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It is refreshing to see that South Africa has finally articulated its resolve through approving the agreement for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The country will continue to champion the socio-economic transformation of Africa.

On 6 December 2018, the South African Parliament assured the 54-member states of the African Union that it is committed to promoting intra-African trade which will be based on equal partnerships and mutual opportunities. The country becomes one of the recent African states to ratify the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The country’s position on the continent is perceived to be one of leadership through its economic dominance, thus the approval by Parliament of the transcontinental free trade area agreement will inspire countries which are part of its trade regimes (such as the Southern African Customs Union and Southern African Development Community countries) to ratify the agreement. At present, SADC countries such as Seychelles have already begun domestic consultations with key stakeholders such as the private sector on the agreement.

To date, 49 countries out of 55 have signed the agreement for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. And 18 countries out of the 49 have either deposited their instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission chairperson or have had parliamentary approval and will deposit their instruments in 2019. The 15 countries are as follows, according to regional or geographic representation (not Regional Economic Communities membership representation):

Southern Africa: (1) eSwatini*, (2) Namibia, (3) South Africa*, (4) the Democratic Republic of Congo,

East Africa: (5) Djibouti, (6) Kenya*, (7) Rwanda*, and (8) Uganda*,

West Africa: (9) Cote D’Ivoire, (10) Ghana*, (11) Guinea, (12) Mali, (13) Mauritania; (14) Senegal, (15) Sierra Leone; (16) Togo;

Central Africa: (17) Chad* and (18) Niger*

North Africa: None has ratified, and only some are signatories of, the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

(*Denotes countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission chairperson.)

For the African Continental Free Trade Area to be implemented 22 ratifications are required, and the African Union Commission is optimistic that this will be attained by March. The achievement of above 80% turnout in the first year of signing ratifications signifies an important milestone towards realising the objective of creating one African market.

Despite a plethora of scholarly literature on the potential benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area, it is too early to evaluate whether the agreement will be feasible or if it offers the economic prospects the African Union Commission claims it will yield considering the current transcontinental infrastructural position. Worthy of note is that, at present, there is a “basket” of several multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements in sub-Saharan Africa, which have lowered trade tariffs among countries and regions. However, due to overlapping membership, some of these agreements are not yielding the envisioned economic and trade-related-outcomes.

Overlapping membership refers to countries having membership in two or more regional trade agreements with concurrent goals of trade and economic liberalisation. This a prevalent phenomenon in Africa, which is affecting the implementation of rules of origin, which are legal mechanisms that regional trade agreements articulate to enhance intra-regional trade agreement trade. The African Continental Free Trade Area “contains a rendezvous clause in which the state parties undertake to continue negotiations in the outstanding areas”.

There is an incorporated schedule for negotiations on tariffs, rules of origins and the priority services sectors, which are yet to be agreed upon and approved by member states. It appears that for the foreseeable future, the regional economic communities will continue to implement their own regional agendas.

 

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Academics, NGOs, governments and diverse businesses are trying to stem food loss in sub-Saharan Africa, while creating conditions for farmers to make a decent living.

Annual food losses for fruits and vegetables are an estimated 40 to 50 percent.

These losses have devastating ripples through rural communities. In addition to causing low farmer incomes, it is a major reason why hunger, malnourishment and broader economic poverty are endemic in rural Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest concentration of poor people in the world, most of them agriculture-dependent populations living in rural areas.

Yet, despite these sobering statistics, relatively little has been done to curb post-harvest food losses in Africa in recent decades. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 95 percent of agricultural research investments in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 30 years have been directed to increasing productivity, with only five percent aimed at reducing food losses.

“For too long, food losses have been a blind spot in the development agenda,” says Toby Peters, an expert on food cooling technologies and Professor in the Cold Economy at the UK-based Birmingham Energy Institute.

But slowly, momentum is shifting. Advances in affordable off-grid cold storage technologies, combined with new initiatives to help rural farmers pool their resources, are creating ripe opportunities to reshape Africa’s rural food systems and cut food losses. Academics, NGOs, governments and diverse businesses — ranging from corporate giants like Coca-Cola to startups like InspiraFarms and Twiga Foods — are all jumping in.

Two-Step Effort

It is a two-step effort. The first step is helping rural farmers gain access to cooling technologies — many running on solar power. The second is helping farmers use scale — by pooling and cooling their crops — to gain critical leverage in deciding when and to whom they sell their goods.

 

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Venue: The Hyatt Regency Hotel Addis Ababa

Date : February 1st, 2019

 

We made it!

Greetings to you. We cordially invite you to our business meeting on February 01, 2019 which is organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This meeting is a “must attend” for business managers who want to keep up to date on the latest business developments in Africa.

The conference will include, but not limited to: Introduction to new marketing opportunities in Africa, and expert-led discussions. This will help you scale into the untapped potential into Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, Algeria and many more. You will be informed as how to properly do business in these countries, thus helping you grow financially. You will be given the chance to learn how to properly venture into business areas of your choice.

