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Four African states that have closed its borders in 2019

OVER the past eight months, different African countries have shut down borders connecting them to their neighbouring countries majorly for security, trafficking, health and commercial reasons.

On August 19, Nigeria abruptly shut down its Seme border- a major trading point with its neighbouring Benin Republic due to smuggling, security and other illegal activities according to Joseph Attah, spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). This action was to be a temporary situation lasting for 28 days.

However, two months after the temporary closure, the border still remains closed.

Borders are geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions sovereign states, serves a vital role as a portal for economic interaction and movement of goods between countries.

Although the government said it saved N1.4 billion as a result of the closure, analysis by The ICIR suggests that the border closure could inflate the prices of commodities in the market.

On November 3, the Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS) with the approval of the Federal government announced the extension of the timeline in restricting the movement of goods into the country through the Beninese border till January 31st, 2020.

The government justified this new development as a means of achieving its “strategic objectives”.

Since the border closure, analysts say the action could hinder the achievement of the Africa Free Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deal to which Nigeria is a signatory.

Several African countries have also closed their border against neighbouring states in 2019.

Barely a week after Kenya banned fishing activities in the coast near the Somalia border on 3rd June 2019, citing incidents of trafficking in contraband goods and drugs, it also announced the indefinite closure of its land border with Somalia quoting security reasons.

The Kenyan government alleged that the porous nature of the borders contributed to the rise of illegal trade, including fake goods, human and drug trafficking. It then imposed sanctions that prohibit residents living in the border villages from any cross-border trade.

“Apart from security concerns, we are also aware of human and narcotics trafficking. That must stop. It is now a crime and for those who do not know, the border remains closed until further notice,” Kioi Muchangi a police chief at the border town had said.

Kenya has been said to be a gate-away destination for warlords in Somalia and South Sudan profiteers of the civil unrests in the nations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo closed its land border with Rwanda in August due to health reasons by placing its citizens on high alert. Migrants were banned from crossing the borders for few hours to avoid the Ebola virus from being carried across its borders by infected Congolese citizens.

DRC has been red-flagged by different countries as a high-risk area since the outbreak of the virus in the country. According to the World Health Organisation, the virus has claimed the lives of 2144 persons as of 8th October.

Reportedly, Congolese officials also claimed that Rwanda’s response is not only based on health grounds but also for security reasons. Referencing anonymous source in the military, Africannews said: “some Rwandan army personnel that have defected to Congo, and Kigali don’t want a repeat of that incident.”

After almost a decade of civil war, which have claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people, Sudan’s transitional government in September also ordered the immediate closure of the nation’s borders with Libya and the Central African Republic, citing arms trafficking through its borders with the nations

Late last year, Reuters also reported Eritrea closure of the border crossing to Ethiopia.

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