By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
To effectively maximize their economic prosperity, African countries have been charged to take full advantage of the tremendous benefits embedded in the concept of trade facilitation as a major driver of economic development and growth of nations.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman handed out the charge while speaking at the 2nd Continental Conference/Annual General Meeting of the African Women In Maritime (WIMAFRICA) holding in Lagos. The continent, she observed, is mostly an emerging economy and for Africa to be competitive, impediments to trade at both regional and international levels need to be eliminated. “With globalization and its associated trade liberalization, there must be an African framework targeted at enhancing the conveyance of cargoes and the quality of logistics in a more predictable manner.
On the theme of the WIMAFRICA conference which is ‘Trade Facilitation in Africa: Challenges and Prospects’, she stated that it was a very important subject which could elicit proactive discussions that would proffer an integrative approach towards eliminating the increasing complexities and cost associated with transaction processes of trade in the continent.
“As you are aware, trade facilitation is a major driver of economic development and growth of nations. Africa as a continent has to key-in to this indispensable concept in order to effectively maximize its tremendous benefits. The continent is mostly an emerging economy and for us to be competitive, impediments to trade at both regional and international levels need to be eliminated. With globalization and its associated trade liberalization, there must be an African framework targeted in enhancing the conveyance of cargoes and the quality of logistics in a more predictable manner.
“For us in the continent to get trade facilitation right, it is imperative that our regulatory environment must be tied with best practices and strengthened to ensure that operators in the trade corridors and border posts adhere strictly to the various articles of the World Trade Organization on Trade Facilitation Agreement. We in the continent, more than ever before, need to redefine our trade processes to ensure simplification of documentation, automation, efficiency, transparency and professionalism. This, no doubt, will engender ease of doing business.”
“It is pertinent to reiterate that African continent needs to link the ports to rail networks in order to guarantee efficient evacuation of cargoes to both the hinterland and landlocked countries. The competiveness of the continent has been hindered over the years by various unpredictable factors which limit trade facilitation in the continent.
She urged the conference to unravel critical issues militating against taking the advantages of the prospect of Trade Facilitation and to come up with strategic plans that would upscale the desired growth and development of the economies of Africa.