Global forum spotlights actions to make trade more sustainable and inclusive
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will host the third UN Trade Forum on 8 and 9 May 2023 to identify trade policies that can help countries grow their economies while tackling pressing global challenges and accelerating progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The forum will give particular attention to developing countries, which have been hit hardest by multiple global crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate emergency. “A cascade of global crises has disrupted international trade, including for essential foods, and revealed the trading system’s vulnerabilities and imbalances,” UNCTAD deputy secretary general Pedro Manuel Moreno said ahead of the forum. “But trade remains a very powerful engine for sustainable and inclusive growth,” Mr Moreno said. More than 100 trade experts, policymakers, senior officials from international organisations, business leaders, and civil society representatives will meet in Geneva and online to discuss policies and initiatives that can make trading systems more inclusive, environmentally friendly and resilient.
AfDB advocates for strengthening the role of multilateral development banks beyond financing
On the occasion of its annual meetings, to be held from 22 to 26 May 2023 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group plans to highlight the role that multilateral development banks could play in building a new development architecture beyond the financial. The importance of this subject stems from the fact that multilateralism is currently facing significant challenges, including in responding to climate change, conflict, social fragility, and pandemics. International organisations should maximise their resources by engaging governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders to bring about meaningful change. If this is not done, less-developed economies could become more vulnerable. From a development-financing perspective, a vital issue to be addressed at the annual meetings is reducing the current level of concentration of policy instruments and promoting inclusion and better coordination among multilateral development banks. The AfDB has built knowledge capital on global development priorities. On the ground, it deals with many bilateral and multilateral development financing mechanisms. Therefore, the discussions addressing this issue should emphasise how roles could be shared among the various development actors in Africa.
AfDB rolls out new Whistleblowing Policy
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has launched a six-month campaign to sensitise its internal and external stakeholders on its new Whistleblowing Policy, approved by the boards of directors in January this year. The Whistleblowing Policy 2023 builds on a 2007 policy, which at the time was widely considered as progressive and reflective of the value the AfDB places on the contribution of whistleblowers to its anti-corruption processes, and its zero tolerance of any retaliation against them. The new policy sets additional standards, by bringing the bank’s boards members and elected officials under the disciplinary scope of the policy where they are found to have threatened or participated in retaliation against any internal or external party reporting fraud and corruption in bank operations, or assisting in audits, investigations and disciplinary processes. Enhancing its ability to protect external whistleblowers, the new policy classifies retaliation by external parties within the context of AfDB-financed operations as obstructive practices, which are subject to debarment under the bank’s sanctions system.
Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa could permanently decline if geopolitical tensions escalate
Sub-Saharan Africa could stand to lose the most if the world were split into two isolated trading blocs centred around China or the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). In this severe scenario, sub-Saharan African economies could experience a permanent decline of up to 4% of real GDP after 10 years according to the IMF’s estimates – losses larger than what many countries experienced during the Global Financial Crisis. Economic and trade alliances with new economic partners, predominantly China, have benefited the region but have also made countries reliant on imports of food and energy more susceptible to global shocks, including disruptions from the surge in trade restrictions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If geopolitical tensions were to escalate, countries could be hit by higher import prices or even lose access to key export markets –about half of the region’s value of international trade could be impacted. The losses could be compounded if capital flows between trade blocs were cut off due to geopolitical tensions. The region could lose an estimated USD10-billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance inflows, which is about half a percent of GDP a year (based on an average 2017–19 estimate).
Harmonised methods for informal cross border trade data collection critical in monitoring intra-African trade
Informal cross border trade in Africa is known to be large and an important contributor to the livelihoods of millions of Africans but there are no agreed methods to accurately measure it, experts said at the first physical meeting of the Task Force on Developing a Harmonized Methodology for Informal Cross-Border Trade Data Collection. “Understanding the scale, magnitude and characteristics of Informal Cross-Border Trade (ICBT) will be instrumental in accurately monitoring intra-African trade, as well as the development of appropriate economic policy,” said Melaku Geboye Desta, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), at the opening of the meeting of the Task Force in Kampala, Uganda. The Task Force was established by the African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with UNECA and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), with a mandate to provide political and technical guidance to the process of developing the Continental Methodology for ICBT Data Collection and overseeing its implementation. Mr Desta noted that official trade statistics often capture formal trade and leave out informal trade, leading to underestimation of the magnitude of intra-African trade.
