Working Paper
Towards the integration of markets

Competition in road transportation of perishable goods between Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Rapid urbanization and rising income levels in Southern Africa have increased the consumption of perishable and processed food products. This paper relies primarily on firm-level interview data to assess competition and bottlenecks in transporting time-sensitive perishable products across borders between Harare, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, and Lusaka.

High transport prices in 2015—almost double the benchmark rates applied and rates for transportation of commodities—are partly explained by concentration in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and lack of return loads to Johannesburg. Rates could be significantly reduced through a platform for co-ordinating access to return loads, reducing delays at borders, and effectively implementing pre-clearance procedures.