Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa: Trade statistics for March 2024 (SARS)

South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R7.3 billion in March 2024. This surplus was attributable to exports of R164.1 billion and imports of R156.8 billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN).

The year-to-date (01 January to 31 March 2024) preliminary trade balance surplus of R10.8 billion was an improvement from the R5.7 billion trade balance deficit for the comparable period in 2023. On a year-on-year basis, export flows for March 2024 (R164.1 billion) were 15.3% lower compared to R193.7 billion recorded in March 2023, whilst import flows were 15.2% lower having decreased from R184.9 billion in March 2023 to R156.8 billion in the current period.

President Ruto Champions Growth of Trade and Investment in Kenya (Modern Ghana)

Kenya’s President Dr. William Ruto closed the fourth edition of the regional American Chamber of Commerce Kenya (AmCham) Business Summit underscoring Kenya’s commitment to fostering a conducive environment for trade and investment, emphasizing the significant strides made in economic transformation and the expanding Kenya-US trade relations. The Summit discussed how trade and investment between the region, Africa, and the U.S. can be accelerated under the theme ‘Catalyzing the Future of U.S.-East Africa Trade and Investment’.

President Ruto said, “The consistent strengthening of Kenya-U.S. ties is exemplified by the steady growth in the value of bilateral trade, especially its acceleration between 2015 and 2022 when Kenya’s negative trade deficit narrowed significantly from KShs 85 billion to KShs 13.35 billion. The pace of growth in Kenya-U.S. trade, affirms the vast opportunity that exists for the growth of Kenyan exports and expansion of their variety with a very real possibility of broadening a positive balance of trade.

U.S. companies in Kenya continue to excel through effective partnerships with both the government as well as local private sector firms, to implement diverse projects and enhance access to energy and power, develop infrastructure, create state-of-the-art manufacturing plants, develop local supply and value chains, and support Kenya’s digital transformation.”

U.S. Chamber Delegation to Kenya Lays Groundwork for State Visit (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center led a three-day executive delegation to Nairobi, Kenya, to coincide with the visit of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to Kenya on her first trip to the African continent. Secretary Raimondo joined a Chamber-organized dinner celebrating U.S.-Africa commercial partnerships that featured business leaders and officials from the U.S. and Kenya.

The mission focused on strengthening and deepening connections with business and government in Kenya and included the delegation’s participation in the AmCham Business Summit.

“The United States and Kenya have a vibrant and growing strategic partnership that is increasingly shaped by trade and investment, and business is at the forefront of driving these ties,” said Kendra Gaither, President of the U.S.-Africa Business Center. “We were pleased to bring a delegation to meet leaders and participate in the AmCham Business Summit—our third delegation to Kenya over the past year—to coincide with Secretary Raimondo’s visit and showcase the enthusiasm and commitment the private sector has for doing business in Kenya and in Africa.”

Kenya poultry farmers see losses in US deal hitting $1.28bn (The East African)

Kenya risks losing Ksh172 billion ($1.28 billion) annually if the proposal to import finished poultry products from the US under the ongoing Strategic Trade and Investments Partnership (STIP) negotiations goes through, players have warned.

The Poultry Breeders Association of Kenya (PBAK) — the lobby for breeders, hatcheries, and meat processors—claimed that the loss would come from a projected 75 percent reduction in demand for local poultry products. They said support industries in the value chain, including feed suppliers, breeders, processors, transport services, and agro vets would also be affected. “Allowing the USA traders access to Kenya will lead to the suffocation of Kenya’s emerging poultry sector,” said the lobby in a statement on Monday.

The Kenyan producers say they learned of the push for the US to export finished poultry products to Kenya under STIP at a forum the State Department of Trade convened.

Kenyan truck drivers face new danger in South Sudan (The East African)

Truck drivers plying the Nimule-Juba route into South Sudan are facing a new threat after a militia group circulated leaflets warning they won’t move without its permission or risk being shot. The leaflets are dated April 26 and attributed to a group calling itself People’s Freedom Movement (PFM) led by Philip Omon Bartholomeo, an upcoming rebel leader in South Sudan.

In the notice, the group said all pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, passengers and their buses as well as drivers of commercial trucks must stop using the highway immediately. “Your use of the highway and other roads entering Juba should come to hold with immediate effect as from the date of this notice,” the leaflet says, indicating any new movement of trucks along the highway is subject to PFM permission.

PFM’s actual demands are unknown, and neither is the group’s size or base. However, the leaflets add to the continual risk truck drivers, especially from Kenya and Uganda, face in supplying goods to South Sudan, a country that has faced militia and rebel problem since it gained independence in 2011.

