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Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, says the agricultural sector has demonstrated its resilience and capability to support South Africa’s overall economic recovery and growth, both in terms of job creation and contribution to the economy. This comes after StatsSA released the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) data on Tuesday, which showed that the agricultural sector has once again created new jobs amounting to 61 000 in the third quarter of 2023, increasing the total employment in agriculture to 956 000.
Didiza said she is satisfied with the agricultural sector’s positive contribution to the country’s job creation. “This is the highest employment figure in agriculture since the start of the modern democratic era. The last time the agricultural sector recorded a million jobs was in 1993, the era which was underpinned by subsidies,” said Didiza on Wednesday. The QLFS indicated that the total number of employed people in the country increased by 399 000 to 16.7 million in the third quarter of 2023, compared to 16.3 million in the second quarter of 2023.
The Federal Government has been urged to devise an actionable plan for Nigeria to increase its exports and stop depending on the importation of goods. Stakeholders who spoke at the 2023 summit organised by City Business News in Lagos, said the rage of importation has wreaked more havoc on the Nigerian economy over the years.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Repositioning Nigerian Economy: 2023 and Beyond,’ Khadijat Ifelola Sheidu-Shabi, chairperson of Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT), said Nigeria should look inward and initiate a shift from import-dependent to export-oriented economy. Sheidu-Shabi said women and the nation at large should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and maximise the opportunities to benefit the nation’s economy.
“We have export terminals coming up and these export terminals are growing. We need to increase our exportation and stop dependence on importation. Our weakness is importation. We even import tissue paper. We need to reposition. Despite all our challenges, I want us to look at the positive side. We are survivors, we can build this country again,” she said.
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed two pre-export facilities agreements worth $80 million with two cocoa processing companies in Ghana. The Bank signed two pre-export finance facility agreements worth $40 million each with Niche Cocoa Industries and Plot Enterprise Ghana. The facility will finance the purchase of raw cocoa beans to enable Niche Cocoa Industries and Plot Enterprise Ghana to meet their obligations to off-takers.
Gov’t renews call for rules-based access to Red Sea (Ethiopian Press)
Ethiopia has no intention of threatening the sovereignty of any nation but would like rules-based access to the Red Sea, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) said, calling stakeholders for discussions. The PM made the above remark yesterday while addressing the 3rd year 4th Regular Session of the House of People’s Representatives.
Speaking at the occasion, Abiy expressed Ethiopia’s desire to a principle-based access to the Red Sea that will not harm the rights and benefits of any of its coastal neighbors. “Ethiopia has no intention to violate or harm others’ sovereignty and needs to make a business law to resolve the issue.
“Ethiopia’s neighbors are expected to take its pursuit for sea access positively as the country could not manage such a large population without reaching an agreement on port use. Ethiopia called coastal neighbors just for discussion, not for conflict and if the situation is not managed by discussion, no one will be able to control what would happen next.”
SA, Qatar bolster relations (SAnews)
Egypt, Switzerland boost investment opportunities (EgyptToday)
The 2023 Economic Report on Africa themed “Building Africa’s Resilience to Global Economic Shocks” focuses on the impact of multiple and recurring global shocks on African economies. It examines how these shocks undermine Africa’s prospects of reaching the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to achieve inclusive economic transformation and build resilience.
Over the past few decades, economic performance has been shaped by shocks of varying magnitude, duration, and recurrence. The polycrises that include the climate change induced shocks, the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ripple effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have caused Africa to regress or stagnate on the SDGs targets. More than 30 million Africans were forced into extreme destitution in 2021, and 22 million jobs were lost. The ongoing war in the Ukraine prolongs uncertainty and fears of food insecurity in Africa and internal conflicts and risks have left several African countries more vulnerable and less resilient to manage current and future shocks.
The multiple shocks have also had scarring effects that make it difficult for African economies to recover fully even after a short-lived shock such as the global financial crisis. More important, their damage could morph into other domains such as political instability and conflict, thus undermining recovery and the resilience to future shocks.
The report therefore calls for new approaches for African countries to address challenges of global economic shocks. The report calls for improving risk management and building resilience strategies through well-designed national development plans and good governance, as well as structural transformation through equitable green growth and smart industrial strategies. Forging a new global cooperation framework and acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could enhance collaboration and integration among African countries, enabling risk pooling and management.
African shipowners to unveil regional shipping line by 2024 (The Guardian Nigeria)
The co-Champion for Transportation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Secretary General African Ship-Owners Association, Funmi Folorunsho, has revealed plans for the launch of an Africa shipping line in the first quarter of 2024 to foster economic growth and logistics efficiency across the continent.
