Informal border trade is expected to benefit from the Safe Trade Zone protocols, which seek to create a Covid-19 safe environment.
The protocols, developed by TradeMark East Africa and Amref Health Africa, seek to establish safe trade zones at border markets with capacity to prevent, detect and respond to Covid-19.
They also seek to facilitate uninterrupted cross border market operations across the six EAC member states including Ethiopia.
Speaking during a validation workshop at the weekend, Wanjiku Kimamo, the TradeMark EA director gender, said the protocols will apply to border markets that are either open or closed.
“For closed markets they will facilitate their opening while ensuring that public health measures related to Covid-19 are put in place,” Ms Wanjiku said, noting that the protocols will guide routine market operations for those already open while minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19.
The protocols are also expected to enhance EAC member states’ awareness on measures instituted against Covid-19 with regard to ensuring safe trade in the region.
Mr Mou Mou Athian Kuol, the South Sudan EAC Affairs Ministry undersecretary, urged women traders and other stakeholders to own the protocols if they are to succeed.
This, he said, is a good project but “we all need to religiously abide to the guidelines”.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, informal cross border trade has slowed as a result of governments across the region closing borders and putting in place stringent movement restrictions and curfews.
The lockdowns have particularly affected women traders who make up to 80 per cent of informal cross border in the region.
However, there have been different recovery measures, which among them, include the $23m Safe Trade Emergency Programme rolled out by TradeMark EA and partners.
Mr John Bosco Kalisa, the Trademark EA, South Sudan programme country representative, said the Safe Trade Emergency programme is made up of seven clusters, which among them include gender inclusion, women in trade and safe trade zone protocols that have already been put in place at the Nimule cross border point.