Archives For East Africa

AGOA States-GAO

“Is the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) always a poisoned chalice from the United States of America?”, asks an editorial in The East African. The Kenya newspaper suggests it appeared to be so after the US allowed a petition that could see Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda lose their unlimited opening to its market.

This follows the US Trade Representative assenting last week to an appeal by Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a used clothes lobby, for a review of the three countries’ duty-free, quota-free access to the country for their resolve to ban importation of used clothes, the The East African continues.

The US just happens to be the biggest source of used clothes sold in the world. Some of the clothes are recycled in countries like Canada and Thailand before being shipped to markets mostly in the developing world.

In East Africa, up to $125 million is spent on used clothes annually, a fifth of them imported directly from the US and the bulk from trans-shippers including Canada, India, the UAE, Pakistan, Honduras and Mexico.

The East Africa imports account for 22 percent of used clothes sold in Africa. Suspending the three countries from the 2000 trade affirmation would leave them short of $230 million in foreign exchange that they earn from exports to the US.

That would worsen the trade balance, which is already $80 million in favour of the US. In trade disputes, numbers do not tell the whole story. Agoa now appears to have been caught up in the nationalism sweeping across the developed world and Trumponomics.

US lobbies have been pushing for tough conditions to be imposed since it was enacted, including the third country rule of origin which would require that apparel exports be made from local fabric.

The rule, targeted at curbing China’s indirect benefits from Agoa through fabric sales, comes up for a legislative review in 2025, making it prudent for African countries to prepare for the worst. Whether that comes through a ban or phasing out of secondhand clothing (the wording that saved Kenya from being listed for a review) is immaterial.

What is imperative is that African countries have to be resolute in promoting domestic industries. In textiles and leather, for instance, that effort should include on-farm incentives for increasing cotton, hides and skins output, concessions for investments in value-adding plants like ginneries and tanneries and market outlets for local textile and shoe companies.

The world over, domestic markets provide the initial motivation for production before investors venture farther afield. Import bans come in handy when faced with such low costs of production in other countries that heavy taxation still leaves those products cheaper than those of competitors in the receiving countries.

The US has also been opposed to heavy taxation of used clothes, which buyers say are of better quality and more durable. For Kenya to be kept out of the review, it had to agree to reduce taxes on used apparel.

These factors have left Agoa beneficiaries in a no-win situation: Damned if you ban, damned if you do not. With their backs to the wall, beneficiaries like Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda have to think long term in choosing their industrial policies and calling the US bluff.

Beneficiaries must speak with one voice to effectively guard against trade conditions that over time hamper domestic industrial growth. Source: The East African, Picture: US GAO

hoeghKenyan and U.S. authorities found drugs aboard the Höegh Autoliners “Pure Car/Truck Carrier” (PCTC), which was detained at Port Mombasa on September 17. The crew of the ship has been arrested and currently being questioned by authorities.

According to authorities, cocaine was found inside the tires of three military trucks aboard the Hoegh Transporter, a Singapore-flagged car carrier.

Kenyan officials raided the vessel after receiving a tip from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that the vessel had been loaded with the coke at India’s Port of Mumbai.

Kenyan soldiers and security personnel shut down the port for hours before seizing the ship and halting operations. Mombasa, which is Africa’s largest port, serves as the main gateway for imports and exports in the region.

East Africa is a major shipping route for Afghan narcotics bound for Europe. Maritime forces have been unable to curb the flow of drug transport in the region.

The Höegh Transporter was built in 1999 and was transporting nearly 4,000 vehicles, including about 250, which are to be used for peacekeeping missions in South Sudan. Source: Maritime Executive

Rwanda - WikipediaRwanda is wooing investors to invest in the country through building special economic zones. The Rwanda Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is a programme within the Rwanda Development Board that is designed to address domestic private sector constraints such as availability of industrial and commercial land, availability and the cost of energy, limited transport linkages, and market access among others.