Addressing stakeholders at the 43rd yearly council meeting of the Port Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) in Lagos last week, Folorunsho outlined the comprehensive blueprint for the regional shipping line.
She emphasised the need for a robust fleet, noting that the target include a 188 per cent increase in bulk vessels and a planned 180 per cent surge in container vessels.
Strengthening Africa’s Critical Mineral Value Chains (Energy Capital & Power)
Africa’s rich mineral resources require specific, mining-focused regulatory frameworks to attract investment and ensure responsible resource utilization. To aid in this regard, the African Union and other regional bodies are collaborating to develop an African Green Minerals Strategy (AGMS), aimed at strengthening mining regulations and respective regulatory institutions. The AGMS sets specific objectives, with a view to positioning Africa’s critical minerals as a catalyst for green technology, large-scale agriculture and industrial sectors, aligning with development goals per Agenda 2063.
Despite this progress, the strategy has not yet culminated in finalized, actionable policies. To realize their shared objectives, African countries and regional bodies must implement integrated, resource-based development and industrialization policies that prioritize local beneficiation and successful collaboration with global mining companies. A key challenge within the sector has been the lack of local processing and refining capacity. As a result, countries like Zimbabwe and Namibia have implemented bans on the export of unrefined lithium and rare earth minerals, respectively, in a bid to establish a domestic mineral value chain.
Africa should accelerate adoption of Instant and Inclusive payment systems (IIPS) to ensure financial inclusion and boost economic empowerment of its people. The statement was made during the launch of the second edition of the State of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (SIIPS) Report 2023, jointly produced by AfricaNenda, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the World Bank Group.
In remarks delivered on behalf of the ECA Executive Secretary Mr. Claver Gatete, Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division said access to information “is vital for economic progress – the SIIPS – Africa report is a beacon of hope as it provides a reliable source of information – empowering private entities to make informed investment decisions while enabling governments to create evidence-based policies.”
Instant and Inclusive payment systems – IIPs – allow people to use any systems run by financial service providers to make payments immediately, at a low cost, to anyone and at any time. They are also a catalyst for financial inclusion as they accelerate low‑income consumers’ access to digital payment solutions and the formal economy. In this regard, a shift towards digital payments is important for “enhancing financial inclusion and boosting economic growth,” said Karingi.
UNIDO ITPO, others partner NASME to promote digital transformation (The Guardian Nigeria)
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO), Nigeria has partnered the Federal Government, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Sterling One Foundation and other stakeholders to promote digital transformation.
This was disclosed at the West African SMEs Exhibition in Abuja, tagged: “MSMEs 4.0: Enhancing Quality, Productivity, Competitiveness, Resilience, and Sustainability in an Era of Digital Transformation.”
The exhibition focused on business support for West African SMEs in the Renewable, Digital and Greentech spaces with high growth potential. This is to mobilise and promote bankable and impactful investments and the transfer of green technologies from industrialised countries towards Nigeria and select African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA countries and economies in transition, with a focus on SMEs.
Women’s contributions to economic processes matter, not only to women, but also as a means of achieving broader development outcomes. Evidence has demonstrated that when women have access to resources and opportunities, the benefits are large for their families, their communities, and ultimately for national and regional development efforts. However, women continue to face greater financial exclusion and vulnerability, with most being underserved by the formal financial sector and unable to reach their full economic potential.
In this regard, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), convened a capacity building workshop on Women’s Financial Inclusion and Economic Empowerment in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, from 13th to 14th November 2023. The workshop was held as part of rolling-out the SADC Financial Inclusion Gender Action Plan as part of the implementation of the SADC Strategy on Financial Inclusion and SME’s Access to Finance (2023-2028).
This workshop emphasised on financial literacy for women entrepreneurs, use of gender budgeting tools and on implementing a women-centred approach to financial services and products. It was noted that implementation of blanket approaches to financial inclusion initiatives will not change the status quo and sustainable inclusive economic growth will not be achieved. Instead, there is need to identify and address the needs of women and take into consideration that women are not a homogeneous group; their differences should be catered for in the design of financial services and products. The workshop further identified that data is critical to inform the needs of women customers.
To address Southern Africa’s pressing issues of fragility, forced displacement and climate resilience, the African Development Bank, jointly with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, co-hosted an inaugural technical meeting on ‘Forced displacement, Fragility Mitigation, and Climate Resilience’ on 26-27 October in Pretoria, South Africa.
