Uganda saving Shs145b in customs annually - expert

Businessmen go about their routine at Malaba border post. According to analysts, Uganda has reduced the cost of doing business at customs points because of embracing technology. Photo by Stephen Wandera

What you need to know:

Customs management system upgrade has seen 50% reduction in clearance time.

Nairobi- As a result of embracing technology at custom points, Uganda is saving at least $56 million (about Shs145 billion) every year, the chief executive of officer of TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Mr Frank Matsaert, has said.

According to Mr Matsaert, this is a result of TMEA’s massive investment into the EAC regional revenue authorities-particularly at the customs, estimated at $55 million (about Shs43 billion).

Speaking last week at an outreach meeting organised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Nairobi, Mr Matsaert urged the East African countries to embrace trade facilitation because it pays in terms of easing doing business, thus enhancing competitiveness.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement creates binding commitments across the 159 WTO members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation among WTO members on customs matters, and help developing countries fully implement the obligations.

With trade facilitation, Mr Matsaert said delays at borders will be reduced through one stop border posts, efficiency of East Africa’s Ports will increase, there will be improved standards Harmonisation and Non-Tariff Barriers will be eliminated as already demonstrated by the TradeMark initiative thus far.

He said: “TradeMark EA partners have invested $55 million (about Shs143 billion) in upgrading customs management and single window systems and inter-connectivity. And because of that Rwanda Single Window, Clearance times have fallen from three days to 20 hours (70%), and saving between about $18 million to $20 million annually.”


The head of external relations, Information and External Relations World Trade Organisation, Mr Bernard Kuiten, in his presentation, said the objective of the agreement is to speed up customs procedures, make trade easier, faster and cheaper.

He said the agreement will improve clarity, efficiency and transparency, let alone reduce bureaucracy and corruption, all which hamper efficient trade between the organisation’s member countries. The agreement also encourages use of technology as opposed to archaic method of doing work.
He said: “Evidence shows that if this is embraced the cost of trade will reduce by 13-15 per cent in developing economies.”
He continued: “This agreement will harmonise documents, streamline customs procedures and predictability in customs regulations, all these are empirical evidence.”