Barriers to intra-Africa trade are about to be broken, thanks to NEPAD

 The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), Wednesday announced the launch of the MoveAfrica Initiative aimed at supporting the transformation of Africa’s trade by addressing soft issues related to cross-border transport and logistics challenges on the continent which have been identified as part of the barriers to intra-Africa trade.

The initiative will focus on driving down costs and increasing efficiency for logistics companies and manufacturers in varied industries operating in Africa.

“We cannot hope for the industrialization of our continent without functional transport infrastructure. This requires not only a quantitative improvement of our infrastructure, but also a radical simplification and harmonization of regulatory conditions and procedures of business on the continent, what I would call the soft infrastructure,” explains Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD.

According to Mayaki, it is confounding that an African businessman cannot move without a visa across the continent.

Among the targeted soft infrastructure in particular by NEPAD are the laws governing cross-border transport, the regulations for crossing the border, and the systems and organizational resources for the operation and maintenance of “hard” infrastructure.

Current estimates indicate that the volume of trade in sub-Saharan Africa will more than triple, from 102.6 million tonnes in 2009 to 384 million tonnes by 2030, if trade corridors are completed. There is, therefore, a need for active intervention from all stakeholders to participate in the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area that was signed in 2012 in Addis Ababa.

“African Union has a customs trade facility and welcomes NEPAD’s full involvement for free trade to implement the customs standards and processes,” said Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry.

Chairman of Heirs Holding and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony O. Elumelu also said there is a need to pay attention to the political aspects of infrastructure.

“Our governments are trying but we can do a lot more. Transportation sector is a long-term investment and requires huge capital. So we need our governments to help the private sector with policies that encourage us to bring capital, Elumelu said.

The MoveAfrica Initiative will kick-off key activities such as a consolidated stakeholder annual report to rank and track the continent’s ability to move goods and services, an annual stakeholder roundtable briefing, and a consultative group of business thought leaders on improving transport and logistics in Africa. It is part of the Continental Business Network (CBN) established by the NEPAD Agency as an African Union Heads of State and Government response to facilitate private sector advice and leadership in essential continent-wide infrastructure projects.

CBN acts as an exclusive high-level private sector forum on Infrastructure Investment. It provides thought leadership on a range of strategic issues and is powered by high-level business people as well as public institution leaders.