Linking ESG, an efficient energy transition and the energy crisis
Zodak Olinga, director at Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Assurance company ÖLINGA, says that ESG captures the essence of the just energy transition through its energy management systems. During The Future Energy and Solar Show Africa 2023, multiple interactive discussions were held to understand the role of energy management in driving Africa’s energy evolution, as well as the role of smart energy management in achieving ESG goals. During one of these sessions, Olinga emphasised the importance of achieving energy availability and using energy efficiently on the road to an efficient energy transition. Making the connection, Olinga said that ESG strategies that focus on managing energy consumption for sustainability through energy management systems can help to lower greenhouse gas emissions. “By lowering or by getting more efficient with your energy consumption, you are limiting your greenhouse gas emissions, thereby controlling your ESG strategy – an ESG strategy that leads to the mitigation of climate effects,” Olinga said. “The just energy transition ties in very well with ESG. The two together can do a great deal to improve people’s lives.”
Source: ESI Africa
Africa / Japan
AfDB Group, JICA sign USD350-million loan agreement to support Africa’s private sector
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Tuesday, 25 April, signed a JPY44.1-billion (USD350-million) loan to finance the bank’s support for private sector operations in Africa. The loan comes under the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) initiative, which is a component of Japan’s Official Development Assistance to Africa. The fifth version of EPSA, for an amount of USD4-billion, was signed by the bank and JICA at the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8), held in Tunis last August. The signing ceremony for the private sector concessional loan took place at JICA’s headquarters in Tokyo, between JICA president, Dr Tanaka Akihiko and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB Group. Dr Tanaka said the loan represented a crucial step in Japan’s efforts to work with the AfDB to support Africa as it faces the challenge of navigating multiple compounded crises including issues of debt sustainability and the impact of the war in Ukraine.
AEC will participate at the upcoming 10th East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition
In order to make energy poverty history by 2030, Africa needs to develop large-scale infrastructure projects that support the transportation and export of oil and gas. As an advocate for the development of such projects, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) – led by executive chairman NJ Ayuk – will participate at the upcoming East African Petroleum Conference and Exhibition set to take place from 9-11 May, making a strong case for the development of the region’s most critical project, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The AEC’s participation at this important event underscores the organisation’s commitment to fostering energy security and economic growth across the continent. At the heart of the AEC’s agenda lies the transformative EACOP, a project that not only plays a pivotal role in reshaping the energy landscape of East Africa but also serves as a key catalyst for unlocking vast exploration opportunities across the continent. With an alarming 600 million people living in energy poverty across the continent, the EACOP stands as a crucial and necessary solution for addressing this pressing issue. With an impressive length of 1 443 km, the EACOP is the largest pipeline in the region.
Experts meet to transform SADC ICT landscape
Delegates from the Southern Africa Telecommunications Association (SATA) member states converged at Swakopmund recently for a three-day regional conference themed, ICT Connectivity and Service Delivery for the Benefit of All: Transforming our Society through Broadband and ICT Developments. Leaders from the Namibian government joined the information and communications technology (ICT) industry players in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to deliberate on ways to propel services in the region to deliver world-class services. A wide range of topics, including technology and infrastructure, policy and strategy for the future of the telecommunications industry, were highlighted. “Occasions such as these present enormous opportunities among telecommunications operators and other ICT stakeholders to consolidate and strengthen linkages and synergies through networking and knowledge sharing for the development of SADC’s ICT sector,” said Erongo governor Neville Andre in his keynote address. “The ICT sector has a huge and positive impact on economic growth, as it accelerates the flow of goods and services across the region’s national borders. Underpinned by effective competition, ICT stimulates and improves trade by connecting people and places previously not connected,” he added.
