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In order to meet the need for African countries to work closely together in addressing the challenges of fragmented markets and under-developed production structures a $1-billion South Africa-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Programme (SATIPP) has been launched. This is a joint programme by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC). 

The $1-billion financing programme will promote and expand trade and investments between South Africa and the rest of Africa. According to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), it aims to provide the necessary trade financing to stimulate increased sourcing of goods from the rest of Africa into the South African market while supporting South African exports and investments to more regions across Africa.

Africa focused trade and investment programme launchedSpeaking at the launch, Deputy Director General of Trade and Invest South Africa at the dtiLerato Mataboge, said that without the requisite levels of industrialisation and manufacturing capabilities, the continent will continue to trade in low value added commodities. The development integration approach needs to remain at the centre of future growth plans as a continent and as trading partners, she said.

“We have adopted a development integration approach that insists that the integration of our continent rest on three pillars, namely, market integration, infrastructure development and industrialisation. Our view is that the removal of tariffs and trade barriers to entry between our countries is important, however without the requisite logistical infrastructure to move goods amongst ourselves, and without regional value-chains, we will not increase the levels of intra-Africa trade and investment,” said Mataboge.

While the South African government has adopted an outward investment-led trade approach towards the rest of the continent, a recent forum on investment risks in Africa hosted by the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) came to the conclusion that making Africa a less risky investment destination would require a concerted focus aimed at improving the overall business environment in order to address the risks that do exist. According to a recent Moody’s report, 40 to 50% of defaults in developing markets are directly linked to country risks.

Lenders are bound by regulations that prevent them from lending significant amounts to sub-investment grade sovereigns, which is the case for most African countries. Without an increased ceiling in limits, international lenders will continue to be constrained on the amounts they are able to lend both at the sovereign and corporate levels.

Experts attending the forum noted positive movements in countries such as Ghana and Senegal, which were recently put on positive watch by the rating agency S&P. This was largely based on the dividends anticipated from key infrastructure developments and investor-friendly policies. In Senegal, the country has restructured its commercial laws, implemented a Public Private Partnership law that ensures all signed public contracts in the oil and gas sector are published, and created a department of competition tasked with working with investors.

Risk analysis experts at the conference cited Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe as countries to watch in the coming months, based on strong reserves in Botswana, political transitions in the case of Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, a strategy to transform its economy into a services hub in the case of Rwanda, and creating an enabling environment to attract investors in the case of Côte d’Ivoire.

Image  credit: https://www.thedti.gov.za/about_dti/tisa.jsp

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