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Home » Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 4)

Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 4)

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 four of a five-part article.

A view of the participating audience.
A view of the participating audience. ©Cold Link Africa

Continued from part three…

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

In southern Africa, concerted efforts are underway to bolster infrastructure development and regional integration, with a focus on key corridors such as the Dar es Salaam and Lobito corridors. Recent initiatives and collaborations between stakeholders aim to address infrastructure gaps, enhance trade facilitation and catalyse industrialiation across the region.

  • Infrastructure financing and partnerships: Significant progress has been made in securing funding and partnerships for infrastructure projects within the region. International co-operating partners, including the European Union, the African Development Bank and the US government, have pledged close to a billion dollars to support priority projects, particularly in rail infrastructure. Private sector engagement is vital for corridor development, with initiatives such as the Africa Finance Corporation’s private sector forum in Zambia facilitating dialogue and collaboration.
  • Challenges and critical success factors: Despite these advancements, challenges persist in corridor development and implementation. Many member states lag behind in project implementation, with a significant number of identified projects still in the pre-feasibility or feasibility stages. Issues such as inadequate funding, lack of prioritisation of regional projects, and infrastructure project stalls contribute to a deficit in infrastructure within the region. However, commitment by member states, strengthened oversight institutions, and policy reforms are identified as critical success factors in overcoming these challenges and driving corridor development.
  • Sustainability and policy reform: Sustainability strategies, including the adoption of the user-pay principle, are highlighted as essential for corridor viability and self-sufficiency. Efforts to harmonise laws, regulations and standards are underway, exemplified by successful initiatives such as the One-Stop Border Post at Kazungula. Capacity-building initiatives and systems development are recommended to expedite project implementation and ensure the bankability of projects.
  • Role of development institutions: Development institutions such as the African Development Bank and the SADC secretariat play a crucial role in supporting infrastructure development and regional integration. Initiatives such as the SADC Trade and Transit Project aim to develop regional rail master plans and enhance trade facilitation through seamless border processes. Collaboration with private sector partners through public-private partnerships (PPPs) is increasingly seen as a sustainable approach to infrastructure development.

The acceleration of co-ordination, policy reform and infrastructure development initiatives underscores the commitment of stakeholders to advance regional integration and economic development in southern Africa. Continued investment in capacity-building, resource mobilisation, and partnership-building is essential to address infrastructure gaps and ensure the success of corridor projects. By leveraging partnerships and adopting innovative financing mechanisms, Southern Africa can realise its vision of interconnected, efficient and sustainable corridors that drive inclusive growth and prosperity across the region.

Continued in part five…