Francois Kanimba, Rwandan minister of trade and industry told Xinhua on Sunday that the country was ripe for investments especially in manufacturing, service industry, tourism and hospitality, skills development among others.

“We are planning to construct SEZs economic zones across the country where investors will have the opportunity to explore the untapped potentials in Rwanda,” he said.

Kanimba said that Rwanda’s business environment is secure and the cost of doing business is friendly and the World Bank’s doing business reports have for several occasions ranked Rwanda among fastest growing economies in world that have eased the cost of doing business.

The small East African nation has so far constructed Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) located in Gasabo District within the country’s capital Kigali with phase one and two occupying 98 and 178 hectares of land respectively.

The government is now planning for phase three, which is expected to occupy 134 hectares. Phases one and two of the zone cover a surface area of 277 hectares while the third phase will cover approximately 134 hectares.

The trade zone is well equipped with tarmac roads, water and electricity rollout in all designated plots and a waste water treatment plant.

Kanimba continued that the commercial zones are designed to provide investors with industrial and commercial land, improve availability of electricity and transport linkages.

Official data show last year Rwanda attracted 500 million U.S dollars worth of investments and the government is targeting to double the investments in 2015.

According to 2014 World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, Rwanda was ranked 46 out of 189 economies surveyed globally registering improvements in the ease of obtaining construction permits, getting electricity and getting credit. Source: http://www.xinhuanet.com

SAIIA PaperGauging from the title of this SAIIA report, it is the first time I ever saw the use of private sector entities as the vehicle for delivery. A nice and welcomed approach. While the report tends towards technical analysis, it does provide some sound thoughts on the extent of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) outside of the traditional barriers such as antidumping duties, quantitative restrictions, import levies. In fact the report focusses on licensing rules, import permits, standards as well  and customs procedures.These NTBs are likely to be less transparent but more prevalent and representative of the constraints Southern African traders face in selling merchandise across borders on a day-to-day basis.

It is interesting to see that corruption features in at least 3 out of the 4 NTBs by category identified by the private sector. While the quest for more automation at borders is definitely feasible, the question of limitation of human intervention at the border will undoubtedly be a stumbling block in many countries. It requires some political will to actually do something about the “rot” at borders. To access the report please visit the SAIIA website

The paper provides an overview of the incidence and impact of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The analysis draws on the growing body of literature on NTBs pertaining to regional trade in Southern and Eastern Africa, but importantly it supplements this with the experience of the private sector in the region. It reviews the current processes and achievements in addressing NTBs within Southern Africa. Practical measures are proposed to facilitate the removal of NTBs within Southern Africa, informed by the lessons from other regions. Source: South African Institute of International Affairs.

The following article featured in The New Times (Rwanda) provides a snap shot of developments towards a future “Customs Union” in East Africa. While valid concerns are being expressed by traders, how close are the respective Customs administrations in terms of common standards (tariff, regimes, etc), and the application of common external border procedures? The rest of Africa should follow this process closely. Unlike the EU, where it is incumbent of prospective Customs Union members to first attain and implement minimum customs standards prior to accession, here you have a pot-pourri of member states who apply national measures aspiring to an ultimate regional standard. Who determines this standard? Who is going to maintain ‘watch’ over the common implementation of such standards? Forgive the long article – this is a very significant development for the African continent.

0c8d8_logo_of_east_african_community_eac_-63ae9With the East Africa Community integration process gaining pace rapidly, clearing and forwarding agents have been advised to set up shop at entry ports under the proposed single customs territory.

Angelo Musinguzi, the KPMG tax manager, who is representing traders on the team of experts negotiating the establishment of the single customs territory, challenged the agents to look at the opportunities that the policy brings instead of focusing on how it will harm their businesses. “You need to look at this as an opportunity for business expansion because this policy will remove trade tariff barriers, duplication of time-consuming and costly processes and corruption. This will improve efficiency and reduce the cost of doing business,” he said.

