Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

BLSA calls for immediate reworking of IRP, describing assumptions as ‘spurious’ (Engineering News)

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), whose members include the largest domestic and foreign companies operating in South Africa, has added its voice to a growing chorus of opposition to the draft Integrated Resource Plan 2023 (IRP 2023) and has called for it to be “revised immediately”.

Writing in her weekly newsletter, CEO Busisiwe Mavuso said no good case had been built for the assumptions in the IRP 2023 and warned that the document was “tainting” the positive news associated with reduced levels of loadshedding, which she attributed to the Energy Action Plan and the collaboration between government and business.

“The first, overarching problem, is that it goes against the least-cost principle and presents some spurious costing estimates that appear to elevate the price of renewable energy and underestimate the cost of fossil fuels. “Then it slashes the amount of renewable energy – still easily the cheapest form of new energy generation – to be installed between 2024 and 2030 via public procurement from 15.2 GW in IRP 2019 to 8 GW in IRP 2023.

The document’s misalignment with domestic climate policy is also highlighted, along with the threat posed to business by the imminent implementation of carbon taxes.

New platinum-based hydrogen fuel cell as cheap to make as conventional car engine (Engineering News)

The brand-new platinum-catalysed hydrogen fuel cell system that has just been released for passenger cars reveals that fuel cells can be as cheap to manufacture as internal combustion engines (ICEs), UK company Intelligent Energy has highlighted in a release to Mining Weekly.

The company’s patented system has been designed to give passenger car manufacturers direct access to the smaller, more powerful, turnkey and commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell solution that is needed to make zero carbon emission mobility a reality in the passenger car market across the entire planet.

The hydrogen fuel cell developer and manufacturer has also confirmed that its innovative IE-DRIVE™ is a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. PEM and platinum go hand-in-glove.

Farmers welcome incentive prices, recommend timely payments (The Herald)

Farmers have welcomed the recently announced wheat and maize incentive prices and called for the timely disbursement of payments so that they effectively implement crop rotation schedules for increased production. Maize-wheat-maize and soya bean-wheat-soya bean are the most common rotations practiced by farmers where income from one enterprise purchases inputs for the other.

Government recently announced an incentive planning price of US$440 per tonne for wheat and US$360 for maize and sorghum and assured farmers of timeous payments for their deliveries, as the Second Republic steps up efforts to bridge the El Nino-induced food deficits.

Relief for Kenyan economy as inflation falls (The Herald)

Kenya’s economy continues to experience some relief as its inflation fell in March. In February, the country’s inflation hit a 23-month low of 6,3 percent. Its inflation has fallen further from the figure recorded in February to 5,7 percent year-on-year in March. This inflation drop is the second in two months, as gasoline price is set to drop.

A report posted by the Kenyan Bureau of Statistics stated “The overall year-on-year inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 5,7 percent, in March 2024. This means that in March 2024, the general price level was 5,7 percent higher than that in March 2023.”

It also added; “This was mainly driven by increases in prices of commodities under Transport (9,7 percent); Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas, and other fuels (8,0 percent); and Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages (5,8 percent) between March 2023 and March 2024.” This is also similar to last month when a drop in the cost of essential foods relieved strain on most low-income households.

Nigeria records N55.2bn trade imbalance with UK (Daily Trust)

The United Kingdom in December 2023 exported £185 million to Nigeria and imported £154 million, resulting in a negative trade balance of £30.8 million (N55.2bn), the federal government has disclosed. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, said the federal government is committed to changing the trend in favour of Nigeria. She spoke at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos at the weekend during a ceremony marking the inaugural flight of Air Peace to London-Gatwick.

SADC Ministers of Labour called to promote decent work in the region (Namibia Economist)

The SADC Ministers of Employment and Labour and Social Partners called on intensified action to promote decent work in the region at their annual meeting which took place in Lubango, Angola from 27 to 28 March. The meeting was attended by 13 member states including Namibia, representatives from the SADC Private Sector Forum(SPSF), Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC), representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

At the meeting Minister of Public Administration, Labour and Social Security of Angola, Hon. Teresa Rodrigues Dias, in her opening implored member states to intensify efforts to enhance access to employment and promote sustainable enterprises and productivity. She also added that member states needed to strengthen labour market governance, increase access to social security and enhance tripartism and social dialogue among others.

