Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

SA Canegrowers maintains sugar tax increase will destroy jobs (Engineering News)

Ahead of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s Budget Speech on February 21, industry body the South African Cane Growers’ Association (SA Canegrowers) has called on National Treasury to prioritise measures to aid economic recovery and job retention in the sector, including by not increasing the Health Promotion Levy (HPL). It has been a trying five-year period for the sugar industry, SA Canegrowers says, adding that an increase in the levy, also called the sugar tax, would be destructive and unjustifiable.

Tanzania calls for protection of Indian Ocean beaches from pollution (CGTN Africa)

Tanzanian authorities on Monday called for efforts to protect Tanzania’s beaches along the Indian Ocean from pollution. “The beaches are often littered with garbage, including used plastics, which not only pollute the beaches but also present an eyesore for visitors,” Selemani Jafo, minister of State in the Vice President’s Office responsible for Union and Environment, said in a statement. Jafo assigned the local government the responsibility to ensure robust pollution control measures on the beaches. According to the Tanzania National Guidance for Plastic Pollution Hotspotting Report, 29,000 tonnes of plastics were released into the Indian Ocean, rivers, and lakes in 2018.

TanTrade: International trade forums pay off (Tanzania Daily News)

Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) says trade forums are paying off due to their contribution in wooing domestic and international investors to determine the best investment options. The forums, according to TanTrade, are acting as platforms like markets where sellers and buyers meet and enter into an agreement—so ultimately, it’s like the forces of supply and demand that, in this case, determine the best investment criteria modalities.

“TanTrade leads these efforts intending to facilitate trade between Tanzania and other African countries. “Like today [Sunday] we organised Tanzania and Egypt forum. Forums like this help exchange knowledge and explore new opportunities for sustainable business,” Ms Khamis told Business Standard. She said for instance DarCairo forum held in Dar es Salaam achieved its goal of strengthening strategic trade partnerships between the two.

DRC state miner Gecamines plans reform of copper, cobalt ventures (The East African)

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) state miner is broadening a push to extract more from its copper and cobalt joint ventures, seeking to negotiate for higher stakes across the board to gain leverage in management of some of its biggest mines. Gecamines is also leveraging existing shareholding in mines to negotiate off-take contracts for the purpose of trading copper and cobalt on its own. The miner wants more local executives on boards governing joint ventures to have a greater say in how assets are managed, Guy Robert Lukama, the Gecamines chairman, told Reuters. The plans may mean overhauling some terms of agreements that Gecamines deems unfavorable to capitalise on the world’s scramble for supplies of minerals critical to global green energy transition.

Ghana and Nigeria to witness the slowest economic growth in West Africa 2024 – AfDB (Nairametrics)

The economies of Ghana and Nigeria are poised to see the slowest economic growth in 2024 when compared to their peers in the West African region. Overall, the West African region is expected to grow by 0.8% to 4.0% this year and 4.4% in 2025 according to the AfDB macro-economic performance outlook for 2024.

The African Development bank stated that aside Nigeria and Ghana, every other country in the sub-region is estimated to grow by at least 4% in 2024 with embattled Niger leading the pack at 11.2% followed by Senegal and Ivory Coast at 8.2% and 6.8% respectively. Despite these challenges, the report suggests that the strategic redirection of resources—specifically, the $5 billion formerly allocated to fuel subsidies between 2022 and May 2023—towards vital social infrastructure, holds the promise of yielding significant long-term benefits over the immediate discomforts.

Wamkele Mene re-elected as AfCFTA secretariat boss (Africa Feeds)

South African Wamkele Mene has been re-elected as the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat. African Heads of State and Government at the African Union’s summit last weekend in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, re-affirmed their confidence in Mene, re-appointing him for another four year term. Mene was first elected in February, 2020 for the top job after vying for the position with other shortlisted persons.

Mene has been operating from Ghana’s capital, Accra which is the host country for the secretariat. The continental free-trade zone is the world’s largest free trade area uniting 1.3 billion people and creating a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. The free trade zone is considered a critical action to usher Africa into a new era of development. The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will have 54 African Union (AU) members. African countries only do about 16 per cent of their business with each other with the African Union hoping to change this trend. The CFTA is a major project of the AU’s long-term development plan Agenda 2063, which emphasis the need to ease trade and travel across the continent.

Addressing Africa’s debt dilemma: The role of ECAs and new strategies (Trade Finance Global)

The African economy has suffered three major shocks in quick succession, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic, spillovers from geopolitical tensions and supply chain disruptions. This, coupled with widening fiscal deficits, exchange rate volatility and natural disasters have eroded the fiscal space of African economies and increased debt levels.

