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Trans-regional African trade set to pick up

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An anticipated increase in demand for goods and services within Africa has the potential to give innovative companies with turnovers of between R300-million and R1,2-billion the opportunity to expand beyond the limits of their own borders, writes Karl Gotte, head of commercial banking at Standard Bank.

Investment between Africa’s regions will also be a crucial driver of financial integration, which at the moment remains too limited.

The latest African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2016 notes banks operating in Africa account for about one-third of Africa’s total value of trade finance, estimated at USD 320 billion. However only 19% of bank trade finance is devoted to intra-African trade and this is not uniformly distributed across Africa.

The key is to be able to benefit from strong consumer demand and financial services have a crucial role to play in facilitating this development.

As the leading bank on the continent, Standard Bank will continue to play a leading role and has already been facilitating major networking events from East to West Africa to encourage cross-border collaboration, business partnerships, trade and development. We believe more “open innovation” and trusted partnerships are needed to open the doors that are needed to bring about change at the regional and Pan African levels.

We will continue to drive this growth, for example, by combining these events with our successful business incubator programmes, which gives businesses the tools and platforms they need to succeed. Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity will be the lifeblood of our regional economies in the future – and they need the financial sector to support them every step of the way.

As a bank which calls Africa home, Standard Bank has already done a lot of the “hard yards” in the past and is well positioned today to drive this growth.

While the opportunities are immense, bringing down trade costs remains a major hurdle. It is estimated for example that intra-African trade costs are around 50% higher than in East Asia, and are the highest of intra-regional costs in any developing region. The result of these high costs is that Africa has integrated with the rest of the world faster than with itself.

However, from a financing perspective, significant green shoots are taking root. Foreign direct investment into Africa has risen from about USD 10 billion in 2000 to about USD 55 billion in 2015, with investment within Africa playing a key role in this expansion – led by South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in sectors like banking, retail and telecommunications.

With the right commitment and foundations in place so many markets in Africa can become dominant players. For example, only 5% of Africa’s imported cereals come from other African countries. In Europe, by comparison trade between nations typically accounts for more than 50% of all transactions.

Africa’s total exports comprise 80% raw commodities and 20% manufacturing. In contrast, 60% of intra-Africa trade is manufactured products, against 40% for primary commodities. The AEO report rightly points out that manufacturing is a good driver of productive employment and would push Africa further up the global value chain.

By 2050, Africa’s population will rise to over 2-billion people, representing 25% of the world’s population, against 15% today. Both cities and rural areas will grow fast and their interactions will intensify and jobs will need to be created for the youth entering the labour market.

The key for businesses is to have the right processes in place to manage the disruptive nature of the all of these changes. A more agile, versatile and innovative approach will be needed to doing business.

Entrenching a pan-African mindset to business will take time – but it needs to happen. If businesses are to take full advantage of these opportunities, the region needs more companies that develop true scale.

According to McKinsey’s recent Lions on the Move report, the vast majority of Africa’s 100 top companies built growth by developing a strong position in their home market first – only 14 started with Pan-African strategies. Nearly half of the 100 major firms have remained focused on their home market even as they have grown in scale, while the rest have steadily expanded into regional or pan-African markets. Not surprisingly, almost all the companies that have remained focused on their home market are based in Africa’s biggest economies.

The points is that multinationals usually build pan-African business and the experience of multinationals demonstrates that pan-African presence takes time to develop, requiring a long-term vision and a step-by-step approach. Most of the large multinationals operating in Africa have been on the continent for more than 25 years, according to the report, and most are present in more than ten countries, and their longevity and geographic footprint are closely correlated to their revenue base.

It has been found that companies that have moved from domestic to regional strategies have used their “first mover advantage” to build scale quickly at home and then use that as the basis for moving aggressively into other markets. Yet a meaningful presence in one or more of Africa’s largest markets is an essential part of a successful pan-African growth strategy.

Despite recent shocks and challenges, Africa’s household consumption and business spending are both growing strongly, offering companies a $5,6-trillion opportunity by 2025, according to McKinsey.

While Africa’s manufacturing sector today underperforms those of other emerging economies, output could expand to nearly $1-trillion in 2025 if Africa’s manufacturers were to produce more to meet domestic demand from consumers and businesses, and work with governments to address factors hindering their ability to produce and export goods.