The advice follows a deal reached by Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda where top customs officials from landlocked Rwanda and Uganda will be stationed at Mombasa port to ensure quick clearing of goods and curb dumping of cheap products in the region. Under the deal, Kenya will create space for its partners to set up customs clearing units.

Rwanda was given the task of establishing the single customs territory at the recently-concluded meeting between Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni held in Entebbe, Uganda. However, local clearing and forwarding agents as well as traders are skeptical about the deal and want the process delayed until Rwandan businesses are supported to become more competitive.

“There are issues we still have to examine critically before the policy is implemented. For example, who will collect revenue and how will it be collected? How will Rwanda share the revenue? Will we have a common legal framework? Will we share Kenya’s or Tanzania’s infrastructure?

Fred Seka, the Association of Freight Forwarders and Clearing Agents of Rwanda president, noted that the move could affect them negatively if it is not studied carefully. “We have already raised the matter with the Minister of Trade. Besides hurting small firms, the country will lose jobs when companies relocate to Mombasa or Dar es Salaam. That is a big concern for us,” Seka said.

He noted that some of the partner states have many trade laws that might affect their operations. “It would be better if a locally-licensed company is not subjected to any other conditions once it relocates to Mombasa,” Seka noted.

Mark Priestley, the TradeMark East Africa country director, said the research firm and other players were currently conducting studies on how the single customs territory can operate without harming any player. “The intention is not only to ensure that we get rid of barriers which have been hampering trade, but also reduce the cost of doing business within the region,” he said. He added, however, that it was too early for traders to be scared of the consequences of operating under the single customs territory.

Last year the Permanent Secretary in the EAC Ministry, stated that the model which will involve shifting customs operations from Rwanda to the ports of Mombasa, and Dar es Salaam, will lead to unemployment, revenue loss and adverse multiplier effects. According to the model, certificates of origin of goods would be scrapped, which, according to Kayonga, would lead to the suffocation of local industries as well as making the region a dumping ground for unnecessary products.

Scovia Mutabingwa, the Aim Logistics East Africa managing director, said there was need for more consultations on the operation of the single customs territory “to understand how it will work”. “We need to know where our bargaining power is in the region?” Mutabingwa said. She noted that there was a need to first harmonise other trade policies if the single customs territory is to benefit all businesses in the region. She pointed out that she had applied for a clearing and forwarding licence in Tanzania over one and half years ago, but she was yet to get it. “How shall we work in such countries?” she wondered.

Another clearing firm, urged those negotiating the deal to ensure uniformity in tax policies across the region. “In Rwanda, there is 100 per cent tax compliancy, but we know this is not the same in other countries. How will we compete favourably if such issues are not addressed?” she wondered.

While one needs at least $300,000 to open a business in Kenya or they have to give a stake in their company to a resident, non-Kenyan companies also pay higher taxes at 35 per cent corporate tax compared to 30 per cent for locals.

Tanzania still has over 63 trade laws, and to operate a clearing firm there you need to be a Tanzanian, according to Musinguzi.

The East African Community (EAC) Customs Union Protocol came into effect in July 2009 after it was ratified by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in 2004 and later by Rwanda and Burundi in 2008. The creation of the EAC customs union was the first stage of the four step EAC regional integration process.

When fully implemented, the customs union will consolidate the East Africa Community into a single trading bloc with uniform policies, resulting in a larger economy. By working together to actualise the customs union, partner states will deepen EAC co-operation, allowing their citizens to reap the benefits of accelerated economic growth and social development.

However, the customs union is not yet fully implemented because there is a significant level of exclusions to the common external tariff and tariff-free movement of goods and services.

EACThe EAC business community has been asked to take advantage of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) scheme that seeks to cut down costs of doing business in the East African member states.