The rising debt in Africa and the high risk of sovereign default hampers the activities of export credit agencies (ECAs) on the continent. However, this challenge has also presented opportunities for flexibility, for example, cover for down payments, higher percentages of cover for both political and commercial risks, as well as longer tenors. From an industry viewpoint, the ECIC portfolio has shifted away from its traditional mining focus. Currently, power generation leads as the top sector, accounting for 45.8% of total exposure, with construction following closely at 40%.

EAC focuses on renewable energy sources (Tanzania Daily News)

The East African Community (EAC) partner states have reaffirmed their commitment to enhance energy efficiency and exploit wind, solar, and geothermal energy as sustainable energy sources for the region. According to a statement posted on the community website, partner states have subsequently embarked on various initiatives to tap into the potential of renewable energy and energy conservation. The initiatives include the review of national renewable energy laws, implementation of energy management regulations, national strategies and standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and promotion of energy efficiency and conservation.

EAC: Uganda no longer the ‘small boy’ (Monitor)

Despite struggling with the high cost of doing business which President Museveni in his end of 2023 address says is a challenge that his government is trying to address, the country’s manufacturing and export sector somewhat managed to stamp its foot prints beyond the national borders. In his speech, President Museveni referenced high energy costs and exorbitant cost of financing as some of the reasons driving the cost of doing business in the country.

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger juntas confirm plan to form new tri-state confederation (The North Africa Post)

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have confirmed their commitment to form a confederation following their ‘exit’ from the regional bloc ECOWAS and called to “urgently” draft provisions ensuring the free movement of people and goods between the three West African countries.

A trilateral meeting of ministerial delegations on 15 February also recommended expanding the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) objectives in diplomacy and economic development. The AES was created in September 2023, a few months after the military coup in Niger. They “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing resolutely in the process of implementing the AES and creating the Tri-State Confederation,” the Malian foreign ministry said in an online post. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger last month announced their withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on grounds of what they said were illegal and inhumane sanctions.

ECA’s Gatete advocates for skills-based education for Africa’s technological advancement (UNECA)

Speaking at the 2024 edition of the annual ECA Africa Business Forum (ABF2024), held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 19 February 2024, he highlighted the importance of shifting the focus of education to address its relevance and inclusivity in the digital age. Claver Gatete, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) highlighted the potential of Africa to become a global solutions powerhouse through concentrated efforts in science and technology.

While acknowledging the significant growth in broadband access and the mobile money market’s value at $836.5 billion, Mr. Gatete stressed that these achievements pale in comparison to the vast potential available. He raised crucial questions about bridging the digital skills gap for 650 million workers by 2030 and generating millions of jobs for Africa’s youth. “The potential of Africa’s digital economy is enormous. However, realizing this potential rests on closing critical gaps in digital skills, data generation, and utilization, as well as the requisite infrastructure,” he added.

37th AU Summit: African Union takes steps to address Education Challenges in Africa (AU)

The achievement of Aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063 for “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” requires that Africa makes significant investments in education with the aim of developing human and social capital through an education and skills revolution emphasizing innovation, science, and technology. Even with a substantial increase in the number of African children with access to basic education, a large number still remain out of school. This reality calls for concern.

The AU, through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), is vying to expand access not just to quality education, but also to education that is relevant to the needs of the continent given that the continent’s population is rapidly increasing. The CESA aims to reorient Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation, and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.

Volkswagen Africa builds 1.5-millionth export vehicle (Engineering News)

Volkswagen Group Africa (VWA) this week celebrated building the 1.5-millionth vehicle built at the Kariega plant for the export market. The milestone vehicle, a Polo GTI destined for the UK, also marked the 21 165th vehicle built for export this year. The Kariega plant assembled 101 557 Polos for export last year. The plant’s record for export units in one year was in 2019, when the team built 108 422 vehicles for export markets. VWA has been building vehicles for export since 1992, including models such as the Jetta and Golf. Currently the Kariega plant is the sole manufacturer of the Polo, exporting this vehicle to 38 markets worldwide.

African Union imposes historic ban on cruel donkey skin trade (Down to Earth Magazine)

Donkeys are critical to millions of people and the global trade in the animal’s skin undermines global efforts to achieve at least nine of the 17 SDGs A historic ban on the trade in donkey skins has been agreed upon by the African heads of state. This agreement, announced on the concluding day of the African Union summit in Ethiopia, outlawed killing of donkeys in the African continent for their skin.

This is a significant outcome following the Dar es Salaam declaration adopted at the first AU-IBAR Pan-African Donkey Conference in December 2022. The statement acknowledged the socioeconomic significance of donkeys in Africa. It had demanded for an African Union Commission (AUC) resolution to be passed in favour of a 15-year ban on the commercial killing of donkeys for their skins. Other demands included the creation of an Africa donkey strategy for donkey production and productivity, and the inclusion of donkeys in the global development agenda.