‘SADC ready for green hydrogen production’ (The Namibian)

Namibia’s green hydrogen commissioner, James Mnuype, says Namibia has appointed executive professionals to attend to financial and legal matters for the production of green hydrogen in Namibia. He said this during a panel discussion on how prepared the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is for green hydrogen production at the two-day Green Hydrogen Symposium held in Windhoek last week.

Mnyupe said professionals, led by him, will also look into environmental and technical matters for the production of green hydrogen in Namibia. The team, he said, will work with various ministries to ensure that the green hydrogen strategy for Namibia is operationalised.

AfCFTA Implementation Strategies (UNECA)

This Synthesis Report on AfCFTA implementation strategies forms part of the background documentation for the Peer Learning Conference on AfCFTA implementation strategies, held on 15 to 17 January 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya. The report is intended to provide a snapshot of AfCFTA implementation strategies in the continent and serve as a background document to inform discussions among the participants. To this end, the report provides highlights of adopted strategies focusing on their core elements, the process by which they were developed and adopted, and national experiences to date in the implementation of these strategies.

Chinas’ BRI Project: The AfCFTA Greatest Nightmare (Modern Diplomacy)

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is China’s proposal to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st century Maritime Silk Road in cooperation with related countries to improve connectivity and cooperation on a transcontinental scale. It has been described as one of the ambitious foreign policy initiatives of the Chinese government and aims to strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership through international trade and infrastructure programs with countries in Asia, Oceania, Europe, and Africa.

Macroeconomic Developments and Prospects For Low-Income Countries-2024 (IMF)

The outlook for Low-Income Countries (LICs) is gradually improving, but they face persistent macroeconomic vulnerabilities, including liquidity challenges due to high debt service. There is significant heterogeneity among LICs: the poorest and most fragile countries have faced deep scarring from the pandemic, while those with diversified economies and Frontier Markets are faring better. Achieving inclusive growth and building resilience are essential for LICs to converge with more advanced economies and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building resilience will also be critical in the context of a more shock-prone world. This requires both decisive domestic actions, including expanding and better targeting Social Safety Nets (SSNs), and substantial external support, including adequate financing, policy advice, capacity development and, where needed, debt relief. The Fund is further stepping up its support through targeted policy advice, capacity building, and financing.

See IMF Executive Board Discusses Macroeconomic Developments and Prospects in Low-Income Countries

EAC Secretariat set to conduct High-Level Border Sensitization Mission (EAC)

The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is set to conduct a high-level sensitization mission at selected borders within the region aimed at reviewing the performance of the various One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs). Scheduled to commence on 9th April, 2024, the mission underscores the EAC’s commitment to fostering cooperation, enhancing trade facilitation, and improving cross-border procedures.

The primary objective of the mission is to follow up on the performance of OSBPs, identify areas for improvement, and assess the implementation of agreed action plans. Through engagement with various stakeholders including Officers in Charge of the OSBPs; customs, immigration, standards, and port health officers; as well as representatives of other border agencies, cross-border traders, and local government authorities, the EAC Secretariat aims to address challenges and streamline processes at these critical facilities.

Policy space for industrialization key determinant html (Modern Ghana)

The Minister for Trade and Industry, K.T. Hammond, has called for policy space to facilitate Africa’s industrialization agenda. In a meeting with Ms. Rebecca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva as part of a working visit, K.T. Hammond emphasized the importance of securing requisite flexibilities in trade rules with a view to ensuring that Africa benefits fully from the multilateral trading system.

K.T. Hammond articulated the view that for Africa to benefit fully from the multilateral trading system, the Continent has to be in a position to attract a significant amount of trade-related investment that would enable it to take advantage of global value chains. Accordingly, he underscored the importance of obtaining flexibility in multilateral trade rules that could spur Africa’s industrialization agenda and facilitate development on the Continent.

The Minister was of the view that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides the continent with a good starting point by removing trade-related bottlenecks and ensuring that export volumes and values are increased on the continent.

Apparel, textiles sectors each see 10+% drop in trade in 2023: UNCTAD (Fibre2Fashion)

Global trade declined in most sectors last year, except for pharmaceuticals, transportation equipment and road vehicles, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a recent report. Among the sectors where the value of trade declined by more than 10 per cent last year are apparel, textiles and chemicals.

