tralac Daily News
The Port of Durban has made significant strides in the improvement of its marine craft status by increasing tug availability to an average of six tugs as of December 2023. The increased tug availability is set to complement the 24-hour helicopter service, ensure a quicker turnaround of vessels at the port and allow terminal operators to implement the Container Recovery Plan at the port, with agility. The Plan was put in place to clear backlogs and improve the turnaround time of vessels calling the container terminals.
The port has seen severe delays recently due to various factors, including adverse weather conditions and equipment availability and maintenance. “Having all six tugs operating is a big step in the right direction for the port and our investment in the marine fleet exhibits our commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring the port remains a gateway for trade. “We are optimistic about the positive impact these tugs will have on the current container recovery plan and our general service offering to our customers,” Transnet National Ports Authority, Port Manager at the Port of Durban, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said on Friday.
Second iteration of just transition project framework completed (Engineering News)
Nonprofit economic research institution Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) has developed the second iteration of its framework to identify and measure just transition projects in South Africa, and will publish it in March.
The first iteration of the framework was used to test theoretical assumptions about just transition projects against projects on the ground. It used an open call and an invitation to 70 companies known to be active in the space to gather data on projects, with the respondents drawn from a broad cross section of industries. The researchers then tested the information of these projects against the first framework and made adjustments based on the insights for the second iteration.
The aim is to iterate the just transition tag and track framework so that it meets the needs of the complex environment while ensuring that projects that have a beneficial impact on the just transition are recognised, said TIPS research fellow Sandy Lowitt.
Rwanda ratchets up farming skills to avert food insecurity (The East African)
Rwanda’s agriculture sector grew by five percent annually over the past 15 years as the country’s GDP rose from $441 in 2007 to $1,004 in 2022. Agriculture was one of the key factors that drove down poverty from 60 percent in 2000 to 38.2 percent in 2017.
The soft underbelly of this solid success, however, is that over 20 percent of Rwanda’s population is food insecure. Food shortages, coupled with international dynamics, have seen Rwanda’s food inflation skyrocket to third highest in the world. Flooding, irregular rains and poor farming methods detract from the great strides the country is making to entrench agriculture as a viable economic activity.
Commercial car dealers and individual buyers are engaged in a rush to beat the December 31 cut-off date for units assembled eight years ago. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) prohibits the importation of vehicles aged more than eight years from the date of manufacture. The Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) said while importers are rushing to beat the eight-year rule, which has traditionally driven up numbers as the year closes, a shortage of dollars has affected imports in the last three months this year.
Lithium deal will go parliament by Q1 2024 (The Business & Financial Times)
The inaugural lithium lease with Barari DV Ghana Limited, which has come under public scrutiny, will be submitted to parliament by the first quarter of 2024, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has hinted. Before it goes to parliament, however, the deal will have to be approved by Cabinet, the minister said in a direct response to calls by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to subject the deal to a legislative probe. Mr. Jinapor reiterated that terms of the lease require ratification by parliament, and due procedure is being adhered to.
Gov’t outlines roadmap for climate finance and sustainable dev’t (The Business & Financial Times)
The Ministry of Finance has unveilled a comprehensive strategy to utilise financial instruments, public-private partnerships and international assistance to channel investments into green projects. This demonstrates the country’s commitment to advancing climate finance and reducing emissions across economic sectors.
The ambitious plan took centre-stage at the pivotal COP28 side-event hosted by the ministry on collaborative pathways to climate prosperity. Ghanaian officials highlighted the country’s proactive leadership in pioneering sustainable development solutions amid the intricacies of global climate finance systems.
Medications worth N81.81 billion were imported into Nigeria from July to September 2023. This is an increase of 68% from the N48.74 billion imported drugs in the same quarter of 2022. It is also an increase of 27% from the N64.38 billion recorded in Q2 2023. The figure is contained in an analysis of the foreign trade reports of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In Q3 of 2023, the importation of medications makes up 0.97% of total imports, which is less than the 1.12% recorded in the previous quarter but slightly higher than the 0.97% in the same quarter of the previous year.
As pharmaceutical firms exit the country, Nigeria has to look to import from other countries to meet up health needs. The NBS report reveals that most of the medications were imported from India, the United States, China, France, and Germany.
Support MSMEs to take advantage of Guided Trade Initiative under AfCFTA - CUTS (The Business & Financial Times)
The West African Regional Director of CUTS International, Appiah Kusi Adomako has called on government to support Ghanaian Medium Small-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to position them to take advantage of the Guided Trade Initiative under the AfCFTA.
