AfCFTA can’t be successful without efficient waterway transport and short see-shipping

Inland waterway transportation

Chief Executive Officer of Djibouti Shipping Company and Senior Fellow, Transport and Connectivity for the Africa Europe Foundation, Yaya Yedan, is strongly advocating the efficient use of inland waterway transportation and short-sea shipping as the most cost and operational effective means through which Africa can successfully trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

To achieve this, he has urged the creation of a workable framework to attract Africa’s private sector to build the right waterway infrastructure for cross-border trade on the continent.

“We need to create more awareness about how marine transport, especially short-sea shipping and inland waterway transport could contribute to the operationalization of the AfCFTA. We have to leverage the strong political will that is driving the AfCFTA to develop robust inland waterways infrastructure,” he told Single African Market in an interview.

He argued that intra-Africa trade currently does not go beyond 15percent due largely to technical and non-tariff barriers such as customs procedures, rules of origin, etc. and therefore, to maximize the operationalization of the single market, African states will need to create sustainable maritime highways that will attract the private sector.

“Moving goods by road will put pressure on road networks that will need to be maintained whilst regional rail networks are not well interconnected.

So, building marine transport will enable us to trade in a cost-effective manner.  We need to build maritime highways that connects mainland and island and landlocked countries,” he added.

Trade in goods involves moving goods from one point to another but between neighboring countries it is very challenging because of non-tariff barriers at border crossings and transit routes which affects ease and cost of trade.

“With the AfCFTA, to enable Africans to be able to move goods from one regional economy to the other, we may not be able to achieve that by road,” Mr. Yedan further indicated.

He also called on industry stakeholders to leverage the strong political will that is driving the single market agenda to build sustainable marine highways for enhanced trade and regional integration.

“On the political side, there is strong remarkable will to ensure that the AfCFTA works. Once the technical barriers are addressed, we are left with how to move the goods from one place to another, and currently by road it will not work.

Because we have so many policies and standards that are not harmonized despite the ongoing efforts, there’s still a lot to be done before we can move long distance goods by road seamlessly,” he noted.

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