AfDB and AUC sign USD9.73-million grant agreement to drive digital market development in Africa
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have signed a grant agreement to implement Phase 1 of the Upstream Project for Digital Market Development in Africa. The signing ceremony took place on 17 November at the AUC Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AfDB’s Board of Directors approved the grant of 7 million Units of Account (USD9.73-million) in September this year. The project supports the AUC’s implementation of digital economy projects to enhance a continental single digital market. It also supports the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa. The project comes as the backdrop of the COVID-19-induced recession that exposed several gaps in the African digital economy ecosystem. Phase 1 runs from 2023 to 2026, and will focus on three main components, namely: digital enablers; digital trade and e-commerce adoption; and support actions. Specifically, the project will help strengthen the frameworks (strategic, policy, regulatory and conceptual) and cross-cutting (gender, climate change and resilience) dimensions for the development of Africa’s digital economy.
ATEX, a boost for intra-Africa trade
African countries should use the innovative Africa Exchange Trade Platform (ATEX) and boost digital trade in critical commodities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). ATEX is a digital business-to-business and business-to-government exchange platform developed by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union (AU) Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat. “ATEX will certainly avail access to essential commodities at affordable prices to African countries that look set to be hit the hardest by the global food price crisis with severe implications on economic and political stability,” Ms Hanan Morsy, deputy executive secretary (DES) and chief economist of the ECA said at the presentation of ATEX on the sidelines of the 27th Session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Opening the discussion session on Finance for climate resilient trade and Africa Trade Exchange ATEX: Pathways toward a Greener Africa, DES Morsy emphasised that the ATEX platform was an opportunity for African countries to collaborate in boosting commodity trade as a response to the multiple challenges of climate, fertiliser and food crisis.
Combatting cybercrime at the fore of debriefing session on Africa Cyber Surge Operation
A debriefing session, following the Africa Cyber Surge Operation organised in Kigali, Rwanda from 18 July to 5 August 2022, was held in Mauritius from 22 to 24 November 2022. The event is an initiative of INTERPOL and the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), set with the objective of promoting cross-fertilisation of ideas and sharing of best practices on cybercrimes. Participants from 28 countries, including Kenya, Eritrea, Ghana and The Gambia, attended the session. In his address, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Hemant Jangi highlighted that the Africa Cyber Surge was a multi-national cybercrime suppression operation focused on identifying cybercriminals and their network infrastructure, and was aimed at supporting member countries as well as law enforcement agencies in combatting cybercrime. Ms Jacqueline Lange, assistant director, INTERPOL, noted that cases of cybercrime were expected to increase in the next three to five years, adding that it was essential to develop and create a united front in the face of these challenges.
Source: Government of Mauritius
Joint AfCFTA Implementation Support Project announces progress update
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation Support Project, a joint project established and funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Trade Development Fund (TDFD), have announced a number of project milestones and the execution of key activities to support the operationalisation of the AfCFTA in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. In January and February 2022, consultations were held between ECA, EIF, ITFC, TDFD, and the beneficiary countries to prepare the joint project’s terms of reference and the implementation schedule of key activities. In the first phase of the project, which runs until June 2023, the approved activities call for the implementation of 30 in-country workshops and the development of studies, which are organised into three major categories to support the operationalisation of the AfCFTA, namely: capacity building and sensitisation on the AfCFTA; development of information tools on the AfCFTA; and development of policy instruments to support AfCFTA implementation.
Source: African Business
Kenya, Rwanda among 15 states in new single air transport market
After minimal progress since its launch in January 2018, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) appeared to reach a decision recently with 15 of the 35 signatory states launching a cluster to pilot the scheme in real life. The announcement is a major boost to the proposed joint airline by Kenya Airways and South African Airways, which will have immediate and unlimited access to key markets on the continent as both countries will be participating in the trial runs. It is also a signature achievement for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has been working behind the scenes to get SAATM off the ground in 2023. Dubbed the SAATM Pilot Implementation Project, the landmark decision – which bands together some of Africa’s more significant air transport markets – was announced on 14 November by the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC). Meeting in Dakar, Senegal, to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision, ministers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Zambia, agreed to launch SAATM flights between their territories.
