Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Protectionism and shipping disruptions threaten agri trade (Farmer’s Weekly)

Solid business partnerships will become increasingly important to navigate market threats, according to Absa’s recently released AgriTrends Autumn 2024. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has dissipated, Absa AgriTrends identified various other global and local megatrends that now threaten international trade. The first of these is a slowdown in globalisation, called slobalisation.

Protectionism directly affected South Africa when the EU introduced additional phytosanitary measures on citrus in 2022, which cost the industry around R200 million to execute. The US’s protectionist strategies also affected South Africa by increasing indirect costs, causing supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressure, and affecting purchasing power and market access, according to Absa AgriTrends. The report also highlighted the importance of South Africa’s inclusion in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the US.

South Africa’s maize production to dip, but remain sufficient to cover local demand (Engineering News)

While South Africa’s maize production will be about 2.1-million tons lower this year, there is still enough to meet local consumption and supply neighbouring countries that are having difficult growing seasons owing to adverse weather, financial services firm Standard Bank says. According to the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC), South Africa is projected to produce 14.3-million tons of maize this year, compared with 16.4-million tons produced last year, which was also the second-highest crop on record.

With domestic consumption of maize averaging below 12-million tons every year, Standard Bank environment, social and governance and climate change investment analyst Dr Penny Byrne says the country should have enough maize to cover local demand and some demand from abroad, including from neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Mombasa port grows 12pc despite regional rivalry (The East African)

Container traffic through Kenya’s main port serving several countries in the region grew by 11.9 percent in 2023 on the back of a resurgent trade and economic activity, its operator Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has said. Traffic through Mombasa port is observed as an indicator of activity in the region’s economies. Apart from Kenya, it handles cargo to and from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, the eastern DRC and Somalia.

“Despite global uncertainties, the port of Mombasa has demonstrated significant growth in 2023. This is a testament to our commitment to operational excellence and efficiency,” he said on the Mombasa port performance. By weight, the Mombasa port handled 35.98 million tonnes of cargo in 2023, up from 33.88 million the previous year. Transit traffic — destined for countries other than Kenya — rose 11.5 percent to 11.41 million tonnes in 2023. “This growth underscores the port’s strategic importance in facilitating trade flows within the East African region,” Mr Ruto said.

Farm produce stuck due to ship shortage (The East African)

Tea, coffee, avocado and fresh produce farmers in Kenya are staring at losses as the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine continue to disrupt export routes. The Mombasa and Dar es salaam ports have lately recorded a shortage of refrigerated containers (reefers) and normal containers, blamed on delays caused by longer cargo delivery time.

Increasing attacks on major ships through the Suez Canal, which is a key route to the East African coast, have forced two of the world’s largest shipping groups — Mediterranean Shipping Company and Maersk — to divert their vessels via South Africa, extending the transit time by two weeks. Shippers have termed the disruption as grave, considering Kenya’s bumper avocado harvest beginning February.

Shippers Council of Eastern Africa acting chief executive Agayo Ogambi termed lack of reefers a big concern. “The shortage will affect exports of avocado and other fresh produce,” Mr Ogambi said. According to avocado exporters, the disruption has affected scheduled export dates, forcing some to suspend harvesting to mid-April when reefers are expected to arrive. Maersk, which handles more than 80 percent of Kenyan fresh produce confirmed delays.

African Development Bank champions private-public partnerships and good governance for universal water access in Kenya (ZAWYA)

Kenya’s Water and Sanitation Investors Conference 2024, held in the capital, Nairobi, concluded with a call for accelerated investment towards universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. The March 6-8 conference underscored the need for collaboration to support governments in bridging the financing gap through private sector funding, blended financing from commercial banks, Development Finance Institutions, and capital markets. Kenya requires about Ksh 995 billion (around $7.5 billion) to achieve universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.

Kenya, Tanzania push for anti-counterfeit law in EAC (The Star)

The East African region is planning to set a common standard on goods across the block to fight counterfeits. The latest push follows an earlier attempt under the 2011 Anti-Counterfeiting Bill that collapsed at the East African Legislative Assembly. Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) and the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) of Tanzania have announced joint efforts to disrupt and combat the trade in counterfeit goods across the region. The partnership will see among others, regulation changes to harmonise the areas of conflict in the current laws of the two countries.

