Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Infrastructure investment central to achievement of SA’s development goals (SAnews)

President Cyril Ramaphosa says investment in infrastructure is central to the achievement of the country’s development goals. “Infrastructure is an enormous economic multiplier, providing dividends for an economy long after the infrastructure has been built,” President Ramaphosa said.

Addressing the 2024 Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa (SIDSSA) currently underway at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, President Ramaphosa said the symposium is an important part of government’s effort to close the infrastructure spending gap in the country. “It is estimated that to achieve our infrastructure goals, we need an additional R1.6 trillion in public sector infrastructure investment and a further R3.2 trillion from the private sector by 2030,” President Ramaphosa said.

A number of bold initiatives are being implemented to deliver infrastructure at the required scale and pace. “We are working on reforms to develop sustainable infrastructure, lift business confidence and encourage investment. See Infrastructure SA names 12 projects it will aim to unblock this financial year (Engineering News)

Malawi and maize: prices have spiked on the back of bad weather and trade bans (The Conversation)

Maize is the leading staple food in Malawi and crucial for food security. Typically, local production from smallholder farmers meets and exceeds annual requirements of around 3 million metric tonnes. The country, however, is currently facing a crisis with 4.4 million Malawians (22% of the population) being food insecure.

This is due firstly to a poor harvest in 2023. The subsequent shortages led to a spike in prices which hit households hard. Such severe impacts on households could have been avoided, however, with more integrated regional markets to buffer against such shocks. We analysed the dynamics behind these developments. We concluded that regional trade was not working well. Supply shocks driven by extreme weather were exacerbated by ad hoc trade bans and by apparent market speculation.

Kenya launches strategic plan to promote use of nuclear energy (CGTN Africa)

Kenya launched its strategic plan on Monday, providing a roadmap to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology in electricity generation. Alex Wachira, principal secretary for the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, told journalists in the national capital of Nairobi that the plan provides guidelines for developing the infrastructure for constructing, operating, maintaining and decommissioning nuclear facilities safely and securely.

“The strategic plan proposes practical interventions to ensure Kenya commences construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2027 and commissions it in 2034,” Wachira said. According to the ministry, Kenya’s domestic installed electricity capacity is about 3,073 megawatts (MW), comprising 839 MW of hydropower, 940 MW of geothermal and 646 MW of thermal power. Wind power capacity is about 436 MW, solar sources account for 210 MW, and the rest is from biomass.

Kenya mulls VAT on bread, milk in fresh revenue push (The East African)

Kenya’s National Treasury is considering introducing a 16 percent value-added tax (VAT) on bread and milk in a fresh push to boost revenue collections. Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u said studies by government agencies had shown that the current structure, where VAT on bread and milk is zero-rated, had failed to cushion the targeted poor households and instead benefited the middle class, who have relatively high income.

“When we started doing some simulation work, we realised that we could actually gain a lot. Once you have high tax rates, the political remedy is often to try and create a rebate or should I say create refunds for some of the institutions dealing with products that are related and being considered to be consumed by the poor” Prof Ndung’u said on Tuesday during the Africa Fiscal Monitor form organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Total VAT collected in Kenya comprises about 40 percent of the total taxes, but 18 percent of it goes to tax refunds for products assumed to be consumed by the poor. When you look at those products, you realise 95 percent of refunds go to bread and milk. Who goes to the supermarket to buy bread and milk? We are not compensating the poor, we are compensating the middle class,” he said. If this happens, Kenyans will witness a rise in the cost of the two commodities.

Rwanda-Zimbabwe ties show the potential of intra-Africa trade (The New Times)

The Rwanda-Zimbabwe Business Forum which went underway on Monday serves as a powerful testament to the transformative potential of South-South cooperation. The 50% surge in trade between these two nations over the past two years is a resounding success story, offering valuable lessons for the entire African continent. The growth has surged thanks to the annual forum, which is now happening for the third time, interchangeably between both Kigali and Harare.

For too long, Africa has been a net importer, with trade largely flowing outwards. This forum demonstrates the immense potential of intra-African trade – the exchange of goods and services among African nations. By fostering partnerships like the one between the two countries, Africa can unlock its vast economic potential and chart a path towards self-reliance.

See also: Can Rwanda-Zim business community drive AfCFTA realization? (The New Times)

Trade Policy Review: Angola (WTO)

the potential contribution of trade and trade policy to reduce trade costs and support Angola’s broader competitiveness and diversification agenda remains largely untapped. This partly reflects the emphasis on substituting domestically produced goods for imports in some sectors, one of the tools used by Angola to nurture its nascent private sector and create much-needed jobs for its young and rapidly growing population. As the authorities consider ways to expand the contribution of trade policy to sustain inclusive economic growth, it would be important to assess the costs of higher trade protection, which may come in the form of higher prices and less choice for consumers, especially those with the lowest incomes, and fewer opportunities for Angolan firms, especially small- and medium-sized ones, to join regional and global value chains.

Civil society and cultural communities call for the restoration of the SADC Tribunal (Namibia Economist)

The Mike Campbell Foundation, the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), the Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI), AfriForum and the Office of Kgosi Mogakolodi Masibi of the Batlharo Boo Tokwana Ba Ga Masibi Cultural Community today sent a memorandum to the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), calling for the restoration of the regional court of justice, the SADC Tribunal. The representatives also signed a copy of this memorandum at the historic Turnhalle Building, the former seat of the Tribunal, as a symbol of their appeal to SADC.

The symbolic signing of the memorandum was the final step of a two-stage trek undertaken by Ben Freeth, Executive Director of the Mike Campbell Foundation, that started at the gate of the farm Mount Carmel in central Zimbabwe on 28 November 2023. “This court of justice was open to any SADC citizens whose justice systems had failed them in their own countries. The effective closure of the Tribunal was a travesty of justice that has denied access to justice to the 400 million citizens of the 16 SADC countries,” explains Freeth.

ECA, WFP Explore Renewable Energy Solutions for Enhanced Food Security in Madagascar (UNECA)

A joint team from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) has concluded a three-day series of strategic discussions on enhancing food security through renewable energy in Madagascar. The talks, which ended on 15 March 2024

The discussions highlighted initiatives for rural electrification and explored collaborations with agencies like the Rural Electricity Development Agency (ADER) and the National Institute of Statistics. The delegates examined ongoing challenges in rural energy deployment, as well as the tender management processes. Contributions from the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) to rural growth via electrification initiatives were also highlighted.

The ECA-WFP initiative is set to make a significant impact in Madagascar by refining WFP business models, expanding strategies, and bolstering financial and regulatory frameworks. It leverages best practices and builds local capacity to quickly roll out clean energy solutions, aiming to enhance food security and reshape the rural landscape.

Togo Customs takes steps in its Rules of Origin competency development (WCO)

Under the framework of the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme, funded by the European Union, the World Customs Organization (WCO), in partnership with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), held a national training workshop on rules of origin in Lomé, Togo, from 11 to 15 March 2024 with the participation of officials from Togo Customs, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Industry, Chamber of Commerce and private sector. The objective of the workshop was to assist Togo in enhancing its knowledge and application of preferential rules of origin.

In his opening remarks, the Director General of the Investment Promotion Agency and Free Zones, Mr. Atsouvi Yawo SIKPA, representing the Minister of Investment Promotion in Togo, thanked the WCO and the EU for their support in building capacity on rules of origin. He stressed the importance of having an in-depth knowledge of the WAEMU, ECOWAS and AfCFTA rules of origin to avoid diversity in their application on regional and continental levels. He also reiterated the government’s engagement to promote peace, security and the consolidation of regional communities, which is a guarantee of industrial and economic development and regional integration.

SADC capacitates entrepreneurs in the region on standards required to export food products and agriculture commodities to the European Union market (SADC)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) conducted a five-day capacity-building workshop in the Kingdom of Lesotho from 4th to 8th March 2024 on sanitary requirements that are demanded when exporting food products and agricultural commodities to the European Union (EU) market.

The EU and SADC signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) commonly known as the EU SADC EPA, to preserve market access and preferences for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa. Agriculture is one of the sectors that benefits immensely from the improved market access under the EU SADC EPA, particularly sugar, dairy products, canned fruits, flowers, and fisheries.

Non-compliance with Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) in the form of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements, as well as inadequate knowledge about SPS principles, were identified as major impediments to the growth of exports in food products and agricultural commodities from SADC EPA Member States to the EU market. Additionally, high production, transportation, and marketing costs, along with inadequate testing facilities and conformity assessments, posed barriers to entry and trade in the EU market.

See also: EU-SADC Trade Agreement: A Push for Partnership and Sustainable Progress (Africa24.it)

Is East Africa’s currency dream on hold? (Tanzania Daily News)

In recent weeks, East Africans found themselves caught in a whirlwind of online fake news, falsely suggesting the imminent arrival of a unified currency. Thankfully, these claims were categorically denied by authorities. Nevertheless, this incident serves as a reminder of a much-discussed, yet seemingly elusive, goal of establishing a single currency for the East African Community (EAC).

The EAC envisioned the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) as a cornerstone for deeper economic integration, following in the footsteps of the customs union and common market, which also faced implementation challenges. A single currency was expected to enhance regional stability, boost trade and investment, streamline transactions, and drive overall economic growth. However, the path to this goal has proven rockier than anticipated.