In face of climate change, AfDB invests $15m to stimulate clean technologies (Afrik 21)

With pollution and natural disasters on the rise across Africa, the time has come for concrete solutions. For the African Development Bank (AfDB), one of the most effective approaches is the promotion of clean technologies, i.e. technologies that do not pollute, but rather help to reduce the environmental impact of activities.

Through its Clean Technology Fund (CTF), the AfDB identifies and supports all initiatives in this field. To this end, the financial institution based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, has injected $15 million into the capital of the Mauritius-based Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa (TDB). It launched its Green+ Class C shares (a mechanism to attract institutional investors) in 2022, at the 27th Conference of the Parties on Climate (COP27) in Egypt.

The aim is to “stimulate investment in clean technologies on the continent, in particular for the large-scale development of low-carbon solutions that offer significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the long term”, says the AfDB. The $15 million will therefore be used to design and transfer digital tools and Internet of Things (IoT) to 25 countries vulnerable to climate change.

DDG Hill emphasizes role of trade in fostering access to digital finance (WTO)

Deputy Director-General Johanna Hill emphasized on 16 February the role trade can play in unleashing the benefits of digitalization, including access to digital finance. She was participating in a digital finance conference organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). DDG Hill noted that trade, especially in services, is an important part of the digital economy. She pointed out that global exports of digitally delivered services reached USD 3.82 trillion in 2022. This is an almost fourfold increase in value since 2005 and accounted for 54 per cent of total global services exports. Of these, digitally traded services in the financial sector accounted for 16 per cent.

Red Sea attacks: What trade experts have to say about the shipping disruptions (WEF)

The Red Sea has long been a vital waterway for international trade. Yet since last fall, the Houthi group in Yemen has been attacking shipping vessels in the Red Sea, causing turmoil in one of the world’s most important waterways. In response to the assaults, which were launched following the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza, a coalition of Western countries has retaliated against Houthi targets and deployed naval forces to protect commercial ships.

Zera Zheng, Global Head of Business Resilience Consulting, Maersk: “The Red Sea has become a hotspot of geopolitical tension due to Houthi militants targeting commercial vessels, with over 33 attacks reported since 19 November 2023. These disruptions threaten a key maritime route essential for a significant share of global container traffic and over $1 trillion in annual merchandise. In response, the US and EU spearheaded Operations Prosperity Guardian and Aspis to safeguard navigation and trade flows, yet challenges from the Houthis’ deployment of drones and missiles and vessel tracking capabilities remain.

“The Suez Canal/Red Sea, vital for around 30% of the world’s container traffic, has seen disruptions leading companies to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope. This situation has led to an immediate contraction in market capacity and a surge in shipping rates, with significant impacts on global trade networks and economic stability.

Lars Karlsson, Maersk’s Global Head of Trade and Customs Consulting, and Rico van Leuken, Maersk’s Global Head of Solutions and Services, contributed to this statement.

Simon Evenett, Founder, St. Gallen Endowment for Prosperity Through Trade: “To date, the harm to the global economy is modest. Chinese shipping lines haven’t given up on the Suez Canal route. Although shipping rates have risen, they remain well below pandemic-era peaks. The New York Fed’s index of Global Supply Chain Pressure has barely moved. Important as it is, just 11% of global trade flows through the Red Sea. On its own, this isn’t enough to disrupt the world economy. “What’s harder to assess is whether yet more upheaval in trade routes further undermines policymakers’ and corporate trust in long-distance sourcing. A further nudge towards national and regional sourcing can be expected.”

Gaza post-war reconstruction estimated at $20 billion: UN trade body (Reuters)

Gaza will need a new “Marshall Plan” to recover from the conflict between Israel and Hamas, a U.N. trade body official said on Thursday, adding that the damage from the conflict so far amounted to around $20 billion. Speaking on the sidelines of a U.N. meeting in Geneva, Richard Kozul-Wright, a director at trade body UNCTAD, said the damage was already four times that endured in Gaza during the seven-week war in 2014. “We are talking about around $20 billion if it stops now,” he said. Kozul-Wright said the estimate was based on satellite images and other information and that a more precise estimate would require researchers to enter Gaza.

The climate crisis and accessing finance top agenda at high-level gathering of Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries (FAO)

The challenges of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the perils of the climate crisis and the complexities of leveraging finance were among the topics discussed at a gathering today of ministers from many of the Asia-Pacific Region’s countries most vulnerable to global economic and climate shocks.

A key purpose of the gathering – a special event forming part of the 37th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific – was also to canvass views on what countries need from a proposed network bringing them together to jointly address shared challenges.

“The increasing trends of globalization” provide “many advantages and disadvantages,” for the region’s SIDS (Small Island Developing States), LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and LLDCs (Landlocked Developing Countries), FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in opening remarks. For example, “small-scale farmers and fishery households enjoy increasing access to global markets yet are also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of global economic turbulence as we have recently seen with the cascading impacts of COVID-19 and the increase in prices of food, agricultural inputs, and energy.”


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