tralac Daily News
“Rest assured, BRICS is a great benefit to our country and it’s an association that we are very proud of and that we intend to continue with.” These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa as he fielded questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the benefits of South Africa being part of the BRICS group of countries.
The group is now known as the BRICS Plus group following the addition of six new member countries - namely Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “We, as a country, have benefitted a great deal [through] the association with other BRICS countries. China today is our largest trading partner and this has largely been cemented, upheld and encouraged by our membership of BRICS,” President Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has highlighted the vital role the green hydrogen economy plays in the country’s development and just energy transition. “The hydrogen economy has a prominent role to play in our country’s just energy transition, providing employment and support to vulnerable workers, communities and small businesses. “It has been estimated that the hydrogen economy has the potential to add 3.6% to our GDP by 2050 and approximately 370 000 jobs. We must act with purpose to harness the potential of the green hydrogen economy,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa was delivering remarks at the second iteration of South African Green Hydrogen Summit (SAGHS) in Century City, Cape Town, on Monday.
This second summit aims to highlight South Africa’s exceptional potential as an early stage, large scale and low cost world-class green hydrogen production hub, and total value chain investment destination.
The Presidential Session of the third session of the Namibia-South Africa bi-national commission (BNC) on Friday saw the creation of a financing instrument named the Industrial Development Fund, as well as the formation of a business council between the two countries. This is as Namibia’s trade minister Lucia Iipumbu emphasised that efforts to ensure a viable value chain development in the automotive sector is key to trade relations between the two countries.
The Namibia-South Africa Business Forum and exhibition, held on the margins of the BNC, brought together business executives from the two countries to explore trade and investment opportunities, network and discuss ways to strengthen partnerships to deepen bilateral economic cooperation. This included defining a collaborative model to enable the two countries to capitalise and maximise on opportunities stemming from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Optimism as Kenya-US trade deal enters 3rd round of negotiations (The East African)
Trade negotiations between Kenya and the United States entered the third round last week, with four items listed for negotiations. The US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (Stip) negotiations, held from October 4-7 in Washington DC, covered agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption; and women, youth among others. The Kenyan trade team also held discussions with staff from the US Congress and Senate, a significant step in seeking approval from both Houses should the deal be finalised by the United States Trade Representative.
“The meeting discussed agriculture, services, domestic regulations, anti-corruption and matters on women, youth and ‘Others in Trade’. There were also non-text-based discussions on intellectual property rights by technical experts from both countries,” said Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade and Industry. “The negotiations achieved a lot since there was more convergence achieved by the time the negotiations ended.”
Ms Miano revealed that the emerging issues on the renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) were also discussed.
How to unlock the local motor vehicle industry value chain (Business Daily)
Attracting investments in medium to high technology industries, job creation, exports drive and reducing imports of vehicles, components and spare parts are core to this policy agenda. At the core motor vehicle manufacturing level, parts and components made locally include air filters, air brakes, oil filters, leaf springs, wiring harnesses, exhaust pipes, silences, batteries, radiators, U bolts, disc brake pads and shock absorbers.
Trade agreements to boost EU-Botswana relations (Tanzania Daily News)
Contemporary Botswana is stable and ready to enhance trade with the European Union (EU), which has been relatively low and heavily undiversified. This was said recently during a plenary session that premiered on the margins of the Global Expo Botswana (GEB) 2023.
Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) CEO, Mr Keletsositse Olebile said government had been proactive in entering into bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, which were active and enforced through SADC. Mr Olebile assured the EU business community that Botswana could give them access to more than 293 million consumers across the SADC region.
He added that through the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Botswana had signed a number of sub-agreements with regional groupings around the world, indicating that SACU had an agreement with the MERCOSUR countries, which belong with South America.
How govt spurs growth (Tanzania Daily News)
President Samia Suluhu Hassan has underscored the government’s commitment to continue strengthening roads’ network and constructing bridge infrastructures across the country, in bringing development to the people. Dr Samia said this during the laying of foundation stone for the ongoing construction of Mkiwa-Itigi-Noranga road in Manyoni District, Singida Region on Sunday.
The 56.9 kilometres road stretch being constructed at a tarmac level at a cost of 67.2bn/- with an addition of 1.01 US million dollars, is part of Makongorosi-Rungwa-Itigi-Mkiwa road covering 413-km, which connects Tanzania and Zambia to the south as well as the central corridor from Mkiwa area to Singida – Dodoma highway. President Samia said the government’s efforts are geared towards connecting all districts and regions in the country with tarmac roads.
Jostling for space, people jam the crowded footpaths crisscrossing a massive open market in Uganda’s capital. They are mostly looking for secondhand clothing, sifting through underwear for pairs that seem new or trying on shoes despite getting pushed around in the crush.
