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Governance is key to boosting intra-Africa trade

A new report by the African Natural Resources Centre of the African Development Bank has stressed the importance of forestry governance to boosting intra-African trade of wood products.

The report, Assessing forest law enforcement, governance and trade in Africa, was launched on 21 March, the International Day of Forests, which has as its theme this year, “Forests and sustainable cities.”

According to the report, forestry contributes to the economic development, livelihoods and environmental sustainability of timber-exporting countries, mostly in Central Africa and timber-importing countries in West and North Africa. “The export and import markets within Africa present an opportunity for intra-African trade, with substantial benefits for the populations of both importers and exporters,” it reads.

Though Africa hosts a considerable number of timber-exporting countries, most of these exports consist of primary products, with little value addition. The report notes: “In 2013, African countries exported timber products worth about USD 4.5 billion. Of these, three-quarters were primary products (logs, sawnwood and veneer). The same year, timber imports to African markets amounted to USD 6.5 billion, of which 8% (USD 526 million) were intra-regional. Sawnwood was the most important timber import with 31% of the total (USD 2 billion).”

The governance of the forestry sector is key to facilitating value addition of wood products. To improve governance in Africa’s forestry sector, there should be political, institutional and cultural frameworks, through which interests in forest resources are coordinated and controlled.

The report recommends a regional programme for the promotion of legality in African timber trade that would harness the forestry sector through trade in legal timber products between African sub-regional markets. “It is imperative that we give forestry the attention that it deserves, and that the planting of trees becomes a routine activity across the continent,” said Modibo Traore, forestry expert and Officer-in-Charge of the African Natural Resources Centre, in a call for action.-Press release

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