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By Serge P. Diop

The African business community has continued to present the unified voice of business by putting in place the framework establishing the African Technical Business Advisory Committee (ATBAC) to push for the implementation of the Action Plan for boosting intra African trade, and fast tracking of the CFTA. At a meeting organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) in Accra, Ghana,  on 12th and 13th of September 2017, business leaders and executives from Morocco to Ethiopia, Nigeria to Namibia, business leaders from 38 African countries agreed to establish an independent Advisory Committee, which will comprise the various private sector interests, such as the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, regional business councils, industry associations, women entrepreneurs and services to play an advisory role to the African Union policy organs, namely the Conference Trade Ministers and the High Level African Trade Committee comprising of Heads of States from the countries that are chairing the Regional Economic Communities.

 

The two day meeting, under the theme: The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)- Exploring Possibilities for Business Engagement across Africa, took stock of the current situation regarding the Continental Free Trade negotiations and the role of the private sector in advancing the CFTA. In his opening speech, Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Ghana, stressed the need for involving the private sector in the CFTA process. “The potential of trade and private sector development has not been fully realized by virtue of the peculiarities of most African countries, including MSMEs and weak purchasing power. Engaging the private sector in the policy-making process at the national, sub-regional levels and continental remains pertinent”.

 

“I salute the organizers of this meeting: the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), but also the backers of this Conference, notably, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa/Africa Trade Policy Center and the African Union Commission for associating the private sector to this effort” said Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso, President of PACCI and GCCI. “We all know that the role of the private sector in the CFTA negotiations has been modest. We hope such meetings will help stimulate the process of private sector engagement at the national, regional and international levels on issues of trade policy”, he said.

 

With just three months before the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement targeted for December 2017, we are starting to enter a new phase. The PACCI is seeing businesses across the continent play a significant role in the process of economic integration.

 

In this regard there is a need to coordinate the participation of the private sector and establish a formal structure for its engagement in the framework of the CFTA negotiations. Insufficient and disorganized private sector engagement may lead to protracted chaos and rejection of the agreement by businesses. PACCI has, therefore, an important role to play in leading private sector participation and engagement, in identifying business challenges and solutions to build a lasting business-oriented collaboration and accelerate the implementation of the agreement once negotiated. The African Technical Business Advisory Committee which will play the role assigned to the entity referred to as African Business Council in the CFTA structure, will comprise the private sector, industry associations and the wider community at the regional and national levels to ensure an inclusive and participatory approach to the integration process.

 

In this regard AU Commissioner Mr. Albert M. Muchanga noted “as we create this harmonized, attractive, large and growing market, your end of the bargain as the private sector is to give us quality, affordable and safe products and services that will facilitate increased intra-African trade.” He further called upon the private sector to work together in realizing the objectives of the Continental Free Area for the progress of Africa and to help in the lobbying of the legal text of the CFTA to be ratified with minimum delay by respective governments.

Dr. David Luke Program coordinator at the UNECA/ATPC stated this conference will stimulate the exchange of information between businesses, governments and international organizations in helping the private sector play active role in regional integration and trade initiatives. “Governments don’t trade, it is business enterprises that trade with each other. This is why at African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) we believe that the private sector must play a significant role in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the CFTA” . He stressed the need for the private sector to engage with policy makers at the national level.

 

“If anything today, we have spoken for ourselves. We have echoed that the CFTA legal texts are more than political and will require the attention of processes at grassroots level. For example, if we see the dispute resolution measures being discussed at continental level, they seem to be too political when in reality they should deal with the day to day business processes. Now, this deliberation has come up with sound recommendations, which in the opinion of business, are exactly things we want to see considered in the negotiation of CFTA” said Mr. Karl Chokotho, Managing Director, CMA CGM from Malawi and representative and member of COMESA business council.

 

The 2017 Africa Prosperity Conference confirmed that business has made significant progress in presenting a united business voice by reaffirming the role of PACCI as the continent's umbrella body for the business community and by tasking it to act as the Secretariat of the ATBAC to jumpstart its implementation. 

 

The team working on Employment for Stability project held its last workshop on July 5th, 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to share the most recent results produced by the multidisciplinary research team. The objective was to share lessons and discuss the results of the research with policy makers, academics, researchers, UN and international organizations’ experts and private sector stakeholders. It was hoped that the substance of these discussions would be used to inform the development of the final report. A total of 31 people attended the half-day workshop.

The workshop program, prepared and presented by the researchers, included 3 presentations of 15–30 minutes duration, which described the evidence from six African countries on the relationship between economic opportunity and stability, the case of Rwanda as an example, and the potential roles for strategic engagement nationally, regionally and internationally to improve both development and stability.

The two day consultative meeting of the ‘Enabling Cross Border Trade – ways chambers of commerce can lobby in support of the single window’ ended in Addis Ababa on Tuesday May 23, 2017 with an urgent emphasis on the need to carefully planned and executed preparatory work by African governments to greatly improve the probability of success of single window system. Further efforts to Governments suite in preparing to Single Window products should take into consideration Single Window Interoperability to facilitate interconnectivity and interoperability with national (or regional) Single Windows, participants pointed out in their recommendations following the two days of consultation.

