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A group of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) is mobilizing resources to establish a sugar and sugarcane-related products manufacturing plant in the country to tap from opportunities that exist in the business.
The group has since established a steering committee for the initiative. Members of the Committee have elected Norman Lufesi, Adams Kalumbi, and Andrina Maxwell as Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer respectively. Lufesi said 12 entrepreneurs have expressed interest in venturing into the initiative.
@The investment is very exciting, but will require a lot of investment and we will ensure that we start small while aiming big. We have not approximated the investment but we are working towards that since it will involve acquisition of land, machinery, labour and more to ensure that we have raw materials,” Lufesi said.
He further said, so far, people interested have contributed a combined 100 hectares which is the prime advantage as the development is in progress.
Lufesi also said the venture would produce sweets, ethanol and fertilizer. “With the growing population, a market is available. We know Brazil has a large proportion of ethanol in their petrol and we are determined to move this agenda.” We are working with the government to ensure that this initiative is implemented and that the raw materials are being sourced. We will move into the next phase which will be studying from other SMEs in other countries so that this takes off as soon as possible,” Lufesi said.
Source: The Daily Times,

The performance of some of Africa's largest economies in 2018 does not inspire confidence for the year ahead.
Nigeria has endured a slow recovery from a recession caused by falling oil prices, as has Angola. South Africa entered recession for the first time in a decade.
But away from the flagship economies, emerging powers and international trends offer the prospect of new success stories.
Global management consultancy McKinsey & Company's new book "Africa's Business Revolution" identifies areas of potential progress and opportunity across the continent based on original research and interviews with hundreds of CEOs from leading African companies. The authors find regions that recall China before its own period of explosive growth, and suggest pathways that could yield similar gains.
Rapid urbanization will greatly expand the consumer class with disposable incomes, the authors predict, which will lead to a massive increase in business and consumer spending -- rising from $4 trillion in 2015 to $5.6 trillion in 2025. In the same period, increased Internet penetration will add $300 billion to the continent's GDP -- roughly equivalent to South Africa's output.
With the help of Acha Leke, co-author of "Africa's Business Revolution" and chairman of McKinsey's Africa office, CNN picks out some of the major trends and stories to watch in Africa in 2019 and beyond.
The ascendent middle powers
When McKinsey surveyed the top 30 African economies in 2011, they found 25 were experiencing "accelerated growth." In the most recent survey of the same countries, the figure was just 13. Rather than the continental powerhouses, it is the mid-sized economies such as Ethiopia and Ivory Coast that offer the greatest promise.
Leke picks out Ivory Coast as a model of stable progress, having recorded steady growth since emerging from a civil war and financial crisis around the turn of the decade. He cites high levels of government investment and infrastructure development in partnership with Chinese firms as key factors in the country's performance, and suggests that "huge investor interest" from the private sector can keep the economy buoyant. The coming years should see growth become more inclusive with progress in sectors such as health and education
A closer union
While the European Union is under strain from resurgent nationalism within member states, African countries are choosing closer alignment. The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will create one of the world's largest free trade blocs, with 44 countries now signed up. Of the major economies, only Nigeria has abstained, and Leke believes that position is likely to change in the near future.
Progress on the deal will be supplemented by the easing of travel restrictions between African nations. McKinsey research shows 21 of the 54 states now allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to all African nationalities -- up from just three in 1983 -- which has led to increases in business and tourism visits. Rwanda and Mauritius are among the leading beneficiaries
The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.
Leke cites ongoing progress with business-friendly reforms as a cause for optimism in the coming years, with faster processing times for permits and registrations and reduced tariffs becoming continent-wide trends. Four African nations feature among the World Bank's top 10 most improved for ease of doing business. With unprecedented numbers of major businesses in Africa seeking to expand and diversify in multiple countries, Leke believes it is imperative that barriers are further lowered -- and that governments recognize this too.