Addressing stakeholders and the media at a Public Private Dialogue (PPD) organized by CUTS International Accra with support from the GIZ-implemented Programme Support to the AfCFTA under the Trade Hub Ghana in Accra, Mr Adomako underscored the need for government to build the capacity of Ghanaian MSMEs to improve their knowledge and awareness on the Guided Trade Initiative under AfCFTA to better position them to benefit from the second phase of the initiative.
He further opined that “it is evident that knowledge and awareness of the implementation of the GTI is relatively low among Ghanaian private sector companies. Hence, government should collaborate with key stakeholders to intensify awareness creation, capacity building training and prioritize improving the general trade facilitation framework.”.
Group to Campaign for Women Leveraging AfCFTA (New Telegraph)
Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), a not-for- profit organisation, has disclosed that it is ready to campaign aggressively for successful career women to take advantage of the forthcoming African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in order to bolster their businesses outside the shore of Nigeria.
Founder and Chairperson of WISCAR, Amina Oyagbola, made this known during a press conference on the 13th edition of WISCAR Annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference scheduled to hold on Saturday at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. She explained that AfCFTA was a good opportunity for Nigeria and from the perspective of gender and women, Nigerian women should be ready to leverage on AfCFTA, in a bid to expand their businesses.
“Nigeria as a country needs to prepared it’s self and positioned itself to take advantage of AfCFTA. “From the perspective of gender and women, it is important that we the women gets ourselves ready and prepared to size the opportunities coming.
The East African Community (EAC) has the largest share of projects financed by the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD IPPF). The EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, attributed this achievement to the comprehensive governance framework for projects management that has been put in place by the Community.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Principal Civil Engineer at the EAC Secretariat, Eng. Godfrey Enzama, during the opening session of a four-day Joint Meeting of the High Level Standing Committee of the East African Trade and Transport Facilitation Project (EATTFP) and the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) on East African Multinational Roads Project in Mombasa, Kenya, Dr. Mathuki hailed the cooperation and support extended by Partner States in the implementation of regional projects and programmes.
The Secretary General further disclosed that the EAC boasts the highest number of OSBPs in Africa and is the only region with a harmonised axle load control regime, even as he added that a lot more remains to be done, including the upgrading of 15 more borders to OSBPs, construction of smart weighbridges in all Partner States, addressing Road User Charges, implementing the EAC Road Safety Action Plan, and the domestication of the instruments agreed by the Tripartite RECs of COMESA, EAC and SADC among other programmes.
Africa is home to 17 percent of the world’s population, but more than half of its 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and digital technologies to unlock new pathways to development. About two thirds of the continent, 900 million people, are not connected to the internet. A third of Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries are landlocked and depend on neighbors for access to global markets; 38 percent of SSA’s population lives in these countries. SSA countries under-trade with each other by 21 percent and with the rest of the world by 39 percent. Inadequate transport connectivity and policy harmonization among ports, railways, and road corridors inhibit participation in global value chains. Africa faces a slew of crises which transcend borders – climate change, droughts and floods, fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV), forced displacement, food and water insecurity, and pandemics.
Despite these challenges, Africa’s potential remains remarkable, with a young and growing population, vast renewable energy potential, and a robust record of regional cooperation through bodies like the African Union (AU). Regional integration is key to Africa overcoming multiple crises, and the World Bank’s RI program is building upon past successes to take on the next set of challenges.
World Bank support for regional integration in Africa is guided by The World Bank Group’s Regional Integration Strategy along four priority pillars: Regional Connectivity, Trade and Market Integration, Human Capital Development, and Resilience. The Strategy covers the entire continent, strengthens dialogue for continental integration, calls for coordinated actions by World Bank institutions, and recommends engaging the private sector as a development partner.
Heads of multilateral development banks attending the 2023 global climate change conference, COP28, on Tuesday committed to scale resource mobilisation to close the nature and water sector financing gap.
The President of the Asian Development Bank, Masatsugu Asakawa, reinforced the need for the development community to lead in mobilising partnerships that can generate new and additional financing. He referenced the launch of the joint Common Principles for Climate Change Adaptation Finance Tracking by Multilateral Development Banks and the International Development Finance Club to improve the reporting on adaptation finance.
The African Development Bank has pledged to quadruple its financing for climate adaptation to reach $25 billion by 2025 through promoting climate-smart investments. The Bank will encourage private-sector funding, particularly for water treatment, recycling, and other components in the water value chain. It will also consider strategic debt relief programs like debt-for-nature swaps in return for a commitment from regional member countries to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure.
