Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Industrial gas users prepare to make ‘orderly transition’ case at crunch gas-cliff meeting (Engineering News)

The creation of a formal public-private platform to assess solutions to a pending “gas cliff” for industrial consumers in South Africa points to the fact that the issue is finally being taken seriously by all stakeholders, Industrial Gas Users Association of South Africa (IGUA-SA) executive director Jaco Human tells Engineering News.

Speaking at the African Energy Indaba, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said the task team had been established “to develop a joint strategy that will ensure a seamless transition and business continuity, thus ameliorating potential job losses”. Mantashe also announced that the efforts would be supported by the finalisation of the Gas Master Plan, which would be presented to Cabinet in March, and various collaborative efforts being pursued with the Mozambique government, including on the proposed Matola liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub.

Kenya posts $1.2bn surplus in trade with Africa (The East African)

Kenya’s earnings from goods exported to African countries exceeded expenditure on imports by a record Ksh164.04 billion ($1.22 billion) in 2023, provisional data shows, boosting the government’s renewed push for integration of markets on the continent. The value of goods sold to other countries in the continent amounted to Ksh431.89 billion ($3.22 billion) last year, a growth of 22.99 percent over Ksh351.16 billion ($2.62 billion) the year before.

The increased earnings came at a time when expenditure on imports remained largely flat, rising a measly 0.31 percent to Ksh267.86 billion ($2 billion), according to data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

Malawi Leather Value Chain Stakeholders meet to develop a Strategic Plan for the development of the leather industry (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is actively working towards promoting and advancing the growth of the regional leather value chain, which is among the 32 priority value chains in the region. The leather value chain aligns to the regional strategic objectives which seeks to advance industrialisation and regional integration through the agricultural and natural resource led economic growth.

As part of the implementation of the Support to Industrialisation and Productive Sectors Programme (SIPS), the SADC Secretariat, in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Malawi, hosted a 2-day strategic workshop on 12-13 March 2024 in Blantyre, Malawi to develop a national Strategic Workplan as part of the domestication of the Regional Leather Value Chain Model Policy Framework.

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms. Gladys Chimpokosera, Deputy Director of Industry in the Ministry of Trade and Industry for Malawi, emphasised that the workshop is aligned with the specific objectives outlined in Malawi’s Vision 2063. The Vision places impetus on industrialisation through promotion of research, science, technology and innovation as well as education and skills development to promote product development and design.

Nigeria’s top 10 import trading partners (Business Insider Africa)

Nigeria engages in the international trade game for several reasons. Sometimes it is to fill in the gaps where resources are lacking; other times, it is to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. And, of course, there’s also the need to meet the demands of a ballooning citizenry.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics in its latest “Foreign Trade Statistics” in Q4 of 2023, the total import value hit ₦14,108.33 billion. This represents a 56.04% surge compared to Q4 2022 (₦9,041.24 billion) and a staggering 163.08% jump compared to the same quarter in 2022 (₦5,362.83 billion). The boost in import value during the quarter was mainly driven by the import of ‘Tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, motorized, whet,’ which accounted for ₦5,061.25 billion.

Talking about imports, the top five trade partners were Singapore, bringing in goods worth ₦5,092.36 billion (or 36.09%); China, with ₦2,060.59 billion (or 14.61%); Belgium, with ₦1,140.97 billion (or 8.09%); India, with ₦908.59 billion (or 6.44%); and the USA, contributing goods valued at ₦512.99 billion (or 3.64%).

Expert highlights advantages of changes made to the customs tariff (Angop)

The technician from the Northern regional department of the General Tax Administration (AGT), Dionísio Domingos, highlighted, on Wednesday, in Ndalatando, Cuanza-Norte province, the advantages of the changes made to the national customs tariff. He considered that the changes inserted as part of the customs tariff review will help develop the economy, encourage national production and reduce imports.

The revision of the Act, which comes into force from April this year, is a result of compliance with the Constitution of the Republic and the regulations of the world Customs and Trade organizations. Dionísio Domingos provided this information during a lecture on “The dissemination of changes to the New Customs Tariff”. He highlighted that the review of the national customs tariff takes place every five years to confirm it to international regulations, promote an increase in production, exports, State revenue and reduce smuggling.

Among the changes, the new agenda enshrines tax exemptions for the import of agricultural inputs, machinery, medicines and other goods with a low level of production on the national market, in addition to attractive rates for the primary sectors of the economy.

UNDP boosts Ghanaian MSMEs AfCFTA participation with US$70,000 grant (GhanaWeb)

Ghanaian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises’ (MSMEs) participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gets a major boost with a $70,000 grant. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Absa Bank Ghana partnership is part of a series of business development activities, which has already supported about 3,000 enterprises over the past four years.

