The director general of the ministry of foreign affairs of China, Wu- Peng, has reaffirmed China’s commitment to maintaining cooperation with Africa.
Wu-Peng disclosed this at a meeting held with African journalists under the auspices of the China Africa Press Centre (CAPC) in June 2022 in Beijing.
Quoting the president of China, Xi Jinping, Wu-Peng said “China will work hand in hand with African countries to implement linked programs in the next three years”.
According to Wu-Peng, this includes programs related to the medical and health sector, poverty alleviation, agricultural growth and promoting investments.
“We’re still fighting to contain Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has so far provided about 260 million doses of vaccines to 55 African countries and African Union,” the Director General said.
He also mentioned that China had also made provision for about 120 batches of emergency supplies to African countries and they all have diplomatic relations with China and also contributed to Africa’s early recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“China has already constructed the African CDC in Addis Ababa and it will be completed in 2023.
The other program I would like to make mention is the agricultural sector. When FOCAC was held in 2021, there was no Russia-Ukraine crisis, yet we focus and invested in Agriculture in Africa.
“The reason been, we believe in the potential of Agriculture in Africa, the growth and development is huge, there are still lots of arid land in Africa, Wu-Peng stated.
“Unfortunately, Africans still have to import grapes from the outside which costs a lot of currency and actually damages Africa’s international balance sheet.”
He said that the failure to prioritize agriculture could obstruct fast economic growth in Africa, suggesting that more should be done through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to ensure food security.
The director general laid emphasis on the need for proper implementation of the report from the FOCAC meetings to bring to life the realization of set goals and objectives.
“This does not make sense, you have lands, you have labor forces, I think we just need the right policy to promote price investments in industrial large scale farms to improve our food security.
“Why this is has become very important is due to the Ukraine crisis, food prices globally surged and going forward, we must finish construction of the project in the nearest future.
“African governments have already noticed developments of agriculture is a huge priority to deal with the crisis of hike in food prices, we want Africas countries to have up to date plans from FOCAC meetings and the findings of the results.
“Usually, when we have FOCAC meetings we just produce documents, we need more concrete actions, we must be focused,” the director general said.
Zambia’s Finance Minister Faces Dual Challenge in Upcoming Budget Address
As Zambia’s Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, prepares to present the nation’s budget, he finds himself at a pivotal crossroads.
The second-largest copper producer in Africa is grappling with two pressing concerns: debt sustainability and soaring living costs.
Debt Restructuring Dilemma: Musokotwane’s foremost challenge is finalizing the $6.3 billion debt-restructuring deal with official creditors, led by China and France.
Delays have hindered disbursements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and left private creditors in limbo.
To reassure investors, a memorandum of understanding with the official creditor committee is urgently needed.
President Hakainde Hichilema emphasizes the importance of sealing these transactions to signal closure on this tumultuous chapter.
Plummeting Tax Revenue: The key copper-mining industry, which accounts for 70% of Zambia’s export earnings, is in turmoil.
First-half mining company taxes and mineral royalty collections have nosedived, adding to economic woes.
This, in turn, has depreciated the local currency, exacerbating imported inflation, particularly in fuel prices.
Rising Food Inflation: Musokotwane faces mounting political pressure to combat soaring living costs, with annual inflation reaching an 18-month high of 12%. Corn meal prices, a staple in Zambia, have surged by a staggering 67% in the past year.
Neighboring countries’ demand for corn has led to smuggling and further price spikes, raising concerns about food security.
Currency Woes: The kwacha’s value has been a barometer for the nation’s economic health. It depreciated by 16% since June 22, the worst performance among African currencies, reflecting the ongoing debt-restructuring uncertainty.
In his budget address, Musokotwane faces the daunting task of striking a balance between debt management, economic stability, and alleviating the burden on Zambia’s citizens.
The international community will keenly watch to see if his fiscal measures can steer the nation toward a path of recovery and prosperity.
IMF Urges Sub-Saharan African Nations to Eliminate Tax Exemptions for Fiscal Health
Sub-Saharan African countries have been advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle their fiscal deficits by focusing on eliminating tax exemptions and bolstering domestic revenue rather than resorting to fiscal expenditure cuts, which could hamper economic growth.
The IMF conveyed this recommendation in a paper titled ‘How to avoid a debt crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.’
The IMF’s paper emphasizes that Sub-Saharan African nations should reconsider their overreliance on expenditure cuts as a primary means of reducing fiscal deficits. Instead, they should place greater emphasis on revenue-generating measures such as eliminating tax exemptions and modernizing tax filing and payment systems.
According to the IMF, mobilizing domestic revenue is a more growth-friendly approach, particularly in countries with low initial tax levels.
The paper highlights success stories in The Gambia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda, where substantial revenue increases were achieved through a combination of revenue administration and tax policy reforms.
The IMF also pointed out that enhancing the participation of women in the labor force could significantly boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in developing countries.
The IMF estimates that raising the rate of female labor force participation by 5.9 percentage points, which aligns with the average reduction in the participation gap observed in the top 5% of countries during 2014-19, could potentially increase GDP by approximately 8% in emerging and developing economies.
In a world grappling with the weakest medium-term growth outlook in over three decades, bridging the gender gap in labor force participation emerges as a vital reform that policymakers can implement to stimulate economic revival.
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