Photo courtesy: Kenya Uganda border

Low levels of trade among African countries is a concerning trend that is hindering the continent’s economic growth and development. Despite being rich in resources and having a large population, Africa has one of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade in the world.

Factors that contribute to Low-level trade

There are several factors that contribute to this low level of trade. Firstly, many African countries have inadequate transportation infrastructure, making it difficult and expensive to transport goods across borders. This lack of infrastructure also affects the ease of doing business, which further discourages trade.

Policies and regulations

Another factor is the lack of harmonized trade policies and regulations among African countries. This creates a fragmented market, with each country having its own set of rules and requirements that make it difficult for businesses to trade across borders. Additionally, the high cost of trade finance is also a barrier to trade in Africa. Most African countries lack well-developed financial systems, which makes it difficult for businesses to access the financing they need to engage in trade.

Furthermore, the limited availability of quality trade data is also a hindrance to trade in Africa. Without accurate and reliable trade data, it is difficult for policymakers to make informed decisions about trade policies and strategies. Finally, political instability, conflict, and corruption are also major obstacles to trade in Africa. These factors create a hostile environment for businesses, making it difficult for them to engage in cross-border trade. The low level of trade among African countries is a worrying trend, as it is depriving the continent of the economic benefits of trade. Trade can promote economic growth by increasing the flow of goods, services, and capital, and by facilitating the transfer of technology and know-how.

Positive Effect

Moreover, increased trade can also help to reduce poverty by creating new jobs and income opportunities, and by boosting economic growth. However, without a concerted effort to increase trade among African countries, these benefits will remain elusive.


In conclusion, the low level of trade among African countries is a serious problem that must be addressed if the continent is to achieve its economic potential. This requires a concerted effort from African governments and businesses, as well as international organizations, to address the barriers to trade, such as inadequate transportation infrastructure, lack of harmonized trade policies, high cost of trade finance, limited availability of quality trade data, and political instability, conflict, and corruption. By working together to overcome these challenges, Africa can unlock the full potential of trade to promote economic growth and development and to reduce poverty on the continent.

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