The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has urged governments in Africa to maintain trade flows as much as possible as countries battle to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In a new report, Facilitating cross-border trade through a coordinated African response to Covid-19‘, the ECA called on African governments to adopt and harmonise policies that would help the continent strike a balance between curbing the spread of Covid-19 and facilitating emergency and essential trade.
The ECA, Development Diaries understands, noted that continued inefficiencies and disruptions to cross-border trade presented significant challenges for Africa’s fight against the pandemic.
The ECA also said that these challenges could hold back the continent’s progress towards attaining sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD), ECA, Stephen Karingi, said in the report that maintaining trade flows as much as possible during the pandemic was crucial in providing access to essential food, and the much-needed medical items.
Regional efforts, according to him, must be coordinated at continental level through the African Union Commission.
He stressed the need for the adoption of the Covid-19 AU Protocol on trade and transport.
‘In developing such a protocol, the experiences and best practices of RECs need to be taken into account.
‘A common African Union Covid-19 test certificate for truck drivers and crew members will be crucial to facilitate the movement of essential personnel across borders with the least possible interference.
‘Covid-19 has increased the urgency for us to do better and find innovative solutions to facilitate safe and efficient cross-border trade.
‘It will be important for Africa to maintain and upgrade these solutions post-Covid-19, to lower trade costs, boost competitiveness, and support more resilient cross-border trade, in the face of future shocks’.
As for a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lovemore Bingandadi, he said that the Covid-19 lessons should be used to improve efficiencies in cross-border trade on the continent.
According to him, continental solutions are the best way to deal with the border inefficiencies and cross-border trade issues.
Photo source: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea