With an estimated volume of trade between countries in Africa currently valued at about $1 trillion every year, Executive Vice President, African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Amr Kamel, says there were prospects for growth if identified barriers were removed.
 
Mr Kamel who is in charge of Business Development and Corporate Banking, was speaking on Friday at the opening of the AFREXIMBANK Annual Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance (ACDICOG) Forum in Casablanca, Morocco.
 
He identified key constraints to intra-African trade to include dearth of strong corporate governance and due diligence practices among operators.
 
Besides, he said the problem could be attributed to over-estimation of African risks, which tend to be much bigger than the actual.
 
To ignite intra-African trade and drive economic growth, Mr Kamel emphasised the need for structures to re-establish correspondent banking facilities to boost the continent’s risk profile.
 
Concerns about limited capacity to finance and sustain trade, he noted, has resulted in the exodus of large global banks and financial institutions with capacity to finance trade in Africa.
 
To redress Africa’s trade finance needs, Mr Kamel told participants in the forum AFREXIMBANK has undertaken a number initiatives that would enable it fill the existing gap.
 
“We (AFREXIMBANK) have a number of programmes and initiatives to bring together African financial institutions, corporate entities and regulators on customer due diligence and corporate governance to learn from best practices, reposition the continent and improve its risk profile,” he said.
 
The initiatives include the African correspondent banking initiative, to expand African banks’ access to correspondent banking facilities tailored to suit their needs.
 
The initiative, he added enables participants from across the continent to deliberate on the effectiveness of current measures and to assess whether these are adequately promoting good governance and due diligence practices.
 
It provides a platform for sharing ideas and for the implementation of best practices in addition to paving the way for a collaborative approach to de-risking issues affecting Africa.
 
The theme for this year’s forum was “Developing Capabilities to Minimise Negative Perception about Correspondent Banking in Africa: Enhancing Compliance, Governance and Financial Inclusion”.
 
 
Source: Premium Times

Taxify, a European-based rival to Uber and the leading app-based taxi-hailing platform in Africa, expects to grow its African business ten-fold over the next two years while it works to dethrone Uber in Europe, its chief executive told Reuters.

Markus Villig said his firm, which has 15 million customers and half a million drivers on its platform in more than 25 countries, was on track for its drivers to rake a combined 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from rides this year.

The Estonian firm is looking to add more services and more countries in 2019, he said during this week’s Web Summit conference in Lisbon, without disclosing details. Taxify opened in Lisbon earlier this year.

“We see massive potential in Africa to grow at least ten times in the next two years,” Villig said. “We grew our number of rides ten times in 2017 and will be one of the fastest growing companies in the industry this year as well.”

In May, Taxify secured $175 million in funding from a group led by German automaker Daimler to help its battle against Uber.

As for Europe, where Taxify has sought to capitalise on mounting driver resistance to Uber over pay and other issues to get into new markets, including some abandoned by Uber such as Slovakia and Hungary, Villig is aiming to overtake Uber in both the number of users and rides.

“When you look at other regions in the world you have a local champion win in that place. We want to be that leader in Europe, that’s our focus,” he said.

San Francisco-based Uber is active in more than 80 countries and is the market leader in Europe. It takes around a 25-percent cut of fares from drivers using its app.

Taxify typically charges a 15 percent commission, arguing happier drivers provide a better service.

The company has been working with European regulators to try to amend strict public transport laws and rules, saying consumers benefit from the flexibility and competition brought by taxi-hailing platforms.

To increase flexibility, Taxify is working on different solutions for different types of trips, such as using smaller vehicles for city centres.

An attempt to enter the highly competitive London market ground to a halt last year when transport regulators there denied it a licence to operate. But Villig said the application was “in progress, and we’re working with Transport for London to show that we’re best-in-breed”.

- Reuters

Global markets fall once again on Tuesday after brief two-day relief rally.
A "poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues" is to blame for the risk-off sentiment gripping investors.
Losses are led by Asia, which has seen virtually all major indexes drop more than 2% on Tuesday.
Europe is following suit, with Germany's DAX down more than 1.2%. US futures are also pointing to substantial losses.
The JSE fell almost 2%.
You can follow the latest developments in global markets at Markets Insider.
Global markets slumped once again on Tuesday as the continent's two-day-long relief rally came to an abrupt end, thanks to a cocktail of negative drivers.
 
