Namibia demonstrates how Africa can reduce trade costs



African countries, such as Namibia, have demonstrated just how the implementation of the TIR (International Road Transport) Convention can boost intra-trade. TIR is the world’s only universal customs transit system and one of the most successful international transport conventions.

The International Road Transport Organisation (IRU) says its recently published study, ‘Transit costs in East and Southern Africa’, has “clearly demonstrated how African countries implementing the TIR Convention can reduce the costs of trade in southern and eastern Africa by hundreds of dollars per container, thus saving billions of dollars and increasing GDP in African countries”.

“The results show that TIR is up to 16 times less expensive than the national bond system on the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, and is also substantially more cost efficient on the three other African trade corridors in the study,” Umberto de Pretto, IRU Secretary General said of the report released on September 29.

IRU is the world’s road transport organisation founded in 1948 in Geneva to help war-torn Europe rebuild devastated trade and commercial links, but whose alliances have since expanded to all continents, encompassing passenger and goods mobility by road, as well as intermodal journeys and innovative mobility services.

The TIR Convention is gaining momentum with government authorities and businesses on Africa’s trade corridors. IRU is working closely with stakeholders in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia to analyse the potential benefits of TIR and to work towards accession and implementation.

IRU’s statement issued along with the report quotes Clive Smith from Walvis Bay Corridor Group as saying that “implementing TIR along the Walvis Bay Corridor could have a huge impact on reducing the cost of moving goods between the port and the hinterland. It makes total sense to be looking at implementing a trade facilitation solution that is already proven and successful.”

“TIR fits with Namibia’s vision to become a logistics hub for southern Africa and we are really keen to see concrete steps taken towards implementation in the region,” Smith added.

TIR has, since 1949, made international freight transits faster, more efficient and more secure, helping to increase trade, boost economic growth and make communities stronger. With TIR, goods are contained in sealed load compartments, and the contents are detailed in a TIR Carnet. This essential document accompanies the driver and the cargo along its journey. Customs simply have to verify the carnet and that the seals are intact, rather than spend time opening the container and physically check the load.

De Pretto said some of the world’s highest trade costs can be found in Africa and IRU is working to support governments and the private sector to reduce these costs.

TIR has a big role to play in reducing the costs of trade, because it makes border crossings faster, more secure and more efficient, reducing transport costs and boosting trade and development, said de Pretto.

The IRU report provides detailed cost comparisons between the three different methods of acquiring guarantees for goods in transit to meet the requirements of the different revenue authorities. TIR is the most harmonised system that reduces transit costs and time, reduces documentation and simplifies the clearing process.

The report analyses the comparative costs of using a national bond, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Regional Customs Transit Guarantee (RCTG) Carnet, and the IRU TIR Carnet, for two types of cargo (containerised load and tanker transporting liquid bulk).

The comparisons are along four major transit corridor routes, namely, North-South Corridor (Durban to Lubumbashi), Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, Dar Corridor (Dar es Salaam to Lubumbashi) and the Northern Corridor (Mombasa to Kigali).


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