Archives: News

$600,000 injected in digitalizing licensing and inspection services

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) together with Trademark East Africa (TMEA) have put pen to paper on a $600,000 deal to facilitate the digitalization of major processes which will greatly improve ability to provide services to traders as well as monitor and enforce compliance to standards on selected imports. This was Wednesday afternoon at the RURA Headquarters in Kigali. The funding has been provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) through Trademark East Africa (TMEA). This funding to RURA is part of TMEA’s $57 million programme with the Government of Rwanda that was launched the previous year and it is within this that TMEA works with different Rwandan Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the Private sector as well as Civil Society Organisations to support hard and soft infrastructural interventions that reduce cost of doing business improve efficiency of key trade processes. It also aims at building capacity of local industries to produce and/or manufacture world class standard goods and build linkages to markets. Particularly, the fund will go towards supporting the adoption of Converged Licensing Management Systems that will enhance compliance to standards and enforce regulation in Rwanda’s trade environment by reducing transaction time and costs incurred by businesses through effective trade systems and procedures. The funding will also see to it that licensing gets digitalized, inspection of imported electronics and allied goods as well as protection of Intellectual Property rights (IPRs) and also greatly contribute towards the government’s ambition to have zero trips and zero paper in...

Irish companies ink Sh4.8 billion deals in Nairobi

A delegation of Irish investors opened their two-day trade mission in Nairobi with more than 40 companies inking investment deals worth Sh4.8 billion with their Kenyan counterparts Led by the Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, they said the deals in education, construction and financial technology, would boost their presence in Kenya. Mrs Humphreys said Kenya, being one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, presented great partnership opportunities. “Irish companies are known the world over as being innovative and trusted partners and we hope to bring this ‘Irish Advantage’ to Kenya, seeing more Irish companies invest, grow and partner here,” she said. On Thursday, Irish engineering firm Designer Group announced the opening of new offices in Nairobi and Kampala, which will handle upcoming projects of up to Sh4.4 billion within the region. “The deal will see the firm engage local supply chain in knowledge transfer and upskilling over the coming 12 months,” the officials said. The office, the firm said, will also assist a number of East African companies to engineer, procure and construct projects ranging from utility, infrastructure, industrial and sustainable energy. Online payment platform PiPiT announced an investment of Sh224.5 million in digital payment platform Cellulant as well as in Takawal, a Kenyan bank. The partnership will enable Takawal customers and Cellulant users to send money home and pay bills. Animal husbandry inputs supplier Nutribio has announced a Sh145.9 million annual manufacturing partnership with Norbrook East Africa in the next three years. Anam Technologies has...

Africa urged to avoid short-termism to realize AfCFTA

African countries have been urged to carefully analyze global lessons and think beyond short-termism so as to effectively tap into the benefits offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. The latest call was made by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), an African non-profit organization, as it stressed that "global lessons show that for AfCFTA to work, the continent's leaders must think beyond short-term election cycles." The ISS, in its latest publication on Thursday entitled "Can African leaders put free trade above nationalism?" also noted that the signing of the continental free trade pact "couldn't have come at a better time for the continent," emphasizing some of the latest developments in the global trade relations. According to the institute, the collective effort required to get 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) member countries to sign the AfCFTA, "particularly on a continent divided by disparate political agendas, short-termism and sporadic diplomatic standoffs, shouldn't be underestimated." "While the agreement is lauded as an African solution to African problems, it is worth remembering the pitfalls of those who've traveled a similar journey to avoid the same mistakes. This is even more important as trade agreements worldwide show signs of unraveling," the ISS said. Noting that trade relations in Europe were forged over decades following World War II to counteract the factors that caused the war, and collaborate for sustained economic growth and prosperity. Reaching agreement was an arduous process, the ISS stressed that "Africa seeks the same outcome in...

