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President Cyril Ramaphosa says investment in infrastructure is gaining momentum, and new and innovative funding mechanisms will be used to increase the construction of infrastructure. Delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening, President Ramaphosa said to deal with severe inefficiencies in the freight logistics system, government is taking action to improve the country’s ports and rail network and restore them to world-class standards.
“We have set out a clear roadmap to stabilise the performance of Transnet and reform our logistics system. Working closely with business and labour, we have established dedicated teams to turn around five strategic corridors that transport goods for export purposes.
South Africa’s Agricultural Revival and Economic Resurgence (BNN Breaking)
The resilience of South Africa’s agricultural sector is not an isolated phenomenon. It is part of a larger narrative of economic fortitude and adaptability. The country’s long-term bond yield is on the decline, hinting at a potential reduction in interest rates by 2024. This could stimulate economic growth and private consumption, providing a much-needed boost to the nation’s coffers.
The Reserve Bank is expected to loosen its monetary policy, further fostering job creation and economic expansion. Despite high-interest rates, South Africa has managed to create 2.2-million jobs over the past seven quarters. This is a testament to the country’s unwavering commitment to its people and its ability to weather economic storms.
South Africa’s trade surplus has been maintained for the eighth consecutive year, a remarkable feat in the face of low commodity prices and high oil import costs. The export performance has been robust, with strong showings in various sectors. This has been bolstered by a significant increase in foreign direct investment inflows and the recovery of capital formation. Substantial investments have been made in machinery and equipment, driven in part by commitments to renewable energy.
The Competition Commission will conduct a market inquiry into the poultry industry value chain, saying it has reason to believe there are features in the poultry market that may impede, distort or restrict competition. It invites members of the public and interested stakeholders to make written submissions by March 8 on the draft terms of reference (ToRs) for the Poultry Market Inquiry (PMI) that were gazetted on February 6.
“Market outcomes in the poultry industry matter, as chicken meat and eggs are a key source of protein for the majority of South Africans, and particularly low-income households,” says Competition Commission chief economist James Hodge. “A poultry market inquiry into the concentrated and integrated structure of the industry can complement other initiatives to improve the competitiveness of the industry to the benefit of consumers and smaller participants,” he adds. The PMI will start 20 business days after the publication of the final ToRs, and the final report will be completed within 18 months.
Tanzania eyes a new $1 billion market (Business Insider Africa)
Dr. Selamani Jafo, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s office disclosed to his fellow government officials that by the end of 2023, Tanzania received 35 applications for carbon trade projects, as seen in the Tanzanian newspaper, The Citizen. “Carbon trade is so thriving in Tanzania that it will significantly contribute to the economy soon,” the minister said, responding to a question from a legislator. The minister also went on to reveal that Tanzania had received Sh32 billion between 2018 and 2022 from the carbon trade projects implemented in different regions across the country.
“By December 31, 2023, we had received a total of 35 applications for different carbon credit projects. When the implementation of these projects starts, we expect to generate $1 billion, which will have a significant contribution to the national economy,” Dr. Selamani Jafo stated. He revealed that the government has already initiated conversations with potential catalysts to the market including district commissioners and the media. These conversations are geared toward creating public awareness of the potential carbon credit has in propelling the East African nation’s economy.
Nigeria Customs Services explores the possibility of setting up a Customs Laboratory (World Customs Organization)
From 29 January to 1 February 2024, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) hosted a national workshop on Customs laboratories with the aim of conducting a scoping exercise for setting up a national Customs laboratory. The workshop was delivered by the WCO within the framework of the EU-WCO Programme for the Harmonized System in Africa (HS-Africa Programme), funded by the European Union. The workshop was facilitated by a WCO recognized Customs chemist from the Spanish Customs Administration.
In his opening remarks, Mr. CG Niangwan, Assistant Comptroller General of the NSC, confirmed the commitment of NCS in implementing a modern Customs laboratory as another step in the modernization of his Administration. He stressed the importance of Customs laboratories for the purposes of revenue collection, drug enforcement, protection of the society and the environment as well as trade facilitation.
The government of Burkina Faso has officially launched an African Development Bank supported project to bolster food security in the country against the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under its African Emergency Food Production Facility, the African Development Bank Group, has provided €38.4 million—nearly the entire project cost— for PURPA-BF. It will supply nearly 9,000 tons of certified climate adapted seeds to 330,000 farmers to help increase production of maize, rice, soya, cowpea, sorghum and wheat. The farmers-- more than half of them are women, internally displaced individuals and youth-- will also receive 36,000 tons of fertiliser. The project is primarily targeting the country’s major irrigated plains around Bagrépôle, Bama, Banzon and Karfiguéla.
