Studies on West African corridors highlight improved performance and need for short term high impact projects to consolidate gains
Results from a performance analysis study, conducted on three West African corridors – involving consultation with actors such as countries, customs, corridor management organisations, transporters, etc., were unveiled at a regional coordination meeting convened, today, in Abidjan by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the ATWA project.
The study, conducted in four countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso – along the Abidjan-Ouagadougou corridors; Tema-Ouagadougou; Lomé-Ouagadougou, found that all three corridors have seen improvements in both costs and time. The average corridor costs have gone down by 16% and average corridor times by 6% over the last 4 to 8 years.
In terms of cost distribution, the survey indicated that trucking costs absorb about 65% of the total corridor transport costs; ports take 20% while border crossings and clearance at the inland terminal account for about 15% of the total corridor costs for import. The study found that export is generally less expensive and faster than import. Other indicators were also shared such as process and travel time to move goods along the corridors and rail versus road indicators.
In the views of Moono Mupotola, Director, NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department at the AfDB, “Regional integration is a development imperative and a priority for the Bank.” “Integrating Africa is one of the five priorities of the Bank, High-5s – Light up Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the living conditions of the people of Africa.” She stressed that “We need to accelerate the integration of our markets and work harder to make trade easier, faster and cheaper on the continent. Reducing the cost of transporting goods along our corridors is vital to the development of trade to boost economic growth in West Africa and indeed on the continent,” she told participants from ECOWAS, government and corridor organisation representatives and ATWA.
The study also highlighted some challenges to address with a view to facilitating trade and reducing the cost of transport of goods. These challenges include, the absence of regular and coherent data on trade along the corridors, Non-tariffs barriers, lack of data sharing amongst the countries custom authorities and delays noted in the implementation of legal and regulatory texts and agreements were also cited as shortcomings.
To overcome these challenges, all stakeholders and development partners - the World Bank, the European Union, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Denmark and the Netherlands, who attended the meeting reiterated their willingness to help consolidate the gains on the West African corridors.
ATWA takes inspiration from East Africa, where eight donors (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, United States and the United Kingdom) have pooled their support and established a single non-profit organisation working across the East African Community (EAC) to further its integration agenda. The organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) currently has a budget of 540 USD Million over 2011-2016 and works in the five EAC countries to reduce trade costs on major transport corridors and improve the business environment for trade and investment. TMEA is ATWA’s technical partner