Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Innovative businesses gain more access to global markets, study finds (SAnews)

Innovation-active South African businesses have more skilled labour and greater access to the global markets compared to non-innovation enterprises, according to results from the latest round of the South African Business Innovation Survey (BIS). The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) survey revealed that during the 2019 to 2021 period, 62% of South African businesses took scientific, technological, organisational, financial, or commercial steps aimed at realising an innovation.

According to the statement, training emerged as the most common innovation activity for 47% of innovation-active businesses, followed by software and database activities (29%), and marketing initiatives (25%). Of the employees involved in these innovation activities, only 38 in 100 workers were female and 62 in 100 were African.

“In South Africa, where we face multiple challenges, a more innovative business sector can contribute to productivity and business resilience as well as job creation, improved working conditions and quality of life,” said the HSRC’s Dr Amy Kahn, who led the BIS.

South Africa’s current account deficit widens sharply in fourth quarter (Engineering News)

South Africa’s current account deficit widened sharply in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) from a revised 0.5% of GDP in the third quarter, central bank data showed on Thursday. The trade surplus narrowed to R88.1-billion in the fourth quarter from R181.1-billion in the third quarter, while the annual trade surplus more than halved in 2023, to 1.5% of GDP from 3.4% in 2022.

Kenya takes funding crown as African tech investment dips (CGTN Africa)

Kenya emerged as the surprise leader in African startup funding despite a global slowdown in tech investment, according to Disrupt Africa’s latest report. While total investment dropped by nearly 28 percent in 2023 compared to 2022, Kenya attracted a record-breaking 674 million U.S. dollars, surpassing the previous frontrunner, Nigeria. The report, titled “The African Tech Startups Funding Report 2023,” highlights a period of recalibration for the continent’s tech ecosystem.

Kenya’s rise to the top is attributed in part to significant funding rounds secured by two of its energy companies. This shift suggests a growing focus on sectors beyond the traditionally dominant fintech space. While the “big four” – Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Kenya – continued to attract the lion’s share of funding (90.4 percent), their dominance appears to be waning slightly compared to 2022 (80.8 percent).

Unpredictable global trade reveals benefits of AfCFTA and intra-African trade as South Africa celebrates its first AfCFTA export to Ghana (MyJoyOnline)

Amidst disruptions to traditional trade routes, unpredictable shipping times and soaring freight tariffs caused by the conflict in the Red Sea region, the opportunities the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement creates for the development of intra-Africa trade are becoming apparent, says Standard Bank.

These opportunities would ease the pressure to import goods from the rest of the world, says Philip Myburgh, Executive Head of Trade and Africa-China, Business and Commercial Clients at the Standard Bank Group (parent company of Stanbic Bank Ghana).

“Besides reducing the need to import goods from outside of Africa, the preferential tariff rates promote Africa’s growth. AfCFTA has the potential to boost South Africa’s economy and create new jobs by increasing economic participation.” “Last month, South Africa exported its first shipment of goods to Ghana under the AfCFTA agreement. The goods shipped were forged grinding balls and high-chrome grinding media products supplied to the platinum, gold, ferrochrome, base metal, power generation and cement industries.” However, several other markets remain to be explored, says Myburgh.

SADC urges for immediate action to address the issue of unauthorised fishing activities within its coastal borders

The inception of the Southern African Community Development (SADC) Atlantic Project took place on 20thFebruary 2024, in the Republic of Angola, in Luanda.The primary goal of the project is to support the coordinated efforts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa to mitigate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and organised crime in the fisheries industry. This initiative is one of many carried out by the SADC Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC).

Fisheries in the SADC region yield substantial economic benefits, including fish production of about 3,7 million tons of fish, with exports of fish and fishery products at about US$ 2.3 billion, accounting for 31% of Africa’s total exports of fish and fishery products in 2022. They also provide direct and indirect employment to about 3.5 million SADC citizens and contribute to the region’s food and nutrition security.

East African economy to expand by 5.1 percent (The East African)

The East African economy is projected to grow by 5.1 percent this year with Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania leading the region’s economic momentum. A report by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM (Eastern Africa) Consulting Ltd, dubbed “The East African Economic Outlook 2024” and presented during the EAC CEO Roundtable on Tuesday in Nairobi, reveals that the region will continue to lead Africa’s growth pace, expanding by 5.7 percent in 2025.