With a marked shift in global trade along geopolitical lines and a major supply chain reset following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, India’s trade reliance on China and the European Union (EU) has risen by an estimated 1.2 per cent, the report showed. This occurred despite India’s efforts to cut reliance on China through the production-linked incentive scheme and quality control orders to check the entry of cheap Chinese items.

Global trade fell in most sectors in 2023, and apparel and textiles were among the sectors where the trade value dropped by over 10 per cent, a recent UNCTAD report said.

Boost for biodiversity and sustainable development in eastern and southern Africa (TimesLIVE)

In a landmark moment for environmental stewardship and sustainable development, a beacon of hope emerges on the African continent. The unveiling of the Regional Centre of Excellence (RCoE) for Biodiversity, Forests and Seascape Ecosystems Management at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya, marks a pivotal juncture in the preservation of the planet’s natural heritage.

At the heart of this initiative lies a shared commitment to safeguarding the rich tapestry of life that thrives within these ecosystems. From the towering canopies of ancient forests to vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, each facet of biodiversity holds invaluable ecological, economic and cultural significance. Yet, in the face of escalating threats such as habitat loss, climate change and unsustainable exploitation, the need for action has never been more pressing.

AUC in collaboration with Kenya Hold 14th Meeting of African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development and The RECs Consultation (AU)

The African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Kenya, organised the 14th Meeting of the African Task Force on Food and Nutrition Development (ATFFND) and the Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) Consultation in Mombasa, Kenya from 2 to 5 April 2024 under the theme, “Collaborating for Effective Implementation of the African Union Nutrition Policies and Strategies.”

During the meeting, ATFFND will review the implementation of the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy (2016-2025). The meeting will also provide a unique opportunity to explore, discuss, and formulate collaborative measures to integrate education and nutrition strategies and ultimately foster sustainable development in Africa. The meeting agenda aims to encapsulate the interlinked challenges of food security, nutrition, and educational development, aligning with the task force’s overarching mission to guide the continent toward comprehensive and sustainable progress.

Red Sea attack: African countries to face higher inflation and sustained MPR tightening (Nairametrics)

African countries are expected to see higher inflation levels in 2024 and sustained interest rate tightening owing to the disruption in global trade as a result of attacks on shipping lines by Houthi Rebels in the Red Sea. This is contained in a report compiled by Afreximbank on the implications of the Red Sea attacks on African trade and macro-economic stability.

According to the report, the impact of the global trade disruption in Africa would be mixed with Egypt facing significant reduction in traffic around its Suez Canal while South Africa faced increased traffic and pressure in its ports due to the re-routing of vessels through the Cape of Good Hope.

Furthermore, the higher freight cost would not only spill into the prices of consumer goods across the continent but exacerbate the already elevated inflation levels across the continent. The report warned that such heightened inflationary levels could lead to further interest rate hikes by Central Banks across the continent which could stifle economic growth for the year.

On the trade front, the disruption in the worldwide supply chain, coupled with rising prices for food and energy, might compel local manufacturers to divest from the region if production costs exceed those of their rivals in other continents. It is projected that Africa’s trade volume will contract by mid-year.

AI poised to unlock development in Africa (The Herald)

Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Fostering prosperity through policies on artificial intelligence in Africa’, on the sidelines of the 56th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM), experts agreed that Artificial Intelligence presented massive development opportunities for Africa if the right policies and infrastructure were in place.

Ousman Bah, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of Gambia, said it was important to have the right policies to regulate the use of AI and also avert its risks, but Africa should not wait to have the regulations in place to embrace the technology. Artificial intelligence, a fast-evolving technology that taps the intelligence of machines or software is transforming all social spheres globally.

Nigeria can achieve SDGs with AI – Expert (EnviroNews)

An Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, Oluwafemi Osho, says the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can aid the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda of 2030 in Nigeria. He blamed poor AI education, low internet penetration and the lack of a comprehensive AI policy as the bane to AI growth.

“The proliferation of the Internet, availability of large volumes of data, innovations in computing hardware, development of more advanced algorithmic techniques have further revolutionised AI across various domains…. AI offers significant opportunities and benefits for Nigeria if adequately harnessed. AI can drive economic growth through industrial innovations, leading to job creation.”

