MonitorsPublished on Aug 01, 2018
Africa Monitor | Volume VII; Issue XLXIV

The Continent

Africa-India trade value yield over $42 billion per annum

Since the launch of “Focus Africa” programme in 2002 by the Government of India, bilateral ties between African countries and India have continued to strengthen and their economic bonds yielded bountifully. Between 2016-17, India’s exports to Africa had gone up to $23 billion, from $14 billion recorded in 2007-08. Imports from Africa stood at $28 billion in 2016-17, up from the previous $20 billion in 2007-08. The top five African countries that record high exports to India include Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and South Africa. Between 2010-15, Nigeria was India’s largest trading partner in Africa. India has been keen on improving the volume of imports and exports with Africa, as a primary mandate to support the governments and the private sector. In a World Economic Forum that was held in 2014, India and Africa set a target of achieving $500 billion in the trade by 2020. The objective is usually assessed through the various summits to check on the progress. With the trade value of $42 billion per annum, Africa and India can achieve their dream by improving the business environment, which has been a key performance indicator especially with East African countries, among other factors. High rates of investments between the two can lure more businesses with better returns. With better incentives provided by African governments, more Indian investors can be attracted to enter the markets. The recent visit by India’s Prime Minister Modi is a clear indication that the country is more than willing to continue doing business in Africa. The partners have not fully maximized their business potential due to a number of barriers but their tenacity is reflective of their efforts to increase trade. Source: The Exchange

COMESA elects Kapwepwe as first woman secretary-general

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has elected Chileshe Kapwepwe as its first woman secretary-general. Kapwepwe, 59, a former alternate director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), replaces Sindiso Ngwenya, who has worked at the regional body for 34 years in various capacities. The Zambian was appointed by the Secretariat on 18 July, 2018 during the Comesa Heads of State and Government summit at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. At the time of her appointment, Kapwepwe was serving as chairperson of the Zambia Revenue Authority. She also served as deputy Finance minister. Zambia President Edgar Lungu congratulated her. " Kapwepwe is taking up leadership responsibility with Comesa at the time when the regional body has made tremendous strides towards market integration and harmonisation of programmes," President Lungu's statement read. Source: Daily Nation

AU blames lack of information for low intra-Africa trade

Lack of information of market opportunities among traders across Africa is the biggest cause of low intra-Africa trade, according to the African Union. Albert Muchanga, the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, told Xinhua in Nairobi that intra-Africa trade is less than 18 percent of Africa's total trade, which is the lowest for any region in the world. "We are therefore going to develop the pan-African observatory to provide the prices of most traded goods and services across Africa in order to spur intra-Africa trade," Muchanga said during the African Union e-commerce conference in Nairobi. The objective of the three-day conference, which started on 23rd July, is to enhance the understanding of recent developments in the African digital economy. Muchanga said that with the right information, the continent will be able to boost intra-Africa trade by 50 percent in the short term and blamed import high tariffs that Africa countries maintain for the low level of intra-Africa trade. "Our studies indicate that our tariffs are on average 6 percent higher as compared to other regions," he added. In a bid to spur intra-Africa trade, the continent has also signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area that aims to eliminate all tariffs gradually. So far six countries have ratified the agreement. Source: Xinhua

Afreximbank, AfDB sign agreement for grant to support African factoring firms

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has entered into an agreement under which the African Development Bank to provide it with a $500,000 grant from its African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) programme to be used in supporting emerging factoring firms in Africa. The agreement, signed at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and 25th Anniversary Celebrations in Abuja on 13 July, is aimed at upgrading the capacity and skill-sets of up to 20 emerging factoring firms and providing advisory services to enhance the sustainability of established growth-orientated factoring firms, regulators, financial institutions and business and trade associations in Africa. The grant will finance:
  • Capacity building tailored to address needs, including on-site training, provision of back-office support systems and customised manuals for marketing, credit and risk policy, finance and operations, addition to advisory services to established factoring companies and a platform to enable African factoring companies to network, exchange ideas and share best practices.
  • Development of a sustainable knowledge and learning platform, including e-learning, workshops and the Certificate of Finance in International Trade which provides four weeks’ formal training in factoring under a programme developed by the University of Malta.
  • Provision of project management coordination to ensure timely project implementation.
Source: afreximbank

North Africa

Morocco bank to open branch in China

Morocco's BMCE Bank of Africa said on 13th July, 2018 that China has approved its request for opening a branch in Shanghai, China's most populous city. As the first Moroccan bank to be opened in China, it will act as a catalyst for economic relations between the two countries, the bank said in a statement. The bank also intends to actively participate in trade and finance projects between China and the African continent, the statement added. The branch is expected to open to customers in the last quarter of this year. The Moroccan bank has been involved in projects with Chinese institutions and firms, including the establishment of a one-billion US dollar industrial park in northern Morocco and the building of the tallest skyscraper in Africa in the capital Rabat. The bank inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Development Bank in March to enhance bilateral trade and investment. Source: FOCAC