Under the current programme, some 18 MSMEs that qualified from an innovation pitching competition would be supported to scale and firm up their operations and leverage opportunities presented by the continental free trade. Dr Angela Lusiga, UNDP Resident Representative to Ghana, expressed confidence in the programme helping address the financing gap for MSMEs, and for them to be fully prepared to participate in AfCFTA.

“We started with a survey where we asked MSMEs what they knew about AfCFTA. We found out that there were many enterprises that didn’t even know about AfCFTA. Most of them didn’t know much about the opportunities and products that are allowed under the AfCFTA,” she said. Dr Lusiga said UNDP had effectively addressed the awareness deficit about the AfCFTA with the beneficiary MSMEs through working with the National Coordination Office of AfCFTA to spread awareness of the agreement in different districts.

EAC member states to develop GMO policy despite debate (NTV Uganda)

The East African Community (EAC) member states have agreed to develop a policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) despite mixed feelings on whether the region should adopt the technology. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of the EAC, Peninah Malonza, told the regional assembly sitting in Nairobi, Kenya, that the member states will soon enact a regional policy to guide the implications and regulate the use of GMOs. Today, the assembly’s committee on Agriculture, Tourism, and Natural Resources tabled a report in which the legislators assessed the region on the adoption of GMOs.

Local experts share insights on what a common currency would mean for East African integration (The Citizen)

Economic experts have outlined the potential of using a common currency in the East African Community (EAC), stating that it will deepen economic integration. The eight-member regional bloc aims to achieve a Monetary Union or Single Currency by 2031. The experts argue that the common currency stage will generate more economic benefits for residents and states through trade facilitation.

An economist and lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm), Dr Mwinuka Lutengano, said the common currency would be beneficial, especially in facilitating trade. “By adopting a common currency, EAC member states will eliminate the need for currency conversions and associated transaction costs. This streamlines trade transactions, making it easier and cheaper for businesses to conduct cross-border trade,” he said. He added that the use of a single currency would allow businesses within the region to price their goods and services more efficiently, leading to increased competitiveness and potentially higher export volumes.

Ruto joins Museveni, Suluhu in Zanzibar to discuss EAC political federation (The Star)

President William Ruto on Thursday traveled to Zanzibar to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu. The meeting, the three Heads of State said was organised to discuss matters in the East African Community. “Today, as leaders among the eight EAC partner states, we reaffirm our unwavering support for further regional integration and prosperity, focusing on fast-tracking the federation,” Ruto wrote on X.

Communication from Ikulu in Tanzania said that the presidents in the meeting agreed on the need to hasten the public participation exercise on the structure and areas to be considered in the Draft Constitution of the East African Community Political Federation.

The vision of the meeting, Ruto said, is to promote the unity of the communities in the three member states, to harness the economic benefits of creating a larger market, and the imperative of security for stability within the expanded Community. The Political Federation, if formed, will be founded on three pillars; common foreign and security policies, good governance and effective implementation.

East African Petroleum Conference 2025 preparations commence as Uganda hands over to Tanzania (EAC)

The stage is set for the 11th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition 2025 (EAPCE’25), scheduled to take place from 5th – 7th March, 2025 in Tanzania. Organized by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the EAC Partner States, the event anticipates attracting over 1,000 participants. Under the theme “Unlocking Investment in Future Energy: The Role of Petroleum Resources in the Energy Mix for Sustainable Development in East Africa”, the 2025 edition aims to highlight the region’s petroleum potential and investment opportunities.

The Regional Steering Committee for EAPCE’25, comprised of experts from the EAC Partner States, convened in Zanzibar, Tanzania for a pivotal meeting marking the official commencement of preparations. The Chairperson of the Regional Steering Committee, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy Tanzania, Dr. James Mataragio emphasized the conference’s significance, noting its evolution into the region’s premier petroleum event.

Looking ahead to 2050, the EAC envisions a sustainable, affordable, and secure energy mix to meet regional needs. With a focus on access, capacity, efficiency, and sustainability, the region aims to transform its energy landscape, ensuring efficient distribution of petroleum products and strategic reserves.

Central Africa Says Economic Bloc Poorest, Integration Stagnant at 4% (Voice of America)

The Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, marks its 30th anniversary this week but by some measures has little to celebrate. The bloc says member countries conduct most of their trade with outside countries and have made little attempt to break down economic barriers between them, leaving CEMAC the least developed and poorest economic bloc in Africa.

