NEWS & EVENTS
Socialization Workshop Focuses on Gender Assessment and SSCBT Survey
In Senegal, the TFWA Program hosted a workshop to share results of a survey conducted on small-scale cross-border traders (SSCBTs). At the same time, the workshops sensitized the results of the TFWA Program Gender Assessment Report, which shows that a large proportion of small-scale operators at border crossings in West Africa tend to be women, partly because they are often active in the distribution of food and smaller consumer goods, which can dominate SSCBT.
The workshop explored constraints facing SSCBTs across the TFWA Program’s priority trade corridors. These include higher trade costs, more pervasive corruption, cumbersome clearance procedures, abuse and harassment, and limited access to finance. To mitigate these barriers and facilitate cross-border trade, the report outlined key actions to increase border transparency, streamline, and/or decentralize existing procedures and requirements, improve financial inclusion, and take steps to create a safe, transparent, and equitable environment at border crossings.
The report also looked at how border officials and service providers operate, while simultaneously exploring their views on how to improve trade. Finally, workshop participants discussed key findings from the TFWA Program Gender Assessment Report to get a better understanding of the challenges faced by women, to identify the institutional needs and priorities of key program stakeholders, and to review current initiatives in the region on the trade and gender front.
To address the gender insensitivity of existing trade policies and procedures, the TFWA Program provides an awareness campaign and training to mainstream gender issues into trade facilitation discussions. The program also supports the development of policy and procedures to support small-scale traders—including women—doing businesses across borders.
Progress Review Assesses TFWA Program Activities in Senegal
On January 12, members of the Sub-committee for Strategic Management of the Main Corridors of Senegal met with other stakeholders from the public and private sectors in Dakar. Participants aimed to review, among other things, the progress of key activities included in the action plan adopted in October 2019. Despite setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, participants commended the smooth and successful execution of key TFWA Program activities and components:
Capacity Building of Actors
- Development of the collection of texts and travel documents on the Dakar-Bamako Corridor with a restitution workshop on June 16, 2021.
- Capacity building activity for transport actors on loading techniques (intended for loading platforms of more than 200,000 tonnes and transport players).
- Deployment of SIGMAT across the national territory.
- Training of trainers at the Customs School for Senegalese Customs Officers, auxiliaries, handlers, licensed customs brokers, defense and security forces, and the private sector.
The popularization of the tool, which is another very important element of SIGMAT’s implementation, has been challenging, despite the recruitment of a communications agency and the validation of communications materials. Other key components, such as operationalization, remain dependent on the improvement of the political situation between Mali and Senegal, which would enable the signing of regulatory acts and the materialization of the interconnection through the exchange of information between the two customs.
At the end of the meeting, participants agreed to form a working group with relevant stakeholders to prepare and initiate the implementation process of awareness activities along the corridor, review the initial dates, and update the terms of reference.
TFWA Program Empowers CSOs/NGOs to Influence Regional Integration Policies
In Senegal, the TFWA Program hosted a three-day workshop to build the capacity of selected civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The workshop targeted organizations that are active in the trade space with the goal of highlighting and advocating for relevant and contemporary issues related to trade facilitation. Findings from a recent study by TFWA Program show that the majority of CSOs/NGOs are connected to networks or federations working at regional and/or international levels. This provides an opportunity for civil society actors to participate in advocacy campaigns and influence national and regional policies. CSOs/NGOs have experience monitoring ECOWAS trade policies and trade agreements and—through active regional participation—can help push the trade and trade facilitation agendas across the region. The TFWA Program aims to foster inclusive advocacy, data, and information dissemination along with multi-stakeholder dialogues.
In his opening address, Dr. Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, Director of the African Centre for Trade, Integration and Development at ENDA-CACID, highlighted the critical role CSOs play in the development and integration processes in the ECOWAS region. He also highlighted the many skills they need to implement advocacy that effectively influences ECOWAS protocols on trade and free movement. Col. Samba Souna Fall of the Senegal National Committee on Trade Facilitation and Adja Coumba Sall Fall from the ECOWAS National Office expressed the importance of strategic engagement by non-state actors in regional trade and integration programmes.
Maiko Miyake, TFWA Program Manager, assured participants of the TFWA Program’s commitment to strengthening civil society’s advocacy efforts. The TFWA Program will continue to support NGOs and CSOs with a focus on regional coordination and empowerment.