Egypt presents voluntary review of its sustainable development at UN

Egypt presented its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation during the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The participants; representatives of 54 states, lauded the success of the economic steps taken by Egypt to improve its investment and business climate. The Egyptian delegation to the forum includes Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, Planning Minister Hala el Saeed, Environment Minister Yassmin Fouad and Egypt's delegate to the UN Mohamed Idris. Nasr said the Egyptian government is working hard to encourage the private sector pump new investments through a package of economic reforms, the latest of which was the endorsement of a new investment law and amendments to the companies and capital market laws. She said the development strategy in Egypt is based on economic growth, providing jobs to all citizens and protecting low-income brackets and talked about Egypt's investment plan that was drafted by the Investment Ministry in cooperation with other ministries and government bodies to cover different fields across Egypt. Source: SIS Egypt

Southern Africa

South Africa, India seek WTO relook at e-commerce norms

In a joint proposal circulated at the WTO on 12 July, India and South Africa said “the realities prevailing in 1998, when WTO members agreed for the first time to the temporary moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, have changed significantly during the subsequent two decades. These changes necessitate a re-examination of the implications of the temporary moratorium, particularly from the development perspective,” particularly on the fiscal side. Given the manifold increase in the volume of electronic transmissions, which initially covered only “digitized products” such as e-books, music and a variety of services, it is important to re-examine all the issues because of diffusion of additive manufacturing technology through 3-D printing as well as manufacturing physical products. Both these trends are likely to become more prominent in the near future, thereby bringing electronic transmissions closer to the centre stage of national economies, India and South Africa emphasized.  Earlier, Indonesia had opposed the continuation of the moratorium on electronic transmissions at the WTO’s Buenos Aires ministerial meeting arguing that it has had an impact on customs duties and domestic companies. Source: Live mint

Zimbabwe’s trade deficit grows by 34% in first half of 2018

Zimbabwe’s trade deficit has risen by 34% to $1, 26 billion for the period February to June 2018, an indication that efforts by government to correct trade imbalances were not bearing any fruits, latest trade data shows. During the same period last year, the trade deficit was $937, 81 million. Latest information released by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) showed that between February and June 2018, the country imported goods and services worth $2, 87 billion against exports of $1, 62 billion, which remain heavily skewed towards consumptive products. Again, the country’s imports were $2, 25 billion against exports of $1, 31 billion. Most of the imports in the period under review were consumptive products such as maize, rice, bottled water, sugar, soap, mobile phone handsets, electronics, vehicle spares, vehicles and generators. ZimTrade, the country’s export promotion body, has cited export permits requirements as one of the major impediments for export business. In a bid to encourage companies to export, the government in 2016 introduced a 5% export incentive bonus scheme. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged players in different sectors to stimulate productivity in order to enhance exports. Source: Newsday

East Africa

India, Rwanda sign various agreements during PM Modi’s visit

PM Modi received a ceremonial welcome by President Paul Kagame during his visit to Rwanda on 23 July. Addressing a gathering of Indians in Rwanda, PM Modi said, “The Indian community is making a mark all over the world and they are the country’s ‘rashtradoots’ (ambassadors).” He said, “I am delighted to interact with the Indian community in Rwanda. President Paul Kagame said to me that the Indian community is contributing to Rwanda’s progress and they are also doing lot of community service.” He also said, “For years the Indian community in Rwanda wanted a High Commission. This long pending demand will be fulfilled and you will be connected even further with India.” The visit saw India extending 2 Lines of Credit of $100 million for development of Industrial Parks and expansion of Kigali Special Economic Zone, and for Agriculture irrigation scheme in Rwanda. Various other agreements were signed; Amendment of 2007 MoU on Cooperation in field of Agriculture and Animal Resources; Defence Cooperation; MoU on Cultural Exchange programme; MoU on Dairy cooperation between RAB and ICAR; MoU on Leather and Allied sectors between NIRDA and CSIR-CLRI; and on a Trade Cooperation framework. India also gifted 200 cows as a token of India’s contribution for President Paul Kagame’s ‘Girinka’ scheme, which is a social protection scheme where poor families are gifted dairy cows by the government. This visit marked the first ever Prime Ministerial visit from India to Rwanda.

