tralac Daily News
Sixty per cent of South Africa’s economy is at risk because of the “high inefficiencies and infrastructural collapse” that have led to the country’s current crisis of state-owned logistics capacity, says Dr Juanita Maree of the South Africa Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff).
The association’s CEO said trade and goods represent a major portion of the national economy but with the interrupted movement of freight, this isn’t possible. Moreover, data shows that South Africa hasn’t had a functioning logistics network over the last decade. Cargo throughout at the country’s ports, Maree says, is one of the biggest contributors to economic strain.
“Our terminal efficiency has declined by 28% compared to our internal targets. Benchmarked against globally recognised best practices for ports of a similar size, current throughput at 84% of demonstrated capacity is 50% below norm.” The current situation of vessels waiting at sea to enter the country’s ports, and export trucks battling to gain fast enough access to offload at terminals, intensified in the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year, Maree says. Capacity issues reaching crisis point at key ports, resulted in severe backlogs of freight and costly delays, she adds. “The national logistics crisis is our own ‘inconvenient truth’.”
South Africa’s ports and rail system facing imminent ‘collapse’ (The East African)
South Africa seeks re-election to council of global shipping regulator (Engineering News)
The Department of Transport (DoT) has announced that it has launched a campaign to get South Africa re-elected to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), for the period 2023 to 2024. The IMO is the specialised United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping and setting global standards, including for safety, security and environmental compliance, for the sector.
In its campaign, the DoT is supported by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and by key national maritime sector agencies. These latter are the South African Maritime Safety Authority, Transnet National Ports Authority and the Ports Regulator of South Africa.
“South Africa with its rich maritime heritage, is committed to [the IMO’s] ideals and believes that its continued presence in the IMO Council is essential to furthering the organisation’s goals,” affirmed the DoT. “South Africa is a champion of maritime safety with its proven track record of managing and maintaining a robust system of Aids to Navigation, including lighthouses and a fully-fledged Marine Hydrographic Service.”
Mombasa Port to beat performance target (The East African)
Container traffic through the Mombasa port is set to surpass its annual target of 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), having clocked 1.32 million within the first 10 months of 2023, the Kenya Ports Authority said.
The performance to October means that the container throughput has grown 10.2 percent compared to a similar period in 2022 when it handled 1.2 million TEUs—a feat the port operator attributed to improved efficiency. This comes as the outlook for the next 14 days indicates 42 cargo vessels will call the Port of Mombasa during this period with 25 accounting for container ships.
KPA Managing Director William Ruto attributed the improved performance to increased efficiency in operations. “These initiatives include the expansion of container handling berths, increased automation of services, acquisition of modern ship and cargo handling equipment, and improved partnerships with key government agencies and stakeholders,” he said.
Optimism over Nigeria’s new broadband blueprint (CAJ News Africa)
The new Strategic Vision Plan (2023-2025) is anticipated to accelerate Nigeria’s attainment of its broadband penetration target of 70 percent in the next two years. The aim is also to deliver data download speeds of a minimum of 25mbps in urban areas and 10mbps in rural areas by 2025. The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) recently unveiled the blueprint, which is a unified document of the Strategic Management Plan 2020-2024 and Strategic Vision Plan 2021-2025 reports.
FBNQuest, the merchant banking and asset management group, believes the West African country is on track. It noted the new SVP document is on the back of the successful implementation of initiatives outlined in the SVP 2015-2020 report, which drove significant growth in the telecoms sector. “Notably, the new report is designed to provide strategic direction towards the attainment of the commission’s policy targets for the next two years,” FBNQuest stated.
Longstanding Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) constitute 63,6% of total outstanding NTBs with some of these remaining unresolved for an average period of 5 -8 years with the longest being above 12 years and the shortest being 2-4 years. The long standing NTBs are categorised into Technical and Non-technical NTBs; costly additional taxes, import licensing numerous/complex documentation and registration procedures, and Customs valuation.
Subsequently, COMESA Secretariat has facilitated bilateral and trilateral meetings to resolve NTBs amongst countries involved which include DR Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Uganda, and Zambia. In considering the outstanding NTBs in the Time Bound matrix, Member States have raised concerns over the long periods taken by Focal Points and National Monitoring Committee to undertake internal consultations to resolve them.