The AEO programme, launched in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, is an entity involving importers, clearing agents, transport companies authorized to import and move cargo within the EAC region with minimal inspections and other customs interventions at checkpoints.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Cooperation Dr Stergomena Tax, launching the World Customs Organisation (WCO)-AEO pilot programme said, “The AEO status can provide companies with significant competitive advantages in terms of supply chain certainty and reduced import costs and finally to the final consumer.”

Apart from reduced transport costs, Dr Tax said the programme would also pull down storage charges because of minimal customs border inspections as well as few checkpoints or road blocks for transit goods.

The Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Lennarth Hjelmåker said the AEO scheme is a broader compliance strategy to reward compliant traders with simplification benefits which are concrete and predictable.

“Regional integration and cooperation are factors which are important for development, including creation of favourable conditions under which private sector can operate and provide for economic growth with focus on sustainability,” he said.

Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), has been supporting the work carried out by the WCO-EAC-AEO programme since 2008. Speaking on behalf of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General Mr Saleh Mshoro, the revenues body’s Finance Director said efficiency and effectiveness of customs procedures can significantly boost the nation’s economic competitiveness.

The launching of AEO programme marks the beginning of a journey between the region’s revenues authorities and the business communities in facilitating smooth and win win trading activities. Source: Tanzania Daily News

incoterms2The lack of knowledge to interpret international terms of trade (INCOTERMS) is to blame for the high cost of doing businesses among importers and exporters, the secretary general of the Uganda Shippers Council. Many importers do not understand international terms of trade such as Cost and Freight, Free on Board and Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF), yet in Uganda, taxation is done based on CIF.

“This means that a Ugandan trader who is importing or exporting goods has to pay freight costs in the East African region, whose headquarters are based at Mombasa, in addition to cost of goods, insurance and freight charges for the goods,” explained Kankunda, Secretary General of the local shipper’s council..

“If a Ugandan trader is able to understand these terms, then they will be in position to secure a local shipping line and pay a slightly lower cost compared to paying from the country where the goods are coming from.”

Kankunda was speaking at a three-day workshop on INCOTERMS for importers and exporters from the East Africa region. The training was aimed educating international traders best practices in handling INCOTERMs and other international freight transactions. It is expected to contribute to reducing the cost of cargo handling and shipment along East African corridors by enabling importers and exporters to efficiently apply proper commercial terms and practices.

Kankunda said the application of inappropriate commercial terms, insurance policies and inefficient processing of various trade transactions when importing or exporting goods are some of the causes of the high cost of doing business in the region. It is estimated that transport costs make up 30% to 40% of CIF value of imported goods in East Africa, compared to about 5% to 10% in other regions. Source: AllAfrica.com

EAC Heads of State sign historic Common Market Protocol

Kenyan Finance Minister Njeru Githae has said that the East African member states are going to meet the December 31 deadline for the signing of the monetary union protocol despite skepticism over the issue. He said that out of the 100 articles on the monetary union, 85 have been agreed upon therefore, he said, he is optimistic that the deal will be signed by the set date. “We are learning from mistakes of the eurozone and we have decided to come up with harmonisation of methodology for statistics such as inflation rate, interest rates and the penalties for the countries that do not comply,” explained Githae on Friday. “We have also agreed on the amount of budget deficit that is acceptable and countries that do not meet the set mark will also face penalties.” Comment: What on earth will penalties for not setting the mark achieve – those unfortunate countries will not have the money to foot the debt let alone penalties, plunging the rest of the common market into fiscal anxiety?