However, there’s still hope. Public support for a single currency within the EAC is strong, providing policymakers with a powerful tool to expedite its establishment. The EAC operates on a more balanced playing field compared to some regional blocs dominated by a few powerful members.

ECOWAS participation in the Digital Transformation for Africa /Western Africa Regional Digital Integration Program declared effective (ECOWAS)

On March 6, 2024, the World Bank officially declared the ECOWAS Commission had met all the conditions for the effectiveness of a Financing Agreement with the International Development Association. This declaration of effectiveness paves the way for the disbursement of a grant dedicated to implementing key components of the Digital Transformation for Africa /Western Africa Regional Digital Integration (DTfA/WARDIP) Program.

The objective of the DTfA/WARDIP program is to increase broadband access and usage and advance integration of digital markets in Western Africa. The program is expected to contribute to bridging the digital divide by making internet services more affordable, promoting competition among service providers, and improving the underlying infrastructure. These efforts are aimed at unlocking new opportunities for employment, improving access to services for 1.3 million individuals, ensuring inclusivity including 50% women, and people with disabilities.

‘Digital economy thrives on inclusivity’ (The Herald)

The digital economy thrives on inclusivity and to ensure this by 2030 needs everyone on board especially women, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera, said. Speaking at the Women ICT conference in Harare, Minister Mavetera said her Ministry was actively promoting women’s participation in ICT.

The Computer Society of Zimbabwe is a valuable partner in realising the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 vision and their focus on infrastructure, skills development and fostering a knowledge-based economy aligns perfectly with our goals.” Minister Mavetera said the computer society was actively participating in Government programmes and national committees making them a vital contributor. The Ministry was committed to supporting all women’s programmes that propelled the digital economy agenda.

Surge in mergers, acquisitions forecast (The Herald)

Zimbabwe could see a rise in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity this year, driven by increased foreign investor interest exploring opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the attractiveness of mergers for firms seeking to adapt and remain competitive within this integrated trade environment. With Zimbabwe’s post-election period underway, a slight increase in local mergers is expected, according to an analysis by the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC). This follows a period of foreign investor caution, but with the political landscape clearer, they are now poised to explore acquisition opportunities.

“Foreign investors, who were previously adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach, are now poised to explore opportunities for acquisitions. Businesses believe that merger transactions in many cases are the best way to keep up with the ever-changing market developments and allow them to transform faster than otherwise feasible,” the commission added. “Also, as firms continue to realise the changes that are going to come through the African Continental Free Trade Area this can also render mergers attractive for firms to reinvent themselves to stay ahead and relevant in this trade integration agenda.”

AfCFTA : Let’s accelerate harmonisation of goods and services across Africa - Shippers Authority (Ghana News Agency)

Mr. Baffour Okyere Sarpong, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), has stressed the urgent need to expedite harmonisation of standards for goods and services in support of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). In an news brief, he asserted that the move was crucial for enhancing commercial activities within AfCFTA and bolstering businesses across the continent.

Mr. Okyere Sarpong said the harmonisation of standards would help eliminate technical barriers inhibiting continental trade. He underscored the importance of Shippers Councils across the continent sharing data to enhance AfCFTA trade, and called for collaboration to exchange vital information related to cargo handling, customs procedures, and trade regulations to foster economic growth.

Kebs chief highlights quality as key to Africa’s trade growth (Capital Business)

Esther Ngari, the Managing Director of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), has emphasized quality excellence as a critical driver for sustainable business growth and a competitive edge for African enterprises. Themed ‘Realizing Competitive Advantage through Quality Excellence’, the conference brought together industry leaders, policymakers, and quality practitioners from across the region.

The Future of Excellence Ngari pointed to ‘Quality 4.0’ as a key theme for the conference, referencing the future of quality and organizational excellence within the context of Industry 4.0. “Quality professionals can play a vital role in leading their organizations to apply proven quality disciplines to new, digital, and disruptive technologies,” she noted. The conference also focused on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The critical-minerals boom is here. Can Africa take advantage? (Atlantic Council)

Technology is increasingly influencing the way people around the world live, creating opportunities in some cases and introducing new challenges in others. Just as important as a technology’s impact is the technology’s origin—or origins. Any given technology can be traced back, through its individual components and materials, to a number of sources. And the question about where those components and materials come from matters. Modern technology, economies, livelihoods, and weapons depend on critical minerals such as magnesium, cobalt, lithium, or even copper. Where countries source these minerals makes a difference for national and strategic security.

Since Africa is home to 30 percent of the world’s known critical minerals, the continent is at the forefront of conversations. But currently, African nations aren’t getting their fair share of the benefits of the critical-minerals boom and buzz generated by the evolution of modern technologies. For that to happen, Africa will need more investment in its capacities to refine or add value to minerals within the continent; such investment could fuel a long-awaited boost in development.

