Ports are critical for trade facilitation. One of the specificities of ports in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) on top of their small size is their long dwell time: on average cargo spend 3†weeks there compared to less than a week in high income regions (see Table 2.1). Long cargo dwell times in ports are a critical issue in SSA countries since they result in slow import processes and are bound to constrain trade. Findings of recent research (Raballand et al., 2012a1) point to the crucial importance of private sector behaviours, such as the common practice of some shippers of using ports as a storage area, to explain long cargo dwell time. Rather than being advocates of reforms, numerous private operators are actually among those responsible for the failures of many initiatives to facilitate trade and reduce corruption. Corruption is often rampant in ports in SSA (customs brokers and/or importers usually pay bribes to customs, controlling agencies and port authorities to reduce tariff duties and handling fees) and results in a low equilibrium of collusion between public agents and cartelized private operators (at the expense of final consumers since brokers charge importers for the bribes paid to public agents and operators, and importers increase their selling prices due to high prices of brokering).
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