All major Asian indexes lost ground during Tuesday's session, with the FTSE China A50 the biggest casualty, down more than 3%. Other mainland Chinese indexes lost more than 2%, with the Shanghai and Shenzhen Composite indexes both down around 2.2%.
 
Losses were not contained to China, however, with Japan's Nikkei losing 2.7%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping close to 3% after a sharp fall into the close.
 
There was no single catalyst for the losses, with growing geopolitical tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West over the death of journalist Jamal Khashosggi, resurfaced fears about President Trump's trade war, and generally waning confidence in the Chinese economy all partially to blame.
 
"Big swings in the Chinese markets continued, with the previous two-day rally moving sharply into reverse. After mulling over Chinese stimulus plans the market is seeing these stimulus measures as cushioning a fall rather than boosting the economy," Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group said in a morning briefing.
 
"It was all too much for the markets on Tuesday. The poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues led to one of those opens as nuance-less as it was red," Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex added.
 
Fears abound that the sell-off in China could get worse as a wave of forced share selling kicks in for Chinese companies who use their shares as colleteral for loans.
 
According to Bloomberg, about 4.18 trillion yuan (R8.7 trillion) worth of shares have been put up by company founders and other major investors as collateral for loans, accounting for about 11% of the country's stock market capitalization, based on calculations using China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation data.
 
The South China Morning Post, citing a report by Tianfeng Securities, said earlier in the week tha tmore than 600 company stocks have fallen to levels where forced sales may kick in.
 
"It's a vicious cycle: share drops lead to liquidation and liquidation leads to further share drops," Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management told the South China Morning Post last week.
 
The JSE's all share index was down 1.7% by midday, but the rand was marginally stronger at R14.35/$.
 
Naspers, down 3% to R2,725.58, and Nedcor, which lost 3.7% to R225.03 were some of the worst hit among large companies. 
 
Gold stocks are booming again, with Sibanye up 11% to R11.64. Nervous investors are buying gold, which jumped a percent to $1,234/oz this morning.
 
European stocks have also witnessed losses in the first hour of trading, although not as severe as those in Asia. By midday, Germany's DAX has dropped 1.2%, while the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index is around 0.7% lower. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index is down 0.8%.
 
"Sentiment continues to take a hit from a combination of geopolitical tensions including the growing isolation of Saudi Arabia, Italy's defiant stance towards the ECB and Brexit," Lawler said.
 
US futures are also pointing to big losses when markets open stateside, with the Nasdaq pointing to an opening loss of 1.1%, while both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones look to fall around 0.9%
 
 
Source: Bloomberg news
The total value of bilateral trade between Nigeria and European Union Member States stood at £25.3 billion, an equivalence of about N8.9 trillion, in 2017.
 
The Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union (EU) to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Richard Young, disclosed this while addressing newsmen at the 7th EU-Nigerian Business Forum on Thursday in Lagos.
 
Young said the EU Delegation, EU member States and European companies active in Nigeria have established a European Business Organisation (EBO) aimed at strengthening the relationship with EU companies in Nigeria.
 
He said the organisation would represent the voice of European companies across various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
 
“The EBO Nigeria will also ensure a high-level policy dialogue with Nigerian authorities and organised private with the objective of improving the business and investment and fostering business and trade relations between the EU and Nigeria,” Young said.
 
The envoy noted that EU has also launched an External Investment Plan (EIP) to encourage investment in partner countries, including Nigeria, adding that the plan would strengthen its partnerships by promoting inclusive growth, job creation and also tackle some of the root causes of irregular job migration.
 
According to him, “The EIP is a new approach to supporting sustainable development through investment. It will improve the way in which scare public funds are used and how public authorities and private investors cooperate on investment projects.
 
“Through a new guarantee mechanism, the EIP will increase private investment in higher risk environments, facilitate private sector investments that otherwise would not be available.”
 
 
Source: The Ripples
The African continent is said to be losing over $80 billion to illicit financial flows every year, according to South Africa’s former President, Thabo Mbeki.
 
The loss represents an increase of about $30 billion in 2018 from $50 billion which the former South African leader had said the continent was losing in 2015.
 
