Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA agriculture grows sector at international show (Freight News)

South Africa is participating in the sixth International Exhibition of Agriculture and Animal Resources being held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Known as the Salon International de l’agriculture et des Resources Animales (Sara), the bi-annual event brings together the agricultural expertise of Ivory Coast, the sub-region and the world. Sara aims to promote agriculture products, livestock farming, fishing, forestry, and the agro-food industry to an international audience.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Deputy Minister, Mcebisi Skwatsha, is attending the event, which opened on Friday last week and will run until next Sunday. The minister’s department said the event was a pragmatic implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area through inter-regional and inter-country value chain development.

Govt has N$53 billion import cover (The Namibian)

Namibia, a net importer of basic commodities, has international reserves of N$53 billion, which is equivalent to an import cover of 5,1 months. This is mainly due to foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from the disposal of equity by resident enterprises in the manufacturing sector, capital inflows from African Development Bank (AfDB) and KfW loans, as well as net foreign currency placement by commercial banks.

According to a statement issued by Bank of Namibia (BoN) spokesperson Kazembire Zemburuka, the country recorded a notable reduction in the current account deficit during the second quarter of 2023, primarily driven by improvements in both the secondary income and the merchandise trade balance.

“The current account deficit shrank to 4,4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from 11,6% registered in the corresponding quarter of 2022. “This positive development was mainly attributed to a stronger merchandise trade balance, supported by increased receipts from the secondary income account, driven by a substantial rise in Southern African Customs Union receipts and reduced outflows in the services account,” Zemburuka said.

IMF Staff Completes 2023 Article IV Mission to Namibia (IMF)

“On the back of sustained mining growth and recovery in tourism, real GDP growth reached 4.6 percent in 2022 and economic activity is expected to surpass the pre-pandemic level in 2023 with a growth of 3.2 percent. Nevertheless, unemployment remains elevated at 21 percent, and is particularly acute among the youth. For 2024 and the medium-term, growth path is expected to stabilize at just below 3 percent.

“The current account deficit widened in 2022 as the spike in fuel prices inflated the import bill. In 2023, the current account is expected to narrow reflecting the easing of fuel prices relative to 2022 and the recovery in the SACU revenues. International reserves are expected to increase moderately with external financing needs largely covered by foreign direct investment in mining and the ongoing oil and gas exploration.

“Going forward, implementing the authorities’ fiscal consolidation strategy is pivotal to preserve debt sustainability and protect against the volatility of SACU revenues, which represent a significant contribution to the budget.

Kenya, Uganda tighten controls of mining sector (The East African)

Kenya is following in the footsteps of Uganda in enacting legislation to reform its nascent mining industry to improve the state’s control and oversight of the critical industry. Uganda passed its Mining and Minerals Act in October last year and Kenyan lawmakers are considering changes to the Mining Act of 2016.

The Mining (Amendment) Bill that was tabled in parliament this September proposes establishment of a Mining Regulatory Authority to replace the current Mining Rights Board, and a Mining Rights Tribunal to deal with disputes resolution. The Mining Regulatory Authority – as opposed to its predecessor whose role was limited to advisory – will control the “exploration, extraction, production, processing, refining, transportation, storage exportation, importation and sale of minerals.”

According to the National Assembly’s Environment, Forestry, and Mining committee, the amendment will help improve efficiency in overseeing the mining industry by separating the functions of policy formulation from administration and dispute resolution.

Gov’t moves to build local expertise on critical minerals (The Business & Financial Times)

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Mines, George Mireku Duker, has instructed two agencies under the ministry to collaborate with the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) to design educational programmes related to extraction, processing and governance of critical minerals.

The two agencies – the Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) and Minerals Commission (MinCom) – are to immediately work with UMaT on this to develop the framework for redesigning and strengthening the existing curricula. To this end, Mr. Mireku Duker specifically also asked that MIIF and MinCom take deliberate steps to provide scholarships to technical staff and some students for the study. The intention, he added, is to build regulatory capacity and local graduates to match the sophisticated interests of companies that will exploit these minerals in the future.

