Current Trade News

A delegation of businessmen from Mozambique was in the country to seal trade deals with potential producers of poultry products in Malawi.

President of the Mozambican Confederation Economical Association, Chaual Naparia, said currently there is low supply of eggs and chickens in Quelimane against the rising demand hence their decision to import some from Malawi.

‘We have a huge demand of eggs and chickens and besides there are a lot of trade opportunities from Zambezia which we think Malawi should take advantage of because of its closeness to Mozambique. It does not make sense that we should be importing from South Africa or Brazil yet our closest Neighbor Malawi can equally supply us these products.’ Explained Naparia.

The Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) recently organized a trade mission to Quelimane, to identify market opportunities for Malawian products. It was during this mission that the Mozambican Government including entrepreneurs from Quelimane and Mocuba (Zambezia) expressed interest to import chickens and eggs from Malawi to Mozambique, more especially due to the festive season.

The trade mission is part of the activities under the EIF project which aims to promote sales of Malawian value-added products by local non-traditional exporters and their respective production networks of local producers to the Nacala corridor and also regional and international markets.

Source: MITC

Waste management is a growing problem across the continent, but there are signs that Africa is starting to wake up to the urgency- and opportunity- of sustainable waste
For five decades, the Koshe landfill site in Addis Ababa served as a vast open-air dump for Ethiopia’s sprawling capital. Day after day, tons of rotting food and plastic were poured onto its fetid mounds, to be sifted by scavenger birds, rodents and impoverished informal workers living in its shadow.
On the night of 11 March 2017, disaster struck. Tons of waste became dislodged from the mound, sending a garbage avalanche of unstoppable force towards the makeshift shacks that workers called home.
The sun rose the next day to a scene of carnage. Dozens of shacks were submerged in the waste. Emergency workers sifted through piles of steaming rubbish in a desperate hunt for survivors, using a digger when manual labor proved inadequate. Grieving families wept openly as they awaited news of their loved ones. By the time the rescue operation had drawn to a close, 115 were dead.
As three days of public mourning unfolded, the government announced an inquiry to investigate the causes of the disaster. For many, the landslide was the inevitable result of decades of neglect. Throughout Africa, millions of citizens are forced to use unplanned open-air dumping sites or burning to dispose of their waste. As vast urban settlements continue to swell, scarce collection and processing services are contributing to a mounting waste crisis.
The human and ecological costs are stark. Toxic liquid seeps into the soil, polluting water courses and drinking supplies. Open-air burning sends plumes of coal-black smoke into towns and villages, sparking respiratory illnesses. While landslides on the scale of Koshe are rare, death, illness, and debilitating injury among informal workers are not.
As Africa’s urban growth mushroomed by 3.55% per annum over the last two decades – a trend expected to continue well into the future – the problem has only become more acute. Africa’s waste generation is expected to reach 244m tonnes per year by 2025, almost double that of 2012, according to the Africa Waste Management Outlook, a 2018 report from the United Nations Environment Programme and partners. Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to become the largest area of total waste generation in the world on current trends. Yet municipal solid waste (MSW) collection in Africa was estimated to stand at just 55% of waste generated in 2012 on average, and as low as 20% in some countries.
“If you look at the expected changes in terms of population, urbanisation, and a growing middle class, we know we will see significant changes in waste generation,” says Linda Godfrey, coordinating lead author on the Africa Waste Management Outlook and a principal researcher at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. “It almost doesn’t matter what other countries in the world are doing, it will be overshadowed by what happens on the African continent in the coming century. The concern is that the current systems, infrastructure and technology that we have in place are inadequate, and so we’re going to see significant change on a shaky foundation, and that raises particular red flags.”
As politicians have striven to meet citizens’ basic food, health and education needs, waste collection and processing have been shunted down the policy agenda and deprived of budgetary support. Weak regulation and a lack of legislative oversight have added to the sense of drift.
“The regret is that it has not got the political priority it deserves,” says Oladele Osinbajo, a waste expert and chief executive of Nigerian consultants Jawura Environmental Services. “Funding for waste management is ridiculously low – they don’t understand the rudiments, the serious ecological and human costs.”
And yet there are signs that Africa is starting to wake up to the urgency – and opportunity – of sustainable waste management. As governments look for creative ways to tackle climate change, reusing and recycling are becoming increasingly popular. Africa’s urban trash, once deemed worthless, is now estimated to have an annual value of at least $8bn, leading scientists to promote waste as a critical economic resource capable of driving private sector-led growth and employment.