Mbeki, who is the Chairman of African Union, made the disclosure while presenting a report of the union’s high-level panel on illicit financial flows during a two-day meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
 
The meeting which had in attendance leaders of African Union member countries was to review the progress made so far in the fight against the scourge.
 
He decried the growing level of illicit financial outflows from the continent, noting that the practice could impede Africa’s development.
 
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, pointed out that 40 percent of the total illicit funds in the continent come from the oil & gas, multi-national corporations, and banking and financial services sector of the Nigerian economy.
 
Fowler explained that the funds also refer to taxes to the government defaulted by companies and individuals, and repatriated finances from one country into other Africa nations.
 
Also speaking, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said Nigeria was deploying a number of strategies to address the ugly trend, stressing that government agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have been strengthened through the approach.
 
He also mentioned that the Federal Government’s strategies include the whistle-blowing policy, Bank Verification Number (BVN), and Integrated Personnel and Personal System (IPPS) which has helped by leveraging the use of technology to compute payment of salaries.
 
 
Source: The Ripples

Australia is seeking to join China, UK and Europe in the race to increase business footprints in Africa.

The country’s new position is aided by a new look foreign policy that emphasises partnerships with mutual benefits.

Australia recently held an Africa Week in Perth, where it announced that it will push for mining, trade, education and cultural exchanges and technological advancement programmes in the coming years.

With the USA, UK, China and India all making huge financial offers for projects, Australia is touting joint ventures.

To begin with, it intends to share its technology with African countries that have mineral resources.

The mining sector, it is argued, holds the key for important technological developments; for instance renewable energy, battery storage and communication technologies all rely on a robust mining sector to provide the raw materials.

“We are hoping to create greater economic and social opportunities for African countries, and the people living in them.

These opportunities can be made easier and more accessible through the increased access to technology that the world is creating,” said Western Australia’s mineral minister Bill Johnson.

 

Source: East African News

President Donald Trump's obsession with building walls has apparently gone global. 
 
Trump recently suggested to the Spanish government it should build a wall in the Sahara desert to address the migration crisis, according to Spain's foreign minister Josep Borrell. 
 
Spain has experienced a surge in migration, particularly over the past year as thousands of people attempt to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. 
 
The European country has seen over 30,000 migrants and refugees arrive by sea so far in 2018, making Spain the top destination for migrants arriving via the Mediterranean. Moroccans represent the largest single nationality arriving in Spain, but people are coming from other countries in Africa as well.
 
Nearly 2,000 people have died attempting to make the journey across the sea to Europe in 2018 so far. 
 
Trump famously called for a wall to be built along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration to the US during his 2016 presidential campaign, and now apparently feels it can help Europe as well. 
 
When Spanish diplomats told Trump building a wall across the Sahara desert would be no easy feat the president said, "The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico," according to Borrell. 
 
The Sahara desert is roughly 5,000km long. Comparatively, the US-Mexico border spans roughly 3,200km. 
 
Beyond the sheer size of the Sahara, the other challenge to building such a wall is the fact Spain would need permission to do so from the African countries the massive desert stretches across. 
 
Borrell spoke of Trump's Sahara wall suggestion at a lunch in Madrid this week, but did not clarify when the president made these remarks. But The Guardian reports it could've been when the Spanish foreign minister accompanied King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the White House in June.
 
When asked for more details on Borrell's comments, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry told The Guardian, "We can confirm that’s what the minister said, but we won’t be making any further comment on the minister’s remarks."
 
It seems Trump struggles to avoid discussing his desired border wall in almost any context, and on Tuesday said a recent visit to a 9/11 memorial in Pennsylvania gave him more inspiration for his vision. 
 
"They built this gorgeous wall where the plane went down in Pennsylvania. Shanksville. And I was there. I made the speech. And it’s sort of beautiful, what they did is incredible," Trump told Hill.TV in an interview on Tuesday. "They have a series of walls, I’m saying, 'It’s like perfect.' So, so, we are pushing very hard."
 
Trump's plan for a border wall along the US-Mexico border has encountered many obstacles in US Congress. The president has repeatedly claimed that construction on the wall is underway, but this is inaccurate. 
 
 
Tribune...
UN says Africa is the worst hit region with climate change resulting to the biggest impact on acute food insecurity and women are more vulnerable.
 
