Speaking French is necessary for effective Intra-African trade

Project Logistics Manager at Jonmoore, Frank Oppong (2nd left), and Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce Rep in Ghana, Sherif Ouedraogo (2nd right), engaged in panel discussion with Eye on Port

Frank Oppong, the Project Logistics Manager at Jonmoore International Limited, has proposed that security officials who are involved in the transit trade – including the Police, Customs and Immigration – be trained in the French language in order to bolster their abilities to communicate effectively with transit economic operators and truck drivers who are mostly Francophone.

Speaking to Eye on Port, the Project Logistics Manager of the international haulage company – specialised in out of gauge cargoes and project cargo – said with the availability of bi-lingual security officials at their various checkpoints and offices on the transit corridor, the transit trade will be simplified and alleged incidents of extortion with accompanying delays and misunderstandings caused by the obvious language gap will be minimised drastically.

“Just imagine a truck driver getting to a checkpoint where he does not have any clue of the English language and our team over there can only speak English; it leads to delays, and then the next thing is alleged extortion,” he expressed.

Mr. Frank Oppong said: “Some of our policemen and Customs men need to be trained so they can assist, especially now that we are going into the African Continental Free Trade Area”.

Also speaking on the same platform, the Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce Representative in Ghana, Sherif Ouedraogo, corroborated the thoughts of Mr. Oppong and said the language barrier is the main hindrance to business relations between Ghana and its Sahelian regional neighbours.

He said his outfit would like to collaborate with the Ghana Chamber of Commerce to establish bilingual schools for use by businesspersons in both countries, which would go a long way to improve intra-regional business relations.

“The Burkina Chamber of Commerce is a public institution and we can get some form of agreement with Ghana Chamber of Commerce, which we have a good relationship with, to create a school where the Ghanaian can learn French and the Burkinabe, English.”

Sherif Ouedraogo also called for the setting up of a CFA Bank to reduce the cost of doing transit business in Ghana, which would also go a long way to woo more transit economic operators into using Ghana’s ports and corridors.

“At the high level, talks are ongoing to get this CFA Bank to improve trade in Ghana’s corridor,” he revealed.

He however praised improvement in valuation, automation of port processes and port infrastructure development taking place in Ghana as interventions from which the transit business is benefitting massively.

The Project Logistics Manager at Jonmoore International Limited, Frank Oppong, also praised significant strides made to improve port infrastructure in the country in efforts to make Ghana the gateway for maritime trade in the sub-region.

“Ghana has positioned itself for the AfCFTA. With the expansion at our ports, we can handle vessels with 16m draft; and we are also now able to receive more volumes,” he said.

He urged government to expedite processes for the provision of rail infrastructure that will give Ghana’s corridor a further boost in efforts to woo more transit business to its corridor.

“We need to do more to get more transit trade,” he emphasised.

Mr. Frank Oppong said this is crucial, as Ghana needs more than its geographical advantage and improved port infrastructure to win the transit market over competing countries which are already making use of effective rail systems.

“We stand at a disadvantage-point where we are the only Anglophone country among the neighbours of Burkina Faso, so we need to do more to receive more transit trade. For example, if you go to Ivory Coast there is a railway that goes straight into Burkina Faso. But we are on the verge of getting to that point,” the Project Logistics Manager at Jonmoore International articulated.

Leave a Reply