Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

South Africa achieves first primary budget surplus in 15 years (Engineering News)

South Africa achieved its first primary budget surplus in 15 years as it took a stern approach to funding State-owned companies that have drained government finances. Africa’s most-industrialised economy posted a primary surplus — when revenue exceeds non-interest expenditure — of R31.6 billion or 0.4% of gross domestic product in the year through March 2024, data in the South African Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin published on Thursday showed. That matched the National Treasury’s February forecast.

The data shows that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana held a firm line on funding to debt-stricken State companies like ports and railways operator Transnet, providing relief only if they meet strict conditions including implementing recovery plans and selling non-core assets. In his February budget, he provided no new bailouts to state firms.

South Africa’s FDI inflows pick up in first quarter (Engineering News)

South Africa recorded foreign direct investment inflows of R24.4-billion in the first quarter of 2024, up from a revised R2.5-billion in the previous quarter, central bank data showed on Thursday. The South African Reserve Bank said in its Quarterly Bulletin that the inflows were largely due to the acquisition of a local vehicle-tracking company by an overseas firm, without naming the company that was bought.

See the Full Quarterly Bulletin - No 312

South Africa Cabinet Talks Stall After ANC Pulls Trade Offer (Bloomberg)

Talks between South Africa’s two biggest political parties on forming a cabinet stalled after the African National Congress withdrew an offer to appoint a member of the smaller Democratic Alliance as trade and industry minister, people familiar with the matter said. While the ANC offered to instead cede the tourism portfolio, the DA objected as the party sees it as a minor ministry, said the people who asked not to be identified as the negotiations are private.

Elon Musk’s Starlink cheaper data plan for Kenya jolts Safaricom, Airtel (The East African)

Elon Musk’s satellite internet provider Starlink has unveiled a new cheaper data plan for Kenya ushering in competition for Safaricom and Airtel, which have a big grip on the segment. Starlink has introduced a 50 gigabyte (GB) monthly data package at a rate of Ksh1,300 ($10.16) which is less than half the asking price for Airtel which charges Ksh3,000 ($23.44) for a similar package. Market leader Safaricom, on the other hand, offers a monthly package of 45GB at Ksh2,500 ($19.53).

“Affordable, high-speed internet with 50GB of data included for Ksh1,300/month (opt-in for additional data at Ksh20/GB),” reads a notification displayed on Starlink’s website adding that users will now be able to submit payments through mobile money options M-Pesa and Airtel Money.

The Starlink package is likely to usher in stiff competition for Safaricom and Airtel in the data segment. The latest disclosures by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) show that Safaricom controls the country’s mobile broadband subscriptions at 63.7 percent market share followed by Airtel at 31.5 percent.

State eyes more market for EPZ products through Agoa extension (The Standard)

The government is pushing for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) beyond 2025 to increase access to the US market for the products processed at the Export Processing Zones (EPZ).

Investment, Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano says the US Congress has given a green light on the possibility of extending the framework by 16 years up to 2041. “The EPZ firms will continue enjoying the quota-free duty-free market access to the US market. Further, the ongoing trade negotiations between Kenya and USA will also enhance US market access. This is through the ongoing conversation in the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership,” she said.

Kingdom of Lesotho: Staff Concluding Statement of the 2024 Article IV Mission (IMF)

IMF staff estimates suggest that real GDP growth picked up modestly in FY23/24 to 2.2 percent, up from 1.6 percent in the previous year. In large part, this reflects accelerated construction from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP-II). However, a decline in competitiveness in the apparel sector and lower diamond prices have depressed exports.

Lesotho’s fiscal balance registered a sizable surplus in FY23/24. Southern African Customs Union transfers were higher by more than 10 percent of GDP, compared with FY22/23. But even amid these windfall inflows, recurrent spending declined as a proportion of GDP, owing to a moratorium on public sector hiring and the adoption of the new Public Procurement Act. This outcome marks a welcome change from prior patterns in which windfall SACU transfers have often been matched with procyclical and ultimately unsustainable increases in spending. The net impact has been a fiscal surplus of 6.1 percent of GDP in FY23/24, which has helped lift gross international reserves to 4½ months of imports—strengthening the peg—and helped bring Lesotho’s public debt down to 61.5 percent of GDP from 64.5 percent in FY22/23.

Dar es Salaam traders’ strike expands to other cities, police deployed (The East African)

Traders in Tanzania’s commercial city of Dar es Salaam are continuing with their strike, which is now expanding to other parts of the city and across different regions of the country. The strike, which started in Dar es Salaam’s Kariakoo on Monday, a popular market area in the country and one of the busiest in East Africa, stems from traders’ dissatisfaction with the multiple taxes and collection methods executed by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

While the strike continues to spread, the government said on Wednesday that it was working on the concerns of traders, noting however that implementing all of them immediately would have far-reaching ramifications on the execution of some national development projects. The reaction by the Finance Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba as delivered in the Parliament, comes at a time when the traders’ strike entered its third day on Wednesday.

Dr Nchemba told the Parliament that implementing a concern to reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 18 to 12 percent would result in a revenue shortfall of Tsh600 billion ($230.3 million) at once, hence affecting the execution of the ongoing mega projects.

Uganda Should Improve Public Spending on Health for a More Productive Population (World Bank)

Economic activity in Uganda has remained resilient despite multiple successive shocks, with real gross domestic product (GDP) accelerating from 5.3% in FY22/23 to an estimated 6% in FY23/24, a new World Bank report notes. The expansion was driven by oil-related construction activity and the growth of the mining and quarrying sector, which benefited from sustained increases in gold prices and an improved domestic environment for artisanal mining.

According to the 23rd edition of the Uganda Economic Update (UEU) released today, low inflation and recovery of real income and employment bolstered consumption, while private investment remained resilient despite unfavorable domestic and global financial conditions. As a result, exports and manufacturing orders increased between August 2023 and May 2024. Per capita income reached about $980 in FY22/23, and continued growth will push Uganda closer to the lower-middle-income threshold.

Govt approves SADC Charter on women (The Herald)

Zimbabwe has approved the signing and ratification of the organisation charter for the SADC Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Organisation, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere, has said. The SADC charter was approved by SADC member states in 2017 and entered into force in September 2022 following its signing by 11 Member States.

“Over the years, despite attempts to encourage women and girls’ participation, Zimbabwe has also witnessed persistent gender gaps at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” said Dr Muswere after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “On all fronts, the country has made commendable efforts in advancing socio-economic issues and other matters of interest working in collaboration with other SADC member states.”

See also: Zim development course fits into Sadc industrialisation agenda (The Herald)

AfCFTA: Competitiveness critical for survival, growth (The Herald)

With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) liberalising markets across the continent, competitiveness has become an indispensable part of Zimbabwe’s economic agenda, Industry, and Commerce permanent secretary Dr Thomas Utete Wushe said at a recent official launch of the 2023 Zimbabwe Competitiveness Report (ZCR) and the Soyabean Value Chain Competitiveness Report by the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) in Harare.

The elimination of tariffs and trade barriers under AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade by over US$450 billion by 2035. However, Zimbabwean businesses face competition from countries with more developed manufacturing sectors and lower production costs.

“I, therefore, implore every one of us to embrace this challenge collectively to enhance our country’s competitiveness and seize the opportunities presented by the enlarged market,” said Dr Utete Ushe. A recent survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) indicated that the majority of local firms were not yet ready for AfCFTA

ZRA looking to procure more drones to curb illicit trade - Banda (Zambia: News Diggers)

The Zambia Revenue Authority says it is committed to adopting innovative solutions to drive economic growth and development. The authority says it looks forward to continued collaboration with the World Bank to acquire more drones for border surveillance and combating illicit trade. In a speech read on his behalf by Acting Commissioner General Joseph Nonde during the Drones in Transport and Trade Facilitation Seminar, Tuesday, ZRA Commissioner General Dingani Banda said the use of drones aligned with the authority’s vision of modernising infrastructure and improving trade facilitation. “The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) is committed to adopting innovative solutions to drive economic growth and development. The use of drones aligns with our vision of modernising infrastructure and improving trade facilitation.

