Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Government and Microsoft Agree to a R1.3 Billion Landmark Investment to Empower Black-Owned Businesses and Young Black South Africans in 4IR Technologies (the dtic)

Microsoft and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) has agreed to a R1.32 billion investment to be deployed over the next ten years in the development of black-owned SMMEs in both tech and non-tech sectors. The agreement makes provision for skills development of young black South Africans in emerging technologies and includes a commitment to research and development to prepare South African industries for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

According to Lilian Barnard, President for Microsoft Africa, “This investment represents our commitment to empowering individuals and small businesses to be part of Africa’s digital economy, and to drive job creation and growth that will benefit the entire region.”

Cape Winelands airport aims to rival Cape Town International with multibillion-rand upgrade (Getaway Magazine)

A multibillion-rand airport project aims to rival Cape Town International Airport. Major plans for the Cape Town Winelands Airport outside of Durbanville are underway. Built on the historic Fisantekraal Airport site, established in 1943 for the South African Airforce during World War 2, the Cape Town Winelands Airport is gearing up to undergo a substantial transformation under the leadership of the Managing Director of rsa.AERO, Nick Ferguson.

Plans to develop the Cape Town Winelands Airport include an ambitious R7-billion expansion, featuring a Code F runway spanning 3,500m to accommodate large aircraft that aren’t accommodated at Cape Town International, such as the Airbus A380.

In his presentation to investors and tenants recently, Ferguson underlined the issue of limited airline hub options in South Africa. He noted significant fuel expenses for carriers travelling between airports, stressing the need for alternate local facilities that will accommodate increased air traffic. The upcoming Cape Winelands Airport aims to address this, with projections suggesting industry savings of R1.2 billion by 2027.

Neasa asks Patel, Itac to stop imposing upstream steel import duties (Engineering News)

The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (Neasa) says government’s duties on imported steel only serve to support ailing primary steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA). Neasa said the duties would not only fail to save AMSA in the long run, but were also gradually eroding the entire steel industry.

In a letter addressed to outgoing Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, Neasa CE Gerhard Papenfus stated that the closure of Saldanha Steel and the possible closure of Newcastle Steel Works were examples of AMSA’s steady decline despite government having imposed import duties since 2015. Additionally, AMSA has become a high-cost producer, with costs of production only poised to increase since it is using a 60-year-old mill.

Neasa states that, as long as AMSA receives protection, through import duties for example, the downstream steel industry will continue to shrink and AMSA will be subject to being a low-priority investment destination for its parent company, ArcelorMittal International. Papenfus is calling on government to reverse this “protectionist strategy” and increase competition by allowing the steel industry downstream access to cost-effective raw material. Neasa finds that the steel industry has contracted by 25% since 2015 when the first duties were introduced.

Eswatini and South Africa launch end-to-end Time Release Study (TRS) reports (WCO)

Following WCO capacity-building and technical assistance, the reports of the end-to-end Time Release Study (TRS) of the Oshoek-Ngwenya land border were jointly published by Eswatini and South Africa on 20 May 2024. The coordination between Eswatini and South Africa underscores the importance of the Oshoek-Ngwenya border as the busiest land border post between the two countries and as a gateway for trade flows within the Southern African Customs Union and transit cargo routes to the port of Durban.

The Oshoek-Ngwenya border, the largest SACU border post, handles over 50% of Eswatini’s cross-border trade and 8% of South Africa’s land border cargo. An extensive line of waiting trucks at the border was the direct trigger for the joint TRS between the two countries. Given its high trade volume, any improvements here would have a substantial impact on the overall efficiency of trade within the region.

Ghana receives approval to trade 700 products under AfCFTA (Xinhua)

Ghana has received approval from the authority of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to trade 700 local products within the African continent, a senior official said. Minister of Trade and Industry Kobina Tahir Hammond made the announcement on the first day of the Made-in-Ghana Bazaar, saying the government has been taking a number of steps aimed at making Ghanaian products competitive domestically and abroad under the AfCFTA.

The minister said the government took advantage of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative and facilitated market exploratory missions for 63 companies to Kenya and 52 companies to Tanzania. “As a result, a total of 700 products have received rules-of-origin certification to trade under AfCFTA,” he said.