Source: The Namibian
SADC establishes Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre in Maputo, Mozambique
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC) has been established in the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries building in Maputo, Mozambique, following the entry into force of the Charter establishing the MCSCC on 8 April 2023. The establishment of the MCSCC paves the way for coordinated measures to improve fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the SADC region. In a symbolic gesture, the Minister of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries of Mozambique, Dr Lídia Cardoso on 20 April 2023, handed over keys to the offices of the SADC MCSCC to Mr Domingos Gove, director of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources of SADC. The MCSCC will coordinate regional fisheries MCS data and information sharing services, including a regional fishing vessel register and monitoring system; provision of regional fisheries surveillance, observer coordination and port state measures support services; provision of fisheries law enforcement and legal support services; and help to support improvements in the capacity of national MCS systems.
ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry adopt key regional trade instruments and reaffirm their commitment to the multilateral trading system
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission organised the 3rd Joint Meeting of the ECOWAS Ministers of Trade and Industry (ECOMOTI) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from 27 – 28 April 2023, to consider, approve and recommend key trade policy instruments to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers for adoption. The Meeting featured a round table with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss the outcomes of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) and preparations for the MC13. In his welcome remarks, Mr Souleymane Diarrassouba Minister of Trade, Industry, and Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), welcomed the Ministers of Trade and Industry, as well as officials from the WTO Secretariat, ECOWAS and West African Economic and Monetary Union (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA)) Commissions to the meeting on behalf of Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire. He emphasised the need to examine the best ways to strengthen economic integration, industrial development, and promotion of intra-regional trade, as well as to better integrate the region in international trade.
UNECA supports Benin in the formulation process of its AfCFTA national strategy
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), through its sub-regional office for West Africa, is supporting Benin in its drive to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) operational. Through this support, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has launched in Cotonou the process of formulating a national AfCFTA strategy that will serve as a framework for its implementation. The consultation workshop brought together all economic and trade actors in Benin to develop the reference document. The general objective of the meeting was to present the agreement, in its content and socio-economic implications, to Beninese stakeholders. It was also to gather their views, aspirations and concerns regarding the opportunities and risks associated with the AfCFTA's implementation in Benin. It was also about raising awareness among stakeholders and triggering a process of AfCFTA's ownership by stakeholders so that its implementation would be beneficial to all.
Central African Republic
IMF Executive Board approves a USD191.4-million ECF arrangement with CAR
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a 38-month Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement of SDR141.68-million (about USD191.4-million) with the Central African Republic (CAR). The executive board’s decision enables an immediate disbursement equivalent to SDR11.3-million (about USD15.2-million). A decade after the 2013 civil war, CAR is facing crisis upon crisis resulting in exceptional hardship to its population and bringing the country to the brink of a humanitarian crisis with acute food insecurity. The authorities have responded to risks to macroeconomic stability and to the financing shortfall from the 2021 suspension of donor-related budget support by adjusting spending, streamlining fuel subsidies, and postponing the clearance of domestic arrears. Against this backdrop, the government has requested fund financial assistance to address the country’s balance of payments needs. The ECF-supported programme is part of coordinated efforts by international financial institutions (IFIs) to support the people of CAR.
Gabon / Sierra Leone
Gabon, Sierra Leone accede to establishment agreement of Afreximbank’s Fund for Export Development in Africa
The Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA), the development impact-focused subsidiary of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has announced the accession of Gabon and Sierra Leone to the fund through their recent respective signing of the FEDA Establishment Agreement. FEDA described the accession by the two countries as a significant milestone, which will strengthen its ability to provide crucial support to African economies and achieve its objectives effectively. The new memberships expand the reach of FEDA’s interventions and reflect the fund’s unwavering commitment to its mandate of providing long-term capital to African economies with a focus on industrialisation, intra-African trade and value-added exports. In November 2022, FEDA invested in Arise Integrated Industrial Platforms (Arise IIP) in a significant step deepening the implementation of its mandate of promoting industrialisation and value-added exports. The Gabon Special Economic Zone (GSEZ), developed by Arise IIP and focused on the timber industry, has enabled Gabon to transition from a mere log exporter to a leading global producer and exporter of veneer.
