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Malawi set to become the sixth member of the Central Corridor

On June 16, 2023, at the 12th inter-ministerial council meeting of the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTTFA), the Republic of Malawi's submitted a request to join the Central Corridor that was approved by the other corridor members. On the same occasion, a call was made to the Republic of Zambia to become a member of the Central Corridor as well. The meeting was also the occasion to discuss other major projects planned under the next year's budget, including the coordination of the tripartite railroad project linking Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the conduction of a series of feasibility studies for the construction of safe parking areas along the Rwandan section of the central corridor.

The accession of Malawi to the Central Corridor will increase the number of states from five to six. The Central Corridor is an integrated multimodal transport and logistics network that currently connects Burundi, Rwanda, DRC, Tanzania and Uganda to the sea through the port of Dar es Salaam. Such States signed in September 2006 the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agreement, which established the CCTTFA, a Corridor Management Authority (CMA) whose Secretariat is headquartered in Arusha, that is responsible of overseeing operations along the corridor in order to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness. This is mostly done by facilitating dialogue between corridor stakeholders and by harmonizing procedures and documentation used in transport and transit operations along the corridor, so to reduce transit time and cost. The chairmanship of the CCTTFA rotates among its member States. During the 12th inter-ministerial council meeting this was handed over from Uganda to Burundi.

The CCTTFA has also developed a Transport Observatory, following the experience of the Northern Corridor, which can be considered the birthplace of the concept of Corridor Transport Observatories in Africa. This model, through successive models and revisions, it helped shape the Central Corridor Transport Observatory and other projects of Transport Observatories in the continent. At the East Africa Community (EAC) and Corridors Joint Economic forum held in 2018 in Dar es Salaam, the Northern and Central Corridor CMAs decided to align their respective performance indicators (which are more than 40) by grouping them in six homogeneous categories.

The economic corridor approach followed by the Northern and Central Corridors looks at regional transport routes not only as a means of transporting goods and services or as a gateway for land-locked countries, but also as a tool for stimulating social and economic development in the areas surrounding the route. During the last decades, development corridors have mushroomed in the continent, in a phenomenon that some have called “corridorization” of Africa, i.e., the creation of corridors and networks at a regional scale to promote cross-border trade and integration. In developing economic corridors, an essential role is played by CMAs, authorities that have the task to coordinate the interests of States transited by such corridors ensuring that transport and logistics operations occur smoothly.

In 2017, recognising the key role of CMAs in Africa, a strategic plan for the establishment of an African Corridor Management Alliance was jointly developed on initiative of some of such CMAs, based on a proposal launched by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) during the IInd Africa Trade Forum II held on 24-26 September 2012 in Addis Ababa. However, such body, which is supposed to coordinate activities of all CMAs that are active in Africa, has not carried out so far any activity because it lacks the necessary financial resources, and it is awaiting the availability of a donor to support its operation.

Apart from the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, which connects capitals and main economic centers along the West African littoral, the overwelming majority of African corridors aim at linking landlocked states and inland sites of extraction, production and consumption with seaports and overseas markets. Economic corridors are deemed essential for promoting the continent’s industrialization and to guarantee a quick and cost-effective access to the sea, in a continent that hosts 16 landlocked States, i.e., half of the landlocked developing countries in the world.

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