China port closures cause panic in global supply chain

Partial closure of ports in China as a result of an increase in COVID-19 infections is expected to cause a shortage of commodities globally in the next few weeks, with Africa likely to be most affected. China is one of Africa’s leading market sources, with data indicating that China-Africa trade reached USD185.2-billion between January and September 2021, up 38.2% year-on-year. China’s northeastern city of Dalian recently reported its first cases of Omicron from two travellers, becoming the second major Chinese port to be struck by the highly contagious COVID-19 variant after Tianjin, a port neighbouring Beijing. Some shipping lines have suspended operations as at least three Chinese ports, including Shanghai and Shenzhen, remain partially closed. The shipping companies said they are re-assessing the situation before resuming operations. Ships looking to avoid the COVID-19-induced delays in China are causing growing congestion at the world’s biggest container ports. With outbreaks now recorded in other ports there is an increased risk of China denying ships berth and with cities like Tianjin on lockdown, truck drivers are unable to haul cargo from factories to ships and vice versa.

Source: The EastAfrican

AfCFTA members conclude negotiations on rules of origin to enhance free trade

Member states of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently concluded their negotiations on rules of origin, a move expected to further reduce tariffs on original goods within the African continent. Ebrahim Patel, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Ministers of Trade, told a press briefing that the adopted rules could cover 87.7% of goods on the tariff lines of the AU member states. Although trading under the AfCFTA had officially started on 1 January 2021, the problems regarding rules of origin remained unresolved, making it difficult to identify products that could enjoy the preferential tariff regime under the agreement. "That is a big breakthrough," said Patel, adding that the agreed rules of origin would become the basis for full-scale trade among the various member states under the free trade agreement to boost Africa's economic growth. Wamkele Mene, the secretary-general of the AfCFTA, said the conclusion of negotiations on rules of origin was an important milestone towards a successful implementation of the free trade pact. "Now that we have 87.7% of rules of origin agreed, we are now in the position for member states to gazette these legal instruments at the national level so that countries can apply these rules of origin from a customs point of view," Mene said.

Source: Xinhua


AfDB sets course to close infrastructure gap with board approval of its first public-private partnerships strategic framework

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has taken a crucial step to further address the infrastructure gap in African countries, with the approval of its first strategic framework for the development of public-private partnerships. This follows approval by the board of directors of the AfDB Group on 19 January 2022. Africa’s infrastructure investment gap is estimated at more than USD100-billion per year, affecting the living conditions of Africans and the continent’s global competitiveness. Bank experts say public-private partnerships offer an additional approach to increase private sector investments and higher levels of efficiency in the development and operation of infrastructure assets in Africa. Public-private partnerships are already a key feature of infrastructure projects being supported by the bank, among them several transport and energy sector projects in all the regions of the continent. To achieve its development ambitions, the bank’s Public-Private Partnership Strategic Framework is rooted in three pillars that will provide an end-to-end solution to member countries, from upstream to downstream. In rolling out the strategic framework, the bank will engage clients and partners and begin dialogue with member countries to identify priority areas.

Source: AfDB


Moody’s to acquire majority stake in GCR Ratings, expand presence in Africa

Moody’s Corporation announced it has agreed to acquire a majority (51%) stake in Global Credit Rating Company (GCR), a credit rating agency in Africa with operations spanning the continent, including in South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and Mauritius. ''GCR’s ratings play a significant role in the growth of Africa’s financial markets by providing critical insights into credit across a range of economies and sectors,'' said Rob Fauber, president and chief executive officer of Moody’s. ''By combining GCR’s successful domestic operations with Moody’s global expertise, we have a unique opportunity to expand Moody’s presence in a high-growth region.'' ''This is an important milestone in the history of GCR,'' said Marc Joffe, chief executive officer of GCR. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and it will be funded with cash on hand. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022 and will not have a material impact on Moody’s 2022 financial results.

Source: Africa Business Communities

East Africa

Lobby roots for seamless trade across borders

The East African Business Council is pushing for the revival of business committees to facilitate the flow of goods and services at border points. The council is seeking to revamp joint border committees in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Burundi under the East Africa trade protocol. "We are focused on revamping the joint border committees in collaboration with Kenya and Uganda revenue authorities and other relevant agencies," said John Kalisa, the council CEO. Kalisa, who spoke at a forum that brought together different actors from Kenya and Uganda at the Malaba border, said they are focused on formulating systems that will guarantee fast clearance of cargo trucks. "We would like to create a strong team and functional systems which will make the perennial trucks snarl-up a thing of the past," said the official. Kenya Revenue Authority regional director Pamela Ahango said they had deployed more staff in the customs department to expedite the clearance of trucks. "The deployment has helped reduce the trucks jam stretching over 80km to 34km in less than a week," she said. She said bad road sections towards the border had contributed to the challenges.

