Creating a common vision for Africa on timber processing and trade

1 March 2016

In-house training activities conducted in mills in Côte d’Ivoire in order to improve their efficiency as part of the acitivities of the ITTO project. More such capacity building is required for a strong African timber sector. Photo: T. Yanuariadi, ITTO

Greater regional coordination and a common vision are required for the development of a vibrant value-added timber sector in Africa and a strong intraregional timber trade, according to a workshop convened last week in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
The Regional Workshop to Exchange Experiences and Lessons Learned on Industrial and Trade Development of Tropical Timber and Timber Products in Africa was a joint effort of ITTO and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Water and Forests. It took place on 24–26 February 2016 as part of activities under ITTO Project PD 700/13 Rev.2 (I).
Adding value to timber and timber products, and increasing their intra-African trade, is a way of fostering socioeconomic development on the continent, but in order to do so a range of challenges must be met, some of which require a regional approach. Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Water and Forest, Mr Dacoury Tabley, emphasized the need for African countries to have a common vision for achieving sustainable forest management and developing an efficient forest industry. Workshop participants analyzed topics such as tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade; strategies for processing value-added timber products; the cross-border trade of forest products; the role and integration of the informal sector in the region; domestic markets; and capacity building in further timber processing and the collection of data on timber production and trade.
The workshop was attended by more than 80 participants from various countries in the region as well as from international organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders. It made the following key recommendations:
  • Further study the timber markets and timber flows among African countries is needed to improve the reliability of data and market information.
  • Forest and trade policies should be harmonized among the Economic Communities in the African region, including the banning of log exports.
  • Commercial timber plantations should be promoted as a way of enabling the continent to adapt to the changing environment of timber demand and natural forest.
  • Capacity building is needed to improve the timber product production processes and the quality of products.
  • Efforts should be made to strengthen the relationship between the forest sector and development banks.
It is expected that these recommendations and other workshop outcomes will assist in the implementation of the next stages of ITTO Project PD 700/13 Rev.2 (I), the aim of which is to facilitate forest-sector industrial development, technology transfer, innovative financial mechanisms and trade in Africa.