Regional integration in Africa is constrained by high trading costs, resulting from a combination of challenges mixing hard (infrastructure related) and soft (trade and transport facilitation related) issues, aggravated by a complex political economy environment. To address these challenges, Regional Economic Communities and countries have embarked on a comprehensive program laying the foundation for efficient transport by strengthening the policy setting organizations for regional integration notably through the adoption of a proper institutional framework (corridor management authority) and the monitoring tools used (transport observatories).
The SSATP Regional Integration component is supporting this approach through three streams of activities:
1. Facilitating the REC Transport Coordination Committee (REC-TCC), a framework comprising regional integration stakeholders (RECs, regional industry organizations, corridor authorities) and the development partners supporting regional integration. The REC-TCC aims at coordinating regional facilitation programs, bringing coherence to facilitation strategies, and disseminating good practices and lessons learnt.
2. Strengthening the institutional framework for policy dialogue, notably by supporting the establishment of Corridor Management Committees comprising all stakeholders in the policy dialogue, public and private, regional and national.
3. Developing performance monitoring and diagnosis tools to feed policy dialogue, notably by establishing Transport Observatories and supporting focused monitoring for critical bottlenecks. The three streams of activities aim at strengthening the policy dialogue at corridor level for the design and implementation of trade facilitation interventions.The promoted model for the policy dialogue cycle can be illustrated as follows:
Performance indicators are critical for the design of trade facilitation interventions, and equally to measure the impact of current and future initiatives. But also critical is the need to include all stakeholders in the policy dialogue, representing both the public and private sectors, at regional and national levels.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, dedicated institutions have been established to support policy dialogue for facilitation interventions on the trade corridors, with diverse origins (from an intergovernmental treaty for the Northern Corridor in Mombasa, to a private sector initiative on the Maputo corridor in Mozambique, through a public-private initiative for the Walvis Bay corridor in Namibia), which all converge towards an inclusive institutional organization involving public and private stakeholders.
In West and Central Africa, to the contrary of Eastern and Southern Africa, there are several layers of regional and national institutions involved in trade facilitation, with very limited synergies between the structures. Corridor authorities as such do not exist, and facilitation bodies, when established, lack the necessary administrative support structure. Overlapping RECs have been considering different approaches to the management of corridors, without solving diverging regional and national priorities and approaches.
In a dialogue with the RECs and Corridor authorities facilitated through SSATP during a meeting held in February 2011, a strong consensus emerged on the need to obtain and share reliable and adequate data on corridor efficiency, that will either feed the ongoing dialogue in Eastern and Southern Africa, or initiate a corridor focused dialogue on West and Central Africa, building on dissemination and validation of analysis and diagnosis, while consolidating the dialogue by establishing transport observatories as sustainable institutions. The SSATP Corridor Program has been designed jointly with the RECs and the corridor authorities in response to that need.
The cornerstone of the SSATP Corridor Program is the establishment of Transport Observatories for the main corridors in Sub-Sahara Africa. Over the years, SSATP has developed and refined several diagnostic tools that have been since adopted by other development partners:
- Choke monitoring, to analyze delays at border crossings, has since been used notably by JICA, World Bank and TradeMark East Africa (a multidonor initiative for regional integration in East Africa)
- Road transport observatories, to measure informal payments and delays caused by roadblocks, has been supported by USAID (through West Africa Trade Hub) and more recently the European Union for Central Africa
- Corridor Transport Observatory, based on the integration of IT operational data from logistics operators and control agencies, has since been expanded by USAID (through East and Central Africa Trade Hub) and TradeMark East Africa.
Similarly, SSATP adopted tools developed by others partners, such as:
- Road transport industry surveys, initially developed for the World Bank analysis on road transport prices and costs in Africa, is being integrated into the Transport Observatory approach.
- Logistics costs studies building on USAID supported models of corridor efficiency and research at the World Bank highlighting the impact of uncertainties on delays in the total logistics costs.
The current program is building on the latest developments of the various monitoring tools, packaging them into a comprehensive transport observatory program. The term of Transport Observatory is a generic denomination which covers several different notions and approaches, depending on the scope and nature of the challenges to quantify or analyze and the prior existence of information that would enable that measure.
