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AfCFTA: Insecurity, infrastructure deficiency threaten regional trade –WACTAF

By Merit Ibe, ibe.merit@yahoo.com 

The West African Association for Cross-Border Trade, in Agro-forestry-pastoral, Fisheries products and Food (WACTAF) has lamented insecurity and  infrastructure deficiency, saying they are threats to Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

In a presentation by itsPresident, Alhaji Salami Alasoadura, infrastructure deficiency and insecurity were major hindrances to cross-border trade in the West African corridor  and have posed setback in the distribution of agricultural products, goods and services.

Alasoadura said that lack of trailer parks, Customs bounded warehouse, electricity, water, hospital facilities and others were making things difficult for traders.

He bemoaned lack of connectivity between Customs commands and their stations along the borders, noting that there were no stable policies on banned goods, export levy on agricultural produce, multiple transit levies along the corridors.

Alasoadura said hunger and high cost of living in almost all regions of the countries, propelled by low soil yield due to climate change and insecurity, have led to severe lack of agricultural inputs.

“The lack of infrastructure is a major problem for our population, the majority of which are made up of young people. Members of WACTAF are professionals that carry out inter-state trade and which have access to various corridors through which users transport goods. Eastern Burkina-Faso is an area of great insecurity. This borders the North of Togo and the North-West of Benin.

“Four corridors are affected by insecurity, they are Nadiagou-Koumpienga-Dapaong (81km); Nadiagou–Pama–Fada (123km); Nadiagou-Porga (36km) and Nadiagou–Namounou–Diapaga (162km).

Alasoadura suggested that a military base be established at Nadiagou that will coordinate all military operations jointly carried out by Beninese, Burkinabé and Togolese soldiers. He said the return to economic stability and the management of insecurity  in the area depend on several factors involving locally elected officials, chiefs and traditional authorities at various levels.

He emphasized that the interstate road scheme is one of the best solutions to minimise cost of moving goods and formalise trade by introducing single guarantor and single tracking from loading point to the final destination.

He also noted that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should be signed between the guarantors (Nexim Bank, for Nigeria Ghana insurance, Chamber of commerce for C.F.A zone).

To actualise the AfCFTA, he said the continent needs to harmonise various taxes like VAT statistics and others.

“When we are talking about the Africa continental free zone, some countries’ VAT volume is 18 per cent, some 19 per cent and some 12.5 per cent, while some are 7.50 per cent. This difference cannot make some countries competitive,” he said.

He described the ECO currency as solution to formalise and minimise smuggling among member states.

On the alternative corridor to move Made in Nigeria goods to landlocked countries, he lamented that due to  bad road between Makita and Koko, goods had to go through Benin Republic,  where transit levy will be collected. “For goods going to Niamey, capital of Niger,  it is about 1,200 km, Lagos- Kamba- Niamey is about 1,150km.

To resolve this infrastructure problem, Alasoadura said : “We need to generate internal revenue. The revenue can be road maintenance  tax, which will involve transporters.”

He said Nigeria private sector is ready to contribute to the development of infrastructure if government can carry them along.

He  disclosed that WACTAF was conducting a study on movement of goods from Lagos to Tema and Tema back to Lagos by sea.

“The border information centre at FN will facilitate trade between Nigeria and Cameroon. We need to involve the broader communities in terms of policy. By doing this, we can also resolve the issue of lack of information.

“People need to be informed. If I want to trade and want to go to Ghana, it is important for me to know what the local policy in Ghana is, what the regional policy is all about, among other things. These information are important. So, in West Africa, there is lack of information, something concrete should be done.”

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