Source: The Standard


DP World signs agreement to develop Angola’s trade and logistics sector

DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, signed a preliminary agreement with the Angolan government to develop the country’s trade and logistics sector. The parties will explore cooperation in the areas of ports and terminals, special economic zones, cross-border trade and finance and marine services, according to a statement from the Dubai Media office. DP World is already active in Angola and is developing the multi-purpose terminal at Port of Luanda with a total investment of USD190-million to turn it into a maritime hub along the western coast of southern Africa. “Alongside the multi-purpose terminal, there is still tremendous opportunity to further develop and integrate the country’s logistics and trade infrastructure and unlock more economic benefits,” Sultan bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive of DP World, said. “The Angolan government has an ambitious plan for this sector, and through this deal our primary objective is to find ways in which we can support the country to significantly maximise its strategic location and increase trade flows domestically and in the surrounding region.”

Source: The National


African Development Fund extends USD27.39-million grant to support development of minigrid and solar PV net metering in Ghana

The board of directors of the African Development Fund has approved a USD27.39-million grant to Ghana for the development of renewable energy investments in the minigrid and net metering space. The project involves the development of 35 minigrids, standalone solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in 400 schools, 200 units in healthcare centres and 100 units for community energy services centres in the Volta Lake region. It will also deploy up to 12 000 units of roof-mounted net-metered solar PV systems for public institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and selected households. The Ghana Mini Grid and Solar PV Net Metering is expected to have an annual electricity output of renewable energy estimated at 111 361 megawatt-hours (MWh), corresponding to an installed capacity of 67.5 MW. The project will mitigate greenhouse emissions of 0.7795 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year and create up to 2 865 jobs during construction, of which 30% will target women and youth.

Source: African Development Bank Group


KRA seeks bank, financial deals of secret shareholders

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the anti-graft agency have started mining data from a registry of secret shareholders disclosed to the Attorney-General in a fresh crackdown on corrupt individuals and tax cheats. Registrar of Companies Joyce Koech says the taxman, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) – which tracks money launderers – have started making requests for data. This came months after the state compelled firms to provide details such as names, phone numbers and residential addresses of investors who own more than 10% stakes in companies through secret accounts. The order gave effect to the changes in the Companies Act, promising to unmask rich and influential business owners who choose to hide their identities behind trusts, foundations and law firms to avoid scrutiny. “We are starting to see requests from the EACC, KRA and FRC utilising this information. By mid-last year we started seeing a few requests and they kept increasing towards the end of the year,” said Ms Koech. About 198 000 or 33% of 600 000 private companies have made disclosures on their beneficial owners.

Source: Business Daily


State working on law for salary cuts, unpaid leave

Kenya is reviewing the labour laws to guide employers on how to impose unpaid leave, salary cuts and remote working. This follows shifts in the jobs market in the wake of COVID-19 economic hardships, which triggered pay cuts and unpaid leave. The Labour Ministry says the country's three pieces of legislation that govern the conduct of employers and employees do not cover forced pay cuts, unpaid leave policies as well as remote and hybrid work models. "While the labour laws provide for what people should do, they did not anticipate this kind of situation. So there is a need now to relook into the same laws to factor in the emergence of such challenges," said Labour Principal Secretary Peter Tum. The job market is guided by the Employment Act, the Labour Institutions Act and the Labour Relations Act, all enacted in 2007. The labour laws allow employers to cut workers’ salaries in periods of financial crisis like the one brought home by COVID-19. But this happens after consultation and obtaining consent from the employees or where a worker has been demoted. Legal experts say the proposed law will seek to clarify the period when the pay cuts remain in force as well as conditions for unpaid leave and salary deductions.

