“Africa faces a moment when the market access gains that have been negotiated over the past two decades can be severely eroded unless we address the challenges of trade facilitation”, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi on Tuesday, at the start of a three-day forum taking place at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees aims to implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) February 2017 Trade Facilitation Agreement and tackle fast-shifting patterns of global commerce to help drive down trade costs.Amidst new momentum provided by March’s landmark African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA), Mr. Kituyi emphasized that Africa’s competitive labour advantage must be accompanied by quality transport hubs, more efficient cross-border goods and services movements, better port procedures and predictable logistics management.“If Africa is going to trade with itself, we have to make sense of what main roads and railways are to be built to connect African producers and consumers,” Mr. Kituyi argued, stressing the need for well-functioning trade committees, infrastructure and investment.The WTO calculates that current trade costs for developing countries are equivalent to a staggering 219 per cent tariff on their international trade.According to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, the reduction of trade costs with the Trade Facilitation Agreement is “striking.”“It could add 2.7 percentage points per year to world trade growth and more than half a percentage point to world GDP [gross domestic product],” he stated. “The biggest benefits would accrue to developing countries.”If Africa is going to trade with itself, we have to make sense of what main roads and railways are to be built to connect African producers and consumers — UNCTAD Secretary-GeneralHe revealed that African estimates indicate that by fully implementing the agreement, trade costs could be reduced by an average of 16.5 per cent, potentially delivering “a huge economic boost for the continent.”This level of trade would open new opportunities for smaller businesses, especially for women-led businesses and younger entrepreneurs while enhancing transparency and reducing corruption.African solutionsThe deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, stressed that the continent needs real vision to make an African common market a reality.“To trade, you must first produce, and to be able produce and leverage science and technology in this production, you need education training and planning,” he said.On behalf of UNECA’s Executive Secretary, Ingrid Cyimana said that Africans were doing just that by taking steps to integrate their economies using the new Free Trade Agreement and by establishing trade facilitation committees.“Our projections show the value of intra-African trade to be between 15 to 25 per cent higher in 2040, compared to a situation with no AfCTA,” she stated.The forum supports the WTO’s agreement, which besides boosting trade also addresses improved revenue collection and security compliance controls.
BMT WBM, a subsidiary of BMT Group, a leading international maritime design, environmental and engineering consultancy, has been awarded a contract to design a major new conveyor system for the Loy Yang mine in Victoria, Australia. The dedicated open-pit mine provides the coal supply for the Loy Yang A and B power stations. The new system will transport overburden from Loy Yang mine to a new internal dump in a worked out section of the mine. Historically, overburden spoil was transported to an external dump up to 10 km away from where the material was being excavated.The project will help AGL Energy comply with its environmental goals through mine rehabilitation and energy saving measures.BMT is responsible for the overall design, providing the detailed design for civil, structural and mechanical elements, as well as liaising with AGL Energy’s in-house team which is delivering the electrical design. The new conveyor system will have the capacity to transport up to 8,500 t/h of material on 2 m wide belts running at 5.3 m/s. The new downhill conveyor will be some 1.34 km long, dropping 131 m to the mine floor using three 1,000 kW variable-frequency drives, to generate power and introduce it back into the grid. The new conveyers have been designed as a modular system with inherent flexibility to allow for unstable ground conditions and will deliver a power saving of around 5 MW over the existing system through 1 MW of regeneration and 4 MW of reduction in demand.The project has to be delivered within tight time constraints to ensure the new infrastructure is ready to accept plant currently deployed on the external dump.The very large travelling stacker has to be moved to the floor of the mine crossing the 500 MW ‘Basslink’ cable that connects the electricity grids of Victoria and Tasmania, during an outage planned for March 2017.A spokesperson from AGL Energy said: “AGL Energy is pleased that BMT is supporting the delivery of environmental improvements to its Loy Yang Mine. BMT’s innovative design will ensure that overburden will be moved efficiently and effectively to the new internal dump, backfilling and rehabilitating the mine as part of its day to day activities.”Peter Essig, State Business Unit Manager of BMT WBM’s machinery group comments: “BMT has a long, successful history working with AGL Energy, including being involved with this project since 2006 when we produced the initial conceptual design. We’re delighted to have been awarded the detailed design and look forward to delivering another successful project.”