Morocco’s marine sector has received a welcome boost, as Russia and the European Union (EU) have reaffirmed cooperation initiatives. Early in December, the Moroccan government approved a maritime-fisheries cooperation agreement with Russia, focusing on the principles of cooperation in the preservation and exploitation of fishery resources of the Moroccan Exclusive Economic Zone. This additionally outlines the conditions for the operation of Russian fishing vessels in the areas off the Atlantic coast, as well as shapes the cooperation between the two relating to scientific fisheries research. The agreement serves as a driving force to develop new fishing techniques, technologies and aquaculture, and further bolster bilateral relations. In similar fashion, Morocco and the EU have agreed to cooperate in marine research and innovation. Morocco has geostrategic importance as it borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and cooperation with the EU will develop understanding of marine ecosystems and promote scientific marine research within the country.
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Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2020
Cooline Logistics moving goods in South Africa. Cold chain logistics in South Africa will be benefiting from a new zero-emissions solution; using liquefied natural gas. This will save costs considerably and cut carbon emissions. Image courtesy: Bab Adams/WikiCommons
Finnish telecom giant Nokia has increasingly become more active in participating in the continent’s move toward 5G technology. The month of December saw several announcements in this regard starting with Kenya, where the company partnered with Airtel Kenya to modernise 4G and 5G infrastructure in Nairobi. Nokia’s network will offer Airtel Kenya the option to smoothly transition to 5G, offering users enhanced connectivity and providing access to high-speed data services. Through Nokia’s innovative solutions, Airtel Kenya users will also profit from capacity benefits such as enhanced voice and data services. Concurrently, Togocom, a mobile operator in Togo, has selected Nokia to deploy 5G across the country. The capital city Lomé has seen the launch of a 5G network, the first in West Africa. The partnership will reinforce Togocom’s market leading position in the country, as well as future-proof its infrastructure and provide enhanced connectivity for its users.
Telkom, South Africa’s national telecommunications company, has continued to diversify its operations by launching the Telkom Pay Digital Wallet, an e-wallet service for its users. Amongst its features, the mobile-based platform allows users to send and receive money through WhatsApp. Money can be sent to anyone on the user’s contact list and can serve as a cashless point-of-sale option for merchants. An additional feature of the e-wallet is the ability to buy airtime and electricity through WhatsApp. The platform will increase convenience for Telkom users, as it’s easily accessible through a mobile phone and looks to drive the use of cashless payments through a ‘scan and pay’ system for goods with QR codes. Despite the negative implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, Telkom has used this to its advantage and ventured into the micro-insurance space as well as the mobile-streaming service sector by launching funeral cover and TelkomOne, respectively. The diversification by Telkom has continued to strengthen its position as a market leader in South Africa.
Rwanda placed sustainable projects high on the agenda over the month of December, aiming to reduce current and prepare for future carbon emissions. The country is a leader on the continent in bicycle innovations, which has led the government to support sustainable mobility initiatives. Cycling is not only environmentally friendly but also boosts the local tourism sector. In 2020, the Rwandan Cycling Federation launched a cycling tourism initiative to increase tourism revenue to a projected US$800 million by 2024. In parallel, Rwanda has launched the African Centre of Excellence of Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES). The aim is to develop ways of delivering affordable, low-carbon, cooling and cold chain systems. ACES will assist in moving farmers’ produce to market efficiently, while reducing food waste as well as improving cold chains for vaccines and health. In addition to these projects, Rwanda has also launched the National Adaptation Planning Process Project, a US$6 million initiative, which is set to develop the country’s capacity to implement climate change adaptation initiatives.
