African Development Bank launches an initiative launched to strengthen trade facilitation in East Africa.
The African Development Bank will collaborate with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to launch a USD 1.56 million project aiming to enhance trade capacity in East Africa. This initiative, known as the EAC Trade Portal Enhancement Project, seeks to leverage digitized trade solutions and address challenges hindering trade growth in the region.
A boost for East African trade
In a strategic move to bolster trade within East Africa, the African Development Bank, in conjunction with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, has introduced the EAC Trade Portal Enhancement Project. This USD 1.56 million initiative is designed to pave the way for digitized trade solutions, effectively reducing trade barriers and enabling the EAC to fulfill its commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Solving trade challenges
The project is poised to tackle key impediments to East African trade, including limited capacity in trade information and ICT systems, inadequate market information, subpar internet connectivity, and a lack of transparency in trade and investment. It represents a comprehensive, two-year, multi-country effort funded by the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) and was officially launched during the EAC Donor Round Table held in Arusha, Tanzania on October 6, 2023.
Rachael Nsubuga, Senior Trade Facilitation Officer at the African Development Bank, highlights the institution’s commitment to streamlining international trade and fostering both intra-African and external trade. She notes that the project aligns seamlessly with the African Development Bank’s broader regional integration strategy, as articulated in the Regional Integration Strategic Paper (RISP 2023-2027), saying, “This project will complement other programs of the African Development Bank in the region by providing digitalized trade solutions and data to support investment climate and customs modernization work.”
Leveraging partnerships for success
A key feature of the project is its focus on leveraging strategic partnerships to enhance and integrate existing digital trade information facilitation and customs modernization systems. By sharing intra-regional and extra-regional market information, the initiative aims to support the EAC’s single window objective and foster increased trade with essential partners, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The EAC Trade Portal Enhancement Project serves as a pioneering pilot endeavor with the potential to set a global standard. The innovative approach promises to shape the future of trade facilitation, not just in East Africa but beyond.
The Secretary General of the East African Community Secretariat, Dr. Peter Matuki, said of the initiative, “The EAC is committed to trade transparency and partnerships in developing regional trade. Enabling infrastructure coupled with capacity building can further bolster the region’s trade ecosystem for sustained socio-economic gains.”
Revolutionizing trade information
The enhanced regional portal will feature user-friendly and interactive interfaces, complete with measurable online connectivity indicators linked to cutting-edge artificial intelligence tools. These technological advancements will seamlessly integrate with other systems, such as customs operations, and the EAC’s non-tariff barriers monitoring system. This synergy will provide real-time assistance in addressing non-tariff barriers and calculating trade procedure costs.
For more stories on regional trade, visit our dedicated hub.