Implementation is expected to boost national rice production by 430,000 tons and maize production by 707,000 tons. Other crops will also see production increases.
As global powers vie for control over critical mineral trade routes, China plans to spend US$1 billion to refurbish a key railway line connecting Zambia’s copper belt region with the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam under its Belt and Road Initiative.
On Wednesday, China’s ambassador to Zambia Du Xiaohui handed over a proposal to rehabilitate the Tazara railway to Zambian Transport Minister Frank Tayali, saying the US$1 billion investment would be done through a public-private partnership (PPP) over the coming years.
When the Tanzanian and Zambian presidents visited China in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to support the upgrade of the railway, which was originally built in the 1970s and funded by the Chinese government under Mao Zedong as a foreign aid project.
China is keen to use the Tazara rail line to transport mining exports from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The refurbished Tazara railway will compete directly with a railroad backed by the US and EU to link Zambia’s copper belt and the mineral-rich DRC to the Lobito port on Angola’s Atlantic coast.
Brussels and Washington announced in late October they would fund the rail project to connect the resource-rich region of Zambia to an existing line to the Lobito port. The US and EU are eager to secure minerals that are vital for making batteries and advanced electronics – including cobalt, which comes from the DRC and Zambia. Most of these minerals are now exported to China for processing.
US to invest in rail project linking Southern Africa mines to Angola port (The East African)
The United States will provide more funds for the construction of the Lobito Corridor, a rail link to export metals from Central Africa’s Copperbelt, including a link for Zambia, US energy envoy Amos Hochstein said. US has been supporting the project linking mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia to Lobito port in Angola. The link seeks to bypass logistics bottlenecks in South Africa that have held up copper and cobalt exports - metals vital to the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
In 2022, a consortium led by global commodities giant Trafigura, Portugal’s Mota-Engil and Vecturis SA of Belgium was awarded a 30-year concession for railway services and support logistics on the Lobito Corridor. The consortium plans to spend $455 million in Angola and $100 million in the DRC on equipment, operations and infrastructure maintenance. Additional funding is required to extend the 1,700 km line into Zambia in the second phase.
The development of cross-border infrastructure within SADC will help fast-track regional integration and anchor trade and investment, which are key for robust economic development. This was said by President Mnangagwa here on Friday while officially opening the Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission Summit at Maun Lodge.
The President highlighted two specific projects – the Plumtree-Ramokgwebana One-Stop Border Post and the Ponta Techobanine Railway Line – as key pillars of development that hold immense potential to unlock economic growth, create jobs and improve livelihoods.
“The unrestricted movement of our citizens, as well as goods and services, is an essential cog to stronger economic cooperation,” he said. “In this spirit, the establishment of the one-stop border posts should be expedited. The development of cross-border infrastructure projects to increase our economic efficiencies and competitiveness must be pursued with greater vigour and confidence.” He added: ”The proposed railway line between Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique (known as the Ponta Techobanine Inter-Regional Heavy Haul Railway Project) is highly anticipated for greater rail connectivity in the region.”
The first Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Program joint Technical Committee meeting was held from 24-25 January 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was organized jointly by the footprint countries, in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the NEPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat. The LAPSSET Corridor Development Program is a regional infrastructure project that aims to connect Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan through a network of ports, highways, railways, pipelines, airports, and resort cities.
Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), stated that the Programme fits well among the ambitions of the UN sustainable development goals and Agenda 2063, “the Africa We Want” as it seeks to enhance trade, investment, regional cooperation and peace among the three countries and beyond. He also recalled the crucial role of the Committee as a platform for accelerating the progress of this Corridor Development Programme, stating that “It is a forum that must be in the forefront of enhancing collaboration and partnership among the three countries and development partners supporting the programme.” Mr. Karingi reiterated ECA’s commitment to support the LAPSSET initiative.
The Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA/ SRO-WA), is organizing virtually on February 13th a high-level political dialogue in prelude of the 56th Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finances, Planning and Economic Development of ECA (COM2024).
This meeting will be held in a context where West African countries are facing significant macroeconomic and financial challenges and a continued shrinking of their fiscal space. Indeed, 6 of the 15 countries in the sub-region, namely Capo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Sierra Leone have a debt rate exceeding more than 70% which is the convergence criterion at the ECOWAS level in terms of public debt ratio (IMF, 2023).
Placed under the theme “Financing the transition towards inclusive green economies: imperatives, challenges and opportunities for West African countries”, this high-level political dialogue aims to stimulate reflections on West African countries’ specific challenges, imperatives, and financial opportunities to transit to green economies.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called on Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso who recently announced their withdrawal from the subregional bloc to have a rethink and follow the path of dialogue and reconciliation.