“We’ve tried to flip the story to say that waste is a resource, it has value for an economy, and if you can recognize that, it does unlock socio-economic opportunities and create jobs,” says Godfrey. “That argument finds political traction with high levels of unemployment and slowing economies. If that’s the way we have to drive this discussion, so be it.”
Rethinking waste
Just minutes from the site of the Koshe tragedy, a state-of-the-art plant looms over the surrounding area. In the control room, Chinese characters flash across an electric ticker.
The Reppie waste-to-energy plant, which began construction in 2014, is a $120m project inaugurated in August that is intended to reshape the future of waste in Ethiopia.
Planned and designed by Ethiopia’s Cambridge Industries, and developed with consortium partners including state-owned China National Electric Engineering for owner Ethiopian Electric Power, the grey, rectangular structure is an ambitious private sector bid to use the huge amount of waste generated in Addis to generate power, while ending the city’s reliance on Koshe and other dangerous dumping sites. If the project succeeds, Cambridge Industries are considering expansion to cities across the continent.
The principle is simple. Waste is burned in a combustion chamber, which in turn heats tubes of water within the boiler walls, producing steam. The steam is then used to drive a turbine generator that produces electricity. Cambridge Industries says that when fully operational, the plant can receive 420,000 tonnes a year of rubbish – over 80% of the city’s currently collected waste – while generating over a quarter of the household consumption of electricity. That is just one of the by-products that managing director Samuel Alemayehu says will emerge from the truckloads of waste that arrive at its doors every day.
“We want to create value from everything within the waste stream. The leachate treatment facility treats toxic water from the garbage and converts it into clean water that can be used to water plants or wash the streets. And the super magnets in the ash treatment area sort scrap metal for recycling. The residual bottom ash can be used for construction purposes including brick making,” he says.
Waste-to-energy has its sceptics, including Linda Godfrey, who argues that while it can be part of a portfolio of technologies, it can also prove expensive. The high organic content of much African waste – organic waste accounts for 57% of MSW in Africa – can also make incineration inefficient, Godfrey argues, requiring the pre-separation of materials before burning.
Nevertheless, Reppie’s ambitions to extract a range of products from waste chime with calls for Africa to adopt a “circular economy” – a system in which resources are used for as long as possible, eking out maximum value, before being recovered and regenerated.
Until recently, that seemed like a pipe dream, despite African Union calls for African cities to commit to recycling at least 50% of the urban waste they generate by 2023. The African Waste Management Outlook estimates that just 4% of Africa’s 125m tonnes of MSW per year are recycled, recovering a mere $318m in value. But if the recovery rate were to increase to 50%, the value of the reclamation could increase to $4bn. It is those sorts of figures that are rousing the attention of private sector operators such as Cambridge Industries. Godfrey says that the private sector’s involvement will be crucial in the absence of reliable government funding.
“One of the key messages is that this can’t be done with government alone, it has to be done through public-private partnerships,” says Godfrey. “Many municipalities are bankrupt, they don’t have the ability to lend money or raise capital for investments in infrastructure, so the easiest way it to partner with the private sector. Unfortunately, it’s still seen as a high-risk investment area, so we have to change that perception.”
For Cambridge Industries, government support is crucial for providing consistent delivery of waste to the Reppie Facility. Waste collection in Ethiopia is the responsibility of municipal government, which raises collection fees through a levy on customers’ water bills. Without this reliable waste collection, or waste disposal fees from the government, Alemayehu says that Reppie’s recycling and electricity generation efforts would prove unsustainable as a business concern.
“Here’s the challenge, you need a partnership with government. We prefer it to be a private operation because it makes a whole lot of things easier and we’re able to move a lot faster, but its profitability depends on the reliability and supply of garbage, and collection is done in the municipalities. Ethiopia and Senegal have done a fantastic job of setting the precedent on how waste collection can be done. But if you can’t rely on garbage collection, or you’re not getting proper compensation on waste disposal, or not getting paid what would have been spent on landfill, then it gets a bit tough.”
