Lusaka, Monday, February 25, 2019: Preparations have started to establish the Port Sudan Corridor (PSC). This will serve as a gateway to international markets, especially Asia, for countries in the eastern and southern African region.
Specifically, the corridor will directly serve COMESA States; Ethiopia and Sudan, and later Uganda. Afterwards it will extend beyond the regional bloc to Central Africa Republic, Chad and South Sudan.
The decision to establish the Port Sudan Corridor was made by the COMESA Ministers of Infrastructure during their 10th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in October 2017.
“The corridor concept has improved the management of international traffic as it provides scope for harmonization of operating procedures, policy, skills, infrastructure and equipment hence directly supporting regional integration,” Senior Transport Economist at the COMESA Secretariat Mr. Bernard Dzawanda said during the meeting of stakeholders from all Corridor States in Khartoum, 21t – 24 January 2019.
The meeting was part of the preliminary activities towards the establishment of the corridor. Its objective was to review and validate the project’s strategic plan and financial strategy and the Corridor Work Programme and Sustainability Strategy. A draft Corridor Agreement developed by COMESA was presented to the delegates.
The formation of a corridor management institution known as the Port Sudan Corridor Authority (PSCA) was identified as priority activity. The need to establish the corridor institution is to address operational efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business.
Among the activities proposed for the Authority include: facilitating the removal of physical and non-physical barriers to goods and people transiting through the corridor; monitoring corridor performance; advocating for and coordinating infrastructure development and maintenance and promoting business development along the corridor.
Others are setting up stakeholders’ network, policy development, regulation and harmonisation, streamlining and harmonisation of documentation and procedures as well as promoting the use of COMESA transit transport facilitation instruments.
The meeting also agreed to support capacity building initiatives in key institutions engaged in transport operations and provide information services to stakeholders and other interested parties.
The meeting also considered the draft financial strategy and identified three sources of funding the PSCA namely; contribution by Corridor Member States, User levy and Development Partners contribution.
A number of corridor authorities have been established in the COMESA region and the Eastern and Southern African region in general all of which have produced positive results on infrastructure development and smooth flow of trade.
Mr. Dzawanda says the corridors have enabled the application of transit trade facilitation instruments such as the harmonized axle load limits and vehicle dimensions, harmonized road user charges, COMESA Carrier Licence, Regional Customs Transit Guarantee and the COMESA Yellow Card.
“All these instruments are included in the COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS) providing an integrated Regional Single Window,” Mr. Bernard Dzawanda said. This has proved to be very valuable in improving efficiency through coordination and streamlining of procedures.”
The stakeholders meeting was organized by COMESA with support from the European Union under the eleventh European Union Development Fund (EDF 11) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).