The Chairman of the Mediation and Security Council at the Ministerial Level and Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar while insisting that the choice of the three countries would only hurt the people, when responding to questions at the end of the sub-region extra ordinary session of the Council.
We are “quite cognizant of the fact that this intention of the three countries namely Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to exit ECOWAS would bring more hardship and will do more harm to the common citizens of those three countries. “That is not good, and that is why we continue to urge those three countries to remain and follow the path of dialogue and reconciliation. And ECOWAS is going to redouble its efforts towards diplomacy towards dialogue towards reconciliation.”
Tuggar on the implication of the decisions of the three countries to the integration process, said it was just a hiccup to the integration process of the continent, stressing that: “It’s not enough to just think that because of this development, that’s it. It means integration has been derailed, far from it. “This is just a minor hiccup. And we’re talking about 54 countries and even with this hiccup the integration has already started and ECOWAS gone further than a lot of other parts of Africa in terms of integration. So the number of citizens from the three countries living in the rest of ECOWAS (countries), even in this building (ECOWAS headquarters) the number of people from those countries that work in ECOWAS not to talk of the continuous movement of people. The seasonal migration which takes place across the region, these are all things that you cannot just undo overnight, so you know, it takes more than pronouncements.”
ECOWAS exit: Security, economic impact on Nigeria (Tribune Online)
On February 8, 2024, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda convened a virtual meeting with the African Union Commission (AUC) Chair and the AU Reform Team to review the progress of the African Union’s institutional reforms. As the appointed leader of these reforms by the AU Heads of State, Kagame’s focus is to create an effective and financially sustainable African Union that is better equipped to address the challenges facing the continent.
In preparation for the upcoming African Union Summit, today’s virtual meeting between President Kagame, the AUC Chair, and the AU Reform Team emphasized the importance of sustaining progress towards an effective and financially sustainable African Union. During the meeting, the attendees reviewed the progress made in implementing the reforms and discussed strategies to maintain momentum. The discussions highlighted the need for continued commitment from all AU member states to ensure the successful implementation of the proposed changes.
The objective of the reforms, as envisioned by President Kagame, is to create an African Union that is better equipped to address the challenges facing the continent and execute high-impact programs that align with Africa’s growth, development goals, and the vision set forth in Agenda 2063. As the committee of experts continues its work, the hope is that the proposed changes will lead to a more unified, efficient, and impactful African Union. With the support of the AU member states, this vision of a stronger, more sustainable African Union may soon become a reality.
Global eco-digital economy to double in next five years (Consultancy.eu)
The combination of ecology and digitization is rapidly gaining ground in the business world. In response to the ongoing climate crisis, companies have widely adopted digitization as part of a strategy to promote sustainability. So far, that seems to have been paying off. Thanks to digital technologies, companies worldwide have reduced their energy consumption by 24% and their CO2 emissions by 21% since 2018, according to Capgemini’s research report.
In the coming years, digital solutions will play an increasingly important role in both sustainability and economic growth, said Fernando Alvarez, Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Capgemini. “We are transitioning to an eco-digital economy. It’s not just about economic value but also about ecological and social value,” said Alvarez.
BRICS financial track priorities for 2024 identified (Bank of Russia)
On 7 February 2024, as part of Russia’s BRICS presidency, Deputy Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the BRICS countries hold an online meeting. This was the first event in the BRICS financial track with the participation of representatives of countries that had become full members of this association since 1 January 2024.
At a special session dedicated to the issues of interaction between BRICS central banks, the Bank of Russia presented the priority areas of cooperation within the financial track: better functioning of the mechanism of the BRICS Pool of Conventional Currency Reserves; the next issue of the BRICS Economic Bulletin dedicated to the economic situation in BRICS countries amid high interest rates; payment interaction; information security of the financial sector; use of financial technologies; transition financing and sustainable development; and a platform for open events, seminars and round tables.
Particular attention was paid to the issues of increasing the proportion of national currencies in mutual settlements and creating an independent, equally accessible financial infrastructure, as well as prospects for the development of cooperation in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, and credit ratings.
BRICS Wealth Report 2024 (Henley & Partners)
The international financial and development institutions should be reformed to reflect the interests of the Global South, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said. While the BRICS can play an important and complementary role for developing nations, he stressed that it should not contribute to a fragmentation of the world economy.