In many countries on the continent, collection services are limited to city centres at the expense of poorly-served suburbs and rural areas. With an estimated 56% of sub-Saharan Africans living in slums, a lack of road access and basic waste infrastructure makes the problem even more acute. In Nigeria, some municipal governments have yet to organize efficient collection financing systems, and remain dependent on variable state or central government support. As a result, some industries, including soft drinks manufacturers like Coca-Cola, are beginning to take an active role along the waste chain, contributing to reuse and recycling initiatives with the active encouragement of government. But if Nigeria is to attract large private sector interest, governance structures and regulation will require a radical rethink.
“The city councils and municipal governments in Nigeria by law are supposed to take care of waste, but they are not equipped in terms of management and resources.” says Osinbajo. “Some of the laws are antiquated and need a lot of revision, and jurisdictional conflict is a problem. The way the system works is top down – it needs the political class at federal and state level to look at governance structures, regulations and how to operate in an efficient manner.”
Reppie’s Alemayehu says that getting the relevant departments around the table is the critical factor in persuading private sector operators that they can turn enough profit.
“It’s not a sector where you are getting runaway success, where your return is 50% a year. It’s a long-term investment that requires patient capital. But it’s also a very attractive return. The challenge of this type of investment in waste-to-energy is it requires multiple ministries to work together. Municipalities have to sit at the table, the utilities have to sit at the table, the finance ministry, which guarantees the power purchase agreement, has to sit at the table. That’s been the big challenge, they don’t always work very well together, but when they do it’s a rewarding investment for everyone involved.”
Informal sector
Welcome as they are, attempts to attract big business to African waste management often overlook the fact that a vibrant private sector already exists in the shape of the hundreds of thousands informal workers who toil in the dangerous conditions of Koshe and other dumps. Risking life and limb to sift through public dumping sites, such workers have long been attuned to the financial opportunities of reuse and recycling.
Many of these informal workers instinctively view attempts to clamp down on open dumping as an unwelcome threat to their livelihoods. Yet alliances between the formal and informal sectors could unlock huge benefits to both groups. In Lusaka, Zambia, the net cost of waste collection is $1.60 per tonne in the informal sector, compared to $10.40 in the formal sector. The expansion of the formal private sector could offer thousands of informal workers regular, safer waste collection roles at reasonable cost.
“We can start to acknowledge the role the informal sector play and reward them in terms of the resource value and the services they provide in material collection. Because we have an informal sector, we are able to introduce recyclable material into the value chain at low cost to government and business, but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t exploit the informal sector,” says Godfrey.
Attempts to formalize the sector by encouraging informal workers to collaborate have not always proved successful – nine out of 10 waste and recycling cooperatives fail, according to South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry.
But as the quantity of sophisticated waste, including electronics – commonly known as e-waste – expands in Africa, link-ups between the formal and informal sectors will prove ever more crucial to unlocking waste’s true value.
About 2.2m tonnes of e-waste was generated in Africa in 2016, a number expected to increase exponentially as cell phone and personal computer uptake continues on the continent. While informal workers have long sifted dumpsites for valuable electronic goods, their rudimentary training and limited knowledge of e-reuse and e-recycling means that the true value of electronic goods can often be underexploited.
Instead, the private sector could invest in efficient dismantling and processing plants while paying the informal sector for collection. Such an approach could unlock value, improve worker safety, and allow for greater data collection around recycling, according to Osibanjo.
“The waste hierarchy has to build capacity through training. Train and equip the informal sector – they are not familiar with safety issues, there are no safeguards. They don’t know what they are doing is wrong. With support from government and international organizations, they can become the future of waste management in Africa.”
At the Reppie Facility, Alemayehu says that Cambridge Industries hopes to integrate nearby informal workers, including those who make their living off the perilous waste dumps of Koshe, as it pushes to be the long-term lead operator.
“Local waste pickers have to be an integral part of the facility,” he says. “Once the facility moves to an operation team we will announce the mechanism of the work. When and if CIL is the lead operator or owner it is our priority.
“Long-time waste pickers have been documented by the city administration. CIL values the role of local residents and documented waste pickers as an integral part of the production of by-products from the facility. In the future it is our plan to extend the inclusion through employment in the adjacent industrial park.”
While that may be too late for the dozens who died at Koshe, it could offer a compelling way forward for the future of Africa’s waste management industry as it approaches a critical juncture.
Source: African Business Magazine

