Delegates from West African economic community participate in weeklong EAC visit; explore strategic partnership on trade facilitation and regional integration

West African Trade and Customs officials from the ECOWAS Commission from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo as well as staff from Trade, Customs and Infrastructure departments and the Borderless Alliance participated in a 5-day study tour in East Africa, from the 12th to 16th September, 2016. Organized by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project in collaboration with the Trade Mark East Africa (TMA) and the support of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the aims of the tour were to showcase TMA supported East African initiatives in the field of Trade, Transport and Trade Facilitation that could inform a set of initial projects in the ECOWAS/UEMOA region that would be undertaken in partnership with regional commissions, national agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations. The visit was expected to showcase good practices in successful trade and transport facilitation initiatives in East Africa, which have reduced trade costs and barriers, and to discuss if and how these approaches could inform similar efforts in West Africa. The visit also sought to understand TMA’s model of collaboration with partners and stakeholders.

On their expectations from the visit, West African officials highlighted their interest in understanding TMA’s model of collaboration with regional institutions since projects are implemented nationally, and aimed to see first-hand, interventions in the areas of facilitating border crossing movement(operation of the OSBP, automated customs clearance processes, electronic cargo tracking and monitoring and NTB monitoring and resolution platform. Expectations also included interventions around informal cross border trade and systems for improved transport and transit facilitation both regionally and nationally.

Within the framework of the tour, delegates called on the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko to understand TMA’s areas of collaboration at the regional level and were informed that activities of TMA are in line with the regional and development objectives of the East African Community although these are implemented nationally.  At the national level, delegates paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives in Uganda, Mrs Amelia Anne Kyambadde who showcased TMA’s areas of support to the Ministry, particularly the establishment of a Non-Tariff Barrier monitoring system. Visits were made to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to share experience on Trade Facilitation measures such as the Electronic Cargo Tracking and the national single window system and to the Busia Border to experience the design and operations of the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) supported by TMA. Delegates also received presentations from members of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA) on the transport observatory; the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) on support to improving standards and quality of local produce and finally informal cross border traders operating along the Busia border.

Pursuant to the study tour, West African delegates expressed their appreciation of the projects and interventions of TradeMark Africa in the region indicating their wish for similar support and structures to facilitate trade in West Africa specifically expressing the following desires:

1)      That the proposed interventions be aligned with the development objectives of the regional communities, ECOWAS and UEMOA as is the case in the EAC.

2)      That pending the conclusion on the establishment of a formal structure in West Africa, the commencement of some interventions be initiated. Calling on the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Kingdom of the Netherlands as existing development partners supporting the ATWA Initiative as well as the TradeMark Africa, the West African delegates expressed an urgent desire for the commencement of the following interventions:

  1. Automation of customs clearance processes including E-cargo tracking systems and connecting customs data exchange platforms.
  2. Improving Border Management processes by providing the interconnection of customs and immigration systems, providing a single window system, operationalizing existing as well as the establishment of new joint border posts in West Africa.
  3. Formalizing informal cross border trade through providing simplified trade schemes for smaller traders, with special focus on women traders, incentivizing informal cross border traders through support systems such as border markets and border storage facilities. These would provide the basis for recording informal trade flows along West African corridors.
  4. Professionalizing and formalizing the regional transport system in West Africa, which mostly consist of independent informal transport operators.

Finally, the delegates expressed their appreciation to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Netherlands, the ATWA and TMA team for the warm and seamless organization of the study tour and keenly look forward to the start up a similar instrument in West Africa.


TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.