“We obviously need that those institutions reflect more obviously the interests of the Global South”, he emphasised. Asked about the role of BRICS, he said that “it is important to have a multiplicity of different organisations to support developing countries” in the finance and trade sectors. “But”, he added, “it is essential that (it) doesn’t correspond to a fragmentation of the global economy”. “One of the most important aspects that we need to preserve today is One Global Economy, One Global Market, One Global Internet and to avoid the fragmentation of that global economy”, he said.
Kenya to host 6th United Nations Environmental Assembly (CGTN Africa)
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate, and Forestry Soipan Tuya said the 6th United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-6) will be held from February 26 to March 1 at the UN Complex in Gigiri, Kenya and over 5,000 delegates, including heads of state and governments from the 193 UN member states will attend the meeting. Tuya made the statement during a press conference on Thursday in Nairobi, capital city of Kenya.
Inger Andersen, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme reiterated the importance of sticking to the world’s environmental must-do list to keep up with climate change and its effects. “The impacts are here and growing. Last year was the hottest on record, bringing more intense storms, droughts, and wildfires. Species are under massive pressure, forests are falling and soils are turning infertile. Millions of people are dying each year from exposure to pollution and chemicals,” said Andersen.
According to the United Nations, UNEA-6 will put a special focus on how stronger multilateralism can help hasten efforts toward ending the ongoing climate crisis.
Landlocked Developing Countries Conference to Address Development (Inter Press Service)
Landlocked developing countries need greater support from the international community so that they are no longer left behind when it comes to progressing with the SDGs, says the UN High Representative of the Least Developed Countries. The Third UN Conference of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC3) is set to be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, in June. A preparatory committee for the conference has been established and convened its first meeting on Monday.
The overarching theme of the conference, “Driving Progress through Partnerships,” is expected to highlight the importance of support from the global community in enabling LLDCs to meet their potential and achieve the SDGs.
Rabab Fatima, Under Secretary-General and High Representative of the Office for the Least Developed Countries, and the Secretary-General of the LLDC3 Conference, remarked that this conference would be a “once-in-a-decade opportunity” for the global community to address the needs of the LLDCs in order to “ensure that nobody is left behind.”
“The 32 landlocked developing countries are grappling with unique challenges due to their geographical and structural constraints and lack of integration into world trade and global value chains. Their situation has been further exacerbated by the lingering effects of the pandemic, climate change, and conflict,” she said.
Thirty-two countries are classified as LLDCs, 17 of which are also classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Sixteen are in Africa, and the remaining are located across Asia, Europe, and South America. This year will mark the first time that the LLDC Conference will be hosted in Africa.
In the current scenario of triple planetary crises, environmental stewardship and visionary leadership are indispensable elements for fostering collective action and propelling global efforts to address shared environmental challenges.
With the above backdrop, speaking at the inaugural session of the 23rd edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS), the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar emphasized that sustainable development and containing climate change are quintessential to a secure future.
The Hon’ble Vice President underscored, “The challenges we face are daunting, but they are not insurmountable. By joining forces, embracing innovation, and fostering international cooperation, we can pave the way for a sustainable and secure future for all. Let this Summit be a catalyst for action, inspiring us to redouble our efforts and work towards a world where the principles of sustainable development guide our every decision.”
Speaking at an earlier session on finance, H.E. Ms Teresa Ribera Rodríguez, Minister, Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Spain, underscored, “The challenge in mobilizing climate finance is about finding the right instruments to do so, the right incentives, the right signals, to ensure that we dedicate our efforts where they are needed. For instance, we cannot expect climate vulnerable, fiscally constrained developing countries to have recourse to credit instruments that can accelerate mitigation and adaptation actions.”
H.E. Mr Willie Tokataake, Minister, Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy, Kiribati, shared the unique challenges faced by the small island developing states. He highlighted, “For any holistic discussion on the looming climate crisis, it is pertinent to hear the voices of the most vulnerable countries. The efforts by small island nations to mitigate the climate change impacts are very minimal given our insignificant emissions compared to the developed countries’ emissions, yet we are the most impacted nations from climate change impacts. I am glad to be here today to represent the concerns my country faces and deliberate on effective global solutions.”
Higher-income countries have missed a deadline to nominate their board members for the fledgling loss and damage fund, potentially creating delays in the fund’s bid to assist communities experiencing the adverse effects of climate change.
After decades of pressure from climate-vulnerable, lower-income countries and years of negotiations, countries agreed to institute the fund at the 28th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP 28, and appoint a 26-member board to supervise it.
Regional groups were asked to select their board representatives “as soon as possible” and the U.N.’s climate change arm, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was to convene the first meeting of the fund’s board after all members had been appointed, “but no later than 31 January 2024.”