Country: Africa

East African Community to launch regional bond for goods

The East African Community (EAC) is set to launch a regional bond to enhance trade facilitation in the region and provide a cheaper and more efficient solution for the business community. This was revealed during a meeting between the EAC Secretariat and stakeholders to discuss the procedures and benefits of the regional bond in comparison to the COMESA Regional Customs Transit Guarantee (RCTG) and to get feedback from the stakeholders. Kagriel Kino, a representative from the Secretariat said the regional bond will serve as a substitute for the member nations and not a replacement for the COMESA RCTG bond which is currently being used. “We became aware of the shortcomings of the COMESA RCTG bond and have developed a cheaper and more efficient solution for the business community in order to guarantee that bond issuers in each of the EAC partner states have access to a larger pool of liquidity in a single market,” he noted. The EAC regional bond intends to reduce the costs of bonds, guarantees, and collaterals charged by sureties, as well as the costs of bonds and guarantees charged by insurance and customs clearing agents. This is in addition to the reduction of delays at border posts, the simplification of the clearing process, the provision of business opportunities to all citizens of member states, and the minimization of revenue leakages. The system will also be interfaced with the National Customs System to provide a timely update on transit entry declarations. In his remarks, Abel Kagumire, Commissioner of...

Mathuki: Somalia could join EAC this month

East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General Peter Mathuki says Somalia could be admitted to the bloc this month. An Ordinary Heads of State Summit is scheduled for November 23-24 in Arusha, and the region’s presidents are expected to endorse Somalia’s accession. Dr Mathuki told a panel at the Africa Investment Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 9 that the bloc is looking to expand to the entire Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia having expressed interest in joining it after Mogadishu. “The East African Community is one of the building blocks of the African Union and it’s fast growing. We have DR Congo as the latest member, plus Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. That is a market of around 300 million people. And this November, we are likely to admit Somalia into the Community. The coastline of the East African Community will stretch almost 500,000 kilometres. And we look forward to more expansion; we are looking at Ethiopia, which has shown interest in joining the Community. So, at the end of the day, we are looking at a market of close to 700 million people,” he said. The panel comprising leaders of African economic blocs, EAC, Comesa, Southern African Development Community and Ecowas, was discussing the quest to integrate Africa. Dr Mathuki said the EAC is people-centred and emphasised the role of the private sector in driving intra-regional trade and integration. He said intra-EAC trade had grown twofold in the past decade, from less than 10 percent to...

ACFTA: Leveraging continental integration for food security objectives

Africa is the most food insecure continent in the world despite its huge agricultural potential. In 2021, about a fifth of the continent’s population faced hunger. Furthermore, AU’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Biennial Review report (2019-2021) reveals that the continent is not on track to meet its goal of ending hunger by 2025. With its ballooning population, which is expected to constitute 25% of the world population by 2050, Africa’s food demand is expected to soar by 60% in 2030 compared to 2015 according to a World Bank report. Factors accounting food insecurity on the continent are diverse and multifaceted. As a region, it is the worst affected by long term shifts in temperature and weather patterns caused by climate change and global warming. Climate change continues to have a catastrophic impact on agriculture; the backbone of the continent’s economy. Recent external factors that led to food supply chain disruptions and, consequently grave food security challenges for the continent, have created an imperative for intra-African trade to meet its current and future food security objectives. The COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on food prices and by extension food security. This has all been aggravated by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war that disrupted the supply of key commodities such as wheat and fertilizer; a critical agro input. Indeed, sharp price increases of bread, a staple food in many African countries triggered unrest as witnessed in instances such as Sudan. All these factors have exposed the fragilities of Africa’s food...

Uganda, East Africa traders hopeful as global shocks ease

Uganda’s economic indicators spell better conditions for the private sector and business compared to other countries in the region, according to an expert study, the Africa Trade Barometer (ATB). Uganda’s overall macroeconomic conditions are “average with a slight positive outlook relative to the other countries in the Stanbic Bank Africa Trade Barometer.” “As such, Uganda’s macroeconomic conditions have a moderate to positive impact (neither too positive nor too negative) on its overall tradability attractiveness,” says the just-issued report, courtesy of the Standard Bank Group. The favorable conditions cited include the economy and the growing foreign direct investments (FDI) net inflows, which have been recovering from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a relatively low inflation rate, compared to other countries covered by the ATB. While these factors have had a positive impact on the country’s tradability attractiveness, there are other variables that have had a negative impact, according to the report. These include merchandise trade, which still forms a relatively small portion of Uganda’s GDP and thereby signals a low level of trade openness as well as a low share of exports as a percentage of GDP. It adds that although businesses in Uganda are optimistic about the future performance of their economy, Uganda’s business confidence score of 57 remains slightly below the average of 58 for SB ATB markets. The positive outlook adopted by Ugandan businesses arises from the expected positive economic growth rate that is relatively higher than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. The weaknesses of...

High costs of air travel in Africa stifle tourism

The high cost of air travel in Africa has been described as a barrier to tourism. Travellers within the continent not only pay higher ticket prices but also more tax to board a commercial aircraft. This emerged at the just-ended World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) global summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Speakers at the high-profile event—heads of state, business executives, and travel experts—said intra-Africa air travel remains prohibitive. “It is often cheaper to fly to another continent than to another African country,” they said as the meeting drew to a close. They cited an air ticket between Berlin in Germany and Istanbul costing a mere $150 for a direct flight taking less than three hours. Flying a similar distance between Kinshasa and Lagos in Nigeria would cost between $500 and $850, with the trip taking up to 20 hours. On the other hand, the cost of a flight from Entebbe in Uganda to the Kenyan port of Mombasa (916km) will cost up to $200. This is roughly eight times the cost of flying the same distance in Europe. There are also reports that a flight from Kampala to Arusha costs a staggering $480. Yet one can fly from Washington to Dallas (both in the vast US) using only $180, with a longer distance compared to Entebbe-Arusha. “This makes doing business within Africa incredibly difficult and expensive,” said Kamil al Awadhi,the regional vice president for Africa and the Middle East of the International Air Traffic Association (Iata). An assistant professor of...

Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Secures $15.5 Billion Investment Interest: Africa’s Economic Potential Highlighted

The Abidjan-Lagos highway corridor, a crucial infrastructure project in West Africa, has secured a substantial $15.5 billion in investment interest, as revealed by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, at the 2023 Africa Investment Forum (AIF) Market Days in Marrakech, Morocco. This corridor is anticipated to boost regional integration, sustainable economic development, and augment trade opportunities across West Africa. Unleashing Africa’s Potential Adesina emphasized the potential of African economies, citing a real GDP growth of 3.8% in 2022, surpassing the global average. He also highlighted the promising prospects for African economies, with five of the six pre-pandemic top-performing African countries projected to be among the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies for 2023–2024. Moreover, Adesina underscored the significance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which represents a consolidated market size of $3.4 trillion, and he encouraged investors to recognize Africa’s potential. Africa’s Role in the Electric Vehicle Market Adesina discussed the burgeoning opportunity in the electric vehicle market, emphasizing Africa’s pivotal role as a significant source of green metals essential for electric vehicle development. He pointed out that Africa’s resource wealth is key to the future of electric vehicles, with the electric vehicle value chain projected to increase from $7 trillion to $57 trillion by 2050. Agricultural Sector and SAPZs Beyond infrastructure and economic developments, Adesina addressed the agricultural sector, stressing the importance of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in Africa. He highlighted the immense potential of Africa’s food and agriculture market, projected to reach $1 trillion...