Current Trade News

African currencies have lost ground against the US dollar this year, further driving inflation in the import-reliant region. Depleting dollar reserves have left policymakers with limited options to arrest the decline.

Sub-Saharan African currencies are on a downward spiral against the US dollar this year, spelling trouble for citizens and businesses alike.

"We are unable to buy the same amount of goods we used to buy, our capital and trade volumes have drastically fallen pushing our businesses towards bankruptcy," said Joseph Obeng, president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).

Interest rate hikes in the US — which is driving away investors in pursuit of higher returns toward US assets — and weak demand for African exports amid global recession worries have been dragging down African currencies.

Local citizens are decrying higher prices of imported goods leading to high costs of living while importers are complaining about their inability to source enough goods due to the decline in the value of their local currencies.

When currencies weaken against the greenback, imports become expensive as they are mostly denominated in US dollars.

"We are unable to make profits since our customers no longer have the purchasing power to patronize our businesses," Obeng said.

Why are African currencies losing value?

Although the question is simple, there are no easy answers. A mix of both internal and external issues has been behind the continuous decline in African currencies. Most African economies have been unable to recover fully from the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.       

"Basically, a stronger dollar can lead to capital outflows as investors seek to get better risk-adjusted returns on their investments and they would get that back in the US. As capital flows out of a country, local interest rates will rise and that's just to maintain parity," Stephen Akpakwu, head of sovereign advisory at Crossboundary Africa, told DW.

Many Sub-Saharan countries depend on a narrow range of commodities for foreign exchange. This means that when global demand for those goods falls, the value of their currencies drops too due to a drop in foreign income.

The global economic slowdown due to the Russian war in Ukraine has resulted in lower demand for African exports, thereby hurting foreign exchange earnings and pulling down local currencies. The war has also partly driven up import costs for food and fuel, further depleting the foreign exchange reserves in the region.

Fiscal deficits — the shortfall in a government's total income compared with its expenditure — have also been partly blamed for causing higher demand for dollars. About half of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had deficits exceeding 5% of gross domestic product last year, putting pressure on their exchange rates, the International Monetary Fund said.

The Nigerian naira is the biggest loser, falling more than 70% against the dollar this year, primarily after Nigeria's central bank removed trading restrictions on the official currency market. 

What are the consequences for African economies?

With more than two-thirds of imports in most Sub-Saharan African countries priced in dollars, the region is highly sensitive to a strengthening dollar.

"A 1 percentage point increase in the rate of depreciation against the US dollar leads, on average, to an increase in inflation of 0.22 percentage points within the first year in the region," the IMF said in a blog in May. "There is also evidence that inflationary pressures do not come down quickly when local currencies strengthen against the US dollar."

With 60% of external debt in US dollars in Sub-Saharan African countries, declining currencies are making it more costly to service those loans.

''You have a real issue with debt. So, your external debts in terms of the nominal service cost will go up if your local currency depreciates. It would actually cost you a lot more to service the debts that you currently have," Akpakwu said.

What are governments doing to address the situation?

Different governments have taken different measures to prop up their currencies. Some governments have resorted to implementing tighter monetary policies, including hiking interest rates. Many central banks have also tried to boost their currencies by pumping in dollars from their reserves in the local foreign exchange market, but with their reserves depleting fast, they are left with limited options.  

In Kenya, the government is aiming to collect more revenue by raising taxes to address budget deficits and cut down on borrowings in dollars.

In Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu announced an end to the country's multiple exchange rate system which was used to artificially keep the naira strong. As a result, in June, the central bank lifted trading restrictions on the official market, driving down the naira to a record low. 

Ethiopia has opted for more stringent measures such as imposing bans on foreign currency transactions by local businesses.

Akpakwu says governments can still do more by prioritizing local currency financing to insulate themselves against exposure to increased exchange rates. He further adds that governments must diversify their manufacturing abilities to avoid an overreliance on commodity exports by introducing industrial policies that drive growth in different sectors.


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has called for the removal of trade barriers on the East African nation's border with Malawi to boost trade between the two countries, the presidency said late Friday.

A statement by the Directorate of Presidential Communications said Hassan made the call at the end of her three-day state visit to Malawi on Friday. "People between the two countries should do business along the border without barriers," said Hassan.

The statement, signed by Zuhura Yunus, director of Presidential Communications, said Hassan and Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera tasked ministers responsible for trade to work out the elimination of existing trade barriers.

