Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Aqora becomes Afrivolt, aims for battery cell manufacturing in Cape Town (Engineering News)

South African energy company Aqora has rebranded to become Afrivolt, says MD Deshan Naidoo. The firm’s goal, however, remains the same – opening a lithium-ion cell gigafactory in South Africa, able to produce anodes, cathodes and lithium-ion batteries for stationary storage applications and, in the medium term, for electric vehicles (EVs). Procuring and processing the minerals and metals needed for the factory within Africa has become more of a longer-term plan, adds Naidoo, with cell production moving to the front of the queue.

“It has been difficult to raise capital in this challenging economic environment, so we have been forced to change our strategy and reduce our investment requirements. “We view the immediate opportunity as cell manufacturing.” Naidoo says the lithium-ion battery cell plant is currently the subject of a due diligence process, with Afrivolt locked in talks with finance institutions to raise the required capital.

Uganda reaffirms commitment to clean energy sustainability (CGTN Africa)

Uganda’s energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa reaffirmed the East African country’s commitment to maximise its oil and gas reserves sustainably amid concerns that its current projects will fall victim to overexploitation. Uganda discovered oil deposits close to two decades ago, sparking hope that the nation could accelerate its development and gain revenue. However commercial oil production is yet to start due to delays caused by inadequate infrastructure.

Two major projects in the pipeline, the Kingfisher and Tilenga oil fields, are expected to produce tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day at their peaks. The country also has the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project that will transport oil produced from Uganda’s Lake Albert oilfields to the port of Tanga in Tanzania where the oil will then be sold to global markets. But as Uganda plots on how to maximise its reserves, global leaders seek to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The issue places Uganda in a dilemma between economic development and fossil fuel phase-out.

Kenya strikes large deposits of mineral used in phones, laptops (The East African)

Kenya has announced that the precious coltan mineral, which is used in the manufacture of cell phones, laptops and other communication gadgets has been found in the country. Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary (CS) Salim Mvurya said on Wednesday that adequate deposits of coltan have been found in six counties. The rare metallic mineral, mostly found in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is mainly used for the production of electronic goods of mass consumption, such as mobile phones, laptops and videogame consoles, and its discovery in Kenya is set to raise the country’s profile as a mineral exporter.

The CS said the government is determined to make mining industry more vibrant for the benefits of the country. He said more workers will be employed to assist in exploration of the minerals which are spread across counties.

He lamented that illegal mining is rampant in the country and the vice must be eradicated. “Some have been carrying out mining of precious minerals without licences, we shall weed out all those investors who don’t follow the law, We want mining to be a business where investors comply with all aspects of the law,” he said. He said a special unit has been set up by the cabinet to enforce compliance.

Kenya exports to Uganda rise to $648m (The East African)

The value of Kenya’s exports to Uganda crossed the Ksh100 billion ($618 million) mark for the first time in November 2023, owing to a weak currency that had made the local goods cheaper in the neighbouring country. Official data shows that Kenya exported goods valued at Ksh105 billion ($648.95 million) to Uganda in the year to November last year, a period that saw the Kenyan shilling lose 17.45 percent of its value against the Ugandan shilling. Antony Mwangi, the managing director of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), and whose members are the major exporters to Uganda, reckoned that the increase “may not be because of the increase of products that we are exporting, it may be because our currency now is weaker.”

Kenya in tight spot as EAC, Europe trade deals clash (The East African)

Kenya’s recently completed trade deals have run into stormy waters after Nairobi applied higher import duties on whiskies and wines from the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) respectively, two jurisdictions with which it signed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).

While Kenya, in line with the East Africa Community (EAC) Customs Union, is applying a higher tariff of 35 percent on imported wines and whiskies to encourage local production, the two EPAs put the import duty at 25 percent. The deal with the EU is awaiting ratification in Brussels while the agreement with UK is operational.

The countries in the EU and UK, which produce Scotch Whiskey, Tequila, Champagne and Bourbon, are protected by a clause in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement that forbids their manufacture in other countries. This has left Kenya in an awkward position as it is expected to implement a higher tariff of 35 percent in line with Common External Tariff (CET) under the EAC Customs Union.

