Current Trade News

Africa now has the world’s second fastest growing tourist industry as travel to the continent becomes cheaper and easier, while governments drive business tourism with new initiatives.
Travel and tourism remained a key driver of the African economy in 2018, accounting 8.1% of GDP, and contributing $194.2 billion to the region’s economy, a new report by African e-commerce company Jumia found.
The region’s tourism industry grew at a rate of 5.6% in 2018, second only to Asia Pacific, according to Jumia’s 2019 Hospitality Report. This compares to a global growth rate of 3.9% annually.
Around 67 million tourists flocked to Africa in 2018, a record 7% increase from 63 million arrivals in 2017 and 58 million in 2016.
From the souks of Marrakech to the quaint vineyards of the Cape, the top African tourist spots were Morocco and South Africa, with around 10 and 11 million arrivals per year.
More relaxed visa rules in Ethiopia coupled with improved transport infrastructure gave their tourist industry a staggering 48.6% boost in 2018, raking in a total of $7.4 billion.
The majority of foreign visitors were holiday-makers with 71% of tourist spending across the continent spent on leisure activities.
A new itinerary
The report also attributes burgeoning tourism numbers to a slew of government initiatives, especially in Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa to drive business tourism to the continent.
These include tourism development strategies such as MICE, where countries arrange events such as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions to attract international business.
Yet Africa as a whole still occupies only a small slice of the international tourism market accounting for 62.9m (or about 5.1%) of the 1.2bn global tourism arrivals in 2016, according to a separate report by the Africa Tourism Monitor compiled by the African Development Bank.
As hotels cancel deals for new developments and ‘clean their pipelines’, the hotel development industry is also slowing down, with pipeline activity dropping to 276 hotels with 45,861 rooms in 2019, down from 418 hotels with 76,322 rooms in 2018.
Flying South
The airline making the most money in African skies was flagship UAE carrier Emirates, which earned over $837 million in 2018 with popular flights from Johannesburg, Cairo, Cape Town and Mauritius.
The most lucrative air route between April 2018 and March 2019 was from South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg to Persian Gulf hub Dubai, which generated $315.6 million in passenger revenues.
During the same period state-owned Angola Airlines and South African Airways were the only two African airlines making the top 10 most profitable air routes in Africa.
Top performing air routes from Luanda to Lisbon earned a cool $231.6 million, while flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg generated $185 million, the report said.
As countries scramble to grab a greater share of the intra-African tourism market, the dawn of Africa’s free trade agreement will give domestic travel a much-needed boost.
Realizing the full potential of Africa’s continental free trade area (ACFTA) requires cooperation from all industry players, says Jumia’s Head of Travel Estelle Verdier.
“Governments have to be willing to eliminate visa requirements for African nationals traveling to their countries.”
“Ministries and other responsible partner organizations should create campaigns that will promote their local travel destinations and tourism offerings to attract more regional travellers,” she adds.
That said, African governments have come a long way in making intra-continental travel easier and more affordable.
Initiatives such as the creation of the East Africa Visa programme allowing travellers to apply for a visa online before visiting Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya are making these places evermore attractive to tourists, South African Tourism’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Sthembiso Dlamini said.
“Such collaborations are visionary. It is when we work together, pool our resources, partner and share our best knowledge that we can do much more. “
Source: African Business

Since the 1970s, the World Economic Forum had measured the competitiveness of the world’s economies through its Global Competitiveness Report, provoking a frank overview of the performance of nations and spurring a robust debate among policymakers.
By 2004, that research had been synthesized into the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), a tool which ranks nations alongside their peers based on twelve pillars of competitiveness, from institutions to innovation, and grants them an overall score out of 100.
Last year, WEF introduced a new methodology to the Index which strengthens the importance of “the role of human capital, innovation, resilience and agility” in the context of the technological changes prompted by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Unfortunately, the new methodology has not dramatically led to an improvement in Africa’s performance. With an average score of 46.2, sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest GCI score among all regions, and demonstrates the weakest average regional performance in 10 out of 12 pillars. In only five pillars does the average score exceed 50 – including in labour market (53.8), product market (50.4) and business dynamism (50.1).
Despite years of positive headlines about Africa’s economic rise, Thierry Geiger, head of research and benchmarking at the WEF, says that Africa’s performance leaves much room for improvement.
