Minister Davies Emphasises the Significance of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to Africa’s Development

Minister Davies Emphasises the Significance of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to Africa’s Development

PRETORIA, South Africa, March 27, 2018/ — The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies today (March 26, 2018) briefed the media on the outcomes the African Continent Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the African Union Extraordinary Summit that took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018. Minister Davies reiterated the importance of the AfCFTA to Africa’s development.

“The AfCFTA will boost intra-Africa trade and create a bigger market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of $2.6 trillion that will unlock industrial development” said Davies. He emphasised that for the AfCFTA to have broader benefits it has to be complemented by cooperation on industrial and infrastructure development which are key components of the development integration approach. This will ensure that the African continent addresses the productive and supply-side constraints.

Furthermore, he stated that the AfCFTA is an economic imperative to address the challenge of small and fragmented markets. It is also being established at a time when the multilateral trading system is facing challenges.

Minister Davies attended an Informal WTO Ministers Meeting on 19 and 20 March 2018 in New Delhi, India. He emphasised that Africa’s overriding economic objectives are to advance integration and industrialisation across the continent in line with Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

“We seek the policy space to pursue these objectives, and the WTO should enable their achievement or at a minimum not impede them,” said Davies.

Minister Davies also briefed the media about South Africa’s position regarding the Section 232 investigation by the United States of America (U.S.) on steel and aluminium products. President Donald Trump has signed Proclamations to impose a 10 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles alleging that imports of these products threaten to impair US national security.

He reiterated SA’s concern that some of the tariff lines included in the Proclamations are covered under Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and the General System of Preferences and the application of duties will erode the benefits under these preferential arrangements. He emphasised South Africa does not a pose a threat to US national security and to the US steel and aluminium industries but is a source of strategic primary and secondary products used in further value added manufacturing in the US contributing to job creation in both countries.

Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business

Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 23, 2018/ — Speakers at the International Conference on Responsible and Inclusive Finance (ICRIF) held in Kigali on 21 March urged Rwandan microfinance institutions (MFIs) to embrace new-age technology to streamline their operations and to enhance their ability to extend financial inclusion among the country’s unbanked and underbanked population.

Straton Habyalimana, senior programme manager for responsible financing at the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion Network, told the 400 delegates at the conference that MFIs should adopt digital platforms to enhance their interactions with their customers. Kigali-based digital financial services expert, James Kwezi, said that MFIs should use technology to become more efficient and profitable.

This aligns with the National Bank of Rwanda’s (BNR) call to Rwandan financial sector firms to embrace automation to reduce their operating costs and their rate of bad loans. “Many microfinance institutions in East Africa still depend on paper-driven processes or Excel spreadsheets to manage their businesses,” commented Vedran Lescan, business development manager at Oradian, a global financial inclusion company that delivers a cloud-based toolset for financial institutions.

“But with the latest advances in financial technology (fintech) and cloud software, Rwandan MFIs now have access to powerful, affordable tools that can help them transform inefficiencies into operational excellence, scale their businesses for rapid growth and get better visibility into the performance of their portfolios. This, in turn, can boost their profitability and enable them to better serve the needs of their financially excluded customers.”

At the conference, Lescan took part in a panel discussion about finding ways to overcome the challenges that financial institutions face when it comes to adopting new technology and implementing it across an entire business with multiple branches.

He said: “Data migration is an important step in digital transformation, but organisations often overlook it or underestimate how time-consuming and complex it can be. Even though an MFI’s workforce can quickly learn a new system, the software wont add value if data isn’t migrated from the previous legacy system or from spreadsheets in a consistent manner.”

As part of Oradian’s toolset, Oradian’s in-market teams provide data migration training and support to ensure the financial institution’s data is treated as an asset that enables better decision-making and better client service. Lescan also advised MFIs to seek out toolsets that offer robust security and data protection features, including audit trails, user permissions and other functions to combat data leakages, fraud and user error.

“Today’s technology offers financial institutions in Africa countless opportunities to improve their business,” Lescan said. “However, financial inclusion leaders are promoting partnerships with fintech providers, rather than vendor relationships, to drive truly successful implementations. “

Fintech partnerships provide financial institutions with the resources and global best practice they need to rapidly overcome the common challenges of digital transformation.

“Strategic partnerships within the digital ecosystem are proving to be the most effective way to enable our customers to provide better service to their end-clients,” Lescan said. “We are eager to work with the central bank, MFIs and other members of the value chain to drive financial inclusion in Rwanda.”