It is time for companies and governments, as well as the financial sector, to play a greater role in ensuring more economies can benefit from intra-African trade – the future for Africa shines very brightly if they do.

Source:IT-Online

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Africa speaks

A Global Entanglement: Involving The Displacement Of Migrants Exacerbated During Crisis

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Dr KIM LAMONT-MBAWULI

The world is experiencing unprecedented existential crisis. We living in a moment of global entanglement comprised of escalations and accelerations such as accelerated mobility both of goods, ideas and information and people. As a result COVID-19 virus resulted in a global crisis. According to Dr Eric Makoni, the traveller or globe trotter is always on the move has defined by the moment of global entanglement. Of which the intensification thereof has resulted in the escalated movement of the virus.

Unfortunately, there are skewed power relations there is easier movement for some than others. Regrettably the darker side of modernity are those that are exposed to a low socioeconomic status such as migrants. The precariat move is driven by hunger, poverty, wars, unemployment and natural disasters from one area in search of greener pastures.

According, to Boaventura de Sousa Santos the large Majority of the world’s population is not the subject of human rights. They are rather the object of human rights and discourses. On the other hand, various laws that govern mobility of the poor, have frequently resulted in their confinement and poverty. In some instances, it has rendered them permanent wanderers, refugees, and immigrants.

MIGRATION

According to Tapiwa Diamond, migration involves the movement of people from place to place either internally within one country or sometimes from country to country. Migration has an effect on human capital on both individual and household level. It is deeply embedded in rational policy calculations, entrenched political position, impassioned public debate and the subject of emotive narratives and personal stories. It is inherently political it is the human costs of conflict and perilous journeys in search of safety. There is a plethora of compelling factors that
push people to migrate, with a clear dream of something better, something more attractive, a mirage of a better and safer future. If considered carefully it means that the migrant journeys are path unknown for a better tomorrow.

FORCIBLY DISPLACED

Forced displacement (also referred to as forced migration) is the involuntary or compelled movement of people away from their home or region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines
‘forced displacement’ more narrowly as: displaced “as a consequence of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations”.

Subsequently, resulting in acquired vulnerabilities that are specific to them, including catastrophic losses of assets or trauma. It perpetuates the vicious circle wherein there is a lack of economic opportunities, and it traps them in poverty. These vulnerabilities set them apart from other poor people in the communities where they live, broad-based poverty reduction efforts may not suffice to relieve their plight and special interventions are needed. To sustain host communities, development actors should help manage the shock caused by an inflow of forcibly
displaced persons. The arrival of large numbers of people in specific locales creates both risks and opportunities. In most situations, it transforms the environment for designing and implementing poverty reduction programs. In some exceptional cases, it creates new dynamics for the entire country and national development strategies have to be adjusted accordingly. In addition to this pandemics like COVID 19 have exacerbated crisis situation for migrants

According to the IOM there are 272 million international migrants worldwide are more vulnerable than others because of personal, social, situational and structural factors. Persons displaced internally and across borders are particularly at risk.

IMPACT ON MOBILITY

With measures introduced by governments to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections, the COVID-19 pandemic is already greatly impacting mobility and migration. Travel restrictions were passed to contain the virus, including by prohibiting entry of residents from other countries, and some countries have closed their borders entirely. Labour migration has been temporarily suspended in some countries while, in others, migration processing and assistance to asylum seekers are being slowed down. These mobility restrictions and concerns over exposing refugees to
the novel Coronavirus have forced the International Organization for Migration and the United High Commissioner for Refugees to temporarily suspend refugees’ resettlement travels.

Refugees often settle into host communities which are among the poorest in their countries or in remote or border areas, where residents are already struggling to obtain jobs and adequate public services. While some migrants may be healthier than their receiving community, others have health vulnerabilities which can be due to; socioeconomic status; being in crowded or otherwise suboptimal environments; restriction to eligibility or access to services, including health services as a result of the  migration status; or cultural-linguistic barriers or access to health information.

IMPACT ON MIGRANT CHILDREN

According UNICEF analysis based on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, migrant and displaced children are among the most vulnerable populations on the globe. In 2019, around 33 million children were living outside of their country of birth, including many who were forcibly displaced across borders. At the end of 2018, a total of over 31 million children were living in forced displacement in their own country or abroad due to violence and conflict. This includes some 13 million child refugees, around 1 million asylum-seeking children, and an estimated  17 million children displaced within their own countries.