The meeting was organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Trade Policy Center (UNECA/ATPC) at the United Nations Conference Center on the 22-23 May, 2017.

The weekly Capital’s CFTA.now 5+1 questions is pleased to present to you Africa’s top business promoters. This week’s guest is Mr. Solomon Afework, the President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, and the 1st Vice President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2014. Mr. Solomon talks with Mahlet Yebeka from the CFTA.NOW, about the big picture vision of business in Africa, and the role of PACCI in helping to shape trade and investment in Africa.

The entry into force of World Trade Organization trade facilitation agreement, which seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, launches a new phase for trade facilitation reforms all over the world and creates a significant boost for commerce and the multilateral trading system as a whole.

In line with this the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Trade Policy Center is organizing a consultation meeting entitled ‘Enabling Cross Border Trade - Ways Chambers of Commerce can lobby in Support of the Single Window Meeting’ to update business on the progress made in implementing the Trade Single Window system across the continent and to contribute ideas to help shape the future of import/export processes and formalities in Africa.

The Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, announced this yesterday after the conclusion of the Federal Executive Council meeting at which the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, presided.

He said the construction work would gulp $38 million ,while $1.9 million would be spent on consultancy service

The minister explained: "This was done under the African Development Bank procurement guidelines.

"We presented a memo to construct the Cameroun-Nigeria border link bridge at Ikot Efiem, under the African Development Bank support for improving relationship between Cameroun and Nigeria post the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgement over Bakassi

 

Read more at http://allafrica.com/stories/201702230039.html

A type of charcoal made from eucalyptus trees could provide the solution to South Africa's polluted water.

A University of Stellenbosch academic is developing a low-cost, low-tech water purification system with the charcoal, which will remove organic compounds from waste water in urban areas, the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security said on Monday.

The charcoal, called biochar, could remove organic, some inorganic, and microbiological contaminants from water.

Professor Gunnar Sigge and collaborators at the Universities of Venda and Pretoria developed the purification system.

Sigge and colleagues tested different types of biochar made of pine and eucalyptus to maximize the amount of pollutants removed from the water. Of the two tree species tested, eucalyptus provided the best biochar.

"This filtration method could benefit subsistence farmers. And, with further development, eucalyptus biochar could be used to remove organic pollutants from wastewaters produced by wineries and the food industry."

 

Read More at:-  http://allafrica.com/stories/201702080388.html

JOHANNESBURG and ARMONK, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) is investing $70 million (approximately ZAR 945 million) in building much-needed digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in Africa. The initiative, "IBM Digital - Nation Africa," provides a cloud-based learning platform designed to provide free skills development programs for up to 25 million African youths over five years, enabling digital competence and nurturing innovation in Africa.

French auto manufacturer, Peugeot, officially returns to Kenya to begin the assembling of its vehicles, President Uhuru Kenyatta disclosed on Saturday.

The Peugeot Group will team up with Urysia, a local agent for the brand, to assemble its vehicles in the country. This was contained in an assembly licence agreement signed by both parties at the presidency.

The president said he was happy by the momentum that Kenya was driving with respect to the motor vehicle sector. “The investment signed today by the Peugeot Group to locally assemble motor vehicles in our country at a plant which will be announced in due course is most welcome,” he said.

My government will continue to enforce the Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy to support companies and businesses that produce in Kenya. We hope to see many Peugeot cars on our roads going forward - all of them built right here in Kenya, by Kenyans, for Kenyans and the region.

Peugeot becomes the second major auto maker to open an assembly plant in the country after German car maker Volkswagen late last year opened the Thika plant to assemble vehicles locally.

The president whiles lauding the initiative also emphasized that his government will continue to enforce policies that create jobs and also protect Kenyan businesses.

“My government will continue to enforce the Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy to support companies and businesses that produce in Kenya. We hope to see many Peugeot cars on our roads going forward – all of them built right here in Kenya, by Kenyans, for Kenyans and the region,” he added.

At the same event, the government signed a $180 million agreement with the French government to build the Ruiru II Dam and water supply project, as part of a long term mutual relationship between the two countries.

Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban

Rwanda will start exporting fortified foods, next month, thanks to a new modern factory was launched.

The $45-million (about Rwf36 billion) factory is expected to produce 45,000 tonnes of fortified food annually, enough to help boost exports and prevent child malnutrition across country. Up to 60 per cent of its output is expected to be exported to regional and global markets.The Africa Improved Foods - Rwanda, based at Kigali Special Economic Zone Nyandungu, started production of fortified porridge flour .

Up to 60 per cent of its output is expected to be exported to regional and global markets.

The facility is a consortium of Royal DSM (the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences Company), the Dutch Development Bank, the DFID, the UK’s development financing institution under the Impact Acceleration Facility (managed by CDC Group Plc), and the International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank.

In 2013, Rwanda launched the ‘1000 Days’ national campaign to combat malnutrition with an aim of improving maternal and child health in the country. The campaign has been scientifically proven that the 1,000-day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive.

 

Read more at:- http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2017-02-03/207658/

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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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