“We shouldn’t start mining lithium then a company goes to hire a metallurgist from country ‘A’ with the excuse of Ghana not having qualified personnel,” he said. The Deputy Minister, who was speaking at a stakeholder forum organised by MIIF in Accra, added that there is more to be done. The latest directive reflects concerns to address the growing importance of critical minerals in the context of energy transition, with an emphasis on education and collaboration between government entities and educational institutions to enhance expertise and ensure responsible resource management.

The critical minerals that the country continues to make discoveries of are likely to include those used in renewable energy technologies, such as lithium, bauxite and iron among others.

UN tips Kenya on jobs in solar power industry (The East African)

A bigger investment in skills development in solar market technology could help create jobs in countries such as Kenya through partnerships with foreign companies that control the industry, a United Nations agency has suggested. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has asked authorities to develop skills that will enable the youth to get jobs and increase participation of domestic companies in solar panel supply chains.

“Growth in the solar panel market provides a vast opportunity for the economy through private sector development and job creation. However, much of the market is held by internationally owned companies,” UNCTAD said in a new report. ”Most domestic companies operate in services, offering project-development services, consultancy, and after-sales services.”

Small traders took highest share of IFC’s Sh110bn funding to Kenya (The Star)

Small traders received the lion’s share of $754.8 million (Sh110 billion) disbursed to Kenya by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a year to June 30. This was through onward lending arrangements between the World Bank’s investment arm to ease credit to the sector perceived risky by commercial lenders.

IFC’s vice president for Africa Sergio Pimenta who has been in the country since last week told this writer that the corporation will continue to focus on sectors funded in the last financial year with more emphasis on climate financing.

“IFC provided record financing in Africa in fiscal year 2023, helping to accelerate the continent’s energy transition, develop greener manufacturing and increase intra-Africa trade,’’ Pimenta said. He added that the lender is keen to continue strengthening smaller businesses and boost local food production, including in more challenging fragile and conflict-affected regions.

Tanzania mulls Plan B for its SGR project as Turkish firm derailed (The East African)

Finance ministers from Tanzania and Zanzibar have embarked on fundraising for the standard gauge railway (SGR) project in the wake of the main contractor, Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, showing signs of financial distress. This has raised concerns of further delays on the first three phases of the 2,100-km railway seen as crucial to place Tanzania in position as a key trade corridor for East and Central Africa.

Tanzania’s Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba was on a European tour over the past fortnight, during which he held talks with officials in several countries regarding their possible involvement in the SGR project, whose estimated total cost upon completion is $10.4 billion. Zanzibar Finance Minister Saada Mkuya managed to canvass a similar commitment from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is willing to provide over $3 billion for the project.

Nigeria’s economic survival depends on non-oil sector – NEPC (Businessday NG)

With the ever-increasing challenges bedeviling oil production and distribution across the globe, Ezra Yakusak, chief executive officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council of (NEPC, has said that Nigeria’s survival depended on non-oil sector of the economy. Yakusak made the observation Thursday in Aba, Abia State, at one-day capacity building workshop on ‘Accessing International Market, through Export Trade Houses’ organised by Abia State coordinating office of the Council.

Using the automobile and energy sectors for example, the NEPC’s chief executive officer noted that the world was gradually moving away from oil, as there is now electric cars in the automobile sector, solar power in the energy sector, among others, an indication that revenue from oil will no longer sustain any nation in the nearest future. Amaechi Okechukwu, head, Product and Market, Abia State coordinating office of NEPC, avowed that with the takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, was positioned to lead in the advocacy for increased intra-African trade.

Okechukwu, while presenting a paper titled ‘Understanding the concept of Export Trade House,’ affirmed that a Trade House was a veritable platform to increase the visibility of made-in-Nigeria products, boost export and increase forex inflow into the Nigerian economy.

