
The Nigerian government has subscribed to a free and secure internet for Africa, which is capable of bridging the digital divide and creating innovative opportunities within the continent. Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, who canvassed this position at the just-concluded Africa Internet Governance Forum at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, said the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is committed to engendering necessary collaborations and international dialogues to achieve these objectives.
The Minister, who addressed the forum virtually, said Nigeria, as the largest telecommunications market in Africa, is conscious of all the dynamics of emerging technologies around internet usage and would continue to work with countries in Africa on different fronts to ensure that the Internet is effectively governed so its innumerable resources can be leveraged for citizens and nation’s growth.
“The need for our consistent collaboration to develop our economy collectively is preeminent in the agenda of the current administration in Nigeria. It is through this kind of forum that we can bridge the digital divides, enhance cybersecurity, ensure digital rights and foster innovation. It is, therefore, our collective duty to ensure that the internet remains open, safe and beneficial for all,” Tijani told parliamentarians and other participants from Africa who attended the forum in Abuja.
This year’s edition of the AfIGF with the theme: “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation”, which took place at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, provided yet another veritable platform for African countries to discuss germane issues that will pave the way for the development of a more robust digital economy in the continent.
Unstoppable Africa 2023: Shaping a Future of Prosperity and Innovation (Global News Network Liberia)
Unstoppable Africa 2023 has concluded, leaving a profound mark on the African continent. The two-day Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) event aims to boost Africa’s standing in the global economy and establish the continent as the foremost destination for business, trade, and investment. This transformative gathering on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly has not only chartered the course for economic growth but has also solidified GABI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for change and progress.
On the second day of the event, Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Ventures, emphasized the importance of authentically portraying African narratives. She highlighted that the continent’s rich heritage has traditionally been expressed through its unique storytelling methods. Wanga stated, “In discussing Africa, it’s vital to engage in genuine dialogue. We’ve celebrated our heritage through our distinct method of storytelling, which the world is longing for now more than ever. As the overseer of Essence Ventures and other platforms, I am committed to ensuring our tales are told from a position of strength and authenticity.”
The event concluded with inspiring remarks from UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, highlighting the importance of collective action in realizing Africa’s potential and achieving sustainable development. She called for unity and support from the global community and the private sector. She closed by emphasizing that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in Africa’s story, one marked by sustainable economic growth, empowerment, and the realization of the continent’s full potential.
UNGA78: Tinubu commits to promoting ease of trade for SMEs in Africa (Daily Nigerian)
President Bola Tinubu has restated his administration’s commitment to promoting ease of trade for Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, across Africa. Mr Tinubu stated this during the Africa International Trade Exhibition, AITE 2023’s Business, Trade, and Investment Summit at the sideline of the 78th edition of the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, in New York, USA.
In his remarks, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, urged both foreign and local investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s huge population, traffic, and thriving aviation market, to invest in the sector.
“We want to have industries in Nigeria to process and manufacture our raw materials in the country to give job opportunities to our youths and women. “To continue allowing our raw materials to be exported and paid next to nothing for it will continue to keep our people in poverty. We want Nigeria to change the way they have been doing business. “We are confident that the outcomes of this gathering will have a lasting impact on the economic landscape, not only in Nigeria but also across the globe,” Ms Musa, who is the author of ‘The Audacity of an African Girl’ and President of the Arewa Development Support Initiative, ADSI, said.
The National Quality Council (NQC) has charged agricultural stakeholders in the cassava value chain to adhere strictly to global standards in their quest to benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The Chairman of NQC, Mr. Osita Aboloma, explained the need for Nigeria to take optimum advantage of the opportunity provided by the hosting of the implementation of the AfCFTA in view of the federal government’s recent declaration of a state of emergency on food security.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General, SON, Mr. Farouk Salim, enthused that SON played a pivotal role in ensuring quality, safety and competitiveness of Nigeria’s agricultural produce including cassava and its derivatives. Salim stated that his organisation provided a solid foundation for innovation, trade facilitation and consumer protection, while also enabling market access and enhancing the reputation of the nation’s products on the global stage.
He assured the gathering of SON’s commitment towards the conference, particularly in ensuring that requisite Nigerian Industrial Standards are made available for all derivatives of cassava for local consumption as well as export.
The recent catastrophic floods in Libya are a stark reminder of the extreme vulnerability of developing economy countries to the effects of an ever-changing climate. Many other countries on the African continent are just as vulnerable. Despite carrying the least responsibility for global warming, Africa is warming faster than the rest of the world.
