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Islamic Trade Finance Corporation Signs Afreximbank US$200M For #COVID-19 Response  

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The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, signed a US$200 million syndicated Murabaha financing agreement with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), a multilateral financial institution established by African governments and institutional investors.

The facility seeks to help African countries address some of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This syndication is supported by the number of partners and financial institutions that allocated resources to the agriculture sector in African.

The agreement, which is indicative of ITFC’s ongoing commitment to and trust in Africa, will finance the export of soft commodities, such as raw cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seeds, and maize.

The financing will provide critical support for the agriculture sector (the continent’s largest employer and a key driver of SME development) of 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Commenting on the Murabaha financing agreement, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC CEO, said: “The financing of agricultural exports during these extremely challenging economic conditions will provide a lifeline to exporters affected by the impact that COVID-19 has had on the price of commodities.”

He added that, “Hundreds of millions of people in Africa rely on agriculture for employment and many countries’ food security rests on the smooth and affordable import and export of foodstuffs. We thank our financial partners for joining ITFC in this syndication, particularly for their unabated support in this turbulent time, to allocate resources for Africa. This new partnership with Afreximbank will go some way to supporting businesses and ordinary people as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Africa region has been a priority for ITFC since its inception in 2008, mandated to answer to the developmental and economic requirements of the member countries in the continent.

For this reason, ITFC disbursed US$2.38 billion in Africa in 2019 alone, taking the total since 2008 to US$15.6 billion, helping OIC member countries in the region to achieve sustained economic growth, job creation and value creation in the key export sectors of agriculture, energy and manufacturing.

It is worth mentioning that ITFC first partnered with Afreximbank in 2017 with the signing of a US$100 million agreement with the aim of facilitating and financing exports amongst African countries and between Africa and the rest of the world.

Afreximbank is also a key partner in the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program initiated by ITFC, a program with a mandate of enhancing economic integration between the Africa and Arab regions and strengthening SME export development across key sectors.

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East-Africa

Sudan’s Prime Minister, UN’s DiCarlo Discuss Ethiopia’s Giant Dam

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Sudan’s prime minister and the visiting UN political and peacebuilding affairs chief discussed the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement and the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Abdallah Hamdok on Wednesday received Rosemary DiCarlo who has just concluded a visit to Addis Ababa for talks on the situation in Tigray and the GERD crisis with Ethiopian officials.

“The meeting discussed the challenges facing the transitional government, especially, the democratic transition and the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement,” read a statement issued by the Hamdok cabinet after the meeting.

For her part, DiCarlo tweeted she had a ’fruitful’ meeting with Hamdok and reaffirmed that UN and UNITAMS “remain fully committed to supporting the Sudanese transition to democracy, including the completion and implementation of the peace process”.

The democratic transition in Sudan is facing several challenges particularly the peace process as the government is facing difficulties to provide the money needed to implement the security arrangements and to return the displaced people and refugees.

According to the statement, DiCarlo reiterated the UN support for the democratic transition in Sudan and stressed the need to disarm and integrate Sudanese armed groups returning from Libya.

Almost all the armed groups in Darfur were involved in the civil war in neighbouring Libya where the international community is struggling to evacuate foreign armed groups and mercenaries before general elections in December 2021.

GERD

On the giant hydropower dam, Hamdok underscored that Sudan supports the Ethiopian project but wants a legally binding agreement on its filling and operation to protect its interests.

DiCarlo said that “The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide technical support (for the settlement) to the Renaissance Dam’s issue,” reported the cabinet.

The UN political official had discussed the GERD issue with the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen during a meeting on 27 July.

The Ethiopian foreign ministry said Mekonnen “noted that unnecessary politicization and Internationalization of the matter would contribute nothing but drag the negotiation process”.

Ethiopia rejects the involvement of the United Nations in the regional dispute and indicates its willingness for the efforts led by the African Union.

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Africa

Controversy As Made in Africa Bid To Buy Vlisco Rejected

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The journey to total creation of one Africa Market may be troublesome as some realities on the ground could be corrosive.

A bid by Made in Africa to purchase the Vlisco Group designs was recently rejected by the seller and this has attracted the attention of the the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

Vlisco produces and distributes fashion fabrics, especially of the African wax print style, for the West and Central African market and African consumers in global metropolitan cities.

“It has been brought to the attention of the (AfCFTA) Secretariat that our strategic partner, a leading African financial institution supported a $200 million bid by Made in Africa to purchase Vlisco, a textile company that sells almost exclusively in Africa,” the office of the Secretary General said in a statement dated 23-July.

“Whilst we respect the rights of parties in a private transaction, as a matter of public interest for Africa’s market integration, regional and global competitiveness, we do find it curious that the bid of Made in Africa was rejected by the seller. We totally support the bid by Made in Africa, which is financially backed by one of the leading trade finance banks in Africa,” it added.

The statement said the the objective of the AfCFTA is to accelerate industrialisation in Africa, consolidate an integrated market of over 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of U$3.4 trillion and to place Africa on a sustained path to regional and global competitiveness.

At the heart of Africa’s global and regional competitiveness is the textiles and clothing sector. This sector employs thousands of Africans, mainly women and contributes to Africa’s industrialisation.

Whilst we respect the rights of parties in a private business transaction to structure their business transactions as they see fit, we do believe that the sale of Vlisco to Made in Africa, is in the broader economic and trade interests of Africa, hence as the AfCFTA Secretariat we are following this matter closely.

