Facilitation of transit transport and trade in West Africa for better value chain participation

West African trade in world trade remains relatively low, whether for coastal or landlocked countries. Intra-regional trade must also improve as it represents less than 10% of each country's trade. According to UNCTAD's 2019 Economic Development Report, in 2017, intra-African exports accounted for 17% of total exports, compared to 68% for intra-European exports, 59% for intra-Asian exports, and 55% for intra-American exports.

The Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies (DTISs) conducted in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger show a weak implementation of regional and bilateral instruments on transit transport and trade facilitation, significantly impacting the competitiveness and economic and social development of these countries.

In parallel, the DTIS carried out in the beneficiary countries of the project have illustrated the many opportunities for better participation of these three (3) countries into the value chains.

The project will identify measures to be put in place by governments and the private sector to adopt reforms that will facilitate the implementation of regional instruments on transit transport and trade facilitation, and whose effects will be felt over the long term, beyond the duration of the project.

Regional instruments and their current status

  • The Inter-State Road Transit (ISRT) system is not functioning as it should despite the enormous benefits that Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger would derive from it.
  • The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) contains several articles dealing with transit trade. This agreement provides an opportunity to review current transit policies and customs procedures.
  • Single Windows (SWs) are not designed as part of an overall simplification strategy at the national level, let alone the regional level. Yet, the SWs could considerably improve customs import, export, and transit procedures.

Following the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that entered into force on February 22, 2017, the project aims to assist Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger in making arrangements that will facilitate trade and improve cooperation between the countries at the transit level, including specific transport issues and the implementation of specific articles of the TFA related to transit.




The overall objective of the project is the development of a sub-regional strategy for the updating and implementation of regional conventions on transit issues (in particular the ISRT), including specific transit-related issues that fall under the umbrella of transport and trade facilitation (TFA), coordinated at two levels:

  • Coordination at the national level in the three beneficiary countries between the various governmental and private sector actors involved, including the Ministries of Commerce, Transport, and Planning, and the Chamber of Commerce and other private sector actors (e.g. transporters, shippers, freight forwarders, etc.)
  • Sub-regional coordination among the three beneficiary countries of specific priority actions to be undertaken on transit issues, including transport, and the implementation of specific articles of the TFA relating to transit according to the recommendations of the action matrices of their respective DTIS within the general framework of the support provided by the World Bank's Trade Facilitation West Africa Program (TFWA)
Expected results


  • Result 1: Improved access to a functional transit program based on simplified customs and border regulations between the three (3) beneficiary countries along the corridors of the three (3) beneficiary countries.

  • Result 2: Improved coordination of cross-border land transit transport and trade facilitation operations along the borders of the three (3) beneficiary countries.

  • Result 3: Improved legislation and regulatory practices regarding transit, land transport, and trade facilitation in the three (3) beneficiary countries.



  • Assist in establishing a bilateral and sub-regional public-private working group to promote the containerized transit along relevant corridors in the beneficiary countries. The establishment of the working group will ensure the sustainability of the project.
  • Establish a work plan for sharing information on practical operational experiences and obstacles to the implementation of the ISRT; present a revised text on transit to the beneficiary countries for adoption, in consultation and coordination with ECOWAS and WAEMU, taking into account the TFWA program and other partners; and support the creation of a working group, the development of a work program, and the organization of meetings to draft the procedures manual.
  • Support sub-regional meetings between the three (3) beneficiary countries and relevant partners to gather experiences and challenges in implementing of SIGMAT.
  • Improve the operations of the Malanville JBP (Joint Border Post) in coordination with the ECOWAS through discussions, agreements with the authorities, WAEMU and ECOWAS, and other stakeholders on improving operations based on the situation report and recommendations of the Malanville JBP, Bodjecali and Kotcha parking lots; Facilitate the adaptation of simplified WTO procedures to the activities of the Malanville CCP, and the TFA, in cooperation with the WTO for the training of border agents in simplified procedures.
  • Taking into account existing studies and initiatives conducted by ECOWAS, WAEMU, and other partner programs, compile an inventory of existing Single Windows in each country, identifying their objectives, scope, and the supervisory authorities in charge of their operation, in order to develop a map that will be used for coordination.
Contribution to the SDGs


Goal 1

Goal 1: No Poverty 

The improved transit and transport procedures and trade facilitation measures proposed in this project will support greater economic growth and thus reduce poverty. In addition, the project contributes to manufacturing development, increased value-added in all productive sectors, and higher export values.


Goal 5

Goal 5: Gender equality

Women are particularly disadvantaged with respect to infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure, where transaction costs are often higher for women. In addition, women traders make more intensive use of land transport.

Thus, the project contributes to the reduction of gender inequalities through:

  1. Simplification of cross-border procedures for informal trade
  2. Establishing strong networks with key female trade and development stakeholders
  3. Capacity building of trade facilitation and cross-border agencies through advocacy.

Finally, the project ensures the active participation of women and women's associations in training and advocacy activities.


Goal 9

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

The project's activities allow for the intensification of the development of the manufacturing sector, an increase in value-added in all productive sectors, and an increase in export values. In addition, the project contributes to the implementation of regional and cross-border infrastructure that contributes to the economic development of the beneficiary countries and the entire region.


Goal 17

Goal 17: Partnerships to achieve the goals

The project mobilizes several actors. UNCTAD works in close cooperation with the World Bank in the framework of the implementation of the Trade Facilitation West Africa Program (TFWA) and supports some of the project activities. The project also makes it possible to mobilize ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union). In addition, the project is funded by the WTO Enhanced Integrated Framework.



Enhanced Integrated Framework


Interview with Mr. Inama of UNCTAD


Entretien avec la délégation du Niger


Entretien avec la délégation du Burkina Faso


Entretien avec la délégation du Bénin


Código del Proyecto

Código del Proyecto





Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)


Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo





$ 1,775,000



Landlocked developing countries Landlocked developing countries Transport, logistics and trade facilitation Transport, logistics and trade facilitation