Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Structural reforms remain key for SA economy (SAnews)

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to engaging in structural reforms that will foster an environment fertile to economic growth and competitiveness. The Minister was speaking during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland.

Structural reforms in South Africa are targeted at – among other things – electricity, infrastructure, water and logistics, and are driven by Operation Vulindlela. The objectives of the reforms are aimed at: Stabilising the electricity supply. Reducing the cost and increasing the quality of digital communications. Providing sustainable water supply to meet demand. Providing competitive and efficient freight transport. Fostering a visa regime that attracts skills and grows tourism.

Kenya and Tanzania vow to boost regional integration (The Standard)

Kenya and Tanzania have resolved their differences and pledged to work together for the benefit of their people and the region. This was the message from Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, who also doubles as the Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet Secretary, during his meeting with his Tanzanian counterpart Dr January Makamba in Kampala, Uganda during the Ministerial meeting of the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Member States Summit.

The meeting comes a day after the aviation restrictions controversy between Kenya and Tanzania was resolved following diplomatic engagements between Mudavadi and Makamba aided by Transport Ministries of both countries.

IMF Report: Tanzania least indebted African nation (Tanzania Daily News)

Tanzania is the leading least indebted nation in Africa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated. According to the IMF’s latest report, though the region grapples with economic challenges, Tanzania emerges as a beacon of fiscal responsibility, boasting a debt-to-GDP ratio of 41.8 per cent. The accomplishment reflects a prudent and balanced monetary approach that contributes significantly to the country’s economic stability and resilience.

Commenting on the report, Economist, Dr Isaac Safari said by being listed as the least indebted country in Africa by IMF, Tanzania still has ability to obtain loans from development funders and service them. “Debt are not sins as long as they stimulate production which can generate income for repaying them rather than borrowing to repay previous loans,” he said. He called upon the government to diversify production in an effort to make a shift from the lower middle income status to the upper middle income whereby ultimate inclusivity of all citizens in development will be realised.

Ghana: Momentum builds on external debt restructuring efforts (The Business & Financial Times)

The government is urgently seeking to build on the momentum of its debt restructuring efforts, following the recent agreement with official creditors to restructure debts extended to the country up until December 2022. Having overcome this hurdle, Reuters reports that government officials will re-engage with its international bondholders from next week, seeking to continue discussions after Marrakech meetings last October concerning its US$13billion in outstanding Eurobonds.

Government reached a deal to restructure US$5.4billion of loans with its official creditors. The agreement with bilateral lenders including China and France was key to unlocking new International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing and will allow Ghana to access another US$600 million under its US$3billion bailout programme. The debt is being restructured under the Common Framework, a process set up during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Group of 20 economies.

“We don't fix customs clearing rates” – Customs CG (Nairametrics)

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adeniyi has said that the Service does not fix rates for custom payment, and as such the fluctuations in import duty rates over the past few months cannot be attributed to the Service. The Comptroller General noted that the merger of various sectors of the forex market by the current administration has had repercussions on how Customs conducted its operations as it could no longer use rates independently unless specified through the merged windows.

“The new administration has not made any pretension towards the fact that it was going to take several bold decisions and reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian economy and bringing sustainable change over a long period. One of the reforms that have been undertaken is the merger of the various sectors of the forex market.

“This has repercussions on our operations. What it means is that we can’t use independently that are not specified through these merged windows. What we do is just to update our system and follow what is prescribed for us by the regulatory authority for monetary affairs, which is the Central Bank of Nigeria,” the CG explained.

Côte d’Ivoire: Fourth Abidjan bridge and other African Development Bank-funded transport infrastructure now open to traffic (AfDB)

On Wednesday 10 January, the Ivorian Prime Minister, Robert Beugré Mambé, opened Abidjan’s fourth bridge, the “Y4” bypass, and the urban highways of Civil Prison and Dabou respectively, all built with funding from the African Development Bank Group – to traffic. An enthusiastic crowd joined several members of the government, heads of institutions, Bank Group executives and representatives of participating private sector construction firms for the opening of the bridge and roads. The roadworks are expected to ease traffic congestion in Côte d’Ivoire’s six-million-strong financial capital, known for being among the most gridlocked cities in Africa.

