|Posted by Ziad Hamoui on February 8, 2012 at 4:00 AM|
The World Bank has recently published a report on trade barriers in Africa and their effect. The report, titled "De-Fragmenting:Africa: Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services", bemoans the missed opportunity of inter-regional trade on the continent and the fact that "it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself" (for link to full PDF report, click here).
The World Bank's Vice President for Africa and former Nigerian Minister of Extractive Industries, Mrs. Obiageli "Oby" Ezekwesili, who is a fervent promoter of trade and transport facilitation on the continent, states that "It is clear that Africa is not reaching its potential for regional trade, despite the fact that its benefits are enormous they create larger markets, help countries diversify their economies, reduce costs, improve productivity and help reduce poverty", according to World Bank press release no. 2012/239/AFR of 08 February 2012.
Regional integration and its benefits have proven tricky in Africa, despite the unanimous agreement on its benefits and its priority, even while the perpetrators are carrying on with their restrictive methods.
Similarly, a recently-published article by the International Trade Forum, titled "Aspirations vs. Reality: Local Perspectives on Regional Trade", highlights the same issues in discussions with West African trade and transport stakeholders (follow link here).
Regional monitoring and evaluation initiatives, such as the Improved Road Transport Governance initiative that is condicted by the West Africa Trade Hub, with the support of ECOWAS and UEMOA, have been successful at measuring the levels of bribes and delays along the West African corridors, in addition to coming up with a list of suggestions for improvement. At the top of its list, market liberalization and checkpoint elimination seem to have the highest potential for significantly reducing some of these barriers. Eventually, it will take local and regioanl political will, in addition to collaboration between the various private and public stakeholders, if any positive and permanent change is to be made.