Food Security in Africa
Show Less

Food Security in Africa

Market and Trade Policy for Staple Foods in Eastern and Southern Africa

Edited by Alexander Sarris and Jamie Morrison

Drawing on insights from theoretical applications, empirically based approaches and case study experience, this book contributes to the improved design and use of trade and related policy interventions in staple food markets.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 7: Unofficial Cross-border Trade in Eastern Africa

Peter D. Little


Peter D. Little INTRODUCTION 1 Informal or unofficial cross-border trade (CBT)1 is an increasingly important phenomenon in Eastern Africa, but one that remains surrounded by controversy and ignorance. For some observers it represents a normal market response to cumbersome, time-consuming export regulations and regional price distortions, which should be encouraged as a means to increase intra-regional trade (and ‘regionalization’), meet local demand that is not being met by national production and markets, and ensure regional food security. These same supporters often argue that many transborder markets pre-date colonial and post-colonial state boundaries and, thus, reflect long-standing indigenous patterns that make more sense than formal trade channels (see Meagher, 1997). For others, CBT reflects a potential loss of foreign exchange, an illegal activity, and a source of unfair competition for official traders and food producers. The contra position argues for increased regulations and taxes, policing, and/ or forcing CBT into formal market channels. As Meagher’s work shows (1997, 2003), it was assumed by some policy makers that structural adjustment policies of the 1980s and 1990s would have channelled most informal trade into formal market channels, which has not been the case in large parts of Africa (see also Peberdy, 2000; Little, 2001).2 In fact, for many parts of Africa the overall effect of structural adjustment has resulted in ‘a significant expansion of transborder trade’ (Meagher, 2003: 57)’, especially by large numbers of unemployed youth, women, and others, including ex-formal sector employees ‘downsized’ through budget reforms (see Boko, et...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.