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Benin republic cross border biz (slideshare)
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Benin republic cross border biz (slideshare)

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Celebration of the Jubilee year of political independence is in the air for many African countries. Benin has celebrated hers and Nigeria’s is in the horizon as it celebrates her independence from …

Celebration of the Jubilee year of political independence is in the air for many African countries. Benin has celebrated hers and Nigeria’s is in the horizon as it celebrates her independence from Britain this October.

The Jubilee Year of political independence provides a basis for stock taking on how well the peoples of Benin and Nigeria have fared and the way forward for the two countries with somewhat common heritage but for the partition.

This involves the envisioning of programs that would enhance connectivity, improving competitiveness and the promotion of a greater sense of community.

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  • 1. CROSS BORDER BUSINESS FOR<br />ECONOMIC GROWTH AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION<br />Case of Nigeria and Benin Republic<br />Celebration of the Jubilee year of political independence is in the air for many African countries. Benin has celebrated hers and Nigeria’s is in the horizon as it celebrates her independence from Britain this October. <br />Let us remind ourselves that these countries were created by the colonial powers without due consideration of the implications of the demarcation exercise. In the case of Benin and Nigeria, as in many others too, culturally related people were separated by artificial boundaries. <br />The motives behind the Balkanization was captured in R. Muir’s publication on Political Geography, 1983, that ‘in establishing political territories, each colonial power attempted to maximize its sphere of control that would serve as barriers to the continuous expansion of rival colonial territories and secondly, to control river basins which provided highways for trade, to established coastal footholds and for further inland penetration…’<br />The Jubilee Year of political independence provides a basis for stock taking on how well the peoples of Benin and Nigeria have fared and the way forward for the two countries with somewhat common heritage but for the partition. This involves the envisioning of programs that would enhance connectivity, improving competitiveness and the promotion of a greater sense of community.<br />One of such strategies is the economic corridor approach which entails concerted efforts in the areas of transport, trade facilitation and investment. Lagos State Government has started well with its proposed ten lane road and rail connection to the Seme Border and the proposed re-development plan of Badagry. These are flagship projects with overall objectives of promoting economic growth and encouraging cross border trade and investment. <br />The benefits of cross border business are immense and include the following: networking, exchange of best practice and know how, joint research and innovation, development of synergies, efficient use of resources and the spin off effects of overcoming borders. Taking a cue from other regions of the world, cross border business has several economic value added. Few examples suffice here.<br />new cross-border business relationships between producers and suppliers (i.e. network of the Chamber of Commerce in Northern Greece/Bulgaria and in the Czech Republic/Germany (Saxony); at German/Danish border; French/German border along the Upper Rhine; Hungarian/Austrian border).<br />new co-operation and sales opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises; these companies typically operate within a radius of some 200 km from their location, which usually covers the geographic area of the neighbouring border region (i.e. Northern Greece with an entrepreneurship centre for Balkan and the Black Sea states; Finish/Norwegian/Swedish border with the Arctic Investors Network; Spanish/Portuguese border with the forum of entrepreneurs).<br />bilingual cross-border professional training (i.e. German/Polish, Dutch/German and French/German border areas).<br />establishment and improvement of cross-border public transport links (buses, railways) for the benefit of citizens, commuters and tourists (i.e. Austrian/German border close to Salzburg and in the triangle Germany (Bavaria/Saxony) /Czech Republic with a cross-border public transport system including throughout tariffs; Swedish/Danish border with a common public transport across the Öresund Bridge<br />cross-border tourism concepts and projects (i.e. Lake of Constance; Germany (Bavaria) /Austria, Poland/Lithuania with a joint Touristic Service Centre; Galicia/Norte with a touristic map for Spanish/Portuguese area; Tatra (Poland/Slovakia) in the Carpathian Mountains); joint touristic marketing and promotion activities in Ireland/Northern Ireland and the Pyrenees (France/Spain); joint touristic strategies for Kent (GB) and North-Pasde-Callais.<br />greater catchment area for business activities and services on both sides of the border; in many cases, businesses and services, such as research facilities and universities, waste disposal, recycling and infrastructure facilities, would not yield a profit (critical mass) or not even be available at all in border regions if there was no cross-border cooperation (i.e. joint Research Institute for New Rehabilitation Techniques or Centre for Microscope and Spectroscope Analyses in EUREGIO on the German/Dutch border; cooperation network of universities in Öresund, in the Danish/German border area.<br />There is no doubt that the Federal Government of Nigeria have not lost sight of the inherent opportunities and gains of cross border business given its concerted efforts at helping to streamline business cooperation in the sub-region. Further, there have been accelerated efforts at sanitizing the activities of the law enforcement agencies at the borders including Seme and Idiroko. <br />On the other hand, private sector participation remains limited because of lack of information on available opportunities, inadequate investment in cross-border trade logistics facilities and services, poor access to financing, particularly for cross-border investments; and the absence of a forum for dialogue between the public and private sector stakeholders. <br />References: Contribution of Cross-Border Co-operation to implementing the Lisbon Strategy, Final Declaration, 2005. ADB Technical Assistance Report on developing cross-border economic zones between the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam, 2009.<br />

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