NAIROBI, KENYA, DECEMBER 3 — Trade between Kenya and Tanzania is set for a major boost as the two governments, led by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magufuli, renew partnership as they push for more bilateral trade.
The two have called for smooth border operations under the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) initiative, which will facilitate trade and support tourism in the two countries.
Speaking on Saturday when they commissioned the Namanga OSBP, the two presidents called for unity between Kenyans and Tanzanian citizens, while assuring of both governments’ support to ensure businesses thrive.
“I plead with you my Tanzanian and Kenyan brothers, let us strengthen our unity. Business is between the citizens. We as governments we are facilitating the trade relations. I want to ask those mandated to manage this Namanga OSBP to work with principles that will develop the economies of the two countries,” Magufuli said.
“Uhuru and I are friends. We get along well and I have many friends in Kenya. So I am asking you my Tanzanian brothers, lets maintain our unity. This border and others must build our economies and benefit households both in Kenya and Tanzania,” the President added.
On his part, President Kenyatta called for support of small scale traders to boost their participation and contribution to the economies, calling on customs and immigration officials to remain supportive to these traders.
“We must protect small traders and make it easy for them to do business,” President Kenyatta said, “We must be able to improve trade between the two countries.”
Namanga OSBP is part of the EAC regional initiative, implemented jointly with Kenya and Tanzania, supported by development partners through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AfDB.
The commissioning of the OSBP paves way for speedy clearance of goods moving in the main trade corridor between Kenya and Tanzania.
The OSBP has opened up the border for better trade hence more revenue through Tanzania –Kenya trade.
Namanga OSBP was first opened in October 2017, ushering in the era of harmonized border services between Kenya and Tanzania.
The OSBP has since eradicated the myriad bottlenecks that stood in the way of efficient service delivery at the facility. One of the major scores realised after its establishment has been reduction in the time taken to clear people and goods from Kenya to Tanzania and vice versa.
In 2014, for instance, it took approximately 277 minutes to clear goods destined for Tanzania from Kenya. This time has now substantively reduced to about one hour thus saving valuable time.
Reduced clearance time has now increased trade between Kenya and Tanzania, since traders are able to avail their products to the market within a shorter time. The Namanga OSBP is strategically a vital trade facilitation corridor for both countries.
As a result of the facilitation, revenue received between October and February 2016/2017 financial year, was at Ksh993 million. Comparatively, some Ksh1.46 billion was collected over the same period in the 2017/2018 financial year which translates to a Ksh466 million increase in revenue collected.
Tanzania’s revenue has increased from an average Tsh3 billion to Tsh4.5 billion per months and in the current financial year 2018/19, the government is expecting to collect up to Tsh58 billion at the OSBP.
The Namanga OSPB also boosts the tourism industry for both Kenya and Tanzania given that it is the very point tourists use to enter either countries especially during the historic wildebeest migration and access to the Serengeti park.
“We expect tourism activities to increase,” Magufuli said.
The Namanga OSBP has also improved border security, enabled by joint operations by government agencies from both Kenya and Tanzania such as border surveillance and intelligence gathering.
There are 15 OSBPs regionally between Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Of these, 12 have been completed with 10 being operational.
The other OSBPs are Busia which was commissioned in February this year, Taveta-Holili, Lunga Lunga-Hororo and Isebania-Sirari on the Kenya-Tanzania border, Malaba on the Kenya-Uganda border as well as Moyale on the Ethiopia-Kenya border.
More include Mutukula, Rusumo, Nemba-Gasenyi, Ruhwa, Mirama Hills-Kagitumba and Kobero-Kabanga.
OSBPs are mandated by the East Africa Community One-Stop Border Post Act, 2016 and the various bilateral agreements signed between adjoining states.
The Act is now augmented by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which entered into force in February 2017.
Kenya remains a huge investor in Tanzania, the third largest investor (Kenyan investments in Tanzania).
Magufuli urged Tanzanians to embrace Kenyan investors and cross the border to equally seek investment opportunities and trade in Kenya.