Nigeria seeks to expand $11.8bln bilateral trade with India (ZAWYA)

The federal government is seeking to expand over $11.8 billion bilateral trading partnership with the Republic of India in a bid to boost growth in key sectors of the Nigerian economy. Speaking on Tuesday at the Nigeria-India Business Council (NIBC) held in Abuja, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite commended India for investing much in Nigeria. “India is among Nigeria’s top 10 trading partners, and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. The total bilateral trade between India and Nigeria as of 2022 stood at USD 14.95 billion, as against USD 8.81 billion during the year 2020 – 2021; this, unfortunately, dipped to USD 11.8 bn last year but remains a clear indication of the importance of trade relations between our two nations”.

DP World’s $2bn Mozambique port expansion gets approval (Engineering News)

Mozambique approved an extended deal for DP World, Grindrod and other operators of its biggest port, including a $2-billion expansion that will further draw cargoes away from neighboring South Africa’s creaking trade infrastructure. The group, which also includes Mozambique’s state-owned railway operator, won a 25-year extension to run the port in Maputo, the capital, ending in 2058. The Council of Ministers approved the deal on Tuesday, according to a statement. The agreement includes investments of nearly $1.1 billion by 2033 when the original concession was due to end.

Maputo’s port has grown rapidly in recent years, as it caters to demand from Mozambique’s growing economy and exports from neighboring South Africa. Miners of coal, chrome and magnetite, a type of iron ore, have been sending increased volumes by truck to Maputo as snarl-ups at South Africa’s state-owned rail and ports company Transnet’s have cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Standard Chartered nears agreement on Miga-backed Senegal government loan (Global Trade Review)

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (Miga) is eyeing its second guarantee for a short-term trade-focused loan facility to an African government, following an application by Standard Chartered. The €190mn facility, which was outlined by Miga this week and is due for board approval by February 22, would be made available to Senegal’s Ministry of Finance and Budget to provide short-term loans for trade-related payments, mainly in the agriculture sector.

Miga says the project would help Senegal’s government “unlock trade finance liquidity support for the local agriculture sector, at a time when there are significant liquidity constraints in the trade finance market due to current economic conditions”.

Zambia ratifies tripartite corridor agreement (New Era)

The Zambian government successfully ratified the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor (WBNLDC) Tripartite Agreement on 12 January 2024, and deposited the instruments of ratification with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The WBNLDC is a key corridor and trade route connecting the Port of Walvis Bay with Ndola in the Copperbelt of Zambia and Lubumbashi in the mineral-rich region of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The WBNLDC is aimed at creating an alternative trade route to the mineral hubs of DRC and Zambia to international markets, the seamless movement of goods and people, as well as boost regional integration. The tripartite agreement was signed in March 2010 by the member states of DRC, Namibia and Zambia. The DRC was the first to ratify the agreement in 2015, followed by Namibia in 2021, and now Zambia.

Announcing their ratification, Zambia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics Museba Frank Tayali said it will boost economic development amongst the member countries and beyond. He further underscored that the ratification will yield benefits such as improved infrastructure, private sector participation, as well as contribute to the overall development of the region through promoting cross-border trade and investment.

Functional Private sector participation key to AfCFTA success – President Akufo-Addo (Ghanatodayonline)

For the African Continental Free Trade Area to succeed, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has emphasized the need for effective private sector led participation. President Akufo-Addo stated that private participation is necessary for the AfCFTA to be as transformative as intended during his speech at the 2024 World Economic Forum event on “Driving Action Under the African Continental Free Trade Area and Launching the First AfCFTA Private Sector Action Plan” on Wednesday, January 17, 2024.

“Critically, active private sector participation will be key to the success of this transformational initiative. Excellencies, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the AfCFTA is not a “government initiative”, rather it represents the first step toward empowering our private sector to lead the economic emancipation and transformation of our continent” he indicated.

