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Johannesburg  - Simplifying the requirements for a business license, offering incentives to tax payers, and tackling official corruption were among the recommendations by the United Nations agricultural organisation to cut informal trade among African countries and boost economic prosperity, particularly for women. 

"Informal cross-border trading, in which transactions are not compliant with local tax and other rules, accounts for a large share between 20 and a hefty 70 percent – of employment in sub-Saharan Africa," according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). 

"Putting it on a regular footing can lift sustainable prosperity and markedly improve prospects for women," the FAO said in a new publication, Formalisation of informal trade in Africa. Informal cross-border trade, often agricultural, is the result of poor access to government offices, a lack of administrative skills and improper understanding of import and custom-tax laws. 

One of the main groups that would be affected by formalisation is women, who constitute the largest share of informal traders about 70 percent in Southern Africa and more than half in other parts, according to the report. "Facilitating formalisation is the only viable policy option for Africa's transformation agenda to realise its objectives," said Suffyan Koroma, FAO senior economist and lead author of the report. 

The publication was presented on Thursday at a conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The event is part of ongoing FAO-supported work in the country, along with UN Women and other development partners, aimed at enabling women to benefit more from agricultural food chains, a project geared to allowing women small traders access to useful information as well as start-up capital.