tralac Daily News
Kenya has vast growth potential in aviation and technology (The Standard)
The air transport industry in Africa is on the resurgence, and aviation is definitely the next infrastructure growth frontier. One of the largest aviation hubs and businesses will be the 1.3-billion-dollar deal by Qatar to develop and partner with Rwanda as an expansion of the airport business for passenger, cargo, and global centre of aviation excellence.
Kenya is moving fast, with Nairobi, JKIA airport, enjoying expanded brand new terminals and connected to the expressway, has major strategic expansions integrated into the new investments planned for passenger and Cargo business. Kenya is integrating roads, railways, and expanding terminals and runaway for airports to become the world-class hub of business and creating master plans for airport cities infrastructure.
NCC seeks to identify competitiveness gaps (The Herald)
The National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) is developing the Zimbabwe Competitiveness Report (ZCR) to identify critical competitiveness gaps and productivity issues hindering economic growth. The comprehensive report will also provide actionable policy recommendations aligned with the objectives of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the commission said.
The ZCR will serve as a valuable platform for participants to reflect on recent progress, share insights into the current economic landscape, and explore innovative approaches to enhance national productivity and competitiveness, fostering sustainable development for the future. “Strong growth is key for sustainable development, and there is need to address systemic structural changes that can boost investment, enhance competitiveness, strengthen risk resilience and harness opportunities arising from technology adoption in all sectors of the economy,” said NCC.
New rail line boon for Zim-Mozambique trade (The Herald)
Zimbabwe, as a land-linked country, continues to benefit from use of Mozambican ports, railways and road infrastructure for the movement of both imports and exports, and, in that regard, the commissioning of the newly rehabilitated US$200 million Beira-Machipanda railway line will reduce transportation costs of cargo between the two countries and the region, President Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking at the commissioning of the railway line in Manica, Mozambique, yesterday, the President, who was guest of honour at the event, said not only will the rehabilitated 318-kilometre railway line reduce transport costs but will also ease congestion at Forbes Border Post in Mutare, which is presently handling between 300 to 500 trucks per day.
Renewable hydrogen is expected to be a key fuel in the green transition – the European Union estimates that it could make up 20 per cent of its energy mix by 2050. As such, the EU is strengthening its strategic renewable hydrogen partnership with Namibia, a country rich in renewable energy resources and able to produce clean hydrogen at competitive prices.
This partnership hinges on their different priorities: the EU needs to secure access to alternative energy sources, in part, through importing renewable hydrogen from price competitive sources while upholding sustainability standards. Namibia, on the other hand, wants the export of renewable hydrogen to lead to increased industrialisation, economic growth, and development through greater access to energy and water, job creation, and skills training. The partnership became more concrete with the recent launch of the operational roadmap in October, making Namibia the only African country with such agreement.
Ghana highlights agro-export potential (The Peninsula)
Ghana aims to increase its horticulture and agro-export to Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as part of its economic drive to boost the agricultural sector and promote the ‘grow in Ghana and export from Ghana’ initiative. During a conference on ‘Agribusiness opportunities in Ghana within the context of Agritech’ hosted by Ghana as part of the International Horticultural Expo 2023 (Expo 2023 Doha) yesterday, stakeholders discussed the latest technology and innovation in Ghana’s agricultural sector, building entrepreneurship and opportunities for investors.
“The agri-business industry in Ghana offers intriguing investment opportunities in modern agriculture, technology, and sustainability for potential investors,” Samuel Dentu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), said.
Agriculture remains an overwhelming priority for Ghana, as it employs around 45% of the labour force. In 2022, agriculture contributed 18.78% to Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to Dentu, Ghana’s strategic location makes it a prime location for firms looking for inroads into the African market. Besides, the country’s reputation as a secure and hospitable nation that welcomes businesses and investment opportunities is an added incentive to prospective investors.
Ghana remains highly dependent on imports including staple foods like grains, meat and poultry to meet local demand, posing severe risks of external shocks destabilising the economy. This is according to a report on the 2023 Mid-Year Budget Review put together by University of Ghana’s ISSER.
The report shows that food items still dominate Ghana’s monthly import bill in the first half of 2023, led by produce from Asia and Europe cautioning that with high inflation already biting consumers from looming global recessions, unrest and climate pressures, further volatility in international food prices could severely impact Ghana. The researchers say self-sufficiency in key staple foods through increased domestic production should be a national priority.
After more than a decade of growth, key economic sectors, cocoa and energy, are at risk of underperforming if urgent measures to tackle climate change are not taken, according to the new Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) for Côte d’Ivoire discussed today at the council of ministers.
