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Africa Business in Brief


issue 539 | 31 Mar 2024


Regional and international leaders from the private sector, government and academia gather in Addis Ababa to tackle barriers to Africa’s capability to manufacture its own medicines and vaccines

One hundred leaders from the African continent and outside the region, including from the United States and Europe, gathered on Monday, 25 March 2024, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a two-day conference focused on addressing key challenges for innovation and technology transfer to build a stronger pharmaceutical sector in Africa. Topics ranged from regional supply security to technology gaps in private sector development and public sector research and development as well as striking the right balance between intellectual property rights and access during and after pandemics. Panellists reviewed new financing models to spur investment in the sector. The CEO of the newly launched African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath, said, “the conference is the first of its kind in Africa to examine the barriers to the domestic manufacture and production of critical health products for the continent.” Articulating the vision of the foundation, Professor Gehl Sampath said the agency wants “a vibrant African pharmaceutical industry that can manufacture and innovate pharmaceutical products in Africa for the African people.” She said the foundation will aspire “to move from 400 companies to at least 800 pharmaceutical companies in the region by 2040.”

Source: AfDB

Africa / United States

AfDB and the US Government strengthen strategic partnership

Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, has praised the United States (US) President Joe Biden’s administration for its approach towards Africa particularly its emphasis on the development of quality infrastructure, which he described as the “backbone of every economy.” Dr Adesina was speaking recently when he received a delegation from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) led by Director Enoh Ebong, at the AfDB’s headquarters in Côte d'Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan. “I commend President Biden for what he has done with the [Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)] which he announced during the US-Africa summit in 2022,” he said. The PGII initiative sees the US investing over USD1.5-billion in various African projects, including digital access, agriculture, clean energy infrastructure, and the Lobito corridor for a transportation corridor linking Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Adesina said the bank enjoys a close working relationship with the US Government and its various agencies including USTDA, the US Agency for International Development, Export-Import Bank of the US, Millennium Challenge Corporation and Power Africa, among others.

Source: AfDB

Central Africa

Central African economies projected to grow 3.6% in 2024

The economy of Central African countries is expected to grow 3.6% this year, according to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). Established in 1972 and headquartered in Cameroon, the BEAC serves as the central bank for the six states of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), namely Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. The 3.6% growth rate will mainly be supported by "the good performance of non-oil activities," said BEAC Governor Yvon Sana Bangui following the 2024 first ordinary session of the bank, held in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Inflation in the sub-region is expected to be 5.5% this year, he added. In 2023, the growth rate in the CEMAC zone was 2.4%, with an inflation rate of 6.1%, according to the BEAC.

Source: Xinhua

Central / Western Africa

Accelerating data modernisation efforts in Western and Central Africa – Republic of the Congo and Gabon get World Bank support to enhance their statistical systems

The World Bank has approved an additional USD150-million in credit and loan from the International Development Association and from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve and harmonise data systems in the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, respectively. This operation is an additional financing of the Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West and Central Africa Series of Projects-Two project, designed to improve national statistical performance, promote regional harmonisation, facilitate data access and utilisation, and drive the modernisation of statistical frameworks in Western and Central Africa. “This additional financing will enable the Republic of the Congo and Gabon to participate in the regional effort to modernise and harmonise statistical systems, and to produce and disseminate high-quality data critical to help improve the lives and livelihoods of people,” said Cheick Fantamady Kanté, Country Director for Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.

Source: World Bank

East Africa

EAC blue economy drive to benefit from EUR28-million fish project

The blue economy drive in East Africa will benefit from a EUR28-million project through increased fish output. Ecofish, the five-year project being implemented in four economic blocs in Africa since 2019, comes to an end later this year. "We need fish to feed our population. The fisheries sector will also boost our blue economy," said Mr Edward Rukunya, a fisheries expert. He said this while addressing a recent steering committee meeting of the programme being implemented in various countries. Mr Rukunya, the Director of fisheries with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, said that through the project, fishermen will be able to increase catches. "We have also been able to sensitise our communities in fish breeding areas to the dangers of illegal fishing," he told the meeting at an Arusha hotel. Within the East African Community (EAC) bloc, the project is being implemented around lakes Victoria and Tanganyika. The EAC region was allocated some EUR4-million (EUR2-million each) for the two lakes' basins out of EUR28-million for the continent-wide project.

Source: The Citizen

East Africa

East Africa rebrands energy summit to attract investments

Potential energy investments in the East African Community (EAC) region will be rebranded under a recently signed deal. The partnership is intended to bolster the key economic sector through a platform that will increase the visibility of available opportunities. The deal was signed between the EAC and EnergyNet Limited, an entity based in London that profiles energy projects in the region. The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of infrastructure, productive sectors and political affairs, Andrea Maleuth, signed on behalf of the community. The inking of the partnership comes nearly two months after the Tanzania Energy Cooperation Summit (TECS), which took place in Arusha. The summit, organised by EnergyNet with the support of an array of donors, was aimed at wooing more energy investors to Tanzania and other eastern African states. The partnership signed in Washington during the 5-6 March Powering Africa Summit gave TECS more responsibilities for energy development in the region.


