Ports Upgrade to Regional Trade
The decision by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to upgrade five ports on the Indian Ocean coast and Kigoma Port on Lake Tanganyika is a step in the right direction. The TPA will renovate and expand Dar es Salaam Port, Mtwara, Tanga, Bagamoyo and Mwambani on the Indian Ocean coast and Kigoma Port on Lake Victoria, inland waterways as well as inland customs depots.
This comes at a time when regional trade is increasing and there is no room for inefficiency. Many countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region depend on Dar es Salaam and Mombasa Ports for their imports and exports, but traders from this region cite bureaucracy, unnecessary delays and theft of their goods as impediments to faster movement of goods across the region.
Uganda on Charm Offensive Ahead of Customs Union
Just three months to the launch of the East African Customs Union, Uganda’s private sector has started a major marketing effort for its products. The campaign, branded “Buy Ugandan,” is headed by the Private Sector Foundation, Uganda. This is a local lobby that unites various special interest groups in the private sector – such as insurers, bankers, exporters and manufacturers.
The marketing drive is a follow-up on a 2007 one. It hopes to promote Ugandan products in the advent of a free market environment under the East African Customs Union. Currently, the country has a massive import bill that is mainly reflected in consumer goods fuel, textile, chemicals and other products. Uganda’s total import bill is estimated at US$1bn a year and includes expenses on rice, beauty care and footwear.
Rwanda Receives COMESA Compensation
Rwanda has received US$14.2bn to counterbalance projected revenue losses incurred after the country joined the COMESA and the EAC Customs Union. The adoption of the Common External Tariff (CET) was the condition required for Rwanda to qualify for the first instalment of the compensation that is financially supported by the EU through COMESA. Rwanda applied for the funds amounting to the projected loss of US$21bn it anticipated, after joining the customs union.
Regional Trade Costs Still High
“Regional transaction costs are “unnecessarily too high hence undermining international competitiveness of the area”, the EAC Secretary General Juma Mwapachu said. He said infrastructure deficits constitute a serious impediment to the consolidation and deepening of EAC integration. During September 30-October 01, 2010, the Northern Transit Transport Corridor Authority based in Kenya will partner with EAC, Kenya Ports Authority and the East African Business Council in a meeting to examine ways and means of improving trade facilitation along the Northern Corridor.
Mwapachu said a similar meeting will be held in Tanzania 2011 to examine the central corridor’s challenges. The aim is to determine the structural changes to be effected with particular focus on how to replicate the COMESA-EAC-SADC North-South Corridor aid for trade pilot project in the northern and central corridors in the EAC region.