President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli today pitched for small traders facilitation as they officially launched the Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP).
Speaking after launching the facility in Namanga, President Kenyatta and President Magufuli said the one stop border Post should mark a new dawn of cooperation that will ensure trade blossoms and small traders benefit to the maximum.
President Kenyatta cautioned customs and immigration officials at the border post from both countries against engaging in corruption, saying the vice undermined the spirit of the East African Community that focused on free movement of goods and people.
“We note that trade between the two countries in most cases is curtailed by those who are given the job to man our border posts. Instead of these people assisting citizens to trade freely, they engage in corruption. This must stop,” President Kenyatta said.
The President emphasized that the reason for putting up the one stop border post is to boost the ability of traders from both countries to do business effectively. He pointed out that it is the small-scale traders who drive the economy of Kenya and should therefore be supported to do business across the border unhindered.
“That is why I agree with President Magufuli that as leaders, it is our responsibility as we continue working to boost trade between the two countries, we must ensure that we protect our small traders. That is what we want so that every citizen of the East African Community can benefit,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta, however, said traders from the two countries should not abuse the opportunities offered by the one stop border post to engage in illegal and unlawful business.
President Kenyatta welcomed the announcement by the African Development Bank that it will fund the construction of a highway from Malindi through Lunga Lunga in Kenya to Bagamoyo in Tanzania, saying the road will be a major boost to the region’s integration efforts. Emphasizing the importance of integration, President Kenyatta reiterated his call for the people of East Africa not to allow the imaginary boundaries created by colonialists to divide them.
“These boundaries created by colonialists should not separate communities that have lived together and cooperated for many years,” the President said.
He said the region should focus on bringing together the six countries of the East African region to consolidate the common market with a population of over 200 million people, saying the move will make East Africa compete favourably with other regional economic blocs within the continent and beyond.
“Our integration and the common market will attract more investors and create jobs for our people,” President Kenyatta said. The Namanga one-stop border post is one of the 15 such facilities in the region, with the first one to be opened being the Taveta-Holili that was commissioned in February 2016.
President Magufuli said the Namanga one-stop border post will facilitate the ease of doing business and improve trade between Kenya and Tanzania.
President Magufuli said the one-stop border posts have brought a lot of benefits to the East African region, citing the reduction of transport costs, reduction in the time of travel, increased trade and tourism. “It is expected that the one-stop border post will facilitate trade and boost trade.
Traders will be able to transport their goods 10 times per month while in the past it was hard to do so even for four times a month,” President Magufuli said. He said the one-stop border post has also increased collection of revenue from Tshs 3 billion to Tshs 4.5 billion per month for the Tanzanian government since the facility started its operations in October last year.
President Magufuli noted that one of the things that hinder economic cooperation between countries in Africa is the challenge of trade facilitation which is exhibited through unnecessary delays on the road, at ports and border posts, contributing to an increase in the cost of doing business.
“According to research done by the World Bank, such challenges account for 65 per cent increase in the cost of doing business in Africa.
This makes the cost of doing business in our continent higher than other continents. For example, it is three times more than doing business in South America and five times more than in Asia,” the Tanzanian Head of State said.
He said the high cost of doing business also leads to a reduction of intra-Africa trade compared to other continents, adding that it also contributes to the low attraction of foreign investors. Other speakers at the function attended by Cabinet Secretaries Peter Munya, James Macharia, Keriako Tobiko and Adan Mohamed included Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mufumukeko and Japan Ambassador to Tanzania Shinichi Goto among others.