Source: Business Daily

Kenya / Europe

Kenya, EU launch talks to elevate ties ‘beyond aid’

Kenya and the European Union (EU) recently launched vital talks to elevate their ties beyond aid and focus on issues of long-term peace and development. At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo and visiting EU top diplomat Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles signed a joint declaration to formally begin discussions on a Strategic Dialogue, a guiding document that could turn relations to “common problems.” The Strategic Dialogue, he said, will “bring concrete results, because it will focus on delivering on commitments, actions, investments, and sharing objectives among our people.” Those commitments will target long-term peace and security in the region, fighting poverty through trade and investment, environmental conservation and fighting climate change, defending democracy and the rule of law, and human rights, “as well as many sectors in Kenya’s priority development agenda,” Ms Omamo said.

Source: The EastAfrican


KfW grants EUR20-million for large-scale electricity storage

The state-owned Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) now has the financial means to implement its project to build a large-scale electricity storage system in the Erongo region. The company is benefiting from a EUR20-million grant from KfW, the German development agency. The financing agreement was signed recently between NamPower’s managing director, Kahenge Haulofu, the director general of Namibia’s National Planning Commission, Obeth Kandjoze, and Barbara Pirich, KfW’s director in Namibia. The electricity storage system will be installed in Omburu, a town in Erongo Province. NamPower is expected to contribute 20% of the total cost of the storage project. The state-owned company will focus on connecting the future storage system to Namibia’s national power grid from the Umburu substation, as well as paying local fees and taxes not covered by the KfW grant. NamPower’s project aims to stabilise its grid and, more importantly, provide a back-up solution in case of failures of existing generation facilities, including the aging 120 MW Van Eck thermal power plant, commissioned in 1972 and located in the industrial area north of the capital Windhoek.

Source: AFRIK 21

Nigeria / China

CABC signs MoU with Lagos Chamber of Commerce

The China Africa Business Council (CABC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos. Vice chairman of CABC Chief Diana Chen said the partnership would position members of the chamber as primary benefactors of trade and investment alliance offered by the Forum of China Africa Cooperation and the African Continental Free Trade Area, including in the auto industry and other sectors. Chief Chen herself is the power behind the success story of the GAC brand of cars which is made available in the Nigerian market by her company, CIG Motors. The MoU, she explained, would drive the economic advancement and industrialisation of the nation through deliberate strategic partnerships and collaboration fostered by this agreement. According to her, CABC is committed to helping Chinese enterprises contribute effectively to Africa’s development. She said, “With over 2 000 members across China and Africa, creating more than 1.5 million jobs with a volume of USD9.05-billion in investments, it is dedicated to the economic development of Africa which is led by the principle of “respecting culture and combining generosity with profit”.

Source: The Sun


Rwanda Economic Update: Regional integration in post-COVID-19 era

Rwanda has achieved a strong economic recovery in 2021, according to the 18th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update (REU18) released on Wednesday, 2 February. GDP increased by 11.1% in the first nine months of the year, reflecting a broad-based recovery from the 2020 recession. Industrial production expanded by 16.5% and agricultural output rose to 6.8% in the same year, while traditional exports (coffee, tea, cassiterite, wolfram, and coltan) increased by about 35% in the first nine months of 2021. However, the report observes that the level of unemployment continued to deteriorate despite the recovery, as the growth acceleration partly reflected a shift in employment to higher-productivity activities (manufacturing and construction). While the GDP got close to the pre-pandemic level, the unemployment rate remained more than 13 percentage points above levels at the beginning of 2020, with female employment deteriorating. In its special focus on Boosting Regional Trade Integration in the Post-COVID Era, the report underscores the importance of sustained growth in trade as a key driver for Rwanda to achieve its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2035.

Source: World Bank

South Sudan

South Sudan's oil production plummets due to COVID-19 and floods

South Sudan's oil production has reduced from the previous 170 000 barrels a day (bpd) to the current 156 000 bpd amid negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and heavy flooding since 2020, an official said. Agak Achuil Lual, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning while tabling the 2021/22 fiscal budget before the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, said the projected reduction in oil production is due to depletion of some oil wells, as well as effects of floods. South Sudan earned USD1.4-billion in gross oil revenues of which USD1.1-billion went to direct transfers, USD148-million were paid to neighbouring Sudan as cost for processing, transportation and transit fees. The East African nation is projected to collect USD135-million in non-oil revenues in this fiscal year, an increase of 31.1% from USD103-million in the previous 2020/21 fiscal year. "The projected increase in non-oil revenues is on account of the tax administration reforms that we are implementing at the national revenue authority, which include digitisation of tax collections, broadening the tax base and the proposal to fully deploy national revenue authority staff in all the non-oil revenue collecting institutions," said Achuil.