Gradual Recovery Signals: The Gambia’s Economy Shows Resilience Amid Global Challenges (World Bank)

The Gambia’s economy has shown a remarkable resilience in the face of heightened global and regional uncertainties, according to The Gambia’s Fourth Economic Update – Spring 2024. Despite a sluggish global environment, the country’s real GDP grew by 5.3% in 2023, signaling a continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent external headwinds.

“The improved agricultural production and increased public consumption as well as private and public investment drove this positive growth. However, challenges such as higher inflation, monetary tightening and economic slowdown in advanced economies disrupted the tertiary sectors and slowed private consumption, all of which tempered the country’s overall performance,” said Feyi Boroffice, World Bank Resident Representative.

New Ethiopia, Uganda business could hand Lamu port a lifeline (The East African)

The interest by Ethiopia and Uganda in importing goods through Lamu could be the lifeline that the largely moribund port needs even as it continues to register growth in business. Last week Ethiopia received the first shipment of 60,000 tonnes of fertiliser imported through the Port of Lamu from Morocco. And this week Uganda signalled an interest in using the Lamu port in a move that would see it expand trade with Somalia.

Kenya’s Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen toured the port on Wednesday and said it is strategically positioned to be the port of call for goods destined for northern Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. “That’s why we will do all in our power to facilitate the shipment of goods, including the 60,000-tonne fertiliser cargo destined for Ethiopia, in spite of a damaged section of the Lamu-Witu-Garsen road due to floods. “This is the first time Ethiopia is importing cargo through Lamu Port since its operationalisation three years ago.

Gov’t Encourages Strong Private Sector Engagement in Its Effort to Realizing Digital Ethiopia (ENA)

Deputy Prime Minister Temesgen Tiruneh called on the private sector to play a leading role in realizing Ethiopia’s digital transformation. A panel discussion focused on Ethiopia’s digital economy was held at the Science Museum today in the presence of the deputy prime minister as well as senior government officials and stakeholders in the technology sector. Deputy Prime Minister Temesgen said that since digital Ethiopia is inevitable, the country has embarked on implementing important initiatives that would pave the way for inclusive growth in the global digital economy.

Currently, Ethiopia is executing a digital transformation strategy to harness technological driven economic growth and propel the East African nation towards an innovative and sustainable economy. Explaining the reasons why it is necessary to speed up digitization for Ethiopia, Temesgen underscored that digitalization can play a leading role in accelerating the country’s growth.

Mastercard and African Development Bank Group to Provide Digital Identities (PYMNTS.com)

Mastercard and the African Development Bank Group formed an alliance to provide digital access to critical services to 100 million people and businesses in Africa over the next 10 years. The first efforts of the organizations’ Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy (MADE) Alliance: Africa will include providing digital identities and access to high-quality seeds and agricultural inputs to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, according to a Friday (May 24) press release.

“Across Africa, people are driving new growth and opportunity, and Mastercard wants to support their success,” Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach said in the release. Over the next five years, Mastercard will register 15 million users in Africa onto Community Pass, its platform that digitizes and connects remote, underserved communities to governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector, per the release.

The African Development Bank Group will support programs of the MADE Alliance: Africa by investing $300 million to fund digital infrastructure and incentivize public and private partners to enhance digital access, according to the release.

United States-Kenya Joint Leaders’ Statement (The White House)

Today [23 May 2024], we, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States and President William S. Ruto of Kenya, reinforce our mutual commitment to leading democracies that deliver prosperity, security, and opportunity. Africa stands primed for historic opportunity, and together, we celebrate that Kenya has risen to the moment as a regional leader in clean energy and digital transformation, and as an anchor partner for health, security, and democracy.

The United States and Kenya have committed to work to conclude an agreement by the end of the year on an ambitious U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership that reflects mutually shared goals and values. Under this initiative, our governments resolve to pursue high-standard commitments in multiple areas with a view to increasing investment, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, protecting workers, benefiting consumers and businesses, and supporting African regional economic integration. 

We believe bilateral trade and investment ties are the foundation of our joint prosperity. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is the cornerstone of the U.S. trade relationship with Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa, and we would welcome its timely reauthorization. AGOA is about more than just trade: it supports policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption, and promote respect for human rights and workers’ rights. We believe that trade policies should foster inclusive and sustainable development, support regional integration, and ensure that all of our respective peoples – including and especially workers – benefit from the global economy. 

