Sawn timber ready for the export market. Even though many African countries have a wealth of forest resources, the region imports timber and timber products. Photo: ITTO
A new US$1.4 million ITTO project funded by the Government of Japan aims to promote socio-economic development and sustainable management of African forests through value-addition, expanded further processing and intra-African trade in tropical timber and timber products.
African countries import timber and timber products worth about US$4 billion annually, but less than 10% of these products originate within the African continent because of the low capacity of the region’s timber-processing sector and the lack of policies to promote intra-African trade.
Nevertheless, the rapid growth in the economies—and, consequently, timber demand—of many African countries presents an enormous opportunity for the African timber sector. A vibrant local timber-processing industry based on a sustainable timber supply could play an important role in the region’s sustainable development.
The need to promote the intra-African trade of timber and timber products was identified at an international conference organized by ITTO in Accra, Ghana, in 2009. Based on the ITTO Accra Action Plan for the Development of Intra-African Trade in Tropical Timber and Timber Products
adopted at the conference, ITTO proposed a project to develop the intra-African trade at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V)
. The project was subsequently incorporated into TICAD V’s Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017
The one-year project will improve the competitiveness of African timber and timber products in domestic, intra-regional and global markets by implementing the following activities:
- facilitation of trade arrangements for the export of timber and timber products in the region;
- elaboration of draft national strategies for further timber processing in pilot countries;
- elaboration of business development plans for pilot enterprises;
- establishment of a pilot market news service;
- implementation of technical training in timber processing in selected enterprises; and
- provision of technical assistance to selected national industrial/trade associations.
ITTO’s Executive Director welcomed the funding of this project and thanked the Government of Japan for its contribution. “This project will help ITTO’s African member countries sustain their forest resources and progress on the path toward sustainable development,”
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