The meeting sought to strengthen the inclusion of refugees and other forcibly displaced and stateless individuals in national and regional development plans, programmes, and strategies. The approach entails mitigating fragility risks, managing disasters effectively, responding to climate change challenges, and adapting approaches for resilience-building.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully convened the 3rd WCO Global Origin Conference in Santiago, Chile, on 8 - 9 November 2023. Supported by the Korea Customs service, the European Union, and private sector partners, this event attracted over 400 participants from 82 countries, consolidating its prominence as a global forum for origin-related discourse. Themed “Building Trust in the Origin Environment,” the conference featured 35 speakers across six panel sessions and two origin business talks. The rich diversity of participants – hailing from Customs administrations, international organizations, academia and the private sector- fostered a holistic exploration of Origin matters.
The conference delved into the complexities of Rules of Origin, addressing challenges faced by stakeholders in navigating the intricate web of trade agreements. Discussions also explored aligning rules of origin and requirements with environmental goals; the pivotal role of preference utilization rates in shaping international trade dynamics, and the significant influence on future frameworks governing the origin of goods on the global stage.
In his closing address, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, lauded the conference as a pivotal platform for knowledge exchange and collaborative advancement in international trade. He expressed gratitude to the participants for their insightful contributions and reaffirmed WCO’s dedication to furthering this agenda in partnership with the World Trade Organization (WTO), other international organizations, the business sector, and academic institutions.
Africa’s significant road infrastructure deficit creates increased production and transaction costs that must be addressed to scale opportunities envisaged under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, a new report has found.
The report, called Cross-Border Road Corridors Expanding Market Access in Africa and Nurturing Continental Integration notes that while roads are the primary mode of transport, carrying 80 percent of goods and 90 percent of passenger traffic, only 43 percent of Africa’s main population have access to an all-season road.
“Just 53 percent of roads on the continent are paved, isolating people from access to basic services, including healthcare, education, trade hubs and economic opportunities,” according to the publication, released at a special session of the Africa Investment Forum 2023 Market Days taking place in Marrakech, Morocco.
Dr Adesina suggested five priority areas to fully optimize the benefits of the developing regional corridors across Africa. These include dedicating pooled financing facilities to corridor projects; building special industrial zones around the corridors to optimize existing infrastructure; adopting a systematic approach and platform to syndicate around the development of strategic regional corridors.
He said the development of regional corridors should be complemented with one-stop border posts to facilitate trade and reduce travel times on the corridors. He proposed concessional financing, such as the African Development Fund, which offers low-income countries unmatched resources to commit to developing regional corridors.
Graduating from least developed country (LDC) status represents a highly symbolic and positive step in a country’s journey towards greater socioeconomic prosperity. However, the resulting fall in international support and loss of LDC benefits also threatens to upend their climate adaptation plans — which are vital for those countries increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
The trajectories of countries like Angola and Bhutan, which are set to graduate in the next two years, offer an insight into the complex challenges caused by the loss of LDC benefits. This case study outlines the opportunities and risks faced by graduating LDCs and offers solutions for ensuring a smooth transition in their climate adaptation efforts.
Multilateralism key to global growth: Experts (China Daily)
Multilateralism, exemplified by entities such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, has significantly contributed to the advancement of regional and global economic growth in recent decades and should be firmly upheld by all, experts say. The APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco in the United States will be held on Thursday and Friday. The regional economic forum was established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
Edward Tse, founder and chairman of Gao Feng Advisory Company, said that multilateral institutions are critical to regional and international development. Over the past few decades, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced significant economic growth, with APEC playing a pivotal role in promoting this development. Tse said multilateral institutions have the potential to lower or eliminate trade and tariff barriers within the region, facilitating intra-regional trade. Additionally, regular communication among countries through these institutions contributes greatly to economic globalization.
“Due to geopolitical tensions, certain countries have politicized economic issues in recent years,” he said. “However, I believe that most countries, especially developing countries, have recognized the benefits of cooperation among nations and global economic development.”
Adapting to a fast-evolving digital landscape, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will debut its eWeek from 4 to 8 December, in a major revamp of its annual eCommerce Week series which began in 2016. Themed ”Shaping the future of the digital economy”, the UNCTAD eWeek will feature over 150 sessions focused on tackling pressing issues related to digitalization. Key topics will range from platform governance, the development impact of artificial intelligence (AI), eco-friendly digital practices, to empowering women through digital entrepreneurship and accelerating digital readiness in developing countries.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: “The digital economy plays a critical role in advancing development goals at all levels. Through inclusive and multi-stakeholder discussions, we can together build a global digital future that works for all.” The weeklong event will gather governments, CEOs, heads of international organizations, civil society representatives and other stakeholders.