Approaches to promoting intra-regional trade in staple foods in sub-Saharan Africa
Intra-regional trade in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is significantly lower than its potential. This is particularly true for key staple foods, which are important for development and the alleviation of poverty. The missed opportunities for the development of private sector and specifically staple food cross-border trade are due to the existence of numerous trade barriers, which vary across countries and evolve rapidly, sometimes unpredictably, with time. Policy makers are aware of the existence of these barriers, some of which are gender-specific. The majority of current policies are oriented towards regional liberalisation and integration; however, their implementation on the ground is slow and inconsistent. The key issues concern the predictability of trade policies and the de facto implementation of agreements. The most successful initiatives combine (i) consultation with and commitment from a large variety of actors, including government officials, civil society, small businesses, and often including external partnerships; (ii) investment in infrastructure and facilitation of the business environment; and (iii) improvement of relationships between officials and trades people.