Flags, flowers greet first Ethiopia-Eritrea flight in 20 years

The first commercial flight from Ethiopia to Eritrea in 20 years landed safely in Asmara on 18th July to be greeted by dancers waving flags and flowers, cementing a stunning rapprochement that has ended a generation of hostility in a matter of days. As Ethiopian Airways flight ET 0312 made the momentous switch from Ethiopian to Eritrean airspace, chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam took to the on-board intercom to remind the 315 passengers they were part of history. “This is the first time that this is happening in 20 years,” he said, to cheers and applause from passengers and crew on the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Families separated from loved ones since the start of a brutal 1998-2000 border war sat next to dignitaries on the flight, one of two that took off from Ethiopia on 18th morning. The two 90-minute flights were the icing on the cake of a peace push by new Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed, whose three months in office have turned politics in his country - Africa’s most populous after Nigeria - and the wider East African region on its head. With the 41-year-old former intelligence officer at the helm, the ruling EPRDF coalition has ended a state of emergency, released political prisoners, restored phone links and announced plans to open up the economy - including letting foreigners take stakes in state-run Ethiopian Airlines. Source: Reuters

India readies offer for free trade pact with Mauritius

India and Mauritius will soon exchange a list of offers to reduce import tariffs on goods as part of a free trade agreement (FTA) that is being negotiated. The choice of items for India for greater market access, though, is not too big as only around 6 per cent of goods in the island nation are dutiable; the rest are already duty-free. However, as Mauritius is part of a host of FTAs in Africa including the just-concluded 44-nation African Union FTA, India is hopeful that a bilateral trade agreement with the country could open the doors wider to the entire continent, according to a government official. The broad contours of the FTA, called the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Agreement (CECPA), will include trade in goods, trade in services, dispute settlement, trade remedies, economic cooperation and technical barriers to trade, the official added. “In the fifth round of negotiations that concluded in Mauritius last week, we got a clearer picture of what the agreement would be like.” “While Mauritius understands that the pact can’t be very wide as India’s tariffs are relatively much greater, the Indian side also accepts that actual tariff cuts have to be offered, and merely giving a margin of preference over other countries won’t do,” the official said. The two sides will soon exchange their list of offers. “India has to be careful about protecting its domestic industry in items like sugar and textiles,” the official said. Source: Business Line

 90% of international money transfers to Rwanda via mobile phones

Up to 90% of international money transfers to Rwanda come through mobile wallets, a new survey indicates, highlighting the growing importance of mobile money transactions. The report, which was released on 17 July by WorldRemit, a leading international digital money transfer company, says that Rwanda – along with Tanzania – is experiencing the fastest growth in mobile money remittances in East Africa, increasing on average 9 per cent month-on-month. WorldRemit is an online money transfer service that provides international remittance services to expatriates and migrant workers. “Transfers to mobile money accounts make up 90 per cent of WorldRemit’s transactions to Rwanda, and is growing rapidly,” a statement from Worldremit reads in part. “This rapid surge”, it says, “is in line with Rwanda’s push towards a cashless economy, with the National Bank of Rwanda estimating that mobile money account users increased by 18 per cent in 2017.” The report was published ahead of a continental meeting on mobile usage and penetration on 17th July in Kigali. The meeting, dubbed Mobile 360 Africa, is being organised by GSMA, a body representing mobile operators across the world. In Rwanda, WorldRemit partners with Tigo/Airtel and MTN mobile telephone operators. According to WorldRemit, remittances through mobile money accounts are “faster, lower-cost and more accessible” than transfers to bricks and mortar agents. In line with this, WorldRemit’s data shows that Rwandans send money more frequently via mobile money platform – 2.6 times a month to mobile money accounts, compared to just 1.4 transactions to offline locations. Source: The New Times

Tanzanian President says his party will rule ‘forever’

Tanzania's President John Magufuli who has come under fire for his authoritarian leadership style has vowed that his ruling party will be "in power forever, for eternity". In a speech broadcast on radio and television on 16 July, Magufuli said that opponents of his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party would "always have problems". His intervention is the latest in a string of controversial comments that included a suggestion over the weekend that prisoners be made to work "day and night" and receive kicks if they are lazy. "The CCM is here and will continue to be here - forever. Members of the CCM, you can walk with your heads held high. There is no alternative to the CCM," said Magafuli during a ground breaking ceremony for a new party training centre being built in Kibaha, outside the economic capital Dar es Salaam. Source: News24

West Africa

Nigeria will get best deal in Africa trade agreement: Vice President Osinbajo

Addressing the 8th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum, Osinbajo said: “The rest of Africa sees the enormous advantage of Nigeria’s participation; everybody is waiting for us naturally. And that is because they see a huge market, there are advantages of our being there, but we must ensure to get the best possible terms for Nigerian trade and commerce.” Osinbajo, however, recalled the country’s experience with dumping and other injurious practices which “make it obvious to us that our market could be a real target, our local manufacturing could become unprofitable, our agricultural advances could be reversed”.  The DG of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Chiedu Osakwe, said that 13 of the 15 members of ECOWAS have signed the agreement, while Nigeria and Guinea Bissau are the two countries that had yet to sign the ACFTA. Source: The Eagle

