Nigerian government has reopened four of its main land border crossings to trade after closing all crossing points for more than a year to combat rampant smuggling, a decision welcomed by traders and most local businesses.
The four borders were officially reopened on 16 December, located in the Southwest (the Seme border area with Benin); the Northwest (the Illela and Maigatari border areas with Niger) and in the South (the Mfum border area with Cameroon). Despite their reopening, however, Nigeria has kept some restrictions on the import of rice, poultry and a number of other products. The Nigerian government had also pledged to reopen all its remaining land borders on 31 December 2020.
The country closed its land borders last year to stop smuggling, particularly of rice and arms. However, the government has since reconsidered the directive after the nation’s inflation soared to a 30‑month high due to escalating goods prices. Allowing trade flows across land borders should keep the prices of goods and services from increasing further, and will reduce transport costs that have surged due to the restrictions. Moreover, with trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to take effect on 1 January 2021, Nigeria’s decision to reopen borders will help facilitate its implementation.
While the decision has been welcomed by local traders, local manufacturing is keen for the government to establish the frameworks required for the effective monitoring of borders to combat smuggling so that Nigerian products can better compete locally and internationally. Segun Ajayi‑Kadir, Director‑General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, said the government should create a joint border patrol with neighbouring countries, and also provide the necessary infrastructural facilities, such as reliable power supplies, good roads, and rail transportation networks.