The African Economic Conference has ended with a call to African nations to invest in high-added value sectors and develop regional value chains to stimulate industrialization. The three-day conference, which took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was organized by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the United Nations Development Programme. It brought together experts from the private sector, researchers, and young people under the theme “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa”.
The conference called on African countries to adopt flexible and targeted industrial policies to drive robust and sustainable industrialization on the continent. “The actions we take, and the advice we give to countries will make it a worthwhile agenda. It will only take us Africans to develop Africa; we can only have partners to support us,” said Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank Group, Prof. Kevin Urama said.
How to Mobilize Climate Finance for Railways (World Bank Blog)
The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that USD 300 billion additional investment in railways is needed every year, just to keep pace with expected economic growth and more would be needed to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to make rail infrastructure climate resilient. These are multilateral, bilateral, and philanthropic funds that provide grants and concessional financing specifically to promote investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
On Wednesday, UN climate chief Simon Stiell told a press conference that the text is “a grab bag of wish lists and heavy on posturing.” He added: “All governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders. We need highest ambition, not point scoring or lowest common denominator politics.”
UN chief António Guterres has said the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which facilitates these annual conferences, “must commit countries to triple renewables capacity, double energy efficiency, and bring clean energy to all, by 2030.”In Dubai last week, Mr. Guterres reiterated calls for a complete phase out of fossil fuels to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius – while ensuring that the transition is equitable and just.
The governments of France, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom together with Brazil (the incoming G20 Presidency), the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, ministers from Africa and Latin America, the Asian Development Bank and other international institutions pledged strong support for a proposal by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the channeling of special drawing rights (SDRs) through multilateral development banks (MDBs).
Speaking at a special roundtable convened at the COP28 in Dubai on Monday 4 December to discuss leveraging SDRs for climate and development, the participants commended the two banks for their innovative proposal that would deliver much-needed financial resources to vulnerable countries.
The African Union at its meeting of Heads of State in February 2022 urged wealthy nations to increase the SDR allocation to the continent to at least $100 billion and channel part of them through the African Development Bank. The channeling of SDRs through the MDBs strongly aligns with and was incorporated into the MDB Vision Statement issued at the Summit on the Paris Pact for People and Planet held in June 2023.
Trade is often seen as the problem not the solution when it comes to climate change. But at COP28 this year in Dubai, where trade is featured as a specific theme for the first time, leading trade organisations outlined how trade can work for a net zero transition. World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala used the occasion of COP to unveil a 10-point set of “Trade Policy Tools for Climate Action”, as well as principles for helping the steel industry decarbonise.
At a COP28 launch event held on 5 December in Dubai, WTO Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam announced that 42 standard-setting organizations, companies, industry associations and international organizations have now endorsed the new Steel Standards Principles.
The event, co-organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization’s Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (UNIDO/IDDI), the Breakthrough Agenda and the WTO Secretariat, brought together a diversity of stakeholders to voice the value of the principles for supporting decarbonization of the steel sector. Jiang Wei, Vice Chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association, emphasized the importance of the Steel Standards Principles for promoting mutual recognition of different methodologies used for measuring emissions.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has taken the world by storm, bringing both immense opportunities and profound challenges for our economies and societies. Its increasingly vital role in the digital economy is revolutionizing areas from data analytics to product and service personalization but also raising critical questions about privacy, data security and the ethical use of technology. The world cannot afford to leave AI unchecked, experts at UNCTAD eWeek 2023 said.
“It’s essential that our approach to AI development aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing potential risks effectively, creating a digital future that is open, free, secure and centered around human needs,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said on 6 as she opened a high-level session on the topic.
UNCTAD advocates for a future of AI that focuses on empowering all individuals and societies through its responsible and ethical development and application. Achieving this requires inclusive digital cooperation, aimed at bridging disparities in digital access, data availability and innovation while ensuring AI advancements align with universal values and human rights.
With global attention on the COP28 climate summit, UNCTAD’s eWeek 2023 highlighted digitalization’s potential to accelerate climate action but also its environmental costs. Data-driven technologies like the Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance climate change monitoring, optimize energy use and production processes, and promote low-emissions technology adoption. But the digital transformation has left its mark on the planet through raw material depletion, energy and water use, pollution and waste.
Torbjorn Fredriksson, head of UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy branch, added: “We are at a crucial juncture, where the path we choose in digitalization will significantly impact our environment and, ultimately, the future of our planet.”