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Infrastructure deficit a challenge to trade in Africa
November 5, 2017, 1:52 pm

Dearth in infrastructure challenges trade facilitation, intra-regional trade and, economic development and transformation in Africa, said the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Giovanie Biha.

Speaking at the official opening of the 23rd Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE), Ms. Biha noted that according to an African Development Bank estimate, the financial cost of closing Africa's infrastructure gap would be around US$93 billion annually until 2020.

Recognizing that regional approaches and strategic partnerships were needed to address problems of trade facilitation, she said: "Since international trade involves the infrastructure of at least two countries, a regional approach was an efficient means of coordinating actions, setting priorities, reviewing progress, mobilizing resources, allocating funds, and monitoring contribution levels, with regard to solving common problems."

Praising the strides that the Regional Economic Communities (REC) are making in easing border pressures and promoting intra-Africa trade, Ms. Biha said that ECA, in collaboration with other development partners, stood ready to provide technical and advisory support to help tackle the trade facilitation challenges faced by the region.

Experts at the meeting opined that the continent must look inwards in financing its infrastructure development through encouraging greater private sector involvement and more public-private partnerships. They also called for enacting policies aimed at dismantling obstacles to intra-Africa trade and the free movement of persons across the continent.

The delegates and participants will now review and adopt the recommendations of the ICE meeting and come up with appropriate recommendations for different stakeholders especially member-states and the RECs in fast-tracking trade related infrastructure development in Southern Africa.

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