Regional integration is key to African trade success

Earlier this week I stopped into the International Trade Exhibition to check in on some of the vendors and exhibitors. I was struck by one in particular — Fallsway Timbers Ltd — because of its beautiful displays of finished hardwood furniture, doors and flooring. I have to admit — I hadn’t thought much about African-made finished furniture and goods. I’ve always seen the hand-crafted kind, but Fallsway’s products were as modern-made and produced as any in the US or Europe.

West African Trade Hub

A worker makes furniture at the West African Trade Hub.
I chatted up Patience, who was manning the booth. She gave me a bit of background on the company, which is based in Livingstone here in Zambia. Fallsway has been profiting from a boom in tourism and construction activities during the past few years, as many of their products end up in new hotels going up here in Zambia and elsewhere. Fallsway is also able to export to Botswana and South Africa and is hoping to expand to the States by making contacts here at the AGOA Forum.

The one idea I took away was how important it will be for African countries to work towards regional integration in areas such customs and border crossings, which is a big part of this year’s AGOA Forum. I took a little video interview of Patience as she explains the challenges Fallsway’s drivers and transporters have in crossing the borders to Botswana and South Africa. It’s another reminder of why AGOA is encouraging African countries to integrate and trade more between themselves to build better economies and develop stronger markets.