AU: Africa must draw lessons from the pandemic to rebuild economy

By Grace Kuria

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – FEBRUARY 11: African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In a statement, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AU) Moussa Faki Mahamat said, “The COVID-19 crisis is a opportunity to reflect and also revisit some of our development strategies.”

He further said that Africa must, therefore, draw lessons from the Coronavirus pandemic to re-adapt in order to build more diversified an endogenous economies that will be more resilient to possible future exogenous shocks.

“To this end, Africa must, in the first instance, explore its own potential and exploit the countless opportunities offered by intra-African trade,” the Chairperson said.

Africa has according to the latest report by Africa CDC reported 3,830,631 cases of Coronavirus, 101,350 deaths and 3,383,956 recoveries.

Namibia’s tourism industry loses $220 million due to COVID-19 pandemic

By XINHUA

Namibia’s tourism industry lost about 3.2 billion Namibian dollars (about 220 million US dollars) from travel-related service as a result of COVID-19, Bank of Namibia governor Johannes Gawaxab said Wednesday.

According to Gawaxab, the lack of activity due to the restriction of people’s movements and the compulsory closure of leisure and catering facilities due to the dangers of traveling had a devastating effect on the industry which is one of the main contributors to the country’s economy.

“A study carried out by the sector which is yet to be released showed devastating results. About 70 percent of businesses in the sector recorded bookings below 10 percent of normal bookings,” Gawaxab said.

He said, pre-COVID-19, Namibia received over 40,000 tourists a month but between September and December last year, the country only received about 6,700 tourists.

S. Africans to spend more on e-commerce for Valentines Day: FNB

By XINHUA

South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) on Saturday said this year’s Valentine’s Day will be subdued with strained household budgets and limited entertainment options, however, people will spend more to shop online from e-commerce retailers

The FNB said, in the past lovers spent a lot buying chocolates, flowers, general gifts and jewellery.

“Although consumers are faced with financial pressure, our data shows that Valentine’s Day remains a popular period in which people celebrate and spoil their loved ones,” said Raj Makanjee, CEO of retail and private banking at FNB.

According to FNB’s retail insights, there was a 74 percent increase in spend during Valentine’s week in 2020 versus the preceding week and jewellery spend increased 35 percent compared to the week prior.

Spending on chocolate increased by 171 percent during Valentine’s week in 2020 compared to the previous week. There is a 316 percent increase in online chocolate purchases when compared to the 125 percent increase in instore purchases.

“This year, we expect a further uptick in consumers who shop online from e-commerce retailers. We encourage all our customers to spend wisely,” he said.

South Africans have in the past year been faced with declining disposable income caused by the COVID-19.

Kenya Airways makes history by converting Boeing Dreamliner into cargo aircraft

By Grace Kuria

Kenya Airways (KQ) and privately held aerospace company Avianor have made history with the first-ever cabin cargo repurposing of a Boeing 787 into a so-called “preighter”. A “preighter” is a passenger aircraft that has been converted to carry cargo.

The term, and the need for preighters, came about as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The joint project between Kenya Airways and Avianor will help meet the growing demand for increased cargo capacity as well as the demand for essential and medical goods while supporting future commercial opportunities thereby contributing to the stimulation of the local and regional economies.

It also demonstrates Kenya Airways and Avianor’s role as trailblazers in the aero industry.

KQ Group Managing Director and Chief Executive officer Allan Kilavuka said “KQ’s purpose is to contribute to the sustainable development of Africa.

“The preighter will enable us to bridge businesses and enhance connectivity. Kenya will export more goods to our partners across the globe and stimulate business for local suppliers.”

“It’s important to operate in the most competitive manner. I want to thank Kenya Airways and its partners. Together we can all continue to see greater recovery.” said the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty C. Maina.

While on his part, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said “We are proud of this achievement. This and other events point to the rebound of the aviation industry and are a testament to its ability to innovate in the face of one of the hardest challenges faced by humanity. This development is a bold step for Kenya Airways.”

Work on the repurposed cabin which began in late 2020 has been certified to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo, potentially enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tonnes.

