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Africa : Progressive dismantling of customs tariffs under AfCFTA

Customs procedures are often a major obstacle in African intercontinental trade, slowing down trade and hampering countries’ economic development. By reducing barriers to trade, investment and mobility, the AfCFTA aims to act as a catalyst for Africa’s economic growth. In this context, the process of dismantling customs tariffs has begun in certain countries, to ensure a smooth transition towards the liberalisation of the single African market.

In Africa, where sub-regional trade still accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total, simplifying customs procedures is essential to foster greater economic integration. As part of this drive towards economic integration, many African countries have taken steps to promote intra-African trade. Paving the way for regional economic transformation, South Africa launched the first shipment and preferential trade of the AfCFTA, a tool representing a market of 1.3 billion consumers that could boost the continent’s real incomes by 9% by 2035.

« For South Africa, as for many other African countries, the start of preferential trade will create great opportunities for growth and development. »

Cyril RAMAPHOSA , President of the RepublicSouth Africa

In the same vein, the Kingdom of Morocco’s titanic Dakhla Atlantic port project will involve the construction of a deepwater port on the Atlantic coast of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region. With a budget of 12.5 billion dirhams, this port complex will be a maritime interface for economic integration and a hub for continental influence.

« I led a delegation of Chadian businessmen last week to visit the construction of the port of Dakhla, and I was impressed by the scale of the project. They’ve given us a five-year deadline and the project will be more or less completed. At that point, you’ll see the enthusiasm of economic operators to come and connect to this infrastructure. »

Hassan Adoum Bakhit HAGGAR, Ambassador to MoroccoChad

However, despite these advances, challenges remain. Coordination between the various African countries and harmonisation of customs procedures remain major issues to be overcome. Nevertheless, the African authorities are investing in simplifying customs procedures, among other things. In Senegal, a one-stop shop for customs operations has recently been set up to reduce processing time and dematerialise the user experience.

“As far as paperless customs clearance is concerned, in 2011 it was decided that the customs clearance process should be paperless. As a result, IT solutions have been put in place to ensure that users don’t have to go anywhere, but can use their terminals to contact customs, who have to respond within set deadlines to enable them to clear goods as quickly as possible. As a result, we are now more than 90% paperless.”

Alioune DIONE, Director of Customs IT SystemsSenegal

In addition, until January 2024, some African countries have benefited from a reduction in customs rates thanks to the successful application of the AfCFTA Agreement. These include Tunisia, which has carried out 47 export operations to countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea. According to the African Development Bank, only 13% of Africa’s trade is currently intra-regional.


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