India’s Bharti Airtel is in talks to buy Telkom Kenya, the country's smallest telecoms operator, to create a stronger challenger to market leader Safaricom (NSE:SCOM), three industry sources told Reuters on Monday.

London-based Helios Investment, which owns a 60 percent stake in Telkom, is looking to partly cash out of the investment which it entered in 2015, the sources said.

Airtel, currently Kenya’s second-biggest telecoms operator, declined to comment. Number three Telkom was not immediately available to comment.

Merger talks
The move comes after the two companies held merger talks last year, only for them to abandon the plan. Telkom made the approach that time.

“Airtel is in the driving seat. They are leading the talks. Helios is partially cashing out,” said one of the sources.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this quarter, the sources said.

The sector regulator Communications Authority of Kenya said it was yet to be formally notified by the two operators of the latest attempt at a deal.

Source: African Markets.com

United Nations — While the modern agricultural system has helped stave off famines and feed the world's 7 billion residents, the way we eat and produce food is posing a threat to future populations' food security.
With an expected increase in population to 10 billion in 2050, ensuring food security is more important than ever.
However, current food production is among the largest sources of environmental degradation across the world.
If such production and consumption patterns continue, we will soon exceed our planetary boundaries such climate change and land use needed to survive and thrive.
"It was quite dramatic to see how much those planetary boundaries would be exceeded if we don't do anything," said Marco Springmann, one of the authors of a report examining the impact of the food system on the environment.
"The food system puts pressure on land management, in particular deforestation. If you knock down too many forests, you basically really mess up the regulating system of the ecosystem because forests store carbon dioxide but they also are habitats for wild species and biodiversity reservoirs," he added
Over 40 percent of the world's land has been converted or set aside for agriculture alone. This has resulted in the loss of more than half of the world's forests.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) notes that commercial agriculture is a key driver, especially the production of beef, soy beans, and palm oil.
This can be seen in the Amazon where trees have been cut down and land converted to make way for agricultural activities such as cattle ranching and soy cultivation, much of which is used as animal feed rather than for human consumption.
In fact, half of the planet's usable land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals, an area equivalent to North and South America combined.
The intensive use of fertilizers has further diminished land productivity, leading to degradation and even desertification.
Moreover, such actions have contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
According to the "Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits" report, published in the Nature journal, the food system emitted over 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010 alone.
The study also estimates that the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50-90 percent without any targeted measures, beyond the "safe operating space for humanity."
Springmann pointed to three ambitious measures that are necessary in order to stay within environmental limits including technological improvements which can increase sustainable food production and thus decrease the demand for more cropland.
Another measure seems to be even more daunting: shifting to a plant-based diet.
"If you go even more plant-based that would be even better for greenhouse gas emissions, and also it is more well-balanced and better for your health the estimates are such that we would reduce the pressure on land use if we changed our diets," Springmann told IPS.
The Nature report found that dietary changes towards healthier diets could help reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts by almost 30 percent.
A new report from the EAT-Lancet Commission also highlighted the need for dietary changes for environmental sustainability and public health.
"The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong," says one of the commission authors Tim Lang.
"We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before in ways appropriate to each country's circumstances. While this is unchartered policy territory and these problems are not easily fixed, this goal is within reach.... the scientific targets we have devised for a healthy, sustainable diet are an important foundation which will underpin and drive this change," he added.
EAT-Lancet Commission's recommended planetary health diet requires the consumption of red meat to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, and nuts must double.
North America has one of the highest meat consumption rates in the world. In 2018, American meat consumption hit a record high as the average consumer ate over 222 pounds of red meat and poultry.
If they are to follow the planetary health guidelines, North Americas would have to cut their consumption of red meat by 84 percent and eat six times more beans and lentils.
While plant-based diets have gained popularity in the region, seen through the success of the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger companies, Springmann noted that information alone may not be enough to promote dietary changes.
"Of course, everyone can change their diet and it would be great if they can do that. But if it is not made easy for the average consumer to do that then many people won't do it," he said.
Springmann suggested changing the prices of food products to include health and environmental impacts.
Beef for example would need to cost 40 percent more on average due to its contribution to GHG emissions.
This provides governments with potential revenue to invest in other areas such as the subsidization of healthier products.
In addition to dietary changes, the EAT-Lancet Commission state that zero loss biodiversity, net zero expansion of agricultural land into natural ecosystems, and improvements in fertilizer and water use efficient are needed.
"The transformation that this Commission calls for is not superficial or simple, and requires a focus on complex systems, incentives, and regulations, with communities and governments at multiple levels having a part to play in redefining how we eat," said The Lancet's Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton.
"Our connection with nature holds the answer, and if we can eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet's resources will be restored. The very nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival," he added.

