Challenges remain for landlocked countries

While African landlocked countries (LLDCs) have recorded progress in areas such as education, healthcare and per capita income, they still experience unique vulnerabilities that require targeted action.


This article is sponsored by UN ECA

Introducing the report on the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014–2024, director of ECA’s Regional Integration and Trade Division, Stephen Karingi, highlighted some key areas of concern. 

He said progress in the above areas is positive, “but that has not been enough through the investments under the Vienna programme for them to graduate from being least developed countries,” noted Karingi. 

The ECA director said key indicators, such as the Human Assets Index, a composite index of health and education, and low export volumes, highlighted the need for improvement. 

“There is still much that needs to be done and they are still vulnerable in terms of the economics,” he said. 

The lack of progress can largely be attributed to the crises of the last decade, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of terrorism in certain landlocked countries. 

Yet, despite these challenges, African LLDCs also showed resilience and they appeared to perform better in the wake of the pandemic than their non-African counterparts and the continent as a whole. 

Still, transport linkages and energy access remain crucial missing pieces of the puzzle. For example, LLDCs have a lower density of paved roads on average, and some lack substantive rail networks.

Hanan Morsy, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary, underscored the need for stronger energy integration, calling on landlocked countries to “invest more on energy pools and energy integration so that we can advance more in these areas”. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area and the implementation of the open skies policy could also help to address LLDCs’ unique challenges. 

But delegates pointed out that there needs to be adherence to agreements on cross-border transit procedures to ensure they benefit landlocked countries.