IMF says Nigeria, other developing countries lack digital infrastructure for AI (Nairametrics)

A new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that Nigeria and some other developing countries lack digital infrastructure for the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. This is despite the fact that Nigeria recently unveiled its AI strategy and also launched its first Multilingual Large Language Model (LLM) in April.

IMF disclosed this in its new ‘AI Preparedness Index’ where it tracks 174 economies based on their digital infrastructure, human capital, labour policies, innovation, integration, and regulation. According to the report, most developing economies are lagging in the area of digital infrastructure for AI and are the least prepared for the technology.

While noting that wealthier economies tend to be better equipped for AI adoption than low-income countries, the IMF said AI may further worsen the inequality that already exists in the world.

To be better prepared for AI, the IMF said the policy priority for emerging markets and developing economies should be to lay a strong foundation by investing in digital infrastructure and digital training for workers. It added that policymakers in advanced economies should expand social safety nets, invest in training workers, and prioritize AI innovation and integration. According to the IMF, countries globally would need to coordinate with one another to strengthen regulation to protect people from potential risks and abuses and build trust in AI.

Nigeria Needs Robust National Cybersecurity Intelligence, Strategies for Digital Transformation - Ribadu (Techeconomy)

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the national security adviser, has stressed the need for robust national cybersecurity intelligence initiatives and strategies that will enable Nigeria achieve a successful digital transformation and safe cyberspace. Ribadu said this at the fourth edition of the Cybersecurity Forum and Workshop, organised by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), in Abuja, recently, with the theme: ‘The Intelligent Initiatives and Strategies for National Cybersecurity Management.’

“The revised National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy Document focuses on eight pillars, designed to significantly enhance the Nigerian cybersecurity culture, which include: Strengthening cybersecurity governance and coordination; Protecting critical national information infrastructure; Enhancing cybersecurity incidence management; Strengthening legal and regulatory framework; Enhancing cyber defense capability; Promoting thriving digital economy; Ensuring monitoring and evaluation; and Stimulate international corporation. “In recognition of the need to improve national cybersecurity strategy and intelligence initiatives, the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre, was established and recently operationalised to address issues of cybersecurity in the country,” Ribadu said.

Burkina Faso: Launch of two World Bank Economic Reports (World Bank)

The World Bank today launched (i) the Burkina Faso Economic Update and (ii) the Country Economic Memorandum (CEM).

The Economic Update highlights recent economic trends in the country and analyzes the short- and medium-term economic outlook. Focusing on scaling up social assistance, the April 2024 edition, “Sustaining the Momentum of Social Assistance Reform,” indicates that the economy grew modestly by 3.2% in 2023, mostly supported by the services sector, while the mining sector was hampered by the security crisis. Also, the impact of social assistance spending of about 2.6% of GDP in terms of poverty reduction is hampered by the inefficiency of the system, in particular its fragmentation.

The CEM, one of the World Bank’s major analytical documents, analyzes the country’s economic developments over the past decades and constructs long-term growth scenarios while formulating public policy recommendations to steer the economy toward more efficient, sustainable, and inclusive growth. The document launched today notes that Burkina Faso’s economic growth in recent decades has not been sufficient to ensure a strong structural transformation of its economy, nor to significantly reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty. The report suggests policy options including raising agricultural productivity, increasing the technological sophistication of firms, improving resource allocation and productivity through better transport, and achieving gender equality. It also provides detailed recommendations that can help the country break out of the fragility cycle by accelerating growth and placing the economy on the path to lower-middle-income status.