By attending this meeting, you will also keep up to date on the latest status of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
A more detailed information note will be circulated at a later date. Please send and inquiry to attend to Mrs. Gelila Abebe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the email title: AfCFTA Conference Addis Ababa to confirm your participation and she will send you the registration form. 

Limited slots available. We welcome your participation and look forward to having you join for this important date.

With Regards,

Kebour Ghenna,
Executive Director PACCI.

 

We made it!

When McKinsey surveyed the top 30 African economies in 2011, they found 25 were experiencing "accelerated growth." In the most recent survey of the same countries, the figure was just 13. Rather than the continental powerhouses, it is the mid-sized economies such as Ethiopia and Ivory Coast that offer the greatest promise.

Leke picks out Ivory Coast as a model of stable progress, having recorded steady growth since emerging from a civil war and financial crisis around the turn of the decade. He cites high levels of government investment and infrastructure development in partnership with Chinese firms as key factors in the country's performance, and suggests that "huge investor interest" from the private sector can keep the economy buoyant. The coming years should see growth become more inclusive with progress in sectors such as health and education.

Source: By Kieron Monks, CNN
image: A model of the new Olympic stadium under construction in Ebimpe, ahead of the 2021 African Cup of Nations (CAN)

Rural electrification remains one of the continent's major challenges, with around 600 million people in Africa still unconnected. But one of the continent's most encouraging technology stories is that entrepreneurs and start-ups are stepping into the breach.

Kenya-based company M-Kopa's home solar energy kits have already connected an estimated 600,000 households, financed by mobile money, and that figure is likely to soar in the coming year with heavyweight investors supporting the venture. The company expects to pass $100 million a year annual revenue in the coming years.

M-Kopa's success is being followed up by Uganda-based Fenix, which had sold 140,000 solar kits by 2017, and BBOXX which distributes kits in 10 African countries. New start-ups are rapidly proliferating to fill the space.

These initiatives have created jobs and stimulated economic activity in rural areas. But their true power lies in "opening a whole university of opportunity" for marginalised people, says Leke. From allowing children to do their homework at night to the new possibilities of the Internet, off-grid energy could go a long way to releasing potential across the continent.

source: By Kieron Monks, CNN

Image: East Africa’s First Utility-Scale Solar Field Boosts Rwanda’s Electric Generation Capacity by Six Percent

Progress in the pharmaceutical industry is associated with multiplier benefits such as technology advances and improved health indicators. From a low base, pharmaceutical companies in Africa could see rapid gains in the coming years. McKinsey estimates the sector could be worth $65 billion by 2020 -- triple its value in 2013.

To realize such gains will require a more easily-navigable regulatory system, scaled-up production infrastructure, and shrewd specialization. Not all African countries have the resources to deliver in the sector but McKinsey suggests that regional hubs in more advanced economies such as Nigeria and Kenya could be "viable if carefully executed." Local production could lower the cost and improve the quality of medical drugs, as well as aiding the development of high-value skills and technology.

By Kieron Monks, CNN

"Africa's Business Revolution" projects the value of manufacturing across the continent will double to $1 trillion by 2025, and create up to 14 million jobs in the same period. This should ensure greater self-sufficiency as well as a healthier trade balance with a shift towards exports.

Leke points out that in some cases falling commodity prices have forced governments to embrace diversification of their economies, breeding long term resilience. Nigeria's oil price crash led to greater emphasis on manufacturing which should lead to scaled-up exports in the coming years.

McKinsey research suggests the greatest gains are to be made through advanced manufacturing, citing Morocco's burgeoning car industry as an example. Ethiopia's industrial parks are also delivering strong returns and could be profitably imitated elsewhere. Developing partnerships with Chinese firms, drawing on their resources and expertise, will be a major asset for African manufacturers in the coming years.

Source: By Kieron Monks, CNN

Image: Factory employees work on a car assembly line at the Renault-Nissan Tanger Car Assembly Plant in Melloussa, east of the port city of Tangiers on March 12, 2018.

While the European Union is under strain from resurgent nationalism within member states, African countries are choosing closer alignment. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will create one of the world's largest free trade blocs, with 44 countries now signed up. Of the major economies, only Nigeria has abstained, and Leke believes that position is likely to change in the near future.

Progress on the deal will be supplemented by the easing of travel restrictions between African nations. McKinsey research shows 21 of the 54 states now allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all African nationalities -- up from just three in 1983 -- which has led to increases in business and tourism visits. Rwanda and Mauritius are among the leading beneficiaries.

Leke cites ongoing progress with business-friendly reforms as a cause for optimism in the coming years, with faster processing times for permits and registrations and reduced tariffs becoming continent-wide trends. Four African nations feature among the World Bank's top 10 most improved for ease of doing business. With unprecedented numbers of major businesses in Africa seeking to expand and diversify in multiple countries, Leke believes it is imperative that barriers are further lowered -- and that governments recognize this too.

source: By Kieron Monks, CNN

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The Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 2009 by 35 founding national business chambers to influence government policy and create a better operating environment for business.

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