African states are taking the necessary steps needed to improve regional trade, but more obstacles remain ahead. IRU and regional actors discussed proven UN solutions to transport and trade challenges facing the continent.
Public and private sector actors, international organisations and academia recently came together and shared a comprehensive overview of the progress made in making trade and transport more efficient and less costly in Africa. They highlighted issues and opportunities related to regional connectivity, the cross-border movements of goods, drivers and vehicles, as well as the residual impact of the pandemic.
The hybrid event was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Transport and Public Works of the Republic of Botswana, the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme, and the Cross-Border Road Transport Regulators Forum.
As is the case in many other regions, trade and transport procedures – such as repetitive customs checks, road safety and border congestion – can be dramatically improved to better connect African countries internally and to global markets.
Geographical constraints are another issue that raise logistics costs. Half of the planet’s landlocked developing countries are in Africa. But, similarly to Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, landlocked African countries can become landlinked and significantly boost trade.
While it is important to invest in a wide range of transport infrastructure, the “software” plays a significant role in making transport faster as well as more cost effective and secure.
Tatiana Rey-Bellet, IRU’s Director of TIR and Transit, who highlighted the proven track record of available instruments, said, “While African states are very diverse, harmonised, tried-and-tested UN tools can double or triple intra-regional trade, at the very least, as well as significantly reduce transport costs and ultimately lower the price of goods.
“I would like to encourage all African countries to accede to, and make full use of, existing UN conventions, such as TIR and CMR, as well as their digital equivalents. All of which have been identified by the UN Secretary General as important instruments to address the challenges and impacts of the pandemic.”
Tatiana Rey-Bellet further pointed out that while harmonisation at the regional level is necessary, the implementation of trade instruments should better connect African countries internally and also enhance trade links that the continent enjoys with the rest of the world.
IRU and C-BRTA meet in Geneva
A delegation from South Africa’s Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA), a driving force behind Southern Africa’s international road transport services for over 20 years, recently shared the agency’s latest programmes and projects with IRU to explore further avenues for collaboration.
Both sides discussed the issues facing transport and transit in Southern Africa and identified areas for cooperation at the national and regional level.
What is TIR?
TIR is the only global transit system, enabling goods to be shipped from a country of origin, through transit countries, to a country of destination, via a secure, multilateral, multimodal and mutually recognised system.
In 2021, a new legal framework for the full digitalisation of TIR (referred to as eTIR) entered into force, opening eTIR to 77 countries across five continents.
A number of TIR IT tools are available, allowing transport operators, IRU and national associations to exchange data with customs, provide advance cargo information and track TIR processes, such as the guarantee and claims procedure status. All in real-time.