Drought-stricken Zambia turns to Uganda for 0.5m tonnes of maize (The East African)

Lusaka banned the exports of maize grain and flour in February, following a prolonged dry spell that has adversely impacted the production of the crop in 84 out of the country’s 116 districts. Zambia is in talks with Uganda for a possible supply of more than 500,000 metric tonnes of maize to replenish its depleted reserves that have exposed more than two million people to starvation.

“The Government of Uganda has received an expression of interest for up to 500,000 MT of maize grain to be exported to Zambia. This has certain requirements including quality and available volumes to enable us to meet the export successfully,” the Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Industry and Fisheries Permanent Secretary David Kasura-Kyomukama says through a letter dated March 25, 2024. “The purpose of this letter is to invite you to a stakeholders meeting to discuss the process and requirements for this opportunity.”

Zambia’s vulnerability assessment report (2023) projects over two million people to be food insecure spanning the period October 2023 to March 2024. Zambia, the second largest maize producing nation in Southern Africa after South Africa, declared drought a national disaster in February and introduced a state of emergency. This has put pressure on South Africa to supply its neighbouring countries with maize even when its own prospects do not look promising, according to the South African-based agricultural services firm AFGRI.

Kenya and Tanzania Veterinary Authorities resolve Poultry trade disputes (EAC)

In a landmark two-day meeting held at the East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania have successfully addressed longstanding concerns regarding the export of poultry and poultry products between them.

In his remarks, Mr. Rabson Wanjala, Co-Chair of the meeting from Kenya, emphasised the critical importance of trade between the two countries, highlighting the necessity for ongoing consultations to streamline and facilitate trade processes. Mr. Wanjala said that both countries had committed to fostering trade relations, adding that the commitments made underscore the importance of collaborative efforts to ensure increased trade in the region.

Mauritius Telecom in talks for subsea cable to link Africa, Asia (Engineering News)

Mauritius’ top telecommunications company is in talks with operators including Reliance Jio Infocomm and Orange for a new undersea cable linking Africa, Indian Ocean islands and Asia, improving redundancy in region hit by breakdowns.

The new line named T4 will replace the South Africa Far East (SAFE) cable that’s coming to end of life in 2027, a quarter of a century after commissioning. T4 will have 1 000 times more capacity than the SAFE, according to Kapil Reesaul, chief executive officer of the Port Louis-based Mauritius Telecom.

“With so many cable breakdowns we are having, we want to secure the far east with a cable that will run from Mauritius to India and Singapore,” he said in an interview on Monday. The urgent need for additional cable infrastructure was highlighted by a disruption on Friday that impacted the Indian Ocean island nation. The hitch, which was resolved after five hours, was the latest problem after four cables were damaged near the Ivory Coast last month and three lines off the coast of Yemen that have remained offline since late February.

New World Bank Report Calls for Strengthening Resilience of Ghana’s Health System in Response to Climate Change (World Bank)

A new World Bank report released today, calls for urgent action to strengthen the resilience of Ghana’s health system against the adverse effects of climate change. The report, titled Climate and Health Vulnerability Assessment (CHVA) for Ghana, identifies gaps and risks to the country’s health sector, while recommending policy actions and providing valuable insights into capacity to adapt to climate related shocks.

According to the report, climate change in Ghana is causing extreme weather events like floods and droughts, leading to food insecurity, injuries, and the risk of death for 2 million people. The report notes that Ghana is highly vulnerable, especially to illness like malaria and diarrhea disease. It also points out that health issues related to heat, air pollution, and infectious diseases are on the rise with the elderly, youth, and children being particularly vulnerable.

“The World Bank has changed its mission to Ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity on a livable planet. A healthy population is the cornerstone of prosperity. Therefore, implementing adaptation and mitigation measures is crucial not only to address current challenges but also to prevent further adversities,” said Robert Taliercio World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. ”The Government of Ghana is ahead of the curve in thinking about the potential impacts of climate change on health and we encourage further work across sectors on this important challenge.”

Google opens applications for AI Accelerator Africa (ITWeb)

Google Africa has opened applications for the eighth edition of its Google for Start-ups Accelerator Africa programme. According to the internet giant, this year’s cohort will have a strong focus on start-ups leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to address critical challenges and unlock new opportunities across the continent.

The Google for Start-ups Accelerator Africa is a three-month, equity-free virtual programme that provides African start-ups with mentorship, technical resources and access to a global network of experts and investors. Since inception in 2018, the initiative has supported 106 start-ups from 17 African countries, which have collectively raised over $263 million and created more than 2 800 direct jobs, according to Google.

