Department for International Development
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New dawn for trade in Africa as UK Government commits to North South Corridor

New dawn for trade in Africa as UK Government commits to North South Corridor

DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT News Release (Trade in Africa) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 6 April 2009

The UK Government today (MON) committed £100m to transform regional infrastructure and increase trade across Africa.

The announcement came as Presidents from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia, representatives from the region's economic communities and top players from the EU, World Bank and African Development Bank gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, to launch the highly innovative North South Corridor, which will improve key trade routes across eight African countries.

At the Conference it was also announced that development partners have agreed to over $1 billion of funding to upgrade road, rail and port infrastructure and to support trade facilitation in the region.

The North South Corridor is an unprecedented initiative which will remove the bottlenecks that currently exist along the main trading routes throughout the region by speeding up border crossings, improving railways, roads and ports across east and southern Africa.

From Lusaka today, the UK's Minister for Trade and Development, Gareth Thomas said:

"I welcome the North South Corridor and the many opportunities it has to offer for business in Africa. The North South Corridor will improve transport networks and encourage new investment that will, over time, increase prosperity and reduce poverty in the region.

"In the G20 last week, the Government gave its commitment to helping to stimulate trade with developing countries and the UK support for the North South Corridor is a perfect example of what the Government is doing to help open up business opportunities across Southern Africa"

Once in place it will open up the area to crucial new business opportunities in eight African countries: Tanzania, DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.

The scheme will upgrade 8000 km of road - the equivalent to the road distance between Paris and Bejing- and rehabilitate 600 kms of rail track. It will also work with governments to remove red tape to allow trade between countries to increase and products to be transported more quickly.

Transit times at the Chirundu border post, between Zambia and Zimbabwe - set to become one of the pioneering One Stop Border Posts under the scheme - will be halved.

The new border post will streamline the process and those passing through will now only have to submit their documents once. Three new One Stop Border Posts along the North - South Corridor are planned by 2012 and others will follow in the region shortly after.

The scheme will be financed by a mix of public and private investment by donors such as the UK Government, World Bank, EC, the three regional economic communities in East and Southern Africa (COMESA, SADC, EAC), international development agencies and the private sector.

By removing barriers to trade between countries and improving transport links from the Copperbelt of Zambia and the DRC to the ports of Tanzania and Southern Africa, the North South Corridor will increase trading opportunities and dramatically improve prospects for growth, jobs and reducing poverty across the region.

Businesses will be able to get their goods to market faster and more cheaply. Consumers will have better access to affordable food, goods and services. And Southern Africa will be opened up to a new generation of traders, no longer held back by crippling delays and bureaucracy, ready to do business in an Africa that's moving and open to all.

Notes to editors

The North South Corridor programme is led by three Regional Economic Communities - the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

The estimated total cost of upgrading and maintaining roads along the NS Corridor is US$7.4 billion over a 20 year period. Improvements on rail, port and trade facilitation measures will cost an estimated further US$ 1.3 billion over 5 years. DFID is committing £100m under its new "TradeMark" programme to support the North South Corridor and broader Aid for Trade initiatives.

"TradeMark" builds on DFID's very successful Regional Trade Facilitation Programme (RTFP) that was instrumental in supporting COMESA, EAC and SADC to formulate the North Couth Corridor programme as a Tripartite initiative.

In addition to TradeMark, DFID intends to provide at least £10m to co-finance the World Bank's new Trade Facilitation Facility (TFF) which is being launched by the World Bank at the North South Corridor Conference.

The new Trade Facilitation Facility will expand the World Bank's capacity to assist developing countries remove the bottlenecks that stop goods moving across borders and prevent trade.

Trade facilitation is an important pillar of the global Aid for Trade Initiative and is a central part of DFID's Aid for Trade Strategy. TradeMark and the TFF are two new programmes form part of DFID's Aid for Trade commitments under that strategy.

DFID News is available on our website at http://www.dfid.gov.uk

DFID, the Department for International Development: leading the British government's fight against world poverty. One in five people in the world today, over 1 billion people, live in poverty on less than one dollar a day.

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