Museveni rallies investors at EAC business forum in Kampala (New Vision)

President Yoweri Museveni has urged the Ugandan business community and investors in the East African Community (EAC) to seize the opportunity of the 19th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and collaborate with their colleagues outside the region. He said this will enable them to optimize value addition, expand partnerships that enhance technology, skills transfer, financing, promote standards and further deepen access to the global market. The three-day forum, which started on Monday, is running concurrently with the NAM Summit under the theme: “Unlocking East Africa’s potential on the global stage.”

WEF2024 Day 2: How can Africa’s economy scale? (Ventures Africa)

During a live session titled An African Economy of Scale, at this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, WEF brought together African economy leaders to discuss the potential of frictionless African trade as a major player in global supply chains. “One way to lift the growth of any economy is to relieve trade,” Mary Vilakazi, Chief Executive Officer-designate, FirstRand Ltd, rightly commented on the potential of frictionless African trade.

This year, the AfCFTA aims to accelerate implementation. 31 countries will be participating in the guided trade initiatives, applying the rules of the AfCFTA for trade. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, further highlighted that this year, the intensified effort will be on the services sector – sectors like tourism, and banking – within the framework of the guided trading initiative and its enabling tools. One is the enabling tools intended to accelerate the AfCFTA is the pan-African payments and settlements system, a system launched by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the AfCFTA Secretariat to enable businesses and individuals in Africa to make and receive payments in their local currencies across the continent. “If you are in Ghana and you want to buy from Kenya, you have to buy a third currency. That cost of currency convertibility has constrained growth in Africa,” commented Mene.

Africa’s gold trade landscape undergoes transformation amidst global geopolitical shifts (Africanews)

Africa finds itself at the crossroads of a significant transformation in the global gold trade. The relocation of Russian gold trading to Hong Kong, strategic alliances such as Mali and Russia’s gold refinery agreement, and the surge in gold prices are reshaping the continent’s role in this crucial industry. Russian gold trading’s shift to Hong Kong is driven by US sanctions and a crackdown in the UAE. This move raises questions about Africa’s stability as a gold trade hub. The rise in gold prices, influenced by a weakened US dollar and geopolitical uncertainty, adds complexity to the evolving landscape.

Sustainable initiatives to manage fish wastes and conserve Africa’s largest lake (CGTN Africa)

Around 4 million individuals in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda collectively depend on Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, for their livelihoods. According to the African Great Lakes information platform, nearly 200,000 people are directly employed in activities related to the lake. However, the lake’s crucial natural resources are under threat due to the significant amount of fish waste being discarded into its waters on a daily basis.

The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute reports that fishing activities contribute approximately 150,000 tonnes of fish waste annually, posing a looming environmental threat to Lake Victoria. In response to this issue, communities surrounding the lake are taking the lead in implementing environmentally sustainable methods to minimize and eventually eliminate these wastes.

Joseph Amoke, an officer from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and a coordinator at the market says their initiative involves processing fish remains, including skin, scales, fish bones, and offal, for both human consumption and as raw materials for livestock feeds. He adds that these waste materials primarily originate from fish filleting companies specializing in fish steaks.

B2B E-commerce platform launched to enhance Intra-Africa Trade (KBC)

B2B E-commerce Platform has officially been launched by Zandaux marking a new era of African Trade . The ground breaking ceremony which took place in Nairobi Kenya, aims at fostering intra-trade in Africa. The launch showcased the platform’s innovative features, industry expertise and its commitment to revolutionizing trade across the continent and unveiled its transformative approach to African business.

Zandaux is set to reshape the landscape of African trade by providing a seamless One Stop trading platform for businesses to connect, collaborate, and thrive across the continent. The Zandaux team believes in using a holistic approach to become the world’s most inclusive B2B sourcing platform that caters to enterprises of all sizes.

