tralac Daily News
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on Tuesday unveiled a forward-looking strategy charting the course for South Africa’s Global Business Services (GBS) sector. Patel made the announcement during his opening address at the annual BPESA [Business Process Enabling South Africa] GBS | BPO Conference, which took place in Cape Town.
Patel highlighted the sector’s pivotal role in job creation and economic expansion, emphasising the vital partnerships between government, private sector and employees. Government has invested more than R3 billion since 2016 in the sector, which currently employs more than 31 000 employees in firms receiving national government support, earning significant sums of foreign exchange to the country. The industry has a Sector Masterplan that drives its growth and development.
Patel outlined the next phase of the GBS sector, focusing on expanding operations across provinces and towns, with a strong emphasis on high-value services in services in Information Technology, finance, health, legal and retail. The sector will need to address the challenges of artificial intelligence in consumer servicing markets.
The Government of Togo and the African Development Bank have agreed to increase the pace of ongoing projects on the structural transformation and diversification of the country’s economy, while strengthening the Bank’s engagement in Togo. This strategy was reaffirmed during a dissemination workshop held from 23 to 27 October in Lomé on the mid-term review of the partnership between Togo and the Bank between 2021-2026 and the performance review of the project portfolio.
Outputs from the event included a decision to maintain the priority areas of the 2021-2026 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for the remaining period, from 2024 to 2026. These include the development of inclusive growth hubs and of social-inclusion policies, along with the strengthening of financial and sectoral governance. The main objective of the CSP remains to accelerate the structural transformation and diversification of the Togolese economy in order to create decent jobs and to build socio-economic resilience for sustainable and inclusive growth.
The Ad Hoc Expert Group (AEGM) organised back to back with the 29th Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) of Southern Africa meeting has recommended swift action to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in order to tackle poverty and inequality in the region.
The AEGM was organised by the Economic Commission for Africa and the Government of Botswana from 6-7 November 2023 in Gaborone, Botswana. The meeting discussed the status of poverty and inequality in Southern Africa; leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for poverty and inequality reduction in Southern Africa; and Regional Integration in Southern Africa – Accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA in Southern Africa building on the acquis of the RECs FTAs.
Ms. Richard-Madisa said the AfCFTA is a potent route towards economic diversification and structural transformation and can support growing value chains through the opening of a larger market across Africa. Citing the case of Botswana where the government has allocated substantial budgetary resources towards poverty and inequality eradication, she advised that through its new Wealth Creation, the country has focused on supporting micro and small enterprise projects in agriculture, housing, women empowerment projects and education sectors to create employment.
“Full implementation of the AfCFTA, ensuring the initiative does not merely remain on paper, is a powerful instrument to propel inclusive development and ameliorate poverty and inequality in the region,” said Ms. Eunice Kamwendo Director of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub Regional Office for Southern Africa.
Leather exporters eyeing gov’t support to penetrate int’l market (Ethiopian Press Agency)
Ethiopian leather and leather product exporters are looking for the government support to tackle challenges and penetrate the international market. Although the acceptance of Ethiopian leather product in the international market is increasing, the government should provide support to overcome the challenges in the sector, the exporters said.
Kabana Design PLC CEO and Co-founder Semhal Guesh told the Ethiopia Press Agency (EPA)that the leather market has seen a remarkable improvement after covid-19 pandemic. “The Ethiopian leather product has great customers at the international market. However, there are some challenges such as lack of quality leather materials, accessories, and zippers for the leather bags we made,” she said. To give impetus to the industry, Semhal suggested that the government should provide accessories for free or produce them locally to save costs and address Ethiopia’s shortage of foreign currency.
Researchers in Africa have been challenged to begin to use the research they have developed to provide solutions to Africa’s challenges in agricultural productivity. Zambia Vice President Mutale Nalumango says that there are far too many researchers but very few in terms of tangible solutions to Africa’s challenges. In her keynote address at the 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and commemoration of the 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the Vice President called for a relook on how to ensure that there is the availability of safer and nutritious foods, that are available, accessible, “affordable and desirable for improved health and well-being of all people on the continent.”