EAC tables $113m in budget estimates (IPPMedia)

EAC council of ministers chairman Deng Aloor Kuol has tabled the fiscal 2024/2025 budget estimates of the East African Community (EAC). The minister, holding the regional cooperation portfolio for South Sudan and chairman of the EAC council of ministers, proposed the EAC finance bill before the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) here yesterday. Total allocations for EAC organs and institutions are pegged at $112,984,442 with 61 percent of the figure expected to come from the eight partner states contributions, set at $67,785,519 in total.

The proposals are focused on sustainable economic transformation through fiscal consolidation and investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts for improved livelihoods. The proposed budget will dedicate more resources to the secretariat, on account of an overview of the region’s economic performance outlook, and the priorities for fiscal 2024/2025.

The partner states’ economies GDP growth rates are expected to be higher than global and Sub-Saharan Africa average growth rates of 3.2 percent and 3.8 percent respectively, he stated. This is largely due to strong performance in different sectors, supported by sustained public Investments, he said, outlining priority programmes and key achievements for the outgoing financial year. The listed areas are regional security, private sector engagement, trade facilitation, monetary union transparency and technology innovations.

Intra-East African Community total trade soars (New Vision)

The Director Economic Affairs, in the Ministry of Finance, Moses Kaggwa has said the intra-East African Community (EAC) total trade grew by 13.1% to $12.1 billion in 2023, up from $10.6 billion in 2022. The percentage share of the intra-EAC trade to EAC total trade was 15% in 2023. Kaggwa made the remarks today (Thursday, June 27, 2024) at the EAC post-budget dialogue for the 2024/25 Financial Year on tax and debt at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday, June 26, 2024.

He also said the EAC partner states finalised the comprehensive review of the EAC common external tariff (CET) and agreed on a four-band structure. He added that the implementation of the CET already commenced concerning all products imported into the community. Kaggwa said the EAC is now working on the finalization of the EAC assembling and manufacturing of products regulations to promote the use of local raw materials and goods manufactured in the community.

EAC bloc Adopts Comprehensive Roadmap for Responsible AI Implementation (Financial Fortune Media)

The Eastern Africa sub-regional forum on Artificial Intelligence concluded this week with a high-level round table discussion on “AI and Sustainable Development in Eastern Africa.” The three-day event, which began on Monday, 23rd June 2024 brought together ministers and key stakeholders from across the region to address the challenges and opportunities presented by AI technologies.

The forum’s closing session, moderated by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Ms. Gabriela Ramos, featured a panel of distinguished ministers from Kenya, Seychelles, Uganda, Comoros, and Somalia.

A significant highlight of the event was the launch of Kenya’s AI Readiness Assessment report, which is expected to serve as a blueprint for the country’s AI development and implementation strategies. Kenya was commended for being the first of 22 countries to accept the Readiness Assessment Report, setting a precedent for other nations in the region.

The forum concluded with the adoption of the Nairobi Statement on Artificial Intelligence in Eastern Africa. H.E. Mr. Peter K. Ngure, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kenya to UNESCO, presented key recommendations from the statement: 1. Commit to developing knowledge in line with African ethical values to understand the social and technological implications of AI, facilitating work with different stakeholders. 2. Facilitate policy dialogues at every level to mitigate the digital divide and encourage the building of governance mechanisms to monetize data collected from African people. 3. Strengthen the capacity of government, civil society, and the private sector to understand and use AI technologies and applications. Consider both the opportunities and challenges that AI presents for youth. 4. Expand investment towards infrastructure development to address cross-cutting issues for AI. Establish ICT innovation and technology hubs and incubation centers.

Nigeria, World Bank, ECOWAS, others to promote regional hub for fertiliser (The Guardian Nigeria)

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with the World Bank, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and CORAF – West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research Development, have agreed to work towards promoting a regional hub for fertiliser and soil health for West Africa and the Sahel.

The partners said the collaboration would enhance agricultural productivity and sustainable profitability across the region. They also noted that the development would combine cutting-edge laboratory testing and training facilities with cross-sector experts to support development of advanced soil health and fertiliser technologies in West Africa and the Sahel.

