Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Crumbling South African rail prompts Botswana to forge new route (Engineering News)

Botswana has received unsolicited bids from investors to build a rail line to a Namibian port that will help avoid South Africa and its disintegrating logistics network. The 1 500 km Trans-Kalahari Railway project is gathering momentum as Transnet, the State rail and ports monopoly in Botswana’s southern neighbour, struggles to ship goods, according to Transport and Public Works Minister Eric Molale.

“We learned in June that the waiting period at all South Africa ports to offload and load can be a minimum of two weeks, floating on the sea for that period,” he said in an interview Monday in Gaborone, the capital.

Transnet has become one of the biggest drags on South Africa’s economy and, along with power outages, resulted in a surprising contraction in growth in the third quarter. Snarled transportation also has the potential to crimp expansion in neighbouring countries, including landlocked Botswana – one of the world’s biggest diamond producers and a major beef exporter that relies on South Africa for most of its trade.

Tanzania: Urgent Reforms Needed to Enable Strong Private Sector-Led Inclusive Growth (World Bank)

Over the past two decades, Tanzania has exhibited robust economic growth, surpassing many developing countries, even weathering the COVID-19 pandemic fallouts remarkably well. However, a new World Bank report shows for this trajectory to remain viable, and for Tanzania to reach its full development potential, in the coming years the country will need to switch gears towards a more private sector-driven growth model.

According to the newly launched Country Economic Memorandum for Tanzania titled ‘Privatizing Growth’ the country’s growth over the past twenty years has been characterized by a noticeable shift towards increased reliance on public infrastructure investments to fuel growth, slowing structural transformation, and a diminishing role of exports.

TPA takes services closer to Malawi customers (Tanzania Daily News)

The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has launched its country office in Lilongwe, bolstering hopes for smooth cargo handling and reduced trade costs between the two countries. The office will play a crucial role in marketing Tanzanian ports by providing reliable information on the facilities and services offered at ports in Dar es Salaam, Kyela and Mbamba Bay.

During the launch event in Lilongwe, Malawi, yesterday, Transport Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa said the launch of the office in Malawi symbolises the strong mutual relationship between the two countries and dual role of facilitating trade flow between the countries. Prof Mbarawa said that one of the most remarkable features of the port industry in Tanzania is that it is the major source of government revenues, whereby taxes on imports and exports handled through the major ports.

Zimbabwe: Spices, herbs add flavour to value and export volumes (The Herald)

Spices and herbs managed to weather the depressed marketing environment punctuating the first 10 months of the year to emerge as the only sub-sector of the horticulture industry to record an increase in the volume and value of exports when the rest faltered. The horticulture industry is composed of vegetables, cuttings, flowers, nuts, deciduous fruits, avocados, citrus, berries, tea and coffee, spices and herbs and other fruits.

Statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) show that spices and herbs export earnings rose from US$ 3 721 319 in the period January to October 2022 against US$ 4 801 356 in the comparable time this year. The mass exported rose a gigantic 43 percent from 1 463 848 to 2 082 517 kilogrammes over the same period. The average price, however, took a 10 percent dip from US$2,54 to US$2, 29 per kilogramme.

The spices and herbs section rose in rankings from position eight in 2021 annual horticulture export earnings of US$2, 3 million to six in 2022 with US$4, 8 million.

Kenya, EAC stare at costly imports as shipping lines shun Red Sea (The Star)

Kenya and other East African countries are now staring at higher freight costs and longer cargo delivery time, as global shipping lines shun the Red Sea route over attacks. Already, two of the world’s largest shipping groups – Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Maersk have diverted their vessels away from the Red Sea, avoiding the Suez Canal which is a key route for voyages to Mombasa and the East African coastline. The decision comes after attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are targeting ships travelling to Israel.

The Red Sea is one the world’s most important routes for oil and fuel shipments. Kenya Ports Authority was expecting at least 26 container vessels, 23 conventional ships and six tankers, between yesterday and December 28. Of these, eight container vessels belong to MSC.