Nalumango said that due to the high vulnerability to shocks and disruptions arising from conflict, climate variability as well as economic contraction, Africa has been recording increasing numbers of stunting and wasting, “the situation is further worsened by demographic changes, urbanization and shifting consumption patterns,” she said and added, “these factors, combined with growing inequities, keep challenging the capacity of national agri-food systems to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable diets for all.”
Agronomic board revises horticulture imports (The Namibian)
The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has revised the number of crops closed for importation from 12 to seven out of a total of 20 on the special import permit for the period 1-30 November. This is an indication that Namibian horticultural producers will not be able to meet the country’s demand for all these crops during November.
Removed from the original list of crops that were closed for importation from 1- 30 November, are English cucumber, green pepper, jam tomato, cocktail/cherry mini plum tomato, as well as lettuce (iceberg). According to a notice to all horticulture traders signed by NAB chief executive Fidelis Mwazi on 2 November, the revision of the importation list is in line with the Agronomic Industry Act and the Namibian Horticulture Market Share Promotion Scheme rules and regulations. These are part of efforts by the regulator to protect Namibia’s nascent industry from competition from cheap imports that might flood the market.
The Ministry of Trade has announced that khat exporters will now be required to undergo a rigorous registration process, which includes meeting newly issued pre-license requirements to participate in the business. The objective of this move is to streamline operations and enhance earnings from khat exports. The new directive applies to all existing exporters who have renewed their operations in the current fiscal year, as well as those wishing to enter the khat export industry. The re-registration period for exporters is scheduled to take place from 7–25 November, 2023.
During a press briefing held yesterday, Gebremeskel Chala, Minister of Trade and Regional Integration, emphasized the necessity of pre-licensing criteria for the khat export sector. According to him, this criteria aims to identify challenges faced by the industry and implement operational reforms to improve the export revenue derived from this stimulant. Previously, khat used to rank among Ethiopia’s top five commodities in terms of export earnings. However, the yearly revenue generated from this cash crop has significantly declined from over $400 million a decade ago to $248 million last year.
Ghana Country Director of AGRA, Dr. Betty Annan, says more efforts are needed to ensure farmers in the country have access to certified seeds to improve productivity. She says although Ghana has witnessed a growth in the development and availability of improved and locally adopted seed varieties, there is still a huge gap that needs to be filled.
“The adoption is still marginal with only about 30% of the farmers using improved varieties. The slow pace of adoption is linked to inadequate compliance with seed legislation by seed value chain operators and disregard for seed certification and standard regulations here in Ghana,” she observed.
Madam Annan was speaking at the 4th National Seed Business and Networking Forum (Seedlink 2023) in Tamale. Dr. Annan expressed concern that the current global economic crisis has hindered farmer access to quality seeds and fertilisers. “There is therefore an urgent need for industry players to act in unison to strengthen the seed sector and scale up the use of improved seeds to boost productivity and transform the food systems,” she said.
The Nigeria Customs Service has confirmed the seizure of 13 trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice and 17 vehicles, among other notable items, worth N1,241,777,700 in October. The information was revealed in an official statement published on the Nigerian Customs Service’s official X (formerly Twitter) account on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the information was conveyed by the Acting Comptroller of the Unit, Hussein Ejibunu, during a press briefing held at the Unit’s Headquarters in Lagos. “While showcasing the seizure, Ejibunu explained that the 17 vehicles were seized from smugglers who wanted to circumvent the law, stressing that the Federal Operation Unit Zone ‘A’ under his watch will make the remaining part of the year more challenging for smugglers in the interest of the country.
The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation says it has observed that many logistical companies and digital platform operators are flouting the law by facilitating courier services without complying with the country’s licensing regulations. Section 10 of The Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission Act, Act 649, makes goods deliver/and courier activities in Ghana a regulated service; and Sections 47 to 49 of the Electronic Transactions Act, Act 772, also specifies minimum compliance standards for e-commerce operators.
“The Ministry has therefore directed all such companies and the couriers/drivers operating on their networks to register with the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC) for an e-certificate and for an AfCFTA Number by December 2023. After this date, no new goods delivery and courier service provide, can register with any digital platform or delivery service without a valid PSCPC e certificate. Existing operators must comply by January 24, 2024. Companies falling within the scope of this directive include Uber, Bolt, Yango, Glovo, Jiji, Tonaton, Maxmartghana corm, and all e-commerce and delivery platforms and companies,” a statement issued by the Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful said.