Côte d’Ivoire now stands at a crossroads to meet its development ambitions. Climate change is already taking a toll on Côte d’Ivoire with rising temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, and sea-level rise posing significant threats. About 80% of Ivorian companies surveyed mentioned already feeling the effects of climate change through impact on revenues, costs, and investments.
“The CCDR for Côte d’Ivoire is a wake-up call for the nation. Authorities must take immediate and decisive action to address climate change while fostering sustainable development. The choices to make today will determine the future of the country and the well-being of all Ivorians, including the most vulnerable”, says Marie-Chantal Uwanyiligira, World Bank Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Guinea, and Togo.
ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA), and the Ethiopian Leather Industries Association (ELIA) co-organized the first workshop on “the Ethiopian Leather Industry and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Opportunities and Challenges” at the Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 21, 2023.
Ethiopia has an established leather industry, dating back to the early 20th century. Ethiopia is home to the largest livestock population in Africa that guarantees plentiful supply of raw materials for its leather industry. There are also many businesses operating across different segments of the industry in Ethiopia, both foreign and domestic. The industry has enormous potential to, among others, boost export revenues, create more job opportunities, support women economic empowerment, and contribute to Ethiopia’s overall development.
That Ethiopia is also a State Party to the AfCFTA means that its leather products have access to a large and growing market of over 1.4 billion people, increasingly free of duties and other barriers.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Somalia, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), convened a validation meeting of its African Continental Free Trade Area national implementation strategy on 15 November 2023 in Mogadishu. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit feedback and inputs from various stakeholders on the draft document that articulates Somalia’s vision and actions for harnessing the potential of AfCFTA.
Mr Mohamed Saney Dalmar, Director General of the Somalia Ministry of Commerce and Industry, opened the workshop. “This validation workshop is a testament to our collective commitment to fostering economic growth and regional collaboration.” He further highlighted that the the private sector plays a pivotal role in this transformative process, acting as a catalyst for growth by driving innovation, creating job opportunities, and facilitating the integration of Somali businesses into the broader African market.
The AfCFTA Agreement has received the approval of the Somalia Cabinet and is now awaiting ratification by Parliament. Members of the parliament who attended the meeting said that the Agreement will likely be ratified in the next few months.
“With ECA support 31 African countries and two regional economic communities have completed, validated and launched their national or regional AfCFTA Implementation Strategies, while around ten others are at different stages in the process of developing their strategies”, said Mr Melaku Desta, the coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre.
Why Zambia needs the AfCFTA (Frontpage)
Though Zambia has made progress in diversifying its export sector, it is still dependent on its copper exports. The implication is that Zambia’s economy only does well when the copper price is high and can become sluggish when it drops. Thus, it was bad news when the world market price started to slide fast last summer. It did not recover fully, so this autumn, the Ministry of Finance expected gross domestic product to grow by a mere 2.7 % in 2023 after 4.7 % in 2022.
This trend shows that Zambia’s trade needs to shift its focus away from mining. It must generate more foreign-exchange revenues from other industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), energy and tourism. Achieving that will require policies to open the economy to more international trade. In this context, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) should prove most helpful. The AfCFTA can positively contribute to the responding to Zambia’s debt problems by triggering international investment and economic expansion throughout the region.
As World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is marked from 18 to 24 November, UNCTAD has launched three advisory reports spelling out how pharmaceutical companies, governments and procurers can ensure appropriate access to antibiotics in East Africa. The studies recommend ways to improve the investment landscape for local production of essential antibiotics in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
“It is imperative that every patient has access to the right antibiotics at the right time, no matter where they live,” the reports say. Lack of access to antibiotics is acute in developing nations, especially in least developed countries, where antibiotics are often not even registered by pharmaceutical companies with national regulatory bodies, preventing entirely their access. Since 2020, UNCTAD has implemented a project on investment incentives for local production of essential antibiotics in East Africa.
African airlines to engage states on opening air space (The East African)
A total of 570 delegates from the aviation sector yesterday resolved to engage their home governments to liberalise and open up air spaces within Africa to ease movements. During the closure of the 55th African Airlines Association Annual General Assembly (Afraa) in Kampala, Uganda on Tuesday, delegates unanimously agreed that opening up air spaces within African countries is a game changer for the sector.
“So far, 37 out of 54 countries have subscribed to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) but majority have not fulfilled the commitment. The problem is that most countries are protective and as Afraa, we have engaged them to open up their air spaces because it is a good initiative. For example, Morocco who opened up its air space to Europe at first were hit hard but in the long run got a lot of traffic,” Afraa Secretary General Abderahmane Berthe said. “Another major problem we have is visa restriction which is a complex thing and as Afraa we cannot do much about it, but we are still engaging governments to facilitate free movement of people as this will facilitate trade and tourism,” he added.
