Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Development within South Africa’s digital economy underscored as a solution to economic growth (Brand South Africa)

As a preferred investment destination on the continent, South Africa’s quest to build a formidable and developed nation is not without bounds. Chief among some of the challenges is economic development that’ll bring about a remedy for the country’s incremental unemployment rate within this evolving digital era. It is without any shadow of a doubt that the multiple sectors that make up our economy exhibit prospects of exponential growth. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all have some level of dependency on the Information and Communication Technology and Digital sector, and as these sectors continue to progress, they warrant a rise in the development of the Digital sector.

DR Congo seeks to curb dollar dominance by fronting use of local currency (Africanews)

The Central Bank of Congo (BCC) has mandated that all Electronic Payment Terminals (EPTs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) only accept Congolese francs. This move aims to boost the use of the national currency and reduce reliance on the US dollar, which weakens the franc. According to the BCC, this measure aims to strengthen the use of the national currency and encourage the population to prefer it for everyday transactions of goods and services. This initiative is part of a series of major reforms launched by Nicolas Kazadi, the former Minister of Finance, aimed at combating the dollarization of the economy and promoting financial inclusion.

Zambia’s slow debt restructuring a lesson for other nations (BusinessLIVE)

More than three-and-a-half years, or 1,300 days, after resource-rich Zambia formally declared itself bankrupt it is about to drag itself out of default, leaving some hard lessons for richer nations about how their much-vaunted debt relief plan performed. Tuesday will see its international bondholders vote through their part of a $13.4bn debt restructuring and make Zambia the first to complete a full-blown rework under the Group of 20 (G20)-led “Common Framework” architecture. President Hakainde Hichilema has described it as a historic moment and the head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, has hailed it as an important sign of multilateral co-operation.

“It was painful for Zambia — we fully recognise that,” William Roos, the co-chair of both the “Paris Club” of richer Western creditor nations and of Zambia’s official creditor committee that included Zambia’s biggest lender China, said at a Finance for Development Lab debt conference in Paris on Friday. “So we have to improve. But we delivered.” The overall restructuring is estimated to cut about $900m from Zambia’s debt and spread its future payments over a much longer time frame. It has been its role as a Common Framework guinea pig, though, that has made it prominent.

Launched during Covid-19 in 2020, the framework was designed to bring all the different lenders to poorer countries under one roof — particularly China whose lending exploded in the decade before the pandemic. It was regarded as a breakthrough but the extraordinary length of time Zambia’s restructuring has taken, as well as others still ongoing in Ghana and Ethiopia, has led to criticism of delays and complexity.

Kenya launches population framework for sustainable growth (Xinhua)

Kenya on Thursday launched a framework that would guide the implementation of population programs for the country’s sustainable development. Njuguna Ndung’u, cabinet secretary for National Treasury and Economic Planning, said during the launch in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that the policy would provide the East African nation with a responsive and harmonized direction to address population growth in relation to economic growth.

“Population growth must be in tandem with available resources and development goals. Rapid population growth is problematic for any country; if the population grows faster than the economy, challenges like increased dependency emerge,” he said.

He observed that the framework, titled “Kenya National Population Policy for Sustainable Development,” would guide the country to tackle population growth in line with its economic blueprint Vision 2030, Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “Kenya’s population growth between 1999 and 2009 was about 3 percent per year; this fell to 2 percent between 2009 and 2019. This means Kenya is on the right path because the growth of population should never be higher than the growth of the real economy,” he added.

No agreement on proposed merging of Central African economic groups (Voice of America) 

Presidents and finance ministers from eleven central African countries have failed to agree on merging three economic blocs. Analysts say breaking down economic barriers among member countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, CEPGL, will boost trade and growth in a region that is said to be among the poorest and most conflict-ridden in the world. But after a meeting in Cameroon’s capital, officials say combining the three economic blocs will take longer than the leaders of the regions expect. 

Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, president of ECCAS, says the process of merging the economic blocs is taking longer than planned because of a lack of political will, conflicting interests and bureaucratic duplication among 3 rival economic groups. He says each time there is a leadership change, ECCAS officials start explaining the importance of fusing the economic blocs for the general interest of the eleven central African states to new governments all over again because different leaders have different understandings of the combination.

Africa’s e-commerce platforms and rising digital marketplace (DW)

Africans are gradually embracing the convenience of online shopping. However, this trend is still in its early stages in Africa compared to more established markets such as Asia, Europe and the United States. Projections by the McKinsey Global Institute suggest that by 2025, e-commerce could account for 10% of all retail sales in Africa’s largest economies: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.

According to experts, while the e-commerce sector holds significant potential in Africa, it faces challenges related to cultural and logistical factors. These considerations are crucial when customizing products and services to align with local preferences.

Africa’s largest online marketplace is Jumia, an e-commerce company that attracts 23 million visits per month. It is followed by online shopping platform Takealot.com, which has 10 million monthly visits, 96% of which are from South Africa, the country in which its based.

Digital Future for Africa: African Development Bank and Intel to Train Millions in AI (AfDB)

The African Development Bank and technology giant Intel have formalized their cooperation to transform the African digital ecosystem. The partnership aims to equip 3 million Africans and 30,000 government officials with AI skills.