In its meeting on 23 November 2023, the COMESA Council of Ministers’ meeting noted that relevant officials failed to attend to the reported NTBs promptly and that majority of the consultations were undertaken during the regional NTB meetings. The meeting therefore urged National Monitoring Committee members to prioritize processing and resolution of the reported NTBs without necessarily having to wait to make consultations during the NTB Forum.
COMESA has launched a Trade in Services Portal to facilitate online negotiation of offers and requests between Member States under the COMESA trade in services liberalization programme. The launch was conducted during the 44th Meeting of the COMESA Council of Ministers on 23 November 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia.
The portal provides tools to ensure the technical quality of the offers being made and exchanged are transparent and confidentiality in information sharing. It also provides messaging tools for users to interact safely and support the provision of trade in services data collected from all Member States.
The need to develop the portal followed the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricted travels and curtailed the ability to organise physical meetings. Subsequently, COMESA Secretariat requested for technical assistance from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on capacity building in Trade in Services to help speed up negotiations and to harmonize the Trade in Services processes at regional and continental level which was granted.
“The platform is not meant to replace, but rather to support and enhance physical trade in services negotiations,” COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said at the launch and assured that it will be hosted on the Secretariat’s servers to ensure its security and confidentiality.
Geingob calls for a re-evaluation of the SACU trading model (Windhoek Observer)
President Hage Geingob has expressed concerns about the current Southern African Customs Union (SACU) trading model and called for a reevaluation of its approach, citing the challenges posed by the existing system. The President made these remarks during an end-of-year briefing at the State House in Windhoek. He emphasized the need to revisit SACU’s model, which he believes is hindering Namibia’s industrialization efforts.
Geingob pointed out that Namibia cannot directly import cars and other goods from Europe or other regions; instead, it must go through South Africa. He argued that this current approach should be reconsidered for the future of SACU and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to thrive democratically.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seeks to hold the East African Community (EAC) Partner States accountable in terms of timely payment of due contributions to address the current practice marred by delays and non-remittances. The observation was made on November 27 by the members of this EAC legislative organ at a press conference about its meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
During the meeting, regional lawmakers will discuss a motion calling for the EAC Council of Ministers to implement mechanisms to enforce Articles 143 and 146 of the Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community. The motion will be moved by MP Godfrey Maina Mwangi from Kenya.
MP Fatuma Ndangiza, from Rwanda, said the motion seeks to address an issue of poor remittance of contributions to the bloc, which was presented by journalists at the press conference. EALA Speaker Joseph Ntakirutimana said that inadequate and delayed contributions had become a big issue in the East African Community, but expressed hope that the Summit of EAC Heads of State’s decision on a new way of financing the bloc could help solve the problem – if effectively implemented.
EAC states grapple with low tax revenue (Tanzania Daily News)
East African Community (EAC) member states, like many African countries, struggle to collect an adequate amount of tax revenue to support needed investments in public services. Only one EAC member state, Rwanda, collected tax to GDP ratio of 15 per cent in 2022/2023 financial year, which is widely considered as a tipping point to make a state viable and put it on a path to growth.
World Bank (WB) says countries collecting less than 15 per cent of GDP in taxes must increase their revenue collection in order to meet basic needs of citizens and businesses. Other member states had below 15 per cent ratio which indicates that a significant part of the economic activity is untaxed and that there are fewer actors contributing to the country’s tax revenue.
ITUC-Africa demands workers inclusion in AfCFTA implementation (Tribune Online)
The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has called on all stakeholders: governments, businesses, trade unions and civil society, to ensure that African workers are not left behind in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The regional organisation noted that, “Together, we can make trade a catalyst for economic growth, job creation and equitable development across the African continent.”
ITUC-Africa also called on AfCFTA member states to ensure that women, youth and persons with disabilities are represented in all activities, in connection with issues on trade and investment (with a specific focus on the AfCFTA), industrialisation and structural transformation in Africa. These formed part of resolutions reached at the end of a three-day capacity building and engagement workshop for Informal economy actors on AfCFTA held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The U.S. Commercial Service and the African Development Bank have announced a new strategic collaboration in a move to drive digital transformation across Africa, Unveiled on the sidelines of the Africa Tech Festival held in Cape Town, South Africa, this collaboration paves the way for a series of dialogues on how U.S. digital innovation can support development goals across Africa.
