TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to facilitate projects that will improve cross border trade and enhance trade links between the country and East Africa Community (EAC) member states.
With the MOU in force, TMEA, a leading trade facilitation institution, will replicate and consolidate its success in contributing to the ease of trading across borders by investing in resources like water transport, simplifying trade processes through training and facilitating adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) around Eastern DRC.
The government of the Netherlands made a commitment of US$6.7 million to kick-start the projects.
The projects will comprise dredging and rehabilitation of Kalundu port on Lake Tanganyika, support to cross border trade which will include capacity building and implementation of Integrated Border Management systems on the border crossings in Rusizi between Rwanda and Bukavu. TMEA will also rehabilitate of the ports of Kasenyi (DRC) and Ntoroko (Uganda) and finally improve infrastructure at the border crossing at Goli (Uganda) and Mahagi (DRC).
TMEA involvement with DRC consolidate the benefits accrued from similar intervention it has facilitated in East Africa and especially along the regions’ main transport routes including the Northern Corridor from Mombasa linking Uganda, Rwanda, DRC and South Sudan. And Central Corridor, connecting Dar es salaam port to Rwanda, Burundi, and Eastern DRC by road and lake transport.
During a visit to State House after the signing ceremony, the DRC Director of Cabinet at State House Prof. Nehemie Wilondja, stated that “Trade is a way to reduce conflict and unemployment. The agreement will contribute to the training of cross border traders in trade issues, exporting and tapping into regional markets. This will especially benefit our youth.”
TMEA Director General David Stanton expressed optimism that the DRC will benefit from ease of trading across borders because of TMEA’s facilitation. He said, “TMEA successfully partnered with governments and businesses in the EAC partner states to drive down the costs of trade along the key transport corridors.”
“We now want to take this further, by replicating successful initiatives here in DRC with the aim of ensuring that Congolese business are competitive and that the benefits of trade along these corridors spill over to DRC,” Stanton added.
Evidence from training of border officials and cross border traders especially women has promoted cordial relationships and built trust among the two core players of cross border trade. “It has enabled traders to not only identify and tap into local markets efficiently, but their knowledge about regional markets means they submit requirements at the border points without much hassle,” the statement reads.
Combined, the efforts reduce time taken to transit across the main transport routes, enable businesses to not only diversify their products but also supply market needs thus creating employment opportunities.
The new agreement will enhance trade links between the EAC and the DRC.
TMEA is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TMEA works closely with the EAC institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.