Anti-Counterfeit Authority Executive Director Robi Njoroge said the renewed partnership opens avenues for law enforcement agencies to develop innovative approaches and strategies in combating counterfeit trade. “The first step we want is to have the East Africa Anti-Counterfeiting Bill that will allow harmonisation of the laws not only in Kenya and Tanzania but our sister states, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan...that’s something we are working on,” said Njoroge.

Kenya allows electronic IPOs to boost efficiency and confidence (The East African)

Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority has opened a window for new firms to list on the Nairobi Securities Exchange through an electronic process to reduce time and cost of initial public offerings (IPOs). This is part of reforms that the markets regulator and other stakeholders are implementing to inject fresh interest in the bourse, which attracted a quick succession of listings during President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

“Electronic IPOs are more efficient. You know the IPO process is quite cumbersome — that is the reconciliation process and the refunds process and all those kinds of things. If this process can be automated, it becomes quite quicker and cleaner. It is very welcome. It also gives you an opportunity, in some cases, what they do is you can actually do a first come, first served basis and help to eliminate the issues of refunds,” Mr Mwai said.

How Kenya can boost agricultural productivity with fertiliser subsidy (Business Daily)

To assess the impact of the NFSP on farm productivity, researchers collected data in main maize producing counties and conducted appropriate econometric analysis to isolate the effect of fertiliser subsidy on maize yield by accounting for other factors such as seed, rainfall, access to credit, irrigation, gender, education, etc. These initiatives have evolved over the years, from targeted programmes for resource-poor farmers to broader, non-targeted schemes like the National Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (NFSP) implemented in 2022 to boost food production and stabilise prices in the wake of global supply chains disruptions related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wars threaten US interests in Africa, report says (The East African)

China and Russia could still be the biggest rivals of American interests especially in Africa, a public assessment of threats to Washington shows. The report compiled by the American intelligence community names the expected enemies: China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. But it also lists Houthis and the conflict in Gaza among threats to watch out.

The 2024 Annual Threat Assessment report published last week is a summation of threats seen from January to date, which means it reflects the most recent incidents on global scale like the Israel-Hamas war, Russia-Ukraine war, Sudan war as well as trouble in the Red Sea. The US further identified Africa’s vulnerability to terrorism as a threat to its own interests.

Brazil keen on increasing trade with Zimbabwe (The Herald)

Brazil is keen on expanding its relations with Zimbabwe to the fields of education and health following successes recorded in the agriculture sector, its Secretary for Africa and Middle East in the Ministry of External Relations of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ambassador Carlos Duarte has said. He said this during the opening of the inaugural session of political consultations between Brazil and Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday.

“I am very pleased in the case of Zimbabwe to recall the progress we have achieved in the two technical cooperation projects that we have been involved with this country, both in the area of agriculture, as you have pointed out, and I am also happy to notice that Zimbabwe has already sent its comments on the final text of a third envisaged project regarding exports of flowers and ornamental plants, which can be one of the few projects in which Brazil will be receiving assistance from a developing country.

Mauritius most suitable gateway for Indian investors to Africa: Minister (The Economic Times)

Soomilduth Bholah, Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mauritius, on a recent visit to India strongly urged the Indian investors to use the island country as a gateway to access the emerging African markets given Mauritius expertise on the continent. Bholah undertook an ‘India Business Mission’ from March 14 to March 23 covering New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Speaking to ET in New Delhi the Minister urged investors and companies in India to set up their office in Mauritius to operate in Africa. “Mauritius is part of several regional groupings in Africa. We have strong understanding of African markets, resources and political systems and can guide Indian investors about investing in Africa.”

Nigeria Customs suspends 25% penalty on improperly imported vehicles (Premium Times Nigeria)

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has announced the suspension of the 25 per cent import duty penalty on improperly imported vehicles. The directive for the suspension came from the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, and is said to be part of strategies to help rejuvenate the economy and ensure compliance. The National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Maiwada, made this known in a statement on Friday.

“The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), under the directives of the Honourable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, has initiated a 90-day window, effective from 4th March 2024 to 5th July 2024, for the regularisation of import duties on specific categories of vehicles. “To ease economic hardship and encourage compliance, the Honourable Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy has approved the suspension of the 25% penalty previously imposed in addition to import duty on improperly imported vehicles,” the official said.