Sealed at the recent African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, the deal will help create a critical mass of Africans proficient in Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) skills to accelerate growth and productivity and position Africans as contributors, not just consumers of 4IR. The training will address socio-economic challenges and boost productivity in key growth sectors such as agriculture, health, and education, thereby disrupting traditional growth cycles.

Revolutionizing global trade through TradeTech (WEF)

Technology is playing a pivotal role in reducing trade friction. During COVID-19, technological advances – such as e-commerce, digital payments, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G – significantly disrupted international commerce. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being integrated into various trade-related processes, while robotics, virtual reality and 3D printing are expected to become more integral to trade in the medium term.

Recognizing the potential of these technologies to enhance the efficiency and inclusivity of international trade, the World Economic Forum, with the Ministry of Economy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, launched the TradeTech Initiative on the sidelines of the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference MC13 in February. By bringing leading stakeholders together, the TradeTech initiative encourages trade facilitation by improving transparency, fostering inter-agency cooperation and enabling data sharing for more effective risk management.

Global Leaders Forum to chart a new development course in a changing world (UNCTAD)

Commemorating 60 years of impact, UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) convenes world leaders to shape a vision for inclusive prosperity in a complex global landscape. The 60th anniversary comes at a time of cascading crisis, with disruptions of global trade, soaring debt, and climate change severely impacting developing countries. It represents “an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned over the past six decades and forge a new path forward, with a shared vision for the future,” UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. Exploring new strategies for development, the Global Leaders Forum will focus on integrated treatment of trade and development, and the interrelated issues of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

The forum aims to inspire fresh perspectives on development thinking to address the complexities of “polyglobalization”, characterized by growing economic diversity and decentralization, amidst the rising interdependence of countries on a global scale. Discussions will prioritize the needs of developing nations, with a particular emphasis on least developed countries, small island developing states and landlocked developing countries.

Development and Application of AI for Food Processing and Safety Regulations (Food Safety)

A number of research articles have been published that showcase real-world case studies of how machine learning is employed for the rapid detection of pathogens, preventing contamination incidents, or how the synergy between AI and blockchain technologies functions for enhancing traceability and transparency throughout the food supply chain. These studies provide great examples showing that the integration of these AI technologies ensures their accountability in assisting users to make quick and correct responses to both management and technical food safety issues.

From these successful AI application case studies, it can also be surmised that the successful application of AI technologies to FSIS work will depend on the successful development and deployment of specific AI application approaches and methods that meet the needs of specific operation procedures and steps, types of products, inspection requirements, monitoring and control systems, and management purposes. Keeping in mind that the purposes of AI application to food safety and inspection are to solve the most challenging and complex food safety and quality problems across various domains, it is essential to correctly determine what AI application approaches and methods should be chosen.

Value chains need rewiring. Are manufacturers up to the task? (New SCMR)

Constant disruptions, geopolitical challenges, climate change and emerging technologies have driven manufacturing companies to rethink their value chains. However, despite the strategic intent to do so, the operational delivery of these projects is slow, creating a gap due to the complexity of the challenges.

That is from the executive summary of a new whitepaper produced by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Kearney. Written by Per Hong, senior partner, strategic operations at Kearney, and Kiva Allgood, head, centre for advanced manufacturing and supply chains at the World Economic Forum, the whitepaper cites the above-mentioned challenges as underscoring “the extent to which a response based on incremental change will fall short of what is needed to remain competitive in the coming years.”

“To continue bridging the gap between intent and operational delivery, manufacturers must stay abreast of the dynamics that shape value chain configuration and be proactive in pursuing wholesale approaches to rewiring,” the report, “From Disruption to Opportunity: Strategies for Rewiring Global Value Chains,” goes on to note, “a holistic approach of this kind imbues value chains with the strength and flexibility required to navigate future market turbulence and manage the tradeoffs between cost, performance, resilience and sustainability.”

Why businesses are moving from sustainability to regeneration (WEF)

Sustainable brands strive to just do less harm to the planet. Regenerative businesses go beyond sustainability and vie to do more good to society and the planet. Specifically, regenerative firms seek to boost the health and vitality of people, places and the planet simultaneously in a synergistic manner. In doing so, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that regenerative businesses can achieve far better financial performance and impact than their sustainability-focused peers.

To get buy-in from internal and external stakeholders, businesses should explain how their triple regeneration strategy – the synergistic revitalization of people, places and the planet – could yield great economic and social value for all stakeholders. Promising place-based economic development initiatives — showcased in the upcoming book The Frugal Economy — exist in disadvantaged communities across the US that use a holistic approach to regenerate people, places and the biodiversity altogether. By joining these initiatives, businesses can accelerate their own transition to a regenerative model.

UN urges regional cooperation to accelerate digitalization of cross-border trade procedures (UN ESCAP)

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) recently hosted the first Paperless Trade Week to foster deeper cooperation among public and private sector stakeholders from the region to implement cross-border trade digitalization.

