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EDITO
Monday, 18 December 2017

Africa needs to foster partners in the developed world to further boost its international trade and economic growth. This is the consensus at the recent maiden forum on “Belarus-Africa: New Frontiers’’ held in Belarus. The forum, organised by the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Belarusian Government brought together government officials and businesses in Belarus and Africa to explore more opportunities on trade relations. Dr Bernard Oramah, the President of Afreximbank, who set the tone of discussion at the forum, said that though the total African trade grew one trillion dollars in 2016, Africa had the potential to grow the trade volume exponentially in the next few years. He said that economic prosperity of the continent was, in the main, being stifled by poor infrastructure, stressing that Africa needed 93 billion dollars annually in the next 10 years to bridge the infrastructure deficit.

Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently met to discuss the investment climate scorecard targeted at unlocking investment in the region. In a chat with CNBC Africa, Kalilou Traore, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, spoke on the need for more formal trading in the region and Morocco’s integration into the organisation. In the area of economic integration, our aim to create a regional common market regarding trade, industrialization, investment and many other issues in different sectors. We noticed that one of the biggest challenges is the investment ratio. The gap of investment in our region is very huge. An estimation of our need may be around $45 to $50 billion every year.

The African Development Bank has approved a US $100- million facility to finance Export Trading Group (ETG’s) soft commodity value chain operations in sub-Saharan Africa. This Soft Commodity Finance Facility (SCFF) is one of the core Trade Finance instruments in the Bank, innovatively structured to provide pre- and post-shipment finance along various stages of ETG’s commodity value chain operations in the 17 countries expected to benefit from the initiative. This intervention will help local farmers and soft commodity suppliers grow their revenues and produce quality crops for export.

Official potato trial seed sent to Kenya has passed initial lab tests and is now growing well in three locations. AHDB and SASA have been working together to open the Kenyan market to GB seed with a bilateral agreement signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments late last year. Since then, there has been a significant amount of work behind the scenes to transport, test and plant seed on Kenyan farms. AHDB’s Head of Crops Export Market Development, Rob Burns, explains: “Before commercial growers can access the market, trial seed needs to be tested and grown over two seasons in at least three geographical locations in Kenya. Fortunately in Kenya there are two growing seasons annually so we hope to reach the end of this process, and open up the market fully, by early 2018.

The focus is currently on the failed Navel crop in this South African citrus import season. "At the moment, this has meant a loss of 100% of the export volume for some farmers in the Eastern Cape. In the Western Cape, 25 - 30% of the product has been lost. Overall, it has been a traumatic event for growers, whose fruit lies split on the ground", says Tjeerd Hoekstra, Commercial Manager of Total Produce Rotterdam.All this is ensuring good prices for oranges from overseas, with other citrus products are also priced well. "There are fewer grapefruits being sent, and this reflects in the prices. Prices have been good since the beginning of the season and with a level of between 17 and 19 cents, remains on the high side", says Tjeerd.