Lilongwe — President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has said Africa has agreed to support the Belt and Road initiative, a Chinese concept that seeks to connect china with countries in Asia and Africa through road networks, sea lanes and also infrastructure development.
Mutharika spoke last month in China where he went to attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit which was held from 3rd to 4th September in Beijing, before departure for Malawi.
He said African leaders have agreed to safeguard the multilateral trading system and support global development.
"As Africans, we were pleased to learn that China continues to treat African countries as partners for mutual benefit- they don't see themselves as donors -so there are no donors and receivers. They see themselves as mutual friends and partners," he said.
He said China which has since donated a total of USD60 billion to Africa for various development initiatives, has reiterated its policy of non-interference in African countries in pursuit of development, non-interference in international affairs, no-imposition of China's will on African countries, non-attachment of political strings in investments and cooperation and no conditionalities.
"So we find this approach as wise and productive and we have therefore assured China leaders that on our part, we will continue to adhere to the principle of friendly cooperation and support one China policy and also support eventual peaceful reunification of China," said Mutharika.
Mutharika's sentiments augur well with what South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, outgoing FOCAC Chairperson said that China-Africa partnership is the best of partnerships African countries have ever entered into.
"As African countries, we have found out that FOCAC is the most meaningful partnership that there is in the world today because it is based on a win-win approach where all of us would want all of us succeeding and is not based on principles of winning while the others lose," Ramaphosa said.
He said Africa has agreed to work together with China to accelerate industrialization, modernization, infrastructure investments and skills development.
"While noting the progress that has been made over the past 18 years, we accept that there is much more still that needs to be done to ensure that there is stability, prosperity and inclusiveness in our respective countries.
"We are however, pleased to learn that all the 16billion dollars that was pledged by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping in 2015 at the South Africa FOCAC summit has been allocated to projects and many key projects have been completed and a number are in the process of being completed as well giving credence to the notion that FOCAC is an action-oriented pact of partnership between Africa and China.
In his closing address of the FOCAC summit on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping disclosed that his government has committed to African countries USD60billion to be tapped by the African countries for various development initiatives in their respective countries.
To access the fund African countries will have to submit proposals of the various development projects they would like to undertake in the respective countries and depending on the viability of the projects, the funds will be released for the implementation of the same.
Source: Malawi News Agency (MANA)

PLANS are underway for an Indian investor to set up a cassava processing plant in Dodoma with the view of getting starch for animal feed.
The ambitious project comes as farmers and entrepreneurs in the central zone regions are establishing larger cassava plantations in Mkalama District, Singida Region.
The envisaged plant has been unveiled by Dodoma Regional Secretary for Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Idd Senge.
He said the investor, Ramani Veerappan, was recently here to inspect the plantations to establish if the crop was ideal for production of the animal feed.
"The investor was here to establish if the crop has the needed content for grinding starchy for the production of animal feed," he revealed.
He said that the investor has to a larger extent been satisfied with the quality of cassava, adding that if all goes well, the plan will succeed. "The investor's intention is to install the modern factory adjacent to the plantation.
We have reached this good stage after managing to invent a new high-breed cassava seed called MUMBA, which produces bumper harvest," he expressed.
He said the high-quality variety has been successively developed by the Hombolo-based Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARILI).
"With this new seed, farmers can harvest between 25 and 30 tonnes of dry cassava, but also at least 60 to 80 tonnes of fresh cassava per acre," he detailed
Mr Senge said the 100-acre plantation project has also been made possible through cooperation of the Association of Entrepreneurs and Producers of Cassava Seeds (Wa-MBM) and Dodoma-based SMART STEPS co. LTD.
Despite being endowed with friendly weather for the cultivation of cassava, farmers in Dodoma and Singida have for years failed to reap the fruit from crop.
The failure, among others, has been attributed to lack of awareness over the benefits of growing the cash crop, lack of relevant agronomic practices and absence of quality seeds.
Source: Allafrica.com

Almost 70% of Africans make a living off agriculture and growth in the sector is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other. Development policy and private investment thus far have tended to focus on tangible assets: technology, mechanization, fertilizers, finance and infrastructure. Yet the visibility and predictability of the market is also an issue. In some cases, even after smallholders ramp up productivity, they are unable to find a market to sell to.
Yara CEO Svein Thore Holsther sets the scene by illustrating poor visibility in some of Africa’s markets. “Not too long ago I met with a farmer who used the right inputs, got the right results, only to realize that when he went to the market there was no market,” he says. “It’s heartbreaking to see farmers who invest in their crop but then find there isn’t a market for their additional production”. The solution, he argues, is to adopt a bird’s eye view. “I think we need to challenge ourselves to think holistically; to think systems rather than focusing on each individual business.” Indeed, supply and demand wavers through the idiosyncrasies of the market and all stakeholders in the value chain, from farmer to processor, have much to gain by formalizing the structures at play.
