ACP news – Post date: July 8th, 2020.


If you weren’t able to take part in the webinar organised by Business ACP for MSME Day last week, you can view video and documents at “COVID-19 crisis: Mitigating its impact on MSMEs of OACPS countries, identifying and leveraging opportunities” featured a speech by HE Mr Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-General of the OACPS, as well as presentations from representatives of the Caribbean Development Export Agency (CEDA); East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (EACCIA); West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI); Union des Patronats d’Afrique Centrale (UNIPACE); and Organisation des Professionnels des TIC du Sénégal (OPTIC).

You can also view contributions from all the ACP regions:

  • Caribbean – a webinar hosted by CEDA and CARICOM highlighted measures taken by the CARIFORUM countries to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time identify ways for Caribbean MSMEs to leverage the opportunities that have arisen as a result of the crisis.
  • Pacific – a webinar hosted by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), dedicated to World MSME Day; and a webinar hosted by PIPSO and the International Labour Organization on the diverse aspects of ICT/digital transformation with regard to the pandemic and considerations going forward.
  • West Africa – a statement from the Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), and one example of the impact of the pandemic: “Covid-19: Impact on Nigerian MSMEs”.
  • Central Africa – a webinar hosted by Chambre de Commerce, d’Industrie, des Mines et de l’Artisanat du Cameroun (CCIMA) about the impact of the pandemic on MSMEs, and examples “The case of Cameroon” (CCIMA) and “Making handcrafted masks” (Chambre Consulaire of Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo).
  • East Africa – initiatives by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to support MSMEs in response to COVID-19.
  • Southern Africa – a message from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council.

Launch of AKADEMIYA2063

1 July saw the launch of AKADEMIYA2063, the migration to an African organisation of a significant portfolio of research activities that the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has hosted for the past 15 years. They are the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS; co-publisher of the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor Report); the African Growth and Development Policy Modeling Consortium (AGRODEP); and the Malabo Montpellier Panel (MaMo). AKADEMIYA2063 is based in Kigali, Rwanda and will operate a regional office in Dakar, Senegal. Executive Chairperson Ousmane Badiane said “The intention of AKADEMIYA2063 is to build a bridge, not just between the African scientific community and decision making actors, but also between the science community in Africa and our peers around the world. […] The spelling of AKADEMIYA reflects the African identity of the organization: its spelling remains unchanged in many African languages, from Swahili to Mooré to Hausa to Xosa. 2063 refers to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa We Want,’ to express our focus on this broader agenda and its needs for data, analytics and evidence.”

AfDB: Agricultural value chains must be digitalised

The African Development Bank says Africa must seize the opportunity of the COVID-19 pandemic to deepen the digitalisation of agricultural value chains and transform the sector (AfDB, 22 June). This was the conclusion of a webinar jointly hosted by AfDB and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Investment Centre on 10 June: “Digitalization to transform agriculture in Africa and respond to COVID-19”, which explored digital responses that can be quickly deployed to address the disruptions to food systems caused by COVID-19. It also examined the requirements for digital transformation in agriculture on the continent.

Nearly 500 people participated, representing agri-tech, telecom, government agency implementers, policymakers, farmers and development partners. Contributors identified potential investments for the digital transformation of African agriculture during and after COVID-19, ranging from digital profiling of value chain actors to mobile payments and e-commerce. The participants also discussed the necessary policy and regulatory frameworks for inclusiveness, scalability and viability, including for data governance and protection, digital financial products, digital ID systems, e-contracts and e-extension services. The meeting proposed the bundling of digital services, agri-tech innovation challenges and open systems to help build financially viable supply capacity.

“We must also use this wave of interest to build digital platforms that facilitate linkages between value chain actors at much-reduced transaction costs,” said Martin Fregene, the Bank’s Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industries.

The webinar was the first of a four-part series discussing transforming agriculture in Africa through digitalisation. A 24 June webinar discussed “Advisory services and big data analytics”, and there are two events still to come:

8 July: “Improving market access through e-commerce”
22 July: “Financial inclusion”

African Development Fund grant for COVID-19 response in East Africa

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) have approved grants totalling $9.52 million to strengthen responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa and the Horn, and in the Comoros (AfDB News, 30 June). The beneficiaries are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The funds will be used to bolster health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention and control, and improve regional coordination by the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to contain cross-border transmissions. Countries in Eastern and the Horn of Africa are enforcing stringent border measures to mitigate the cross-border transmissions that have led to disruptions in the movement of people, trade flows and access to essential goods. The project will tackle these challenges by improving testing and case detection capacity at border crossings and improving regional coordination.