It is estimated that 3.7 million children live in refugee camps or collective centres. Further to this COVID-19 threatens to bring even more uncertainty and harm to their lives. A UNICEF study titled, “Steps Up COVID-19 Preparedness, Prevention, and Response Measures” demonstrated that almost 4 in 10 children and young people on the move do not have access to facilities to properly wash themselves in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia and the Sudan. Notwithstanding the fact that half of those respondents were aged between 14–24 years in a UNICEF poll and
self-identified as migrants and refugees and further indicated that they did not see a doctor when needed.

This has become a harsh reality for many children around the world. Children in situations like these may face the added risk of being detained by immigration authorities, potentially exposing them to violence, abuse or exploitation. Migrant and displaced children across contexts are at risk of missing out on accurate public health information, due to language barriers or simply being cut off from communication networks. Undocumented children living in foreign countries may fear contact with public authorities. Meanwhile, misinformation on the spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families face.

IMPACT ON HEALTH

The lack of or inappropriate health insurance, often coupled to insufficient financial resources, may negatively impact migrants. Undocumented migrants can find it more difficult to access care, as outside activity needs to be registered with authorities or they may be reluctant to enter medical facilities for fear of being reported if no appropriate firewalls exist regarding data sharing with the immigration and law enforcement authorities.

  • Crowded living environments may also affect the implementation of preventive measures such as social distancing.
  • This is for instance the case for undocumented migrants in administrative detention, refugees in camps or migrant workers in highly populated migrant camps.

VACCINE ROLL OUT AND MIGRANTS

COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun, and U.S. refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) populations, who are dis-proportionately affected by COVID-19, face well-known barriers to vaccination. If not addressed, these barriers likely will result in a lost opportunity to save lives. The recent report from the National Academies Press, Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine (Framework), offers specific and helpful recommendations for conducting an equitable vaccine campaign, although implementation thereof remains.

Migrants in SA particularly undocumented are concerned about not being vaccinate. The vaccine is being rolled out to health workers. What’s required when you receive the shot; is to show that you have got an ID. For those who are
undocumented the documentation process make it difficult to obtain a vaccination. Albeit it has been explicitly stated that all adults, regardless of their documentation will receive the vaccine– irrespective of nationality or residence status – would receive the vaccine during the roll-out because “it is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible”.

However, Migrants have said that there is a lack of clarity in terms of how the vaccine roll out will be undertaken because of the systemic Xenophobia or uneasiness when providing health care to non-citizens. In a recent study, published in Plos one, in December on healthcare providers and migrants accessing medical services in Gauteng, respondents/Participants in the study reported that they had witnessed discrimination and differential treatment when it came to migrants.

In Conclusion

In this age of global entanglement, Covid has made us realise inter alia the following;

1) we are not invincible.

2) we need each other as human beings.

3) we need to respect the natural environment all the people in it.

4) when fully understand the spirit of Ubuntu and solidarity that another world is possible – and it must be realised.

This new world must be predicated on common humanity, respect of the spirit-world, respect for the (non-human world), and the centering of knowledge’s marginalised by global capitalism. After all, there is only one earth
that we all live in.

 

A U T H O R  S H O R T  B I O

Dr Kim Lamont-Mbawuli is the CEO of Simanye Clinic, Head of Litigation at Ebi Okeng Attorneys Inc, Chief Legal Officer at Alternative Energy and Chairperson for Pan African Network for Investment and Development. During the period between 2007 to 2012 she completed her Honours in Human Biology, MSc in Medicine (Med) and PhD (Med). In 2015, she completed an MPhil in Intellectual Property Law. In 2019 she graduated with her LLB at Unisa, she completed her Practical legal training with LEAD and was Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. She is an Attorney at Law/General Practitioner.

 

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Open Letter to President Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden © The U.S WhiteHouse 

The Legacy Premier Foundation joins the rest of the world in saluting and congratulating you and the amiable Vice President – Madam Kamala Harris, on your outstanding triumph in being elected the 46th President and Vice President of the United State of America. It was an all-round resounding victory that showcased your fruitful political career over the years. It was also incredible to know about your magnanimity in clinching the presidential seat. How beautiful It is to see one who gives so much get rewarded! You are an icon as you have consistently expressed your genuine thoughts, and the electorate has regarded this honorary virtue.