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) made this known in the 2018 global report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition released on Tuesday in Rome and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
 
The report was jointly signed by five head of UN agencies.
 
They are José da Silva, Director-General, FAO, Gilbert Houngbo, President International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF and David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP).
 
The report said that climate change had affected 59 million people in 24 countries and requiring urgent humanitarian action.
 
It identified the effects of climate variability on rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods, as the key drivers of the rise in hunger, conflict and economic slowdowns.
 
The UN agencies noted that changes in climate were already undermining production of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions.
 
It said that without building climate resilience, the situation was expected to worsen as temperatures increased and became more extreme.
 
The report showed that the prevalence and number of undernourished people tended to be higher in countries highly exposed to climate extremes.
 
It said that undernourishment was higher again when exposure to climate extremes was compounded by a high proportion of the population depending on agricultural systems that were highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability.
 
It said that the rising of temperatures, the late or early start of rainy seasons and the unequal distribution of rainfall within a season were affecting food production.
 
“Other effects include food price hikes and losses in poor farmers’ incomes.
 
“Temperature anomalies over agricultural cropping areas continued to be higher than the long-term mean throughout 2011 to 2016, leading to more frequent spells of extreme heat in the last five years.
 
“The nature of rainfall seasons is also changing, such as the late or early start of rainy seasons and the unequal distribution of rainfall within a season,’’ it said.
 
It indicated that harm to agricultural production contributed to shortfalls in food availability, with knock-on effects causing food price hikes and income losses that reduce people’s access to food.
 
The UN report noted that women worldwide were especially vulnerable to the impact of climate extremes, particularly in countries where even a semblance of gender parity remained a distance dream.
 
The report said that the adverse effect of climate change was being felt in many areas that included agriculture, food security, biodiversity and ecosystems, water resources and human health amongst others.
 
It noted that in many of these contexts, women were more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, primarily as they constituted the majority of the world’s poor and were more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources threatened by climate change.
 
“Women faced social, economic and political barriers that limited their coping capacity.
 
“Women and men in rural areas in developing countries are especially vulnerable when they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood,’’ it said.
 
The UN report stressed that to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it was imperative to accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes.
 
Source: Business Insider
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has proven to be productive and effective in boosting China-Africa cooperation, a Chinese special envoy said.
 
Zhou Yuxiao, China’s ambassador for FOCAC affairs, said this in an interview with Xinhua prior to the FOCAC Beijing Summit in September, expressing his confidence in the event’s success.
 
Zhou said FOCAC has grown into a dynamic mechanism with rich content and tangible results, following the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice, and shared interests.
 
“China neither imposes its own will on others nor seeks its sphere of influence,” said Zhou.
 
“The concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits’ is upheld when China cooperates with African countries.”
 
FOCAC was founded in 2000 and its membership had grown to have China, 53 African countries having diplomatic relations with China, and the African Union Commission as of June 2018, according to the FOCAC website.
 
Under the FOCAC framework, there are regular consultations at ministerial and senior-official levels, and between the Chinese Follow-up Committee and the African Diplomatic Corps in China.
 
Sub-forums on business, youth, health and poverty reduction, and many others, have also been set up.
 
FOCAC has held two summits gathering leaders of China and African countries, one in Beijing in 2006 and another in Johannesburg in 2015.
 
“FOCAC is not for idle words, but a platform to unleash real actions,” said Zhou.
 
The veteran diplomat, who spent years in Africa and served as the Chinese ambassadors to Liberia and Zambia, said he had witnessed the development of FOCAC over the years.
 
It began with small steps, with a focus on aid, trade, debt relief, personnel training but gradually grew to a comprehensive platform that covers industrialization, agricultural modernization, financing, green development, people-to-people exchanges, and security.
 
Zhou said FOCAC has won wide support from African countries for its efficient enforcement means, clear time-bound action plans, and an effective evaluation system.
 
He also attributed the mechanism’s effectiveness to the adequate funding.
 
For example, Zhou said, China pledged financing support amounting to 60 billion U.S. dollars to implement the ten cooperation plans announced at the 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg.
 
Projects can also be funded by the Silk Road Fund or the BRICS New Development Bank.
 
Meanwhile, the Chinese government encourages trustworthy and competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.
 
Both China’s ability to “walk the walk” and African countries’ active collaboration are key to the success of FOCAC, Zhou said.
 
