African logistics - regional cooperation

A look at African logistics
A look at African logistics

In Africa, regional cooperation is critical to implementing transport policy that will cut red tape and enhance inter-regional trade flows. Understanding this concept, FIATA established a dedicated body, Region Africa Middle East (RAME), to work with states from the bottom up, advocating for freeing flowing movements of goods across the continent. In addition to RAME, there are eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) encompassing a number of states recognised by the African Union, each established under a separate regional treaty.

One particular example of excellent cooperation was displayed in 2015 when the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), EAC and SADC signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area covering 26 countries, more than 625 million people and a combined GDP currently estimated at around $1.2 trillion. [1] The agreement aims to liberalise 100 per cent of tariff lines, challenge non-tariff barriers and set out criteria and conditions for goods to qualify for preferential rules of origin.

A milestone agreement was struck when the SADC joined with COMESA, and the EAC to form the African Free Trade Zone. The leaders of the three trading blocs agreed to create a single freetrade zone consisting of 26 countries with a GDP of an estimated $624 billion.[2] The goal is that the African Free Trade Zone agreement would ease the movement of goods across member countries by enhancing roads, railways and airlines. It would also end problems arising from the fact that several of the member countries belong to multiple RECs.

One particular area FIATA would like see more REC collaboration is in the African aviation industry. FIATA has taken the position to support the implementation of ICAO’s Yamoussoukro Decision and the Lome Declarations which will require a cooperative effort from all RECs to insert key elements of the aviation agreement into their regional agreements. The result would be a more liberalized air industry across Africa.

During the next five years, the region’s GDP is expected to grow 30 per cent faster than that of the rest of the world and, during the next 35 years, the continent will account for more than half of the world’s population growth, according to the United Nations. [3]

African states understand the inherent impediments and are working to reduce costs and barriers to trade competitively in today’s global economy. International exporters are advised, therefore, to remain ready to take full advantage of a market on the verge of full fruition and one that is bound to create a huge demand for their products.

Credit: FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, was founded in Vienna, Austria on May 31st 1926. It is a non-governmental organisation that today represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing around 10 million people in some 160 countries. For further information please visit