“Kenya was among the four EAC partner states in the top performing economies in Africa in 2023. It is also envisaged that EAC partner states will have a strong economic rebound, with an expectation to attain a GDP growth rate ranging from 4.1 percent to 7.2 percent,” said Annette Mutaawe Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary-General for Customs, Trade, and Monetary Affairs. Global shocks, however, continue to threaten regional economies.

Illicit trade, counterfeit and substandard goods, high cost of electricity and transport, and currency depreciation are among the issues that have led to the high cost of doing business in the region.

1st Steering Committee Meeting on regional Small Business Coalition in Abuja from 4th to 6th of March, 2024. (ECOWAS)

The Private Sector Directorate of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) played host to Delegates from member states, including delegates from the African Union Commission (AU) and UEMOU to the 1st Steering Committee Meeting on regional Small Business Coalition in Abuja from 4th to 6th of March, 2024. This meeting was aimed at promoting and boosting small and medium enterprises in the region.

It was agreed that the coalition is important and timely, as it presents an opportunity to create a platform for dialogue, cooperation, and innovation among our small and medium enterprises and industries, which are the backbone of our economies and the drivers of our development. We can share best practices, exchange information, access new markets, enhance our competitiveness, and create more jobs and wealth for our people by joining forces.

3rd EAC Science, Technology and Innovation Conference opens in Nairobi (EAC)

The 3rd East African Community Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Conference opened in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday with an appeal to all stakeholders to work together to enable the Community to tap into and benefit from STI opportunities and accelerate their diffusion.

“Today, East Africa’s innovation level is insufficient to reach ambitious levels of inclusive growth and development due to prevailing technological and innovation constraints, which include financing, and information asymmetries that need to be addressed to harness STI full potential fully,” said Ms. Hendrina C. Doroba, the Division Manager in charge of Education and Skills Development at the African Development Bank (AfDB) East Africa Regional Office, adding that the situation had been worsened by the slow global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war.

“A critical pathway in responding to these challenges and ensuring that STI works for East Africa is the urgent need to train the next generation of scientists and innovators, who should take the lead in driving the region’s development agenda,” she added.

Related: Digital space incomes grow for Kenyan youth (The East African)

Africa risks missing out on AI revolution benefits (The East African)

African economies risk being left behind in the artificial intelligence (AI) shift that is changing the way companies do business, with the continent’s low capacity for virtual storage and increasingly outdated mobile technology a cause for concern. In Africa, according to the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), investments are still going towards closing a connectivity gap—bringing more people into the network especially in rural areas.

“The key then is for our governments to embrace the fact that we are now in a data driven economy, where access and control of information can help in tooling AI to do what we need and want it to do,” said ATU Secretary General John Omo. Even as countries bring in supporting legislation however, the EAC region and sub-Saharan Africa as a whole will still need to address the internet coverage and usage gaps which blunt the impact of new technology on the economy.

Global mobile network association GSMA, in its 2023 State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report, says that just 25 percent of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa—or 290 million people—has mobile internet coverage, against a global average of 51 percent.

Partner2Connect: Mobile industry answers call for connectivity (ITU Hub)

Fifth generation (5G) mobile telecommunication services could contribute almost USD 1 trillion to the global economy by 2030, becoming a vital component of education, health care, energy distribution, and more. Mobile services, meanwhile, are intertwined with the booming space economy, itself set to grow to USD 1 trillion by the end of the decade.

“Universal, meaningful connectivity is within our grasp,” Bogdan-Martin said. “These commitments will help provide accessible and affordable network connectivity to millions of people in need.” Read the press release Associated infrastructure deployments and upgrades “will have a long-term impact on markets and economies across the globe,” she added.

ITU – the UN digital agency – has called on governments and industry to work together to connect every corner of the globe. Pledges mobilized through Partner2Connect in the last two years now exceed USD 46 billion in value. The ITU-led connectivity campaign aims to reach USD 100 billion by 2026. The latest pledges from mobile operators bring it close to halfway there.