JKIA has a capacity of 1.2 million, including 9,000m² of cold room facilities, undoubtedly, the leading cargo hub in Africa, with the launch of the cargo preighter being timely as it enhances JKIA’s cargo capacity and ability to handle transshipments of Covid 19 vaccines, as well as fresh produce exporters who send their goods to the European market.

Kenyan leader says AfCFTA will boost African economies

By XINHUA

Kenyan President delivers a national address in Nairobi on September 14, 2018. /VCG

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Wednesday that the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will assist the continent in overcoming some of its pressing economic challenges.

Kenyatta said the Africa trade pact which entered into force on Jan. 1, has the potential to accelerate continental integration efforts by promoting people-to-people interactions through trade.

Kenyatta, who was speaking during a meeting with visiting AfCFTA’s Secretary-General Wamkele Mene who paid him a courtesy call in Nyeri County in central Kenya, reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to AfCFTA.

Analysts say full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing, and natural resources sectors.

On his part, Mene briefed the Kenyan leader on AfCFTA’s road map which prioritizes industrial development, women and the youth, and thanked Kenya for backing his successful bid to lead the Pan-African institution.

Uganda Airlines receives second Airbus A330-800neo aircraft

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Uganda’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines, on Tuesday received its second Airbus A330-800neo aircraft at the Entebbe International Airport as it continues preparation for building its international long-haul flight network.

Entebbe Airport, Uganda where Uganda Airlines received its second Airbus A330-800neo aircraft. © 2020 Sumy Sadurni/AFP via Getty Images

The plane arrived at the airport carrying five tons of medical goods from UNICEF which will be used to support neonatal intensive care units in Uganda.

A statement from the airline said the addition of the plane will offer “a new world” of greater connectivity for travelers in addition to “superior comfort and the best passenger experience”.

“…this new wide-body pair will serve the carrier’s international network expansion with flights from its hub at Entebbe International Airport, to intercontinental destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”

The first plane was received last month with the airline targeting commencement of its long haul operations this year.

“This is a boost to tourism, travel, business and investment in the country. Let us promote and patronise our airline and grow the economy,” Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said.

Uganda Airlines was established in May 1976 as the national carrier of Uganda. The airline collapsed in May 2001 after years of losses and mismanagement. Efforts to privatise it failed.

In 2018, President Museveni told Parliament that the government would revive the defunct national carrier. The airline, which is wholly owned by the Ugandan government, re-launched its operations in August last year and flies to a number of destinations including Nairobi, Juba and Dar es Salaam.

It is one of the flagship projects of the administration of President Yoweri Museveni.

Uganda coffee exports surge in 2020 due to good weather

By CGTN Africa

Uganda’s coffee exports grew by 972,962 bags in 2020, a 22 percent increase from 2019.

The increase is the highest since 1991 according to Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the country’s agency mandated to control and market the crop.

BUNJAKO ISLAND, MPIGI DISTRICT, UGANDA – SEPTEMBRE 25: Farmer sun drying coffee beans in an organic farm on Septembre 25, 2018 in Bunjako island, Mpigi district, Uganda. (Photo by Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Uganda earned $515.94 million from the exports. In 2019, the East African country shipped 4,519,563 bags, fetching $436.54 million.

This represents a 22 percent and 18 percent increase in quantity and value respectively.

In December alone, coffee exported amounted to 422,922 60-kilo bags worth $37.78m.

The improved performance was attributed to an increase in production driven by newly planted coffee trees and favorable weather.

Uganda’s coffee is mostly sold in its raw form. The country produces both Robusta and Arabica coffee.

Much of the crop is grown by smallholder farmers in the central, eastern, and western regions of the country.

On export destinations, Italy maintained its top spot among countries with a high affinity for Ugandan coffee, followed by Germany, Sudan, Belgium, and India.

African countries that consume Uganda’s coffee the most are Sudan, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, and South Sudan.

Europe is the main destination for Uganda’s coffees with a 63 percent import share.

Uganda’s government has set itself an ambitious target to increase exports of the crop to 20 million bags by 2025. Coffee is the country’s main cash crop.