Connecting the dots
Yet this is easier said than done. Value chains are replete with a whole range of players and synthesizing the market is no easy feat. “There are a lot more open market trading situations and a lot of uncertainty and that is what causes the problems,” says Simon Winter, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation. “The more you tighten up those contracts the better.”
Our approach is to work backwards from the buyer; work backwards from the large processors who market and sell the finished product. Kenya-based Diageo backed East African Breweries (EABL) – who gather mainly sorghum to produce beer – do exactly that. The brewers currently work with around 30,000 smallholder sorghum farmers in Kenya and invest along all stages of the supply chain. “On the large part we are still doing everything,” says Jean Kiarie Ngumo, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability specialist for EABL. “We will take care of the inputs we will take care of the financing; so we do everything.” This guarantees a set amount of raw material upon which the company can project each month.
But it costs. Although large producers build smallholder capacity to secure crop, they often face their own financial constraints and are by no means a silver bullet. Amar Ali, CEO of Africa Improved Foods, a relatively new company in Rwanda working to produce nutritious food, draws a limit on his company’s capacity. “We do work with our aggregators to provide them with some working capital and some support but it must be said; there are offtakers and then there are offtakers,” he says. “We are not a Heineken, a Diageo or a multinational so there’s only so much we can do.”
Ali explains how last season AIF lost 90% of their locally sourced crop due to post-harvest issues such as storage and transport facilities. In response, the company began to source the crop “from the cob” or in other words at the farmer gates. This reduced rejection rates down to around 25% and was supported by the farmers; no longer required to expend time and effort transporting goods to local markets. This was effective but as Ali points out, ultimately outside their remit. “That’s not what we really want to do,” he says. “We don’t want to become last mile aggregators. We are processors and sellers of processed foods.”
Working forward
Looking at the supply chain from another perspective, from the ground up, predictability of demand is a problem and lack thereof may negate the smallholders’ interest in finding an institutional buyer. This in turn provides little incentive for farmers to access finance and technologies in an attempt to scale up, thereby preventing smallholders from shouldering the burden that private sector players like EABL and AIF currently have to bear. Winter explains the importance of regular demand.
“When you have a predictable offtaker with a predictable demand every year, it’s much better because you now know exactly what you need. Unfortunately, the large volume of demand for staple crops is not predictable.” Predictability is therefore key and Winter points to the work of USAID and Techno Serve, among others, in tightening up regularity on the demand side.
Commodity exchanges are also a reliable marketplace for smallholder farmers offering predictable demand and price. They work a contract basis such as spot prices, forward prices, future contracts as well as options on future contracts. These contracts offer farmers stability and consistency of prices for their produce – in particular, future contracts which protect farmers against drops in prices. Many African countries have tried their hand at commodity exchanges since the South African Future Exchange led the way in the 1990s. While some have been successful, others not, their capacity to provide reliability to smallholder farmers should not go amiss.
Finally, organizations like the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) are working to strengthen smallholder capacity and guide farmers into stable selling relationships with buyers. FtMA encourages farmers to engage in contracts extending beyond one season. This stability in demand then facilitates access to finance and loans used for feeds, fertilizer and machinery. Indeed, if the smallholder can guarantee sales over a number of years, he or she will be more likely to expand and improve operations which would again lessen the strain on the private sector. Businesses are then able to buy more crop from more farmers and bring more participants into structured value chains. By working to strengthen supply chains backwards from the private sector and forwards from the smallholder all participants in the agri-value chain look set to gain.
Source: African Business

Economic diversification and investment-driven growth continue to make East Africa the region on the continent with the strongest economic growth, with a forecast of 6.3 percent growth in 2018, the latest report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has disclosed.
According to the 'Economic Insight report', released on Wednesday, Ethiopia remains the region's powerhouse, with growth forecast at 8.1 percent, and recent reforms under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
According to the report, Kenya's strong growth (forecast at 5.4 percent in 2018) results from a services boom. "While the economies are smaller, growth rates in Tanzania and Rwanda (both 6.7 percent) are extremely impressive.
Perhaps surprisingly Uganda (discussed in more depth in a dedicated section in the report) receives more remittance income ($1.4bn in 2017) than Ethiopia ($816m) or South Africa ($837m)," said in Nairobi, ICAEW Regional Director Michael Armstrong.
The report further notes that in North Africa, very strong performances in Libya and Egypt help to drag overall GDP growth up.
In Libya, continued improvements in oil production after the civil conflict are expected to result in GDP growth of 16.5 percent this year.
In Egypt, structural and policy reforms have boosted manufacturing and investment while the tourism sector has continued to recover; GDP growth in 2018 is forecast at 5.3 percent.
These two performances will boost the region's growth to 1.8 percent, even if the picture in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia is less rosy, noted the accountancy body. South Africa accounts for over 60 percent of the GDP of Southern Africa, so continued slow growth in the regional heavyweight (forecast at 1.5 percent for 2018) weighs on overall growth in the region.