Source: World Bank, Knoema, 2019
Morocco signed several important agreements with development partners in December, signalling key policy changes going into 2021. The most notable was the news on 2 December that Germany would support the country with over US$240 million in financial aid for its fight against Covid-19 alongside a number of ongoing reform projects, including Morocco’s strategy to have a fully renewable energy sector by 2050. Meanwhile, the UK and the Moroccan branch of the World Bank have agreed on a US$286 000 deal for the country’s ongoing education reform strategy, which aims to assist at-risk children and promote universal preschool education by 2026. An interesting parallel development was the announcement that Russia would also be contributing to the latest round of foreign investment in the country. Specifics were not disclosed, but it was noted that cooperation and coordination in “strategic sectors” will form part of the agreement.
Zimbabwe has revealed that export earnings from cannabis have exceeded tobacco by almost three-fold in the last year – the country legalised the cultivation of the plant for medicinal use in 2019. Since September 2020, the government has issued 44 licences for cultivation, with sales forecasted to reach US$1.25 billion in 2021. Tobacco, on the other hand, has long been the biggest agricultural export and earned Zimbabwe US$444 million during the 2020 marketing season. However, the rise in cannabis production could be a driving force to develop the country’s stagnant economy due to its high potential to generate export receipts and tax revenues. In line with this, the government is also set to introduce a “cannabis levy” tax of 20%, which will be applied to oils, bulk extracts and dried cannabis flowers, providing a further boost to revenue generation.
Nestlé South Africa has announced the opening of its first ecologically friendly, zero-emissions dairy farm in South Africa. The launch forms part of the company’s “Rethink, Reduce, Repurpose” (RE) scheme to make the firm carbon neutral by 2050. The dung deposited by cattle at the new Skimmelkrans project in the Western Cape will be collected, with solids and liquids separated and reused for compost and irrigation, respectively. An environmental audit is due in April of 2021, which will demonstrate whether the project has managed to meet its goals. Ecological sustainability is a tall order for the global dairy and beef industries, which are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – past studies have noted that the dairy industry contributes around 13% of total livestock methane production in South Africa. Through the Skimmelkrans project, Nestlé could play a key role in helping to drive positive transformation in the industry.
Source: Milk SA, 2019
Sokowatch, an innovative East African startup that has disrupted the informal market in Uganda, announced in December that it will be adding eco-friendly battery powered tuk-tuks to its delivery fleet. The chief engineer for the company has confirmed that this move is in line with its strategy to build more sustainable environments in those markets where it operates. The company brought digitisation to Africa’s informal retail space for the first time after its launch in 2016, offering real time financing for growth along with data and analytics services. Beyond this functionality was the ability to order produce and supplies for stalls. The tuk-tuks are also helping to improve local air quality, which ranks quite poorly compared to other African cities, and will also provide expanded logistic capacity to carry 500kg in goods for retailers two hours after the placement of orders.
Tuk-tuks in Mombasa, Kenya. Sokowatch, an East African e-commerce platform, will be expanding its services in Uganda, adding eco-friendly battery powered tuk-tuks to its delivery fleet.
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United Kingdom announces emergency aid to help families in Southern Africa
The UK has announced that it will provide over US$9 million to support essential services and food assistance for people across Southern Africa. The aim is to aid families and communities suffering from a loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A portion of the aid will form an emergency fund, which will be used to contribute to a joint programme with the United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organisation for Migration, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Africa and India seek to increase trade and tourism
A number of African countries with India have highlighted the need to increase trade and tourism, with the development of a VIP airport in Zimbabwe, smart cities across Africa and the establishment of a furniture corridor. This was discussed in a virtual India-Africa Economic Forum, where projections noted that trade could double by 2021 if appropriate steps are taken to raise the benefits of growth between the two trade partners.
Cameroon holds first regional election amid opposition boycott
The Central African nation held its first-ever regional election in December, which the government indicated would hand more power to provinces. The municipal councils will have a voice relating to development in infrastructure, however they will not be able to alter laws. The regional election has come under criticism from the main opposition parties, the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon and the Social Democratic Fund, with both boycotting the polls. The opposition parties have suggested that this is a manoeuvre by President Paul Biya in an aim to tighten his grip on power.