The statement said Hassan commended Malawi for starting to teach the Kiswahili language in schools, saying the language stood a better chance of uniting Africa.

According to the statement, during her visit, Hassan witnessed the signing of agreements on information and communications technology between the two countries.


The South African government has made strides in the development of a policy for the hemp and cannabis sector. The reforms are looking to unlock the potential of cannabis in African traditional medicine, pharmaceutical and complementary medicines, human and animal ingestion, and multiple industrial applications, the presidency has said.
This comes after many African states that prosecuted citizens for cannabis-related offences for years, are now promoting legal cannabis production. Over the past five years, 10 countries have passed laws to legalize production for medical and scientific purposes. These include Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, eSwatini, Rwanda and Morocco.
However, according to The Conversation, there are still policy and practical concerns requiring attention if the cannabis sector reforms are to have a positive impact on the economy and citizens' livelihoods. These include the need to ensure participation of ordinary producers in the legal cannabis sector. This is because the emerging regulation frameworks seem to favor corporate businesses over smallholder farmers.
The limited scope of legal production, the high license fees and business set-up costs and other conditions are likely to limit participation of many smallholder producers who lack the resources to establish legal cannabis businesses.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened a workshop to share knowledge on issues connecting water, energy and food (WEF Nexus) and how these are affected by climate change, and the resultant impacts on communities in Southern Africa.

The workshop was convened in Gaborone, Botswana, from 28th to 29th June 2023 under the framework of the European Union (EU)-funded Intra African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), which is being implemented in the Region by the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) and Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA), on behalf of SADC. These regional organisations focus on country-level implementation of WEF Nexus demonstration projects targeting communities that are vulnerable to climate change to develop hands-on capacity in the implementation of

GWPSA and the SADC Secretariat are assisting Botswana to implement a climate-resilient Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) pilot project in the Metsimotlhabe River Catchment through the GCCA+ Programme. GCCA+ aims to increase the capabilities of SADC Member States and countries in the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and have their voices better heard in international climate change negotiations. The GCCA+ supports the achievements of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030, Africa Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The objective of the workshop was to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences, as well as to enhance capacity in the WEF Nexus and IWRM. On the sidelines of the workshop, participants visited one of the GCCA+ pilot sites in Metsimothlabe, which implemented a solar powered drip irrigation system and a hydroponics system for high value horticultural production to supplement the livelihoods of the local communities.

Ms. Sibongile Mavimbela, Senior Programme Officer, SADC Secretariat, said the regional body is happy to see participants sharing experiences and best practices gained through the implementation of various pilot and demonstration projects under the GCCA+ Programme.

In her opening remarks, Dr Kene Dick, the Deputy Director in the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Ministry of Lands and Water Affairs, said Botswana is considered one of the most vulnerable countries, and that its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAP) indicate that climate investments should prioritise water, energy and agriculture sectors. She said the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security through the Department of Crop Production and the Ministry of Minerals and Energy were key partners that have participated in the Metsimotlhabe Pilot Project.

"There is a need for affordable, renewable energy that can be used to supply water and produce food at the same time and that climate-resilient IWRM interventions have been proposed to support the country to adapt to the effects of climate change. The government alone, without commitments and partnership from the EU and SADC cannot fully perform impeccably in the nationally determined commitments and actions taken in fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals that are key to the Ministries of Water, Energy and Agriculture," said Dr Dick.

The EU expressed satisfaction that the US$9 million GCCA+ project in the SADC Region delivered intended results and was helping Member States pursue climate-resilient projects. EU Head of Cooperation, Mr Clément Boutillier, said SADC Region, like many other areas around the world, faced significant challenges in balancing the competing demands for water, energy and food, and that it was critical that a framework that promotes sustainable development, meets basic human needs, and protects the environment is developed.

"The WEF Nexus is a powerful tool that can help us achieve these goals. For example, we can significantly reduce water demand in agriculture by introducing drip irrigation systems that consume less energy than other irrigation methods, thus reducing energy consumption. We are happy to be here today to witness one of the knowledge-sharing events that are foreseen under the GCCA+ project in the SADC Region, between all the implementing organizations of these projects working on the WEF nexus," said Mr Boutillier.

On the part of SACREEE, Mr. Kudakwashe Ndhlukula gave an overview of the organization’s experiences from implementing the WEF Nexus demo projects in the region saying "the demonstration projects are expected to unlock the potential for further deployment of re-powered and professionally managed distributed renewable energy (DRE) systems for productive use."