Officials say the Central African Economic and Monetary Community remains the least integrated economic bloc in Africa, despite its very strong economic and social potential. CEMAC officials say member countries conduct more than 80 percent of their foreign trade with Europe, China and Russia – and only 4 percent with each other.

Sylvestre Michel Nkou is an economic adviser to the Congo government and CEMAC. He spoke during celebrations marking the economic bloc’s 30th anniversary in Yaounde Thursday. Nkou says CEMAC member states should emulate the Economic Community of West African States, in which civilians and merchants move from one country to the other without fear of police harassment, brutality or the confiscation of their goods. He says poverty will be reduced in central Africa and the economic bloc will cease to become the poorest on the continent when integration becomes a reality, not a political slogan.

Africa CEO Forum 2024: Leaders convene in Kigali to shape continent’s future (The Citizen)

As Africa grapples with pressing global challenges, the 2024 Africa CEO Forum is poised to address the continent’s pivotal moment. Set for May 16th and 17th in Kigali, Rwanda, this year’s forum poses a critical question: Will Africa seize the opportunity to lead or risk being sidelined in history?

With the theme “At the Table or On the Menu? A Critical Moment to Shape a New Future for Africa,” the 11th edition of the Africa CEO Forum emphasizes the urgency for African leaders to unite and forge a path forward amidst economic shifts and uncertainties. For over a decade, the Africa CEO Forum has served as a gathering ground for the continent’s most influential figures in business, innovation, and policy-making. This year’s event will focus on four transformative agendas: leadership, digital transformation, continental integration, and financing.

Amidst the gathering, leaders will engage in panel discussions, workshops, and roundtables aimed at strategizing for growth, fostering innovation, leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and overcoming financial obstacles. The forum aims to catalyze actionable solutions to accelerate Africa’s progress and prosperity.

Africa seems to be embracing the Russian currency at the expense of the dollar (Business Insider Africa)

A report by Sputnik Africa showed that the use of the Russian currency for trade between Russia and Africa has more than doubled since 2022. This information is according to the Central Bank of Russia which disclosed that the percentage in rubles of Russian-African settlements doubled in 2023 compared to the year prior. In 2022, the percentage of Russia-African trade transacted in rubles came in at 21.9%, while 2023 figures were twice that at 48.1%.

The Russian Central Bank also reported that there has been a substantial rise in the amount of ruble settlements in other regions outside of Africa including with American countries. The trade-in rubles between American countries and Russia rose from 22.7% to 35.1%. Likewise with Asian nations, the ruble’s percentage increased from 20.5% to 24%.

The shift toward local currency transactions represents a turning point in the development of the world economy. For the foreseeable future, the dollar will definitely continue to dominate international banking. Still, the emergence of local currency trading indicates a larger move towards a more decentralized and multipolar monetary system.

Africa awaits French bid to ban $1bn second-hand clothes trade (EUobserver)

France’s attempts to impose an EU-wide ban on the export of used clothes will be watched closely by dozens of African countries, that receive millions of tonnes of used clothes each year. On Thursday (14 March), the French national assembly approved a new law that would gradually impose fines of up to €10-per-item of clothing by 2030, as well for a ban on advertising for such products.

On the same day, the environment ministry in Paris told Reuters that it would push for an EU ban to be discussed at a meeting of EU environment ministers on 25 March, with the support of Sweden and Denmark.

Trade data from the United Nations shows the EU exported 1.4m metric tons of used textiles in 2022. A European Environment Agency report in 2023 showed that Europe dumps 90 percent of its used clothes in Africa and Asia, warning that clothes can cause pollution in African countries where items that cannot be resold end up in dumps.

‘Uplifting women in decision-making relevant for public, private institutions’ (IPP Media)

President Samia Suluhu Hassan has urged public and private institutions to increase efforts to ensure that more women have an opportunity to be in various decision making bodies. She was gracing an opening ceremony for the launch of the Tanzania Women in Financial Sector Association (TAWiFA) at Kizimkazi Township in Unguja South Region, organised by TAWiFA in collaboration with the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) and the Mwanamke Initiatives Foundation (MIF).

The one-day event brought on board participants from both sides of the union, where apart from the launch of the association, the event gave a platform to extensively discuss how to overcome the challenges they face.

Pollution – a Threat To Our Groundwater Resources (Inter Press Service)

Groundwater pollution significantly affects the prevalence of waterborne diseases. This form of pollution occurs when hazardous substances, such as pathogens, chemicals, and heavy metals, seep into underground aquifers, the primary source of drinking water for approximately 70% of the 250 million people living in the SADC region.

“The link between contaminated groundwater and waterborne diseases underscores the urgency of protecting these vital water resources. To mitigate these dangers, concerted efforts are required to prevent pollutant infiltration, monitor water quality, and enhance water treatment facilities”, said Gerald Mundondwa, SADC-GMI Senior Groundwater Specialist.

