Browsing: Africa

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s seven-decade figurehead and the longest-reigning monarch died aged 96. www.theexchange.africa

Queen Elizabeth II’s leadership of the Commonwealth for the past seven decades has remained admirable. She steered the institution’s evolution into a forum for effective multilateral engagement whose potential to drive tremendous socioeconomic progress remains incontestable and redounds to the Queen’s historic legacy.

Over the years, Britain’s interactions with its former colonies in Africa have grown to diplomacy, aid, trade and economic growth. The Queen has, over the years, remained highly revered and recognized as the head of the Commonwealth. The Queen has now rested. Her death breeds a wave of uncertainty about the future of the organization. The possibility of the status of the British monarch also disappearing becomes more visible. At this point, the rout of the British monarchy in Africa could be complete.

In terms of the economic outlook for India, opinions are divided given the headwinds facing the global economy presently, like the cost-push inflation from increases in food prices and soaring energy costs brought on by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Deloitte, the global consulting and accounting firm, is optimistic about the economic growth prospects of India. It is projected that the Asian country will remain the fastest growing economy in the world, with growth projected to come in at between 7.1% to 7.6% in the years 2022 to 2023 and 6% to 6.7% in the years 2023 to 2024.

How has India managed to bullet-proof its economy to the extent that it has managed to register economic growth within a context of slowing global economic growth? According to Deloitte, India is primarily a domestic demand-driven economy, with consumption and investments contributing to 70% of the economic activity.

According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) analysis of 10,000 listed companies, businesses have seen a steady net profit-to-sales growth over the past year and are sitting on piles of cash. This fact highlighted by the global accounting firm is a key contrast with African economies, which tend to be driven by factors other than domestic demand. African economies generally suffer from a disproportionate dependence on foreign demand to drive economic growth.

In 2020, Amazon launched the Africa (Cape Town) Region, the first AWS Infrastructure Region in South Africa. However, plans for the construction of a new Cape Town-based Amazon Africa headquarters were blocked earlier this year by the Cape Town High Court as Amazon had allegedly not gone through the proper process to acquire the land.

Meanwhile, retailer Pick n Pay migrated its entire on-premise information technology infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In a statement, AWS says Pick n Pay worked with Lemongrass Consulting, an AWS Premier consulting partner with migration and SAP Consulting Competencies, to migrate its on-premises SAP environment to AWS and implement a modern SAP HANA platform.

According to the US-based cloud computing giant, moving to the cloud will enable Pick n Pay to streamline its operations and modernize the supply chain network for its stores, develop new digital customer experiences in omnichannel grocery, and expand into new areas of business.

Southern Africa, East and West Africa saw their flows of FDI rise in 2021. It was only in Central and North Africa that flows of foreign direct investment were flat or declined, respectively. Flows to North Africa fell by 5 per cent to $9.3 billion.

Egypt saw its FDI drop by 12% as large investments in exploration and production agreements in extractive industries were not repeated. Despite the decline, Egypt has the second highest flows of FDI in 2021 on the continent.

UNCTAD reports that it expects FDI flows to increase in North Africa owing to pledges of as much as US$ 22 billion to the region from Gulf states. In Egypt, according to the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2022 tripled green field projects of US$ 5.6 billion and real estate projects of US$ 1.5 billion.

In Morocco, FDI flows increased by 52% to US$ 2.2 billion. This was driven by a large international project finance deal announced in that country to finance the construction of a power line.

The shrinking economy and resulting unemployment have given birth to an informal economy that has spiralled out of control. Treasury and monetary authorities have been at pains to find ways they can tax the informal sector. The informal economy is difficult, if not impossible, to absorb into the formal economy or to include in the tax pool from which the government can draw revenue.

As the formal economy shrinks, so has Zimbabwe’s effective tax revenue stream, and this problem can only be arrested and mitigated by a growing economy.

An economy characterized by slow or negative growth makes it more difficult for the government to repair its finances. This is because there is a positive relationship between a country’s tax pool and the growth of the economy. A shrinking economy brings with it the added cost of having to provide social safety nets for the vulnerable members of its society.

If the government does not cater to these members of society during times when the economy shrinks, it will invariably experience heightened levels of poverty.

The AfCFTA presents a significant opportunity for African countries to bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and to raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than $5.50 per day.  The AfCFTA is the new anchor to pull multinationals to invest in Africa.

This agreement not only brings hope to African governments but also encourages current efforts on the ground, which improve jobs in Africa.  

The World Bank points out that the AfCFTA will create the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $3.4 trillion.   

It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. 

Economically the World Bank categorizes São Tomé and Príncipe as a lower middle-income state with what it calls a fragile economy.

This is not a mischaracterization as the country relies heavily on the tourism sector, making it much more susceptible to external and exogenous shocks. This assertion is confirmed by the African Development Bank, which reported in its economic outlook on São Tomé and Príncipe that the country’s economy shrank by an estimated 6.4% in 2020 after growing by 2.2% in 2018 and 1.3% in 2019.

Will Ghana’s stance on value addition resonate in Africa?

For the first time in a decade, the contraction in output is attributed to a sharp decline in tourism and service sectors, which were severely hurt by weak external and domestic demand and COVID–19 containment measures.

It is critical to strengthen a professional, independent supervision secretariat to make the AfCFTA agreement’s promise a reality. A strong secretariat can assist states in developing strong domestic institutions to administer, monitor, and enforce the AfCFTA. The moment for change has arrived. The conventional development models have failed Africa. The AfCFTA, on the other hand, signifies that Africa is open for business.

AfCFTA will be a game changer for Africa, but its success depends on certain enablers being present. The first and most obvious impediment and an obstacle to the initiative will be mustering the political will of the signatories to implement the necessary reforms to enable its success.  This may not always be politically feasible or possible.

The less obvious enablers and the financial institutions on the African continent. Their presence and activities have a direct and strong bearing on the success of AfCFTA. One of the foremost bankers on the African continent, Sim Tshabalala, the chief executive of the continent’s largest banking institution by assets, is fond of saying that banking is a derived business. This means that banks butter their bread from the activities of economic agents.

If AfCFTA is to succeed in its quest to merge the various comparative advantages of the countries that constitute Africa it will need champion banks to support the intra and intercontinental trade activity from there being a single market and all participants, both local and foreign looking to make money. Africa will need champion banks to facilitate the flow of capital to worthwhile projects and ensure that the capital deployed into various activities earns the best returns for its providers.

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote in his speech described the new plant as a game changer, as it can make Nigeria self-sufficient in fertilizer production, with spare capacity to export to other markets in Africa and the rest of the world.

While Dangote’s initial export targets were primarily Africa, current market realities mean there is increasing demand from outside the continent. Orders have come from far-flung places in the US, Brazil, Mexico, India, and the EU according to an article by African Business published on May 5, 2022.

According to the World Bank, the proximity of the new fertilizer plant offers a critical window of opportunity for Benin policymakers and the private sector to engage their Nigerian counterparts within the frameworks of the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS), the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and other bilateral agreements to source fertilizer inputs for its farming population to increase food production and meet increasing regional demand for food products. This will make it easier for African countries to improve food production.