Kenya joins pan-African platform that allows payments in local currencies (ZAWYA)

Kenya has joined the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS), allowing companies in the East African nation to transact with counterparts in other countries on the continent using their local currencies. The Central Bank of Kenya signed the agreement that a cabinet minister said will be a big boost for African free trade as it will lower foreign exchange expenses associated with needing to use the US dollar or euros to make transactions.

“The Central Bank of Kenya has signed the instruments that have finally seen Kenya join the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS),” Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said on messaging service X, formerly known as Twitter. “This means that Kenyan companies can trade with their peers from other African Member States using our local Currencies, a major boost for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”

AfCFTA: Public servants pose biggest threat to SMEs’ competitiveness (The Business & Financial Times)

Public servants – civil servants and government appointees – instead of playing a facilitation role for small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) are competing with them and hijacking their opportunities, says the Centre for Regional Integration in Africa (CRIA).

It said it has identified public servants with the mandate of implementing government policies and providing timely and satisfactory services to all stakeholders, especially SMEs, to harness benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as one of the barriers to competitiveness of small businesses in Ghana and many other economies on the continent.

Chairman of CRIA, Nana Owusu-Afari, explained that public servants as well as government appointees in some countries, including Ghana, either have their own businesses or are fronting as agents to some private companies; hence diverting opportunities and support meant for SMEs to the wrong places.

Related: Creating Export Expansion Opportunities For SMEs To Boost Forex (Leadership News)

Capitalise on opportunities to grow businesses – AfCFTA to SMEs (Graphic Online)

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have been encouraged to take advantage of opportunities that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) offers to create a buoyant economy for Africa. This was because SMEs remained the backbone of African economies and that they owned 90 per cent of enterprises and contributed around 80 per cent of the labour force in most countries.

The Chief of Staff of AfCFTA, Silver Ojakol, said there were a lot SMEs could benefit from AfCFTA which included building their small businesses into giant ones with over 1.3 billion people at their disposal to trade with.

Using Ghanaian businesses as an example, he said persons who engaged in shea butter business in the northern region, for instance, should not see themselves as engaging with only 30 million people, but rather 1.3 billion people with over 600 million being women who would be interested in their products.

Speeches at the Opening Ceremony of the Ministerial Retreat On African Union Agenda 2063 (AU)

Welcome Statement by Hon. Vincent BIRUTA, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda Kigali, 1st October 2023

This retreat comes at a very opportune time, enabling us to engage in collective brainstorming and to renew our commitment to monitoring the continental priorities of Agenda 2063. Ladies and Gentlemen, The AU Agenda 2063, serving as Africa’s blueprint for socioeconomic development, has demonstrated commendable progress in its first 10 years of implementation. Substantive advancements have been made to improve road network connectivity, Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), electrification, access to ICT, gender equality, and the establishment of the AfCFTA, to name but a few.

While the continent has made notable progress during the first decade of Agenda 2063, we need to acknowledge that we are still facing considerable challenges in areas such as poverty reduction, job creation, free movement of people, and in ensuring a secure and peaceful Africa. These issues will require our full attention in the Second Ten Year Implementation Plan.

Ambassador stresses expanding coffee export to Japan (Ethiopian Press Agency)

Ethiopian coffee association, coffee growers and trade societies should play a significant role to expand coffee export to Japan and other countries thereby becoming more competitive in the sector internationally, so stressed Ambassador Daba Debele. Coffee is the highest source of foreign currency earnings in the country. Thus, besides government institutions, the role of Ethiopian coffee association, coffee growers and exporters is crucial.

The Ambassador made the above statements during the discussion held on the lessons drawn from the expo at the Embassy following the conclusion of World Specialty Coffee Conference and Exhibition 2023. Appreciating Embassy’s effort, Ethiopian Coffee Association President Desalegne Jenna, urged concerned bodies to come together and join force with the embassy to properly utilize the coffee sector.