Improving connectivity and accelerating economic growth across Africa with new investments (Google)

To help increase the reach and reliability of digital connectivity for Africa, today we’re announcing Umoja, the first ever fiber optic route to directly connect Africa with Australia. Anchored in Kenya, the Umoja cable route will pass through Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, including the Google Cloud region, before crossing the Indian Ocean to Australia. Umoja’s terrestrial path was built in collaboration with Liquid Technologies to form a highly scalable route through Africa, including access points that will allow other countries to take advantage of the network.

“Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity. This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region.” - Meg Whitman, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

Since Google opened our first Sub-Saharan Africa office in Nairobi in 2007, we have partnered with governments from countries across Africa on numerous digital initiatives. In 2021, we committed to invest $1 billion in Africa over five years to support a range of efforts, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation. Since then, Google has invested more than $900 million in the region, and we expect to fulfill our commitment by 2026. The collaboration introduced this week is the latest step towards delivering on our broader commitment to support Africa’s digital transformation, continued economic growth, and innovation.

Harris announces plans to help 80% of Africa gain access to the internet, up from 40% now (WHEC.com)

Vice President Kamala Harris announced Friday the formation of a new partnership to help provide internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, up from roughly 40% now. The announcement comes as follow-through on Harris’ visit to the continent last year and in conjunction with this week’s visit to Washington by Kenyan President William Ruto. Harris and the Kenyan leader had a public chat on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about how public-private partnerships can increase economic growth.

“Many could rightly argue that the future is on the continent of Africa,” said Harris, noting that the median age in Africa is 19, a sign of the potential for economic growth. “It is not about, and simply about aid, but about investment and understanding the capacity that exists.”

Africa has struggled to obtain the capital needed to build up its industrial and technological sectors. The United Nations reported last year that foreign direct investment in the continent fell to $45 billion in 2022, from a record high $80 billion in 2021. Africa accounted for only 3.5% of foreign direct investment worldwide, even though it makes up roughly 18% of the global population.

FG moves to boost export with ECOWAS trade treaty (Peoples Gazette Nigeria)

The federal government has called on Nigerian businesses and manufacturers to use the ECOWAS Trade Liberalism Scheme (ETLS) treaty to boost the country’s export basket. Maitama Tuggar, Minister of External Affairs, said this in his message to a one-day Sensitisation Workshop on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) in Awka, the capital of Anambra, on Friday. The workshop was themed “Exploring the Benefit of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme in the Region.

The ETLS initiative of ECOWAS aimed to enhance cooperation and integration in trade, ensuring economic stability by creating an economic union within the region for the well-being of the community’s citizens. He said ETLS would give local manufacturers access to a market of over 400 million consumers across the 15 ECOWAS member states. According to Mr Tuga, it will also expand their customer base, boost revenues, and significantly contribute to the nation’s overall economic growth and prosperity. “Presently, Nigeria has 946 enterprises with over 10,000 products and the primary goal is to establish a customs union among all member states, with the ultimate objective of completely eliminating Customs duties and implementing a unified customs policy. 

Benin Joins 16 other Countries to Accede to the Establishment Agreement for Afreximbank’s Impact Investment Subsidiary, FEDA (Afreximbank)

The Republic of Benin has become the latest African nation to accede to the Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), the impact investment subsidiary of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). With Benin’s accession to the FEDA Establishment Agreement, the total number of participating African countries has risen to 17, following Nigeria’s accession earlier this month. 

The accession to the agreement demonstrates Benin’s support for Afreximbank’s efforts to broaden FEDA’s effectiveness by mobilizing its Member States to sign and ratify the FEDA Establishment Agreement and to support the organization’s impact investing objectives. The onboarding of new Members expands the reach of FEDA’s interventions and reflects the Fund’s unwavering commitment to its mandate of providing long-term capital to African economies, with a focus on industrialization, intra-African trade and value-added exports.

APPO, AfreximBank complete inspection for establishment of African Energy Bank in Nigeria (Vanguard)

The African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) and AfreximBank have completed their inspection to validate the preparation of Nigeria in the establishment of the African Energy Bank (AEB). Ambassador Nicholas Ellah, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources made this known in a press release on Friday. Ellah said four countries that bidded for the giant project were Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Algeria, appreciating South Africa, Egypt and Ivory Coast dropped their bid.