“We’re excited to support the next generation of African AI pioneers through the Google for Start-ups Accelerator, providing them with the resources and mentorship they need to build successful, impactful businesses,” says Folarin Aiyegbusi, head of Start-ups Ecosystem, Africa at Google. “Africa’s tech ecosystem is a hotbed of innovation, and AI has the potential to be a transformative force across various sectors.”

Vietnam chairs UNCTAD’s 14th session in Geneva (VOV.VN)

Ambassador Mai Phan Dung, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and other international organisations at the session. The event featured the participation of representatives of all member countries, intergovernmental and investment promotion agencies, and non-governmental groups.

The meeting offered an opportunity in which member states and investment and development stakeholders can come together to discuss major and emerging issues related to investment, business, and technology. This is along with focusing on their impacts on the sustainable development process and exchanging views on effective solutions and policies for all parties to refer to.

The group of African countries reaffirmed the need for strategic and sustainable investment in the continent in order to address FDI fluctuations, as well as gaps which hold back the development of critical infrastructure. Representatives of the group of African countries also evaluated the important role of technology and digital trade in terms of helping countries to overcome barriers in attracting sustainable investment based on the three pillars of society, economics, and the environment.

Kenya Airways advocates for full AfCFTA implementation for trade promotion (Citinewsroom)

Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO, Allan Kilavoka, has called for deeper collaboration among African countries to revive Ghana’s national carrier and create a more business-friendly aviation sector.

Kilavoka highlighted the importance of implementing the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to promote trade and ease restrictions, such as visas and customs, that hinder connectivity between African countries. Kenya Airways is also planning to begin flying its Boeing 787 Dreamliner in June and is considering direct flights to Kumasi International Airport in Ghana. The CEO emphasized Ghana’s significance as an important market for Kenya Airways, expressing the company’s commitment to connecting businesses in the region and beyond.

Uganda tips EAC States on customs administration to grow trade (New Vision)

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has advised customs administrators to integrate with e-commerce players to facilitate the growth of trade in the East African region. URA commissioner for customs Abel Kagumire made the call while speaking at the Sectoral Committee of Customs meeting that was held at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania. The meeting brings together Commissioners of Customs from within the region.

“There is a need for Customs Authorities to integrate their systems with e-commerce players such as courier companies to adapt to the new trends and facilitate the growth of trade in the EAC,” Kagumire stated. He also urged them to continue engaging stakeholders and support capacity building. Kagumire’s call is considering the growing challenge of balancing the need for trade facilitation alongside increased revenue targets.

Reforms missing during EAC finance ministers’ agenda for IDA-21 summit (IPPMedia)

While each country in East Africa has had occasion to talk about reforms, there is no such thrust at the regional level as fiscal policy isn’t an East African Community item as such. It is only limited to the customs union and certain approved aspects of the common market, which are at times altered at a moment’s notice – like the free movement of goods, capital or labour.

It is this situation which is projected in running regional projects, as they are public sector-based and hugely dependent on foreign loans. Some say change is a must, for instance in the way in which the Lake Victoria Basin projects are designed and carried out. Finance ministers in the sub-region met under the auspices of the Kenyan Treasury in a pre-budget meeting tied with identifying regional priorities for collective consideration. This came as the International Development Association (IDA) readies for IDA-21 disbursement cycle.

Shippers Council calls for stakeholders collaboration to facilitate AfCFTA (Businessday NG)

Pius Ukeyima Akutah, executive secretary/chief executive officer, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the Country’s ports economic regulator, has observed that realizing the full potentials of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will require collaboration from all stakeholders. Akutah, made the call in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, at a-day sensitisation seminar entitled “Unlocking the potentials of non-oil export, through participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): What stakeholders need to know”, organised by the Council’s South-East coordinating office.

The Shippers Council Chief Executive Officer, urged relevant authorities to prioritize trade facilitation measures, upgrade and streamline procedures to reduce delays and inefficiencies at ports and borders. He also stated that collaboration between public, private sectors is essential to promote investment, innovation and capacity building initiatives.

Climate shocks bring devastating drought to southern Africa’s doorstep (The East African)

Southern Africa was once a reliable source of food for the continent. Now, it is almost a basket case, with at least three countries on the brink of devastating famine following a severe drought in the just-ended planting season. The drought in the continent’s traditional breadbasket has been blamed on the El Niño climate phenomenon, described by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as the worst on record.

Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have now declared national disasters as a result of the El Nino-induced drought, which has devastated their food production and wiped out most of their staple crops. This is worrying because some countries, such as Kenya, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have relied on Zambia’s sugar and maize plantations to stave off their own food shortages.

