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Logistics, Single Window Customs Solutions – and Ethiopia Looks in 2 Directions to Reach the Sea

The EU has pledged to dedicate half of its €300bn infrastructure plan, seen as a rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to Africa. The fund has already backed renewable plants, green hydrogen initiatives, vaccines and education projects on the continent, and it is said to be looking into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAFs are low-carbon fuel alternatives for the aviation industry and can be made from various crops produced in Africa. The EU will launch a 4m euro capacity-building project by in December to support SAF feasibility studies and certification in 11 African countries and India.

Our colleagues, the Alliance de Commerce Electronique (AAEC) is holding a conference in Djibouti on the single window customs approach, “Accelerating the Implementation of the Single Window with the Latest Technologies for Trade Facilitation and Smart Logistics” on 25-26 September ( . This theme will address how emerging technologies can enhance the functionality of Single Windows, simplify and streamline cross-border trade procedures, digitally transform the supply chain and logistics ecosystem, and optimize foreign trade to enable the free flow of goods and services across the continent and boost the trading position of Africa in the global market.

The International Development Association, part of the World Bank Group, has loaned Ethiopia $730m to improve road conditions between Addis Ababa and Djibouti. The project is geared at unlocking greater volumes of international trade, and therefore economic growth, by improving regional connectivity and logistics efficiency. This is a significant infrastructure project for Ethiopia as the Addis-Djibouti Corridor is the country’s main access point to the Indian Ocean. Over 95% of Ethiopia’s import-export trade by volume passes through this route. However, certain parts of the road are in poor condition and unsuitable for heavier truck traffic, forcing users to take a much longer route that adds almost 150km to the journey and therefore incurs increased fuel and labour costs for business. Meanwhile, the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor with Kenya – which is still in its early phases – could also be a game-changer in the region. Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. It also has a large population (estimated at around 126m and is projected to grow at about 2.7% a year). Lack of direct coastal access has become a notable obstacle to Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve middle-income status via export-oriented industrialisation.

Alastair Tempest

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