Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Desiderio Consultants Ltd. is a think tank and a network of independent professional international development consultants established to promote and influence customs & trade-related policies in African nations to achieve trade facilitation reforms aimed at improving international and regional trade
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Africa’s extractive sector: fortune or curse?

Africa’s extractive sector has been the fortune and the curse of many African economies. Those States that have discovered significant reserves of naturals resources (like oil, diamonds, gold, and other minerals), have neglected other sectors becoming dependent on a few commodities, in many cases growing less than other States that do not have such resources. But this narrative is now changing. The global rush to shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption (including oil, natural gas and coal) to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, is putting on the spotlight again the mineral resources, especially those metals that are critical to the energy transition, such as cobalt, copper, tin, graphite, lithium, manganese and titanium. Demand for these metals is set to explode over the coming decades driven by the growth in demand of electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines, and solar photovoltaic technologies. Only the EV demand, according to recent research, is expected to grow by almost 300 times between 2020 and 2050.

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Second Agenda 2063 10-year implementation plan promises acceleration of trade and free movement of African citizens: objective or dream?

NEPAD, the development agency of the African Union responsible for coordinating and executing priority regional and continental development projects that promote economic integration in Africa, just released the Second Agenda 2063 ten-year implementation plan covering the 2024 – 2033 period. Agenda 2063 is a long-term strategy (covering a period of 50 years) that was adopted in 2013 by the African Union (AU) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Organisation of African Unity (the predecessor of the AU), to guide Africa's development for the next half-century. Its purpose is to identify a series of objectives (called “aspirations”) that aim at transforming the continent into a global powerhouse by 2063. Agenda 2063 is implemented by a series of Ten-Year Plans. The first one, referred to the period 2014-2023, was adopted by the AU Heads of States and Government Assembly in June 2015. The current one was adopted at the recently concluded 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU held in Addis Ababa from 17th to 18th February 2024.

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Railway transport, the grand absent in Africa’s transport system geography

To boost free trade in Africa, infrastructure plays a key role. A report from the International Trade Council submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly (the legislative branch of the State Government of Connecticut) noted a few years ago that “International trade cannot happen without roads, bridges, railroads, harbors, airports, and fiber optic cables”, concluding that for this reason, infrastructure should be regarded (by States) not only as financial burdens, but as economic assets where to attract strategic investments. In Africa, a continent that is tipically characterized by long distances between urban centers and production areas, railway transport is key, being this mode of transport the most economically viable over long distances and for the transportation of high cargo volumes (as the load capacity of trains is much higher than lorries or trucks). Yet, this mode of transport is also the most underdeveloped in Africa. This is mostly due to the colonial legacy of the African transport system. Indeed, most of the railways and interstate roads that currently exist in Africa were built during the colonization era by European nations to connect mining areas and agricultural production centers in the interior of the continent to the coast, so as to enable the export of raw materials needed to feed the production processes of European manufacturing companies. The same nations had no economic interest in building railroads and roads connecting African states to each other.

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The Africa of the many visions that rarely materialize or that materialize when it is too late

Among the main decisions arisen during the 37th AU summit held from 15th January to 18th February 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there is the launch of an Alliance for African Multilateral Financial Institutions (AAMFI), also called "Africa Club". AAMFIs are a group of African-owned and African-controlled financial institutions that were created to support investments and financing needs of African States. They include the African Export Import Bank (AfreximBank), the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa-Re) and the African Trade and Investment Development Insurance (ATIDI). All these institutions are owned and participated by African states and play an important role on financing and investment in Africa, by supporting African states’ debt during recent times of crisis.  So far, however, they have acted independently from each other. The idea is to create a structure that can coordinate the actions of all these institutions so that they can work in a concerted manner.

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Somalia: a future logistics hub in Africa?

Interview to our CEO for the Ports and Harbours magazine on the potential of Somalia for development of port traffic in the Horn of Africa.

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