ECOWAS study on trade corridors offers holistic approach to resolving regional trade barriers

Members of the delegation included Corridor and Trade Facilitation experts from 13 member states of ECOWAS, officials and appointed representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, the UEMOA Commission, the Trade Hub, USAID Côte d’Ivoire, European Union, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), GIZ, Mano River Union, Abidjan Lagos Corridor Organization, Borderless Alliance, The World Bank, and Corridor Development Consultants. Photo credit: Ms. Maria Gwira, the Trade Hub.

About 70 delegates — comprising government and private sector subject matter experts from member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), officials of the ECOWAS Commission, the UEMOA Commission, regional organizations and development partners — met in Abidjan on October 30 and 31 to review and validate the draft final report on a study aimed at developing institutional mechanisms that will improve efficiency of transport corridors to increase  trade and economic activities along corridors in the ECOWAS region.

“The study does not only focus on roads but ties in with other aspects ― trade, customs, different indicators that will help us define more effective transport routes and help us boost regional economies.” ― Dr. Antoinette Weeks ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure and Development.

In November 2016, the Trade Hub in conjunction with the ECOWAS Commission engaged Corridor Development Consults (CDC) to review the West African experience vis-à-vis international best practice in Corridor Management, and develop a regional strategy and action plan to manage and develop corridors in the region to promote efficiency and economic development. The study entailed field work carried out in eight ECOWAS member states to review the status and performance of existing interstate corridors, as well as challenges faced by businesses operating along these corridors.

This workshop was a follow-up to the one held in Accra, Ghana on September 25-26 where representatives from member states, along with regional experts specialized in trade, transport and logistics, convened to provide input to the interim report to facilitate the production of the draft final report.

The report contains recommendations for a comprehensive strategy and action plan that includes the establishment of a multi-level organizational structure at the national level; interstate Corridor Management Institutions (CMIs) to improve corridor efficiency at the cross-border level, and a regional mechanism to coordinate CMIs. It is expected that these institutions will result in better coordination of activities and programs to improve transport operations, and infrastructure supporting trade and transport to promote growth in internal and external trade, free movement and security of goods and persons, and development along the corridors.

The implementation of the strategy and action plan will lead to improved efficiency in transport comparable to other African regions, particularly East and Southern Africa. This strategy will align with the ECOWAS vision of regional integration, increased productivity and cross-border trade, resulting in socioeconomic development within the West Africa region.

Following this final validation workshop, the final report incorporating inputs will go through the statutory procedures of the ECOWAS Commission prior to implementation.

Apart from regional and experts from member states, the workshop was attended by representatives from donor agencies, namely: the World Bank Group, GIZ, the European Union and JICA. They expressed interest in collaborating with USAID in related and new programs, and supporting some follow-up activities laid out in the strategy and action plan. » See the photo album.

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