Key outputs from SACREEE were two re-powered irrigation systems installed in Malawi and Zambia, in partnership with CCARDESA and GWPSA, and three DRE for productive energy use installed in Angola, Botswana and Namibia.

GWPSA's Ms. Laura Danga and Mr. Chrisogonous Peter spoke about the need to strengthen the climate resilience of local communities in the Wami River Basin in the United Republic of Tanzania and in the Metsimotlhabe River catchment in Botswana through the pilot implementation of climate-resilient IWRM. Assistance to design and implement IWRM pilot projects on adaptation in Botswana and Tanzania strengthens the capacity of SADC Member States to undertake regional and national adaptation and mitigation actions in response to the challenges caused by the effects of global climate change and climate variability.

Among others, delegates at the meeting agreed that there was need to establish a coordination mechanism as there was a gap in ensuring that different government departments and stakeholders in water, energy and agriculture efficiently worked together. Stakeholders also recommended the need to have incentive driven approaches to encourage the use of the WEF Nexus approach. The meeting also recommended capacitating the local private sector; capacity development of all implementing entities including beneficiaries; decentralizing structures that can establish focal points to support communities; and the need for data diplomacy or sharing of data on WEF Nexus across continents and countries.

Representatives from SADC implementing organizations such as GWPSA, SACREEE, and CCARDESA; the EU; Government Ministries related to WEF and related sectors, including Environment, Climate Change, Planning and Finance; river basin organizations; the SADC Secretariat; German development agency, GIZ; and beneficiary communities, attended the workshop.


Government has awarded contracts to 13 companies to supplies fertilizer under the 2023-2024 Affordable Input Programme (AIP), the Minister of Agriculture Sam Dalitso Kawale has disclosed.

Kawale told Nyasa Times on Monday morning that the 13 companies will supply 149,164 metric tons of NPK and Urea fertilizer through the Smallholder Farmers Fertilizer Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM).

"A few months ago, our President directed that all fertilizer procurements for the 2023 season should be done by end of June. Your Ministry of Agriculture wishes to inform you that it has awarded contracts to Optichem (2000) Limited, ETG Inputs Ltd, Farmers World, Afriventures Blantyre Limited, Mediterranean Fertilizers DMCC, Malawi Fertilizer Company, Saeed Investments, Chipala Investments, Sealand Investments Ltd, Midima Holdings Ltd, Chipiku Stores, Zathu Trading and Paramount Holdings Limited," he said.

The minister stated that between these companies, about 80, 000MT of fertilizer is already in the country, which is 53 percent of what Malawi needs.

He said the balance will be in the country before the launch of the program.

"Procurement of transportation services is at advanced stage. Award of contracts to successful transporters is expected to be given by 31st July, 2023. The procurement of seeds and female goats for the programme will be advertised in widely circulated newspapers in a week starting from 2nd July 2023," said Kawale.

The minister further disclosed that smallholder farmers will access all farm inputs before the first planting rains.

Kawale expressed his ministry's commitment to 'frequently give updates on the progress made in the implementation of the programme'.

"The smallholder farmers are requested to prepare their gardens in preparation for 2023/2024 growing season.

"The ministry is committed to continuously improve all the processes involved in accessing farm inputs as well as do things in a timely manner and ensure effectiveness, efficiency and productivity," said the minister.