EABC holds East Africa high-level business summit in Arusha

The business summit scheduled to take place in Arusha from November 28th -29th, this year will bring together more than 500 business people with top chief executive officers (ceos), industry champions, investors from the region and beyond to engage in dialogue with the high-level policy decision makers, including the EAC Secretary General, the EAC Council of Ministers and the East African Legislative Assembly. Executive Director of Tanzania Private Sector (TPSF) Godfrey Simbeye said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the summit will also discuss measures on how they can boost intra trade level between the EAC countries up to 50 per cent from the current 12 per cent. “The summit will have various sessions including trade and investment climate, harmonization of the tax regime and enhancing public-private collaboration session which will both together explore various issues”, he said. According to Simbeye, the trade and investment climate session will explore main challenges inhibiting intra-EAC trade, key recommendations to significantly diversify EAC economies and to enhance EAC trade and key policy recommendations to boost investments into the EAC. The conference will also discuss on key issues to be addressed to promote the community as a single investment area and how EAC as a region can leverage reforms to address the cost of doing business and attract significant FDI. The harmonization of the tax regime will look at establishment of a regional tax and regulatory partnership for development initiative with the participation of the business community, governments and tax regulatory authorities will also...

EAC signs Memorandum of Understanding with Development Bank of Southern Africa

The East African Community (EAC) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) signed a strategic partnership agreement at the African Investment Forum in South Africa. The strategic partnership with EAC will enable the DBSA to support collaborative initiatives that will crowd-in resources for the development of infrastructure that promotes regional integration. The partners will also work together on project preparation and ultimately co-financing of projects and capacity building. Speaking at the signing ceremony Mohan Vivekanandan, DBSA’s Group Executive said, “These partnerships are vital for the development of infrastructure on the continent.  The signing of the two strategic partnerships today with EAC will enable us to work together and support African governments in expediting key infrastructure projects.” On his part, Mr Kenneth Bagamuhunda, EAC Director General Customs and Trade, speaking on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko, said that the scope of partnership with DBSA is quite big and comes at an opportune time when EAC is mobilizing funding to implement the Heads of States approved priority projects in infrastructure and health, as well as projects in other sectors. EAC is looking forward to leverage on this partnership to support the development, packaging, and financing of these projects. Source: Eagle online

MPs ratify entry into WTO

THE National Assembly yesterday approved the country's full entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), ending almost half a century of Tanzania’s efforts to join the global trading group. A protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement that establishes WTO was ratified here, bringing to 147 the total number of members out of 164 states that had signed the agreement. Tanzania and Burundi are the only East African nations that had not fully subscribed to the pact that was domestically signed in September 1994. The deal now allows Tanzania to benefit from ‘duty free, quota free" arrangement or a waiver to minor customs charges imposed by industrial countries to developing or least developed countries. Industry and Trade Minister Innocent Bashungwa explained that the new protocol will lower the costs of doing business globally and increase the volumes of international trade. Released details of the protocol immediately after the house endorsement indicated that the country ought to benefit by fostering the implementation of the Blueprint for regulatory reforms to improve the business environment, easy the level of doing business and attract investors. The document emphasises transparency and accountability and is likely to continue lowering corruption cases. "The protocol recommends freedom of transit goods. It now eliminates unfriendly barriers to transit goods within states," said Minister Bashungwa. The new arrangement is not new from the East African Single Customs Territory that requires payment of customs duties on destination model. This means Tanzania won't need to change its custom systems. The protocol approval considered the...

Trade needs vibrant logistics sector – players

Accelerating trade needs a vibrant logistics industry, according to Mr Meshack Alloys, a key player in the sector. Speaking during an event to announce the entry of Sendy in Uganda, Mr Meshack, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder said: “We want to be part of the immense impact that the logistics industry will create in the economy as well as formalising the informalities in the logistics sector to spur trade.” A properly developed logistics sector, he said, will not only accelerate trade but also increase efficiencies while adding value across the economic value chain. Uganda being a land locked country, Mr Meshack said, needs an efficient logistics industry that is capable of becoming a key determinant in the overall performance of the economy. The logistics industry in Uganda continues to grow and it is considered as one of the backbones that can spur economic growth with properly planned investment. According to sector estimates, at least 200,000 people are currently engaged in the logistics industry, whose capacity if well harnessed, can take in as many more people as possible. According to policy experts, the success of logistics sector as whole is dependent on routinely attracting new and dynamic industry players. And for that, the entry of Sendy operations, a regional logistic platform, into the local market, should be greeted with applause, according to members of logistic fraternity, thanks to its modern approach to doing business. With the use of technology, the Sendy’s logistics platform with already hundreds of trucks in...

