Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa to seek bids for new nuclear power station (Reuters)

South Africa will launch a bidding process for an extra 2,500 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power by March, as the country attempts to tackle its worst power outages on record. Businesses and households have been left without power for up to 10 hours on some days this year, hitting South Africa’s economic output and prompting plans to boost generation. However, officials said on Tuesday that the new nuclear power procurement is not a short-term fix, as the first units are only expected to start operating in a decade.

“We are excited about the prospects and we are confident about our ability to ensure that within a reasonable period of time we are able (to announce) preferred bidders,” Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa told a news conference. Ramokgopa reiterated that South Africa, which has the African continent’s only operational nuclear power plant, Koeberg, close to Cape Town, will build new ones at a scale and pace it can afford. Meanwhile, financing and long-term storage options for radioactive waste remain concerns, environmentalists say.

Cranes added at Transnet’s Cape Town Container Terminal to boost productivity (SAnews)

Transnet’s Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) has received a delivery of seven pre-used rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs). The acquisition of the RTGs is part of the State-owned entity’s turnaround plan, whose key priorities include equipment availability, in order to support operational efficiencies. Western Cape Terminals Managing Executive, Andiswa Dlanga, said: “The acquisition of additional RTGs in our terminal will go a long way in offering a reliable service to our customers, a much-needed boost for the growth of the Western Cape and South Africa’s economy.

“As a business, we are committed to deliver on our promise to customers and industry, thus equipment availability and reliability are at the core of what we do. These additional machines will enable us to improve operational performance and turn-around vessels on time”. In a statement, Transnet Port Terminals [TPT] explained that the new cranes will bring the number of TRGs operating at the CTCT to 27 – a timely boost as ahead of the peak of the deciduous season which is the terminal’s busiest time.

Trade ministry consults on key laws and policies (New Era)

The industrialisation and trade ministry has undertaken public consultations on three key legislative and policy documents pertaining to several pertinent issues in a clustered format to gather input from all stakeholders. The consultations touch on the Special Economic Zone Bill (SEZ), the National Informal Economy, Start-ups and Entrepreneurship Development Policy (NIESED), Namibia Investment Promotion and Facilitation Regulations, and the National Cooling Strategy.

“Namibia has phased out the Export Processing Zones (EPZ), and is currently transitioning to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The EPZ proved unsuccessful, yielded no requisite tax to the Treasury, and led to Namibia being almost blacklisted as a tax haven. This necessitated the reconsideration of the EPZ, and the need to seek for a more conducive and sustainable regime, hence the shift to SEZ,” he stated.

New Study Suggests Ways to Boost Algeria’s Disaster Resilience (World Bank)

More frequent forest fires, floods, and earthquakes have caused substantial human and economic losses in Algeria, says a new joint study from the World Bank and the National Delegation for Major Risks, which identifies priority actions that could help to boost Algeria’s resilience to future climate and disaster risks. Titled, “Diagnostic on Climate and Disaster Risk Management in Algeria,” the study looks at the economic impact of disasters in the country and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Algeria’s current disaster risk management efforts.

The Algerian government estimates that annual spending over the past 15 years to address floods, earthquakes, and forest fires averages around USD 255 million (DZD 35,14 billion), with about 70% allocated to floods. Looking ahead, the study forecasts that disaster losses could average around 0.7% of the country’s GDP per year, nearly double the historical average. This increase is largely due to the potential of a devastating earthquake in urban areas, which are experiencing rapid population growth and are most exposed to such events.

Botswana trade restriction thwarts Customs Union objectives (IOL)

On December 6, 2023, the government of Botswana announced that they are extending the restriction period for vegetable imports, which was due to expire at the end of December 2023. The extension period is up to December 2025 and the list of restricted vegetable products has been expanded, which does not bode well for South African farmers.

To South African farmers, Sacu is not only a destination market, but also a partner in developing agriculture and expanding Sacu’s agricultural export footprint in the continent and beyond. As such countries like Botswana and Namibia are strategic transit of vegetable products originating from South Africa.

Border closures also affects other agricultural products, which might have long-term consequences for Botswana citizens, especially products that cannot be grown locally due to environmental conditions, skills, and technical and physical infrastructure challenges.

