Apr 28, 2023, 12:26pm EDT

Ports are key to Africa's global trade promise


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The ability to export products or import inputs efficiently will be key to helping African countries engage more comprehensively with global trade, as they try to boost their economic fortunes. To that end improving customs operations and transport infrastructure would have a huge impact on logistics in sub-Saharan African countries, explains to a new World Bank report.

The Connecting to Compete report showed that countries in the subregion are among the lowest performing in World Bank logistics index. It means imports and exports take longer as they often experience delays.

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Landlocked countries, like the Central African Republic and Burkina Faso, have some of the longest delays because they rely on neighbors' limited port facilities, along with weak road or rail networks, to get goods in and out of their countries.

But even many African countries with major sea ports can still take longer than the average European or North American country. The report explains that some of the biggest delays occur when containers are held up at ports. Policymakers can improve efficiency by investing in port productivity and new technology as well as modernizing customs systems.

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South Africa was the only African country to rank among the Top 20 countries on the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index, which is dominated by European countries, the United States and China.'

The ports at Africa's most advanced economy compared favorably with some wealthier countries where the average dwell time for containers between May and October 2022 was three days for India and Singapore and four for the United Arab Emirates and South Africa but seven for the United States and 10 for Germany.

On average it about 5.3 days (including processing time) to get a container through a South African port according to the report. It takes fewer days in Mauritius (4.3 days) but South Africa does better overall on the index because of superior infrastructure, customs processes, and logistics processes.


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