By Nwangwu Uba
Japan International Cooperation Agency,JICA, and other development partners appear determined to reduce the number of Land Border posts in the West and Central African sub-regions to the ”one stop Border post” as a way of facilitating trade in the regions.
JICA , according to a source, is working in conjunction with the World Bank,New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD ,Economic Community of West African State , ECOWAS and West African Monetary Union. They may have been guided by the success of the East African one stop Border post, which sources had said works easier for importers with their agents and Cross -Border travellers. This is because the six countries with a population of 160 million which make up the regional body. The sub-region currently make use of one regional parliament, Customs Union and use one common language: Kisiwahili to conduct their business transactions.
Members of the sub-region include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia . But the latest country that was said to have been admitted into Union because of proximity was Eretrea. These countries which had formed the East African sub-region may have set a Standard for other Economic Integration Unions in Africa to emulate, particular, the west and Central African sub-regions.
Only recently , the Economic Community of West Africa States , ECOWAS, with the support of the European Union built the multi-million dollar International Border posts in the West African sub-region . They are the Seme -Krake Border post between Nigeria and Republic of Benin. The Border had already been inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari and Patrice Talon , his counterpart in Republic of Benin. The second Border post, Noepe, which is between Ghana and Togo, was said to have also been inaugurated by Buhari, in his capacity as the Chairman of ECOWAS, supported by Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Faure Gnassingbé of Togo. The third Border project in the region is still in the works.
As a prelude to sensitising the Border officials of the two African sub-regions, the World Bank, NEPA and JICA, were said to have pulled resources together to organise a two-day Workshop in Accra , Ghana on the one stop Border post. This is to prepare the mind of the Border officials of the two countries ahead of the implementation of the project. The Workshop was said to have been held at Atang Palace Hotel, Accra, Ghana, between Tuesday, December 4,2018 and Thursday, December 6, 2018.
ECOWAS, on its part, was said to have sponsored Muhammed Uba Garba ,a Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Comptroller in-charge of Seme Command and Dr. Anthonia of the ministry of transportation, who represented Chibuike Rotomi Amechi, the minister to the regional workshop.
ECOWAS sources told The Value News that the essence of the two -days Regional Workshop was for knowledge sharing between office of the West and Central African sub-regions on the one stop Border post Management . This is because of the believe that it result in cost minimisation, time reduction, trade facilitation, promotion of regional Integration as well as Economic Development for the two regions. Other objectives of the Workshop include Seamless movements of goods, people and services as well as trade improvements.
There are fears in both official and unofficial circles , that if the World Bank, NEPAD and JICA, could go ahead with the project, it will go a long way to bringing down the cost of goods and services in the region. It may have gotten the support of the ECOWAS leadership to ensure that the project was carried to its logical conclusion. Only the Seme -Krake Border post may be retained in the West African sub-region because of the volume of cargoes that passes through the Border post daily between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
The Value News findings shows that the ban on the importation of foreign rice and vehicles through the land Border posts have not affected the importation and export business between Nigeria and Benin as the Border Community remains the busiest route in the African Continent. A security source disclosed that what the Customs officials from the two regions, Immigration and other government agencies officials had learnt from the two -day Workshop have prepared them to easily switch over to the one stop Border post without problems.
Importers who spoke with The Value News Magazine said it would be a welcomed development if the World Bank would go ahead to adopt the East African sub-regional one spot Border post assessment for goods and services in the two regions.
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