Source: Xinhua


BRELA assists clients in using registration technology

The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) has said it used the ‘Kamilika’ 2022 campaign to encourage business people to use the online system to formalise their activities by registering their businesses and trade names. BRELA licensing officer, Maryglory Mmary said that during the period, they also helped those who faced problems in using technology to register their businesses and trade names online to reach their goal. “Many challenges include the use of our system in registering or accessing other services for our customers as well as filling out various documents especially on the part of companies filling out forms,” said Mmary. She said after observing those challenges, BRELA will go to other regions to provide similar services that will be sustainable for their clients. Mmary advised entrepreneurs to register their businesses to grab the opportunities that arise in government and the private sector.

Source: Daily News


BRELA calls for need to register trade marks

The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) has urged Tanzanians to register trade marks and other services so that their businesses can be easily identified in the markets. BRELAs licensing officer, Saada Kilabula said this at the closure of the ‘Kamilisha’ 2022 campaign held in Dar es Salaam. “Most customers have registered only business names instead of registering trade marks and business name together”, she said, adding this is why BRELA continues to provide such education to create more awareness. She said the trade marks represent a customer in his/her business, showing the unique difference between one business and another, however many people have registered a unique name without knowing the significance of a trade mark. “Trade marks are the signs that a trader creates to represent his/her business,” she said. “We are inviting all citizens to register trade marks,” she said.

Source: Daily News


Togo launches Trade Barriers Africa, an online platform to remove non-tariff barriers

Togo recently launched Trade Barriers Africa, an online mechanism aimed at boosting trade by removing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) between African countries. The facility is a component of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). "From now on, thanks to Trade Barriers Africa, Togolese traders will be able to report these barriers, also known as non-tariff barriers, and obtain their removal with the support of national authorities," said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in a statement released on 31 January 2022. The platform allows traders and companies that move goods across Togo’s borders to report NTBs that impede their activity in the country. According to the United Nations body, such NTBs include, among others, “quotas, excessive import documents or unjustified packaging requirements.” "Trade Barriers Africa is a concrete response to the daily problems of micro, small and medium-sized cross-border businesses. If they should thrive, it is imperative that [NTBs], which not only lengthen the procedures for transporting goods but also cost traders, disappear," said Simon Ognadou, National Focal Point of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Local Consumption for the AfCFTA.

Source: Togo First


Museveni urges oil companies to commit to getting oil flowing in 2025

“D-Day means Day of Departure, and to us, it is day of departure to work.” This is what the announcement of the Final Investment Decision means for the oil and gas joint venture companies, according to TotalEnergies chairman and chief executive Patrick Pouyanné. This means the Lake Albert Development Project partners, TotalEnergies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) are now ready to start off the projects for the commercial phase of Uganda’s oil and gas sector. The announcement was witnessed by President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s Vice President Philip Mpango, who represented President Samia Suluhu Hassan. TotalEnergies is the lead investor holding a 56.67% interest in the upstream licences, followed by CNOOC with 28.33%, while the Uganda government, through UNOC controls 15%. UNOC has so far received USD130-million (UGX454-billion) and expects another USD178-million (UGX620-billion) for its part of the investment in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

Source: The Independent


ZIMRA records ZWL161-billion gross revenue Q4 2021

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has recorded ZWL161-billion in gross revenue collections for the fourth quarter (Q4) ended 31 December 2021, which is 48.9% above target. Despite the inflationary pressures, the country’s monthly revenue collections have remained on a positive trajectory having recorded significant growth since 2020 in response to prudent government economic policies and revenue mobilisation strategies being pursued by ZIMRA. In a revenue performance report for the period, issued on Sunday, 30 January, ZIMRA deputy board chairperson, Mrs Josephine Matambo said the year 2021 ended on a positive note in terms of revenue collection as the country surpassed its set target. According to the report, the companies tax head leads in terms of contributions at 20.18%, followed by individual tax at 17%, value added tax (VAT) local sales at 14.4%, excise duty at 12.4%, intermediated money transfer tax at 10.48%, VAT on imports at 9.3% and customs duty at 5.8%. The positive gains were achieved despite the biggest adversity posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to negatively affect business operations as well as loss of life.

Source: The Chronicle