Manufacturing surge
"Africa's Business Revolution" projects the value of manufacturing across the continent will double to $1 trillion by 2025, and create up to 14 million jobs in the same period. This should ensure greater self-sufficiency as well as a healthier trade balance with a shift towards exports. Leke points out that in some cases falling commodity prices have forced governments to embrace diversification of their economies, breeding long term resilience. Nigeria's oil price crash led to greater emphasis on manufacturing which should lead to scaled-up exports in the coming years.
Factory employees work on a car assembly line at the Renault-Nissan Tanger Car Assembly Plant in Melloussa, east of the port city of Tangiers on March 12, 2018.
McKinsey research suggests the greatest gains are to be made through advanced manufacturing, citing Morocco's burgeoning car industry as an example. Ethiopia's industrial parks are also delivering strong returns and could be profitably imitated elsewhere. Developing partnerships with Chinese firms, drawing on their resources and expertise, will be a major asset for African manufacturers in the coming years.
Big pharma
Progress in the pharmaceutical industry is associated with multiplier benefits such as technology advances and improved health indicators. From a low base, pharmaceutical companies in Africa could see rapid gains in the coming years. McKinsey estimates the sector could be worth $65 billion by 2020 -- triple its value in 2013.
To realize such gains will require a more easily-navigable regulatory system, scaled-up production infrastructure, and shrewd specialization. Not all African countries have the resources to deliver in the sector but McKinsey suggests that regional hubs in more advanced economies such as Nigeria and Kenya could be "viable if carefully executed." Local production could lower the cost and improve the quality of medical drugs, as well as aiding the development of high-value skills and technology.
Off-grid energy
Rural electrification remains one of the continent's major challenges, with around 600 million people in Africa still unconnected. But one of the continent's most encouraging technology stories is that entrepreneurs and start-ups are stepping into the breach.
Kenya-based company M-Kopa's home solar energy kits have already connected an estimated
600,000 households, financed by mobile money, and that figure is likely to soar in the coming year with heavyweight investors supporting the venture. The company expects to pass $100 million a year annual revenue in the coming years.
M-Kopa's success is being followed up by Uganda-based Fenix, which had sold 140,000 solar kits by 2017, and BBOXX which distributes kits in 10 African countries. New start-ups are rapidly proliferating to fill the space.
These initiatives have created jobs and stimulated economic activity in rural areas. But their true power lies in "opening a whole university of opportunity" for marginalized people, says Leke. From allowing children to do their homework at night to the new possibilities of the Internet, off-grid energy could go a long way to releasing potential across the continent.
Source: CNN

Sweden is contributing SEK 10,000,000 (just over 1,100,000 CHF) in 2019 to help developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) participate more actively in global agricultural trade. This grant to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) aims to support developing countries in complying with international food safety, animal and plant health standards with the objective of increasing their access to world markets.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: "As one of the biggest contributors to our technical assistance activities, Sweden is demonstrating its continued commitment to help developing countries and LDCs maximize the benefits of trade. In particular, Sweden's new donation will help these countries improve their sanitary and phytosanitary standards so as to connect more easily to global agricultural markets."
Sweden's Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Ann Linde, said: "Enhancing the capacities of developing countries to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards is critical to helping them increase their exports of agricultural products and better integrate into global trade. Given the important contribution the STDF is making to inclusive growth, poverty reduction and to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, Sweden is pleased to be continuing our long-lasting partnership.” Sweden has donated over CHF 51 million to WTO trust funds over the past 18 years.
The STDF is a global coordination platform that brings together leading trade, health and agriculture experts worldwide to share knowledge, tools and good practice and strengthen the effectiveness of SPS technical assistance provided to developing countries. The STDF also provides support and funding for the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that promote compliance with international SPS requirements. The STDF is housed and managed by the WTO.
Source: World Trade Organization

France is donating a total of EUR 4.5 million (CHF 5 million) to finance technical assistance programmes and training activities for developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) over a period of three years (2018, 2019 and 2020). This amount will be directed to five funds housed by the WTO.
The Chairs Programme will receive each year EUR 50,000 (CHF 56,000) aimed at supporting and promoting the knowledge and understanding of the multilateral trading system through universities and research institutions in developing countries and LDCs. To date, 19 WTO chairs are undertaking curriculum development, research and outreach activities.
The Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund will benefit from EUR 400,000 (CHF 450,000) each year to finance training workshops for officials in Geneva and elsewhere to help them better understand and implement WTO agreements and to take part in multilateral trade negotiations.
A yearly amount of EUR 150,000 (CHF 170,000) will be allocated to the Standards and Trade Development to help developing countries and LDCs implement food safety, animal health and plant health standards and improve their sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity.
Another annual contribution of EUR 800,000 (CHF 900,000) will be directed to the internship programme sponsored by France and Ireland and aimed at assisting the permanent missions of developing countries in Geneva.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility will receive an annual contribution of EUR 100,000 (CHF 113,000) to help developing countries and LDCs implement the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and to support the objective of full implementation of the Agreement by all WTO members.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: "France's contribution is very welcome as it will help to strengthen the trading and negotiating capacity of developing countries and LDCs over the next three years. It shows the importance that France attaches to helping poorer countries benefit fully from global trade and further integrate into the world economy."
The Permanent Representative of France, Jean-Marie Paugam, said: “Trade-related technical assistance is a crucial way of helping developing countries and least-developed countries integrate more fully into the multilateral trading system. France is pleased to be renewing its financial commitment, which has already allowed 194 interns from these countries to work in their permanent missions in Geneva and to strengthen their knowledge of global trading issues."
Since 2000, France has contributed approximately EUR 25 million (just over CHF 22 million) to WTO trust funds.
Source: World Trade Organization

Samson Ogbole is trying to solve a problem many aren't aware exists. In his native Nigeria there is a shortage of land needed to provide food for its ever-growing population of 190 million.
There are only 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation in Nigeria annually, short of the estimated 78.5 million needed for food production, according to the International Trade Administration of the United States.
It is this significant problem that Ogbole is tackling with an unconventional method of farming that involves growing crops in the air. Aeroponics, as this method is known as, is a process of growing plants in the air without the use of soil.
Ogbole first got involved in soilless farming in 2014, and two years later founded PS Nutraceuticals, a company that "implements cutting edge agricultural technologies for efficiency in food production to ensure food security."
"Soilless growing entails removing the soil component, bringing in substitutes, and applying fertilizer to enable the plants to grow," Ogbole says.
The advantages of this innovation are manifold, according to Ogbole. "Growing without soil means you can grow [crops] any time of the year," he adds.
"With soilless farming we have been able to push for what you call urban farming, where we now have farms in cities such that we are able to cut off the middlemen and marketers," he says.
"And with soilless farming we have been able to eliminate the pathogens that exist in the soil that naturally affect these crops."
Only 46% of Nigerian soil is fertile to grow crops, according to him, and as such the country must take a step towards self-sustainability in food production, as he believes the "war of the future will be fought through agriculture."
It's therefore imperative, he says, that technology plays a more prominent role in agriculture for a variety of reasons.
"We're bringing in technology into agriculture so that the youth can actually see this as a viable option," Ogbole says.
"We also want to ensure that food production is no longer seasonal, and we're also bringing in smart sensor technologies into agriculture so that you're able to get feedback from your plants."
As a child Ogbole wanted to be a doctor, but now armed with a degree in biochemistry, a master's degree, and a PhD, he wants to lead Nigeria on the path to increased food production.
"The future of the economy is dependent on the few people who have bright ideas, that can think outside the box for us to latch on," he says. "Money does not solve problems; ideas, solve problems."
Ogbole is now involved in programs to encourage youths to engage in agriculture, based on the belief that "people will always eat."
"Food will not go out of style, so this is one sector that will always remain relevant because people must eat," he says.
Source: CNN

At a meeting of the Council for Trade in Services (CTS) on 7 December, WTO members agreed to hold a dedicated meeting in the second or third quarter of 2019 to review how WTO members are making use of the Services Waiver that allows them to grant more favourable treatment to service suppliers in least developed countries (LDCs). The CTS chair, Ambassador Alfredo Suescum of Panama, will hold informal consultations in early 2019 to discuss how the dedicated session might unfold and agree on a specific date.

