With all its potential, the continent of Africa is challenged by inadequate and under-developed infrastructure. This limits intra-regional trade by driving up import and export costs.
The unavailability of adequate capacities and technology, coupled with much slower than anticipated private sector participation, has also hindered infrastructural development. This in turn slows down the movement of goods by road, rail, air and sea. However, logistical bottlenecks do not only affect trade, but also have an impact on the humanitarian sector.
It is against this backdrop that the NEPAD Agency convened a high level dialogue in New York during Africa Week, on the role of the development community and private sector investment for easy movement of humanitarian goods.
Strengthening collaboration between the public and private sectors in all aspects related to the movement of goods and people, including the development of policy frameworks and the structuring of public-private partnerships is a way to overcome these challenges.
At the event, which was attended by over fifty delegates from the public, private and development sectors, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E Thomas Kwesi Quartey, reminded participants that, “It is important to look back at the challenges of integration on the African continent in order to move forward towards the Africa We Want. Infrastructure, good governance, transparency and rule of law are the development pillars needed in this sector.”
Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency stated that, “Combining the synergies that exist between the development and private sectors in easing the movement of humanitarian goods, will help to address the underlying factors in the bottlenecks faced.”
“The Traffic Light System in the Move Africa initiative, as well as its implementation tools look at improving transport corridors for economic activities and movement of humanitarian goods, which are critical to attaining goals in Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030,” Mr David Mehdi Hamam, Acting Special Adviser on Africa remarked.
In the NEPAD Agency’s MoveAfrica Initiative, the organisation has partnered with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to reduce processing inefficiencies and delays at borders through One-Stop Border Posts, which will be monitored in its Traffic Light System.
Piloting of the Traffic Light System will be along four selected border posts in Southern Africa – Beitbridge, Kazungula, Kasumbalesa and Chirundu.
Following the high level dialogue, alignment of the functions and activities of the humanitarian sector in the Traffic Light System will take place in the emergency and humanitarian response sector. The system received input in the following areas: Transit Guarantee schemes; Centre Attractiveness, and; Risk Management.
Mr Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head of NEPAD’s Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Programme reiterated that land borders present some of the biggest bottlenecks with regards movement of humanitarian goods. He therefore made the call for stronger public-private partnerships and business models that embed corporate social responsibility in logistics to find solutions to ease these hurdles. He also reiterated that MoveAfrica’s traffic light system will be redressing some of the border challenges across Africa.
The high level meeting looked at the parameters that serve the humanitarian sector in facilitating the smooth flow of humanitarian aid and tailor made solutions to that effect.
The meeting also discussed models such as the vision of Uganda in the logistics space, in view of the Uganda Model of Refugee Management, enabling the NEPAD Agency to make necessary interventions as the development agency of the African Union.
The design of the Traffic Light System will be completed by the end of November 2017. Therefore the piloting of the system will factor in outcomes of this meeting on the selected border posts. The piloting is scheduled to commence in January 2018.
Speakers at the event also included Prof Baccahouche, Secretary General of Arab-Maghreb Union; Mr Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, Chief, Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Reporting Service, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the UN; Mr Grant Leaity, Deputy Director, Office of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF; Mr Chris Nikoi from the World Food Programme; Mr Jeffrey Nemeh from Ford Motor Corporation; Dr Barbara Samuels from the Global Clearinghouse for Development Finance, and Ms Catherine Asapokhai-Utsalo representing charity organisations.