Downtown Kampala’s Owino Market has long been a go-to enclave for rich and poor people alike looking for affordable but quality-made used clothes, underscoring perceptions that Western fashion is superior to what is made at home.
Discarded by Europeans and Americans, these clothes are often purchased from wholesalers and then shipped to African countries by middlemen. It’s a multimillion-dollar business, with some two-thirds of people in seven countries in East Africa having “purchased at least a portion of their clothes from the secondhand clothing market,” according to a 2017 U.S. Agency for International Development study, the most recent with such details.
Egypt’s Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir met with the African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals Albert Muchanga on the sidelines of the Turkiye-Africa Business and Economic Forum in Istanbul. The meeting focused on the cooperation between Egypt and the African Union in various fields.
Samir expressed Egypt’s commitment to the trade and industry agenda in Africa, especially amid the global challenges that have affected the African economies. He also discussed Egypt’s preparations to host the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2023 in partnership with the Commission and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). He stressed the importance of having a large participation of African companies, organizations, and institutions in the fair.
Samir said that Egypt and other African countries are keen to use their membership in the Committee to create a strong and unified voice for Africa on international issues, especially regarding economic and trade matters, reforming the international financial system, increasing Africa’s share in global trade, attracting more investments and transferring technology to Africa.
Egypt, Libya to ban trade of non-Egypt-made drugs (The North Africa Post)
Libyan and Egyptian authorities have reached an agreement to ban the trade of pharmaceutical drugs, other than Egyptian-made, in Libya, ‘Libya Observer’ reports. The move came following a request by the Egyptian Customs Authority to the Libyan Finance ministry to allow only the entry of Egyptian-origin medicine through the Salloum border crossing with Libya.
The Libyan ministry has approved the request arguing that the step intends to deter customs violations as part of efforts to enhance trade exchange between the two countries. Egypt is facing a critical shortage of essential medical supplies because of a lack of dollars to clear imports held up at the nation’s ports.
Cairo Chamber of Commerce in April 2023 indicated that shipments of medical products, as well as materials needed for their manufacture locally, have been held up at various ports since January 2023.
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Morocco, represented by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to develop a US$1billion Morocco-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion programme.
According to the terms of the MoU, the programme shall aim to facilitate and guide future cooperation in areas of common interest between Afreximbank, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Morocco, other government departments, and Moroccan economic operators. Areas of collaboration under the programme will include financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade through the implementation of credit, risk bearing and trade information and advisory services. It will also include support for engagements, missions, exchange of information and capacity building.
Automation of customs clearance processes, customs connectivity and implementation of a COMESA regional authorized economic operator scheme were key issues in focus during the 9th meeting of the COMESA Heads of Customs conducted virtually on 10 – 12 October 2023.
While addressing the meeting, Dr Mohamed Kadah, COMESA Assistant Secretary General in charge of programmes said the unification of the African economic space was urgent and this calls for rationalization of tariff negotiations in COMESA with other regional economic communities, and Africa’s integration as a whole.
“Traders and investors are looking towards a one COMESA customs territory and not segments of customs territories to realize economies of scale and enjoy the full benefits of market integration,” Dr Kadah said. “We therefore need to re-energize or efforts and support the Tripartite and African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) processes at the same time. In this way, our interventions will remain relevant, and we will make incremental progress towards unifying the African economic space, a goal long mooted by our forefathers under the Abuja Treaty.”
The second and final day of the 8th edition of the ECOWAS Sustainable Energy Forum (ESEF 2023) was marked by decisive moments, consolidating its position as an essential platform for dialogue between the main national, regional and international actors in the West African energy sector.
According to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Alieu Omar Toure, the Forum is truly “a reference platform to discuss the role of renewable energy and energy efficiency as a catalyst for sustainable energy in the ECOWAS region. These days of debate and interaction will stimulate the exchange of ideas, projects and initiatives aimed at promoting a more responsible use of energy and contributing to a more sustainable future. The Forum also reinforces the willingness and motivation of the ECOWAS Commission to work with all governments and partners”.
Africa will need a system to discover and nurture entrepreneurial talents to grow its economy and create jobs for its young population. This recommendation was made by Jim Clifton, chairman of the globally renowned polling and analytics firm, Gallup, when he delivered the 7th annual Babacar Ndiaye lecture on 14th October 2023. The lecture, which was held at the Fairmont Royal Palm Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, was under the theme “The New World Order and the Future of Entrepreneurship in Africa”.
