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EDITO
Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A paltry eight African have so far ratified the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) more than two years after it was launched in Egypt, raising fears of a failed continental effort to create an expanded trade barrier free market. On 10 June 2015 African leaders launched and signed the TFTA during a summit in the resort town of Sharma El Sheikh. Countries that signed the TFTA included Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Swaziland while Zimbabwe and Zambia signed a week later. The TFTA is espoused to enhance the harmonisation of infrastructure programmes and the development of common programmes for industrial and economic development among the 26 countries in Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the East African Community (EAC).

Youth employment should be at the centre of any strategy to face economic and demographic challenges in Africa, the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva told a joint African Union-European Union meeting, hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome. In 2014 alone, about 11 million young Africans entered the labour market. But many see few opportunities in the agriculture sector and are constrained by a lack of skills, low wages, and limited access to land and financial services. Combined, this makes them more prone to migrate from rural areas. "Fostering sustainable agriculture and rural development is essential to absorb these millions of youth looking for a job," Graziano da Silva said.

Countries from the Indian Ocean Islands and East Africa have come together to develop strategies to tackle illegal fishing and increase accountability in fisheries practices. For two days, representatives from the fishing industry, civil society, governments and fishing administrations from Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique, met on Mahe Island, Seychelles, to discuss the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), a global initiative to tackle illegal fishing. African countries are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and depletion of fish stock due to opaque and unregulated fishing practices by both foreign companies as well as local communities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the fisheries sector in Africa employs more than 12 million people. However, the depletion of fish stock in Africa is a major push factor in the migration of young people to Europe and elsewhere.

Zambia signed trade contracts worth US $100 million with grain traders from eastern Africa on Thursday for the export of 382,640 metric tonnes white maize, soyabeans and other grains. The deals were sealed in Lusaka during a regional Trade Facilitation Forum organised by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in collaboration with Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE), with support of USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and USAID’s Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub. The forum brought together over 195 sellers and buyers of maize, soya beans, common beans, millet and other grain commodities from, Burundi, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The African development bank (AfDB) and Export Trading Group (ETG) have signed a seven-year US$100mn non-sovereign guaranteed corporate loan to finance agricultural projects across Africa. ETG is an agricultural supply chain manager specialising in African commodities. Proceeds from the loan will go towards the company’s five-year Agricultural Investment Programme, which consists of a range of projects to support agricultural production, storage, transport, processing and logistics in 14 countries in Africa. Speaking to GTR, the company’s global head of treasury Anish Jain says the aim of the programme is to “build a bridge between smallholder farmers and international supply chains, as well as promoting intra-African trade”.