The AfricaNenda report on the State of Inclusive Instant Payment (SIIP) in Africa for the year 2023 indicates that as of June this year, instant payment systems (IPSs) in Africa recorded 32 billion transactions valued at a whopping US$1.2 trillion. Ahead of the launch of the report in Addis Ababa, Deputy Chief Executive of AfricaNenda, Sabine Mensah told journalists in Addis Ababa that the figures were even conservative because they were based on data from only 22 out of 32 countries that have active instant payment systems on the continent to date.
Again, she noted that as of June 2023, when the report was finalized, there was an average of about 30 percent depreciation of currencies in Africa against the US dollar, so if the value of transaction was based on the exchange rates prior to June 2023, the value of transaction would have far exceeded US$1.2 trillion.
“Inclusivity is a spectrum – it means the system must be relevant to all – save time – save money – ensure easy payment (interoperable) – facilitates relevant use cases – the most basic phone should have access to all use cases – send money – receive money – pay to government – receive government support (social payments) – that way the value proposition is compelling enough to drive wide usage,” she said.
The World Internet Development Report 2023 and the China Internet Development Report 2023 released during the 2023 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit in Wuzhen, east China’s Zhejiang Province. The growth rate of internet use among 15 of the 21 less developed countries is higher than that of some developed countries, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies on Wednesday.
The report also evaluated the development of the internet in 52 countries and regions around the world. It said the top 10 countries with the highest internet development level were the United States, China, Singapore, the Netherlands, South Korea, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Canada and France.
Namibia understands the importance of enhancing intra-Africa trade, creating synergies and an enabling environment to unlock opportunities for sourcing materials and intermediate products while promoting economic self-sufficiency. This is according to deputy executive director in the trade ministry Ndiitah Nghipondoka-Robiati, who was speaking on Monday during a Namibia-Mauritius business forum.
Nghipondoka-Robiati noted that one of the ministry’s mandates is to promote economic growth and development, through the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies with the view to attract investment and increase trade, as well as develop and expand Namibia’s industrial base. “The ministry is committed to continue creating an enabling environment for trade and investment opportunities regionally and globally,” said Nghipondoka-Robiati at the forum in Windhoek.
She noted that by connecting with Mauritian buyers, distributors and business partners, domestic economic growth will be stimulated. She added that regionally, the ground is fertile, with the AfCFTA creating a platform where logistics and supply chains can garner the efficient movement of goods and services in the region.
‘AfCFTA offers crucial trade-off between revenue collection (The Guardian Nigeria)
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, said the objectives of Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presented beacon of hope for Africa’s economic transformation, ranging from the promotion of intra-African trade to sustainable economic growth. He stated this at the 18th Roundtable of Managing Directors/Exhibition of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos.
Adeniyi spoke on the topic: “What does the AfCFTA offer to African Ports after three years of implementation.” He said unfortunately, the free trade area is poised to usher in significant changes that will have a profound impact on customs operations, which is the shift in customs’ focus, moving from the import side to the export side of trade facilitation
High costs of air travel in Africa stifle tourism (The East African)
The high cost of air travel in Africa has been described as a barrier to tourism. Travellers within the continent not only pay higher ticket prices but also more tax to board a commercial aircraft. This emerged at the just-ended World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) global summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Speakers at the high-profile event—heads of state, business executives, and travel experts—said intra-Africa air travel remains prohibitive.
“It is often cheaper to fly to another continent than to another African country,” they said as the meeting drew to a close. They cited an air ticket between Berlin in Germany and Istanbul costing a mere $150 for a direct flight taking less than three hours. Flying a similar distance between Kinshasa and Lagos in Nigeria would cost between $500 and $850, with the trip taking up to 20 hours. On the other hand, the cost of a flight from Entebbe in Uganda to the Kenyan port of Mombasa (916km) will cost up to $200. This is roughly eight times the cost of flying the same distance in Europe. “This makes doing business within Africa incredibly difficult and expensive,” said Kamil al Awadhi, the regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East of the International Air Traffic Association (Iata).
