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BEAM providing supplemental support for trade facilitation and trade promotion in West Africa

On May 23, USAID’s Business Environments for Agile Markets (BEAM), the Borderless Alliance, and the West Africa Trade Hub (WATH), along with the Ghana Shippers’ Authority and l’Office Ivoirien des Chargeurs, sponsored the opening of the newest Border Information Center (BIC) on the Ivorian side of the Noe–Elubo border between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The opening ceremony was attended by several public figures including representatives from the Ghanaian and Ivoirian Ministries of Transport and the US Ambassadors to both countries.

The Trade Hub and  BEAM have provided support to the BIC initiative by identifying solid local implementing partners, working out collaboration terms, providing training for staff and for local border authorities, providing “how to” manuals tailored to each side of every border, and equipping BIC offices. The first BIC opened in 2011 at the Ghana–Togo border through the efforts of the Trade Hub and the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, and over time BICs have been shown to reduce congestion and harassment in an environment where informal checkpoints and murky regulations can create serious impediments to regional trade. The BICs—nine in all—seek to improve regional trade and reduce costs and delays by providing counsel and support to cross-border traders and by advocating for enhancements to transit practices. These developments will allow businesses the opportunity to expand and therefore create more jobs in the region.  

In May, another Border Information Center opened on the Ivorian side of the Noe–Elubo border between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.In May, another Border Information Center opened on the Ivorian side of the Noe–Elubo border between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

The BIC openings are just one of WATH’s key initiatives that the BEAM Task Order (also implemented by CARANA) has assumed support of as the Trade Hub ends this summer after 10 years. Working closely with the national shippers’ councils of Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal as well as the Borderless Alliance (a private sector–driven advocacy platform set up under the Trade Hub to improve trade and integration among ECOWAS countries), BEAM continues to provide institutional assistance to the BICs and organize outreach activities conducted by the BIC staff and the Borderless Alliance, including trainings for freight forwarders and customs officials in each country. BEAM and the Borderless Alliance will eventually turn day-to-day BIC operations over to the local partners as those institutions gain the institutional capacity and funding to manage the centers independently.

Published July 2013