Nigeria FG lists importance of data in trade, security, other govt decisions (Vanguard)

The Federal Government, FG, has recognized the importance of data for import and export trade as well as assisting the government to streamline decision making and resolving trade disputes. Speaking at the just ended Comptroller General Conference of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in Lagos, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said that data is needed not just for international trade but also for economic planning and development.

Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, added that data can also determine security of people and goods around the nation’s borders as these data can be shared as indisputable information with other nations. He explained that the government is committed to positioning Nigeria as the preferred destination for all stakeholders involved in export and import activities.

Uganda Removes Visa Restrictions for DRC Nationals (VisaGuide.News)

Starting from January 1, 2024, Uganda plans to lift visa restrictions for individuals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a benefit of their membership in the East African Community (EAC). By lifting the visa requirement, the DRC can fully embrace the advantages of regional integration, such as unrestricted movement among member states outlined in the EAC Common Market Protocol. Article 7(2)d of the protocol mandates partner states to allow citizens from other member states to enter without a visa, VisaGuide.World reports.

According to local media, the decision to eliminate visa requirements was formalized during the eighth joint permanent commission held from October 11 to October 15, 2023, in Kinshasa, DRC. At the same time, Uganda’s Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed that both parties had agreed in principle to waive the visa mandate for citizens of both countries reciprocally.

Botswana-Zimbabwe passport debacle: Litmus test for SADC? (APA News)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has long harboured the dream of regional integration, a vision of open borders and free movement of people. However, this dream remains largely unfulfilled, confined to policy papers and diplomatic rhetoric.

The stark reality on the ground reveals that economic, political, and security differences among member states are significant barriers to this noble aspiration. A recent incident in Botswana’s parliament perfectly illustrates this dichotomy. A proposal for the removal of passports for citizens of Botswana and Zimbabwe was shot down by Gaborone lawmakers last week, highlighting the stark contrast between policy and practice. The proposal would have seen citizens of both countries use national identity cards instead of passports at entry points.

IMF Executive Board Concludes Annual Discussions on CEMAC Common Policies and Common Policies in Support of Member Countries Reform Programs (IMF)

The CEMAC’s recovery gained strength in 2022, supported by higher hydrocarbon prices, with real GDP growth accelerating to 3.0 percent. The external position strengthened, with rapid accumulation of foreign exchange (FX) reserves, though still below adequate levels. The positive momentum carried into 2023, as oil prices stayed at a relatively high level. The regional policy assurances on the net foreign assets (NFA) set for end-June 2023 (EUR 4.47 billion) were met by a comfortable margin (EUR 880 million), reflecting the continued increase in hydrocarbon exportr eceipts and improved FX repatriations linked to a stepped-up enforcement of the FX regulations. However, the rise in NFA was reversed in 2023 Q3, with NFA falling, driven by a likely deterioration in the current and financial accounts, partly reflecting the combined effects of a steep drop in FX repatriations by the public sector, and dividend payment outflows from the banking sector.

Sustainable growth and building resilience in Africa require structural transformation - Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2023) (UNECA)

“Achieving sustainable growth and building resilience requires structural transformation. Successful industrial policy requires both sectoral focus as well as getting the basics right. It is essential for countries to identify optimal combinations of policy actions to nurture an industrial program.” This is according to the Economic Report on Africa 2023 (ERA 2023) which was launched on December 18, 2023, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Titled: “Building Africa’s Resilience to Global Economic Shocks”, and presented by the Director, Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Adam Elhiraika, the report shows that the current global economic architecture affords opportunities for African countries to leapfrog and accelerate industrialization through careful experimentation of what has worked elsewhere and adapting it to local conditions.

On Promoting regional value chains, the report states that countries can collaborate in creating, for example, regional agricultural commodity markets that will help to connect surplus economies with net importers for wheat, sugar and rice. This will reduce dependence on Russia and Ukraine.

Algeria Joins Guided Trade Initiative, Boost Pan-Africa Trade (teleSUR)

On Saturday, Algeria’s Minister of Trade and Export Promotion Tayeb Zitouni announced his country’s accession to the Guided Trade Initiative, as part of its effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

The announcement was made at a forum held in Algiers that gathered influential African economic officials and experts, including AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene. “This announcement underscores Algeria’s commitment to advancing pan-African trade,” Zitouni was quoted as saying by the Algeria Press Service.

He further highlighted the new membership’s importance for the region, saying that it will streamline trade exchanges between Algeria’s economic entities and those of other member states, boost Algeria’s non-hydrocarbon exports, and support the expansion of pan-African trade volumes through the AfCFTA.

Makong: Media’s role in success of AfCFTA crucial (Asaase Radio)

The chief technical advisor at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Tsotetsi Makong has said the contribution of the media to the implementation of AfCFTA is crucial to the success of the initiative. Makong said this will help avoid controversies and ensure the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Speaking on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Monday (18 December) ahead of a webinar on bridging the gap between media and AfCFTA, Makong advised the media to take a keen interest in AfCFTA. “We need to educate and I think that is why this webinar is important,” he said, adding that “we need to educate to make sure our media houses across Africa understand the AfCFTA agreements so we can avoid controversies.”

Themed ”What Do You Know About the AfCFTA – and Why Should the Media Care?”, the discussion will examine the media’s role in mobilising mass engagement and participation with the AfCFTA and the opportunities opened up by it, especially as it is of immense benefit for the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa and global Africa (the sixth region of Africa).

APN, AfCFTA to host Africa Heads of States and top business leaders (The Business & Financial Times)

The Africa Prosperity Network (APN) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat are getting ready to host African Heads of State, top business leaders, heads of international development institutions and DFIs, social change-makers and other Pan-African thought leaders at the next Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) in Ghana from January 25-27, 2024. The theme for APD 2024 is ‘Delivering Prosperity in Africa – Produce, Add Value, Trade’.

Ahead of this high-profile conference in Ghana, the APN Secretariat, in collaboration with AfCFTA, is organising a media webinar on Tuesday, 19th December, 2024 to help unpack and discuss issues that are pertinent to the realisation of the AfCFTA’s single market focus – collective ownership by the people of Africa.

UNECA boss Gatete talks AfCFTA and how global credit facilities can work for Africa (The New Times)

The past three years, characterized by global shocks, have been eye-opening economically for African governments in terms of building resilient but sustainable mechanisms for development.

In an exclusive interview with The New Times’ Alice Kagina, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission of Africa, Claver Gatete talks about the need to restructure global credit facilities for Africa’s development, the implementation of AfCFTA and the imperativeness of eco-friendly industrialization on the continent.

Talking about AfCFTA, what will it take for the private sector to start reaping the benefits of this agreement?

First of all, what we need and have been doing is to put the right infrastructure in place, and by that, I mean transport, energy, and other requirements that need to be tackled at a regional level to mobilize resources together.

Secondly, we need to harmonize the common market by removing tariff and non-tariff barriers for the free movement of goods and people to be able to do business from one country to another. These and many more, are what governments are addressing to create an environment for the private sector to invest in.

However, we don’t have to wait until everything is in order, the private sector has been participating in the actualization and taking opportunities in this big market. It is important that as a continent, we increase trade among ourselves more than the outside world.

G20 trade policy direction becoming more restrictive amid continued slow trade growth (WTO)

Trade measures introduced by G20 economies have become more restrictive in recent months, according to the 30th WTO Trade Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures issued on 18 December. The report shows that between mid-May and mid-October 2023, G20 economies introduced more trade-restrictive than trade-facilitating measures on goods, although the value of traded merchandise covered by facilitating measures continued to exceed that covered by restrictions. Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on the G20 to show leadership and contribute to economic stability and growth by unwinding recent and longstanding restrictions on trade.

Quick links

The trade-finance gap is holding back developing economies

Future of Africa

2023 in Nine Charts: A Growing Inequality


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