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Digitalisation set to pave the way in Africa following Casablanca workshop
Africa | Casablanca

Digitalisation set to pave the way in Africa following Casablanca workshop

13 Jul 2022 · Prosperity

IRU has helped international partners run a training workshop on trade and transport digitalisation tools eTIR and eCMR for Sub Saharan Africa, in Casablanca, Morocco.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have run a training workshop on eTIR and eCMR for Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Hosted by the government of Morocco in Casablanca on 28 and 29 June, the workshop aimed to raise awareness of two key UN conventions and their role in digitalising transport and trade: namely the TIR convention with eTIR, and the CMR convention with its eCMR protocol.

Close to 50 participants from 18 OIC Member Countries attended – Benin, Burkina-Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia and Turkey – representing trade ministries and customs administrations as well as national, regional and international organisations. 

In addition to the main organisers and IRU, other organisations participating included the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and IRU member the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkiye (TOBB).

Konstantinos Alexopoulos, Chief, Transport Facilitation and Economics, TIR Secretary, Sustainable Transport Division, UNECE said: “This workshop is a historical milestone, when three regional UN agencies (UNECE, UNECA and UNESCWA), as well as the Islamic Development Bank, came together to urge African countries, members of the OIC, to join two flagship UN conventions, regulating and facilitating international road transport – the TIR CMR Conventions.”
He also emphasised a direct relationship between border waiting times and countries’ GDP.

IRU’s Director for TIR and Transit Services, Tatiana Rey-Bellet, who spoke at the workshop, noted: “Cumbersome and non-harmonised border crossing procedures in Africa are one of the key factors hampering intra-regional trade – keeping it at 16% compared to 68% in Europe and 60% in Asia”. 

Difficulties in moving goods across borders in Africa also discourage investment in manufacturing capacities that prevent African countries from enhancing value chains. Africa has around 100 national land borders. At the same time, according to ECA, 77% of freight in Africa is moved by road. 

Speakers talked about the importance of the two conventions, as well as how to implement them at the national level, in order to facilitate border crossings. Egyptian customs authorities shared their first-hand experience in implementing the TIR system. TOBB outlined the experiences of Turkey in using both TIR and CMR for many decades.

All three UN agencies, as well as IsDB, ICTD and IRU, encouraged African countries to accede to both conventions rapidly and committed to support them in the process of their implementation.