According to Vinod Chidambaram, Vice President for the African region of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa recorded an 8.6 per cent increase in the number of air passengers recorded in 2006, a rate higher than that of other world regions. He advised that conditions such as the reduction of air transport costs and improvement in efficiency and reliability of services must be met in order for the air transport companies in Africa to reap real benefits from this growth.
Poor Countries Should not Be Pressured to Sign Trade Deals
The UK Government is being urged to prevent EU trade negotiators from forcing poor countries to sign trade deals that will harm poverty reduction and development. A new report from Christian Relief and Development Agency Tearfund Much to Lose, Little to Gain criticizes the EU for pressuring Africa and other countries to agree new trade deals by the end of this year. These agreements will require poor countries to liberalize their trade markets far beyond what has been under discussion at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The report declares that negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) have been grossly unbalanced and unfairly tied to future aid. "Trade is vitally important to the development of poor countries," said Mari Griffith, trade advisor at Tearfund, "but the kind of trade liberalization and commitments in areas such as investment that the EU is foisting upon countries from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, could well set back their efforts to reduce poverty."
Uganda: Proposed IT Business Centre
The Commonwealth Business Council is working on a proposal to develop Uganda into Africa's information technology business center. According to its report, companies moving into Uganda will have a First-Mover advantage in Africa in form of tax holidays, grants and other incentives. The council is in the process of setting up a modern Information Technology and business service park within the Kakungulu satellite city, situated about 18km from Entebbe Airport. Uganda is preffered because it has a strong English-speaking young workforce which constitutes over 40 percent of the population like India. The country also has a strategic time zone of GMT+3 hours, which enables it to serve companies in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Africa’s Competitive Advantage in Agricultural Organic Products
The African continent has a great competitive advantage in agricultural organic products and must position itself to fetch more foreign exchange earnings for the continent, according to Jeff Stein, chairman of the New York based African Organic Food and Fiber Initiative (AOFFI). With a US$40billion organic market that is growing by the day, countries in COMESA have been challenged to rise to the occasion and take advantage of the opportunities.
IFC to Issue Guarantees
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will issue guarantees against Prime Banks’ underlying trade transactions, covering payment risk and helping increase Kenya’s share of the global trade finance market. “This facility will increase our capacity to take up trade finance transactions and raise finance related to international trade transactions at a very competitive price,” said Vasant Shetty, Prime Bank’s Chief Executive. “The program will enable us to access a global correspondent banking network and work with banks in markets where we do not have correspondent banking relationships. This is good news for our existing and potential customers, as it enhances the current trade finance facilities extended to Prime Bank from various international banks.”
African Trade Ministers to Meet US West Coast Business Chiefs
Kenya is amongst seven African countries whose trade ministers will meet US West Coast business chiefs between April 15 to 20, 2007. The group includes ministers from Ghana, Botswana, Burundi, Lesotho, Mauritius and Uganda. The African ministers will meet executives from aircraft-maker Boeing, Starbucks, Barclay's, GAP, Nexant, Levi's and the port of Seattle. The purpose of this meeting is to foster crucial relationship between African delegates and business leaders. It will also help re-brand African nations as progressive emerging markets that are presenting the global business community with exciting trade and investment opportunities. Besides meeting top executives from the US companies, the group will also visit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the editorial board of Seattle Times. They will participate in a panel discussion on African Growth and Opportunity Act and the stalled Doha round of World Trade Organization talks.
Compiled by Anne Mugoya
Inter Region Economic Network
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