Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime Affairs


Ph.D (Maritime Affairs)


Malmö, Sweden



First Advisor

Henning Jessen

Second Advisor

George Theocharidis


This thesis examines how multimodal transport can play a role in achieving the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The thesis argues that multimodal transport is cheaper compared with unimodal transportation. While there are a number of issues affecting the operationalisation of multimodal transport in Africa, this study considers, at its core, the legal regimes and other fragmented institutional and governance frameworks of multimodal transport in West Africa. The fragmentation of the legal framework governing multimodal transport leads to uncertainty and unforeseeability of the liability of parties involved in multimodal transport, consequently leading to increased legal costs. There is an undisputed view that for effective regional integration, which Africa is seeking to achieve through the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, there is a need to eliminate all trade barriers. Trade barriers (tariff or non-tariff barriers) should be removed to improve competitiveness and reduce trade friction costs. In other words, to achieve the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area, it is essential that all unnecessary costs associated with trade are eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum. The process of doing this is called trade facilitation. This thesis looks at the impact of trade facilitation on regional integration and trade. This thesis’ original contribution to knowledge is that Africa’s regional integration process needs cost-effective transportation in order to achieve smooth market access, and multimodal transportation can provide the most cost-effective solution. However, the legal uncertainty and complexities that could potentially ensue from the use of multimodal transport make it unattractive to prospective users. Accordingly, actions must be taken to reduce legal ambiguity and create a system in which liability is foreseeable and predictable. This study reveals that the current legal framework is incomplete, unsatisfactory and, ultimately, leads to uncertainty. The thesis further contends that neither the option of freedom of contract nor improving the current system of various Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS )member-states’ view of multimodal transport, can significantly improve the current fragmented system or deliver the needed certainty. Accordingly, the thesis proposes that a modified uniform system would help achieve the legal certainty needed for multimodal transport. The thesis finally submits that the ECOWAS should establish a legally binding, regional governance regime on multimodal transport and a majority of its member-states should ratify the instrument.