World’s largest Aid for Trade programme transforms trade in East Africa through Improved infrastructure, trading environment and increased opportunities for businesses

Encouraging results achieved over the past year, including increased capacity and efficiency at East Africa key ports and border posts and the construction of key link roads,  has resulted in reduced cargo transit times on East Africa’s main transport corridors, and accelerated implementation of the EAC’s Single Customs Territory. Reduction in customs transaction time through our ICT programmes translates directly into reduced costs of doing business and benefits all traders and consumers in the region. The passing of the NTB Act by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) geared towards eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) in the region and the harmonisation of product standards, has expanded the EAC trade basket. Further advocacy work with the private sector to reduce trade costs in the region and a scale up and focus on our women in trade programme has boosted competitiveness of traders in the region says the TMEA Annual Report.

Dar es Salaam, 22 March 2016. Investments in trade infrastructure as well use of innovative ICT systems to enhance trade and expand business opportunities for traders, is positioning the EAC region as the destination of choice for doing business, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) said today as they launched their annual report covering the period 2014/2015.

TMEA further stated that its partnership with the East African Governments has resulted in great progress to deliver 7 key One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) across East Africa through an investment of more than US$100million which are expected to lower the time it takes to cross borders by 30% and stimulate trade across the region. The Taveta and Holili One Stop Border Post (OSBP) started operations in April 2015 and was officially launched in February 2016. Construction of the Kagitumba/Mirama Hills, Mutukula/Mutukula and Kobero/Kabanga OSBPs is complete. Full operationalization, through integrated border management, is expected by June 2016.

Its programmes at the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, which aim to increase the capacity and efficiency of East Africa’s two main maritime and trade gateways, continue to gain traction and are expected to significantly increase port access, improve efficiency and boost productivity.

This announcement was made during the presentation of the organization’s annual report for 2015, which was held at The Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event was officiated by Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African Affairs, Regional and International Cooperation, Hon. Dr. Augustine Mahiga.

In his remarks, Hon. Dr. Mahiga expressed his appreciation of TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) work in East Africa;

“We are very pleased with the partnership between the Government of Tanzania and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) on several projects including support to the East African affairs ministry to implement a comprehensive framework for regional integration, modernising 11 deep water berths and the rehabilitation and upgrading of port access roads at the Dar Port, which will significantly increase port access, especially for larger, modern vessels, while improving movement and efficiency. Results are evident with a reduction in Import times from 16 days (2013) to 10.2 days (2015). TMEA has also funded the construction of 4 OSBPs in Tanzania, 3 of which are finished and operational, which are expected to drastically reduce cross border times and spur trade in the region. Other projects supported are enhancing Tanzania’s private sector to be competitive and enhancing women’s participation in trade.

TMEA Board Chair Ali Mufuruki reported some of the key changes that have occurred in the governance structure at TMEA

Following on from last year, we have strengthened the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) governance structure with the appointment of a team of highly qualified professionals to the Board of Directors. These individuals bring a wealth of experience in various sectors including the private sector, government and non-profit. This wealth of experience is a major asset for TMEA. Our investors have also formed the new TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) council to support our work.”

Giving his remarks, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Chief Executive Officer Frank Matsaert reported that some of the key results included:  clearance time for cargo destined to Kigali has declined from 21 days to 4 days and from Dar es Salaam to Kigali from 25 days to 5 days. The cost of clearing a container has declined from close to $5,000 to $3,387.

He added, “The results presented in this report demonstrate our continued commitment to increasing intra-regional trade and building the region’s competitiveness. These results reaffirm our ambition to transform the lives of East Africans through supporting projects that will increase prosperity for all in the region.”

More importantly, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has made strides to support informal trade across borders, which is often the lifeline of most rural livelihoods. Since these traders do not use available formal systems and structures for their transactions, it is difficult for regional trade policy initiatives to have any significant impact on their lives. There is therefore a continued effort to ensure these economically disadvantaged populations have access to markets. One of the ways in which TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has done this is by facilitating the formation of cooperatives for informal women traders which have enabled them educate their members, access finance as a group, and engage formally with border officials.

Permanent Secretary for the Tanzania Ministry of Foreign Affairs, East African Affairs, Regional and International Cooperation, Amb. Dr. Aziz Mlima reiterated,

“I am glad that TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has focused on women informal traders who are responsible for up to 60% of all intra-East African trade.  Through support to organisations like the Tanzania Women’s Chamber of Commerce, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has intervened to provide informal women traders increased access to valuable information and to nurture women associations and lobby groups to advocate for a better trading environment for them”.

Confirmation was received of TMEA’s international accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply. TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is only the second organisation in Africa to receive this prestigious accolade, and the first in East Africa.  This highlights the organisation’s commitment to high levels of procurement transparency, efficiency and fairness, and our belief in continual self-improvement.

The Annual Report indicates the challenges that the organization faced in the last year especially from external factors such as increased threat of violence and terrorism and conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi, has slowed down programme implementation. However they hope to see a 10 % increase in the total value of exports from the EAC region and a 25% increase in intra-regional trade exports when compared to total exports in the region by 2016.

 

TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.