FEWSNET said the region will struggle to import grain from within Africa and may have to look as far as South America for supplies this year. “The Southern Africa region is expected to have a supply gap for staple cereals following the expected below-average harvest,” reads the forecast.

African Union and World Bank Sign MoU to Deepen Collaboration on Africa’s Development (AU)

The African Union (AU) and the World Bank Group (WBG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with H.E. the AU Deputy Chairperson and Ms. Anna Bjerde, WBG Managing Director for Operations. This MoU will strengthen collaboration on existing and planned programs, focusing on three key priority areas: Energy Access and Just Transition, Health Systems Strengthening and Production of Pharmaceuticals in Africa, and Digital Transformation, Youth and Jobs.

The AU-WBG MoU emerged from a high-level meeting held on August 2nd, 2023, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between AUC Chairperson H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat and World Bank President Mr. Ajay Banga and their delegations, recommended developing a strategic framework for cooperation to serve as the foundation for a renewed partnership and guide collaborative efforts in specific areas.

In her opening remarks, AUC Deputy Chairperson, H.E. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, emphasized the importance of the AU-WBG MoU: “This signing marks a major step forward in realizing the shared vision of ‘The Africa We Want.’ It builds on our longstanding partnership with the World Bank, enabling a major scaling-up of development cooperation in three key priority areas: energy, health, and digital transformation. This focus on digital transformation will empower SMEs, women, and youth by creating new job opportunities, propelling Africa’s economic growth and social development. We are grateful to the World Bank for their continued partnership and commitment to supporting Africa’s progress.”

World Economic Forum Special Meeting: Africa Contributing to Shaping the Global Future Agenda (AU)

The World Economic Forum (WEF) convened a Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 28-29 April 2024. Catalysing the energy transition was a central theme of the event and leading energy experts as well as dozens of energy ministers and commissioners from around the world were gathered to identify financial, technological and policy solutions aimed at scaling up the use of clean energy solutions while ensuring equitable growth.

Commissioner Abou-Zeid first spoke about the need for universal energy access in Africa and the importance of using all available resources to reach this end. Africa is not only rich with fossil fuels but also has the biggest premium solar potential in the world as well enormous geothermal and wind potential. She added that “Africa has already taken important steps to exploit this potential – Africa hosts the two biggest solar plants in the world in Egypt and Morocco” – but recognised that the need is still very big and that “more has to be done to achieve Africa’s ambitious goals”.

Unlocking Africa’s Agricultural Powerhouse: African Development Bank’s Adesina Outlines Way Forward at Riyadh’s World Economic Forum (AfDB)

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina urged for a coalition of public commitment and private sector finance to awaken Africa’s “staggering” agricultural potential, setting the stage for the continent to feed itself and contribute to global food security.

Adesina made his call during Monday’s World Economic Forum “Food and Water for All” panel discussion in Riyadh. He made an impassioned plea for greater cooperation between governments, public and private sector to transform agriculture production in Africa to allow it to “feed the world.”

During the panel, co-organized with CNN International, global leaders and experts agreed Africa has the land and water to achieve this lofty ambition but lacked significant investments and regulatory frameworks to properly develop abundant unused land and vast water resources.

Critical minerals, food crops at risk of climate disruption by 2050, report shows (Engineering News)

More than 70% of critical minerals needed for the transition to net zero emissions will be at risk from climate disruption by 2050, professional services firm PwC says. The firm’s latest report, titled ‘Climate Risks to Nine Key Commodities Report’, shows that the production of copper, cobalt and lithium minerals crucial for the clean energy transition could face significant or higher drought risk by 2050 under a high-emissions scenario. Currently, these critical minerals are only at a 10% risk.

The report also showed that food crops face significant risk. Under a high-emissions scenario, 90% of the world’s rice production could face significant heat stress by 2050, and more than 30% of maize and 50% of wheat could face significant drought risk by 2050. Taken together, these three crops account for 42% of the calories people eat. Currently, more than 75% of rice is grown in conditions of significant or greater heat risk, showing that it is not just the level of risk that matters, but also how well producers are prepared to adapt.

UN Zero hunger calls for Agricultural Transformation from within (Farmers Review Africa)

A panel of food security and agriculture development leaders agreed on key actions to improve the progress of African countries to end hunger and ensure agrifood system transformation. The proposed action points included – the need for better investments, improving infrastructure development, employing science and innovation in agriculture, building resilience to climate shocks, and reinforcing regional trade. The key priority areas were agreed upon at the Zero-hunger parallel session of the tenth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 10) on 24 March 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Moderating the panel discussion, Chimimba David Phiri, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Special Adviser to the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, stressed the role of increasing productivity in the agrifood system.