Source: Nyasatimes

Do you know that instead of flushing urine down our toilets to wastewater treatment facilities, it could be recycled and used as fertilizer?
Yes, pee or even wee as some people say, may offer a solution as a soil amendment. According Business Insider South Africa, researchers say human urine can be used as an alternative to chemical fertilizers with some describing it as the "liquid gold" of wastewater.
In fact, urine can also be used as a renewable energy source. The Africa Energy Outlook 2022, reports that there are still 733 million people in the world who lack access to electricity, including at least 568 million people in Africa. Scientists are finding renewable sources to power the world in more sustainable ways as fossil fuel reserves dwindle and carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Nigeria has been having electricity supply challenges for many years, making it difficult for households and forcing many businesses to close down due to the cost of fuel to power their generators, according to Voice of America.
The University of the West of England (UWE) with the Bristol Robotics Lab have devised a system that generates power from urine using a microbial fuel cell. The urine is directed from the toilet to the cell, where it is digested by microbes releasing electrons for electricity and a fertilizer that boosts crop yields.
The researchers believe the technology could offer a cheap way to power lights for aid agencies in the field. According to Oxfam, "the prototype urinal is the result of a partnership between researchers at UWE Bristol and Oxfam. It is hoped the pee-power technology will light cubicles in refugee camps, which are often dark and dangerous places, particularly for women."
This system could be used not only in rural settings where power and sanitation infrastructure is often absent but also in the continent's urban centres where services in densely populated areas such as townships and informal settlements are also lacking. It could also relieve pressure on existing infrastructure that is not able to keep pace with rapid urbanization as people search for economic opportunities. This also has implications for health systems, according to Nyasa Times poor sanitation accounts for 52% of the disease burden in Malawi.
In 2018, University of Cape Town students used human urine to create the world's first bio-brick grown from urine. The students collected the pee and first made a solid fertilizer, the leftover liquid was then used in a biological process "to grow" what they call "bio-bricks". The bricks were produced by Dr. Randall and his students, Suzanne Lambert and Vukheta Mukhari. But is urine safe to use in our gardens and farms? The short answer is yes. If the urine is taken from a healthy source, it's clean and contains few bacteria.
Does urine have enough nutrients?
Urine is made up of 95% water and 5% waste products. Human pee is rich in the ingredients commonly used in commercial fertilizers such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and traces of other nutrients needed for crops and plants to grow. According to Carbon Brief's Giuliana Viglione, farmers typically apply these nutrients to crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers come at a high environmental cost since they are derived from fossil fuels. Chemical fertilizers when used in large quantities, are harmful to soil and insects and pollute water, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
They also make their way into river systems and other waterways, causing choking blooms of algae that can kill fish and other aquatic life. Researchers say that urine diversion would have huge environmental and public-health benefits if deployed on a large scale around the world. As a result, human pee can be used to save water and contribute to sustainable farming.
A shortage of chemical fertilizer, worsened by the war in Ukraine, is driving up food costs and creating a crisis for poorer countries, reports FAO, and has many farmers desperate and looking for alternatives. Experts writing for The Conversation Africa say the global food supply is now at risk due to the shortage of fertilizer. Many warn that feeding a growing global population in a world of climate change will only become more difficult.
How does urine benefit farmers?
Beside pee from people, animal urine also has many benefits. Kenyan small-scale farmer and entrepreneur Muriithi James Kibuku farms rabbits not just for their meat, and fur but also for their urine. He is the owner of Kibuku Rabbit Farm located in Nakuru, Kenya. He came to gain the knowledge that rabbit urine is good for boosting crops and can be used to repel insects from the farm from a friend and that inspired him to start rabbit farming and "tapping" this resource for his farm.
Kibuku explains that rabbit urine has many advantages as a fertilizer as well as a pesticide. Its pungent smell repels insect pests, making it an organic pesticide. It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and cheaply sourced. He explained that urine also neutralizes acidity in the soil, and improves its texture, structure, and water-holding capacity. Crops remain green even when the weather is very hot, he says.
In order to collect the rabbit pee, Kibuku designed and built his own cages that collect 90% of the urine. The units direct rabbit waste into gutters that are made of corrugated plastic sheets as rabbit urine quickly rusts and corrodes metal. The urine is then filtered through a screen into a collection bucket, mixed with compost, and allowed to ferment in order to convert it into liquid fertilizer. The solid waste is then harvested and applied directly to the fields as fertilizer, while the urine can be used to create a soil amendment or pesticides.
However, rabbit urine shouldn't be used directly on your crops since it is highly concentrated, and will burn and kill plants due to the high concentration of nitrogen. Farmers have to first dilute it with water and then apply it to their crops.
Kibuku explains that the demand for rabbit urine is still relatively small but growing gradually as people become aware of the benefits of organic farming. Kibuku collects 30+ liters of pee every day, that he sells for U.S.$0.85 to organic fertilizer companies as well as to local farmers. He previously exported to Botswana before the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020.