Source: The EastAfrican
Government introduces new mobile phone tax collection system
The Cameroonian government announced the introduction of a new system for mobile phone tax collection. According to the 2023 finance draft law consulted by Business in Cameroon, taxes on mobile phones and electronic devices will no longer be collected via a dedicated digital platform or be deducted from users’ airtime. This approach, validated in the 2019 Finance Act, was strongly criticised, forcing President Paul Biya to suspend it. Now, it is required that operators “configure their systems in such a way as to block any connection to the network not listed by customs, excluding those used temporarily by tourists and visitors on a short stay in Cameroon,” Business in Cameroon has learned. Details of the process have not yet been revealed. Mobile operators will use a database of cleared phones made available by customs or its agent. To register their phones in the customs database, importers of mobile phones and other electronic devices are required to declare them when crossing the borders and to pay the customs duties and taxes due. As an incentive, the government offers a 50% deduction of the taxable value of the devices.
Source: Business in Cameroon
Côte d’Ivoire / Ghana
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana note progress in making buyers pay cocoa premiums
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the world’s two largest cocoa producers, have noted “efforts” by some manufacturers to better pay producers, after giving them an ultimatum earlier this month. In a joint statement, the national cocoa management bodies of the two countries, as well as the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (CIGCI), created to guarantee a minimum income to farmers, “noted the efforts made by some companies and their willingness to find solutions together for a sustainable production of cocoa that places producers at the heart of this strategy”. They “encourage all manufacturers to take action and show that they sincerely believe in sustainable cocoa production”. For several weeks, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana reproached the chocolate manufacturers for not paying the decent income differential (DRD), a premium of USD400 (approximately EUR390) per tonne, introduced in 2019 to ensure a decent income for farmers. They had given the industry until 20 November to meet their commitments. But, the producer countries announced to continue discussions and the establishment of “a working group of experts” who will provide recommendations by the end of the first quarter of 2023 to find sustainable solutions.
Afreximbank outlines USD3-billion country programme for Kenya
Kenya is set to benefit from a USD3-billion country programme from African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). This was announced during a meeting between Kenya’s President, Dr William Ruto, and Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, president and chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank. During the meeting held at State House Nairobi, Professor Oramah said the bank was excited by the opportunity to roll out this package of financing as part of its efforts to support Kenya as it navigates the current unprecedented global economic challenges. “We had a very good meeting with President Ruto and agreed that we needed to reset the relationship between Afreximbank and Kenya,” said Professor Oramah. “President Ruto’s vision and sense of urgency was infectious and we could not help but give him the support he deserves.” Speaking at the meeting, President Ruto said the engagement was fruitful and would enable Kenya to interact more with one of Africa’s leading development finance institutions. “This will allow us to expand our engagement with Afreximbank on several investment areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, commercial irrigation, housing, the creative industry and the [micro-small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME)] ecosystem,” noted President Ruto.
Bill sets up KRA tax dragnet for four million cryptocurrency users
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will go after more than four million Kenyans who own cryptocurrencies if Members of Parliament (MPs) approve changes to the law aimed at regulating and taxing the fast-growing digital currency trade. The Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks to introduce taxation of the crypto exchanges and digital wallets and imposes transaction taxes akin to excise duty charged on bank transactions. Banks deduct 20% excise duty on all commissions and fees charged on transactions. Kenyans will pay the KRA capital gains for the increased market value of the crypto when they sell or use the digital currencies in a transaction if the Bill is approved. Those who have made trading in cryptocurrencies a business are likely to be liable for income tax on their earnings. “Where the digital currency is held for a period not exceeding 12 months, the laws relating to income tax shall apply or for a period exceeding 12 months, the laws relating to capital gains tax shall apply,” the Bill, sponsored by Mosop MP Abraham Kirwa, says. This would mark the first time Kenya will bring cryptocurrencies mainstream and extend regulation to the dealings in digital currencies.