African states have been urged to embrace the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in a bid to enhance commercial activities. This was during the 4th Global Logistics Convention that was held in Nairobi on Wednesday for two days under the theme ‘Connecting Continents: Strengthening Global Supply Chains’.
Freight Logix Kenya Managing Director George Kidenda said in an effort to increase free trade within the continent, in the next 10 years, African governments aim to reduce up to 97 per cent of the tariffs to zero thus enabling different players to enter and trade in new markets. “We need proper infrastructure and free movement of cargo to effect this. Most of our roads do not cross effectively into other countries in Africa. Our airlines do not have free landing rights. We need to come together to improve intra-Africa trade,” Kidenda said.
Kidenda noted that African leaders now target to have a free trade area by 2063. He called for proper infrastructure to make the free trade area a success. He said roads and rail links should be constructed to cross into other African countries. ”The challenge we face in Africa is that there is no network connectivity,” Kidenda said.
EU Ink Finance Agreements Worth Almost €50 Million (RegionWeek)
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the European Union (EU) signed two financing agreements on Monday, Nov. 20 worth a total of 48.2 million euros ($53 million). These new grants will focus on improving the overall trade competitiveness of COMESA member states and enhancing their market access.
For COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe, the support is part of a wider cooperation aimed at strengthening economic development, trade facilitation and regional integration within Africa’s largest trading bloc. “Despite the region’s comparative advantage linked mainly to its natural resources and its potential in the agri-food, textile and clothing sectors, trade remains low compared to other regions, with many traded products having low added value,” she said
Karolina Stasiak, EU Ambassador to Zambia and Special Representative to COMESA, said the two organizations shared the same objectives of facilitating regional integration, connectivity and trade. She said that in view of global challenges, the EU was calling for trade to be made fairer and more sustainable. “We need to make our economies greener, make local, regional and global value chains more circular, and significantly reduce the negative impact of our economies on the climate,” Stasiak said.
EAC to revise economic targets to attain monetary union dream (The East African)
After missing the first deadline for the attainment of a monetary union, the East African Community (EAC) secretariat is seeking to revise the macroeconomic convergence targets set in 2013 as pre-requisites to the roll-out of a single currency in the region The monetary union dream, the third pillar of the EAC economic integration, was planned to be realised by November 2023, setting the precedent for the issuance of a common currency in the region, but this has been missed. Ministers of finance last year extended the deadline by ten years as all of the four core prerequisites to the establishment of the monetary union, including attaining macroeconomic convergence targets, are yet to be realised.
Pantaleo Kessy, principal economist in charge of monetary affairs at the EAC secretariat, told journalists that they are currently doing new studies to see if the set macroeconomic targets are still attainable within the ten-year window set for the achievement of the desired one-currency area. “We’re giving ourselves until 2031, but if the criteria are not attainable, 2031 will come and we’ll give ourselves another 10 years. So, we need to do another study, taking into account what has happened between 2013, when we were negotiating the protocol, and now.”
Somalia officially admitted into EAC (The East African)
Somalia has been admitted as the eighth member of the East African Community on Friday November 24, 2023, just over a year after the latest entrant, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was admitted into the bloc. Mogadishu’s admission into the bloc was approved by the region’s leaders during the 23rd ordinary summit of the heads of state held in Arusha, Tanzania, on the same day, after successful negotiations that lasted close to a year.
Somalia first expressed interest in joining the EAC in 2012, but was turned down due to its internal troubles with Al-Shabaab and lack of a stable legal and political environment at the time. However, Mogadishu’s hopes of joining the regional bloc were rekindled when equally troubled South Sudan was admitted in 2016, and later DRC, which also has multiple conflicts within its borders, in 2022.
Somalia’s entrance into the EAC will now pave way for the admission of its neighbours, Eritrea and Djibouti, which have also been targeted in EAC’s expansion plan to include the entire horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and possibly Sudan.
The Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State is in agreement that increased investment in climate smart agriculture and renewable energy is the best approach to mitigate the impact of climate change, and improving access to and availability of food for their citizens. The Heads of State who spoke during the EAC High-Level Forum on Climate Change and Food Security in Arusha, Tanzania on Thursday further noted the importance of establishing a platform to share experiences on environmental sustainability, disaster management and cross-border management of natural resources.
In his remarks, EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki underscored the importance of EAC having a common position as it goes to COP 28. Dr. Mathuki said that no country should have to choose between its development aspirations and climate change mitigation, adding that there was need for complementarity as opposed to competition among Partner States.