I have just returned from the United Nations General Assembly in New York where climate change was a major focus of discussion. There is growing concern that the international community is falling significantly short on meeting the goals contained in the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.
Although developed economy countries promised to support developing economies as they transition to low-carbon, climate resilient societies, this support has not been forthcoming at the scale and with the urgency that is needed.
As African countries, we cannot be bystanders to our own development. We are putting the necessary measures in place to decarbonise our respective economies while pursuing sustainable development. The transformation of the energy landscape in Africa is a priority.
This needs to take place alongside increased investment in smart, digital and efficient green technologies in carbon-intensive sectors such as transportation, industry and electricity.
Securing Africa’s future beyond Agoa (Business Daily)
Simplifying trade procedures is pivotal to benefiting businesses and propelling economic growth by amplifying exports, job opportunities, and competitiveness. The African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) is a great example of a beneficial programme for the continent.
Agoa is a cornerstone in preferential trade that empowers sub-Saharan African nations to export numerous products to the US market without tariff impositions, providing a more stable avenue for development compared to traditional aid methods.
It has played a pivotal role in bolstering economic growth across African nations. Presently, almost 44 African countries benefit from Agoa’s preferences, invigorating essential sectors such as agriculture, textiles, and apparel. Notably, US apparel imports from Agoa beneficiaries have risen from $953 million in 2001 to $1.4 billion in 2021 according to the US ITC 2023 Report. This growth is primarily attributed to countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Lesotho.
As global players seek diversification beyond Asia, Africa has significant potential to capitalise on this trend.
In June 2023, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a comprehensive report assessing Agoa’s impact titled The African Growth and Opportunities Act; Limitations, Utilization, and Results’. It underscores the varying effects of preferential market access based on exporting countries and specific sectors.
Ukraine makes food offers to counter Russia in Africa (The East African)
Kenya and South Africa may play a major part in the establishment of a “grain hub” on the continent after the politics of Russia-Ukraine war took centre stage during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. At the core of the battle is US grain exports to Africa, which include 9,000 tonnes of wheat and 25,000 tonnes of maize. Ukrainian exports for the whole 2022/23 season stood at almost 49 million tonnes, exceeding the previous season’s level of 48.4 million tonnes.
For the second year in a row, the annual debate at the UN General Assembly is “darkened by the shadow of war, an illegal conquest brought without provocation by Russia” against Ukraine, he said, expressing strong support for Kyiv.
Caught in the war of words are African countries whose loyalty has been torn between the two superpowers, for food.
While Kenya had started as one of Africa’s most prominent supporters of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, South Africa has maintained a more neutral stance. Now, Kenya says it backs an African Union proposal to end the war peacefully.
“We are not waiting; we are continuing the Black Sea Grain Initiative and trying alternative routes. Several ships with grain have already successfully passed through these routes despite the difficult situation,” the President of Ukraine emphasised when he met Ramaphosa on the outskirts of the UNGA in New York.
The Committee on Agriculture Working Group reviewed on 21 September the report of the coordinator on food security, with the aim of advancing discussions on the food crisis and moving towards consensus on recommendations to be issued by November 2023. The meeting was chaired by Mr Kjetil Tysdal of Norway, the current coordinator of the food security work programme, who took over from Mr Marcel Vernooij of the Netherlands in July.
The coordinator’s report focused on four areas: access to international food markets; financing of food imports; agricultural and production resilience of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries (LDCs and NFIDCs); and horizontal issues. Several members expressed support for the report and its recommendations, highlighting its “balanced nature” and describing it as a strong foundation for reaching an agreement. Some other members considered that the report lacked sufficient emphasis on flexibilities for developing economies to address the immediate and short-term concerns arising from the food crisis.
At a meeting of the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender held on 22 September, the co-chairs reported on their joint work with the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs Group), the WTO Secretariat and the International Trade Centre to create a compendium of initiatives that promote financial inclusion of women entrepreneurs. The co-chairs, the MSMEs Group, and the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) will hold a workshop later this month.
The “Compendium of Financial Inclusion Initiatives” currently being prepared will identify financial measures initiated by governments, national and regional development banks, as well as international organizations, to support small-scale businesses run by women entrepreneurs, said Ambassador Simon Manley of the United Kingdom, co-chair of the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender. The objective is to “make this compendium available to all members, once finalised, as a policy tool and a model when developing financial inclusion schemes for female entrepreneurs,” he said.