Over 45 Ethiopian coffee growers and exporters took part at the event which is organized by the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) while some 45,000 participants, coffee growers, exporters, importers and processors worldwide participated at the event.

Nigeria, African nations priotise to develop 620trn cubic feet of gas reserves (Vanguard)

Nigeria and other African nations have expressed commitment toward the development of their 620 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, targeted at bolstering energy security, industrialization and environmental sustainability. The continent is also committed to the development and exploitation of its estimated 125.3 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves.

This is even as Amni International, an independent oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) company moves to acquire new assets and explore growth opportunities across West Africa.

In a statement obtained by Vanguard, African Energy Chamber, AEC, stated: “Africa is prioritising the development and exploitation of its estimated 125.3 billion barrels of proven crude oil and 620 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves under efforts to bolster energy security, industrialization and environmental sustainability.

Huawei unveils $430m investment to boost digital Africa (Trade Arabia)

Huawei has unveiled a $430 million investment plan named ‘Intelligent Future’ for the Northern Africa region, encompassing the 28 countries located to the north of the equator within the African continent.

This grand five-year investment initiative, is allocated as follows: $200 million to establish the region’s first public cloud centre, offering over 200 cloud services, and an additional $200 million to support 200 local software partners and empower 1,300 channel partners. In term of talent development, Huawei will invest $30 million to train 10,000 local developers and educate 100,000 digital professionals, creating a skilled workforce to drive intelligent transformation in the region.

Terry HE, President of Huawei Northern Africa (North, West & Central Africa), revealed the company’s renewed strategy to guide Africa towards a ‘smart and connected future’ at the eighth edition of Huawei Connect in Shanghai.

Algeria says Niger accepts its mediation in resolving political crisis (Yahoo News)

Niger has accepted an Algerian offer to mediate in its political crisis, Algeria’s foreign ministry said on Monday, five weeks after the North African country proposed a six-month transition process led by a civilian. Algeria received Niger’s official notification of its acceptance of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s mediation initiative, the ministry said in a statement read out on national television.

In late August, Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf said Algeria had spoken several times to Niger’s military leaders and proposed an initiative to return the country to normal constitutional order.It said it would propose guarantees for all sides in the crisis and host a conference on development in the Sahel region, without elaborating.

Coming up! European Union-East African Community MARKUP II launch (The Diplomatic Service of the European Union)

The launch of the European Union (EU) – East African Community (EAC) MARKUP II programme begins a new phase with the objective of supporting small agribusinesses and horticultural producers to compete in international markets. It focuses on value chains ranging from cocoa and coffee to avocados, spices, and tea.

In phase one, at least 115 companies achieved a collective $16 million in sales and exports. MARKUP I also helped draw in $1 million in investment for over 70 small businesses. Over 40 business support organizations shared that their work became more effective through their involvement in the programme. Over the last five years, the EU-EAC Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) supported small agribusinesses and horticultural producers to compete in international markets.

Building on these achievements, we are thrilled to announce the official launch of MARKUP II on October 3, 2023, in Arusha, Tanzania. This phase, running until 2027, aims to harness the full potential of agribusiness in the EAC partner states. The renewed efforts will prioritize sectors and value chains within the EAC, which lay emphasis on processing, value addition, diversification, investment, and export linkages.

Soaring sugar prices hit African nations the hardest (Engineering News)

Skyrocketing sugar prices are hitting some of Africa’s poorest nations particularly hard, forcing families and restaurants to forgo use of the ingredient that is core to local diets. Disappointing harvests from some of the world’s biggest producers have pushed wholesale prices near the highest in more than 12 years in September. While that’s adding to unrelenting inflation pressures across the globe, African nations are particularly vulnerable amid a heavy reliance on sugar imports and a shortage of US dollars.