He also sells rabbit droppings to fellow farmers. The rabbit farming industry is gaining traction in Africa and other parts of the world for a number of reasons. Rabbit production is a very lucrative business as it can create multiple streams of income. Fortunately, Kibuku offers training to young farmers that includes modern cage construction, breed selection, diseases, and management. "We also teach skin tanning, and we say nothing goes to waste in rabbit farming," he adds.
His initiative has helped transform the lives of local farmers and is helping to make agriculture more environmentally friendly. Kibuku Rabbit Farms hopes to sell the rabbit pee to fertilizer companies around the world.
Urine makes for great fertilizer but is it safe?
Helvi Heinonen-Tanski, who has written academic papers on the use of urine as fertilizer, has argued that "urine could have some risk if it contains antibiotics as soil bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics and pass on the resistance to bacteria infecting people". Heinonen-Tanski points out that urine is practically sterile and poses no health risks when it leaves the body, unlike faeces, which can carry bacteria like salmonella and E.coli.
However, it is advised that farmers should never use urine that is compromised as it is possible for urine to contain medications, hormones, preservatives, and bacteria from urinary tract infections. Experts say urine can be used as a fertiliser without causing antibiotic resistance, although they caution against the use of fresh bodily waste on crops. Antibiotic resistance poses a greater threat to humanity than climate change, according to a report by EuroNews. "There are certain bacteria that are found in urine that can become pathogenic in your soil environment," says Portia Phohlo, a sustainable agriculture researcher and expert with extensive experience in the dairy industry. She is skilled in sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, agronomy, pasture and soil management, and soil sampling. Phohlo says if the soil itself has a good bacterial profile, then pathogenic bacteria become immaterial because whatever pathogen comes in, it can be countered by the soil organisms that are already there.
"I work for a company where we do give consultations to farmers. And the farmers now that have got very good soil health are really not worried about an increase in fertilizer prices because they've got healthy soil that is able to generate its own nitrogen from the soil that already exists. So, for those farmers that have got good soil health, biological profile, alternatives, like urine and other things like manure, are not things that are really on the table for them. So, from a small-scale farmer's perspective, if the soil is not good, then it could be a possible amendment but in large commercial farmers, because they usually work towards improving soil health. They wouldn't use urine as an alternative for fertilizer.
Phohlo added that nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for the plant. "It's the primary nutrient. There's no doubt about that. And what we usually advocate for as a company, we would say, you must ask yourself where are you getting your nitrogen? Is it from the bag, which is like fertilizers, manure, or anything that comes as an input? Or does it come from the soil, because the soil has got thousands if not tons of nitrogen that is there in the soil, but it's not in an available form. That's where your microorganisms come in - like the microorganisms that are in your gut, in your stomach - is that as they break down that nitrogen into an available form, like they would break down food in your stomach, and then release that nitrogen to make it available for the plant. "
"Now, the question is, how are farmers trying to manage their soils to get into a place whereby that process by the microorganisms occurs efficiently? That's the question that farmers need to ask themselves because if you keep on bringing nitrogen into your system, then it starts to become excessive, and then it starts to poison your soil, then you start to have yield issues. So unless you start to wake up the organisms in your soil, you will always be dependent on that external fertiliSer, then you will start to ask such questions. What alternatives can you bring? Like manure and urine, she said.
Phohlo explains the benefits of using urine or manure but advised on how to use it. "You can apply it only amounts as it is required. And not excessively because the issue is the excessive application of either urine, manure, or whichever form of nitrogen is that if it's not used by the plant, you know what happens? It gets leached out in your soil, it goes into our water's groundwater sources, it goes into our fresh water sources, then we have a problem with algae building up in our rivers. And that obviously will affect your aquatic life there.
"And also, not to mention that if you apply it in excess, again, it can also get converted into nitrous oxide, which then becomes a greenhouse gas, which obviously will affect climate and climate change. The real issue is not the urine or manure being negative, it's how much of it you are applying. As long as you apply it as required by the plant, then it's fine. But if you apply it in soil that's already saturated with nitrogen and does not need that amount of nitrogen, then it becomes problematic."
"The advice is simple, farmers need to start moving away from conventional systems like tilling their soils, and plowing, any form of soil disturbance unnecessarily. They need to move away from that and start moving into soil regenerative practices that promote no-tillage of soil and improving root biomass in your soil and planting multi-species of crops or pastures in your system so that you can really build your microorganisms in the soil because what attracts microbes is food and food quality and quality of food must come from the different species of plants that you choose to plant in that system. So that you can start going towards a regenerative health system. Once you have a healthy system, then you will end up finding out that you actually don't need to apply any form of fertilizer because the soil becomes self-sustaining because it's rich in microorganisms."