After years of frosty trade relations, Rwanda and Tanzania now seem focused on removing obstacles faced by traders on both sides of the border, especially congestion and theft of Rwandan goods at Tanzanian ports.
President John Magufuli’s recent visit to Rwanda paved the way for the first ever Tanzania-Rwanda Trade Forum that was held in Kigali last week.
One of the issues Rwandan traders complained about was rampant theft of minerals in Tanzania. The Tanzanian government has installed cameras and boosted security to secure Rwandan containers at the Dar es Salaam port. Previously Rwandan traders were not allowed access to the container station. The traders now have complete access, which has helped secure goods.
“Minerals from Rwanda are escorted by armed security from the time they arrive until the time they leave the port. Cameras were also installed at the port to monitor any kind of activity,” Emmanuel Kakuyu, head of Tanzanian trade delegation to Rwanda, said.
“Minerals from Rwanda are now offered a special parking zone for easy monitoring, and transporters are also allowed access to the yards where the containers are held,” Mr Kakuyu added.
But despite efforts to eliminate non-tariff barriers along the Central Corridor, many still exist: There are still seven weighbridges, as only one has been removed so far.
Rwandan traders also still incur among the region’s highest in transport and logistics costs, making up as much as 75 per cent of the value of exports and imports.
For example, transporting semi-processed roofing materials from Mombasa to Kigali costs $150 per tonne, $130 from Nairobi to Kigali, and $118 from Dar es Salaam to Kigali. This would be significantly reduced if cheaper and faster means of transport are introduced.
Although talks between Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi for a shared standard gauge railway are underway, the countries have not yet secured investors to roll out the project.
“The Central Corridor having a railway would be helpful,” Benjamin Kasamagera, the chairman of the Private Sector Federation, said.
Dar es Salaam remains the main port for Rwanda, handling 70 per cent of the country’s import shipments, and over 90 per cent of its exports.