Africa: Trademark, Tony Blair Institute Join Hands to Boost Intra-Africa Trade

Pan-African cross-border trade promoter Trademark Africa and its subsidiary Trade Catalyst Africa (TCA) have entered an agreement to work together with governments adviser Tony Blair Institute (TBI) to accelerate cross-border trade on the continent, The East African reports.

The three non-profit organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Monday agreeing to combine efforts in helping accelerate the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Facilitating trade development on the continent, they said, could hasten the gains of AfCFTA, which include lifting at least 30 million people from poverty by 2035 as intra-Africa trade grows by over 50 percent.

This partnership comes just days after Trademark received a fresh $26.6 million funding from the European Union - one of its 12 donors - to help solve Kenya's supply chain, storage and logistics challenges in similar efforts to advance trade.

Success from partnerships

Trademark's Chief Executive David Beer said their success in delivering their mandate as an aid-for-trade agency will only come from such partnerships, and that TBI brings a "technical expertise, credibility and political relationships that we think will help to bring progress".

TBI, founded by former UK premier Tony Blair, currently has presence in 18 African countries, where it advises governments on policy priorities and strategies to "help them build prosperous societies".

Rishon Chimboza, TBI's Managing Director for Africa, said boosting cross-border trade is currently the continent's greatest need, and could help governments transform their citizens' lives.

"Right now, more than ever, quality jobs, investments and the ability to trade across borders is on top of the agenda for a lot of the African leaders, but we cannot do everything alone," Mr Chimboza said.

"For us, it's about bringing the right partners to the table who can help make these leaders' ambitions become a reality," he added.

One-stop border posts

Trademark is known in the region for its construction of one-stop border posts which are meant to reduce transit time and costs in cross-border trade by combining activities of two countries' border authorities in a single location.

So far, it has completed over ten such infrastructures in the region and has since rebranded from the former Trademark East Africa, setting sight on West Africa, beginning with Ghana, where it launched operations.

Its subsidiary, Trade Catalyst Africa (TCA), a finance fund created last year, will contribute to the partnership by supporting "commercially viable trade infrastructure projects across the continent to complement public and donor funded projects".

"This is key to addressing the significant physical infrastructure gaps that currently make it hard to move goods from one region to another efficiently," said TCA's Chairman Patrick Obath, adding that the partnership will expand their operations.

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