New technology to deal an end to trade bottlenecks launched in East Africa

One of the reasons trade among the East African partner states is not flourishing has always been enlisted as Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) but there are great efforts the East African Community (EAC) is undertaking to remove the bottlenecks.

The regional market is fast expanding with the admission of Somalia as a partner State recently and also the coming on board of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which boasts of a population of about 100m people.

Now, in what has been described as a groundbreaking development for regional trade, the EAC Secretariat  recently unveiled a new mobile application (App) dedicated to the elimination of NTBs. The application has been named the EAC NTBs App.

According to the press statement issued by the EAC Secretariat,  the innovative App is set to revolutionise the region’s trading landscape by streamlining the reporting, monitoring, and resolution of impediments traders face as they conduct business across borders.

The development of the EAC NTBs APP was funded by the Netherlands through TradeMark Africa (TMA).

The EAC NTBs App, seamlessly blending SMS, email, and phone reporting methods, offers economic operators a one-stop solution for effectively reporting Non-Tariff Barriers to trade.

By streamlining the NTB reporting process, the App will aid traders and producers in tackling obstacles that impede their trade efficiency and competitiveness. Additionally, it ensures transparency and quick resolution of issues by engaging technical and policy-level mechanisms, such as National Focal Points, the National Monitoring Committees (NMCs) and the Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).

Speaking during the launch of the App, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs, Annette Ssemuwemba said the innovation marks a pivotal moment in creating a smooth trading environment across the EAC region.

“We are dedicated to eradicating the barriers that impede economic growth, and integration. This innovative solution serves as a powerful tool to empower traders, producers and economic operators offering them with a unified platform to promptly address and resolve NTBs,” said Ssemuwemba.

The jubilant Ssemuwemba also said that the App will play a significant role in fostering a more efficient and equitable trade environment. Noting that these barriers, often in the form of procedural complexities, or administrative hurdles, hinder the smooth flow of goods and services across borders.

“Empowering the private sector to report NTBs encountered and enabling them to track the progress of the NTB through the App is key to enhancing the business environment in the region, it is our hope that this will be the turning point in effectively identifying and swiftly resolving NTBs in the region,”she added.

According to Benedict Musengele, Director, Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation at TradeMark Africa, fostering a vibrant and conducive trade environment  propels economic growth and regional integration.

“This revolutionary app is a testament to our commitment to providing strategic solutions in digital trade,” he remarked.

NTBs pose a major problem for traders and producers, as they can reduce profits and limit market access. NTBs in the region include issues that can hinder trading effectively such as discriminatory requirements for special licenses and permits, excessive paperwork, complicated customs procedures, and bureaucratic delays at borders.

The Non-Tarriff Barriers

A recent EAC Regional Meeting Committee (RMC) report (2023) estimated the direct costs of NTB’s at $16.7m and total trade impact at $94.9m hence leading to the decrease in trade by an average of 58 percent.

The press statement also detailed that, however, since 2017, EAC has resolved 89.5 percent of the reported NTBs  as per the EAC Time Bound Programme report, 2023.

“In addition, there has been a relatively steady decrease in reported NTBs. In recent years, from 2021 to 2023, the number of reported NTBs complaints has remained stable, ranging between 8 and 11 cases annually with a significant improvement in the resolution of NTBs reported to an average of 88.3 days,” the statement read in part.

Between June 2022 and June 2023, a total of 16 NTBs complaints were reported within EAC. Out of these, 9 NTBs have been resolved while 7 complaints remained in progress. A significant number of NTB complaints were addressed (56.25 percent) and resolved within the given timeframe. However, a notable portion of complaints, specifically (43.75 percent) were still in progress by end of June 2023.

The EAC NTBs App allows the users to report the complaints in one of the three EAC official languages; English, Swahili and French and can be downloaded from the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android devices.

4 thoughts on “New technology to deal an end to trade bottlenecks launched in East Africa

  1. I was suggested this web site by my cousin Im not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble You are incredible Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *