News / Africa

    World Bank: Break Down African Trade Barriers

    The World Bank says African nations could earn billions of dollars more each year if regional trade barriers were broken down.
    The World Bank says African nations could earn billions of dollars more each year if regional trade barriers were broken down.
    Joe DeCapua

    The World Bank says regional trade barriers are blocking African countries from billions of dollars in potential earnings. It says it’s easier for those countries to trade with other parts of the world than with each other. The World Bank has released a new report – called De-Fragmenting Africa: Deepening Regional Integration.

    “The Africa market is split into many individual country markets and many of those countries are small. And bringing those markets together would bring a lot of opportunities for people to trade across borders, but (also) to exploit the benefits of a much larger market. And the book is about barriers that ordinary traders face every day in trying to get across borders that are fragmenting those markets,” said Paul Brenton, the bank’s trade practice leader for the African region and co-editor of the report.

    Traditional markets stagnant

    He said there are great opportunities for opening new markets.

    “For example, in agricultural products, Africa has enormous potential to produce and sell more agricultural products. But barriers to trade are limiting that potential. There’s also potential in manufactures (sic). As Africa grows and middle classes emerge, there are plenty of opportunities for manufactures to be produced locally. But again, they’re not emerging yet. And there are also plenty of opportunities for trade in services for people, for professionals – doctors, teachers – to be able to sell their services across borders,” he said.

    Africa’s traditional markets of Western Europe and the United States have been “stagnant” due to the global recession.

    “There are new markets and they’re very close. And it seems obvious that Africa should be exploiting its own markets as they grow, but often it’s much harder for Africans to trade with each other than it is for them to trade the rest of the world,” said Brenton.

    Border blockages

    The World Bank official said trade barriers in Africa often occur right at the border.

    “There are a lot of agreements on regional trade in Africa on paper. And the real challenge is implementation. So what we find at the borders is a real lack of implementation of these agreements. In part, that reflects issues of governance. So if you go to the border of the DRC with Rwanda, you find there are 17 agencies at the border, each trying to get some money off traders as they cross the border and, even worse, harassing them in some cases. Now, there should only be four agencies at the border,” he said.

    Trade barriers can affect consumers, as well. For example, the South African supermarket chain, Shoprite, spends $20,000 a week on permits just to sell products in Zambia alone.

    “If a firm has to spend a lot of resources on paperwork, on getting the necessary permits and licenses, if their trucks spend a long waiting at the border because the processing of these documents takes such a long time, then that’s passed on to the consumer in terms of high prices. This is an important issue, particularly with regard to food at the moment,” said Brenton.

    The World Bank recommends simplifying border procedures; using cross border mobile banking to improve access to finance and eliminating expensive import and export licensing procedures. It also calls for reforming regulations and immigration rules to allow a free flow of goods and services between countries.

    The bank currently invests more than $4 billion in regional trade integration in Africa. Much of that goes to improving infrastructure, such as transportation and energy projects. That investment is scheduled to increase to $5.7 billion by July of this year. More of the funding is expected to be directed to regulatory issues.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.