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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs