tralac Daily News
The energy challenges facing mining companies in South Africa have given rise to significant opportunities, strategic management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group partner Rudi van Blerk says. Already, many of these companies have seized these opportunities, capitalising on the unique advantages offered by the country’s current unstable economic and political landscape, he adds.
“The primary advantage lies in the simultaneous opportunity for the enhancement of access to reliable electricity, decarbonisation and increased affordability of energy. This integrated approach allows mining companies in South Africa to address these three elements collectively, a prospect not always feasible in other global regions where these aspects often conflict, necessitating trade-offs,” he tells Mining Weekly.
Initial signs that energy sector is stabilising; logistics to take longer (Engineering News)
The domestic mining industry is looking at 2024 as a year of stabilisation, rather than growth, says Minerals Council South Africa CEO Mzila Mthenjane. The industry continues to face persistent challenges such as loadshedding, an ailing logistics sector, and a declining commodity market. Mthenjane spoke at a Minerals Council media briefing, held on Monday morning ahead of the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2024 in Cape Town.
Council data, released on Monday, shows that the mining industry’s contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product declined to 6.2% in 2023, down from 7.3% in 2022. Total primary sales dropped from R883.5-billion in 2022, to R786.2-billion last year. Overall, mining input costs in South Africa increased by 8.6% year-on-year in 2023 – well above inflation – softening from 13.8% in 2022.
Energy Council CEO James Mackay has welcomed the decision of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to extend the comment period for the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2023 by a month and has also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) to emphasise government’s commitment to “open and robust debate on national energy policy”.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe used his Mining Indaba address on February 6 to announce that the IRP comment period had been extended to March 23 from February 23 to “allow maximum participation in this process”. However, he refrained from initiating public hearings, which some commentators have called for given serious concerns over the assumptions and modelling used to produce the draft document.
“Our reality is that business confidence is near historic low levels resulting in continued reluctance to make the much-needed capital investment required to grow our economy and create jobs. “It is well accepted that the majority of future energy investment will come from the private sector, so building a national energy vision that has the buy-in of the public and private sector is critical.”
Angola’s diamond sparkle brightened by new De Beers deal (Engineering News)
Diamond mining and marketing company De Beers is to collaborate with Angola on opportunities to increase diamond production, support alluvial mining sector and enhance social development for the benefit of Angola’s citizens. De Beers on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Angola’s National Mineral Resource Agency, Angola’s State-owned Endiama diamond company, and Angola’s State-owned Sodiam diamond trading company, to support these objectives.
“Angola continues to set an example as a country that has reformed its prospects through enhanced transparency, adoption of internationally recognised best practices and a business-friendly investment environment,” De Beers CEO Al Cook highlighted following the MoU signing at the Investing in African Mining Indaba under way in Cape Town. “This is a strategic partnership with the objective of increasing diamond production in Angola to contribute towards the socio-economic development of our country,” said Endiama CEO Ganga Junior.
The Presidency has released a five-year review publication that documents the strides made in South Africa’s recovery and reconstruction since 2019, delving into the transformative initiatives undertaken by the Sixth Administration, specifically targeting the pressing challenges confronting the nation.
‘Leave No One Behind 2024 – A Five-Year Review’, which was released on Tuesday, outlines in summary form the progress made in growing the economy and jobs; fighting corruption; tackling poverty; developing human capital; providing quality health care for all; fighting crime, violence and instability; making communities safer, and investing in infrastructure.
Kenya: Power demand could overtake generation by 2027 (Business Daily)
Electricity demand in Kenya could exceed the generation capacity by 2027 unless production increases to catch up with usage and avert power shortages that might lead to load shedding and rationing. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that the electricity demand growth rate will accelerate to an average of 5.7 percent between 2024 and 2026, meaning that Kenyans could consume more than 13,055 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2027. This will outpace the growth rate of electrical energy generation, set to slow down after Kenya changed its policy on buying electricity from independent power producers last year.
