Transport experts from across Africa, under the auspices of the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), have agreed to take concrete steps to foster trade facilitation with landlocked countries and deepen regional integration.
This follows a two-day meeting of stakeholders held in Kigali, last week, with representatives of regional economic communities (RECs), transport stakeholders from 21 countries, and officials from development partners including the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA).
According to a press statement, during the deliberations emphasis was placed on landlocked countries, which face particular challenges as a result of their relative isolation.
“Participants stressed the importance of removing non-tariff barriers along transit corridors to ensure that landlocked countries gain easy access to the sea,” the statement reads in part.
Rampant Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that continue to limit trade in RECs include; customs documentation and administrative procedures, quality inspection procedures, transiting procedures and police road
The participants also agreed to take steps to assist in harmonizing regulations so that carriers operating across country boundaries are not unnecessarily impeded by differences in legal requirements between
countries and sub-regions.
The experts also considered establishment of transit corridor observatories, setting up corridor management groups, and the preparation and distribution of a Trade Corridor Management Toolkit.
“This toolkit, developed by the World Bank, will provide guidelines aimed at assisting agencies that work on corridor networks to monitor and manage their performance,”
According to Jean Paul Libibele, the new REC-TCC Chairman, ownership of SSATP by member states and the RECs constitutes the key element for ensuring successful implementation of the SSATP trade facilitation programme aimed at trade promotion, poverty reduction and regional
The meeting stressed the need to develop systems for the timely collection and analysis of data on the performance of regional transport corridors with baseline surveys already taking place along several corridors.
According to the experts, RECs should assist in the implementation of road safety programmes, especially along major trade corridors, in support to the UN Road Safety Decade of Action (2011-2020).
Established in 1987, SSATP is a partnership made of 36 African countries with a mission to foster sound policies and strategies for the provision of reliable, safe, efficient, and affordable transport in Africa.
The Programme is supported by multiple donors including the European Commission, the governments of Austria, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, UNECA, as well as the World Bank.