Online imports clearance portal test run begins

A single portal for lodging trade documents goes live at Wednesday midnight but officials said it will take up to April next year for benefits to spread to most segments of the economy.

Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade), the State agency charged with implementing the single electronic window system (SWS), said the it would run on pilot basis for the next 30 days with just a few traders participating.

During piloting, the system will be used to test and track electronic access to Import Declaration Forms (IDF) and e-payment for permits. This will be done to banks through online systems of Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

“This system marks the end of paper-based trade in Kenya,” said Kentrade CEO Alex Kabuga at a briefing in Nairobi Wednesday. “It is custom-made based on reforms proposed on trade procedures by the private sector but modified according to global best practice.”

Together with the recent trilateral pact between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda to create a single customs territory and KRA’s plan to overhaul its Simba system, the regulatory landscape for cross-border trade is expected to change radically.

Wednesday, Kentrade officials said that December would be the actual date for switch-over to the electronic single window system.

By this time, 10 out of 24 government agencies involved in cargo clearance and a selected number shipping lines, clearing and forwarding agents, traders, banks and insurance firms will be able to import and export through the single window.