Economic development

Border delays are strangling African trade

Speedier customs processes and doing away with visa applications at borders between African countries have been suggested as a way to speed up intra-African trade.

As FairPlay recently noted, infrastructure problems and border delays were highlighted at a meeting in Cape Town of the business forum of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The trade pact, encompassing the entire African continent was launched in 2015. It has the potential to create the world’s largest free trade area with 1.3 billion consumers – but progress has been slow.

The council said inconsistent and inadequate freight and logistics along African borders hindered intra-African trade.

Freight News reports that, in response to this criticism, the AfCFTA has called for the removal of visas and a reduction of customs processes to facilitate the easier movement of goods between African countries.

Council members had cited high customs delay periods and visa delays – visa applications could take three days and more to approve – as hindrances to trade. Perishable goods were lost due to limited cold chains.

“As we say, goods move with people. This idea of taking more than three days waiting for a visa application at the border is killing intra-Africa trade,” said John Kalisa, chief executive officer of the East African Business Council, a member of the ABC representing the East African Community.

“As members of the African Business Council, we want African countries to eliminate visa applications at the border and reduce the amount of time it takes to fill in customs paperwork.”

Problems are being noted and hopefully will be addressed.