Recalling the Nairobi Waiver Decision, LDCs invited members to seize this opportunity to engage in an information sharing exercise, including on how to build awareness of how LDCs benefit from the waiver and how to increase access to LDC suppliers of services. LDCs underlined the importance of carrying out an information sharing exercise which will allow them to showcase their experiences as beneficiaries, and stressed that the dedicated discussion will not in any case replace the standing item on the CTS agenda with respect to the LDC Services Waiver.
Many of the WTO members providing preferential treatment to LDC services suppliers stressed the need for the discussion to take a broad approach, extending beyond the preferences permitted under the waiver. They said that the exchange of information should cover the full scope of trade opportunities available to LDC service suppliers. Moreover, they called for the information sharing to be flexible and in no way compulsory, based on a balanced engagement from all members, including the LDCs.
Other matters
The United States reiterated its concerns in relation to existing and proposed cybersecurity measures by China as they would allegedly restrict cross-border transfers of information and require the localization of data in China. According to the US, China’s proposed legal approach to cybersecurity requires a burdensome security assessment for transfers of any data Chinese government officials consider to be "important data". This would almost imply explicit consent by the owner of the information before any cross-border transfer can take place, said the United States.
The US pointed out the provision in China's cybersecurity framework that any "important data" or "personal information" that operators of critical information infrastructure collect or generate in China must be stored in China. All these elements combined could disrupt, deter and, in many cases, prohibit cross-border transfers of information in the ordinary course of business, according to the US. Japan, the European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Chinese Taipei echoed these concerns.
China noted that it had already supplied detailed answers in the last CTS meeting in October. However, it took the floor to state that the implementing measures of the Cybersecurity Law are still being drafted while the Chinese authorities receive suggestions from various interested parties with a view to designing their policies on this matter in a more scientific and reasonable manner and creating an orderly market environment for both domestic and foreign enterprises.
After stressing that ensuring cybersecurity was a difficult challenge that all members face, China underlined that enhanced cybersecurity measures are essential for protecting national security, public interest and the rights of citizens, legal persons and other organizations, and that these measures are in line with relevant WTO rules.
The United States and Japan also reiterated their concerns with regard to existing and proposed cybersecurity measures by Viet Nam. They underlined that service suppliers in data-intensive sectors depend on cross-border data flows and often rely on data centres that cannot economically be replicated in every market they serve; as such, they should not be subject to data localization and local presence requirements. These delegations' concerns were shared by the European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Chinese Taipei.
The Vietnamese delegate noted that the National Assembly had carefully considered all comments before passing the law at issue, which had been adopted in pursuit of the legitimate policy objective of ensuring cybersecurity and in strict adherence to Viet Nam's WTO obligations. Relevant implementing regulations were being drafted in an open and transparent manner, and had been already revised in light of the concerns raised, Viet Nam said.
Working Party on Domestic Regulation
The CTS was preceded by a meeting of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR) on 5 December 2018, where members discussed a proposal by India to develop regulatory disciplines on measures relating to the temporary entry of natural persons, also known as "mode 4".
The proposal includes making measures relating to licensing, qualification and technical standards affecting mode 4 trade more transparent and facilitative. To this end, the proposal suggests enhanced publication requirements, streamlined procedures for licensing and qualifications, and adequate procedures to ensure that natural persons who are qualified outside a member's territory are permitted to supply services to another member.
Many members highlighted the importance of easing access to markets through mode 4 to create meaningful commercial opportunities in services. In particular, developing countries emphasized that reducing trade barriers created by such measures would help them use trade to better meet their development objectives. In addition, they underlined the need for special and differential provisions for developing members. These include, for example, adequate transitional periods, reduced administrative fees and technical assistance for services suppliers from developing countries.
In addition, Korea reported the adoption of non-binding disciplines on domestic regulation at a meeting of APEC ministers in Papua New Guinea held in November 2018.
Source: World Trade Organization