President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Maghufuli will on Saturday, December 1, launch the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP).
The launch marks a huge milestone in trade facilitation across the East African Community (EAC).
Launching the Namanga OSBP paves way for speedy clearance of goods moving in the main trade corridor between Kenya and Tanzania.
The Namanga OSBP is part of the EAC regional initiative, implemented jointly with Kenya and Tanzania, supported by development partners through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AfDB.
Opening up the border translates to better trade hence more revenue for both Tanzania and Kenya.
The Namanga OSBP was first opened in October 2017, ushering in the era of harmonized border services between Kenya and Tanzania.
It 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 a 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 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.
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 country, especially during the historic wildebeest migration.
Border security has also improved with the OSBP enabled by joint operations by government agencies from both Kenya and Tanzania such as border surveillance and intelligence gathering.
Regionally, OSBPs are mandated by the East Africa Community One-Stop Border Post Act, 2016 and the various bilateral agreements signed between adjoining states.
The Namanga OSBP is among the 13 border posts in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania that have been converted from ‘two-stop’ border posts into single premises entity or OSBPs to facilitate movement of people and goods across the East African Community.
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.
On February 23 this year, Kenyatta and Magufuli directed their ministers to meet quickly to resolve small frustrating differences between the two countries.
In a meeting at the Lake Victoria resort of Munyonyo, on the margins of a summit of the East African Community, the two agreed that it was in the interest of both countries that they prosper since the growth of one country guarantees the growth of the neighbour.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over various trade and bilateral issues.
“We have small issues relating to businesses and traders between Kenya and Tanzania. We want Kenya and Tanzania ministers to meet urgently and resolve these issues,” President Magufuli said.
In July, Kenyatta’s and Magufuli’s visit to Nyanza was postponed.
The reason for the cancellation was due to the two leaders’ “tight schedules”.
Currently, the two governments are re-demarcating the common border and setting terms of reference for the same after an African Union (AU) meeting in Maputo last year agreed that countries should review the boundary re-affirmation exercise.
With the OBSP launch, there may be a long-term solution to complaints especially from the Kenyan side where tour operators say they are barred from accessing parks in Tanzania.
Tanzania has been dragging its feet on several EAC agreements casting aspersions as to its willingness to being an active member of the bloc.