However, the minister cautioned that the signing of the protocol will not immediately result in change of currency to adopt one for all the member states but would rather give the road map to implementation of a single currency. The monetary union was slated as the next step to regional integration after the EAC Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in protocol signed in 2010. The monetary integration was to help member states co-operate in economic and fiscal matters aimed at reducing the costs and risks of doing business across the boundaries. When fully implemented and a single currency is later introduced as a result, the EAC partner states would achieve removal of the costs of having to transact in different currencies and the risk of adverse exchange rate movements for traders and travelers. Source: The Star (Kenya)

Notwithstanding efforts to minimize collusion, bribery and corruption through increased use of technology, the underlying fact remains that human intervention cannot be completely removed from nodes within the supply chain.Identifying the causes and parties involved in such activity is only the start (yet minuscule) aspect of a problem entrenched in the distrust of government officials and border authorities in particular. Integrity is based on trust. If trust is the placement of hordes of incompetence in public jobs to secure votes, then you will not need to look very far to understand that “the bribe” epitomizes the ultimate enterprise of individuals either bent on extortion, or to avail their services (like prostitutes  to the crooked trader. The following article “Bribery as a non-tariff barrier to trade” (click hyperlink to download) takes account of a wide-spread of role players as to their views and attitudes on the matter. In my view it is a template for what actually occurs at every border across the continent. 

Transparency International (Kenya) and Trade Mark (East Africa) have collaborated in the publication of a review on the subject of bribery in the EAC region. The executive summary elucidates the context – 

The East African Common Market Protocol that came into force in 2010 provides for the free flow of goods, labour, services and capital across the EAC bloc. To achieve this, members undertook to remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. While progress has been made on the removal of the former, doing away with the Non-tariff barriers along the main transport corridors of the region has remained a challenge.

Taking cognizance of this, Transparency International-Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in conjunction with the Transparency Forum in Tanzania conducted a survey along EAC‘s main corridors — the Northern and Central corridors- that form a vital trade link in the region between August and November 2011. The survey objectives were to measure the impact of bribery practices and create public awareness on the vice.

In determining the size of bribe payable, negotiations came top. The value of consignment and the urgency were some of the other factors sighted by the respondents. According to the survey, truck drivers have devised various means of accounting for bribery expenses to their employers. The most common is road trip expense’. These are anticipated regular amounts given prior to the start of a journey and ad hoc miscellaneous expenses. In the transporters’ books of accounts, the bribes are normally disguised either as anticipated regular amounts or as ad hoc miscellaneous expenses. Source: Transparency International and Trade Mark

Delegates from at least 20 African Customs Administrations met in Pretoria, South Africa between 13 and 15 August to advance developments towards a common framework and approach to IT inter-connectivity and information exchange in the region. Convened by the SADC secretariat in consultation with COMESA and Trademark Southern Africa (TMSA), the three day work session focussed on uniform acceptance of the WCO‘s Globally Networked Customs (GNC) methodology, regional awareness of customs developments in the Southern and East African region, as well as joint agreement on customs data to be exchanged between the member states.

Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) shared its experience with delegates on the launch of its Customs Enforcement Network (CEN). Kenya Revenue Authority will soon be sharing enforcement information with its MRA counterpart. At least 22 African countries are expected to link up with the CEN network over a period of time. Customs enforcement information is the second pillar of the WCO’s GNC information exchange methodology; the first pillar being Customs information exchange. The latter provides for a holistic approach to the dissemination of common customs data derived from supply chain exchanges, for example declaration information, cargo information, and AEO information to name but a few. This information is vital for trading countries to administer advance procedures and better validate the information being provided by the trade.

Rwanda Revenue Authority introduced it’s RADDex programme which is a web-based IT solution for the exchange of cargo manifest information between participating states in the East African Community (EAC) – see related article below.

SADC and COMESA are rallying their members to participate in the initiative. At the current juncture, various member states have expressed keen interest to participate. While the regional intention is the linking of all customs administration’s electronically, initial developments envisage bi-lateral exchanges between Customs administrations which are ready to engage. The importance of the adoption of the GNC methodology is to ensure that customs connectivity and information exchange is harmonised and consistent across the Southern and East African region irrespective of whether countries are ‘early adopters’ or not.