Kenya to acquire 300 SGR wagons by end of February (Business Daily)
Kenya has received fifty new standard gauge railway (SGR) wagons that are aimed at boosting the transport of cargo on the Chinese-built line. The wagons, procured for the Madaraka Express SGR freight service, were received on Monday by the Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen. A second batch of 250 wagons is expected to dock at the port of Mombasa later this month having been loaded at the Tianjin port in China towards the end of last month, said Mr Murkomen.
“Railway transport is a key enabler of the aspirations set out in our country’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030,” Mr Murkomen said. This is the first time new wagons have been added since the launch of SGR in May 2017.
Somalia joins Kenya, Rwanda in banning single-use plastics (Business Daily)
Somalia is the latest African country to ban single-use plastics, potentially boosting the growing campaign to limit the use of non-biodegradable packaging material in the war against global warming. A decree issued on Thursday by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change indicated that the country will stop single-use plastics from June 30, 2024, providing a five-month grace period for importers and users to adjust.
“All businesspeople engaged in bag importation, manufacturers, retailers and commercial establishments within the country are hereby notified that as of June 30th, 2024, the importation and use of single-use bags shall be prohibited,” read a statement issued by the Ministry. Somalia said the grace period should also give firms involved in the production or importation of plastics time “to explore environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic bags” and that it will work with stakeholders to identify options.
Tanzania ranks second in EAC in latest graft survey (The Citizen)
Tanzania is ranked the second least corrupt country in the East African Community (EAC) region after Rwanda, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The 2023 edition of the CPI released by Transparency International (TI) recently ranks Tanzania as the second least corrupt country in the region with a score of 40 behind Rwanda, which scored 53. Tanzania has seen a slight improvement from 38 points in 2022 and is ranked position 87 out of the 180 countries and territories assessed.
The report puts Somalia and South Sudan at the bottom of the region, where they scored 11 and 13 respectively. However, Seychelles, Botswana, and Cape Verde continue to lead as shining examples of the least corrupt counties in Sub-Saharan Africa.
State increases cotton prices by 38pc to woo more farmers (Business Daily)
The government has announced a 38 percent price increase in the purchase of cotton as it moves to entice more farmers to return to the crop as part of a plan to double production to export to the US market. State Department of Industry Principal Secretary (PS) Juma Mukwana said last week the government had allocated Sh60 million to support local farmers to increase the acreage under production from 40,000 in 2023 to 103,000 ahead of long rains in the 24 cotton-growing counties. The PS said that the government has also acquired 60 metric tons from Togo for seed multiplication to address acute cotton seed shortages.
Business mogul Sven Thieme says there is a need for the current administration, now led by president Nangolo Mbumba and other leaders, to drive former president Hage Geingob’s dream of creating a synthetic energy hub in Namibia. He says Geingob’s dream for a prosperous Namibia that benefits from its resources and is driven by locals is still achievable, bearing in mind the recent oil discoveries. Geingob, who died on Sunday at the age of 82, is the architect of the multibillion-dollar green hydrogen drive that has attracted several investors from Europe and other parts of the world.
Stagnant growth, unsustainable debt, and the adverse effects of multiple shocks, including an outbreak of cholera and Cyclone Freddy last year, have compounded Malawi’s economic challenges. The IMF Executive Board recently approved a $175 million Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement that aims to support the government’s commitment to economic reforms that are designed to jumpstart inclusive and sustainable growth.
Malawi has struggled to sustain growth and to reduce poverty and food insecurity for decades, despite large inflows of official development assistance. The past three years have been particularly difficult. Sizable external emergency financing—about $690 million in the past three years from the IMF and the World Bank alone—was extended.
The devaluation was a difficult policy decision and imposed short-term hardship on the population. For a long time, Malawi has been importing more than it exports by borrowing abroad. As borrowing became difficult, foreign exchange shortages emerged. The first step in easing this imbalance was to allow the exchange rate to be more in line with demand and supply. Going forward, it will be important to facilitate a market-clearing exchange rate on an ongoing basis. Sustainable levels of fiscal and current account deficits would help stabilize the exchange rate and prices.
Minister for Development and Africa, Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP, said: “I am immensely proud of the UK-Ghana Business Council and what we have delivered together. Today we celebrate the success of a new partnership in the automotive sector, and a new Green Cities and Infrastructure programme, which will help mobilise climate finance and of course, exciting ambitions for our relationship on science, technology, and innovation.”