Reiterating the words of Fashina, et al.(2018), their study revealed evidence of a long relationship among economic growth, foreign aid, human capital and other growth determinants namely; real domestic investment, foreign direct investment and trade openness. It is also evident in the study that among other factors considered responsible for economic growth, foreign direct investment and trade openness appeared the most viable for explaining growth attainment in Nigeria as there were more statistically significant factors. On this account, we would trust that you will keep on offering the truly necessary help; support and aid for Africa-oriented programs. Currently, we need a great deal of help in the advancement of Africa development.

Going down memory lane, since the escalation of World War II, there has been a significant development in Africa’s general foreign exchange. The development contrasts well to that of other continents, for example, Latin America. The estimation of imports, notwithstanding, has exceeded exports bringing about an unfavourable lopsided exchange for most African nations. One way to overturn this is through foreign aid and grants.

Over the years, there has been a huge surge in African commodities by and large, and this can be credited to the increment in the demand for essential commodities during World War II and in the prompt post-war refurbishment period. Thus, the fulfilment of independence by most African nations, particularly in the mid-1960s was trailed by an offer for economic development that is fortified by the export-expansion drive.

Another wholesome reason for the rather slow growth in African exports is the perseverance of the present circumstance that has been essential for the explanation of the economies of numerous African countries.

To salvage this, the African Union has launched the operational phase of the Africa Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA), which could become the world’s largest trade area, going by number of participating nations, once it’s fully operational. Nigeria is on the verge of developing a national AfCFTA strategy. In Nigeria today, we have the road, maritime and air transport options well utilised, but the railways would have an edge over the others when the trading bloc starts operations because of its relatively lower costs. Nigeria therefore is positioning itself to take very good advantage of these policies to come.

After years of talks, the end goal is to determine one marketplace for goods and services across the 54 African countries, allowing the free movement of business travelers and investments, and making a continental union to streamline trade; which thereby attracts long-term investment.

There is also the “African Growth and Opportunity Act,” (AGOA) which has been the foundation of U.S. monetary commitment in the last twenty years, with the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa and has assisted with expanding two-path exchange between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa.

AGOA builds on existing US trade programs by expanding the (duty-free) benefits previously available only under the country’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program. Duty-free access to the U.S. market under the combined AGOA/GSP program stands at approximately 6,500 product tariff lines, including the tariff lines that were added by the AGOA legislation. Notably, these newly added “AGOA products” include items such as apparel and footwear, wine, certain motor vehicle components, a variety of agricultural products, chemicals, steel and many others.

In conclusion, we see that the agreement will expire by 2025, but we want to see to it that this applaudable act is extended further to help bolster economic development in the whole of the Africa continent.

For this, we humbly request for aids and policies targeted towards trade openness, laxity on stringent policies against migration and support on democratic practice that will enhance human capital and socioeconomic development on the continent. We also offer you our wholehearted partnership in your future works, and we expect your tenure achievement to be all-encompassing and all-reaching.

This wouldn’t just imbue more credibility to your governance, it will be a far-reaching policy towards igniting hope in the heart of the African populace.

We look forward to meaningful collaborations through our organization, Legacy Premier Foundation – a global intergenerational non-profit organization committed to empowering and developing underserved communities through human capital and socio-economic empowerment.

We remain open to a meet and greet opportunity with your team.

God bless the President
God Bless Madam Vice President
God bless the United States of America

Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Legacy Premier Foundation Management

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What’s Happening To Democracy In Africa?

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Yoweri Museveni and Bobi Wine (Source: PML Daily)

Nobody was genuinely surprised that Uganda’s Electoral Commission declared the incumbent, 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) the winner of the country’s violent Presidential ballot. It was a forgone conclusion. The victory is Museveni’s sixth since fighting his way to power in 1986. Although his 35-year rule has been extended, this time around the desperate groans for change were felt across the entire world.

African leaders have a long history of using violence and fear against political opponents. At the time of writing, Bobi Wine, Uganda’s 38-year-old musician turned formidable political opponent, is under house arrest. Wine insists that the election was rigged against him and his life is under threat. Many of his supporters and close political allies have been tortured and detained by the country’s security forces. After his arrest in November at least 54 people died following protests. This is taking place all under the watchful gaze of the media, the United Nations and the African Union. At one point Museveni ordered the shutdown of the internet. 

2021 will be a busy political season for the African continent with more than 13 countries heading to the polls to elect new leaders. The invasion of the Capitol and the legacy of President Donald Trump is proof that Africa can no longer look outside of its borders for positive influence. Constitutional change, fair elections, independent courts and free media is fundamental if Africa is to truly govern itself. Without these basic pillars of a democracy, civil war is the inevitable outcome.

Somalia 

Presidential Election
February 8th 

Incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will face former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The threat of political violence still lingers as the tensions among key parties remain high and electoral preparations are lagging.

Niger

Presidential Election
February 21st 

Former prime minister Mohammed Bazoum of the ruling party will go head-to-head with former president Mahamane Ousmane. Niger is attempting its first peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence from France 60 years ago.

Republic of Congo

Presidential Election
March 21st 

The President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is one of the world’s longest-serving leaders is seeking a fourth term. His challengers include Mathias Dzon, who is the former Minister of Finance between 1997-2002 and Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas, who came second in the highly contested 2016 presidential election that Sassou Nguesso won. Congo is an oil-rich but impoverished country. It is in the grip of a deep economic crisis, triggered by the slump in oil prices but worsened by long-standing debt and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cabo Verde

Legislative Election, March
Presidential Election, October

President Jorge Carlos Fonseca is stepping down in 2021 following the conclusion of his second and constitutionally limited five-year term.

Chad

Presidential Election, April 1
Legislative Election, October 24

President Idriss Déby is seeking his sixth term in office, having previously overseen the removal of term limits in 2005 and then their restoration in 2018—though they are not to be applied retroactively. The 68-year-old former military leader came to power in 1990 following the toppling of the despotic Hissan Habré. 

Djibouti

Presidential Election, April

Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the small but strategically vital country of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, announced in late December he would be running for a fifth term in presidential elections this April.

Benin

Presidential Election, April 11

Benin will hold its presidential election on April 11, 2021, the country’s election commission announced Tuesday. The first round of the election will take place on April 11 in the West African nation, the Independent Election Commission said in a statement. A second round will be held on May 9 if none of the candidates passed the 50% threshold, the commission added. Although current President Patrice Talon said that when he was elected for the first time in 2016, he would remain in the government for only one term, his candidacy for a second term is seen as almost certain.

Ethiopia

Parliamentary Elections, June 5

Ethiopia will hold a parliamentary election on June 5 as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeks to quell political and ethnic violence in several regions. Abiy’s Prosperity Party, a pan-Ethiopian movement he founded a year ago, faces challenges from increasingly strident ethnically based parties seeking more power for their regions. Africa’s second most populous nation has a federal system with 10 regional governments, many of which have boundary disputes with neighbouring areas or face low-level unrest.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Presidential Election, July 31

President Evaristo Carvalho is seeking his second 5-year term in presidential elections in July. Carvalho was previously prime minister, president of the national assembly, and minister of defence. São Tomé and Príncipe enjoys a competitive multiparty democracy and a history of peaceful transfer of power between parties. The 2021 elections are expected to be freely contested and transparent.

Zambia

Presidential and Legislative Elections, August 12

Presidential elections will be held in August 2021. The election will be the sixth (and, he says, last) attempt by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development to win the presidency. Hichilema was the business-friendly candidate in 2016 who campaigned on fixing the then struggling economy.

The Gambia

Presidential Election, December 4

The Gambia’s upcoming elections will be the first since Yahya Jammeh lost power in 2017. President Adama Barrow’s first term has largely been about rebuilding after more than 20 years of Jammeh’s rule. This mammoth task requires reforming every sector of the country, not least of which the economy and the security sector and finding avenues for the country’s youthful population. 

Libya

Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, December 24

In November 2020, Libyan politicians convened by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to sketch out a plan to reunify the country agreed that Libya would have elections on December 24, 2021—the 70th anniversary of Libyan independence in 1951.

By: Juliana Olayinka (Broadcast Journalist)

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