Ghana, India ink 2 MoUs

India and Ghana on 18 July signed two agreements in an effort to enhance the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar confirmed that two MOUs on Cultural Exchange Programme and on cooperation between Bureau of Indian Standards and Ghana Standards Authority were signed. "Following the meeting between EAM @sushmaswaraj and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana Shirley Botchwey, two MOUs on Cultural Exchange Programme and on cooperation between Bureau of Indian Standards and Ghana Standards Authority were signed," he wrote. Botchwey, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, is on a four-day visit to India, having arrived in the country on 16 July. According to Kumar, the two ministers discussed enhancing cooperation in development cooperation, capacity building, trade and investment and people-to-people relationship. He wrote on Twitter, "Cementing our connect with Africa! EAM @SushmaSwaraj and Ghana Foreign Minister Shirley Botchwey lead the delegation-level talks. Two sides discussed enhancing cooperation in development cooperation, capacity building, trade and investment and people-to-people relationship." India-Ghana relations have traditionally been warm and close, based on a common history, shared vision and values. Ghana is one of India's important partners in West Africa. "While bilateral trade stands at USD 3.5 billion, other important aspects of our relations are investments (India is the second largest investor in Ghana), development partnership, defence cooperation, capacity building, cultural cooperation and people-to-people contacts," as per a statement by MEA. A sizeable Indian community, numbering around 10,000, resides in Ghana. Source: Business Standard

Senegal: China’s latest trade partner in Africa could help it export to US

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the West African country of Senegal over the weekend, building trade ties which could bear fruit in terms of China’s access to U.S. markets. Xi met with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, as well as Senegalese Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne, as part of a two-day visit. Following bilateral talks, Senegal signed up to be the first West African nation committed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Senegal, with a population of just 16 million, might seem like a curious stop for Xi given that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is also in the West Africa region. But according to Ibrahima Diong, who has served as Senegal’s minister of Chinese affairs, the country’s location is particularly attractive. “For any Chinese companies that would like to export to the U.S., you cannot get better than Senegal,” he told CNBC via telephone, highlighting its position on the west coast of the African continent. China is Senegal’s second largest trading partner after its former colonial power France. Xi’s visit to Senegal was the first stop of a broader tour of the African continent. He landed in Rwanda on 22nd July and will then attend a BRICS summit in South Africa, before stopping in Mauritius. While Senegal is the first West African country to partner with China as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese-built infrastructure projects are mushrooming in the region. Last week a railway network was opened in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, helping to address the country’s need for infrastructure. Partnership with Senegal enables China to “make a dent in the francophone world,” added Diong. He said that “Africans are being extremely pragmatic” in their business decisions, and are no longer constrained by colonial ties.That perspective was echoed in an editorial published in several South African newspapers over the weekend, in which Xi wrote that South Africa and China had “forged a deep friendship during our common struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism.” It detailed that "China’s direct investment in South Africa has grown by more than 80 times and (now) exceeded $10.2 billion in cumulative terms." Source: CNBC

Central Africa

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya plans bid for seventh term in office

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya will run for re-election in October, he said on 13 July, 2018, aiming to extend his 36-year rule and maintain his place on a shortening roster of long-standing African leaders. Biya, who came to power in 1982 when his predecessor retired, is seeking a seventh term in office that could see the 85-year-old rule well into his 90s. It would leave him in rare company after former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh were ousted in 2017. Of Africa’s living rulers, only Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled uninterrupted for longer. “I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” Biya said in a tweet. Biya, who has ruled virtually by decree since taking office, scrapped term limits from the constitution in 2008, allowing him to run again and sparking riots in which over 40 people were killed. The election, scheduled on 7 October, comes at a turbulent time for the Central African country and for Biya. A separatist insurgency in the western English-speaking regions has killed 84 troops since last September, while a drop in the price of its key cocoa and oil exports has weighed on the economy. Source: EWN

Burundi insists that Lusaka COMESA summit was illegal

The Burundian government boycotted the 20th summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) that took place last week Lusaka, calling it “illegal”, mainly due to relocation of the summit from Burundian capital Bujumbura to Lusaka. “The relocation should have been decided by three presidents of Burundi, Ethiopia and Madagascar, members of the Bureau of the COMESA heads of state summit, but it had not been the case,” Deputy-spokesman of the Burundian President Alain Diomede Nzeyimana said. The Burundian government has written to the COMESA secretariat, requesting a refund of the money used for preparing to host the summit and compensation, he said. Burundi will “not acknowledge” conclusions and resolutions from the Lusaka summit, he added, and that the incident was a “lack of respect” to a sovereign state. Source: Lusakatimes
This monitor is prepared by Abhishek Mishra, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi
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