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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.

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 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

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.

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/

“It is so good to be back home, after having been away for too long.”

Those were the first words of Moroccan King Mohamed VI in a speech at the 28th African Union (AU) Summit Tuesday. The speech came after a vast majority of the AU’s member states voted Monday to readmit Morocco to the continental bloc after a 33-year absence.

As the Moroccan king addressed the chamber in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, it felt like a defining moment, according to Liesl Louw-Vaudran, an analyst at the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa. “I’ve been following the AU for 20 years and I never thought I would see King Mohamed walk in and make a speech, it was quite historic,” she said from Addis Ababa.

But why has the North African country decided that, after a three-decade absence, it needs to rejoin the AU? After all, the collective is often criticized for bureaucracy and failing to resolve crises on the continent. Take Burundi, as an example: the AU has been largely toothless in dealing with a civil conflict that broke out in April 2015, which has killed more than 400 people. It backed off from sending in a peacekeeping force after Burundi expressed its dissatisfaction.

According to analysts, two key benefits stick out in Morocco’s reintegration in the AU: the opportunity for greater trade with African countries, many of which are growing much faster than European states; and a potential means of resolving the continent’s last remaining colonial dispute— the status of Western Sahara, a territory Morocco claims as its own but that an independence movement says deserves autonomy.

On the economic front, Morocco’s links with the rest of Africa are growing but still make up a small percentage of the country’s overall trade. The European Union is Morocco’s biggest trading partner, constituting 55.7 percent of its trade in 2015, with near neighbor Spain and former colonial power France being the biggest beneficiaries. Morocco has also been unable to benefit from intra-African trade regions to the same extent as other countries. It is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), a five-country trade agreement with Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia. But the AMU has made little progress in boosting trade on account of recurring disputes between Algeria and Morocco—including on Western Sahara, since Algeria supports its independence—and has not held a meeting since 2008.

Mohamed indicated in his speech that this was something he wanted to change, and that he has already been hard at work. The monarch said that Morocco had signed almost 1,000 agreements and treaties with various African countries since 2000, while he had made 46 visits to 25 countries on the continent in the same period. Moroccan banks have expanded throughout Africa, with a presence in more than 20 countries, and the country’s state-run airline Royal Air Maroc is one of Africa’s biggest airlines, with Casablanca used as a transit point for many sub-Saharan Africans traveling across the continent.

“Morocco has opened a number of interesting diplomatic and commercial interests with their nearest African neighbors,” says Claire Spencer, a senior research fellow and North Africa expert at international affairs think tank Chatham House. “It’s logical that if their sub-regional development [in the Maghreb] is not going to happen that this should take place within the African Union.”

The Western Sahara dispute was the reason why Morocco left the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in the first place. A desert area roughly the size of Colorado, Western Sahara has been at the center of a dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front, an organization representing the indigenous Sahrawi people, since the 1970s. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975 after Spanish colonizers withdrew, prompting the Polisario Front to launch a guerrilla struggle that continued until 1991, when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire. An estimated 90,000 people are living in refugee camps near the Algerian desert town of Tindouf, according to the U.N., as a result of the conflict.

Morocco left the OAU in 1984 when a majority of members voted to recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, as the Polisario Front calls the territory. In Monday’s vote, several countries—including Algeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe—reportedly wanted to make Morocco’s readmission to the AU contingent on it recognizing Western Sahara’s borders. But a top Western Sahara official, Sidi Mohammed, told the BBC that it welcomed Morocco’s readmission, calling it “a chance to work together” on organizing a long-promised referendum on the territory’s status.

According to Louw-Vaudran, however, Morocco’s re-entry to the AU could simply offer the North African state an air of “legitimacy” in seeking its desired solution in Western Sahara. Morocco has offered limited autonomy to the territory, but is unwilling to counsel full independence.

“Morocco wants to work from the independence to get Western Sahara expelled from the AU and once and for all lay to rest the whole issue of Western Sahara and its claims to independence,” says Louw-Vaudran. “I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks that total independence for Western Sahara is still on the cards.”

In a veiled nod to the controversial issue, Mohamed said in his speech that he was aware some AU member states were suspicious of its intentions. “We have absolutely no intention of causing division, as some would like to insinuate,” he said. Time will tell whether that proves to be the case...Read More

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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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