Namibia to minimize agricultural imports

By XINHUA

A farm worker applies biochar in the field during a demonstration at a farm 40 km from Windhoek, capital of Namibia, on Oct. 8, 2020. (Photo by Musa C Kaseke/Xinhua)

Namibia will minimize importing agriculture products and prioritize creating market access for locally produced goods to stimulate economic growth, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein said Tuesday.

Schlettwein said the move aims to empower Namibian farmers and allow them a fair chance to supply their goods to the local market.

“We have seen that the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) is doing a good job in minimizing imports of agriculture and horticulture products that can be produced locally. We have since laid a plan to improve production in our green scheme projects by improving the irrigation systems there as a way of giving local farmers a better chance to improve their farming techniques,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NAB said in a report released this week that they have heavily scaled up the production of grain reaching 76,660 tons of white maize, 2,344 tons of pearl millet and 6,863 tons of wheat in the previous farming season.

The NAB, a regulatory body under the Ministry of Agriculture, also said that they have achieved 60 percent local production of white maize, 40 percent of pearl millet and 4 percent of wheat respectively and have set plans to improve local fruit and vegetable production and reduce the country’s imports.

Ford Motor Company makes $1 billion investment in South Africa

By CGTN Africa

Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.05 billion into the automaker’s Silverton, South Africa plant.

The upgrades will boost the site’s annual capacity by almost a fifth to 200,000 units and create about 1,200 direct jobs, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It’s the biggest investment in Ford’s 97-year history in South Africa and one of the largest ever in the local automotive industry,” said Andrea Cavallaro, operations director of Ford’s International Market Group during the announcement event.

The outlay will support the production of a new Ranger pickup truck starting in 2022, both for domestic sales and exports.

The move comes after Ford announced in January that it is ceasing production in Brazil after a century of building cars there, closing three factories and cutting 5,000 workers. The U.S.-based company also eliminated thousands of positions in Europe as part of a sweeping $11 billion global reorganization, and culled about 1,400 salaried employees in the U.S. in 2020.

Ford’s fresh investment and jobs will come as a welcome boost to South Africa, where almost a third of the workforce is unemployed. The country has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns and a resurgence of infections weighing on activity, and 2020 economic output probably contracted the most in at least nine decades.

Production at the Silverton plant, which also makes the Everest SUV, will include VW pickups as part of a strategic alliance between the carmakers. The partnership agreement was signed in June, almost two years after it was first announced, and was eventually expanded to include electric and self-driving cars.

Ford also aims to make the Silverton plant entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral by 2024, Cavallaro said. The moves will help keep the plant operating in the event of one of South Africa’s frequent power outages.

Story compiled with assistance from Bloomberg and Reuters

Sisi: Egypt’s mega projects present ‘great opportunity’ for foreign investors

By CGTN Africa

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Tuesday the size of the ongoing national megaprojects is a “great opportunity” and a “promising market” for foreign companies to invest in the various development domains.

Sisi’s remarks were made during a meeting with Rodolphe Saade, CEO and Chairman of the CMA CGM Group’s Board of Directors, along with a number of the company’s officials.

The meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli and Transport Minister Kamel al-Wazir, had addressed cooperation with the French company to operate the multi-purpose terminal in Alexandria Port, Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi said in a statement.

The Egyptian president directed to boost cooperation with CMA CGM Group to develop Alexandria port administration and promote the port’s activities at the regional and international levels.

This will be by applying international standards in port operation process and with the aim of reaching record rates in loading and unloading in a way that will help raise the global classification of the Egyptian ports, Radi added.

Meanwhile, the statement said Rodolphe Saade had lauded the business climate in Egypt, referring to CMA CGM Group’s plans to cooperate with the Egyptian side in managing ports. The French company also looks forward to expanding its scope of work to include operating logistics areas and additional terminals in other ports beside the Alexandria Port, Saade added.

The statement also quoted Saade as saying that CMA CGM Group plans to establish a technology training centre to qualify young people to work in the maritime transport and logistics sector, as part of its interest in raising the capabilities of Egyptian cadres.