According to Ellah, the AEB is a “SupraNational Multilateral $5billion African Energy Bank that will specialize and facilitate financing of Africa’s trapped hydrocarbon deposits of – oil, gas, condensates as well as support energy transition dynamics and net zero 2060 commitments.”

The African Development Bank’s Desert to Power Initiative (AfDB)

The African Development Bank is the driving force behind one of the world’s most ambitious energy projects: the Desert to Power initiative aims to bring energy to one of the least developed and most marginal parts of the continent. This transformative and bold effort aims to turn Africa’s vast, sun-drenched Sahel region – one of the most vulnerable regions in the world – into a powerhouse of solar energy, targeting 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan. By harnessing the region’s immense solar potential, Desert to Power seeks to generate 10 gigawatts of solar power by 2030, thereby facilitating access to electricity for 250 million people.

Unlocking Africa’s critical mineral wealth: Energy transition can pave path to new prosperity (UNCTAD)

Ms. Grynspan has confirmed UN Trade and Development’s commitment to Africa remains unwavering as the organization steps into the future, and reiterated the belief in the transformative power of Africa’s critical mineral wealth, which offers boundless opportunities to catalyse sustainable development on the continent.

Africa is home to sizeable reserves of the world’s critical energy transition minerals: 55% of cobalt, 47.65% of manganese, 21.6% of natural graphite, 5.9% of copper, 5.6% of nickel, 1% of lithium, and 0.6% of iron ore globally. These minerals offer an opportunity to generate revenues for governments, finance development, overcome commodity dependence, create jobs and raise living standards across Africa. But the continent has yet to fully seize the opportunities presented by its natural resource endowments. Estimates show that African countries generate only about 40% of the revenue they could potentially collect from these resources.

Shipping losses hit all-time low despite increasing risks for the whole sector (Allianz)

Given as much as 90% of international trade is transported across oceans, maritime safety is critical. Thirty years ago, the global shipping fleet lost around 200 large vessels a year. This total fell to a record low of 26 in 2023, a decline of more than one third year-on-year and by 70% over the past decade. However, the fact that shipping is increasingly subject to growing volatility and uncertainties from war and geopolitical events, the consequences of climate change, as well as ongoing risks resulting from the trend for larger vessels means the sector will have its work cut out to maintain this status quo in future, according to marine insurer Allianz Commercial’s Safety and Shipping Review 2024.

“The speed and extent of the way the industry’s risk profile is changing is unprecedented in modern times. Conflicts such as in Gaza and Ukraine are reshaping global shipping, impacting crew and vessel safety, supply chains and infrastructure, and even the environment. Piracy is on the rise, with a worrying re-emergence off the Horn of Africa. The ongoing disruption caused by drought in the Panama Canal shows how the changing climate is affecting shipping, all at a time when it is having to undertake its most significant challenge, decarbonization,” says Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting, Allianz Commercial.

Celebrating Africa Day with the Theme: Education Fit for the 21st Century (AU)

In line with the theme “Education Fit for the 21st Century,” join us in celebrating Africa Day by engaging in conversations and sharing insights on the future of education in Africa. Together, we can create an education system that not only meets the demands of the 21st century but also ensures that every African child has the opportunity to thrive.

Education is a cornerstone for Africa’s growth and development, serving as a critical driver for socio-economic transformation and innovation. By focusing on education fit for the 21st century, we are equipping the next generation with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate and thrive in an increasingly complex and digital world. This theme aligns perfectly with Agenda 2063, the African Union’s strategic framework for the continent’s socio-economic transformation.

Agenda 2063 envisions a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, where education plays a pivotal role in achieving these goals. As we celebrate Africa Day with the theme “Education Fit for the 21st Century,” we call upon all stakeholders across all sectors to join us in this transformative journey.