Geingob ropes Masisi into SACU stand-off (Mmegi Online)

When they last met to discuss a joint industrialisation bid last April, member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), opted for diplomacy and spoke of regional unity for investment, rather than the restless elephant in the room.

Last week, at a year-end media briefing in Windhoek, Namibian president, Hage Geingob, lifted the lid on the long-simmering issue of industrial imbalance in the region and pointed accusing fingers at South Africa. The 82-year-old political veteran who retires in just over a year is well-known for shooting from the hip, earning a reputation for blunt frankness in his remarks.

Africa’s top 10 major ports in race for greater share of global trade (The Independent Uganda)

The opening of Nigeria’s ‘game-changing’ billion-dollar deepwater seaport in Lekki, in early 2023, together with other ongoing and upcoming projects around the continent reflects an increasingly competitive race for the top shipping hub slots in Africa. Currently, a host of other major multi-billion dollar investments geared towards improving existing infrastructure or putting up new ports are ongoing in countries including South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Angola, Egypt and Senegal.

Among the largest investments announced so far is the US$7 billion to upgrade to the South African Port of Durban in a facelift that will expand its container handling capacity from 2.9 million units to 11 million.

According to the African Union, more than 90% of Africa’s imports and exports are transported by sea, making the continent a strategic gateway to global trade. UNCTAD data shows Africa accounts for 2.5% of exports and 3% of imports in world merchandise trade by value by 2020. An ‘Africa ports race’ that started in the 1990s is expected to significantly bolster the continent’s maritime trade.

AfDB set to tackle illicit financial flows, corruption in Africa – Official (Vanguard)

In its efforts to tackle illicit financial flows and corruption in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has begun the training of relevant stakeholders to build their capacity.

Dr Eric Ogunleye, the Acting Director and Division Manager, Policy Management at the African Development Institute of AfDB, said this in Abuja. Ogunleye spoke during the Public Financial Management (PFM) Executive Training Education of the Public Financial Management Academy for Africa (PFMA) held in Abuja.

The training was organised for mid-to senior-level officials from the Ministries of Finance and Planning, central banks, and other public financial management institutions from across African countries. Participants were also drawn from key anti-corruption agencies and statistical offices. The theme of the training is “Enhancing Accountability, Transparency, and Curbing Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows in Africa.”

Bitcoin can transform, accelerate African trade (Graphic)

Bitcoin, a digital currency platform, has the potential to accelerate e-commerce, drive financial inclusion, accelerate trade and empower the youth on the African continent, an expert has said. In an interview with some selected media at the 2nd edition of the African Bitcoin Conference (ABC) in Accra, the convener of ABC, Farida Nabourema, said although many people have adopted the use of bitcoin, there were still scores of Africans who were still uninformed about the role of bitcoin on the digital economy.

Ms Nabourema explained that the multiple currencies in Africa were complicating cross-border trade due to exchange rate fluctuations and transaction costs. She said Bitcoin, being a decentralised digital currency, could potentially streamline international transactions by providing a unified and efficient medium of exchange.

ECOWAS Commission Holds Internal Consultative Workshop on the Establishment of Economic, Social and Cultural Council in West Africa (ZAWYA)

In order to galvanise a responsive regional civil society, the ECOWAS Commission will hold an internal consultative Workshop on the establishment of an Economic, Social and Cultural Council in West Africa (ECOSOCC-WA), beginning from the 12th of December, 2023, in Lagos, Nigeria. The two-day Workshop brings together officials from the relevant ECOWAS Departments, Directorates and Divisions who are to jointly lay a solid foundation for the creation of ECOSOCC-WA while strategically positioning the regional organisation for the attainment of its 4 x 4 objectives and Vision 2050, among others.

The participants will also be deliberating on the vision, mission, and relevance of ECOSOCC-WA within the context of the wider efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in view of the unprecedented political instability and insecurity, governance challenges as well as the resurgence of coups, including the rise, in recent times, of terrorism and organized crimes in the region.

Empowering entrepreneurship and SMEs discussed at Arab SMEs Summit in Marrakech (UNECA)

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Moroccan Ministry of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills are convening a High-Level Policy Dialogue from 12-14 December 2023. This event, under the theme “Empowering Entrepreneurship in the Arab Region,” is a key part of the Arab SMEs Summit 2023.