East African tax authorities have launched an online system to share customs cargo information in the region. The system, RADDEx 2.0 (Revenue Authorities Digital Data Exchange), will enable the tax authorities to instantly know what is in transit in the region. Uganda Revenue Authority says RADDEx 2.0 is web-based, has more “functionality and better performance” and will be used by clearing agents. If cargo destined to Uganda poses any risk, notifications  will be sent via e-mail so that authorities can plan action prior to arrival of the cargo. All data on cargo will be sent to a central server at the East African Community headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. Any East Africa partner state that needs data about expected cargo will interrogate the system, which will automatically provide feedback. The system was developed by IT and customs expert staff from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi and sponsored by USAID/COMPETE (Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Programme). Source: The New Vision, Uganda

Have you noticed the debate in the on-line Global Ports Forum about who will become the main container terminals in East and West Africa? Portstrategy.com has taken it upon themselves to score some of the suggestions.

Nigeria is strongly identified as a hub for the west coast of Africa – we score that 7 out of 10. It has the potential but will new port development be delivered in time? Will the off-take infrastructure development be implemented in concert with port development at places like Lekki? Will Lekki’s hub function be undermined by other deepwater facilities being delivered first on the African coast?

Generally, they agree with the view expressed by one wise head in the Forum that the race for hub status on the West African coast is now a fierce one. However, we don’t agree with the contention that Angola will have a serious say in becoming a major hub for West Africa. It will struggle for some time yet to meet its own port capacity needs let alone fulfil a regional function. We score this suggestion 2 out of 10; go to the bottom of the class!

South Africa as a hub for East and West Africa? Well to a limited extent it does already fulfil this role but when South Africa booms its priority has to be gateway cargo and it is limited in terms of its economic and geographical reach. It is also not ideal because of position; we won’t score the suggestion down but conversely we also won’t score it up because it is a fair point. We do, however, see as a negative the continuing emphasis on the public operation of this country’s ports – it spells very high cost comparatively speaking and coupled with this, ironically, not the best service.

Doraleh Container Terminal, Djibouti? Yes we would agree that this has a role to play in container transhipment for East Africa and particularly with its phase two expansion now underway. The price is right for transhipment here but the cost of cargo movement to the main transit destination of Ethiopia is coming in for increasing criticism. It also has a limited reach along the East Coast. Another score of 7.

Mombasa? Yes huge potential for the East Coast of Africa but as history shows no political will to deliver new port capacity in line with demand. Nine in theory but five in practice.

The new port of Lamu? Designed to act as an export gateway for South Sudan, construction has begun on the $23bn (£14.5bn) port project and oil refinery in south-east Kenya’s coastal Lamu region near war-torn Somalia’s border. With a planned multi-purpose port function, because it is a ‘clean slate’ it could take on the hub function. Another 7.

So what is Port Strategy’s view?

In West Africa, we note that new purpose-built, deep draft container port capacity has either recently been installed or is about to be installed in West Africa in six or seven locations. In Lome in Togo and Pointe Noire in the Congo, for example, new facilities are set to come on-stream by end 2014 at the latest which will be able to handle vessels of up to 7,000 teu. We therefore suggest that there will be a split of hubbing activity between all these locations but with the first two or three terminals on-line grabbing the main part of transhipment activity. We also see a continuing role in the short-term at least for hubs such as Algeciras that ‘face’ Africa.

In East Africa we cannot escape the logic of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam but will they pick up the pace quick enough to seize the opportunity? Sadly, not so far. Lamu, therefore, may have a big role to play. Source: Portstrategy.com

The government has proposed a separation of the customs department from the Kenya Revenue Authority in a bid to facilitate faster movement of goods.

Despite efforts by the revenue body to reform its operations especially through technology the finance minister Njeru Githae proposed creation of an autonomous Customs Services body.

This comes as the country moves to fully implement the East Africa Common Market Protocol. “To realign the operations of our Customs with this Protocol and to mainstream its critical role of trade facilitation and border controls, the Kenya Revenue Authority will be rationalised with a view to establishing the Customs Services as an autonomous entity on its own,”said the minister in his budget speech yesterday.