The Week concluded with the third sessions of both the Standing Committee and Paperless Trade Council of the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (CPTA), bringing together over 30 member States and 10 international development partners to engage in enriching discussions and share their learnings on pertinent issues and solutions for digitalizing international trade processes. This engagement served to inform the potential actions and decisions taken during the week’s intergovernmental sessions.

The latest United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation underscored that cross-border paperless trade measures remain among the least implemented initiatives on the global and regional levels. The persistence of this challenge may be attributed to the inability to unilaterally implement such measures effectively.

Unlocking solutions: Takeaways from the Global Inclusive Growth Summit (Devex)

The 2024 Global Inclusive Growth Summit, hosted by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and media partner Devex, brought together diverse voices — from small business owners to philanthropists to policymakers — to find practical solutions to global challenges. In the center’s 10th year of driving impact, the April event in Washington, D.C., tackled complex topics, including the role of multilateral development banks in an evolving development landscape, strategies for responsible artificial intelligence, or AI, and ways to ensure inclusive digital ecosystems.

For a decade, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth has worked to bring together philanthropic and corporate assets to catalyze social impact, said Payal Dalal, the center’s first executive vice president for global programs. “We’ve proven that if you layer on aggregated anonymized data, human capital and expertise, and with our network of clients and stakeholders, impact happens faster,” said Dalal. “That’s one of the legacies of the center in its first 10 years.”

Urgency of WTO work on fisheries subsidies spotlighted on eve of World Oceans Day (WTO)

Looking ahead to World Oceans Day on 8 June, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland, emphasized the need to conclude two tracks of ongoing work at the WTO for ocean sustainability: entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and the completion of a second wave of negotiations to strengthen the Agreement. DG Okonjo-Iweala said in a video message: “In 2022, the WTO’s 164 member governments reached a new global agreement on curbing harmful fishing subsidies. Over 75 members have ratified this agreement, and around 30 more are still needed for its entry into force. We need to accelerate the implementation of this landmark global agreement for ocean sustainability and the blue economy.”

WTO upgrades platform on trade opportunities in government procurement (WTO)

The WTO has upgraded its online platform on trade and government procurement (e-GPA Gateway), providing more user-friendly access to information relevant to parties involved in the Agreement on Government Procurement 2012 (GPA 2012). The revamped e-GPA Gateway provides enhanced access to information on the commitments and procurement systems of WTO members that are parties to the GPA 2012. The market access opportunities available under the GPA 2012 are estimated to be worth more than USD 1.7 trillion annually.

Head of BRICS New Development Bank urges to focus on ‘multipolar economy’ to form multipolar world (Anadolu Ajansı)

The head of the economic bloc BRICS New Development Bank, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday urged to focus on the formation of a multipolar economy. Speaking at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Rousseff said the “Global North” failed to address humanity’s global problems, asserting that a multipolar economy is better equipped to withstand global shocks and crises.

“We are a different bank, created by the countries of the Global South for the countries of the Global South. We cannot dictate conditions for our members,” Rousseff said. She emphasized that a multipolar economy is essential for achieving true multipolarity, and contributing to its establishment is one of the BRICS New Development Bank’s goals.

BRICS contribution to global growth, governance lauded at int’l forum in Russia (Xinhua)

The head of the economic bloc BRICS New Development Bank, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Thursday urged to focus on the formation of a multipolar economy. Speaking at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, Rousseff said the “Global North” failed to address humanity’s global problems, asserting that a multipolar economy is better equipped to withstand global shocks and crises. Rousseff highlighted the importance of national currencies in a multipolar world, noting that another of the bank’s commitments is to facilitate settlements in national currencies. “This is crucial for developing countries that lack strong currencies and suffer from exchange rate volatility,” she said.

BRICS members need to strengthen transport connectivity to grow trade says Vijay Kalantri (Deccan Herald)

Iran and other BRICS member countries need to collaborate in order to strengthen logistics and transport connectivity to reduce cost and time consumed in cross-border trade, said Dr Vijay Kalantri, Chairman, Russia India Trade House Mumbai (RITHM). “India, Iran and Russia may collaborate to strengthen multi-modal transport connectivity along the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

“This corridor passes through Iran and Central Asia and it is 30% cheaper and 40% shorter than the Suez Canal route. Particularly, we need to expedite construction of the 164-km railway line between Rasht and Astara via Anzali. Also, the member countries need to collaborate to complete the 628-km-long railway line to connect Chabahar Port with the Iranian railway system (Zahedan railway line).

“These projects will strengthen the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and reduce logistics time and freight cost for trading among India, Iran and Central Asian countries,” said Dr Kalantri, who is President, All India Association of Industries (AIAI) and Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Centre Mumbai Director—World Trade Centre Association New York. Speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2024 (SPIEF’24), he proposed various measures to foster strong business ties between India, Russia and other BRICS countries.

Quick links

Digital Health: access to technologies under discussion at G20 (G20 Brasil 2024)

Who’s better off and who’s worse off four years on from the outbreak of COVID? The financial picture might surprise you (The Conversation)

Policy Challenges and Bringing Down Public Debt (IMF)


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