The Development Objective of this project is to facilitate cross-border trade by increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs faced by traders, especially small-scale and women traders, at targeted locations in the borderlands.
Project beneficiaries will primarily be cross-border traders, especially women, air travelers and vulnerable families in borderland areas.
The focus of the project is on small scale cross-border traders defined as those individuals who cross the border (often daily or multiple times each day) to conduct trade in goods and services for the purposes of earning a livelihood. As the large majority of these small-scale cross-border traders in the region are women, the project will have the potential to impact positively on gender dynamics. It will prioritize agriculture and trade in food products (the primary goods traded in border areas by small scale traders) by targeting border crossing points which form major bottlenecks in the link between farmers and regional markets. This should contribute to greater food security, higher employment in the agriculture, food processing and logistics sectors and improved incomes for many households. Trade in both goods and services can play a key role in generating jobs and hence provide genuine alternatives for people who may have otherwise sought their livelihoods in illegal commerce or violent activities. This, in turn, should strengthen the resilience of communities to outside shocks, strengthen social cohesion between trading communities and decrease the possibilities of violent mobilization. Thus, it is anticipated that the project will also benefit youth and other groups at risk of mobilization by creating new opportunities for employment. Better border management should diminish communities’ resentment of border institutions (and with that of wider state authority), facilitate trade in goods with a positive impact on resilience against shocks and improve control of conflict goods and cut out a source of financing for political- or armed groups. Finally, an important beneficiary group will be state agents on all sides of the border. An important impact of the program will be to increase their professionalism, make it easier for them to implement their duties and strengthen their empathy with traders as well as their colleagues across the borders. And thus, by facilitating more organized trade, the project may also contribute to increased revenue collection.
Increasing incomes for women traders will benefit a wider network of people.
For many households in the borderlands of the Great Lakes female traders are often a key and even primary source of income for their families.10 Analytical work and consultations with traders, suggest that time for trading activities is a critical variable which, if reduced, could improve the livelihoods of traders. Reduced time required to move through the border and conduct trade activities can, among other things, allow for multiple trips across borders in a day (increased earning potential), reduce potential for product spoilage due to rain (flour and other dry goods) and/or excessive heat (for fish, meats, and more sensitive produce), and permit women to spend more time in the home or on other income generating activities. Lower trade costs will also lead to an increase in the demand for traded goods and so communities in zones of (mostly agricultural) production will benefit from increased incomes for their goods. This may contribute to decreasing their vulnerability to outside shocks.
The design of the project reflects knowledge and best practices from trade and development projects implemented by the Bank and other donors. In particular, the project will support coordinated interventions to (i) build appropriate infrastructure that improves conditions at borders and increases capacities to trade together with (ii) measures to simplify border crossing procedures and improve the standards of treatment of traders and officials and finally (iii) programs to introduce performance based management of agencies operating at the border. A more detailed project description, including specifics of and motivations for each Component and Sub-component can be found in Annex 2.
The project will support specific infrastructure interventions at each border that reflect local conditions and requirements at that border post, as described below in Component 1. The policy and procedural reforms (Component 2) and the introduction and strengthening of performance-based management (Component 3) will be supported at all borders but tailored to meet specific conditions and needs. COMESA will enhance the regional dimension of the project by supporting regional and national information and knowledge sharing and capacity building. COMESA will provide for appropriate cross-border coordination including the measurement of small-scale cross-border trade, for training of trainers with regard to policy and procedural reforms, and for enhanced information desks at each border post.
The project Components are designed to work with one another as mutually reinforcing parts that combine hard and soft elements. Achieving the PDO requires a combination of hard infrastructure and policy/procedural reforms, and given the interactive and complementary nature of the interventions, the total benefits of combining these elements are expected to be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Project site selection. The targeted border crossings have been selected as the priorities for support under this project on the basis of:
(i) cross-border flows of goods and people;
(ii) strategic importance to the countries;
(iii) relevance to the Great Lakes Strategy and creating stability in the GLR; and
(iv) critical nodes for cross-border connectivity. The five border crossings are as follows:
- (i) Mahagi (DRC) – Goli (Uganda)
- (ii) Kasindi (DRC) – Mpondwe (Uganda)
- (iii) Bunagana (DRC) – Bunagana (Uganda)
- (iv) Goma/ Petite Barrière (DRC) – Rubavu (Rwanda)
- (v) Bukavu/Ruzizi 1 (DRC) –Rusizi I (Rwanda)
In addition to border posts, the project finances the development of markets at several economic nodes in the region. The centers where markets will be developed are Bukavu and Goma in DRC, Nyamasheke and Rusizi II in Rwanda and Mpondwe in Uganda. The exact sites in these centers will be determined by the project Steering Committees to be established for the project in consultation with provincial, district and other local authorities in each country. The project will also finance interventions at Kamembe Airport in Rwanda.