Improve tax laws to attract investors, EAC states told (People Daily)

Tanzanian authorities have called on East African Community (ECA) member states to improve tax collection methods to attract investors. The call was made by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Natu Mwamba when she opened the 51st forum for Commissioners-General of East African revenue authorities in Tanzania’s commercial hub of Dar es Salaam.

Mwamba urged the EAC revenue authorities to improve tax laws and procedures to attract investors and encourage investment in the East African region. Alphayo Kidata, the commissioner general for the Tanzania Revenue Authority, urged revenue authorities in the EAC region to unite and work together to bring efficiency in revenue collection, expand the tax base, prevent tax evasion, and provide better services to taxpayers.

The appeal by the PS comes at a time when experts in Kenya have warned that increasing tax rates beyond certain point may reduce tax revenue because higher taxes can discourage economic activity and worsening the cashflow.

EAC diaspora remittances soar to a record $9.3 billion (The Citizen)

Remittances from the East African diaspora soared to a record $9.3 billion in 2022 despite the high cost of funds transfer. This is according to the World Bank which says remittances are now one of the largest sources of external financing for the region. The remittances to the East African Community (EAC) partner states stood at $ 5.4 billion in 2017, jumping to $9.3 billion in 2022.

Despite the rosy picture, the Bretton Woods institution wants the region to develop mechanisms that will ease the cost of transfer of the funds. Reduction of the cost, it says according to a dispatch from the EAC secretariat, would boost the partner states’ economies.

“The current information on remittances from the World Bank indicates that the partner states received a combined $9.3billion in 2022”, the EAC statement said. Kenya, the largest economy in the region, has been leading in the diaspora remittances compared to other states in the union.

Upcoming meeting: AU Roundtable to catalyse investments and partnerships (ESI-Africa)

The Africa Union (AU) “Scaling Up Green Investments to Address Climate Change” roundtable taking place at Africa’s Green Economy Summit in Cape Town next month offers AU member states and high-level stakeholders the opportunity to explore the potential of green investments and funding instruments to combat climate change on the continent.

The Summit, taking place from 21-23 February 2024 in Cape Town, is centred around connecting the global investment community with investment prospects in Africa’s green economy space. HE Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment (ARBE), African Union Commission (AUC), Ethiopia, comments: “Africa’s Green Economy Summit is a vital link between global capital and sustainable projects in the continent. The Summit unites investors, project leaders, and policymakers, fostering connections and paving the way for an inclusive green economy and a sustainable future for all.”

U.S.-Africa Trade Council advises Lagos govt against styrofoam ban (Businessday Nigeria)

The U.S.-Africa Trade Council has warned the Lagos State government of a potential rise in unemployment arising from its ban on the use of Styrofoam, otherwise known as single-use plastic containers, in the state. On Sunday, the Lagos State government prohibited the use of Styrofoam, a common component used in the sale of cooked food, without prior warning or enough consultation with stakeholders in the state.

In a press statement, signed by Titus Olowokere, CEO/President of the U.S.-Africa Trade Council, and made available to BusinessDay on Tuesday, the non-governmental organisation focused on strengthening trade relations between the U.S. and Africa pointed out that “the ban, although well-intentioned, fails to evaluate the broader economic consequences it entails.”

In highlighting the negative impact of the ban, the organisation stressed the huge economic significance of this industry, pointing to the thousands of Nigerians employed across the state. It said, “The sudden halt in production and use of single-use plastic containers in Lagos will lead to significant job losses, further exacerbating the unemployment rate. This ban directly affects not only industry workers but also countless small-scale entrepreneurs who depend on the plastic sector for their livelihoods.”

Maersk and CMA CGM Help Nigeria Achieve Firsts in Growing Container Trade (The Maritime Executive)

The West African container trade is growing rapidly with Nigerian officials marking the arrival of the largest containership into their new Lekki Deep Sea Port and the scheduled arrival of the first LNG-fueled containership into West Africa. These milestones come as the Lekki port marks its first anniversary as the deepest seaport in the region.