Source: Allafrica.com

Much has been written about how buying cheaper, smaller companies with rising prices, and shorting the opposite, has helped investment returns. These concepts, often called factors, were popularized by the research of Eugene Fama and Kenneth French. Indeed, this approach is now sufficiently popular that low-cost Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) exist to programmatically replicate aspects of these strategies. Nonetheless, research, including papers by Fama and French once again, have unpicked other themes that help drive investment performance.
Investing Less
Generally, companies that spend less money on big projects, see better share price performance than those that are big spenders on a new plant or machinery. This makes sense because spending money on plant and machinery is cash that is not being returned to shareholders, and may tend toward empire-building rather than disciplined capital allocation. Also, large capital projects have a tendency to run late and over-budget, so greater capital spending exposes companies to potentially greater risk. The idea was highlighted in Fama and French's 2015 paper updating their asset pricing model.
Higher Profitability
One insightful measure of profitability is to look at profits relative to assets. What return is a company actually making on the investments it has already made? When this number is higher, it has historically lead to improved share-price performance on average. This result appears to be quite robust, since other measurements of profitability seem to reach the same result. Arguably, this is an important aspect of Warren Buffett’s investing approach, building on the work of Ben Graham. Buffett works to find companies that are not merely earning profits, but are doing so in a way that they can then reinvest those profits at a high rate of return. Academic research has shown the validity of that approach. This has been highlighted again, in the 2012 paper by Robert Novy-Marx and subsequently reflected in Fama and French's work.
Not Issuing Shares
Issuing shares typically hurts share price performance. Again, the issuance of shares may suggest a firm that demands capital rather than producing it, hurting investment performance. Also, management's decision to issue equity rather than to fund projects differently or delay them, may suggest a lack of alignment with shareholders. Research by David Ikenberry found that companies that repurchase their own shares tend to outperform the market. R. David McLean has shown that companies issuing shares tend to underperform, and this result tends to hold across countries.
Taking Less Risk
Contrary to what you might expect, researchers have not found an expected relationship between risk and return, in fact, they have found the opposite. Companies which are less financially secure, actually tend to perform worse than more robust firms. It appears that, on average, investors have a tendency to seek out risky situations, and bid them up in price more than they should, but that returns to these setups can be unattractive on average.
Source: forbes.com

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease has led to the temporary suspension of South Africa's FMD-free status, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Tuesday.
"The matter has been reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Monday (January 7, 2019)," said spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana.
"As a result of this development, the official OIE recognized FMD-free status of South Africa is temporarily suspended."
This means any exports where FMD-free zone attestation is required, cannot be certified at present.
This followed laboratory testing of samples taken when reports came in of lameness in cattle just outside the FMD Control Zone in the Free Zone.
This zone is in the far north of South Africa.
Experts from the department and Limpopo's veterinary services were conducting further investigations to verify results and determine the extent of the outbreak.
Control measures would be determined by the findings of this investigation
FMD is described as a "severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock with significant economic impact".
It affects cattle, pigs (domestic and wild), sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals.
It does not affect human beings.
Signs of FMD include depressed animals, sores in the mouths of animals causing a reluctance to eat, and lameness.
Any suspected cases must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately.
Nkhwenyana said the affected area was under quarantine and no movement of animals and animal products was being allowed.
Farmers further away from the outbreak have been cautioned to observe bio-security measures, which means they must not allow any new animals into their herds, and must minimize the movement of their own herds to other farms.
Source: Allafrica.com