Earth’s ‘life support system’ is being destroyed by global business paradigm, UN expert warns (UN News)

In a hard-hitting report to the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur David Boyd underscored that current business practices, particularly large corporations, pose a severe threat to the planet’s ecological integrity. Mr. Boyd emphasized the “colossal impacts” on natural resources, which are being consumed six times faster than the planet can sustain.

“Led by the ultrarich, with their private jets, yachts, massive mansions, space travel and hyperconsumptive lifestyles, humanity is exceeding Earth’s carrying capacity,” the report stated in stark language, singling out the ecological footprint of the world’s most developed nations.

Empowering vulnerable women: African Development Bank financing bolsters economic inclusion in Togo (ZAWYA)

Some 45 kilometres from Lomé, in the village of Aného, a transformative initiative is reshaping the lives of vulnerable women like Adjoa Agbomassi. Following her successful treatment from obstetrical fistula, Adjoa now stands proudly by her vegetable stalls, a testament to the success of the Project to Support the Financial Inclusion of Vulnerable Women in Togo (PAIFFV).

“Before, I struggled to sustain my business. Now, with the project’s support, I’ve expanded my operations, attracting more customers and securing a stable income, thanks to the loan from the Project to Support the Financial Inclusion of Vulnerable Women,” says Adjoa, reflecting on her journey to financial independence.

With over $990,248 (around 600 million CFA francs) disbursed to women entrepreneurs, the project has facilitated the creation of 8,072 micro- and small businesses, boasting an average profitability of 26.5 percent. Each enterprise has also helped to generate 1.2 jobs, fostering economic growth and stability within local communities.

See also: Barriers still exist for women in political participation (CGTN Africa)

The climate crisis is unjust for rural women: FAO gender expert (FAO)

Rural communities worldwide are grappling with escalating challenges brought on by the climate crisis. As disasters become more frequent and severe, and environmental conditions grow harsher, the burden on these communities intensifies. However, it is women who are bearing the heaviest brunt of these impacts, including significant financial losses.

Until now, no study had ventured to quantify the monetary costs faced by these women due to heat stress, floods, or droughts. The newly released FAO report, The Unjust Climate: Measuring the impacts of climate change on the rural poor, women and youth, sheds light on how climate change disproportionately affects the rural poor, older people and women in low- and middle-income countries. It reveals billions of dollars in losses among female-headed farming households, further widening the income gap between men and women.

Invest in women to accelerate development for all: UNCTAD chief (UNCTAD)

As the world marks International Women’s Day on 8 March, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan calls for bolder efforts to invest in creating equal opportunities for women and girls across the globe. They often get less access to education and health care, are paid less than men and are more likely to leave work to care for families.

It’s now projected that closing the global gender gap will take almost 132 years – about 30 years more than estimated in 2019. According to the United Nations, accelerating the pace to achieve gender equality by 2030 would require an additional $360 billion each year.

Speaking on a special episode of UNCTAD’s Weekly Tradecast, Ms. Grynspan underlined the pivotal role that investing in women plays not only in achieving gender equality but also in building stronger, more resilient and sustainable economies and societies for everyone.

Video: Women’s Day: Why investing in women is the key to faster development for all

World Bank: International Women’s Day 2024

Trillion-dollar shift urgently needed to align global finance with climate and development goals (UNCTAD)

An estimated $4 trillion needs to be mobilized each year to fight climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) UNCTAD’s latest Trade and Development Report says. This amounts to the GDP of Germany in 2022 and can only be accomplished through a major shift in global financial flows, entailing the reallocation of trillions of dollars currently funding – directly and indirectly – economic activities that undermine these goals.

The estimated financing needs represent just 1% of total global financial assets, currently valued at more than $470 trillion. “But it’s not easy to shift resources away from long-standing and often profitable activities,” says Anastasia Nesvetailova, head of UNCTAD’s macroeconomic and development policies branch.

The report highlights that, for example, eight years after the Paris Agreement, finance for fossil fuels continues unabated at more than $1 trillion annually to companies supporting new development projects.

See also: Greening global trade: A reform agenda for a sustainable future (YaleNews)


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