The carriers are ushering in upgrades to the West Africa Express (WAX) service that includes calls in Nigeria as well as Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Congo and connecting West Africa to China, Southeast Asia, and India. It is a weekly service that includes calls by vessels in the 13,000 to 15,000 TEU range. A total of 13 large containerships will be used to maintain the service.

Nigerian officials highlight that the arrival came as the Lekki port prepares to mark its first anniversary for commercial operations. The Freeport Terminal, which is managed and operated by the CMA CGM Group, is a multi-user facility that CMA CGM calls “a game-changing infrastructure for Nigeria and West Africa.” The first phase, which opened in February 2023, has a capacity of 1.2 million TEU with five ship-to-shore cranes. When completed, the port will have a total of over 3,900 feet of berth with a depth of over 52 feet and the capacity to handle 2.5 million TEU. CMA CGM highlights that the port serves as a mega transshipment hub, especially to Nigeria’s neighboring countries in the Gulf of Guinea, including Togo and Benin.

FPCCI backs Look Africa initiative, pushes for bilateral trade deals (The New International)

Pakistan’s top business body urged the government on Tuesday to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with African nations, saying it would help increase the country’s exports to the continent and reduce its trade deficit.

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said it fully supported the Look Africa Policy Initiative of the Ministry of Commerce, which aims to enhance trade and economic cooperation with African countries. FPCCI acting President Saquib Fayyaz Magoon said Pakistan should pursue bilateral FTAs with the top seven economies of Africa - Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Algeria, Ethiopia, Morocco and Kenya - which account for about 78 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of Africa. “There are significant economies in Africa with whom we can multiply our trade volumes within years - both bilaterally and exports to the region cumulatively,” Magoon said in a statement.

He said Pakistan’s exports to Africa, as a whole, showed stagnation at around $1.5 billion in 2022, while its imports from Africa rose from $3.18 billion in 2018 to $4.38 billion in 2022, resulting in a trade deficit of $2.88 billion.

Gambia calls for implementation of Doha Programme of Action for LDCs (The Point)

Speaking at the 19th Ministerial Meeting of Non-Aligned Movement Countries in Kampala, Uganda, Lang Yabou appealed for the need for member countries to further deepen cooperation through the pursuit of more win-win partnerships, solidarity and collaboration.

“Shared global affluence is a goal that can be achieved if we take up our global commitments more seriously by rebuilding the lost trust within the international community,” PS Yabou said. “Too many development blueprints, too many unfulfilled commitments, inadequate international solidarity, deep international mistrust and polarisation are all negatively impacting our cooperation mechanisms and multilateralism in general.”

He urged countries to reinvest in the revival of multilateralism and global partnership systems since no country can go it alone when it comes to dealing with climate change, underdevelopment migration, pandemic preparedness and response, cybersecurity, disarmament, terrorism and conflict resolution.

“We do not only need to cooperate more, but such cooperation must be on a global scale, and deepened at the global level for our collective prosperity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to deliver prosperity for all member states through strong institutions, cooperation, global solidarity and partnership. With renewed vigor, the international community, including the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) must accelerate the implementation of the goals with critical financing for development.”

Facilitation of African Union into G20 demonstrates India’s leadership in world arena: UNGA President (ThePrint)

Lauding India for the facilitation of membership of the African Union into the intergovernmental G20 forum, visiting President of the United Nations General Assembly Dennis Francis said that it depicts New Delhi’s leadership in the international arena. He said that it also demonstrates India’s long-standing commitment to assist and facilitate development in the Global South, adding that Africa is a region whose potential is yet to be fully realised.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that India’s outreach to Africa, particularly in regard to its facilitation of the membership of the African Union in the G20, demonstrates India’s leadership in the international arena. But more than that demonstrates its long-standing commitment to assist and facilitate development in the third world, in the global south. Africa is a region whose potential is yet to be fully realised,” the UNGA President said in his press conference in the national capital today.

Africa and Europe must strengthen relations (Nation)

MC13 should address existing and emerging challenges to trade (The Financial Express)


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