Why isn’t there more trade between African countries?


Alan Kasujja BBC Africa Daily podcast

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement came into force this year with the aim of creating a borderless market for services, goods and commodities worth trillions of dollars for the region.

It’s a high ambition for the 54-nation bloc and the World Bank estimates that the new trade regime could unlock growth in income of up to $450bn (£324bn).

It is expected to boost intra-African trade, generating millions of jobs for the continent’s youthful population.

But little trade currently goes on between African countries and Bogolo Kenewendo, a former minister for trade in Botswana, says it’s not just tariffs that have hindered the process.

She says it’s also about such things as product standard associations which are closely linked to colonial systems. She says for a country like Botswana it makes it easier to accept standard approved products from countries like the UK than it is from Uganda.

The former minister says that this means that “instead of seeing each other as allies, we’ve seen competing sectors as just that, competing”.

Robert Kabushenga, a coffee producer in Uganda, describes the problems faced by businesses like his because of poor infrastructure, technology and skill shortages and says: “those are the things that have weighed down on the ability…to play in the market”.

In this episode of Africa Daily I look at why more trade isn’t being done between African countries and what needs to change.

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