THE Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for West Africa, Mr Jeff Cochrane, has called for sub-regional co-operation to enhance the movement of goods and services within the sub-region.
He said co-operation would reduce the cost of doing business and promote trade in the sub-region.
Mr Cochrane said this in Accra at a workshop organised for exporters, importers, civil society organisations (CSOs) and transporters in the region and sponsored by the USAID.
Speaking on the topic, “The Role of exporters, importers and CSOs in reducing corruption and delays on West Africa road transport corridors”, Mr Cochrane said one of the barriers to trade in the sub-region was the high cost of road transportation.
The director attributed the high cost of transporting goods in the sub-region to unofficial roadblocks and bribes taken by government officials on the roads, along with cumbersome and unnecessary paperwork at border crossing, stressing that “every time a truck stops for an entire day at a border post, it has a direct impact on trade and economic growth”.
He said for the region to benefit from the global economy, there was the need to overcome obstacles which impeded trade within the sub-region, as well as the rest of the continent.
Mr Cochrane said efforts should be made to reduce corruption and control the delays which were so prevalent at the various border posts across the region, adding that “roadside corruption has become so prevalent that most people are resigned to it and have accepted it as normal”.
He said until governments changed the incentive structures for the agencies which were controlling the borders in the sub-region, the problem of corruption would ever persist.
The Director of the West Africa Trade Hub (WATH), Dr Andy Cook, who spoke on the topic, “Improved road transport governance”, noted that West Africa had the least efficient trucking in the world due to delays and bribe paying, saying that “it reduced the efficiency of West African transport”.
Dr Cook said his outfit had embarked on an educational campaign to educate truckers from Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria on laws which covered the safety standards of trucks, cargo and legal stops where trucks should be inspected.
Story By Kingsley Asare