Kenya committed to meeting maritime framework expectations

Speaking during a Regional meeting on “Capacity Building Coordination for Enhanced Maritime Security in the West Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden and Donor Forum”at a Mombasa hotel, defense Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said progress has been made to enhance Maritime domain awareness through multi agency collaboration. “I have observed directly the benefits that have accrued from the Maritime code of conduct appended in Djibouti by member states geared towards near eradication of piracy,” said Omamo. She added that there was need to leverage on cross border collaboration in support of integrated maritime security approach to ensure success in information sharing within the expanded scope of maritime crime. CS Omamo observed that Kenya is committed to meeting the maritime framework expectations and implementation of the Jeddah amendments that allows for organized dialogue and decision making to enable the region procress its maritime security agenda. She called on the donor agencies to input new capabilities to confront maritime challenges including illegal fishing and drug trafficking saying this will rob the African continent off a generation. The CS pleaded with donors to align their support to the regional needs to win the war on piracy which is a global problem. “Young desperate Africans brought piracy into the west of Indian ocean. We plead for convergence of interests in getting rid of unregulated fishing, drug trafficking and ability to deal with disasters,” said CS Omamo. She noted that 90 per cent of the world trade is transported through the sea and it was...

State relaxes rule on import goods checks at source

Kenya has gone slow on an import rule that requires mandatory inspection of goods at the source, handing a major reprieve to small- scale traders. Trade Secretary Peter Munya said the rule was no longer compulsory and that importers are free to ship goods to be inspected locally “to ease delays and reduce the high cost of doing business”. In January, Mr Munya ordered the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to stop inspecting cargo at entry ports and directed all importers to shift to the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVOC). All consignments on the PVOC arrive in Kenya after undergoing mandatory inspection at the market of origin by one of the five firms hired by Kebs and stationed in various parts of the world to perform quality checks. The firms include Cotecna Inspection SA, Bureau Veritas and Intertek International. Last year, Kebs indefinitely suspended China Certification and Inspections Group Company and Société Générale de Surveillance SA of Switzerland on allegation of approving import of sub-standard goods. “It has been a huge problem for small- scale traders for their goods to be cleared by foreign standards bodies. We have now reviewed the decision so that it is not compulsory to test the goods at the country of origin,” Mr Munya told Parliament yesterday. Appearing before the National Assembly’s Committee on Trade, Mr Munya said the Kebs-hired inspectors will henceforth work alongside the national quality inspectors of countries of origin. The State had contracted private agencies to check goods for...

Uganda to revamp old MGR after delayed SGR funding

Uganda will begin refurbishing its century-old Meter gauge rail (MGR) network to boost bulk cargo transportation, after failing to secure US $2.2bn in Chinese funding for a new Standard gauge railway (SGR). Meter gauge railway (MGR) revamp The Managing Director of the state-run Uganda Railway Corporation (URC), Charles Kateeba said that the rehabilitation will be carried out in phases over several years and cost at least US$308 million. French firm Sogea-Satom will undertake the works, which include installing rocks ballast on sections, re-laying of tracks, flattening sections and repairing about 500 freight wagons. The European Union (EU) has given a grant of US $27.5m and the railway corporation is talking to international development lenders for the rest. Former colonial power Britain built the meter-gauge, 1,266km (790 mile) network a century ago, mainly to move copper and other commodities. But the network fell into disrepair during years of political upheaval and economic instability. “Due to lack of maintenance over the years, most of the network is now in disuse,” Kateeba said. “We shall replace some areas which have been either removed by vandals or are badly worn,” he added. Standard gauge railway (SGR) Majority of transporters, especially those dealing with bulk cargo, have been eager for cheaper transport and were disappointed when China did not offer funding for the Ugandan section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) regional project. It was originally designed to connect Kenya’s Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa to a vast hinterland including Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi. Kenya has developed a...

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