“We therefore urge the successful conclusion of this transaction in favour of Made in Africa, which is backed by the leading financial institution, and led by Mr. Kojo Annan, the entrepreneurial son of the late Mr. Kofi Annan, along with other African fashion and business luminaries,” the statement reads in part.

“We cannot express a value judgement as to the reasons for the bid of Made in Africa – which was the higher bid – being rejected. We do however firmly believe that where an African company puts forward a formidable bid for a foreign company that appears to profit exclusively from sales to Africa, supported by a leading African trade finance bank, the African company has a reasonable expectation to successfully conclude the transaction in favour of Africa” says Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of AfCFTA.

We strongly urge reconsideration of this matter, the entire African continent and business community of Africa is following this matter very closely, African entrepreneurship and global competitiveness must be treated fairly.

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East-Africa

EAC A Pillar Of Cross-border Codes of Justice

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Lady Justice Martha Koome, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya has stated that the chords of the East African Union have indeed led to the formation of enduring and instrumental institutions of justice and Governance.

“The East Africa Court of Justice is a pivotal institutional pillar of this collaboration and a carrier of our cross-border codes of justice,” she said.

Her Ladyship asserted that “As a Court, you take the regional lead as a vehicle for realising good governance and the rule of law in the EAC region. The jurisprudence you have built over the years on adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice cannot go unnoticed,” said Lady Justice Koome.

Making her closing remarks during the EACJ meeting on validation of Strategic Plan, she noted that the cooperation between Kenya national Judiciaries must be up-scaled and not limited to hosting of the sub registry at the Milimani commercial courts.

“I wish to see more tangible cooperation in judicial matters like joint trainings and colloquia. The principles of rule of law and good governance are very important to consumers of our services and the full achievement of economic integration in our region.” said the Chief Justice.

Lady Justice Koome further added, “I have noted that the Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) makes provision for cooperation with national judiciaries under Article 33 and 34.

Article 33 provides “Except where jurisdiction is conferred on the Court by this Treaty, disputes to which the Community is a party shall not on that ground alone, be excluded from the jurisdiction of the national courts of the Partner States”.

Since national courts can also determine cases touching on the Treaty, that calls for training of national Judges on matters of the Treaty.

“As the Kenyan judiciary engages in the quest to develop the social justice jurisprudence decreed by our transformative Constitution, we can gain illuminating insights from the progressive jurisprudence developed by the EACJ and the cross-fertilized jurisprudence that we develop can also enrich the EACJ’s jurisprudence and the decisions by our sister courts in other Partner States.

On his part the Judge President East African Court of Justice Hon Justice Nestor Kayobera noted that during the Training of Judges on Good governance and Rule of Law in East African Community, a number of issues were identified and these include; the two (2) moths time limitation requirement to file a case before the EACJ.

“It has been realized that a number of reasonable cases have been dismissed on grounds of time barred and this requires amendment of the Treaty of EAC to extend time to give litigants enough time to lodge their cases appropriately,” stated His Lordship.

He also pointed out the emerging concerns on Article 30 of the Treaty which allows a Legal or natural person to litigate before EACJ, which provides that “…..any person who is a resident in a Partner State may refer a matter for determination by the Court on the legality of any act, regulation, directive, decision by a Partner State or an Institution of the Community on ground that such act, regulation, directive, decision is an unlawful or an infringement of the Treaty”.

The Court has noted that this article limits East Africans who are citizens but residing outside East Africa and therefore there is need to amend the Treaty to accommodate all citizens of East Africa regardless of their residence, since a number of litigants filing cases in EACJ are legal and natural persons.

Justice Kayobera urged the national Courts as part of the enforcement actors on the good governance and rule of law in the Partner States to continue supporting the EAC Integration process by exercising the jurisdiction of the national courts under Article 33 of the Treaty as well as referring matters on interpretation and application of the Treaty to EACJ for preliminary rulings under Article 34 of the EAC Treaty.

“Everyone is entitled to justice and therefore it’s our duty to protect the rights of the people of East Africa and access to the Court is fundamental.” Said Judge President.

He called upon the Government of Kenya for support in continuing raising the jurisprudence of the Court in the region, protecting its independence and resolving several challenges that affect its operations including the ad-hoc nature of the services of the Judges, financial constraints among others, all that hinder timely justice delivery.

His Lordship Justice Kayobera, commended the recent request received by the Court from the Government of South Sudan to settle a case through mediation as one of the dispute resolution mechanism the Court provides.

This is a sign that Member States have appreciated other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to reduce on the costs involved in public litigation process.

“It is incumbent on all of us in the profession of international law, whether we are judges, government advisors, scholars or practitioners, to strengthen and promote the various means for settling disputes peacefully. As Judges of the East African Court of Justice, we will always be mindful of this responsibility,” remarked Judge President.

He concluded by informing the Chief Justice that her being the Chair of the Chief Justices’ forum, the Court has no doubt will find her full support in harmonizing a number of judicial issues across the region to enable the fundamental principles of the Community are achieved.

Justice Kayobera commended Lady Justice Koome for accepting to host the next meeting of the Chief Justices’ Forum which is scheduled to take place December 2021 here in Nairobi, Kenya.

In attendance were the EACJ Vice President Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire and other Judges of the Court and staff.

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