Food market cross-border trade in Africa

The benefits of business being allowed to operate across borders for farmers, consumers, economies, donors


This rapid literature review assesses the evidence on the benefits of business being allowed to operate across borders within Africa for farmers; consumers; national economies, and donors. The evidence for promoting effective trade and access of food across borders within Africa is optimistic. Data for this report was taken from available for supra-national and regional economic communities (RECs). However, current (2017) price bulletins and cross-border trade reports on food staples (traded from country to country, or at selected border points) were available for East and South African regions only. Consultancy reports and/or case studies were available for a number of countries in West, East and South African regions, though peer-reviewed articles relating to recent national level analysis or holistic statistical information were limited. Although information on donor-led studies was available, details on cross-border trade and agricultural policies were lacking. Strength of the evidence varied across countries and regions, especially when comparing ICBT with formal trading records. However, most data did address the beneficial contribution of women to economic growth in cross-border trading.

K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.


Tull, K. (2017). Food market cross-border trade in Africa. K4D Helpdesk Report 170. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies

Food market cross-border trade in Africa

Published 28 July 2017