African Development Bank approves $50 million loan to support climate change resilience, improve livelihoods and boost food security in Nigeria’s Yobe State (AfDB)

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group approved a $50 million loan for the Yobe State Environmental and Climate Change Action Project (ECCAP) to enhance climate change resilience, boost food security, and improve livelihoods for over 3.5 million people in northeast Nigeria. The project cost is estimated at $101.34 million with the African Development Bank providing a $50 million loan while the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) is expected to provide $30 million in co-financing. Yobe State Government will contribute $4.52 million in counterpart funding, and project beneficiaries are contributing $16.82m

New Report to Address Poverty in Liberia Launched (World Bank)

The World Bank has launched a new report titled Liberia Poverty Assessment 2023 Report: Towards a More Inclusive Liberia. The report highlights that while 3 out of 10 people in Monrovia are living in poverty, the situation is significantly worse in rural areas, where 8 out of 10 individuals were affected by poverty in 2016. This stark disparity between urban and rural areas poses a significant challenge to poverty reduction efforts in Liberia.

The report describes Liberia as one of the world’s poorest countries, having experienced a volatile growth trajectory marked by challenges of fragility. Despite possessing significant natural resources such as gold, iron ore, and plenty of land, Liberia’s economic performance has been unstable, largely hindered by conflict and reliant on exports of primary commodities. This resource-driven growth model has failed to generate sufficient employment opportunities for Liberians or foster broad-based growth and development, further exacerbating the country’s poverty and economic challenges.

Mauritania: eTrade Readiness Assessment (UNCTAD)

The eTrade Readiness assessment (eT Ready) of Mauritania is the thirty-sixth assessment conducted by UNCTAD. It provides a detailed diagnostic of the e-commerce ecosystem in Mauritania pinpointing both obstacles and prospects for its advancement. It also provides a set of key policy recommendations to address those challenges and to seize the opportunities arising from digitalization. Trade logistics and trade facilitation are major challenges. The lack of a reliable physical addressing system negatively impacts the quality of last-mile delivery services of products ordered online. Facilitating international trade and digitalizing related administration and logistic procedures are perceived as the most pressing factors for fostering cross-border e-commerce development.

Advancing Coordinated Border Management: Strategies for Efficiency and Competitiveness (COMESA)

Borders serve as crucial points where various agencies act as gatekeepers to territorial boundaries, with Customs authorities and other border management agencies playing essential roles in community protection. There is a notable shift towards facilitation and competitiveness through the implementation of Coordinated Border Management (CBM) programs. CBM aims to enhance efficiency and competitiveness by facilitating legitimate trade and travel while ensuring predictable and streamlined clearance procedures.

In the COMESA region, CBM is being implemented under the Trade Facilitation Project, funded by the European Union under the EDF 11 program. Previous efforts to facilitate trade within COMESA have not yielded significant results, as intra-COMESA trade flows remain low at around 10%. The COMESA Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2021-2025 aims to raise this figure to 25%. “Effective implementation of CBM is a crucial strategy that can significantly contribute to achieving this ambitious goal,” remarked COMESA Director of Trade, Dr. Christopher Onyango, during his address at the Coordinated Border Management Implementation Workshop held in Lusaka, Zambia, on March 20 – 22, 2024.

African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation and Pharmaceutical Institute partner to strengthen Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacity (AfDB)

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) and Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development(link is external) (NIPRD) will work together to revolutionize the country’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing industry. The decision was announced by the two organisations following a High-Level Dialogue on Technology Gaps in Nigeria’s Pharmaceutical and Vaccine Industry’ hosted in Abuja from 18-19 March. The APTF will work with countries such as Nigeria to help them achieve Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure they meet World Health Organization standards, and to build local capacity and specific skills to strengthen domestic production of medicines.

Key Statistics and Trends in Trade Policy 2023 (UNCTAD)

With the notable exception of the increase in bilateral tariffs between the United States of America and China, tariffs applied to imports have been largely constant declining during the last few years, with tariff protection remaining a significant factor in some sectors and markets. As of 2022, trade costs directly related to tariffs remained stable at about 2 per cent for developed countries and about 4 per cent for developing countries. Tariff restrictiveness remains substantial in many developing countries, especially in South Asian and African countries. Moreover, tariffs remain relatively high in some sectors where tariff peaks are present, including some of key interest to low-income countries such as agriculture, apparel, textiles, and leather products. Tariffs also remain substantial for most South–South trade.