He said the Government will soon commence a process to consolidate all existing cargo related standard enforcement agencies into one single entity expected to reduce bureaucratic inefficiency in cargo clearance.

Deloitte tax expert, Andrew Oduor lauded the move saying customs has been a very problematic area in the country with the systems inefficient. “it hoped that establishment of the autonomous entity is going to help streamline the operations and that is going to resolve this issues,” he said. Source: The Star (Nairobi)

Comment: In effect, this seems no more than a move to create an autonomous border management agency. Unfortunately consolidating various agencies is not going to make customs any more efficient. As seems to be the case elsewhere across the globe where this method of ‘consolidation’ has been introduced, deep-seated discontent has often arisen with the former ‘ areas of expertise’ of individual authorities being lost forever. What results is a mongrelised agency fit more for political expedience rather than improved ‘efficiency and facilitation’. Good luck anyway.

The following article by Tony Zakaria is a candid look at the socio-economic environment of the Tanzanian people. Enjoy.

Why is Tanzania so afraid of the EAC political federation? We seem to shy away from signing any significant document that commits Tanzania to a marriage with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Have we been using land and security issues as a way to hide other fears unmentionable?

Some Tanzanians fear Kenyan women for being too aggressive and well educated. Those madams drive flashy Mercedes Benz cars and have no shortage of vijisenti or spare change. Upon federation country borders will be wide open and then anything can happen. These macho gals may move over to grab available single or bonded men from the land of the Kilimanjaro to play football in Kenya like all those African football stars in Europe for Man U and C, Chelsea FC, Marseille and Real Madrid clubs. Tanzanian men are among the most handsome in Africa.

If you don’t believe me, take a fresh look at Tanzanian men today. From top bosses in government to ordinary farmers in villages they ooze with quiet charm. A little smile from Bongo men can charm an eagle chick off a tree branch in Limuru. Nairobi and Kampala ladies will not be able to resist.

So why are men in the nation of Serengeti and Zanzibar resistant to political and economic union when they could conquer the whole territory? Tanzanian gals may be among the prettiest on planet Earth alongside the Abyssinians in the former kingdom of Jah Haille Selasie but would be no match for slender necked, doe-eyed Banyarwanda mademoiselles.Bongoland women worry their men might start an African exodus to Kigali if we become the United States of East Africa.

Surviving the 1994 genocide elevated Rwandese women to be among the strongest-willed in Africa. Tanzanian madams have enjoyed easier lives and eternal peace from womb to tomb. Can they compete effectively with Hutu and Tutsi damsels? Tanzanian madams will their wealth too; given away to those more willing to use their talents profitably.

 When borders cease to exist, Muheza and Bombo farmers will not only be losing fruits from their shambas to more enterprising Kenyan traders, they will be losing Eves, Aminas and Marias from their Garden of Eden.Nairobi will be a local bus trip away and Ketepa tea will be universally available at village markets in Bagamoyo and Kilombero at a fraction if its current cost, not a gourmet item in selected supermarkets.

Who knows what else may transpire? Investors from the current Kenya would set up factories to extract and package affordable branded juice from fruit grown in Tanga, Dodoma and Iringa. Mwanza and Dar-es-Salaam residents will enjoy Bongo flavour orange and apple juice passionately, knowing it is made in East Africa instead of Africa south of the Zambezi River.

I can’t see local traders dancing with joyful abandon to celebrate the entry of other bulls in the business kraal. Traders make profits regardless of the origin of traded goods. Manufacturers want to enjoy monopoly in a market protected by import, sales and other taxes and tariffs.Take for example juice made in Kenya using fruits sourced from Tanzania. From Tanzania the fruits are VAT and export taxed. The packed juice is taxed in Kenya for sale and importation. Those taxes only hurt the final consumer, making it unaffordable for ordinary folks.

