In an effort to fight smuggling, Nigeria partially closed its land borders with Benin in August of this year.
The decision has stopped the movement of all goods coming into Nigeria from Benin, Cameroon, and Niger, shutting down the flow of trade and creating concerns for Nigerian businesses.
The Nigerian government has stated that it is currently working to stop smugglers and other criminals who pose a threat to the country’s national economy and security. As a part of these efforts, the government explains that it will keep its borders partially closed for now. While border closures sometimes take place around the world, these recent border closures in Nigeria have raised concerns over regional integration in Africa. The Nigerian government took these steps just three months after signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement alongside 55 other African countries. These 55 countries have a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion and a combined population of 1.2 billion, making it the largest free trade area in the world. The idea behind it was to promote intra-African trade, which has remained particularly low when compared to intra-continental trade elsewhere. However, concerns over the smuggling of rice, weapons, and other items has led to some serious problems.
Nigerian business owners have complained of the complications that have resulted from these sudden border closures. Nigerian business owners have now lost hundreds of millions of dollars since the border closures were put in place in August. Trucks have been backed up on the Benin side of the Nigerian border, causing goods to become damaged. Government officials allege that the flow of contraband into the country has damaged the economy and opened the door to weapons being smuggled. For now, some of Nigeria’s busiest borders will remain shut down and businesses will continue to lose money.