The blue economy is a vital area of activity for the East African Community (EAC), as it offers opportunities for sustainable economic, social and ecological development and growth. To harness its full potential, the EAC needs a coherent and coordinated strategy and action plan that aligns with the African Union’s strategy, the national priorities and aspirations of its partner states, along the other overlapping regional commitments of the latter.
The office for Eastern Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the EAC organised a two-day regional consultation meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, on 30-31 October 2023, to discuss the Roadmap for an EAC Blue Economy Strategy and Action Plan.
Mr Jean Baptiste Havugimana, Director of Productive Sectors, East African Community commended this consultation exercise which serves to ensure that the upcoming EAC Blue Economy Strategy and Action Plan is in line with the established AU’s Africa Blue Economy Strategy and that the present varied level of engagement with the blue economy of its partner states are also taken into consideration. With the roadmap for this process being established and the priorities of the strategy being preliminarily identified, he is confident that the EAC Blue Economy Strategy and Action Plan will be a document which will have strong ownership by partner states who will be committed to its operationalisation.
The 2023 edition of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) kicked off on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco, bringing together Heads-of-State, decision-makers, multinationals, and investors for a three-day event under the theme “Unlocking Africa’s Value Chains.” The Africa Investment Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform focusing on continental dealmaking, facilitating connections between project sponsors, policymakers, and investors, and has mobilized $142bn in investment interest since 2018.
Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said, “The Africa Investment Forum gathers at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions and conflicts around the world, which have led to greater uncertainties and could weaken global economic growth.” “Yet in the midst of the challenges, Africa is growing well and showing resilience. African economies witnessed a real GDP growth of 3.8% in 2022, higher than the world average of 3.5%,” he stressed.
A panel of African Heads of State and Government discussed Africa’s potential to play a larger role in global value chains. They emphasized the need for improved infrastructure, resource cooperation, and a supportive business environment.
Connectivity critical for growth, Tanzania President Samia says (The East African)
Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has emphasised the urgent need to close connectivity gaps in Africa to fast-track economic growth. She also acknowledged the critical role of the private sector in the growth of the continent’s economies and asked governments to embrace private enterprises. She was speaking in Marrakech, Morocco on Wednesday in a presidential panel in the ongoing Africa Investment Forum. The forum is organised by the Pan-African lender African Development Bank (AfDB) and other multilateral financial institutions. This year’s theme is “Unlocking Africa’s Value Chains”.
“Connectivity is critical on our continent. I once attended a conference in Senegal, and I had first to go to Paris and then fly back to Africa. That’s a problem,” she said. Noting that Tanzania shares borders with eight countries with whom it is connected by road, rail, water and air, she said her government was upgrading the old railway network while building a standard gauge railway line from the port of Dar es Salaam to connect to Burundi through the Democratic Republic of Congo then Rwanda and Uganda.
Africa needs initiatives to encourage private entrepreneurship Mohammed VI (Businessday Nigeria)
On 31 October 2023, the Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, participated in the session titled “Customs authorities as trade facilitators” at the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) World Ports Conference 2023.
Before an audience of over 600 people made up exclusively of Port CEOs, maritime supply chain stakeholders, senior government officials and international advisors, the Deputy Secretary General provided delegates with an insight into how both Port authorities and their governing bodies can partner with Customs authorities to facilitate smoother trade and cargo flows in their maritime supply chains. According to Mr. Treviño Chapa, “the WCO has been at the forefront of border modernization and continues to promote Coordinated Border Management and Digitalization as important components of border modernization programmes”.
The launch of the “WCO-IAPH Joint Guidelines on Cooperation between Customs and Port Authorities” was announced in conjunction with the Managing Director of the IAPH, Dr. Patrick Verhoeven.
Most Group of Twenty economies are likely to keep monetary policy appropriately tight to bring inflation back to target. Central banks will need to keep interest rates higher for longer as inflation remains persistently elevated—and easing too soon could undo hard-won progress to anchor inflation expectations.
This higher-for-longer environment for borrowing costs, however, portends sustained funding pressures for governments. That means governments will need to consolidate their finances to rebuild buffers and ensure that their debt is sustainable. Most G20 economies are poised to cut spending and boost revenues in the next few years, but in many cases IMF staff recommend even greater fiscal effort to ensure sufficient space to respond to future shocks and new fiscal challenges.
