Timber Trade sees a revival in East Africa

Posted on :Wednesday , 30th September 2020

Timber trade accounts for hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of hardwood natural plantations annually; Mozambique, the DRC and, to a lesser degree, Tanzania, are the primary source countries for natural forest timber, while Kenya and Uganda are the largest importers.


Overall, regional trade in natural forest timber in the area is growing, hitting a value of hundreds of millions of US dollars in the last 10 years. In the forests of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a northern timber trading route starts and supplies timber to Uganda by rail, primarily through the Mpondwe Border Post, Kenya by rail through the Busia Border Post, foreign markets through the Port of Mombasa, and Tanzania by road through the Mutukula border crossing at the Ugandan border and the Port of Kigoma. With timber from the Northern Province in Zambia entering by road via Tunduma and timber from the Mozambican Provinces of Niassa and Cabo Delgado entering across the Ruvuma River via Mtambaswala, a southern trading route focuses on the Port of Dar es Salaam. Anecdotal evidence and knowledge that natural forest timber from the DRC, Zambia and Mozambique is exported to South Africa in large quantities are also reported in studies on timber trade flows in eastern and southern Africa.


Sawn timber has grown from almost none to about half the amount of overall imports of Round Wood Equal (RWE). Inside the region, Zambia exports mainly through Namibia to the DRC and South Africa. DRC exports most of its production to Eastern African countries, especially to a lesser extent to Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Kenya exports large quantities of its processed wood products from softwood plantations to Tanzania and Uganda is a major importer of natural forest timber from Tanzania. Any of these imports are part of the transit trade based at the Port of Dar es Salaam, some of which are exported from informal ports on the Indian Ocean coast of Tanzania to Zanzibar.


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