Seven border posts connecting Kenya and its East African neighbours are now complete increasing trade by 23 per cent within the bloc.
Speaking on behalf of EAC chairperson John Magufuli at the third EAC assembly in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said seven of the 15 borders earmarked to operate as One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) have transformed trade within the bloc.
“Seven are complete and four others are operating as OSBPs using bilateral agreements,” said Mr Majaliwa in a statement, "Trade is now at 23 per cent, over and above intra-African Trade figure of 12 per cent.”
Among them are the Rwanda Burundi OSBSP connecting at Gasenyi/Nemba in Rusizi district, three Kenya – Tanzania border posts converging at Lunga Lunga/HoroHoro, Holili/Taveta, Isebania/Sirari.
Others are; Uganda - Rwanda border posts converging at Kagitumba/Mirama Hills and Rwanda- Tanzania border posts converging at Rusumo.
The facilities worth billions of shillings combined are part of the East Africa Trade and Transportation Facilitation Project. The project aims at modernising and strengthening customs administration and border control agencies in the region to reduce non-tariff costs on trade and smuggling at the border.
Mr Majaliwa stated that already, the current increment in the value of trade adds to the 300 per cent increase from Sh202.5 billion in 2005 to Sh607.5 billion in 2014. Majority of the border posts were completed late last year, in future the bloc is expected to register phenomenal increase in trade.
"These numbers coupled with the combined GDP of $110 billion makes our region a formidable trading bloc", he added.
The senior director One Stop Border post/Integrated Border Management at TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Mr Theo Lyimo, OSBP’s said the border posts will create new possibilities for economic growth and people enhanced mobility across borders.
“The efficiency they give will lead to increased intra-regional trade in East Africa. They also result in improved efficiency of customs services and other government agencies by avoiding unnecessary duplication of clearance procedures,” he said in a last year briefing while announcing progress on the Holili Taveta border post.
TMEA supports construction of 13 OSBP’s and overseas operationalisation of 15 OSBP’s in East Africa.
The border posts have eased the custom clearance processes with traders now queuing only once to exit and enter either of the countries and experience faster clearance.
In May 2010 the EAC adopted the OSBPs Bill, which sets the legal framework and shows political commitment to establish up to 15 one stop border crossings in the five partner states and South Sudan.