Under the SSATP Corridor Program operational definition, the Transport Observatory is a measurement and diagnostic tool to measure performance and efficiency along a corridor, considered in its entirety between gateway and inland terminals.
Measuring corridor performance adopts a user’s perspective, traders and shippers, which measure the efficiency of the supply chains according to three main dimensions: costs, delays and reliability. It also adopts the perspective of policy makers, which are concerned by adapting offer and demand.
The performance monitoring framework is therefore organized to take into account those dimensions, combining the measure of the various dimensions (costs and prices, volumes, delays and uncertainties, transport and logistics services and infrastructure) along the various modes and nodes constituting the corridor (gateway, land link, inland terminals).
The measure of efficiency must be adequate for two different levels of use:
- Key performance indicators as input for the policy dialogue on trade and transport facilitations, which implies a rather synthetic indicator.
Disaggregated data and indicators enabling a fine analysis of inefficiencies highlighted by the synthetic indicators, that will also enable measuring the impact of remedial measures adopted to address them.
For the first two dimensions, the methodological approach privileges pre-existing operational data over dedicated surveys. The objective is to relate information on physical and documentation process for all consignments on a given corridor as seen by the IT systems of the logistics operators (port terminals, inland terminals, rail and road transport operators) and control agencies (notably Customs and Single Windows) in order to reconstitute comprehensive supply chain timelines that will enable the analysis of delays and uncertainties.
For the costs and prices dimension, the approach is based on surveys of stakeholders on a periodic basis in order to obtain information on tariffs, costs factors and market prices. The last dimension is relying on a mix of industry-led surveys and secondary indicators.
In terms of geographic scope, the Transport Observatory component of the SSATP Corridor Program is covering the main Sub-Sahara Africa corridors, in close coordination with other development partners’ activities:
- In East Africa, TMEA is supporting the development of the Transport Observatory model for the Northern and the Central Corridors, with additional input from the SSATP Corridor Program. This model and the associated IT tools will be replicated on all the other corridors covered in the program, including the Dar Corridor;
- In Southern Africa, the program is providing technical assistance to the Walvis Bay Corridor Group on two branches of the corridor (Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Cunene), while the Trans-Kalahari branch is supported by TradeMark Southern Africa;
- In Central Africa, the program is providing technical assistance to CEMAC to extend the scope of the road transport observatory developed under EU funding;
- In West Africa, the SSATP Corridor Program is providing methodological support in the establishment of regional transport observatories for UEMOA, ECOWAS and ALCO, supported by a partnership comprising in addition to SSATP the European Union and USAID.
Launched mid-2011, the program is covering a period of two years, until June 2013. Most of the activities planned have been launched, and the time is ripe to review the status of the various monitoring exercises and surveys in order to incorporate lessons learnt. To that effect, a workshop on corridor performance monitoring took place in Mombasa on March 26-29, in which the regional integration partners of SSATP participated. The discussions during the workshop are critical in refining the action plan for the remaining period of the Program.
* Meeting of the Regional Economic Communities Transport Coordination Committee (REC-TCC)
The REC-TCC meeting was held in Mombasa, on March 26-29, with an attendance of over 80 participants representing RECs, corridor authorities, regional industry organizations and associations, and development partners from all parts of Sub-Sahara Africa. The meeting reviewed the latest developments in tools for performance monitoring, and their importance in the policy dialogue for the formulation of effective trade and transport facilitation strategies. The workshop covered permanent monitoring mechanisms, particularly the corridor transport observatories, in their dual role for monitoring and diagnosis, as well as more focused tools, to analyze specific bottlenecks, such as inland border crossing, road transport industry surveys, and time release studies.
Taking advantage of the participation of the main stakeholders involved in regional facilitation programs, a special session was organized to discuss the outline of a medium to long term regional facilitation action plan. The meeting agreed to continue exchanges on an agreed outline that will constitute an input in the definition of the future development plan of SSATP.
On the last day, additional representatives from East Africa joined the meeting to review the results of the monitoring of the border crossing delays on the main Northern Corridor land borders.
The related documentation will soon be available on the SSATP website.
- * The article was published in the SSATP Newsletter No 9 – April 2012