The Minister recognised the significance of the £5 million multi-country ODA funded bilateral technical partnership on animal health between the UK and countries in Africa, including Ghana. This was during a meeting with the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong.
African Development Bank (ADfB) has commenced the first phase of the disbursement of $540 million Agro-Industrial Funds for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in the country. The Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the AfDB President, Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka disclosed this on Monday when a delegation of the bank and that of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented their separate reports on the status of projects being executed in Nigeria to Vice President Kashim Shettima at the Presidential Villa. The fund Is part of the Nigerian government’s effort to ensure food security in the country.
Making AfDB’s presentation to the Vice President, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said, “The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) is an initiative of the African Development Bank that is aimed at turning the rural landscape into economic zones of prosperity and harnessing the power of commercial agriculture and food.”
Earlier, Nairametrics reported that the African Development Bank (AfDB), alongside the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, said that they have voted $1 billion to further deliver special agro-industrial processing zones in 24 States of Nigeria. The $1 billion pledge is in addition to an initial $520 million voted by the development partners for the development of eight special agro-industrial processing zones in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has renewed the ban of commercial flights from Niger Republic to Nigeria and from Nigeria to its northern bordering country in accordance with an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) resolution. This was following an ECOWAS decision passed in response to the events in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, when the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, was deposed in a coup and replaced by a military junta commanded by General Abdourrahamane Tchiani. The directive stated, “By ECOWAS resolutions, all commercial flights from Niger to Nigeria, or from Nigeria to Niger, or from Niger overflying Nigeria, or any state overflying Nigeria to Niger are suspended.”
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, has recommended dialogue as a solution to curb the seeming disintegration of members of the Economic Community of West African States, and the restoration of democratic rule in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. They made this recommendation during a one-day media interactive session, on Monday in Lagos State, to discuss and proffer solutions to the disintegration currently going on among members of the ECOWAS.
“It is imperative for Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, and indeed the rest of the member states of ECOWAS to have a deep reflection over the collective milestones of the regional integration collectively achieved, including peace missions to member states; free mobility of people, goods and services; trade enhancement through the removal of customs duties and tariffs on commodities; as well as collective infrastructural development efforts such as the West African power pool leading to the construction of Diama and Manatali dams in Senegal and Mali respectively.
“At a time when the region is advancing discussions of a single market to further boost trade and development, it is completely disheartening to see leaders shun the channel of diplomacy and dialogue and instead attempt to disintegrate the community.”
Explainer: Why Mali, Burkina and Niger are leaving Ecowas (The East African)
The East African Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources has commenced a week-long mission for an assessment of policies and laws on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) within the East Africa Community’s partner states. The exercise which kicked off on February 4, 2024, will end on 9. This ongoing assessment will cover the Republics of Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the United Republic of Tanzania. The Committee will consider undertaking a similar activity in DRC in the future.
The EAC Agriculture and Rural Development Policy (EAC ARDP) aims to attain food security through increased agricultural production, processing, storage, and marketing. This Policy recognizes the importance of eliminating hunger and ensuring sustainable food security within the region as a critical step to eradicating poverty and consequently a stimulus for rational agricultural development and realization of the aspirations of the Treaty establishing the EAC.
The main objective of these activities is therefore to assess the policies and laws of Partner States on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and to make appropriate recommendations to the Council of Ministers on this matter.
Q: How do you evaluate the growing competition between international players for influence in Africa and for African resources? Do you consider that there is a risk of fragmentation at the continental level, or is this competition somehow jeopardizing the integration effort? Because I think that you can see some results of that competition already.
Mr. Selassie: Thanks, I think, there often tends to be, outside of the region, a sense that Africa belongs to one side or another. When I speak with policymakers, they are much more pragmatic about things, what they are doing often is in the self-interest of their people, their country. Within the region, I think they see countries wanting to maintain as broad a set of trading and diplomatic relationships as possible, rather than wanting to be seen to be belonging in one camp or another. I hope that, in many cases, the region has gone beyond the kind of what used to happen in the 1980s, for example, where countries align themselves with one side or another or forced to, I should say. And I think now the region being an influential voice in international forum, I think there’s much more scope for countries to have a range of partners depending on, self-interest rather than beginning to view, belonging to one camp or another. It has indeed been the case that we have seen in some countries, changes, and alignments. But I think this is part of the course. But in the vast majority of countries, I see them maintaining a broad range of engagements with the international community.