In his welcome remarks, Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of the Bank, reminded the audience of the changing nature of global trade, particularly the slow-down of globalisation at a time when Africa was poised to benefit from rising wages in China. The growth in global trade, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the World Trade Organisation and the opening-up of China had seen global trade accelerate dramatically, rising from $2 trillion to $7 trillion in the year 2000 and $24 trillion by 2022. The uneven benefits of globalisation, Oramah said, had led to a backlash, with populations in the west and some political leaders souring on the idea.
The G20 (Group of Twenty) has ‘unanimously adopted’ a September 2023 joint paper on crypto regulation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB). This event took place in Morocco on Thursday. The G20 is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 sovereign countries, the European Union and the African Union.
The fourth and final meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBGs) under the Indian Presidency is ongoing (Thursday-Friday) at Marrakech, Morocco, on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Annual Meetings.
According to a press release on Friday morning, the FMCBGs have adopted the G20 Roadmap on crypto assets. This detailed and action-oriented roadmap will help coordinate global policy as well as develop mitigating strategies and regulations on crypto assets. It also takes into consideration the specific implications on Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs).
The Bank has adopted new tools that could provide $157 billion in additional lending capacity over a decade—including the issuance of hybrid capital, a portfolio guarantee mechanism, and an adjusted loan-to-equity ratio. Further measures to unlock even more lending were discussed during the meetings, such as better utilizing callable capital and SDRs and creating a Livable Planet Fund by opening the Global Public Goods Fund to governments and philanthropies, increasing its ambition, and further incentivizing cooperation across borders.
The Chair of the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum that represents 189 member countries, issued a statement, endorsing the new vision and pointing to the need to double down and complete the ambitious reforms which have been started ensure that the institution has the financing and operational capacity to become a better, bigger, and more effective Bank.
On the occasion of the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings’ return to the African continent after 50 years – specifically to Marrakech, Morocco – this Special Issue on Africa discusses economic developments for the entire continent. After four years of crises and at the close of another difficult year, recent events, including the devastating earthquake in Morocco, severe floods in Libya, and the impact of Cyclone Freddy in Malawi, have underscored the continent’s ongoing vulnerability to natural disasters and the need to build resilience.
In the near term, there are tentative signs that the outlook in many countries in Africa is improving. Inflation is generally easing, economic activity is starting to pick up, and fiscal imbalances are gradually moderating. However, significant challenges remain, and it is too early to celebrate. For too many countries, inflation is still too high, debt vulnerabilities remain elevated, and medium-term growth rates are too low. The international community should maintain and enhance a cooperative approach to the provision of global public goods. In the case of Africa, it is essential to support the region’s most vulnerable climate- and conflict-affected states.
Capital flight due to public distrust of national tax regimes is bleeding billions of dollars of potential revenue from governments’ coffers across Africa, ministers have warned. They called for new policies to stop the drain of resources, at a time when interest rates are high and the continent faces a debt crisis.
All too often, those who make money in Africa move it offshore, sometimes illegally, depriving governments of desperately needed revenue. Analysts believe such tax avoidance is exacerbated when locals believe multinationals are not paying their fair share of tax, or the government wastes it.
“The emphasis on domestic resource mobilisation is very well placed, at a time when even concessional MDB or development financing as a whole is at elevated interest rates, based on the world trend,” Wale Edun, the Nigerian finance minister, told GlobalMarkets at the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings in Marrakech last week.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that the economic slowdown in China will impact African oil exporters the most. According to a Bloomberg report, the economic slowdown in China will have a notable impact on the growth of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The IMF stated that a one percentage point (pp) decrease in China’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth results in approximately a 0.25 percentage point (pp) decline in total GDP growth across sub-Saharan Africa within a year. Particularly, oil-exporting nations would feel the most substantial impact.
It is important to note that China’s economic growth has slowed in recent years due to factors like a property downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMF emphasizes that the adverse effects of China’s slowdown on the region would mainly stem from the export of commodities such as oil. China is a significant export partner for sub-Saharan Africa, purchasing about one-fifth of the region’s exports. To counterbalance this, countries in the region could enhance intra-African trade and invest more in infrastructure and human capital.
Half of global population connected to mobile internet (Developing Telecoms)
According to industry body the GSMA over half (54%) of the world’s population owns a smartphone, but the rate of new mobile internet users has slowed.
The GSMA said in a statement that 4.3 million people now own a smartphone according to its annual State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2023. It found smartphone users are adept at seeking out mobile internet services to assist a wide variety of tasks. Around 4.6 billion people are using mobile internet 4 billion are doing so through a smartphone which accounts for 49% of the population. Meanwhile, 8% of the population (600 million) are using the internet through a feature phone.
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the regions with the least connected populations where the usage gaps are 59% and 52% respectively. Adults in rural areas of lower middle income nations are 29% less likely to use mobile intent than those in urban areas, while women are 19% less like than men to use mobile internet.