Minister of State for Agriculture, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, whose speech was presented by a representative, said that by the year 2033, the hub would help to increase yields and income for three million farmers, improve soil health on 1.5 million hectares of land, and equip 1.5 million farmers to adapt to climate change. “This regional hub is a groundbreaking step towards revolutionising agricultural practices in West Africa and the Sahel,” he said.

Food security, LDCs, small business champions take centre stage at Day 2 of Aid for Trade (WTO)

Day 2 of the 2024 Aid for Trade Global Review on 27 June explored how least developed countries (LDCs) can become more active players in international trade and achieve food security. The event also saw the announcement of the winners of the 2024 Small Business Champions Competition.

Drawing attention to how political conflicts, value chain disruptions and mounting inflation are compromising food security in developing economies, a session entitled “Strengthening food security through trade” explored how the international trade community can act to enhance access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.

Special emphasis was placed on helping small farmers gain more from trade, for example by boosting their productivity and making their voice heard in international fora. The importance of multi-stakeholder cooperation was also highlighted, notably public-private partnerships.

Speaking as the coordinating economy of the WTO African Group, Chad’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mathieu Guibolo Fanga, spoke about the importance of agriculture in African economies for job creation and poverty alleviation. “Within the multilateral trading system, we seek to benefit more fully from the advantages that African countries possess in the agricultural sector,” he said, placing a particular emphasis on productive capacity. Advancing agricultural multilateral negotiations at the WTO will also be paramount to establishing fair conditions for international trade in agricultural products.”

Joint WTO-World Bank work programme on trade in services unveiled at Aid for Trade Review (WTO)

During a panel session at the Aid for Trade Global Review on 26 June, Deputy Director-General Johanna Hill unveiled a joint programme of activities by the WTO and the World Bank to assist developing economies in services trade. This programme is a follow-up to the recommendations contained in the joint publication “Trade in Services for Development” launched by the two organizations in 2023.

The joint work programme seeks to tackle some of the challenges that developing economies are facing in unlocking the benefits of services trade and harnessing the sector’s export potential. “For many developing countries, prospects for export-led growth now lie to a much greater extent in services,” DDG Hill noted. “The ability to supply, access and export efficient services has become central to the realization of development strategies.”

“Trade in Services for Development“ underscored the significant and multifaceted development impact of trade in services and the important opportunities it offers developing economies. The report said increased levels of Aid for Trade in services are required to help developing economies take fuller advantage of the growth and development opportunities presented by services trade.

High-level session examines challenges for least developed countries in global trade

Members adopt key report on challenges and opportunities in SPS Agreement implementation

Worldwide push for sustainable fisheries highlighted at Aid for Trade Global Review

FAO chief urges innovation and focus on production and smallholders to tap benefits of agrifood trade (FAO)

Global hunger is on a “dangerous” rising trajectory and achieving a sustainable and food-secure world requires not just economic policy measures but strong political and social commitments, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said today at a high-level session during the Global Review of Aid for Trade hosted by the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Fair trade practices are part of the promotion of inclusive and equitable growth, he said, noting that trade by nature should be complementary.

Feeding the world is not just a technical issue but a security challenge with humanity’s future at stake, said Atangana, who said that clear and binding rules are critical for developing nations and emphasized that Aid for Trade initiatives must be in the service of helping the supply side and developing production, without which infrastructure has less value.

Food security should be a priority for the WTO, said Cameroon’s Minister of Trade, Mathieu Guibolo Fanaa, adding that this will require increasing agricultural production in Africa, which in turn will require equitable conditions in international markets.

Quick links

AfCFTA – an historic Catalyst for Africa’s Economic Transformation and Caribbean Trade Integration (Afreximbank)

Video: WTO head Okonjo-Iweala on Africa’s trade and development roadmap (France24)

Alternative payment systems in Africa and Brics member states can shift geoeconomic dynamics (Mail & Guardian)

Logistics packaging for perishable cargo: here’s what to know (Maersk)


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