African Development Bank recommends expansion of port facilities

The African Development Bank (AfDB) recommends coastal African countries, including Portuguese-speaking countries, to expand port infrastructure as a means of improving integration on the continent.

The AfDB recommendation is contained in the “Integration as a pathway to economic prosperity in Africa” dossier, which was part of the “African Economic Outlook 2019” report, which sets out a set of policy responses to maximise the benefits of regional integration and mitigate potential risks for each type of economy.

Coastal economies, its said, should “expand port facilities, including warehousing and customs administration, as well as improve the efficiency of shipping traffic movement and container loading and unloading.”

The report noted that the cost of African port facilities is estimated to be 40% above the world standard, and that these ports also hold containers for longer periods, register delays in the release of shipping traffic, have extensive documentation processes and few containers per crane and per hour (except in South Africa).

Another AfDB recommendation is “to increase the speed and reliability of rail and road networks by reducing congestion and delays at checkpoints and bypasses for lorries and rolling stock for repair.”

Coastal countries must continue to “encourage better conventions and instruments beyond stagnant multilateral negotiations to facilitate transit trade,” and put more focus on regional public assets, “which is easy to understand because of the benefits to all countries, especially low-income countries.”

Another recommendation is to synchronise financial governance frameworks in the region and strengthen the prudential frameworks for supervision of financial flows, as well as removing any unfounded legal restrictions still present in cross-border financial flows and transactions, according to the AfDB report.

The AfDB recommendations also include fostering the creation of power exchanges in order to exploit the enormous potential of cross-border electricity trading and open up air traffic to competition, “as is the case with Mozambique, which recently opened up to foreign carriers.”

The African Union Single Air Transport Market, launched in January 2009, has already been signed by 22 countries, with 75% of air transport between African countries.

Finally, the AfDB recommended that coastal countries “open borders to the free movement of people – for example, by ratifying and implementing the African Union Passport, launched in 2016 and expected to be fully in force by 2020.”

The AfDB report said economic growth in Africa continues to improve, reaching an estimated 3.5% in 2018 and accelerating to an estimated 4.0% in 2019 and 4.1% in 2020.

Growth leaders are non-resource rich countries – based on higher agricultural output and rising consumer demand and public investment – and these are growing faster (Senegal, 7.0%, Rwanda, 7.2%; Côte d’Ivoire, 7.4%) while the largest commodity exporting countries recorded slight or negative growth (Angola -0.7%).

The AfDB also reported that Guinea-Bissau was the Portuguese-speaking African country to post highest growth last year (5.3%), followed by São Tomé and Príncipe (4.1%), Cabo Verde (Cape Verde – 3.9%), and Mozambique (3.5%). (macauhub)