DIANNA GAMES: African trade is crippled for a reason and fine words will not change that
Road to market of 1-billion people is bedevilled by inefficiency, poor infrastructure and a lack of political will
As the ink was drying on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement signed in Rwanda a few weeks ago, a crisis was developing at Kasumbalesa border post, between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. Delays in transit clearance procedures at crossing had resulted in a 70km queue of trucks on the Congolese side of the border, mostly laden with mineral exports destined for vessels to the south. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) officials intervened to sort out the mess, blaming the situation on the failure of the two countries to integrate their customs systems. On a good day Kasumbalesa is a problematic border, characterised by delays and inefficiency. Trucks can get stuck for weeks, particularly on the Congolese side, where roads are poor and few roadside facilities exist. The mining town of Lubumbashi 100km away feels the pinch when its main supply route to the south clogs up. Supermarket shelves start to empty and food prices rise. A rem...