Head of ICT Operations Nicholas Williams from the African Development Bank said, “Africa has made significant investments in pivotal infrastructure and policy enhancements to create an innovative digital economy. As Africa’s premier development finance institution, the African Development Bank will help push Africa’s digital boundaries even further by forging strategic relations, building on historical investments and, more importantly, tapping into the energy of our young population, who are digital natives. We value the insights that the U.S. private sector may bring.”
Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Communication Technology sectors have adopted far-reaching decisions to accelerating Africa’s Digital Transformation and boost socio-economic development, create jobs and improve people’s lives.
At the just concluded 5th Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Communication and Information Communication Technology (ICT), the ministers committed to promote the nexus between digitalisation, climate change, infrastructure, and energy to maximise the benefits of digital solutions. At the African Union Summit in 2024, the ministers will also rally for the adoption of the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa & its Implementation Framework as a flagship project of the AU Agenda 2063.
The viability of the media industry also topped the agenda of the ministers as they explore avenues to ensure the media industry benefits of the booming technological growth. They also underscored the importance of securing press freedoms and a conducive environment that allows for media to reframe the African narrative with solutions-oriented perspectives.
To scale up startup investments across the continent to continue growing tech entrepreneurs, the AU Commission will develop the African Green Digital Transformation Pact that promotes data-driven technology projects and initiatives that support environmental quality improvement, climate action, energy efficiency, and bolster resilience while promoting citizens engagement. The Pact will inform the deliberations of the Global Digital Compact scheduled for 2024.
The Government of Cote d’Ivoire, through the Ministry of Finance and Budget, launched the technical workshop for institutional investors from the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) in Abidjan on 13 November. For her part, Ms Sonia Essobmadje, Head of Section, Innovative Financing and Capital Markets at the ECA, pointed out that “Infrastructure in Africa in general, and in West Africa in particular, is crucial to economic and social development”.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Mr Bamba Vassogboa, representative of Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Finance and Budget, said that “Africa is still constrained by huge infrastructure deficits, with an estimated annual financing requirement of between 136 and 170 billion dollars and an annual financing gap of between 68 and 108 billion dollars”.
“Of the $85 billion committed to infrastructure development in Africa in 2019, $22.5 billion went to West Africa. In 2020, out of $81 billion committed, West Africa received $22.3 billion”, explained the representative of the Côte d’Ivoire Minister of Finance and Budget.
How Africa can industrialise, integrate, finance its dev’t – ECA (21st CENTURY CHRONICLE)
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), says Africa can industrialise, integrate, and finance its development without depending on foreign support. Mr Adam Elhiraika, the Director, Macro Economic Policy Division at ECA, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the continent could not afford to continue receiving aid.
“We have the momentum and historical opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the growing integration of African economies. Now is the time for African policymakers and economists to move beyond orthodox, mainstream economics theories that used to tell us that we cannot integrate.
With each passing year, the stark reality of a hotter planet becomes clearer and the ensuing risks to the global economy intensify. But as the world is waking up to the scale of the climate crisis, geopolitical tensions and fragmentation risks are undermining our ability to coordinate global actions to solve this planetary problem.
Eight years on from the Paris Agreement, policies remain insufficient to stabilize temperatures and avoid the worst effects of climate change. Collectively, we are not cutting emissions fast enough and are falling short on the needed investment, financing, and technology. The window is closing, but we still have time—just—to change our trajectory and leave a healthy, vibrant, and livable planet to the next generation.
African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Dr Amani Abou-Zeid addressed the International Vienna Energy and Climate Forum (IVECF) which brought together thousands of delegates in the Austrian capital to discuss solutions to promote green industrialization and establishing sustainable value chains for low carbon technologies. The forum took place 2-3 November 2023.
