Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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EDITO
Sunday, 17 December 2017

The European Commission and the EU’s foreign policy chief on May 4 presented a revitalised framework for joint action, to build a stronger strategic partnership between Europe and Africa for more prosperity and stability in the two continents. The 27-country bloc is Africa’s closest neighbour and main partner. The Communication presents innovative proposals in a number of key areas – such as peace and security, migration, job creation or energy, the Commission said, noting that this comes ahead of the Africa-EU Summit in November this year, which will put a specific focus on youth. Closer EU-Africa cooperation would help tackle global challenges such as terrorism and transnational crime, climate change, epidemics, pressure on natural resources, humanitarian crises, irregular migration.

It will now be easier and faster for the business community in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to report trade barriers within the tripartite regional economic bloc, thanks to a new short messaging service (SMS) system. According to experts, the innovation that was launched last week will help improve regional trade. Souef Kamalidini, the Director General of Customs of the Union of Comoros, said the SMS tool will supplement the current web-based online system for reporting, monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) used by COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A similar system is used by the Northern Corridor countries to report NTBs. The tripartite online reporting system is a real-time mechanism for reporting, processing, monitoring and resolving NTBs.

The ministry of Trade together with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) are in advanced stages of developing a strategy to improve trade across borders. The proposed strategy lays out planned interventions and priorities that will eliminate some of the challenges faced by women and informal traders. Addressing the participants during a stakeholders' meeting to review the strategy held in Kampala last week, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said government is going to coordinate different stakeholders in different ministries charged with trade facilitation. "The strategy has also been developed and approved and we are now going to present to Cabinet. We are giving it less than a month. We are also going to ensure that they work on infrastructure and also approve the National Export Development Strategy which comprises all these projects," she said.

According to EY’s 2016 Africa attractiveness program 2017, staying the course, despite a relative slow down, Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Most East African economies continued to grow strongly in 2016, with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia all among the fastest growing on the continent. Kenya, which is East Africa’s anchor economy (and SSA’s fourth largest), saw investment flag in 2016 after a bumper year in 2015. FDI projects were down 57.9%, while capital investment declined by 55.5%. However, if we take a longer-term perspective, FDI into Kenya has tended to ebb and flow year-on-year, similar to the experience of Nigeria.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are determined to "undertake the reforms needed to transform the ACP Group into an effective global player, fit for the 21st century, and responsive to the emerging priorities" of member states. This emerged from the two-day gathering of the ACP Council of Ministers who concluded the 105th session on May 4 with key decisions that will influence how the bloc of 79 countries will carve out a more effective role in the international arena. According to the President of the Council, Ethiopia's Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Dr Abraham Tekeste, "The current occupancy of the Presidency of the UN General Assembly by Fiji, and the current membership of Senegal and Ethiopia in the UN Security Council, serve to underscore the positive contributions by ACP countries at the global levels."