Consumers in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are paying some of the highest prices for sugar in decades, made worse by tariffs on imports, according to data by Nairobi-based commodities research group Kulea. With energy prices also elevated and unemployment rising, the surging costs are causing headaches for families trying to feed themselves.

“The pain of higher prices isn’t being felt equally across the region – it’s falling most on poorer countries,” said Kulea’s head of research Willis Agwingi. The staple ingredient forms an important part of local food customs, and is also used in the pastries and sweets that surround Muslim celebrations. For many African households, “sugar remains one of the most affordable sources of calories,” according to Kona Haque, head of commodities research at ED&F Man. But surging prices are forcing consumers to spend less on soft drinks and forgo sugar that’s typically added to chai and other beverages, Agwingi said. Companies are also cutting back on purchases due to lackluster demand.

Farmers plant more cocoa outside Africa as prices rally (Reuters)

Production of the chocolate-making ingredient is expanding outside of the main growing area in West Africa as farmers in places such Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia see potential profit in the crop.

Schmidt Agricola is a large agricultural company producing soybeans, corn and cotton in Bahia, Brazil, one of the country’s new-frontier agricultural areas fit for large-scale, high-tech farming. It recently added a new crop to its fields: cocoa.

The rally in prices to the highest level in nearly 50 years is boosting that trend, which could alleviate the current supply tightness in the global cocoa market. It also poses a threat to the livelihood of small farmers in Africa since recently planted orchards such as the ones in South America are more productive, reducing the overall cost of production.

Digitally deliverable services boom risks leaving least developed countries behind (UNCTAD)

While digital delivery has the potential to empower skilled providers anywhere in the world to engage in trade, its benefits are not automatic. Many developing countries lack adequate infrastructure and financial resources to tap the potential of digitally delivered trade. And only a few countries directly measure the size and composition of trade in digitally delivered services. These include telecommunications and computer services, financial, insurance, pension and various business services.

To help plug this data gap, a new handbook by UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development sets out a common framework and practical guidance to help countries measure digital trade. Coordinated capacity-building is under way to support countries in this area.

Meanwhile, new UNCTAD estimates show that worldwide, exports of digitally deliverable services increased by 3% in 2022, reaching $3.94 trillion. This represents a moderation compared to the 16% increase in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While developed countries still dominate trade in digitally deliverable services, the share of developing countries increased from 19% in 2010 to 24% in 2022, with China accounting for a notable portion.

DG Okonjo-Iweala: Trade is important for innovation, women’s economic empowerment, climate (WTO)

The role of trade in supporting women-led small businesses, addressing climate change and fostering innovation was highlighted by Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a workshop jointly organised by the Informal Working Group on MSMEs, the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender, and the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) on 28 September. “Coming together and coordinating action is important for building strength and carrying our work forward more efficiently … as the WTO works towards greater inclusivity,” she said.

WTO members review farm policies, discuss food security, agri-food system resilience (WTO)

At a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture on 27-28 September, WTO members reviewed each other’s farm policies to ensure compliance with WTO disciplines. Food security was the main focus of discussions but members also addressed other topics, such as the interconnection between agri-food trade, technology transfer and protection of the environment. Participants exchanged views on ways to improve transparency on members’ agricultural measures and to enhance the overall functioning of the committee.

Selected commentaries and opinion pieces

How innovative payments and eCommerce can catalyse intra-African trade (Businessday NG)

How Can African Countries Participate in U.S. Clean Energy Supply Chains? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Belt & Road: Mechanism boosting trade between China, Africa (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation)

How India can expand footprint in Global South by tapping Africa’s mega trade pact (India Narrative)

BRICS Cooperation Mechanism Gives Hand to Global South (RIAC)

China’s success inspires Africa to seek independent development path (Peoples Daily)

Emerging Economies Need Much More Private Financing for Climate Transition (IMF Blog)


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