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Poor infrastructure, Ebola blamed for slow trade in Africa

19 November 2014, 15:02 John Kioko

Nairobi - Inadequate port infrastructure and the recent Ebola disaster have been named some of the top hindrances to trade in Africa.

According to the Pan African Association for Port Cooperation (PAPC), there has been real and potential negative impact of the Ebola virus disease on trade.

The disease has caused a decline in trade especially in West Africa.

Speaking during the tenth PAPC conference in Kwale Monday, the association Executive Secretary Michael Luguje said the impact was much felt when some countries banned vessels from Ebola-hit countries from docking at their port.

Among the most affected countries is Sierra Leone, which according to PAPC has already reported 30 percent deflation as a result of the crisis.

“The port of Conakry in Guinea also reported a decline in port traffic for cargo and vessels in the second and third quarters of this year,” said Luguje.

He however noted that none of the ports in the three most affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea had recorded any infection of port employees or users.

He urged ports across Africa and their communities to increase awareness campaigns and provide support in stopping the spread of the disease.

“We need to strictly observe the precautions and measures so that we can all work towards the prevention and ultimately the total eradication of this disease from our continent,” Luguje said.

Systematic administrative bureaucracies that hinder trade facilitation, poor hinterland connectivity and challenges with maritime and port security have also affected the African maritime industry.

The association has however noted that foreign direct investments in Africa had increased by 50 per cent in the past five years, with hotspots particularly in the Wes Africa.

Trade with Africa’s traditional partners - the European union and the US, has also remained strong with trade flows rising from USD 281.6 billion (about KES 24.7 trillion) to USD 381.1 billion (about KES 33.5 trillion).

“African countries are among the fastest growing in the world with economic growth in the continent forecast at 4.8 percent for 2013 and 5.3 percent in 2014,” Luguje said.

The conference was officially opened by Kenya’s Industrialization cabinet secretary, Adan Mohammed.

Mohammed noted that capacity constraints, underdevelopment skills, insecurity, gender inequity and financial inadequacies have also affected port efficiency in Africa.

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