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Home » Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 2)

Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 2)

By Eamonn Ryan

The Southern African Industrialisation Forum hosted a conference on 26–27 February 2024 with a range of panel discussions. This is part two of a five-part article.

A panel discussion.
A panel discussion. ©Cold Link Africa

Continued from part one…

The following discussion is titled “Leveraging Trade Agreements for Economic Growth in the SADC Region”, with the following panel members and key stakeholders:

  • Peter Varndell: SADC Business Council Executive Secretary
  • Desiderio Fernandes, FCFASA Federation President and Mozambican Logistics Professional
  • Kafuta Mulemba, SADC Secretariat, SADC TA Lobito Corridor
  • Gainmore Zanamwe, Afreximbank Senior Manager: Trade Facilitation

A significant obstacle identified is the lack of compliance with governing policies and agreements. While governments often sign bilateral and continental agreements, the information does not always filter down to the lowest levels of implementation. Consequently, at border points, officials may enforce national regulations that contradict bilateral agreements, leading to delays and disruptions in trade. Widespread dissemination of information and strict adherence to agreements are essential to ensure that trade policies translate into practical benefits.

The Federation of Clearing and Freight Forwarding Associations of Southern Africa (FCFASA) plays a pivotal role in advocating for trade facilitation measures. FCFASA promotes the importance of digitalisation and interconnectivity as fundamental steps towards efficient trading. By promoting digital platforms that allow for transparent and accountable transactions, FCFASA aims to streamline processes and reduce trade costs. Moreover, the organisation advocates for the implementation of regional trade facilitation programmes to create a conducive business environment that encourages intra-African trade.

Digitalisation and interconnectivity

Digitalisation is identified as a key driver for enhancing trade efficiency. While some governments have made strides in digitalising their systems, there remains a lack of interconnectivity between government entities and limited public access to digital platforms. FCFASA calls for 100% digitalisation of all entities to ensure transparency and accountability in trade transactions. Additionally, the organisation advocates for the interconnectivity of government agencies to facilitate seamless data sharing and improve trade facilitation across borders.

A ‘single window’ concept is aimed at consolidating all trade-related processes under one platform and is crucial for trade facilitation. However, its implementation remains limited across African countries. FCFASA promotes the importance of fully integrating single window systems and ensuring interoperability between member states. This would enable stakeholders to submit declarations and access trade-related services efficiently, contributing to reduced trade barriers and costs.

Efforts to improve trade efficiency in southern Africa require a concerted approach involving governments, regional organisations and industry stakeholders. By prioritising compliance with agreements, embracing digitalisation and implementing streamlined trade facilitation measures, the region can unlock its full potential for economic growth and integration. Moving forward, continued collaboration and commitment from all stakeholders are essential to overcoming existing challenges and fostering a conducive environment for intra-African trade.

Enhancing trade efficiency in southern Africa requires a holistic approach encompassing policy reforms, digitalisation initiatives, and collaborative efforts among stakeholders. By addressing key challenges and implementing targeted solutions, the region can create a conducive environment for trade and unlock new opportunities for economic prosperity and regional integration.

Continue to part three…