“Africa is very diverse but diverse in the bottom of the rankings. You have quite a big spread across African nations, but none of them is up there.
Among the 148 economies we cover, if we filter sub-Saharan Africa, you have Mauritius at 49 and then South Africa at 67, barely in the top half of the ranking. You find most sub-Saharan Africa nations beyond the 100 mark, all the way [down] to 148. So it’s quite weak in general, and even with the largest countries, if you look at Nigeria (115) South Africa (67) and Angola (137), there is room for improvement.”
Regional disparities
Nevertheless, regional disparities are evident. Mauritius, sub-Saharan Africa’s best performer, is nearly 30 points and over 91 places ahead of Chad. Southern African countries have achieved a relatively higher competitiveness performance (48.0) compared to East Africa (46.8) and West Africa (44.5). In ICT adoption, skills and financial systems, Southern Africa performs on average 8.3, 8.9 and 8.7 points higher than in West Africa.
And yet despite a new methodology that reflects the importance of technological change, a common lesson that can be drawn is that African countries continue to be hobbled by a lack of traditional development – whether basic infrastructure investment, skills development or the performance of institutions. Even a relatively high performer like South Africa is held back by health (43.2, 125th ranked) and security (43.7, 132nd ranked).
“The root causes of slow growth and inability to leverage new opportunities offered by technology continue to be the ‘old’ developmental issues – institutions, infrastructure and skills. Notably, the disappointing economic performance of most Sub-Saharan African countries is more attributable to weaknesses in these areas than in any others, and the much-vaunted economic leapfrogging will not happen unless these issues are addressed decisively,” says the report.
Geiger argues that the basic factors of health, skills, good governance and financial prudence require attention.
“Across 12 pillars of competitiveness, on average it is the worst region with major weaknesses in the basic enablers or drivers of competitiveness, including security, rule of law, red tape, corruption. We know that inflation or too much debt shapes the business and investment environment.”
Unsustainable levels of public debt are a particular concern, with the average public debt-to-GDP ratio in sub-Saharan Africa increasing from 32.4% in 2014 to 45.9% in 2018. That “raises serious questions about the sustainability of private debt, with impending consequences for the attraction of private investments and the availability of public capital necessary to develop infrastructure, improve the education system and provide social services,” according to the report.
Technological change
Yet despite traditional weaknesses, innovation and the potentially exciting transformations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can still play their part in the continent’s future, according to the report’s authors. Kenya is developing into a strong innovation hub comparable to South Africa and Mauritius. Some of the continent’s improving metrics “herald the possibility to leapfrog, by more adeptly tapping into digital business models and private sector development,” says the report.
Yet with less than half of the adult population connected to the internet and subscriptions to broadband extremely low in most of the region’s economies, basic infrastructure and digital skills development need to happen to realise its potential. Geiger says that technology will play an increasingly important role – but warns that it will not be a panacea for all of the continent’s woes.
“We see double-digit growth in technology use but from such a low base. We know about Kenya and Rwanda, but when you look at the average of the continent it’s still very low and it won’t solve all the issues. We know bad governance cannot be undone by technology alone – yes, it helps if you are more efficient and digital, with less room for corruption and more accountability. But you can always find ways to steal from the coffers. We see technology in Africa is not delivering growth and access to services at a scale that would be transformative.”
Given the relatively muted performance, what positives can African policymakers take from the report? Geiger says that the report provides a useful starting point to assess priorities.
“We tell them, here’s where you stand, forget about your peers, it’s not a race. It’s not zero sum. It helps to define priorities. We do it with humility and start a conversation. We go to [policymakers] with the score, the pillars and the subcategories, and that’s when we have meaningful conversations with governments and the private sector. We don’t venture into the recommendation space. It’s a starting point.”
Furthermore, Geiger acknowledges that competitiveness is not the be-all and end-all for a country.
“We do acknowledge inequality is an issue to be addressed at the same time as growth. Being competitive will not solve the other issues of inequality, or a lack of social mobility. It’s part of a broader conversation around good growth and development.”
Source: Africa Business Magazine

CASHEWNUT growers in the country have a reason to smile after the government yesterday unveiled a trans- parent system in commodity auctions to be used in the 2019/20 season with buyers now required to bid online, while farmers will be given an opportunity to choose the highest bidder.
