Africa is losing out on billions of dollars in potential earnings every year because of high trade barriers on the continent, the World Bank said Tuesday.
“It is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself,” the World Bank said in releasing a new report that examines the barriers that stifle cross-border trade within Africa.
The report comes on the heels of an African Union summit in Ethiopia at which leaders called for a continental free-trade area by 2017.
The World Bank stressed it was even more urgent that Africa improve trade flows because of the sharp economic slowdown under way in the eurozone, an important trade partner under pressure from the bloc’s debt crisis.
The World Bank estimates the eurozone slump could shave Africa’s growth by up to 1.3 percentage points this year.
“While uncertainty surrounds the global economy and stagnation is likely to continue in traditional markets in Europe and North America, enormous opportunities for cross-border trade within Africa in food products, basic manufactures and services remain unexploited,” said the Washington-based lender.
The report argues that the situation deprives the continent of new sources of economic growth, new jobs, and an opportunity to make important strides in reducing poverty.
“Trade and non-trade barriers remain significant and fall most heavily and disproportionately on poor traders, most of whom are women,” Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Bank’s vice president for Africa, said in a statement.
She added that leaders needed to “create a dynamic regional market on a scale worthy of Africa’s one billion people and its roughly $2 trillion economy.”
Trade between African states currently stands at 10 percent of the region’s total trade. In comparison, 40 percent of North America’s trade is with regional partners and the rate soars to 63 percent in western Europe.
Aside from red tape, poor infrastructure, especially roads and railways, is a key obstacle. Transport cost in Africa is more than 60 percent higher than the average in developed countries owing to the poor infrastructure.
“Policymakers have to move beyond simply signing agreements that reduce tariffs to drive a more holistic process to deeper regional integration,” the World Bank report said, citing an array of barriers that make Africa’s borders “very thick” relative to other parts of the world.
The international border running through Kinshasa-Brazzaville, Africa’s third largest urban area, for example, is a huge bottleneck in trade between the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it said.
Though the two cities are regional trade hubs, trade between them is “pitifully small,” said the report, co-authored by Paul Brenton and Gozde Isik.
The report notes that passenger traffic is about five time smaller than that between East and West Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
If people traveling between San Francisco and Oakland, California, a similar distance, had to pay the same level of fees, they would pay between $1,200 and $2,400 for a return trip, it said.
The exorbitant prices largely stem from lack of competition in river crossing services granted to the countries’ national operators.
In another example, the report said most traders on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries in the Great Lakes region are women, who say they “routinely” encounter violence, threats, demands for bribes, and sexual harassment at the hands of customs and other government officials at the border.
Even within the regional bloc the Southern African Development Community, barriers remain formidably high. South African supermarket chain Shoprite spends $20,000 a week on import permits to distribute meat, milk and plant-based products to its stores in Zambia alone, the report said.
Another South African retailer took three years to get permission to export processed beef and pork from South Africa to Zambia.
Hacker used $35 computer to steal restricted NASA data
A hacker used a tiny Raspberry Pi computer to infiltrate NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory network, stealing sensitive data and forcing the temporary disconnection of space-flight systems, the agency has revealed.
The April 2018 attack went undetected for nearly a year, according to an audit report issued on June 18, and an investigation is still underway to find the culprit.
A Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized device sold for about $35 that plugs into home televisions and is used mainly to teach coding to children and promote computing in developing countries.
Prior to detection, the attacker was able to exfiltrate 23 files amounting to approximately 500 megabytes of data, the report from NASA's Office of inspector General said.
50 years after Stonewall, New York stages massive Gay Pride rally
Four million people and a sea of rainbow flags: that is what organizers of New York's "World Pride" parade expect this week for events marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement in the United States.
Many want the vast gathering to act as a show of strength for the LGBT community at a time when homophobia is again on the rise in the country.
The six-day festival will feature concerts, exhibitions, movie screenings, theatre shows and workshops as the city pays homage to those who took part in the 1969 Stonewall riots, a week-long protest against the police's constant harassment of the New York gay community at the time.
Melania Trump ripped for bragging about helping children while her husband runs concentration camps for kids
Melania Trump was ripped on Monday for pushing her signature "Be Best" campaign against bullying while her husband, President Donald Trump, runs concentration camps for children along the southern border.
"Looking forward to collaborating with all of our #BeBest Ambassadors. Delighted to be working alongside so many people both inside and outside of government to better the lives of children everywhere!" Melania Trump tweeted Monday.
The response was some of the harshest since she wore an "I Don't Care" jacked to visit the border.