Source: The Citizen


Angola sparks business revival with visa-free travel

Angola is making great strides towards attracting foreign investment into its economy, with visa policy amendments and the promotion of intra-African trade laying the foundation for capital to flow inwards. In 2024, Angola was named one of CNN Travel’s top 24 tourist destinations and one of Business Today’s top five destinations for foreign investment. Ease of travel, attractive fiscal terms and opportunities across the entire economic spectrum represented driving factors in the rankings, with transport-related infrastructure development expected to accelerate business tourism even further. Angola serves as an example of how business-centric policies can stimulate investment across the economy. In September 2023, the country passed an amendment allowing visa-free travel for a period of 90 days to nationals from over 90 countries. Of these, 14 African countries are included, and while the exemption is exclusively for tourism-related activities, the policy adjustment incentivises cross-border travel, laying the foundation for trade and commerce.

Source: Energy Capital & Power


Statement by IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette M. Sayeh at the conclusion of her visit to Angola

Ms Antoinette M. Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement, in part, in Luanda at the conclusion of her visit to Angola from 18-20 March: “During our discussions, I commended Angola for successfully implementing economic reforms in the areas of fiscal management, revenue mobilisation, financial stability, and central bank independence. These reforms have helped to reduce Angola’s debt vulnerabilities, improve business climate and enable the resumption of growth. While there was a set-back in 2023 because of lower oil prices and weakened oil production, as well as the ending of the debt moratorium, the reforms strengthened Angola’s capacity to adjust to these shocks. Upfront measures toward fiscal prudence and exchange rate adjustment in 2023 helped Angola to contain the impact of these adverse developments and avoid a sharper increase in debt. Looking forward, we believe the reform momentum needs to continue, both to further reduce debt vulnerabilities and to diversify the economy. This includes bringing public debt to safer levels by mobilising domestic revenue and improving the quality of spending, notably on social areas such as health, education, and targeted social protection.”

Source: IMF

Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC minister visits COMESA: affirms commitment to regional integration

The Minister of Regional Integration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi visited the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia on Friday, 22 March 2024 and held discussions with the Secretary General, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe. The discussions focused on key developments in the implementation of regional integration programmes that relate to the DRC, including an update on the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) which the country is poised to fully enlist. Currently, the FTA has 16 participating member states while the DRC is in the process of tariff reduction that will pave way for its full participation once it is completed. Nyamwisi affirmed the DRC Government’s commitment to the ideals of COMESA regional integration agenda and pledged to continue doing more to advance this agenda in deepening trade within the regional bloc. The secretary general urged the DRC to complete the process of tariff reduction so that it can fully participate in the FTA. Further, she commended the government for preparing phase 1 of the Great Grand Inga hydropower project with support from the African Development Bank and the African Union Development Agency - New Partnership for Africa's Development.

Source: COMESA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Statement on development policy lending for DRC

The World Bank recently financed two Development Policy Loans for USD250-million in June 2022 and USD500-million in March 2023 to support a programme of reforms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like other Development Policy Loans, this financing was provided only after policy and institutional reforms – also known as “prior actions” – were accomplished by the government as agreed in the financing package. Unlike World Bank investment projects, where goods and services are procured for specific usages, Development Policy Loans provide budget support directly to the Treasury. The government is then able to use these resources as part of its regular budget.

Source: World Bank


How Kenya can boost agricultural productivity with fertiliser subsidy

Kenya has a long history of implementing fertiliser subsidy programmes aimed at supporting smallholder farmers. These initiatives have evolved over the years, from targeted programmes for resource-poor farmers to broader, non-targeted schemes like the National Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (NFSP) implemented in 2022 to boost food production and stabilise prices in the wake of global supply chains disruptions related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFSP provides subsidised fertiliser to all registered farmers, with the quantity allocated based on the size of registered land holdings. To assess the impact of the NFSP on farm productivity, researchers collected data in main maize producing counties and conducted appropriate econometric analysis to isolate the effect of fertiliser subsidy on maize yield by accounting for other factors such as seed, rainfall, access to credit, irrigation, gender, education, etc. Results of analysis showed that the NFSP significantly enhances maize yield among participating farmers, with a 1% increase in subsidised fertiliser usage leading to a 5.0-7.0 percentage point yield increase.