Speaking at the high-level plenary session “Solutions for Advancing Green Industrialization and Sustainable Value Chains”, Commissioner Abou-Zeid highlighted that Africa is perusing sustainable energy development trajectory mentioning that the continent is already generating 45% of its energy through renewables.
”Switching to renewable energy in Africa was made out of the necessity to achieve energy self-sufficiency and to face the devastating effects of climate change”. Despite being in the front-line of the dire consequences of climate change, the continent only receives about 2%-3% of global climate finance, a situation Commissioner Abou-Zeid blames on unfair interest rates inflicted on the Africa.
Report suggests $13.5 trillion investments for carbon-neutral future (New Business Ethiopia)
Transitioning to a more sustainable and carbon-neutral future, $13.5 trillion in investments will be needed by 2050, particularly in the production, energy and transport sectors, according to a new World Economic Forum report.
The Net-Zero Industry Tracker 2023, published in collaboration with Accenture, takes stock of progress towards net-zero emissions for eight industries – steel, cement, aluminum, ammonia, excluding other chemicals, oil and gas, aviation, shipping and trucking – which depend on fossil fuels for 90% of their energy demand and pose some of the most technological and capital-intensive decarbonization challenges.
The report, published the same week as the United Nations called at COP28 for “dramatic climate action” to close an “emissions canyon”, outlines pathways to accelerate the decarbonization of emission-intensive production, energy and transport industries. While the pathway to net zero in these sectors will differ based on unique sectoral and regional factors, investments in clean power, clean hydrogen and infrastructure for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) will be needed to accelerate industrial decarbonization across most sectors.
High-income countries at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must agree to increase investments to assist Africa in adapting its livestock systems, African leaders, scientists and experts have said in an open letter. The funding is necessary to sustain the fastest-growing population on the planet, they said.
The document described livestock as a “climate solution with legs” for 800 million herders and smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50 organisations and individuals, including Josefa Sacko, African Union commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment, have signed the open letter.
More climate-related news
African countries must accelerate the adoption of climate adaptation technologies and practices in agriculture in order to protect their economies from the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, according to 2023 Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS).
The report finds that climate-smart agricultural practices can mitigate the negative economic impacts of climate change, if scaled up and implemented properly, considering that extreme weather and climate shocks are major contributors to food insecurity in the continent.
The ReSAKSS report emphasises the importance of data in transforming African food systems, and highlights the need to improve data collection and analysis to inform evidence-based policymaking. Additionally, the report identifies the need for better coordination between different sectors, including agriculture, health, nutrition, and water and sanitation, in order to create an enabling environment for food systems transformation.
India, South Africa and Egypt have introduced a paper regarding ongoing discussions on the reforms of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) dispute settlement body, an official said. The paper - Reflections on the Reform of the WTO Dispute Settlement System - was introduced in a meeting of the body in Geneva.
In the meeting, “India took the floor to introduce the joint communication from Egypt, India and South Africa,” the Geneva-based official said, without disclosing details of the paper. It was circulated among the WTO members on Nov. 24.
The introduction of the paper assumes significance as India is batting for starting formal negotiations by WTO members to reform the dispute settlement body, as the present informal deliberations are creating hindrances for several nations to participate in the talks.
WTO trade officials discussed new negotiating submissions on agricultural market access and cotton during meetings held on 20-22 November ahead of a mini-ministerial meeting on agriculture scheduled for 28 November. They also held in-depth discussions on domestic support to the farm sector, the purchase of food at administered prices under public stockholding programmes, and export restrictions on food. The Chair, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye, said he hoped the upcoming mini-ministerial would “deliver strong support” to the Geneva negotiating process.
Under the Transparency Mechanism for RTAs, the Committee considered five RTAs between the UK and its trading partners aimed at maintaining the continuity of previous trade arrangements before the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
The Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Kingdom, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Mozambique (Goods) entered into force on 1 January 2021. The Agreement maintains most commitments under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and its Member States and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA States. The UK will eliminate duties on all but 4.7% of its tariffs for imports from South Africa and 0.2% for imports from the other parties. SACU members will maintain duties on 13.5% of the common external tariffs for imports from the UK while Mozambique will maintain duties on 59.7% of its tariffs for imports from the UK.