June 2021 saw the Moyale Border commence operations as a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) easing the movement of goods between the two East African nations of Kenya and Ethiopia.
Overseen by government border regulatory officials from Kenya and Ethiopia, the OSBP enables border regulatory officials from both countries charged with clearing traffic and cargo and persons to sit side by side on either side of the border and undertake exit and entry formalities in a joint and/or sequenced manner.
This progress follows the official launch of the OSBP in December 2020, by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
By operationalizing the Moyale OSBP, the two countries have moved a step closer to achieving the goal of boosting trade exponentially between themselves and promoting regional and economic integration between East Africa and the Horn of Africa region.
Despite Kenya and Ethiopia sharing a common border which straddles 861 kilometres, Moyale is the only gazetted border crossing point between the two countries. The porous border traverses Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir and Mandera Counties on the Kenyan side, and Borana and Dawa zones on the Ethiopian side.
For years, the cross-border area has been characterized by poorly developed physical infrastructure and its being remote from the respective capitals – Nairobi and Addis Ababa – exacerbated the inefficiencies of trade between the two nations.
With the OSBP now operational, it is expected that processing times at the border crossing will reduce by at least 30 per cent enabling faster movement of cargo and people.
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) conducted a baseline survey in 2017 which showed that it took an average 21 hours and 52 minutes for cargo trucks from Kenya to Ethiopia while those coming to Kenya from Ethiopia took 12.5 hours to cross the border.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), all development indices in this cross-border area are much lower than the national averages of the respective countries. Notably, the population is largely mobile, and their movement is not confined to one country, but transcends international boundaries into Ethiopia and vice-versa.
This means that there is no definitive border for these populations which makes it easier for illegal trade to thrive. The OSBP is meant to ensure that trade between both countries will be easily monitored.
During the launch, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Director General Githii Mburu said that the Moyale OSBP would not only improve customs administration between the countries, but would also minimize illegal trade and crossings between Kenya and Ethiopia.
“The Moyale OSBP will serve as a critical regional interconnectivity node and transit link from Ethiopia to the Ports of Mombasa and Lamu. The new modern crossing will also address smuggling of cargo and human traffic through illegal crossing points such as Lagga and Sessi thereby boosting formal trade and security between our two nations,” said Githii.
The Moyale OSBP is part of the LAPSSET project and it was completed in 2018 and kitted with appropriate ICT hardware and software to enable it to run smoothly as a modern facility. To make it truly modern, the OSBP was part of the US$329 million project that included construction of 438 kilometres road from Merille River to Moyale in Kenya and 300 kilometres roads’ sections in Ethiopia. The roads are built to bitumen standard.
UK High Commissioner to , Jane Marriott noted during the launch last year that the Moyale OSBP would boost regional trade. She said that this was the fourth UK supported one stop border post in Kenya, which allows the country to provide a gateway to East Africa.
“By investing in Moyale, Kenya’s economy will become more vibrant through trade with Ethiopia and the LAPSSET corridor, whilst creating jobs and opportunities,” said Marriott.
IGAD, COMESA and AfCFTA are some of the several trade blocks Kenya and Ethiopia are members of which makes the two countries ideal trade partners. Kenya exports medicaments, soda ash, agro-chemicals, aluminium utensils and manufactured products to Ethiopia while processed leather products, glass bottles, cereals and cement are among products Ethiopia sells to her neighbour.
Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia in 2019 were valued at US$67 million, while Ethiopia’s exports to Kenya were valued at US$52.05 million and it is expected to increase significantly with the operationalisation. The OSBP and the LAPSSET corridor are expected to enhance this trade.
During the launch, PM Abiy hailed deepening economic ties between the two nations as one that would lead to mutual benefit for the people and economies of the neighbouring nations.
“We are fortunate that our nations have enjoyed cordial economic and diplomatic relations over the years. In 2018 Addis Ababa and Nairobi agreed to deepen relations in the areas of agriculture and co-operate more in the areas of tourism, military, transport and infrastructure. I note with satisfaction that the Moyale OSBP is a big step in making goods and travel between our countries more efficient, faster and safer,” said Abiy.
Understanding an OSBP
A One-Stop Border Post is a trade facilitation tool applied at land borders between two adjoining states. It refers to a simplified and harmonized legal and institutional framework, facilities, and associated coordinated procedures and processes that enable goods, people, and vehicles crossing a border, to stop only once in the country of entry, in which they undergo necessary regulatory controls following applicable regional and national laws to exit the adjoining state and enter the host state.
An OSBP entails a “Whole Government” approach by creating an entire system, which enables business players to undergo border crossing formalities only once in the country of entry. As a result, the clearance time at border crossing points is shortened. OSBPs promote a coordinated and integrated approach to facilitating trade, the movement of people, and improving security.
Kenya currently has seven OSBPs, four of which are fully operational (Busia, Namanga, Malaba, and Taveta); and two with complete infrastructure but undergoing completion in terms of fibre connectivity (Isebania, and Lungalunga). The Moyale OSBP is the first in Ethiopia.
Trade between the two countries is expected to grow with the OSBP’s operationalisation which will also work towards creating the much-needed job opportunities.