This high-level dialogue aims to foster the exchange of ideas, strategic visions, best practices as well as regional and international partnerships in support to the entrepreneurial landscape in North Africa and the Middle East. Discussions will focus on three main issues: streamlining registration and formalization processes for SMEs, enhancing the inclusivity of entrepreneurial opportunities and exploring prospects for regional and international cooperation in this field.

Climate summit in Dubai goes into overtime as bitter division over fossil fuels delays agreement (CNN)

The global climate summit went into overtime on Tuesday with no deal on the meeting’s final agreement, and countries are bitterly divided over whether to call time on fossil fuels. Negotiators are scrambling last-ditch meetings to salvage more ambitious language to address the cause of the climate crisis.

The latest draft of the COP28 summit’s centerpiece agreement published Monday dropped previous references to phasing out fossil fuels, stoking anger and frustration among some nations and advocates. More than 100 countries support a phase-out of fossil fuels in some form. Instead, the watered-down draft offers a list of actions that countries “could” take to reduce their planet-heating emissions, one of which is reducing the consumption and production of oil, coal and gas.

COP28: Draft global stocktake exhibits ‘alarming changes’ as deadline looms (ESG Clarity)

The “highest levels of ambition” are on the table for the final global stocktake, according to Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Climate Change Committee, with finance “the bedrock to scale-up climate action on all fronts”. His comments came at a media stakeout, held at the event on the eve of its conclusion, in which Stiell also stressed: “The reality is the highest ambition outcomes are the only way for all governments to leave Dubai with a win under their belt. One thing is for certain: ‘I win – you lose’ is a recipe for collective failure. Ultimately, it is eight billion people’s security that is at stake.”

COP28 will see the first global stocktake published, taking into account climate initiatives and action achieved since the Paris Agreement, as well as setting out how to overcome obstacles on the path to net-zero. Earlier draft texts of the stocktake included an option to “phase out fossil fuels in line with best available science”. But, according to UNEP’s head of climate risk and TCFD, David Carlin, more recent drafts point to some “alarming changes”

Equitable transformation of agrifood systems finally on menu at COP28 (Daily Maverick)

A day dedicated to food was finally held at this year’s global climate gathering, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, emphasising fighting global hunger while aligning with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations released a report on Sunday — Food, Agriculture and Water Day at COP28 — titled Pathways towards lower emissions; a global assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation options from livestock agrifood systems. The report is an effort by the FAO to ensure the food production industry takes measures to align itself with lowering emissions and implementing mitigation measures.

The report looks into emissions from livestock agrifood systems, land-use change and supply chain processes. The food and agricultural sectors rely heavily on natural resources such as water and land, placing a heavy impact on the environment.

COP28’s Food, Agriculture and Water Day secures major commitments to address climate impacts and keep 1.5C within reach (COP28)

COP28’s Food, Agriculture and Water Day saw major announcements on climate action for both water and food security and decarbonization, as countries demonstrated their commitment to implement the COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. H.E Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, said:

“To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, to keep 1.5C within reach, we must address the connection between global food systems, agriculture, and the climate. At COP28, we have built the foundations for action, which commit 152 countries to transform their food systems, and embedding those commitments in their climate strategies, all the while ensuring they are protecting the livelihoods of those who depend on those sectors. Together, we must build a global food system that is fit for the future. Today marks an important moment in achieving this.”

Climate and Health at COP28: Treating the Symptoms or Causes? (tralac)

Air pollution causes over 8 million deaths per year. By 2050 extreme heat, diarrhea, dengue, malaria, and malnutrition (stunting) will together cause 21 million more deaths than there would be without climate change. At COP28 in Dubai, state parties are rightly recognising the climate crisis as a health emergency – for the first time – with a Declaration on Climate and Health. COP28 has also seen the launch of a new set of Guiding Principles for Financing Climate and Health Solutions, a dedicated Health Day and over $2.7 billion pledged to health initiatives related to climate change. While these achievements are laudable, the lack of acknowledgement of the role of fossil fuels, specifically, has led to widespread criticism. It has also led to a Call to Action on Climate and Health from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which advocates for the phase-out of fossil fuels.

