24 July 2012

East Africa: Plans to Boost EAC Trade in Pipeline

PLANS are underway to reduce time for transportation of a container from Dar es Salaam or Mombasa to Burundi or Rwanda by 15 per cent. This is according to an annual report released by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA).

The report shows that East African governments, the East African Community (EAC) regional institutions, private business and civil society were working on the matter. Another plan is to slash by one third the amount of time it takes for a truck to cross selected borders, a key additional cost for the freight industry and consumers alike.

"Examples include starting work on six 'one-stop border posts', setting up a system to remove customs bonds with a potential to save the region about one billion US dollars and initiating six 'single window' sites where cross border documents can be processed at a single location," the TMEA CEO, Mr Frank Matsaert, said.

"Our biggest headline result was undoubtedly in Burundi where we helped to establish a single revenue authority (Office Burundais des Recettes - OBR) that has resulted in a 37 per cent increase in Burundi's national revenues," Mr Matsaert added.

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza said his government hoped OBR would double state's EAC revenue in its first year of operation. "The additional State revenues provide resources for better education, health and security services and for improving our hard infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, and our soft infrastructure such as laws and internet access", he added.

EAC states are steadily laying the foundations for increased prosperity by dismantling bureaucratic and procedural barriers to economic integration, he said. The donor-funded organisation, set up to help EAC states, institutions and the private sector to unlock the wealth potential that integration holds, said in its first annual report that much had been achieved towards unravelling bureaucratic and procedural snags to quicker, smoother and cheaper trade between the countries of East Africa.

Other TMEA projects include Mapping the border crossing process from start to finish, conducting infrastructure audits and needs assessments and calculating how border crossings can be cheaper and quicker using information technology. Another one is border posts being established in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.

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