‘Incognito’ fishing vessels deny Africa $11bn in annual revenues (The East African)
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing costs Africa up to $11.49 billion annually, with over 75 percent of the world’s industrial fishing vessels operating “incognito.” According to satellite images recorded in the past three years and published in the Nature Journal by researchers from Global Fishing Watch, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Duke University, most vessels don’t broadcast their location and are not detected by monitoring systems. As a result, the world has no clear picture of who fishes what.
In a new study, researchers have used machine learning and satellite imagery to create a global map of large vessel traffic and offshore infrastructure. The survey articulates the challenges in managing natural resources in Africa such as protected marine areas, with many of the unmapped vessels said to engage in illegal fishing.
Rare earths prices seen rebounding in second half of 2024 (Mining Weekly)
Rare earth prices have likely bottomed out and are poised to rise later this year on demand from electric vehicles (EVs) and wind power and as dominant producer China is expected to pull back on expanding output quotas, analysts said. Rare earths are a group of 17 elements used in products from lasers and military equipment to magnets found in EVs and consumer electronics. Prices surged to their highest in a decade in 2022 only to plunge last year on increased production in China and slower-than-expected demand growth crippled by the country’s patchy post-pandemic economic recovery.
“We expect extra supply to be more or less cleared by end-2024, as demand catches up with supply through continually increasing electric vehicle sales and wind turbine production,” said analyst Willis Thomas at CRU Group.
In recent years, the global community has witnessed significant advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to revolutionize various industries. As the African continent endeavours to unleash its full economic potential, AI has emerged as a critical tool for empowering trade and fostering growth. By harnessing the power of AI, Africa can significantly enhance its trade capabilities, foster economic development, and propel itself to the forefront of global commerce. AI has the potential to revolutionize trade in Africa in various ways, unlocking its economic potential. Here are some examples and data to support this.
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are important contributors to economic development, representing a substantial portion of businesses globally. Global markets offer SMEs opportunities for growth, diversification and resilience. Access to international markets enables them to tap into new customer bases, gain exposure to diverse business practices and foster innovation through cross-cultural collaboration.
However, SMEs encounter significant challenges that hinder their investment overseas. SME investors, relative to large Multinational Enterprises (MNEs), face distinctive bottlenecks including financial and information constraints, difficulties in dealing with regulatory complexities and, importantly, an international investment environment in which facilitation and investment promotion institutions are often geared towards attracting large-scale investment projects. Foreign direct investment (FDI) by SMEs has been in decline in recent years: the number of outward greenfield investment projects in 2022 was only about a quarter of that in 2015.
Based on original empirical studies in different developing regions and selected developed economies, this report discusses how to reduce the common investment policy bias in home and host countries towards large MNEs, the role of SMEs in South–South and intraregional FDI, and ways and means to maximize the development impact of SME FDI. It introduces a new framework to assess the relevance and effectiveness of existing investment policies for the promotion of SME investment and presents policy options to facilitate overseas investment by SMEs and reduce the existing policy bias
The biennial Global Review serves as a global platform to highlight areas where developing economies and least developed countries (LDCs) need support to overcome supply-side constraints limiting their participation in global trade. It helps galvanize support for tackling these issues so that these countries derive the maximum economic benefits from trade.
Zambia said that the development of standards to support industrial and trade growth and increase the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the economy are high on its agenda. Trade will play an essential role in supporting Zambia’s future graduation from LDC status as well as its efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) shared an overview of its “E-Commerce Strategy and Implementation Plan 2023-2027” launched in July 2023, under which measures related to e-commerce will be adopted at the regional level to create jobs and help diversify economies.
World’s Best Trade Finance Providers 2024 (Global Finance Magazine)