Speakers from UNCTAD, SOGET and Kimberley Clark to look at how to facilitate trade processes and reduce red tape at the TOC Market Briefing: West Africa in Tenerife this December
2014-12-10-TOC-WALondon, 13.08.2014 - While increased investment in new port infrastructure bodes well for West Africa, other less tangible barriers must be tackled as an equal priority if the region is to achieve its trade potential. Excessive and inefficient Customs and inspection processes, trade bureaucracy and documentation are hampering supply chain efficiency and costing West Africa dearly. How to improve the situation will be one of the key topics under discussion at the new TOC Market Briefing: West Africa, taking place in Tenerife this December 10-11. The conference will also look in-depth at port congestion, hinterland transport, security and other key issues impacting containerised trade in West Africa.
On average it takes a West African country 27 days to export and 32 days to import 1 TEU via its closest port, compared to 10 and 11 days respectively for OECD member countries, according to research from Deutsche Bank. Of the average 32 days taken to import a container to West African countries, 19 days are spent on document assembly and procedures, and five on Customs and technical control. Combined, terminal/port handling and inland transport account for just 10 days on average.
Landlocked countries are the worst affected by delays in trade - bad news for a continent that has 104 bilateral borders. Niger is the worst performing country in West Africa, taking 58 days to export and 61 days to import 1 TEU through its most closely located port, Deutsche Bank says. These delays are primarily caused by inefficiencies in managing the flow of information related to maritime cargoes moving across international borders to and from landlocked countries.
“It is no news that the West Africa sub-region has very low readings from all indicators of income and welfare. Lately, with the exception of Nigeria to some extent, exchange rate volatility has further eroded disposable income," says Leonard Ebute, Head of Supply Chain for Kimberley Clarke in West Africa, who will be speaking at the event. The company is a major shipper in the region, supplying well-known personal care products such as Kleenex and Huggies.
"With a population of about 340 million, and, still a bit of a stretch from meeting the millennium development goals, West Africa governments and people can certainly use some help – help that can come from gleaning the efficiencies that could come from improved intra-regional trade practices,” continues Mr Ebute. "We hope to identify these trade enhancers, plug them into a cohesive supply chain model, and hopefully, present an action plan and contribute to the push to execute the actions. While we may not directly help the people earn an extra buck from where we sit, there is genuine opportunity to help the people spend less by simply 'greasing' the supply chain - which could have significant multiplier effect on disposable income and welfare.”
Some progress is already being made. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says that reforms in trade facilitation made so far have had a positive impact on development in African countries. Making it easier for traders to engage in formal trade reduces the volume of informal cross-border transactions, boosting revenue for national governments. Shorter waiting times at borders have also led to a lower incidence of HIV. UNCTAD will be represented at TOC Market Briefing: West Africa by Jan Hoffman, the organisation's chief of trade facilitation.
Port community systems (PCSs) and other single-window innovations are also helping public and private players in West African supply chains improve the efficiency of information exchange. Technology will feature prominently in the trade facilitation debate, with a presentation on e-government and trade facilitation from Pascal Olivier, Director of Corporate Development for SOGET. SOGET is the leading PCS operator in France, and has helped set up systems internationally, with particular focus on West Africa. The organisation currently serves over fifteen ports in France, French overseas territories and Africa. Mr Olivier's presentation will look at one such implementation in Benin.
TOC Market Briefing: West Africa comprises an executive-level conference, an exclusive tour of host port Puertos de Tenerife and networking functions for senior executives from across West Africa and Europe. The event runs on 10-11 December 2014 at The Auditorium, Tenerife and aims to enhance delegates' understanding of business challenges facing container ports, shipping and logistics companies operating in the fast-growing West African market. This is TOC Events Worldwide's first-ever event focusing on this region.

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