Ethiopia becomes BRICS member amid economic crisis (DW)

Last year, the decision of the BRICS group of major emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — to accept Ethiopia, along with Egypt, as a new member came as a surprise. Analysts had expected that Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and Algeria, the largest African country by area, would get the nod.

Susanne Stollreiter, head of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) in Addis Ababa, which has close links to the governing German Social Democrats, said other factors played a more decisive role: “Ethiopia is very important from a geopolitical point of view. Owing to its large population, its economy has the potential to grow strongly in the future.”

For the BRICS group to benefit from such a development, Ethiopia must first solve its economic problems. The country is on the brink of insolvency. “It is being squeezed by heavy foreign debt, but also by the lack of foreign currency and, above all, by rampant inflation. The latter is hurting the population,” Stollreiter explained.

Rather than looking for scapegoats, Morocco is cashing in on South-South migration (The New Humanitarian)

While the rest of the Maghreb is often in the spotlight over its aggressive approach to African migrants and asylum seekers, Morocco has officially chosen a more tolerant path, and is reaping political and economic benefits from that more liberal attitude.

Unlike Maghreb countries that have adopted more hostile policies, like Tunisia, where the government has stoked a climate of xenophobia, Morocco has positioned itself as a pro-migrant destination – a strategic decision motivated by both geo-political and economic interests. Yet tensions remain in a country that is itself a significant generator of migration to Europe.

Unlocking Africa’s Agriculture Potential Through CGIAR TAAT Model (Inter Press Service)

As hunger and food insecurity deepen, Africa is confronting an unprecedented food crisis. Estimates show that nearly 282 million people on the continent, or 20 percent of the population, are undernourished. Numerous challenges across the African continent threaten the race to achieve food security; research and innovative strategies are urgently needed to transform current systems as they are inadequate to address the food crisis.

Transforming food systems is key. A powerful and unified effort is needed to equip food systems to advance human and planetary health to their full potential. This was the message as CGIAR entered a new era under the leadership of Dr Ismahane Elouafi, the Executive Managing Director.

CGIAR continues to create linkages between agricultural and tech stakeholders, emphasizing digital innovation for agricultural development. CGIAR-IITA explores leveraging ICTs to tackle agricultural challenges, boost productivity, ensure sustainability, and enhance food security, featuring

Southern Africa trade dynamics: Insights from industry leaders (Global Trade Review)

In late 2023, GTR brought together trade finance leaders in South Africa to discuss the current landscape and future trends in trade and supply chain finance across the Southern Africa region. Topics ranged from FX challenges to digitisation efforts and the role of ESG in fostering sustainable development.

DDG Hill emphasizes importance of services trade and e-commerce at seminar on the WTO (WTO)

Deputy Director-General Johanna Hill discussed the future of services trade and e-commerce on 16 January at a seminar on “WTO Structure and Governance” organized by the Washington International Trade Association. Former Deputy United States Trade Representative Robert Holleyman and Singapore’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the WTO Darryl Leong also participated in the event.

DDG Hill emphasized the importance of the services sector for the global economy and for international trade. She noted that services accounts for the majority of economic output worldwide, representing on average 67% of global GDP and half of all jobs. This represents a great potential for trade.

Global Investment Trends Monitor, No. 46 (UNCTAD)

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in 2023, at an estimated $1.37 trillion, showed a marginal increase (+3%) over 2022, defying expectations as recession fears early in the year receded and financial markets performed well. However, economic uncertainty and higher interest rates did affect global investment. The headline increase was due largely to higher values in a few European conduit economies; excluding these conduits, global FDI flows were 18% lower.

FDI flows to Africa were almost flat at an estimated $48 billion (-1%). Greenfield project announcements increased, mostly due to strong growth in Morocco, Kenya, and Nigeria. However, project finance deals fell by one third, more than the global average decline, weakening prospects for infrastructure finance flows.

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