The online platform, which runs through Tanzania Mercantile Exchange (TMX), will connect farmers, buyers and regulators with growers given to access and be able to see a market situation from wherever they are. TMX is a commodity exchange in Tanzania that was set up to help various farmers access the domestic and global market better and ob- tain a fair price in the selling of their produce.
Interested buyers both within and outside the country will be required to register with the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania through the Agriculture Trade Management Information System (ATMIS) available on the web- site of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Launching the 2019/20 cashew nut buying season in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga said qualified buyers would be required to deposit bid security depending on the number of cashew nut tonnes they have through a settlement account.
"The season, which commences on September 30, 2019, we expect to harvest over 300,000 tonnes - that is 76,000 tonnes more compared to 224,000 tonnes harvested in the 2018/19 season," he explained.
The minister added that they expected to meet with stakeholders on September 30 to inform them about the new system to be used in auctioning cashew nuts for them to air their views.
Mr. Hasunga clarified that buyers from outside the country could access the platform wherever they were without being forced to have companies in Tanzania, instead they would be sponsored by a settlement bank identified by TMX.
He revealed that domestic and foreign buyers would be al- lowed to buy raw cashew nuts between 50 and 500 tonnes depending on demand.
"The amount of cashew nuts sold at each auction will be based on the information available in the sales catalogue.
The buyer will have to purchase all available cashew nuts in the stake in one session to facilitate the delivery of cashew nuts to a warehouse using the first-in, first- out (FIFO) procedure."
He noted that the government through the Cashew Nut Board, TMX and the Warehouse Receipts Regulatory Board (WRRB) were through with preparations in the new trading season.
The board has also commenced registering local buyers.
In the last Parliament, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said already 19,000 tonnes of Sulphur powder was available for the 2019/20 season out of 30,000 tonnes required.
He also said 270,000 litres of liquid pesticides were already in Tanzania out of 500,000 litres needed for the whole season.

Rwanda will host the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) next year and also serve as the seat of the organization going forward, a statement from AGRF Partners Group says.
The group made the announcement on September 6 in Accra, Ghana during the 2019 AGRF. The statement revealed that the move followed a competitive bidding process.
AGRF is now well established as the premier platform for leaders from across Africa and the world to advance concrete plans and share knowledge to tap the enormous potential of agriculture to drive equitable and sustainable growth across the continent, according to its organizers
The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (in Rwanda) said that winning such a position was an indicator that Rwanda's institutions are strong and have concerted and coordinated efforts.
"Rwanda's hosting of AGRF 2018 featured the largest attendance on record and the leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame, both in presiding over that historic gathering and in his broader commitment to the transformational power of agriculture, has set a model for all to follow," said Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Desalegn was this month announced as the Board Chair for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and as chair of the AGRF Partners Group.
"The AGRF Partners look forward to working closely with the Republic of Rwanda in this new approach, particularly under the committed leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame," he observed.
The AGRF Partners noted that Rwanda's partnership as the home country of AGRF will also increase accountability and commitment of the continent's leaders to use the forum as a focal point for delivering on the goals laid out by African Heads of State and Government in the African Union's Malabo Declaration, United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Africa Agenda 2063.
AGRF is a partnership of institutions that care about Africa's agriculture transformation.
The AGRF Partners Group is made up of a coalition of 21 leading actors in African agriculture all focused on putting farmers at the center of the continent's growing economies.
Its partners currently include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank, the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Others are the Mastercard Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
AGRF has taken place in eight different countries over the last decade, ensuring that awareness, models, lessons, and the political will required to drive an inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa grow steadily across the continent.
At the end of its first decade, the statement said, the AGRF will now adjust its approach and adopt a "home and away" model where the Forum will alternate between hosting the event in Rwanda in even years and different host countries across the continent in alternate years.
The move will add the Republic of Rwanda to the AGRF Partners Group to help shape and drive the AGRF's long-term vision, deepen relationships with service providers to streamline organizational logistics and unlock partnerships with several new institutions looking to grow with the forum.
