ICTD Working Paper 67

Africa, and especially the Sahel, has experienced frequent recurrences of armed conflicts and terrorist acts in the last decade. This paper is based on six field studies, in Chad, Mali, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and the Central African Republic. It reflects on the governance of trade in border regions during a (post-)conflict situation, exploring the practices and strategies of customs officials operating at insecure borders. It demonstrates the unintended consequences of security policies – especially on trade, and consequently on revenue generation. It further shows how customs administrations de facto leave it to customs officers on the ground and importers to agree on an acceptable tax burden to prevent smuggling and a new upsurge in violence to a certain extent. Idiosyncratic and pragmatic approaches by customs seem to play a major role at the local level.


Thomas Cantens

Gaël Raballand

Gaël Raballand is a lead public sector specialist in the World Bank. He holds a PhD in economics and a degree in political science and international public law. He co-authored four World Bank books on transport and trade in Africa and has also been involved in several customs reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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