Source: Business Daily


Kenya hosts carbon markets conference to boost carbon trade in Africa

Climate change experts recently began a two-day meeting in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya to promote carbon markets in Africa. The Carbon Markets Conference 2024 brought together more than 200 participants, including government officials, financiers and project developers from around the world, to share knowledge on carbon market opportunities on the continent. In his opening remarks, Musalia Mudavadi, Kenya's Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, said that Kenya can seize, reduce and avoid about 30 million metric tonnes of carbon per year. "Our potential is to harness up to USD600-million annually by 2030 through the sale of high-quality carbon credits," Mudavadi said. "Africa's contribution to global emissions is minimal, but the continent suffers disproportionately from climate change vulnerability. Yet, this is not a story of despair but one of untapped potential and opportunity. With its rich renewable energy resources, vast expanses of arable land and diverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems, Africa stands at the cusp of sustainable economic growth and green industrialisation," Mudavadi added.

Source: Xinhua


Kenya to spend KES11-billion on inaugural nuclear reactor

Kenya will require at least KES11-billion as the initial cost of developing the country's first nuclear research reactor in what is expected to be the steppingstone towards future nuclear power production. Research reactors are nuclear reactors used for research, education and training. The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), the state agency leading the country’s nuclear power programme, says it will request the amount from Treasury in two tranches to help in meeting 40% of the initial costs of the Kenya nuclear research reactor project. NuPEA will require KES3-billion in 2026 and KES8-billion in 2027 for the project, which it says will accelerate economic development. The agency says in the recently launched 2023-2027 strategic plan that the reactor will have wide applications in education and training, health, industry, energy, and research. “The main utilisations envisaged include: enhancing national research and development capabilities and intergovernmental collaborations; improving and encouraging industrial competitiveness; enhancing material structure study for various applications; quality in material design and manufacturing; production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications; improving calibration and testing services for industrial and medical instruments; and education and training of students and staff of various institutions,” said NuPEA.

Source: Business Daily


Lesotho validates a successor National Industrial Policy to harness economic growth

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Sub Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) provided technical support to the Government of Lesotho to develop the country’s successor National Industrial Policy through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Business Development (MTIBD). The policy document aims to harness an export-driven economic growth trajectory through industrialisation, and was validated through a one-day workshop jointly organised by the MTIBD and ECA-SRO-SA. The objective of the workshop was to review and identify gaps in the policy document, obtain feedback from participants and further, provide a platform for stakeholders who were unable to participate in the questionnaire-based data collection process to provide inputs into the draft policy document to enhance collective ownership of the 2024-2028 Lesotho National Industrial Policy. In his opening remarks, Mr Thabo Moleko, Principal Secretary of MTIBD said that one of the key priority areas of the Successor Lesotho National Industrial Policy was enhancing inclusive sustainable economic growth and private sector led job creation.

Source: ECA


African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation and Pharmaceutical Institute partner to strengthen Nigeria's pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacity

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) and Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development will work together to revolutionise the country’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing industry. The decision was announced by the two organisations following a High-Level Dialogue on Technology Gaps in Nigeria’s Pharmaceutical and Vaccine Industry hosted in Abuja from 18-19 March. The APTF will work with countries such as Nigeria to help them achieve Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure they meet World Health Organization standards, and to build local capacity and specific skills to strengthen domestic production of medicines. Senior government officials and representatives of the private sector, development institutions, pharmaceutical manufacturers, researchers, and other stakeholders from across Africa attended the meeting. The APTF, an independent agency established by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, works to promote a strong and competitive pharmaceutical sector in Africa.

Source: AfDB


IMF staff reached staff-level agreement on the reviews of Rwanda’s Policy Coordination Instrument and arrangements under the RSF and SCF

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Ruben Atoyan, visited Kigali from 11-22 March 2024, to discuss the authorities’ policy priorities and progress on reforms within the context of the third reviews of Rwanda’s Policy Coordination Instrument and Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF), and the first review of the Stand-by Credit Facility (SCF) arrangement. Consideration by the board is tentatively scheduled for May 2024. Upon completion of the review by the executive board, Rwanda would have access to SDR57.5-million (equivalent to about USD76.6-million) under the RSF and SDR66.75-million (equivalent to about USD88.9-million) under the SCF arrangement. At the conclusion of the mission, Mr Atoyan issued the following statement, in part: “Rwanda’s growth momentum remained strong, notwithstanding the challenging external environment. The 2023 GDP growth continued to be robust at 8.2% year-on-year, on the back of strong performance in services and construction, as well as recovery in food crop production in the second half of the year. Inflation decelerated sharply in recent months. Headline inflation was 4.9% in February 2024, down from the peak of 21.7% in November 2022, owing to appropriately tight monetary policy stance and favourable developments in food prices as agricultural production rebounded at the end of last year.”