"We are honored to be the home country for AGRF and are committed to working closely and collaboratively with our many partners across Africa and around the world to ensure the continued growth and influence of AGRF as the voice of Africa's smallholder farmers and agriculture businesses," Gerardine Mukeshimana, Rwanda's Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said.
Talking about the implications of the move, Minister Mukeshimana told Sunday Times it will boost Rwanda's agriculture sector, and become a leader in shaping the Africa agriculture transformation agenda.
"[It will] attract the private sector in agriculture, and income to our tourism industry as the forum attracts close to 3000 participants," Mukeshimana said.
So far, about $60 billion commitments have been made to Africa's agriculture thanks to the Forum, according to information from AGRA.

Lilongwe — Malawi will this month (September) host a sensitization workshop that will bring together all trade stakeholders as it pushes to have the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement ratified.
The workshop, slated for September 17 (2019) in Lilongwe, is aimed at raising awareness on the pros and cons of the treaty with the hope of clearing issues that have delayed the ratification process.
According to Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Spokesperson, Mayeso Msokera, critical aspects of the AfCFTA Agreement are still outstanding.
She cited Rules of Origin under the Protocol on Trade and Negotiations being in progress as parties develop and submit their lists of product-specific rules of origin.
"Malawi wants to ratify AfCFTA when critical aspects such as those indicated above are negotiated and this will allow us to submit complete sets of documents according to our legal procedures.
"The private sector needs to be oriented on the pros and cons. So, we have lined up sensitization workshops for stakeholders together with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 17th September to make them understand more.
"From there, we hope the private sector would have understood and let us proceed to ratify the agreement," he said.
Although he could not commit himself on the time for ratification, Msokera said what remains is to get a nod from the private sector after the orientation is done.
"For example, if the private sector recommends that we proceed to ratify, immediately the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism together with Ministry of Justice, would commence putting in place documents for ratification.
"Ratification will be done when we have complete sets of documents since negotiations are not concluded. Once finalized, Malawi will ratify according to our legal procedures required in ratification," Msokera said.
In a recent commentary after AfCFTA achieved the required number of countries for ratification, Director of Trade and Customs at COMESA, Francis Mangeni said even though the process has some outstanding issues, a lot of successes have been registered.
"Rules of origin and tariff negotiations need to be completed. Tariff schedules should be produced. A mechanism for addressing non-tariff barriers is also required. Some Regulations and Guidelines are also needed in areas such as infant industries and export processing zones," he said.
Malawi signed the AfCFTA on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The agreement entered into force on May 20, 2019 when the threshold of 22 countries from the 54 that signed, ratified the agreement while its operational phase began on July 7, 2019.
Source: Malawi News Agency (MANA)

The country's largest chicken and egg producer, Irvine's has called on government to review expensive license fees being charged by the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) and the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA) in order to improve the ease of doing business.
Irvine's chief executive officer David Irvine bemoaned the exorbitant fees being charged.
"NBA charges an annual registration fee of $6 500 per annum despite the fact that they do not provide a service nor do they inspect the plant. They also require a quarterly registration of imported feed ingredients which include minerals that are not possibly genetically modified which carry a yearly cost of $36 400," Inrvine said.
Irvine added that AMA also issues almost similar licenses for Feed Mill Registration for $ 1 000 and plant quarantine which costs $1 800 per annum despite the fact that they do not provide any service nor do they inspect the plant.
At the same time the department of veterinary services also charges $1 000 per annum that the chicken producer says the purpose of which is shrouded in mystery.
"In addition to the above there are extra charges raised at the border on every consignment as follows: Ministry of Agriculture charges approximately 20 trucks per annum a total of $6,600. National Biotechnology Authority charges the same trucks $4,400 per annum while the veterinary department charges $ 400.
"These border inspections are unnecessary as Zimbabwe Revenue Authority also carries out similar inspections on all consignments," he said.
Irvine also called for computerization of processes especially by tax authorities.
The company also pays for Biosafety Certificate for each product in the export line that includes $ 2 600 for hatching eggs, $ 2 600 for day old chicks and another $2 600 for render by product meal.
"In addition fines of up to $3,000 are levied for issues like sequencing of documents being wrong and these add to the cost of exporting. It is absolutely unnecessary as no GMO technology is used in the poultry industry worldwide.
Surely, such requirements should rest with the importing country and we have not been asked for these," he said.