Amid the likely drag of both monetary and fiscal tightening, both advanced economies and emerging market and developing countries should consider structural reforms, such as those to make product and labor markets more efficient, to support economic growth.
While the exact prescriptions will differ by country, recent IMF research shows significant potential benefits of so-called first-generation reforms in emerging market and developing economies that, in turn, can have beneficial spillovers for advanced economies.
The G7 Trade Ministers issued a Statement at a meeting in Osaka-Sakai on 29 October 2023, outlining various policies necessitating actions by Customs administrations. These areas include enhancing supply chain resilience, regulating e-commerce, and addressing the interplay between trade and environmental/climate change issues.
Notably, the Ministers expressed their commitment to strengthen engagement with emerging and developing economies in areas of Trade and Development. They underscored the importance of making the multilateral trade system more inclusive, recognizing the critical role of capacity building through the World Customs Organization (WCO). They also noted the need for training Customs officers to expedite Customs procedures, particularly for the rapid processing of emergency relief supplies.
The WCO welcomes this ministerial statement. Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, commented on the statement, saying, “The WCO reaffirms its commitment to enhancing inclusiveness in the multilateral trade system, supporting supply chain resilience and addressing challenges posed by e-commerce. We aim to achieve these goals through strengthened cooperation with emerging and developing economies and by leveraging our expertise and global network.”
G7 Japan 2023 Foreign Ministers’ Statement (United States Department of State)
Accurate and timely information on the functioning of international agriculture markets is essential for addressing climate change, conflict and other challenges impacting global food markets today, speakers underlined during the 24th session of the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) Global Food Market Information Group at WTO headquarters on 6-7 November.
Edwini Kessie, Director of the WTO’s Agriculture and Commodities Division, opened the meeting by noting the crucial role that AMIS has played in enhancing transparency on global food markets and strengthening food security. “These are goals which WTO members wholeheartedly support,” he said.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can make substantial contributions to climate-resilient and low-emissions development. UN Climate Change’s Initiative on Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action explores the role of AI as a powerful tool for advancing and scaling up transformative climate action in developing countries.
In line with the call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to develop AI that is “reliable and safe” and that can “supercharge climate action” to propel us towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the #AI4ClimateAction Initiative aims to deliver concrete and transformative results, both on policy and implementation, under the first joint work programme of UN Climate Change’s Technology Mechanism.
Some AI-powered solutions for climate action in developing countries, including least-developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), are already underway. Agri-food systems and crop management can be optimized with AI predicting the best planting times, assessing soil health and monitoring pest and disease outbreaks. AI-driven precision agriculture can also reduce water usage, promote sustainable farming practices and boost food production.
Renewable energy systems’ efficiency and reliability can be improved by AI algorithms that predict energy demand, optimize grid operations and integrate renewable energy sources seamlessly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a shift toward low-emission energy solutions.
Talks to boost ‘underfinanced’ climate adaptation split over money (Climate Home News)
Developing and developed countries are wrangling over whether finance should be included in an adaptation framework to be approved at Cop28 As years-long negotiations over boosting global efforts to adapt to climate change enter the final stretch, countries are still divided over targets and the funding to achieve them.
At Cop28 next month, governments are expected to approve a framework to make the Paris Agreement’s global goal on adaptation (GGA) more concrete. Adaptation is one of the key priorities of the Paris Agreement, alongside emission reductions. But challenges in defining, measuring and funding action on this front have held back progress at the same time as climate risks are accelerating.
Developing countries need an estimated $387 billion a year to carry out their current adaptation plans, but in 2021 they only received $21 billion in international adaptation finance, according to a recent report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Developing countries want the agreement to tackle the question of finance directly, ideally with a dedicated target. On the other hand, developed countries, which would be called upon to foot the bill, oppose any mention of money in the text.
While 17 of the 20 countries featured in the report have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions – and many have launched initiatives to cut emissions from fossil fuel production activities – none have committed to reduce coal, oil, and gas production in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The UN chief thinks that at COP28 – the UN climate summit in Dubai at the end of this month – world leaders must send a clear signal that “the fossil fuel age is out of gas – that its end is inevitable.”