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Poor transport links in Africa hindering trade

If you can’t get there you can’t trade there, US Transportation secretary Rodney E Slater once said. The United States exports to Africa are hampered by poor connections. This trade is important to the USA. “Our exports to Africa already support close to 100,000 jobs in the United States.” The USA values its trade to Africa because it provides jobs to 100, 000 Americans. The reverse should also be true that i Africans cannot trade in the USA, they will not be able to get there. Africa should be trying to get their products into markets beyond their national borders. This creates more jobs for nationals and brings in the much needed trade that will grow our economies.

Zimbabwe recently adopted a look policy, which focuses on trading with China. Trading with China is a very good move, but trading with all countries is an even better policy. Chinese businessmen do not isolate markets and choose the ones that are most appealing to them, they have their products in every country. I am sure that there is no country that does not sell Chinese goods. Nigerians often say that if you find a country where there are no Nigerians, it means that that country is not liveable. I am sure that the same can be said about Chinese products, if you find a country without Chinese products, that country is not worth doing business with. 

If we can stimulate trade with even the remotest country, it will open up immeasurable opportunities for trade within that region. Africa has a lot to offer, from art to minerals, Africa has so much to offer that we need to ensure that we can get our products across to any nation. “Johannesburg airport functions like the regional air traffic “switchboard” through which flights to and from other destinations in the region are directed.There are no direct flights between most countries, meaning the travellers have to use the circuitous route of going via Johannesburg.  This makes it expensive to travel by air across borders, especially where the countries are neighbours and are a bit further from South Africa.  There are also costs associated with time wasted in waiting for connections from Johannesburg. If you cannot get there you cannot trade there. This simply says that as African’s we cannot trade with each other because it is next to impossible to get products across at a reasonable rate.

Consider trading with Nigeria, which is the largest economy in Africa right now. If you were in Zimbabwe, your products would have to go to Johannesburg and then Lagos. I travel a lot between Zimbabwe and Lagos and every time I fly, I am amazed that almost  one in every ten passengers is a black African. I am sure that more than 60% of the people on the flight are white South Africans, then followed by white people from Westerners or Asians, followed by Nigerians then maybe 1% is black African. Black Africans are all fixated on Bako Horam while the rest of the world continues to build relations and trade set up businesses in Lagos. The few black Africans travelling to Nigeria are going to the Synagogue, SCOAN, to get a miracle! By the time our African brothers wake up and see the opportunities, there will be few business opportunities let for the taking.

The only Southern African country set up to trade with Nigeria right now is South Africa. Every other Southern African countries has to send goods via Johannesburg. So while Zimbabwe continues to isolate itself from the world, focusing on trading with only China, the rest of the world builds ties that will provide future opportunities.


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