4th AmCham Business Summit To Advocate For Enhanced Partnership And Investment In US-East Africa Trade (Africa.com)

The fourth edition of the regional American Chamber of Commerce Kenya (AmCham) Business Summit, the premier platform for strengthening bilateral trade and investment between the United States, Kenya, and East Africa is set to be held on April 24–25, 2024, in Nairobi, Kenya.

AmCham’s Board President, Mr Peter Ngahu highlighted that the Summit would explore opportunities to promote sustainable and inclusive growth while increasing investment in Kenya and the East African region. “As we celebrate years of shared value and interests, the AmCham Business Summit stands as a beacon of opportunity. We look forward to exploring how we can leverage these opportunities as we stay committed to helping drive investments in East Africa.”

A wide range of topics critical to the region’s economic development, including shaping the future of US-East Africa trade and investment, climate action, digital transformation, and sustainable finance for East African economies, will be covered in a series of panel discussions, keynotes, and roundtables moderated by experts from the public and private sectors.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts panel on Advance with Africa (The Atlanta Voice)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S. – Africa Business Center hosted a special forum for their Advance With Africa program in partnership with the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement to foster economic engagement through Diaspora business ties.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, by the end of the century, 1 in 3 people in the world will be African, inhabiting a huge consumer market with vast growth potential. According to the United Nations, Africa’s population is set to double by 2050, reaching 2.5 billion people. This will create a massive demand for goods and services, presenting businesses with historic opportunities to build profitable, sustainable enterprises.

Advance with Africa aims to advance Africa’s commercial profile, increase U.S. exports and investment, showcase tools to support new market entrants, and foster commercial opportunities for businesses in the United States and Africa.  This multi-year campaign is targeting cities across the U.S. with a significant African diaspora and minority business communities, existing business linkages with Africa, and high interest from elected officials.

Report on the formation of a Trust Corridor for innovation exchange and trade across Africa launched (MyJoyOnline)

A new report to guide the formation and implementation of the proposed UK-Africa Innovation Trust Corridor (ITC) to facilitate the transparent, secure, and demonstrable exchange of research and innovation outputs between the United Kingdom and its African Commonwealth nations has been launched in Accra. The report, titled “Research-based evidence to support the formation of the proposed UK-Ghana Innovation Trust Corridor (ITC),” was unveiled at the maiden Africa Research and Innovation Commercialization Summit (ARICS 2024), held at the Labadi Beach Hotel.

The UK-Africa Innovation Trust Corridor establishes the infrastructure and protocols for innovation co-creation, innovation trade, protecting intellectual property rights, knowledge transfer, and shared operational standards. It will also foster a robust regime for research and innovation commercialisation within and across nations in the commonwealth, with the United Kingdom being the initial anchor region.

BRICS: Important announcement about the new currency of the union (Cryptodnes.bg)

BRICS is exploring the possibility of creating a new currency for world markets to facilitate international trade between member countries. The alliance seeks to reduce dependence on the US dollar and increase the importance of the upcoming currency. Amid concerns about the risks associated with holding the U.S. dollar in reserve, the nine-nation bloc has sought to support its home currencies.

Amid concerns stemming from an unmanageable debt of $34.4 trillion, developing countries are turning to hoarding gold as an alternative to cushion the impact on their economies. In particular, the BRICS countries, which are major buyers of gold, have accumulated significant amounts of the precious metal, as reported by the World Gold Council.

Related news:

BRICS Urges Middle East To Ditch US Dollar For Oil Trade (Watcher Guru)

Inside the BRICS rival to Horizon Europe (Science | Business)

The great balancing act: Making trade and payments faster, cheaper, and easier in 2024 (Trade Finance Global)

The trade and payments industry is at a crossroads in its digitalisation journey. Recent years have shown a clear shift towards a more digital world, but there has been asymmetric adoption across the industry, uneven regulation, unintended consequences, winners and losers. While the progress is encouraging, the next steps are marked by the need for interoperability and uniform adoption of standards such as the full adoption of ISO 20022 by November 2025.

BAFT’s inaugural 2024 ‘International Trade and Payments’ conference covered many topics, but digitalisation and the transformation of trade and payments shone brightly. Bringing together over 200 industry participants, it was clear that the evolution of the trade and payments industry was moving ahead, and the need to talk about both, in sync, was tantamount.

Quick links

Africa’s biggest economies set to hold interest rates as inflation risks linger (Engineering News)

China’s economic plans make a trade war likely whether Biden or Trump wins the presidency (Business Insider Africa)

G7 committed to DPI for socio-economic transformation, OECD’s digital ID governance (Biometric Update)

G20 Bioeconomy Initiative: Meeting knowledge and nature (G20 Brasil)

Consumer dispute resolution in the World (UNCTAD)


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