Uganda is hoping to increase the volume of trade with South Sudan following the completion and handover of the first phase of Nimule one stop border post (OSBP) to the Juba government.
The Nimule OSPB will be managed by South Sudan customs officials and if operated as it should, there is no reason as to why regional trade shouldn’t flourish.
While Elegu, the Ugandan side of the border has for a while now been operating as OSBP, Nimule, the South Sudan custom point has been going about its business in the most frustrating manner, rendering cross border trade often times a nightmare.
Speaking in an interview after witnessing the handover of the OSBP infrastructure in Numule, South Sudan recently, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Anne Kyambadde described the $5million (about Shs 18.3billion) facility funded by UK government through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) as “a very important development” for not just South Sudan and Uganda but the entire EAC regional trade.
She said: “With opening of the Nimule OSBP, I expect exponential rise in trade. We expect to grow our trade with South Sudan by close of the year by even $500million (slightly more than Shs1.8trillion).”
She continued: “We would like to see our traders form orderly associations so as to manage cross border trade well. This is important because the experience garnered here could act as a launch pad for the continental market—AfCFTA.”
Ms Kyambadde indicated that South Sudan is a key market for Uganda’s exports, considering that it accounted for $239.2 million in 2016, $299.3 million in 2017 and $355.9 million in 2018. It further emerged that between 80-90 per cent of South Sudan merchandise pass through Elegu-Nimule border points.
With Nimule OSBP up and running, quick clearance of goods and professional services to the custom point users should be able to be rendered without difficulties. Unlike previously, market access shouldn’t be out of reach.
The apex body of the private sector foundation in the country and some key trade associations, including the Kampala City Traders Association described the development of Nimule OSBP as long overdue. However, they remained cautious, saying not until peace and stability is guaranteed in the neighbouring country, the situation there remains a risky affair.
For further investment to be injected into the phase two of the trade facilitation at Nimule, TMEA expects peace and stability to prevail in South Sudan as a matter of urgency.
Currently, peace negotiations between President Salva Kiir and his long-term rival Riek Machar aimed at forming a unity government is underway.
In his speech, Dr James Wani Igga, the Vice President of South Sudan noted that the importance of trade among African states is a catalysts for peace and the much anticipated regional and continental integration agenda.
He said Nimule OSBP will play its role of easing trade but noted that the challenge to attain that goal will become evident in the transition phase.
Ms Damali Ssali, a trade analyst and also the acting country director of TMEA-Uganda noted that the Nimule OSBP was designed not just for enhancing formal trade, but has also been set up to facilitate informal cross border trade where women make up the biggest number.
As for training of the officials on how to run the facility, both Ms Ssali and the TMEA country representative for South Sudan, Mr John Bosco Kaliisa said is something they already have embarked on.