UN Global Compact Annual Forum empowers sustainable development efforts (ZAWYA)

The United Nations Global Compact Network Egypt (UNGCNE) is proud to announce the launch of the first edition of the UN Global Compact Annual Forum. Scheduled to take place on May 20th and 21st, this inaugural event marks the beginning of a yearly gathering aimed at acting as a catalyst for collaborative efforts between the private sector, international organizations, civil society, academia, and other stakeholders. Africa’s representatives will engage in discussions covering diverse challenges, best practices, and the way forward, thus enriching the discourse and facilitating the exchange of innovative solutions that enhance sustainability and promote responsible business strategies.

Themed “Pathways to Sustainable Africa,” and in collaboration with Africa Business Leaders Coalition, the forum features six essential panel discussions that delve into critical topics, including climate finance, education, green hydrogen, sustainable communities, responsible supply chains, and food security. These thematic areas have been carefully selected based on prevailing global sustainability trends for the year 2024, thoroughly scrutinizing the UN’s Six Transition principles.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals is urgent (African Business)

As delegates gather for the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) at the end of April in Addis-Ababa, they will be mindful of the continent’s struggles to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline. With only a little over half a decade to go, many countries are far from the set targets. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, some have even slipped a little farther from the targets. One of five regional fora organised by the United Nations, the 2024 summit will provide another opportunity for African governments to evaluate the progress they have made, share ideas and promote best practices in pursuit of the 2030 agenda.

The Forum is designed to focus on five SDGs ahead of the July UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, as well as the Summit of the Future, which will be held during the UN General Assembly in September. According to Nassim Oulmane, a senior economist at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and head of the ECA’s Technology Climate Change, and Natural Resource Management Division, the Forum will provide a platform for governments and other stakeholders to develop the tools to pursue implementation of the SDGs and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, are critical. “It’s very important for us to develop these tools and link them to the development plans of countries so they can make an objective evaluation of the two agendas,” he explained to African Business.

The Pivotal Role of Businesses in Achieving the SDGs in 2024 and Beyond (The Globe and Mail)

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. As the world enters 2024, achieving these ambitious goals by the 2030 target date becomes increasingly critical in addressing global challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and lack of access to education and healthcare.

The SDGs are a universal call to action, requiring collective effort from governments, civil society, and the private sector. This year marks a pivotal point, where businesses must step up and play a transformative role in driving progress on the SDGs. Companies have tremendous potential to create shared value by aligning their operations, investments, and innovation with sustainable development principles.

Global corporations hold immense influence over supply chains, employment practices, environmental footprints, and societal impact. By embedding the SDGs into their core strategies and decision-making processes, businesses can generate long-term value while contributing to a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world.

Can An Expanded BRICS Challenge U.S. Global Dominance? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

The addition of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Ethiopia to the BRICS economic bloc — established by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa —has contributed to a growing trend of regional and international polarization. Among the most notable of these policies is the move to replace the dollar with the local currencies of member states in all economic and trade exchanges, alongside plans to issue a unified currency and create alternative financial institutions to the IMF and the World Bank.

New BRICS Members’ Perspectives on Exploiting Potential Benefits (Modern Diplomacy)

Under Russia’s presidency in 2024, BRICS, which is an informal association consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and together with its five new members, is being discussed, beyond measure, most often focusing on its expansion and as a mechanism for uplifting the Global South. By strategically forging new alliances, for instance, African members can unlock their individual and collective potential on the global stage.

One of the key problems facing BRICS+ and the Global South collaboration is the diversity of the countries involved. While this diversity can be a source of strength, it can also create challenges in terms of aligning priorities and interests. Differences in political systems, economic structures, and cultural norms can make it difficult for countries to work together effectively. Additionally, the members of BRICS+ vary significantly in terms of their level of economic development and political influence, which can further complicate efforts to create a cohesive alliance.

Quick links

How Ethiopia’s apparel sector is combatting AGOA uncertainty (Just Style)

Liberia: Exporting Unprocessed Rubber Makes No Economic Sense (FrontPageAfrica)

Using data to improve agri-food trade in West Africa (ITC)

A Sahel-less ECOWAS (The Republic)

Here’s What EV Charging Looks Like In One Of The World’s Least Developed Countries (The Autopian)

5 things we’ve learned about localization (Devex)


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