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New trade facilitation tool launched to enhance intra-Africa trade

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- A new trade facilitation tool was launched Tuesday in Kigali aimed at enhancing intra-Africa trade.

The One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) Sourcebook is expected to help governments improve cross-border and intra-regional trade across Africa.

The second edition of the sourcebook was supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), NEPAD, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The tool was launched at a regional workshop on the OSBP. The workshop runs up to March 16.

Participants are exchanging views on further development of OSBPs in the continent.

Participants were drawn from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan.

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, the NEPAD chief executive officer, said the trade facilitation tool seeks to promote a coordinated and integrated approach towards easing trade, movement of people, and consolidating security.

He pointed out one-stop border posts are crucial in facilitating trade on the continent because clearance time reduces for both travellers and goods under one roof.

Mayaki said: “It is envisaged that the OSBP project will help reduce the cost and time transporters take to ferry goods across borders.”

Mayaki affirmed NEPAD’s commitment to support initiatives that promote trade on the continent.

He also urged governments and key stakeholders to fully utilize the sourcebook to help them determine the best way to develop OSBPs in each region.

Snowden Mmadi, an infrastructure expert at COMESA, said studies show that time wasted clearing at ports, borders, and checkpoints is one of the big obstacles to trade growth and competitiveness in Africa.

Participants said promotion of the one-stop border post system is vital in enhancing the continent’s competitiveness.

Africa still lags behind due to low levels of trade and industrialization, according to experts.

Hiroyuki Takada, the JICA chief representative in Rwanda, cited high transport cost among challenges facing regional trade in Africa.

Traders say it is about three times more expensive to transport a container from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Kigali compared to shipping costs from Yokohama in Japan to Dar es Salaam.

“High transport charges increase the cost of doing business, especially for landlocked countries like Rwanda, and discourage private investments and are, therefore, an additional barrier to trade on the continent,” Takada said.

He urged African countries to strengthen intraregional trade and deepen regional integration to spur growth on the continent. 

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