- TradeMark Africa (TMA) seeks a further reduction of trade costs while increasing efficiency in an expanded Pan-African market.
- TMA goal is to increase Africa’s share of exports as a percentage of global trade by 4 percent. It also wants the value of its exports to the rest of the world raised from $500 billion to $650 billion.
- The seven-year plan dubbed Strategy 3 is anchored on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As part of its 2023-230 strategy, TradeMark Africa (TMA) is raising $700 million for its green and digital trade initiatives across the African continent. The move follows over 13 years of the organisation’s support in trade facilitation initiatives across East Africa, Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa.
Over the seven-year period, TMA seeks to contribute to a further reduction of trade costs and increase efficiency in an expanded Pan-African region.
TradeMark Africa eyeing increased exports
Specifically, it aims to facilitate an increase in Africa’s share of exports as a percentage of global trade by 4 percent. It also seeks to raise the value of its exports to the rest of the world from $500 billion to $650 billion. By pushing up exports, TMA’s plan will directly contribute to the creation of jobs.
“Over this strategic plan, TMA will both focus on what works best, in expanding our capabilities to deliver inclusive and sustainable trade across Africa; and will help tackle some of the major development challenges of today, not least the impact of climate change,” TradeMark Africa CEO David Beer said.
The seven-year plan dubbed Strategy 3 is anchored on calculated efforts to support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The blueprint also backs the decarbonisation of trade and logistics processes in sub-Saharan Africa. It will leverage green investments to the tune of $180 million. What’s more, it will facilitate enterprises and governments through automated systems to ease cross-border trade. Further, it will hasten the movement of goods across select trade and transport corridors.
Building on the successes of Strategy 1 and 2 (2010-2023), TMA will deepen its work on select corridors in Africa. The primary focus will be reducing the time and cost it takes to trade across borders and trade nodes by 15 per cent. The strategy comes in the wake of TMA’s rebranding and expansion to West Africa with a new office in Ghana.
Increased Africa trade to boost creation of jobs
TMA Board Chair, Ambasador Erastus Mwencha said the strategy’s focus will enhance trade facilitation across Africa. A primary target will be improving livelihoods by stimulating the creation of jobs.
Other important priorities are driving towards a sustainable greener trade environment. It will also enhance inclusive trade, where the marginalised, especially women and youth will be supported to trade.
“At the heart of this plan is the recognition that sustainable and inclusive trade is a powerful tool for poverty reduction and economic growth; and that trade can be a catalyst to take on major global challenges including climate change, particularly in Africa as the continent positions itself for economic take-off,” Amb. Mwencha explained.
On his part, TradeMark Africa Council of donors Chair, Mogens Larsen, said: “We are proud of the results TMA has achieved over the last 13 years, especially in reducing the time and cost of cross-border trade; and enabling businesses to capitalise on these gains, in an inclusive way. TMA’s Strategy 3 lays out a big step forwards in facilitating increased trade in Africa through green economic growth, with the solid conviction that Africa can both develop rapidly and can do so in a climate resilient way.”
TradeMark Africa CEO David Beer said: “Over this strategic plan, TMA will both focus on what works best, in expanding our capabilities to deliver inclusive and sustainable trade across Africa; and will help tackle some of the major development challenges of today, not least the impact of climate change. Strong partnerships and political ownership, wherever TMA works, will remain critical to our success, which will be reinforced through delivering measurable results and rapid changes that make a concrete difference.”
One-Stop Border Posts
Since its establishment in 2010, TMA has contributed to a major reduction in the cost it takes to trade. It has also helped reduce the time it takes for cross-border trade in Eastern Africa, a key focus area.
For instance, between 2017 and 2021, the time used transporting container from Mombasa to Kampala was reduced by a third. The time to cross-select One-Stop Border Posts, which were the hallmark of Strategy 1 and 2, was cut by 70 per cent.
TMA says automated trade exchanges have directly resulted in at least an 80 percent reduction in the time and cost of obtaining permits and related trade-related documentation. This has led to improved ease of doing business in the region. The target areas of automation were implementation of electronic single window systems and digital portals. TMA also rolled out integrated customs management systems, and regional electronic cargo tracking.
Further, TMA deployed both physical and digital infrastructure, policies, and capacity building at Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. It also supported the development of customs systems for Kenya Revenue Authority iCMS, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) – Asycuda World System and Burundi Revenue Authority’s customs system, and national electronic single window systems in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Electronic single window system
Uganda’s electronic single window system has eased import and export for traders in the landlocked country. It yielded cost savings of about $26.4 million in 2021, according to URA reports.
TMA’s women and trade programme, which is currently facilitated across 14 border points in Eastern Africa. The partipating parties have seen increasing incomes. Women farmers indicated that their monthly median income increased by 18 percent, a 2022 survey shows. At the same time the average monthly income earned by women traders increased by 50 percent.
TMA recently unveiled its commercial arm, Trade Catalyst Africa. This will be a key plank in mobilising investment funds. The finances will be channeled to commercially viable infrastructure projects.
Leveraging private finances to meet the demand for trade infrastructure will meet TMA’s strategic goals in trade in Africa.