The Secretary-General: Message on the Occasion of Africa Day 2024 (United Nations)

“On Africa Day, we celebrate this dynamic and diverse continent and the contributions of Africans to our world. The continent’s young and growing population, its rich natural resources, its breathtaking beauty and cultural diversity give it outsize potential.” — António Guterres

Inside AU’s struggle for self-sustenance (The New Times)

Speaking at the African CEO Forum in Kigali on May 17, Kenyan President William Ruto who is also African Union (AU) Champion for Institutional Reform laid out an ambitious plan to transform the AU to better meet the continent’s current needs with emphasis on reforming the union to enhance its role in economic negotiations, peace and security, and infrastructure development.

Ruto was speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, a week before the AU’s Sub-Committee in charge of budget, administration, and finance matters convened for an annual retreat to adopt the 2025 budget. The 2025 African Union proposed budget, as presented by AUC Deputy Chairperson Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, amounts to nearly $629 million for operational costs, programmes, and peace support operations.

In June 2015, African Heads of State and Government decided at their assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa that AU members would fund 100% of the operational budget, 75% of the program budget, and 25% of the peace support operations budget. This was to be achieved by applying a 0.2% levy on eligible taxable goods imported into AU member states from outside the continent.

However, nine years since the Johannesburg Decision and nearly seven years after the Kigali Decision on Financing the Union, member states still struggle to meet their assessed contributions. This shortfall creates a funding gap, leaving the African Union reliant on international partners.

The Ten-Year Strategy African Development Bank Group (2024 – 2033) (AfDB)

As the African Development Bank Group (the Bank) announces its Ten-Year Strategy 2024-2033, Africa and the world face deep challenges. After a decade of strong economic performance, countries across Africa have shown great resilience. But the continent must deal with a set of interlocking crises – some global, others originating within the continent – that threaten to undermine its hard-won gains.

Africa has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic only to confront worsening food insecurity and a growing debt crisis. The impacts of climate change are intensifying and accelerating. Conflict and political instability have surged, while the youthful working age population continues to grow at a faster pace than jobs. With limited opportunities in their home countries, millions of Africa’s young people, the continent’s future, are seeking economic opportunities in other regions. These accumulating crises threaten to trap Africa in a cycle of emergency response. The continent urgently needs to shift resources into building sustainable and resilient growth that delivers jobs and equity.

This Strategy sets out how the Bank will take urgent action to support African countries as they manage these multiple hurdles. It shows how the continent can regain momentum towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while seizing opportunities to lock in lasting progress. The Strategy responds to the call for multilateral development banks (MDBs) to increase their focus on global and regional challenges as they affect the continent’s progress, with a focus on the priorities of African countries, individually and jointly, in these turbulent times.

New disciplines on regulation of services trade enter into force for four more members (WTO)

The new disciplines on services domestic regulation which entered into force at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February for 45 WTO members have taken legal effect for four more members — Albania, Canada, El Salvador and the Republic of Korea. The disciplines have the potential to reduce trade costs by over USD 125 billion worldwide.

The disciplines on services domestic regulation seek to mitigate unintended trade-restrictive effects of measures relating to licensing requirements and procedures, qualification requirements and procedures and technical standards. By promoting transparency, predictability and due process, their goal is to make the regulatory environment of participating economies more conducive to business, especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as women entrepreneurs.

Nation offers hope of sustainable future for the world (China Daily)

China’s contribution toward sustainable growth in the world encompasses a transformative journey that illuminates a path of progress for nations across the globe. Yet the manufacturing and fanning of allegations about China’s industrial “overcapacity” portends the opposite trend of over protectionism by some advanced economies.

For decades China struggled to modernize its industries and agriculture. Today it has ascended the value chain and reshaped global supply chains. It has grown into a manufacturing powerhouse that has harnessed the potential of intermediate goods trade and expanded its trade footprint to solidify its position as a global trading giant.

By fostering the development of primary manufacturing industries in partner countries, China is forging stronger ties and unlocking new avenues for mutual prosperity, bringing opportunities not only to the developing countries but also to capital-rich advanced economies. With its steadfast commitment to international development, China stands poised to enhance the collective well-being of humanity and foster a global community with a shared future.

Quick links

How free trade can boost sustainable agriculture in Africa (WEF)

Why BRICS+ may prove weaker than expected (D+C)

A new trade war offers no easy way back for old global order (The Economic Times)

DDG Ellard urges APEC leaders to help turn MC13 progress into concrete outcomes (WTO)

UN Development Programme launches next phase of flagship climate action initiative (UNDP)   ‘


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