Why do male-female relationships work fine during the courtship period and marriages fall into boring routines? The possibility of losing a mate to a competitor is such a strong incentive to keep being at a person’s best behaviour, appearance and treatment of a mate. That is when relationships are conducted with business-like efficiency.

Tanzanian businesses fear competition from a supposedly more powerful Kenyan business fraternity. Enterprising Kenyan operators buy tomatoes and onions from Arusha during the day. By evening they are delivered in Kenya factories. At night the veggies are sorted, graded, cleaned, packed and labelled.

By the following morning, the veggies are awaiting airlift to destinations in the Middle East. With added value, Kenyan entrepreneurs make huge profits. Vegetables, fruits and fresh flowers could be processed in Arusha and airlifted straight from Kilimanjaro airport instead of Nairobi.

After federation Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga natives would freely move agricultural produce to what is now Kenya and Uganda while making good money from goods sales and transportation. Wachagga, Waarusha and Meru men and women are pretty aggressive businesswise. They can beat Kenyans at their own game.

Having made mega profits, some Tanzanian traders can entice nice looking Gikuyu and Akamba chicks to settle permanently on the slopes of Mount Meru or the Kilimanjaro Mountain of greatness. Tourists can visit the snow-capped mountain near the Equator in East Africa without crossing the border twice. Some amorous traders can fully practice family planning by spacing their children between Moshi, Arusha, Nairobi and Entebbe. They will just strategically place mothers in each city.

Tanzanians fear their Any Time Cancelled wings of the Kilimanjaro with one borrowed plane will be swallowed whole by the bigger Kenya airways. The pride of Africa has already spread its wings from Lagos to Beijing. This is genuine fear arising from fake premises. If we are one block, the stronger airline will belong to all of us.

The federal states will pool pilots, cabin and ground crew, airports, buildings, planes and vehicles to create the strongest airline in Africa like the old East African Airways that was a real pride for Africa.We have to overcome our genuine and misplaced fears and take the needed steps to make EAC a reality. Uniting our many resources is the only way our grandchildren can survive in the competitive global village. Source: Daily News (Tanzania)

Operations of all agencies working at border posts should be harmonised if the East African countries are to easily facilitate movement of goods and persons at their borders, Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) has said. TMEA is a multi-donor funded agency that provides support for increased regional trade and economic integration in East Africa.

It takes a trader importing goods from the EAC member countries an average of 30 minutes to process documents, at the Gatuna/Katuna border. Border agencies need to collaborate on planning, monitoring, organisation and other related activities to ease the movement of traders, according to Theo Lyimo, TMEA’s director of Integrated Border Management and One Stop Border Posts.

This was at the sidelines of a one-day workshop on the establishment of the Integrated Border Management Concept and presentation on the final design of Kagitumba One Stop Border Post facilities. “Integrated border management should have a system controlling all the agencies at the borders and this will help to eliminate all trade challenges affecting the region including high prices of products, high costs of transport and others,” he noted. He cited the Chirundu Integrated border management between Zambia and Zimbabwe which he said had totally cleared trade barriers between the two countries.

However, though the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) had been introduced at some borders of the EAC member countries, they are yet to yield the expected results as traders still encounter some challenges.

The establishment of Integrated Border Management has been recognised as one of the ten building blocks of Customs in the 21st Century, a new strategic perspective and policy agreed upon by heads of the world’s customs administrations to shape the role of Customs in the current century, a century with unique demands.

Better border management entails coordination and cooperation among all the relevant authorities and agencies involved in border regulatory requirements,” said Tusabe Jane Nkubana, chairman of the exporters association, welcomed the border management saying that traders have always been affected by delays at the border posts leading to an increase in the cost of goods.

Delays at the borders are some of the non-tariff barriers affecting us in the region, and if the operations of agencies are harmonised, this would reduce on the time we spend clearing goods at the borders. Transport costs in East Africa are regarded amongst the highest in the world damaging the region’s ability to trade competitively in the international market, according to economic experts. Source: AllAfrica.com