Red Sea crisis: Adverse impact on trade data to be substantial in new fiscal; Asia, Africa, Europe to face most disruption, says GTRI (Financial Express)

The Red Sea crisis is expected to adversely impact trade volumes in a substantial way in 2024, said a report by GTRI, adding that rising shipping, and insurance costs, delayed arrival of shipments will continue to disrupt global value chains, squeeze margins and make exports of many low margin products unviable from current locations. Countries like Asia, Africa and Europe will face the most disruption across industries. Started in a major way on October 19, 2023, the Red Sea crisis is in its fifth month now.

The Red Sea shipping crisis has disrupted global trade and supply chains, particularly affecting routes through the Suez Canal, which handles about 30 per cent of global container trade. With ships now detouring around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, transit times have gone up by 30 per cent and the global container shipping capacity too has dropped by about 9 per cent, said GTRI. This detour delays shipments from Asian producers to European consumers by up to 20 days.

Better data needed to green the digital transformation (World Bank Blog)

The rapid expansion of digital technology has already resulted in a major rise in energy consumption. This underscores the urgent necessity to address the environmental consequences associated with this sector. A new report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Bank, ‘Measuring the Emissions & Energy Footprint of the ICT Sector: Implications for Climate Action,’ presents a comprehensive analysis of the energy and emissions landscape across 30 countries. The report examines connectivity networks, data centers, and consumer devices, offering insights into the current environmental impact of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. It also explores policy and regulatory implications through detailed case studies from France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Rwanda.

Africa Migration Report (Second edition) Connecting the threads: Linking policy, practice and the welfare of the African migrant (ReliefWeb)

Conflict and violence remain the main drivers of displacement and movements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, exacerbated by increasing climate shocks and hazards, according to a new report launched today by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the African Union Commission (AUC).  The report, which is the second edition of the Africa Migration Report, highlights that migration primarily occurs within the Africa continent, rather than beyond its borders.

The interlinks between migration drivers in Africa, including economic disparities, political instability, and the impacts of climate change is also emphasized in the report. Prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa and severe seasonal flooding across the continent evidently led to record internal displacements in 2022, adding to the fact that many African countries experienced conflict and climate events at the same time. 

Development banks urged to invest more in power, transport infrastructure (BusinessWorld Online)

Multilateral lenders should make more investments in power and transport infrastructure to meet the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs), according to the European Investment Bank (EIB). “In the coming years, emerging markets will require significant infrastructure investment to facilitate economic growth, respond to demographic and urbanization pressures and meet the sustainable development goals,” the EIB said in its Global Emerging Markets Risk Database Consortium report.

Investment in the global infrastructure market is valued at around $1 trillion a year, though the unmet need is estimated at $2-4 trillion. More than half of the total investment demand would be allocated to finance generation, capacity, transmission and distribution networks in countries’ power sectors. It would also be needed for investment in transport (roads, ports and airports) and telecommunications.

WTO members examine ways to support smooth transition after graduation from LDC status (WTO)

Welcoming the decision on LDC graduation reached at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, WTO members shared experiences at a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on 25 March on how to support LDCs as they graduate from the LDC category. “It is very encouraging to see that WTO members have shown commitment to support a smooth transition for graduating LDCs,” said the newly elected chair of the Sub-Committee, Ambassador Ib Petersen of Denmark.

Members make progress with SPS Agreement Sixth Review, discuss trade concerns (WTO)

WTO members made progress with the Sixth Review of the Operation and Implementation of the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and addressed a high number of trade concerns at a meeting of the SPS Committee on 20-22 March. Members also took note of the Declaration adopted at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi on the implementation of special and differential treatment (S&DT) provisions of the SPS Agreement and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Quick links

High dependence on commodity trade challenge to AfCFTA — Stanchart report (Graphic)

Rising from the Ashes: Tigray’s industrial renaissance amidst war’s toll (Addis Standard)

BRICS development bank aims to make $5 billion in loans in 2024 (CGTN Africa)

Digital Money, Carefully Managed, Can Aid Pacific Island Growth and Equality (IMF)

UN Women welcomes the adoption of robust blueprint to end women’s poverty (UN Women)


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010