The Borderless Alliance Secretariat, with financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), organized a series of two-day OPA dissemination workshops and roadshows in three countries namely; Niamey, Niger from 3rd-4thMarch 2015; Dakar, Senegal from 5Th-6ThMarch, 2015 and Cotonou, Benin, from March 17Th-18Th, 2015. These workshops we meant present and to discuss, among other things, the 24thIRTG report, harassment on the roads by Police, Customs and other uniformed personnel, the harmonization of Axle load limits and the professionalization of the trucking sector.
In each of these countries JICA emphasized the need for regional integration in Africa particularly ‘through well-functioning trade and transport facilitation measures’. Dr. Tomomi Tokuori, JICA Expert at the UEMOA Commission, stressed the point that “it makes a common market of 300 million people to attract external investment and become an engine of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.” She outlined three key factors which will facilitate regional integration namely: the development of infrastructure- ports, roads, bridges and railways, the simplification and harmonization of administrative procedures i.e. customs, and the removal of trade barriers. She expressed JICA’s willingness to collaborate with Borderless Alliance in ensuring that these three factors are coordinated in a manner that will facilitate intra-regional trade.
The open forum session afforded drivers and truckers the opportunity to voice out some of the major frustrations they encounter when plying the various corridors within the sub-region. Officials from the Customs service and representatives of relevant agencies took turns to answer their queries and also educated them on the procedures they must adhere to.