Africa Innovation Summit II – Call for Application Launched across Africa for Innovations Addressing Continent’s Challenges

Africa Innovation Summit II – Call for Application Launched across Africa for Innovations Addressing Continent’s Challenges

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 13, 2018/ — The Africa Innovation Summit (AIS II), which will take place from 6-8 June 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, under the esteemed patronage of His Excellences President Paul Kagame and Pedro Pires (ex-President of Cabo Verde), announced a call for applications to innovators across Africa whose solutions have the potential to solve the continent’s challenges.

The AIS II seeks innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS II will bring together people with the power to act, from all parts of the continent and elsewhere, including Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, corporates, innovators, investors, policy makers and academics, researchers, as well as policy, science and technology experts, with the aim of building robust ecosystems for innovation in Africa to ensure Africa’s structural transformation.

Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, indicated that “AIS provides more than a robust and dynamic platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue, but rather a catalyst for “Made in Africa” innovations that are already addressing the challenges faced on the continent, but need assistance to take root and scale across the continent.”

The AIS has partnered with Enterpriseroom, a transformation consultancy specializing in starting, sustaining, and accelerating businesses, to drive the sourcing and selection of up to 50 Innovations across the continent, to be showcased at the Summit. The CEO of Entepriseroom, Tracey Webster, said “We are delighted to partner with the AIS and believe the innovations selected to be showcased at the Summit will have a unique opportunity to engage the right stakeholders when it comes to discussing and unlocking blockages in the eco-system that are preventing solutions from going to scale, or ideas being commercialized.” AIS firmly believes that the solutions are in Africa and innovators need to be at the table architecting a conducive environment for Innovation to thrive in Africa.

AIS is therefore calling all African innovators to apply for this unique opportunity. The innovators selected must meet the following criteria:

  • Know or have an innovative idea or solution that can drive positive change in Africa and;
  • The solution must be at a critical stage: either ready to commercialize or ready to scale.

The identified innovators will meet influential people, policy makers, and investors who are ready to discuss Africa’s development challenges and ways to solve them. They will also have the opportunity to interact with like-minded African innovators and change agents who are driving a new era of change in Africa.

Applications and additional information can be found on the AIS website: https://goo.gl/gYCCyq

Applications close Friday, 30 March 2018.

Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Concluded by African Union Ministers of Trade Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda

Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Concluded by African Union Ministers of Trade Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda

PRETORIA, South Africa, March 12, 2018/ — The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies and Deputy Minister Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe have arrived back in South Africa after attending the African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.

The African Ministers of Trade considered and approved, for submitting to the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government, the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as well as the Protocols on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services that will form part of the Agreement. The Ministers also approved a Work Programme for concluding the outstanding issues for implementation that will start after the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the AU Heads of State and Government that will take place on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The negotiations were launched in Johannesburg in June 2015. The AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in January 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, agreed to hold an Extraordinary Summit on 21 March 2018 to consider the AfCFTA legal instruments and Declaration launching the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The envisaged AfCFTA offers an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment. South Africa is, therefore, committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of approximately US$2.6 trillion. Beyond the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products and services in West Africa and North Africa.

The AfCFTA is being pursued under the development integration approach. This combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value-added products, as well as alleviate the chronic infrastructure deficit in Africa. The AfCFTA is also expected to facilitate the movement of goods and services among African countries. It will also result in harmonisation of customs documentation and processes thus enhancing trade facilitation.

#AIS2018 – Registration Announcement

#AIS2018 – Registration Announcement

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 8, 2018/ — This June the Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) will bring together about 1,000 innovators, entrepreneurs, policy makers, business and political leaders, as well as academics, researchers and investors who are “thinkers and doers” to join minds for three days in the land of thousand rolling hills Kigali, Rwanda to reflect on how Africans can innovate to address the pressing challenges facing the continent, such as water, energy, food security, health, governance and poverty.

This is a three-day event of inspiring talks, dialogues, hands-on exploration, and futures oriented analysis aimed at mobilizing and inspiring stakeholders to undertake collective actions to promote innovation and the building of robust innovation ecosystems in Africa able to provide the enabling environment to finally address the perennial challenges facing the continent.

The AIS is an exciting and dynamic event that is focused on “how to promote innovation in Africa.” The AIS promotes “synthesis” and it is not simply a tech-oriented platform. The AIS will include an Exhibition Track with up to 50 Start-ups and SMEs to showcase “Made in Africa” innovations to address the challenges facing the continent.

So come participate and work with us to build the AIS into a continental platform for the promotion of innovation in Africa.