Uganda has expressed concerns over lack of implementation of some of the trade policies along the Northern and Central Corridors, saying the situation is affecting free flow of cargo and persons across Nairobi and Kampala borders.
Uganda said there is need “to create synergy” between Uganda and Kenyan in implementing East African trade policies to promote efficient border management and increase trade between the two countries.
Uganda’s Minister for Trade Industry and Co-operatives, Amelia Kyambadde, said many laws have been enacted but have remained on paper without implementation, affecting business growth between EAC member states. “We have had a number of changes along the Northern Corridor which have significantly improved trade between Kenya and Uganda but we have to improve in our border management which directly affects clearance of cargo and persons,” said Ms Kyambadde at the ongoing 3rd Trade & Business Facilitation Symposium for the Northern Corridor in Mombasa.
The minister said corruption is one of the major hurdles along the corridor, adding that the menace should be urgently addressed as it is significantly increasing the cost of doing business.
“Corruption is an issue along the corridor and we are working to stop this by use of technology to track cargo and remove roadblocks which have been turned into a cash cow by authorities,” said Ms Kyambadde, adding that there is need to improve trade facilitation along Northern Corridor and to increase man power to ensure seamless movements of cargo.
“We have adopted one border posts but it is a pity that the two governments have not employed adequate staff to man the posts hence slowing down operations at the border and increasing cost of doing business,” she said.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda Kiema Kilonzo said the government has offered a number of opportunities to Uganda to boost bilateral trade considering that Kampala is the largest user of the Port of Mombasa.
“More than 82 percent of Uganda imports pass through Port of Mombasa that is why we have prioritised them in our agenda and they will be running their own Inland Container Depot in Naivasha by the end of this year. This will encourage them to make more use of the port which is expanding with the advent of the Standard Gauge Railway,” said Mr Kilonzo at the symposium.
Uganda Consul in Mombasa Katureebe Tayebwa applauded his country’s close working relationship with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and called on agencies involved in trade facilitation to continue engagements to foster efficiency in clearance of cargo through the Port of Mombasa.
“The symposium has been in Guangzhou in China, third largest Chinese city behind Shanghai and Beijing for the past two years and this is the first time it is being held in Africa region where more than 300 participants ...we must appreciate Kenyan government’s support to improve trade between the two countries," said Mr Tayebwa.
Mr Tayebwa said Uganda government is optimistic to secure funds in the next few months to construct Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to connect with the Kenyan side terming SGR as a blessing to the East African region.
“We are optimistic very soon we shall secure funds to connect Port of Mombasa and Uganda with SGR as talks are underway to secure funds,” he said.
“The project has just taken a break in Naivasha but it will resume soon as two governments (Kenya and Uganda) are in talk to secure more funds to complete the project.”