The European Business Council for Africa

Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom, this week announced that it has signed an MoU with Zimbabwe to help the southern African country establish a nuclear power program.

It’s the latest addition to a growing list of almost two dozen nuclear power deals Moscow has made with African countries. This includes Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Egypt, South Africa, Sudan, and even tiny Burundi.

With the possible exception of South Africa - home to the continent’s only operational nuclear reactor - these agreements are very dubious.

None of the countries listed have the financing capacity or infrastructure requirements to develop a meaningful nuclear program. Zimbabwe’s economy is in crisis, with the country struggling to provide basic services or employment. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week said it will draw up a proposal for a potential $650bn general allocation of its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to support global economic recovery efforts.

SDRs are the institution’s reserve asset, which member countries can exchange for a basket of five currencies - the dollar, euro, yen, renminbi, and sterling. They can provide liquidity and boost reserves in times of need, with the added appeal of coming without the IMF’s dreaded conditionality.

In simple terms, it’s the lender’s version of printing money.

The plan is expected to be formally considered in June, and will carry the hopes of developing economies with it.

There’s been extensive lobbying for an increase to SDRs as an effective way to channel much-needed cash to developing regions, with much of this focusing on Africa. (...)

Context

On 15 February 2021, the World Health Organization listed the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for both emergency use and distribution via the COVAX facility. The African Regulatory Taskforce subsequently endorsed the WHO emergency use listing for this vaccine and the first shipments to Africa were initiated from the COVAX facility, with Ghana receiving the first consignment.
On 10 March 2021, the European Medicines Agency announced that four European countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (batch no. ABV5300) following reports of blood clots and bleeding disorders from Austria.
Similar events were reported by additional European members states during this time and by 15 March 2021, six countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine (batch no. ABV5300), 11 countries paused their AstraZeneca vaccination campaigns entirely regardless of batch, while three countries indicated that they will continue use of the vaccine.

The European Union has approved additional funds for a project supporting the African nation’s quest to diversify exports and reduce its dependency on oil for economic growth.

UNCTAD’s work in Angola has received a €780,000 (about $950,000) boost from the European Union.

The money, provided through the EU-funded Train For Trade II programme for Angola, will strengthen the organization’s work to help the country build the productive capacities necessary to diversify its economy.

Oil accounted for about 33% of the African nations’ GDP and 93% of its exports in 2019.

“Productive capacities are the engine of sustainable economic growth and the key to transforming Angola’s economy,” said Paul Akiwumi, UNCTAD’s director for Africa and least developed countries.

In February 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in sub-Saharan Africa. Simultaneously with the spread of the disease, African countries were being affected by disruptions of global supply chains of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies. The pandemic resulted in a sharp contraction of trade worldwide, with severe knock-on effects in sub-Saharan Africa on economic growth, poverty and food insecurity.

A recent study projects that COVID-19 will result in persistent shifts in African trade patterns by 2030. African countries are expected to trade more with China and less with Europe, the United States (US) and India.

The study was conducted by an international research consortium comprising the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), and Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). It uses scenarios to quantify the effect of COVID-19 on bilateral trade patterns for 10 African countries – Angola, Cabo Verde, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa.

Agence Francaise De Developpement (AFD) is investing €2 billion in Nigeria.

The French Development Agency (AFD) is a development finance institution 100 per cent held by French government.

In Nigeria, it is mainly into financing of infrastructure projects (water, energy, transport and agriculture).

It also involves in financing related to banking sector, governance and the cultural and creative industries.

Speaking to THISDAY, the AFD Country Director Nigeria, Pascal Grangereau, said €2 billion was set aside to be sent on mainly road financing, water sector, improvement in electricity and agriculture.

He said €300 million was being spent on the Abuja Electricity Backup, a project in collaboration with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to improve electricity at the nation’s capital.

Grangereau said a total of €200 million is equally expended on the North West Electricity Backup.

On agriculture, he said vocational training is currently held across the nation to improve the skills of Nigerians.

On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, CCA hosted an exclusive high-level dialogue with H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, focused on how digital technologies and partnerships can unlock new pathways for economic growth in Africa. The dialogue was moderated by award-winning journalist, Zain Verjee, Founder & CEO of Zain Verjee Group.

CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser kicked off the dialogue, expressing that CCA was pleased to facilitate the conversation and connect the Silicon and Savannah Valleys. Ms. Liser noted the significance of U.S.-Africa partnership, stating, “If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are better off working together, and our ability to collaborate is critical for post-pandemic economic recovery both here in the United States and in Africa.”

During the discussion, H.E. President Kenyatta underlined the notable impact of technology as a driver of growth in Kenya over the past 20 years. “Today as we speak, as a result of digitization, technology, internet penetration, almost 95% of all Kenyans have access to financial services as opposed to less than 20 years ago when only 25% of the population had a bank account.”

The Netherlands Ministry for Trade and Development Cooperation is extending a €6 million grant to the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), to support the ALSF’s work providing legal and technical services to low-income countries to give them more clout in commercial dealings.

The funding will be disbursed over a three-year period. ALSF Director Stephen Karangizi thanked the Netherlands, a shareholder of the African Development Bank, for its strong support over the years. “The assistance will help the ALSF to better respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and help countries to recover much faster to enhance sustainable, inclusive development in Africa,” he said.

Since 2013, the Netherlands has cumulatively provided €15.5 million to the ALSF to ensure that African countries achieve maximum economic value for their resources.

The funds provided by the Netherlands enabled the ALSF to successfully assist many African governments to strengthen their legal expertise and negotiating capacities, particularly in the areas of natural resources and extractives.

The governments of Norway and the United Kingdom have extended grants of around £2.6 million to the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) to support its activities over the next two years.

The Norwegian government, through its Agency for Development Cooperation, provided 20 million Norwegian kroner (around £1.6 million) to support the 2021 and 2022 work programs of the ALSF.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom is providing a £1 million grant to the ALSF, which will go to supporting debt management capacity in low-income African countries. The funding forms part of a cooperation agreement signed by the two parties.

The UK grant is in line with the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, supported by the IMF and the World Bank, and comes as African countries continue to implement urgent measures to manage the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts, including the strain on their debt portfolios.

The government has plans to amend the special economic zones regulations and invited the public to send in their comments or feedback.But even as the call for submission still continues, Faiza Ahmed has been out in the field to check the progress of the Special Economic Zones touted as the panacea to promote and facilitate both domestic and foreign investments in Kenya. Here is what he found out.