Ghana / Austria
Ghana, Austria sign key strategic partnership agreements
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer have agreed on key areas of cooperation primary on strengthening existing bilateral ties between the two countries. The areas of focus, according to President Akufo-Addo were on issues relating to economic growth, trade and investment promotion, support for peace and security within West Africa, climate resilience and adaptation, among others. This was upon the visit of the Austrian Chancellor to Ghana, the first of an Austrian Chancellor since bilateral ties begun between the two countries at the Jubilee House in Accra. In his brief remarks after the bilateral talks, President Akufo-Addo disclosed that, “a major outcome of our meeting today, is the affirmation of our commitment to collaborate further on tackling emerging security threats within the region, particularly on issues of terrorism, border security and maritime barriers. We also have resolved to work together to promote democracy in the region and reiterate and affirm our mutual stance against unconstitutional changes in government.”
Source: Africa Business Communities
How proposed NHIF rates will affect top earners
Top salaried workers will from July pay higher for the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) as informal contributors enjoy lower rates in proposed changes announced recently by President William Ruto. President Ruto said the current rates, in which salaried workers pay between KES150 and KES1 700 depending on their monthly pay, are going to be phased out and replaced with a flat rate of 2.7% of the salary. The proposed changes will see earners of between KES39 999 and KES100 000 per month increase contributions of between 8% and 74%, highlighting the impact of using higher earners to subsidise those earning less. There will be even steeper contributions for those earning above KES100 000, with those taking home half a million witnessing their deductions rise eight times to KES13 500. Monthly contributions of informal sector earners will drop by 40% from the current KES500 to KES300 if the president’s proposal is adopted ahead of the start of a new financial year in July.
Source: Business Daily Africa
Kenya / China
China airline and KQ revive suspended interline deal
China Southern Airlines (CZ) and national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) have renewed their interline agreement, which was suspended in April 2020 in a move that set to grow their reach across Asia and Africa. The deal, which takes effect at once, will restore connectivity for both airlines’ passengers to points on the respective carriers’ networks via Nairobi, Guangzhou and Shanghai using a single ticket and one baggage policy. The agreement, which was halted after KQ stopped flying to China following the outbreak of COVID-19 will enhance connectivity options that KQ will offer to its passengers via access to domestic China destinations operated by CZ. These routes include Shanghai, Chongqing, Changsha, Chengdu, Dalian, Fuzhou, Hefei, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Kunming, Guiyang, Ningbo, Nanjing, Nanning, Shenyang, Shantou, Sanya, Qingdao, Jinan and Tianjin, among others. Global destinations operated by CZ will include Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Penang, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland and Melbourne.
Source: Business Daily Africa
AfDB and AFN sign USD525 000 grant to strengthen development of fintech in Africa
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed a USD525 000 grant agreement with Africa Fintech Network (AFN) for the setup of the Africa Fintech Hub, an online portal that will serve as a one-stop shop for all fintech activities in Africa. The agreement was signed on 4 April 2023. The Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) will provide funding and technical assistance to the AFN to host and manage the African Fintech Hub. The hub is a digital platform that will enable fintech associations across Africa to pool resources and knowledge, strengthen relationships and partnerships, as well as showcase the work of fintech on the continent. The African Fintech Hub will be delivered through a strategic partnership between AFN and the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (CENFRI), which will provide technical support in the development of the hub, as well as promote research, knowledge creation and other innovative initiatives.
Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo looks to energy, natural resources to wean off oil reliance
The Republic of the Congo is aiming to restructure its “all oil” economy to one that is anchored on the development of other natural resources and energy infrastructure. According to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) – Republic of Congo Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy, it aims to restructure the economy. It intends to do so by “relying on the opportunities offered by high-growth activities such as agriculture in the broad sense, industry, special economic zones (SEZs), tourism, the digital economy and real estate.” The plan was released in February in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The Congolese industrial sector, apart from the oil industry, is currently very underdeveloped and contributes little to wealth creation. The mining industry (solid mines) contributes 0.71% to GDP, the manufacturing industry 10% and the forestry industry 6%.” The main constraints to the development of the sector listed are the lack of energy infrastructure; lack of skilled labour; difficulties in accessing finance; low rate of local processing; and unattractive business environment. The country’s government intends to make investment and innovation the engines of growth and job creation through the implementation of two main programmes.
Source: ESI Africa