TFWA Program Rolls Out SSCBT Interviews for Alternative Credit Scoring
Traders’ associations across Nigeria and Senegal were interviewed to better proﬁle Small-Scale-Cross-Border Traders (SSBCTs) and to better understanding the alternative data they generate to access ﬁnancial products and services. These interviews—initially piloted in two countries and conducted via a consulting ﬁrm—are part of the second phase of the TFWA Program’s credit-scoring study launched to improve SSCBT access to ﬁnance through tailored credit scoring mechanisms.
SSCBTs still face signiﬁcant challenges in accessing capital for their businesses and often remain unbanked, unable to obtain credit scoring, and with low-to-no ﬁnancial inclusion opportunities. These factors conﬁrm the relevance of exploring alternative means of credit scoring and aim to create the foundational research needed to encourage micro-ﬁnance institutions to oﬀer ﬁnancial products to SSCBTs. To date, the consulting ﬁrm has held several consultations with local traders’ associations with the goal of contrasting data from previous mapping exercises with alternative data usage metrics.
Additional SSCBTs from Senegal and Nigeria will be interviewed and constituted in panels before the program produces a Credit Reporting Framework. Based on these interviews, a Regional Alternative Data Landscaping Report will also be published.
Dakar-Bamako logistics strategy presented
Following the inaugural meeting of the National Monitoring Committee (NAC) in February, The TFWA Program convened a workshop with Senegalese and Malian project partners to present the Dakar-Bamako Logistics Strategy. The strategy used a data-driven approach to reveal the underlying flow and pattern of goods along this important trade corridor. Additionally, the strategy outlined how infrastructure could be developed to support and improve trade flow. In fact, previous TFWA Program diagnostics, such as the Corridor Assessment Report and the Small-Scale Cross-Border Trader Survey, had highlighted how longer transit times along corridors greatly affect trade facilitation and economic opportunities.
Aware of the key regional and national issues at stake with improved infrastructure, both Mali and Senegal were receptive to the TFWA Program’s presentation and findings. As a result, these markets could explore reopening discussions on the location of the dry port. This strategy, if jointly applied, could enable more targeted and cohesive infrastructural planning and reforms—progress in line with the TFWA Program’s second component, which stives to promote the efficient and improved movement of goods along selected corridors.
Bilateral Meeting Brings Together Key Stakeholders from Mali and Senegal
From February 17 to 20, the TFWA Program hosted a successful bilateral meeting between IT experts from Senegalese and Malian customs to advance activities required for the Interconnection of their IT systems (SIGMAT-GAINDE). Held in Dakar, representatives from the Senegal and Mali Management Committee of the Dakar-Bamako Corridor participated in the four-day session, as did Senegal’s Customs Director General. Representatives from the Chambers of Commerce from both Mali and Senegal were also invited to attend, though only one representative from Mali came to the meetings.
Both customs IT teams have been proactively supporting implementation, using a chronogram of activities to guide their work. During the meeting, attendees discussed these activities in an effort to advance the interconnection agenda. The meeting also provided an opportunity to show that GIZ and the World Bank are working jointly to implement this project.
Looking forward, GIZ and the World Bank will continue to work together to ensure proper support under the TFWA Program umbrella. As next steps, based on their chronograms, customs in both countries need to provide formation, communication, and sensitization efforts to field staff. Per the current situation, the customs agencies are trying to deliver these efforts virtually. Additionally, GIZ is responsible for delivering the equipment required in support of this effort.
Dakar-Bamako Corridor Project Action Plan Moves Forward with TFWA Program Support
On February 7, the first meeting of the National Monitoring Committee for the ‘Improving the Competitiveness of the Dakar-Bamako Corridor Project’—a project that falls within the framework of the TFWA Program—took place. The meeting focused on reviewing and validating the joint committee's plan of action while also planning priority activities arising from the plan.
A number of influential stakeholders attended the meeting, including representatives from the Ministry of Investment Promotion Private, Small and Medium Enterprises, and National Entrepreneurship. The meeting provided an opportunity for attendees to outline deadlines for each activity to be implemented. As a result of this meeting, some of the activities listed in the work plan were reformulated, paving a clear path for implementation. Additionally, meeting participants agreed to insert a new activity—relating to the ECOWAS brown map—into the work plan. Meeting attendees agreed that the TFWA Program team would serve as the plan’s next reviewer, with a view to inserting activities from its Dakar-Bamako corridor action plan.