A lot has been made recently of intra-Africa trade. Only 12% of what is produced in Africa, is exported to the European Union (EU), China and the United States. The lowest of any continent. In the EU, over 65% of European trade occurs within its own borders, and 50% in North America.
Cost and trade routes also play a major part. It is estimated that costs are 50% higher than in East Asia (e.g. China), according to the World Bank.To access other West African markets, importers and exporters are often forced to go through Europe and Asia. For West African traders, the $60 million Sealink project, might bring some relieve.
The project was initiated by the Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM), and aims to improve sea connectivity and reduce transport cost in West and Central Africa. The routes will cover both passenger and freight, with the freight only service to commence from Libreville-Douala-Lagos- Burutu-Lome-Tema-Abidjan-Monrovia-Conakry-Dakar.
The Sealink Promotional Company Limited, will serve as its Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), while the Nigeria Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, the Federation of West and Central Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FEWACCI) and TRANSIMEX (a logistic services provider based in Cameroon), will handle the marketing and promotion.