Working Paper
Geography and Development in Africa

Overview and Implications for Regional Cooperation

Geography causes African countries to experience a ‘proximity gap’. To overcome this gap a ‘big push’ may be needed in infrastructure. The cross-border nature of such infrastructure requires regional cooperation in at least four issues: transport infrastructure, trade facilitation, decentralization and local economic development, and migration. Because incentives for regional cooperation in these aspects may not be symmetrical, commitments made may not be credible. Therefore, transport infrastructure at least should be bound in WTO rules on trade facilitation to provide third party enforcement. Incentives for cooperation could also be improved with transport corridor design and collective peer pressure by landlocked countries. Regional cooperation could be supported by the international community with aid, the assurance of full implementation and adherence to international law on the rights of landlocked countries to access to the sea, the extension of appropriate trade preferences to African regions and ensuring consistency of international agreements and trade preferences with current regional integration initiatives.