”According to the African Union Fourth Biennial Review of Malabo Commitments, none of the countries in Africa are on track to reach zero hunger by 2025. Meanwhile, land use planning indicates that Africa cultivates more than double the land area of the European Union, and yet, owing to low productivity, we are net food importers, including from the same European Union countries. We must also adopt a multi-sectoral and holistic approach to food security and agriculture initiatives to transform agri-food systems,” he added.

African food systems essential for improved food security (The Exchange Africa)

Africa, a continent of great potential, stands at a crossroads. Africa has most of the world’s most fertile lands, immense resources, and a growing young population. However, it remains paradoxically entangled in the danger of food insecurity and malnutrition. Challenges such as climate change, post-harvest losses, poor farming technologies, and inadequate supply chains persist. The urgency to change African food systems is not solely an agricultural or economic imperative but a moral, social, and ecological one.

Empowering Africa Food Systems for the Future encompasses ways Africa is uniquely structured to change its future and pave a sustainable and resilient trajectory for future generations.

Although African nations may produce or import enough food to provide adequate average energy per person, energy alone cannot ensure a nourished population. Poor nutrition in staple foods contributes to prevailing malnutrition in all its forms. Africa is confronted with a heavy crisis of malnutrition, poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Food affordability and access are unevenly distributed, and gaps widen even further.

In many African nations, a significant fraction of the population depends on agriculture for survival. Transforming agriculture and food systems is thus a necessary solution for addressing the challenges. To accomplish this, there is a greater need to deliver the main goals of the African agriculture and food security agenda: economic opportunities, poverty reduction, and shared prosperity.

FAO’s One Country One Priority Product initiative celebrates milestones and aims for scaled implementation (FAO)

The second meeting for the Steering Committee of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the implementation of One Country One Priority Product (OCOP) initiative held today, took stock of the major results achieved, discussed current priorities and next steps.

To date, 85 Members from all five FAO Regions – Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Near East and North Africa – have expressed strong interest in promoting the sustainable development of the value chains of 54 Special Agricultural Products (SAPs), including 28 horticultural and 15 field crops, 6 livestock products and 5 forest products.

Launched in September 2021, the initiative helps countries tap into the unlocked potential of identified Special Agricultural Products (SAPs), which are locally known and underutilized agrifood products that have the potential to be launched in more stable regional and international markets. By promoting sustainable production and marketing of SAPs, the initiative aims to foster better access to healthy diets, contribute to the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers, and reduce environmental and social impacts, in line with FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-31.

See also: FAO presents World Food Forum 2024 (FAO)

Aid for Trade Global Review to discuss trade mainstreaming, food security, connectivity (WTO)

The discussions will also shed light on the latest financing needs and how the international community can help developing economies - including LDCs - benefit from further trade opportunities and build a better future for their people. The event will also see the release of “Aid for Trade at a Glance 2024”, a co-publication of the WTO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Energy transition at centre of discussions in environment committee and thematic session (WTO)

On 23 April, members held a second CTE thematic session titled “Trade Contributions to Energy Transition Efforts concerning Climate Adaptation and Mitigation.” The United States and Kenya, co-facilitators of the session, said in their report back to the Committee that members benefited from the expertise provided in the session’s two panels. The first panel explored the trade landscape of rapidly evolving areas of clean energy, including hydrogen and wind energy, while the second looked at how different trade-related climate measures can support the clean energy transition. Further discussions highlighted the diversity of approaches and policies that countries are using.

Seaweed holds huge potential to bring economic, climate and gender benefits (UNCTAD)

Seaweed, a versatile marine macroalgae, can immensely contribute to climate action, food security and gender equality, according to a recent UN Trade and Development study entitled “An ocean of opportunities: The potential of seaweed to advance environmental and gender dimensions of SDGs.”

But it’s often overshadowed by fisheries and aquaculture sectors, leading to an underestimation of its economic importance, particularly for women.

“Seaweed has superpowers. It can advance several sustainable development goals at a time – economic empowerment of women and food security while helping to tackle the triple environmental crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” said Chantal Line Carpentier, head of the trade and environment branch at UN Trade and Development.

Quick links

UK-Morocco renewable energy link plan gets $10.2m boost (Engineering News)

Accolades for expanded Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism programs to boost African farmers’ access to fertilizers (AfDB)

Better Cotton, in collaboration with African Export-Import Bank (Farmers Review Africa)

UN General Assembly informal interactive dialogue on commodity markets (UNCTAD)


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