“That is why FOCAC has earned wide recognition from African countries as well as the international community, and expectations are high for the upcoming summit,” said Zhou.
 
The summit is scheduled for Sept. 3 to Sept. 4 in Beijing. Priorities and key directions for China-Africa cooperation in the next three years will be announced.
 
A key aspect to watch, Zhou said, will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans.
 
With the “twin engines” of the BRI and FOCAC, China-Africa cooperation is poised to move forward more steadily, faster and further.
 
“I’m confident that the summit will be a complete success,” said Zhou.
 
 
Vanguard..

In 138 BC China took its first step towards global connectivity with the establishment of the historical Silk Road. Zhang Qian was sent by Emperor Wudi to Central Asia to establish trade relationships. His historic missions enabled China to make contact with the outposts of Hellenic civilisation established by Alexander the Great.

These efforts enabled Emperor’s Han dynasty to develop political and trade relationships with Central Asian countries. New ideas came to China, along with new plants like grapes and alfalfa and superior breeds of horses.

Centuries later, China is building a very different, very modern version of that route. The Belt and Road Initiative consists of two complementary, concurrent plans. One is an overland route connecting Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia to China. The second is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to connect China, South East and South Asia with Africa.

The Belt and Road Initiative will connect at least 65 countries, most of them developing economies. The routes will cover 63% of the world’s population and 29% of global GDP.

Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his commitment to the project during the 10th BRICS Summit held in South Africa in late July 2018. He said it would “create new opportunities of social and economic development for participating countries.”

On the face of it, the Belt and Road Initiative looks set to change a number of economic, social and strategic landscapes. But it’s essential that whatever the project produces is perceived as benefiting everyone involved – China as well as the country’s affected.

Some projects which are already underway, particularly in Africa, offer insights into how the initiative might unfold and what its benefits and pitfalls could be. These projects also suggest that China has learned from previous infrastructure investments on the continent some decades ago.

Already connecting Africa

The African leg of the Belt and Road Initiative is work in progress. China says it will hold ongoing discussions with various countries and make decisions based on consensus as well as the economic, social and political feasibility of individual projects. Some of the countries poised to benefit most include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Egypt.

This will cement China’s role as Africa’s main trading partner, a space it’s occupied since overtaking the US in 2009. Between 2010 and 2015, China’s foreign direct investment on the continent grew by 21.7% – and it’s still rising.

It’s important to point out that the Belt and Road Initiative will not be starting entirely from scratch. China has already provided significant help in improving connectivity and developing infrastructure in countries set to benefit from the initiative.

For example, China supported the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway. It’s the first transboundary and longest electrified railway line in Africa. The Export-Import Bank of China provided commercial loans that funded 85% of Ethiopia’s and 70% of Djibouti’s contributions. And the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation also owns 10% of Djibouti’s portion.

The 759 kilometre long railway, which connects landlocked Ethiopia to the maritime trade routes of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, started carrying passengers in late 2016.

China is also responsible for constructing the Madaraka Express which connects the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital city Nairobi, a distance of 489 km. This railway is being extended to Naivasha in Kenya’s northwest. There are plans to extend it even further so that it eventually interconnects Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and, much later, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The new railway has already reduced transportation time between Kenya’s two most important cities and, crucially for trade, reduced the cost of transporting a container between the two cities by half.

Next steps for the initiative

The success and effectiveness of the Belt and Road Initiative will depend on many factors. These include national and regional geopolitics and the long-term economic benefits of various projects in beneficiary countries.

It will also be important that non-Chinese companies, both public and private, are able to compete successfully for a significant portion of the construction pie. And China’s economic rivals should not be excluded from bidding for and winning work.

But tension is inevitable, as has already been seen in South Asia.

China is working to complete a 6 kilometre bridge over the river Padma in Bangladesh for which it is providing over USD$3 billion loan. China is investing some USD$31 billion in other projects in Bangladesh. It also plans to spend some USD$60 billion on construction of ports, railways, roads and power plants in Pakistan.

These activities and similar infrastructure developments in other countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have unsettled India, which is questioning China’s real intentions in the region.

The Conversation

The world will be watching as the Belt and Road Initiative unfolds – and all the players will hope the benefits outweigh the costs and are sustainable in the long term.

Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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