COMESA pilots digital Rules of Origin system

Burundi, Rwanda and Kenya are among 15 members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) ready to pilot the COMESA Electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO) system (The East African, 30 June). The eCO, developed under the COMESA Digital Free Trade Area (FTA) initiative, is expected to facilitate intra-regional trade through reduction in the costs and time required in registration, application and submission of certificates and the post-verification of originating goods. Other countries in the ready group are the DR Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Implementing the eCo system has gained urgency given the challenges that movement of goods across borders is facing as a result of restrictive coronavirus measures. Certificates of Origin are issued to exporters within the COMESA’s FTA to confer preferential treatment to goods originating from an FTA member. The uptake of the electronic certificate has not gained traction in the past for lack of the necessary regulations under the COMESA Rules of Origin.

“The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for speedy implementation of the COMESA eCO by all Member States,” said the trading bloc’s director of Trade and Customs, Dr Christopher Onyango (The Chronicle, 22 June). “This, together with the improvement of customs cooperation and trade facilitation, will no doubt enhance intra-regional trade and attract more investments into the region.” Dr Onyango noted that the region faces two critical challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stagnant value of intra-COMESA trade. “It is rather disheartening that despite the preferences offered under the FTA, intra-COMESA trade is at eight percent of total trade, compared to Africa’s 15 percent, America’s 47 percent, Asia’s 61 percent and Europe’s 67 percent,” Dr Onyango noted.

SADC: Guidelines to ease cross-border transport

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers has approved revised regional guidelines to ease cross-border transport operations in the region amid the COVID-19 pandemic (Xinhuanet, 24 June). A statement following a one-day extraordinary virtual meeting of the SADC Council of Ministers, hosted by Tanzania, says the approved guidelines are aimed at harmonising and coordinating COVID-19 response measures to promote safe trade and transport facilitation for economic growth and poverty alleviation in the SADC region.

The statement adds that the approved guidelines are also aimed at facilitating the adoption and implementation of harmonised standard operating procedures for management and monitoring of cross-border road transport at designated points of entry and COVID-19 checkpoints. Palamagamba Kabudi, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation and chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers meeting, called on the SADC region to continue exhibiting determination and solidarity while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary, said “All indications show that until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is found, which might take a while, the region has to remain pragmatic and vigilant by considering both health requirements and socio-economic imperatives.”

ECOWAS draws roadmap for reopening of borders

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has drawn a roadmap for the reopening of borders in the sub-region (GhanaWeb, 25 June). After a meeting of the Ministerial Coordination Committee for Transport, Logistics and Trade of ECOWAS, the sub-regional Bloc has taken a “harmonised decision” to reopen borders. The reopening will be done in phases, as described in a statement by ECOWAS after a four-day videoconference. According to the statement, several options have been put forward with the opening of land and air borders according to a precise schedule. The first phase consists of reopening domestic airports and lifting restrictions on land transportation within ECOWAS Member States in late June 2020. “The second phase is based on widening the opening between member states to allow the free movement of goods and people. The proposed date is the first fortnight of July (July 15 at the latest).” The final phase, the opening of air and land borders to other countries (excluding ECOWAS) that do not have very high levels of Covid-19 contamination rate (31 July at the latest), “will be a function of the evolution of the pandemic within the member countries of the ECOWAS and of the other countries and will be the subject of a periodic evaluation,” ECOWAS says.

COVID-19: An opportunity for digital transformation

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are jointly publishing a series of newsletters – “COVID-19 and Food Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

The most recent newsletter is “Food systems and COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean: The opportunity for digital transformation”. It points out that the digitisation of agriculture and food systems can have positive impacts in economic, social, environmental and institutional terms, especially in the post-pandemic recovery process. But currently the adoption of digital technologies among small producers is low, so they may be excluded during the post-pandemic recovery process. The pandemic has accelerated digitisation processes, with e-commerce being the most visible.

Governments’ efforts to achieve a digital transformation of the agrifood sector should focus on infrastructure and connectivity, accessibility, the level of education and institutional support, and designing services for the unconnected. A general framework of incentives that could be used by governments includes smart demand and supply subsidies; support for incubators, accelerators and innovation clusters; and better access to appropriate financial products (angel investors, venture capital, debt, equity, quasi-equity, crowdfunding) for new enterprises, MSMEs and service providers.

Digital transformation in the agrifood sector can occur at any link in the value chain, and opportunities exist both on-farm and off-farm. Examples of on-farm digital technologies include digital extension and agricultural advisory services; and online business management tools and services. Off-farm digital technologies include, among others, agricultural e-commerce and “hyperlocal” supply chains, which have increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, as business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platforms have partly addressed access to perishable products including fruit and vegetables. B2C e-commerce has especially increased, both as mobile e-commerce (carried out via dedicated web platforms or apps), and as social e-commerce (using social networks as marketing platforms).

The other seven newsletters in the series so far are:

  • The role of social protection measures
  • Contingency plan for an eventual food supply crisis
  • Impact and risks in the labour market
  • Health risks, safety of workers and food safety
  • Risks threatening international trade
  • How to increase resilience
  • A first look at impact, and country response
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