Addressing these challenges is pivotal for the preservation of groundwater quality and the prevention of the dire ecological and health repercussions associated with its contamination.

Commonwealth Law Ministers encouraged to enable move to paperless trade (The Commonwealth)

This March, Commonwealth Law Ministers were encouraged to enable the move to paperless trade by undertaking legal reform allowing digital trade documents to have the same force in law as paper-based documents. At the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania, held from 4-8 March, the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda (CCA) presented its Working Group on Legal Reform and Digitalisation to Ministers and senior legal officials.

Whilst the CCA Trade Specialist Mr Niels Strazdins noted that the Working Group and its outputs will play a crucial role in helping member states unlock up to US$1.2 trillion in additional Commonwealth trade by moving to paperless trade. This number includes a potential US$90 billion in savings from the cost reductions resulting from the move to digital processes, and an additional US$1.1 trillion in additional trade resulting from greater access to finance, according to CCA research.

Making artificial intelligence work better for consumers and societies (UNCTAD)

The growing presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in consumers’ lives has put our societies at a crossroads, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, marking World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March. The secretary-general was addressing an event in Geneva on consumer experience and generative AI, gathering international organizations, businesses and consumer rights groups.

Advancing at breakneck speeds, data-driven AI holds vast promise for consumer welfare, through personalizing products and services, optimizing customer support, and addressing disputes online. But at the same time, there are growing concerns over the fair, responsible and ethical use of AI,

UN Paper Discusses Governments’ Role in Regulating and Using AI for the SDGs (IISD)

The UN Secretariat has published a paper prepared by members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) discussing ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) governance can help reinforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and leave no one behind. Its findings will inform the Committee’s deliberations in April.

Titled, ‘Artificial Intelligence Governance to Reinforce the 2030 Agenda and Leave No One Behind,’ the paper (E/C.16/2024/7) highlights AI’s “immense” potential benefits, “augmenting human capabilities, increasing the well-being of people and contributing to the betterment of society.” It recognizes that AI is evolving at an “unprecedented” pace, warning of many challenges, risks, and ethical concerns that must be urgently addressed. The paper underscores that as regulators and users of AI, governments have an especially important role to play in making sure AI contributes to sustainable development and improves people’s lives.

Expert Urges Rethink of Business Paradigm to Protect Earth, Human Rights (IISD)

In his report to the Human Rights Council (HRC), UN independent expert on human rights and the environment David Boyd warns that humanity is exceeding planetary boundaries. The report calls for “an urgent rethinking of the business and economic paradigms that have pushed civilization to the brink of disaster.”

The report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is titled, ‘Business, Planetary Boundaries, and the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment’ (A/HRC/55/43). It points to the “inadequacies of voluntary normative frameworks for ensuring that businesses respect human rights and clarifies State obligations to protect the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment from harms caused by businesses.”

The report calls for “systemic and transformative changes” to achieve a just and sustainable future. These include new business models, climate and environmental laws that incorporate planetary limits, fiscal policies that internalize externalities and reduce inequality, and societal goals that replace gross domestic product (GDP) and limitless growth.

Small business investing abroad: Why it matters and what needs to happen next (UNCTAD)

Foreign direct investment by small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has been falling in recent years. Between 2015 and 2022, the number of overseas greenfield investment projects by SMEs dipped by about 75%, according to a new UNCTAD report published on 6 February.

“SME investment can be most beneficial for development,” says Amelia Santos-Paulino, head of investment issues and analysis at UNCTAD. “Because these businesses are more agile, relying more on local suppliers and partners, and less likely to crowd out local firms.”

SMEs can become a real game changer, especially when globally, there’s increasing competition for a shrinking pool of large-scale projects, and an accelerating trend towards regional economic integration. But in practice, SME investors commonly grapple with financial and information constraints, and difficulties navigating complex regulations. Adding to the challenge is an international context where policy efforts to facilitate and promote investments are often geared towards attracting large multinational enterprises (MNEs).

‘Record high’ in UN development index masks stark disparities (UN News)

According to 2023-24 Human Development Report from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Human Development Index (HDI) stands at a new high following steep decline during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rich countries experienced unprecedented development, the Human Development Report details, yet half of the world’s poorest nations continue to languish below their pre-COVID crisis levels.

“The widening human development gap revealed by the report shows that the two-decade trend of steadily reducing inequalities between wealthy and poor nations is now in reverse,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

See also: Growing gulf between rich and poor countries ‘recipe for much darker future’, says UN (The Guardian)


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