Tanzania urges EAC common stance on foreign carbon trading firms (The East African)
The rapid pace of technological innovation and the increase in volume of online services requires adaptive policy and regulation, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Director for Africa Anne-Rachel Inne said. Addressing the 5th Ordinary Session of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Communication and ICT today, the regional director said digital transformation is central to the work of the ITU and aligns with its strategic goals of universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation.
Highlighting that change is needed in policy and regulation, she said regulatory expertise needs to be developed continuously to integrate new technologies, competencies and skills to allow for data and evidence-based decision making. “We all recognize and appreciate how quickly technology advances and as such regulatory frameworks need to evolve and adapt to remain effective and ensure that they are functioning as intended new overlapping emergencies call for a strategic approach to digital policy.” For the regional director, the rapid pace of technological innovation and increase in volume of online services requires adaptive policy and regulation.
What’s stopping e-commerce from thriving in Africa? (Mobile World Live)
According to a recent study by the GSMA Mobile for Development (M4D) team and the UK Department of Business and Trade, micro enterprises make up the bulk of African businesses. The research cited there were more than 44 million formal Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Africa as of 2018, 90 per cent of which were identified as micro and small. The amount is estimated to be much higher if informal businesses are included, and today, the sector accounts for 80 per cent of jobs in the region.
This also means that MSMEs play a significant role in Africa’s economic position. In Ghana, the sector generates 70 per cent of GDP, and the increasing adoption of online platforms is believed to have been instrumental to the growth of this ecosystem. M4D’s research, which surveyed more than 1,500 MSMEs in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, highlighted how online channels have slashed the barriers to entry by helping small businesses expand operations with little cost, while encouraging informal enterprises to blend into the wider economy.
However, given the recent progress in internet penetration and mobile adoption rates, M4D believes African businesses have “a notable opportunity” to leverage sales and contribute to job creations via e-commerce, pointing to a gap in the usage of social media and online marketplaces.
African countries should promote sustainable land governance in the acceleration of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), agreed panelists during a panel session at the ongoing 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa.
“Issues of land play an important part in this equation, because manufacturing and value addition will require raw materials to be produced on land; investments in value added sectors will also need access to land,” said Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in the panel session, themed Land Governance, Regional Integration and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges.
A new report from the WTO’s Committee on Rules of Origin highlights the work of members in addressing the concerns of least developed countries (LDCs) with regards to preferential rules of origin in favour of LDCs. It urges further work to facilitate the use of these trade preferences by LDCs.
The report, which was adopted by the Committee on 24 November, will be forwarded to a 14-15 December General Council meeting for consideration. It calls on the Committee to continue its work to ensure that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from LDCs are transparent and simple and contribute to facilitating market access, in line with the Uruguay Round Decision on Measures in Favour of Least Developed Countries as well as the subsequent 2013 Bali and 2015 Nairobi Decisions on Preferential Rules of Origin for LDCs.
Zambia on track with WTO policy reforms (Zambia Daily Mail)
At the 23 November meeting of the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, WTO members and stakeholders discussed the latest revised draft of a potential statement on plastics pollution to be issued at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024. Members also considered a compilation document of trade-related practices already being adopted to tackle plastics pollution.
UN General Assembly Member States have voted with a majority of 125 in favor of adopting a Convention on International Tax Cooperation. India was among the 125 countries to vote in the United Nations General Assembly for the organisation to develop a global tax framework. The historic resolution was tabled by the Africa Group and a host of Western countries or OECD nations, including UK, US, and the entire European Union bloc, voted against it. The resolution was tabled by the African Group under the title: “Promotion of inclusive and effective international tax cooperation at the United Nations”.
As per the African Union, the resolution represents a beacon of hope for developing nations. “It will facilitate the access of much needed financial resources, crucial for responding to the current debt crises and facilitate the pursuit of achieving sustainable development. It is also in line with African aspirations as outlined in the AU Agenda 2063, reinforcing the commitment by Member States, to strengthening tax systems and fostering tax equity,” the African Union said.
António Guterres said the world, particularly developing countries, is facing “a perfect storm”, with growing inequalities, climate chaos, conflicts and hunger. Meanwhile, fiscal space is tightening for many, with crushing debt burdens and skyrocketing prices. “This is a recipe for global instability and suffering,” he said, speaking from Santiago, Chile.
The UN chief called for G20 members to help lead the way in financial justice and commended their support for his $500 billion annual stimulus plan to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Mr. Guterres said he will establish a Leaders Group to monitor the implementation of the SDG Stimulus to enable $500 billion in additional long-term development finance.