Southern African economies lose R5bn in 5 months because of border delays - SADC

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President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State.
President Cyril Ramaphosa attends the 41st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State.
  • Border delays in southern Africa have cost economies in the region R5 billion in five months.
  • SADC countries have mooted establishing a corridor management institution for smooth flow of regional traffic.
  • Stakeholders have agreed to review and put into action a 2009 agreement on regional border control.

In the space of five months, economies in southern African lost $330 million (R5 billion) due to delays at borders between Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

As such, SADC member states have called for the establishment of a Corridor Management Institution (CMI) that would manage the North-South Corridor (NSC).

The NSC is a network of road and rail routes that connect the South African port of Durban via Johannesburg into Botswana or Zimbabwe, leading to Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Malawi.

According to a statement issued by the SADC, the lost business also accounted for 16 393 543 hours in delays.

SADC News said:

Statistics show that, between 25 October 2020 and 16 March 2021, total delays at the five borders along the NSC came to 16 393 543 hours and cost US$330 million.

The SADC Business Council (SBC), an organisation bringing together the private sector and state actors from all SADC countries in a virtual dialogue, agreed that the proposed CMI would "facilitate the improvement of infrastructure, align processes at the border posts, harmonise regulations, improve inefficiencies to speed up trade, and deepen regional integration along the NSC".

The Kazungula Bridge, commissioned last year, has been hit by several challenges. A November report by Freight News revealed that the processing of cargo between Botswana and Zambia took 25 hours, when in reality it should only take around five hours at most.

In October, there were glitches on the NSC route using Beitbridge as the gateway into SADC. The congestion was reportedly due to poor coordination between South African and Zimbabwean officials.

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The chief executive officer of the Nepad Business Foundation, Peter Varndell, said that issues such as poor border management and service delivery at borders posts; vehicle congestion; poor process flows; inadequate and outdated infrastructure; poor communication between private and public sectors; and disregard for regional imperatives; and the regional impact of local and national decision all drove up the costs of business among SADC countries.

As such, the proposed CMI had to address these issues, he said.

In 2009, SADC member states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the operation of the NSC.

However, it was not followed up and, to date, the MOU is yet to be approved. At the virtual forum, it was agreed that a review of the MOU must be done, and include private sector participation at every level and create strong political support.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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