Kenya / Ethiopia
Kenya taps first dispatch of Ethiopia power import
Kenya recently injected the first dispatch of cheaper hydropower imported from Ethiopia into the national grid, rolling out the plan that is expected to aid a reduction in power bills for businesses and households. The 25-year power import deal with Ethiopia will see Kenya Power take up a maximum capacity of 200 megawatts (MW) in the first three years, rising to 400 MW for the remaining period. Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) director general Daniel Kiptoo said Kenya Power recently took up 75 MW, with additional capacity to be injected following the official commissioning of the import plan. Kenya is buying the Ethiopian power at 6.50 United States cents per kilowatt hour (KWh), which is significantly lower than the tariffs charged by independent power producers (IPPs). The lower tariff is expected to improve the ability of Kenya Power to offer lower retail prices to consumers.
British oil company bp is eyeing the green hydrogen market
The British oil company bp has signed an agreement with the Mauritanian authorities to explore the country’s potential to produce green hydrogen. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 27th Session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which closed on 18 November 2022. The British oil company bp wants to diversify its activities. In addition to exploiting fossil fuels, the group plans to invest in the emerging green hydrogen industry and its derivatives in Mauritania. Present in Sharm El-Sheikh for COP27, the group’s senior executives signed an agreement with the Mauritanian authorities to explore the possibility of investment in Mauritania. Under the agreement, the London-based oil company plans studies to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of producing green hydrogen in Mauritania. “Initially, bp will conduct a data collection campaign with studies assessing the suitability of wind and solar resources in selected sites for large-scale renewable energy production and green hydrogen production,” bp said. The British oil company joins two other investors in the country.
Source: AFRIK 21
First-ever financial industry cybersecurity council launched
The country’s first-ever Financial Industry Cybersecurity Council was officially launched by the Bank of Namibia and the financial industry. The council’s purpose is to provide a productive forum for the banking and non-banking financial sector to foster conversations and develop tactical strategies to combat cyber fraud within the industry. The council’s objectives include examining problems such as data leaks, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security and phishing and helping ensure that issues around cybersecurity within the financial industry receive the necessary priority from all players. It will further improve the maturity levels of cybersecurity within the institutions, and the financial sector as a whole by enabling leaders in information security to share knowledge within and across firms. According to the central bank, the council is also entrusted with ensuring efficiency in cyber-risk management as institutions can leverage from one another. The council will convene meetings of experts for a structured dialogue on cutting-edge issues and devise appropriate strategies to mitigate sector-wide threats and vulnerabilities.
Source: Namibia Economist
Namibia launches the AfCFTA national strategy in an effort to promote continental trade
The Namibian government in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations System in Namibia officially launched Namibia’s National Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the period 2022-2027. The agreement provides an opportunity for Namibia to increase its intra-African exports and enhance the country’s export-led manufacturing and services capabilities. The Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Lucia Iipumbu, during her keynote address, reminded participants of the progress that Namibia has made since the adoption of the AfCFTA Agreement on 21 March 2018, during the 18th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda. Executive director for the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, Mr Sikongo Haihambo noted the overall objective of the launch of the Implementation Strategy was to make it publicly available for implementation by stakeholders, particularly the private sector and members of the business community, to actively get involved and take advantage of the opportunities provided by AfCFTA.
Tanzania / South Korea
Tanzania, South Korea startups ink partnership deal
The Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) and the Korean Startup Forum (KSF) have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to foster collaborations between the two parties. The agreement was signed in South Korea and witnessed by Tanzanian Ambassador Mr Togolani Mavura, the association said in a statement. TSA CEO Zahoro Muhaji, said the agreement aims at formulating and strengthening synergies, strategies, and programmes with a focus on propagating investment opportunities and the development of startups in the two countries. “This kind of collaboration with the KSF will pave the way to foreign direct investment, technological and knowledge transfer, and create a space for Tanzanian startups to learn, grow, and find market opportunities for their products and services in South Korea,” said Mr Muhaji. Mr Mavura noted that the MoU is an impetus for bringing business to Tanzania through the official development aid (ODA) propagated by the South Korean government to Tanzania. “Tanzania and Korea have had good relations for 30 years, and Tanzania is a strategic country for Korea. The signing of the MoU is a good start in bringing business to Tanzania through the ODA,” the envoy said.
Source: The Citizen