The report points out that the forecast 1.5 percent growth in Angola, which accounts for another 18 percent of regional output, and the forecast 1.8 percent contraction in Zimbabwe will not help.
According to the report, strong growth in Botswana and Zambia will be insufficient to make a difference. Growth in the franc zone is forecast at 4.6 percent, largely driven by a boost of 7.4 percent in the region's biggest economy, Ivory Coast, where investment is driving rapid expansion, noted the report.
A new joint report by the African Union Commission (AUC) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released last July showed East Africa has enjoyed stronger and more resilient economic growth than the other regions in Africa, at over 4 per cent per year since 1990, on the back of a more diversified economy.
The report shows that East Africa and West Africa managed to reduce extreme poverty by 23 and 12 percentage points respectively between 1990 and 2013.
In addition to the underemployment and vulnerable employment that characterize most of the African labor markets, some countries in North and Southern Africa face high structural employment.
Africa's Development Dynamics 2018, the first annual economic report by the AUC since its creation in 1963, was released at the commission's headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The report shows that in Central Africa, the number of jobs in the formal economy has been falling since 2015. Inequality in Africa is most prevalent in Southern Africa, which, in terms of income, contains six out of the ten most unequal countries in the world.
The report calls on Africa to focus on development strategies that spur economic growth, create jobs and fight inequalities, a new joint report by the African Union Commission (AUC) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Source: Allafrica.com

WTO members reviewed Seychelles’ accession to the South African Development Community (SADC) trade protocol and the economic partnership agreement between the European Union and Cariforum states at the 18 September meeting of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. Members welcomed progress being made in the economic integration of the African region.
For Seychelles' accession to the SADC trade protocol in 2015, the parties involved remarked that it will enhance trade in the region and lead to economic growth. Seychelles eliminated tariffs on 91.7% of its tariff lines for imports from other SADC members. By 2026, 97.5% of Seychelles' tariffs will be liberalized. The other SADC parties will liberalize between 93.8% and 100% of their tariffs for imports from the Seychelles. A number of changes on rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and provisions on technical barriers to trade have also been made to the SADC protocol which was considered in 2007 by the Committee.
Seychelles said its accession creates opportunities for further trade with Southern African neighbours and serves as a stepping stone for boosting intra-African trade. It further noted that the trade protocol is fully compatible with WTO rules and provides predictability for commerce, thus establishing better trading conditions. Namibia on behalf of SADC said the Seychelles, though a small economy, was a strategic trading partner. The accession of Seychelles will lead to further regional integration, Namibia said. Other members who took the floor at the meeting commended the parties for the review process and remarked positively on the growing integration among African economies.
Parties to the economic partnership agreement between the EU and Cariforum states meanwhile drew attention to the strengthened economic ties resulting from their regional trade agreement, which has been provisionally applied since 2008. The agreement liberalizes trade in goods over a transition period of 25 years for the Cariforum states. By 2033, Cariforum states will have eliminated tariffs on 86.5% to 97.9% of their respective tariff lines. The EU, meanwhile, eliminated duties on all but 22 tariff lines when the agreement provisionally entered into force. It also contains provisions to liberalize trade in services, development and cooperation, and sustainable development as important elements of the trade partnership.
The EU noted that exports of non-agricultural goods from Cariforum states to the EU grew by 23% between 2014 and 2017. Cariforum's services exports and the EU's investment in the region have also increased, the EU said. It added that the parties were working together to ensure effective implementation of the agreement and extensive outreach to the private sector. The EU provided information on the assistance it provided in this regard. Jamaica, on behalf of Cariforum states, said the agreement was compliant with WTO rules and likewise highlighted the development cooperation among the parties. The agreement's objective is to alleviate poverty in Cariforum states, promote regional integration, and foster the group's integration into the world economy, Jamaica added. Other members commenting on the agreement thanked the parties for their cooperation in the review process.
Improving transparency
The chair of the Committee, Ambassador Julian Braithwaite (United Kingdom), told members that 80nRTAs currently in force have not been notified to the WTO as of 11 September, acknowledging however that the Turkey-Singapore free trade agreement had been notified after the list was circulated.
The chair further noted that factual presentations for 29 RTAs involving only WTO members and those for a further 36 RTAs involving non-members remain pending, counting goods and services agreements separately. The WTO Secretariat reiterated its call to members to submit data and comments in a timely fashion. The chair said he was continuing consultations with relevant members to resolve the matter. It was however also noted that members needed to take a closer look at the reasons for the lack of notifications and ways in which to improve notifications of RTAs.
Some members noted increased engagement to resolve the issue concerning the review of certain agreements of Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) members. Some members also looked forward to the consideration of the Gulf Cooperation Council under Transparency Mechanism procedures.
As for the adoption of a new template for members to notify changes to their existing RTAs, Brazil reported that its authorities have approved the notification format and that it could now go on to the other WTO bodies for further approval.
Source: World Trade Organization