17 September 2012

Kenya: Govt to Ease Trade Barriers

Nairobi — Trade between Kenya and other countries will be much faster and smooth following the planned streamlining of clearance processes.

This follows the planned rollout of the first phase of the Electronic Single Window System which will among other things fasten the clearance process through automation and little human intervention.

The rollout will kick off in July next year implemented in behalf of the government by the Kenya Trade Network Agency (KENTRADE).

The project is jointly funded by the government and the World Bank. The project is expected to significantly boost Kenya's external trade through the reduction of clearance delays mostly blamed on corruption cartels that man the country's borders.

It will also ensure that only the requisite fees in clearing goods is charged, thereby eliminating the cartels.

Kenya is currently losing in excess of $50 billion annually due to lost trade opportunities and corruption networks at border crossing points.

According to KENTRADE chairman, retired General Joseph Kibwana the project will be implemented in two phases over a period of six months.

"We are in the process of signing contracts for implementation of this project. Most of the ground has already been covered and what remains is the start of the real work on the ground. This is one project we attach a lot of value on. It will greatly boost trade between Kenya and the other countries," said Kibwana.

The completion of the project will herald a new dawn where all payments will be done electronically and at a central point of entry.

"The system will integrate all the electronic systems of stakeholders involved in the cargo clearance process including Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Port Health among others," said Kibwana.

The system will also save a great deal on the amount of paperwork involved in the clearance system and therefore make the process environment friendly.

Manifests involving travel by sea, road or air will be submitted to the Single Clearing Window which will in turn distribute them to the relevant government agencies for clearing and transmitted via internet.

"This project will drastically cut down on corruption which we have come to permanently associate with clearing agents and the system.

This is welcome reprieve and we hail the government for it," said Chris Mburugu, second hand clothes importer at Eastleigh market in Nairobi.

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