COP28 Climate Funds Pledge Tracker (NRDC)

The big injustice of the climate crisis is that the poorest and most vulnerable communities, who have done the least to cause the problem, are hit first and worst by the impacts. In an effort to help address this, governments meeting as the Conference of the Parties (COPs) to the UN climate convention have created a number of multilateral funds that pool contributions from many contributors and provide dedicated support to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change.

At COP28 in Dubai, rich countries are under pressure to rebuild trust with developing countries after the failure to deliver the $100 billion per year goal on time and recent data showing they are off track to doubling adaptation finance from 2019 levels by 2025. One way they can do this is to announce pledges to UN climate funds.

African Group of Negotiators call on COP28 to conclude with a decision on Climate Justice designed for Africa (UNECA)

Climate change negotiators in Africa have called on COP28 to deliver a fair and balanced Global Stocktake that catalyses greater ambition across all elements of climate action in Africa, centred on equity for a Just Transition.

“The just transition and resilient low‐carbon development, if not properly designed, risks widening the developmental gap between Africa and the rest of the world,” said Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment and Chair of African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) in a statement read on his behalf by James Murombedzi, chief of Climate Change Section at the Technology, Climate Change & Natural Resource Management Division at the ECA.

For his part, Mwenda Mithika, Executive Director Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said as COP28 concludes, African countries need to reflect and ensure that key issues that include adaptation and finance are addressed “to captures the spirit of Africa.” “If these crucial issues are not captured in the final declaration then we shall declare COP28 a failure,” said Mr Mithika. “The issue of adaptation and adapation finance is critical for us. We have only US $39 million pledges, loss and damage pledges need to be honored. The green climate fund still remain a shell. These need to be clearly addressed.”

Alarm bells ignored as Africa continues to face deepening food crisis (FAO)

Africa is confronting an unprecedented food crisis, according to a new report, The report, Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition - Statistics and Trends 2023 highlights alarming statistics on food insecurity and malnutrition that underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action.

Nearly 282 million people in Africa (about 20 percent of the population) are undernourished, an increase of 57 million people since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More than a billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet. Around 30 percent of children are stunted because of malnutrition.

Africa remains off-track to meet the food security and nutrition targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and the Malabo targets of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2025.

DDG Paugam: WTO rules help to combat illegal food trade (WTO)

Speaking at a virtual agriculture symposium titled “Illicit Trade in Food and Food Fraud” on 11 December, Deputy Director-General Jean-Marie Paugam emphasized that the WTO rulebook brings a legal framework to international food trade, helping to combat illicit trade. He said: “By definition, our DNA is legal trade. Strengthening the WTO is the first way to combat illicit trade.”

Highlighting the WTO’s unique role in promoting open and legal trade, DDG Paugam said WTO rules allow members to exercise control over their borders and enforce their trade laws, leaving less room for illegal trade. DDG Paugam said an important aspect of WTO activities is encouraging members to lower trade barriers as lower prices for legal goods can be one of the good ways of reducing the incentive for illegal trade, although “one size doesn’t fit all”.

Chair cites “clear desire” of ministers to deliver outcomes at MC13 (WTO)

Senior trade officials attending a virtual “mini-ministerial” on 11 December have expressed a “clear desire” to advance work on development issues as well as on e-commerce, with the aim of achieving concrete outcomes at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) next February in Abu Dhabi. This was the conclusion of Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Trade and MC13 Chair, at the end of the virtual gathering.

“There is a clear desire to advance together to enable the WTO to facilitate the achievement of members’ development objectives, including addressing challenges and seizing opportunities provided by e-commerce,” Minister Al Zeyoudi said. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on ministers to use the remaining time left before MC13 to focus on delivering meaningful outcomes that will “deliver for all our citizens” at a time of increased economic challenges.

Members discuss tourism services, implementation of MC12 mandates in Services Week (WTO)

WTO members discussed tourism services in the wake of COVID-19 at a session held on 6 December under the aegis of the Council for Trade in Services. They continued addressing implementation of mandates from the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) and reviewed the participation of least developed countries in services trade among other issues at the Council meeting on 7 December. At a webinar on 5 December, participants looked at access to information on policies and regulations affecting services trade.

The WTO Secretariat said in a presentation that trade in tourism recorded a decline of 38 per cent in 2020 due to the collapse of international travel but is now on course for a full recovery and a return to its pre pandemic levels.


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