Source: IMF

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone records progress in human capital development - but requires sustained investments to drive economic growth and reduce poverty

Sierra Leone has made commendable strides in improving human capital development with the government demonstrating a strong commitment to enhancing the well-being and productivity of its population through significant investments in health and education, according to a new World Bank report launched in Freetown recently. The report also highlights the prioritisation of social protection interventions like cash transfers to extremely vulnerable groups as a notable intervention aimed at reducing poverty and building human capital. The Sierra Leone Human Capital Review: Maximising Human Potential for Resilience and Inclusive Development, provides critical insights into the country's efforts to foster human capital development and economic growth. The report examines the current state of health, education, and social protection systems in the country and offers recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of human capital investments.

Source: World Bank


New financing to improve public finance management and procurement systems for better service delivery

The World Bank has approved new funding to help Tanzania strengthen its revenue management, modernise public procurement processes, and improve resource allocation and audit effectiveness. The new USD50-million Public Finance Management and Procurement Systems for Service Delivery Programme will strengthen the capacity of the Mainland and Zanzibar to mobilise and manage public resources at the national level through strengthening institutional capacity, efficiency, transparency, and accountability. Ultimately this will result in an improvement in service delivery for the citizens of Tanzania. The operation is designed as a programme for results which links disbursements directly to the achievement of specific programme results or outcomes.

Source: World Bank

Tanzania / Kenya

Tanzania and Kenya forge agreement to tackle trade barriers

In a bid to bolster trade relations and enhance economic cooperation, Tanzania and Kenya have recently reached a significant agreement to address non-tax trade barriers. The accord aims to streamline charges, fees, taxes, and regulatory procedures affecting trade between the two nations. The commitment was formalised during the 8th Joint Trade Committee meeting held in Kisumu, where the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of Tanzania, Mr Stephen Byabato and Kenya's Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Ms Rebecca Miano, played pivotal roles. Mr Byabato emphasised the positive impact of the longstanding bilateral relationship, attributing it to socio-economic development and the well-being of the populace. He highlighted the signing and exchange of the Joint Declaration of Agreement during the meeting as a significant step forward.

Source: The Citizen

Tanzania / Rwanda

Tanzania and Rwanda to open new border point

Rwanda and Tanzania are moving to open a new border post, as the two countries deepen trade ties at a time trade and political forces pull regional partners in different directions. The new post will be opened at Tanzania’s Kyerwa district in Kagera Region to provide a second passage for people and goods and reduce pressure on the Rusumo border post. Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, January Makamba, said this in Kigali during his recent four-day visit to Rwanda. “We want to make it easy for people of the two countries to cross and visit each other,” he said. “We have talked about the possibility and readiness to open a new border front in Kyerwa, and we are ready to have it operational.” The minister, who led a delegation that included senior officials from the Tanzanian Ministries of Transport, Trade and Industry, Information and Communications Technology, Agriculture, Energy, and other key parastatals, said Tanzania is committed to expand business with Rwanda. “We are committed to being a reliable partner, and keen to expand business with Rwanda. Tanzania is Rwanda’s second largest trading partner, the potential to be first exists,” he said. Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, said a second border post would come with a lot of economic prospects and trade value for Rwanda.

Source: The EastAfrican


IMF wants government to remove tax exemptions on SACCOs

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said government should consider removing exemptions on incomes of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) as a near-term revenue reform priority to boost corporate income tax collections. In details contained in the Uganda fifth review under the Extended Credit Facility arrangement and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria, the IMF said government needed to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to determine the impact of some tax incentives, suggesting that exemptions on SACCOs should be repealed and restricted to “microfinance cooperatives serving low-income investors. Top corporate income tax reform priorities include …. repealing tax exemptions for savings and credit cooperative societies,” the review reads, in part, noting that government should also discontinue tax holidays that are cost-ineffective and instead offer windfall gains to companies that have invested even in the absence of incentives, and offer cost-based incentives, such as accelerated depreciation to strategic industries.

Source: Monitor


World Bank Group statement on Debt Restructuring Agreement for Zambia

The World Bank has released the following statement on Zambia, in part: “The World Bank welcomes the agreement between the Government of Zambia and bondholders on the terms for restructuring Zambia’s Eurobonds. This follows the agreement Zambia reached in 2023 with the official bilateral creditors. The Official Creditor Committee has confirmed that the agreement meets comparability of treatment requirements. The terms are consistent with the parameters of the Joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund Debt Sustainability Framework. To finalise the debt restructuring process, other commercial creditors must now agree to restructure debt on terms that are comparable to those offered by bondholders and official bilateral creditors. The World Bank is the largest provider of development financing to Zambia. Since 2021, the World Bank, through the International Development Association, has committed over USD2.1-billion to Zambia to support projects focused on private sector development and jobs, inclusive service delivery, and sustainable and resilient development. Starting July 2023, all new World Bank financing to Zambia has been provided as grants to further help the country while it is in debt distress. The World Bank’s cumulative net positive flows since 2021 have reached USD1.2-billion.”

Source: World Bank