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Shippers create portal to ease cargo progress

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – A web-based platform that will host information on import and export rules as well as regulations and procedures for the East African region has been launched.

The e-portal, created by the Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) will help reduce the clearing and forwarding time of cargo which will in turn generate revenue for the country.

Kenya Shippers Council Chief Executive Officer Gilbert Langat said the portal ushers in a new era of efficiency for the ICT industry and country.

“Delays in the system that we use in the clearance of cargo, delays in terms of how we move our cargo from one point to the other. Delays in terms of how we actually transact the business of cargo movement…have now been rectified. With the new portal, precious time has been reduced and also increased our competitiveness in the region,” Mr Langat said.

He added that the portal would provide a depositary of all trade-related information and pointers of how to access specific licenses.

He further said the portal would link shippers with databases of trade facilitation agencies for faster access to up to date information.

The chairman of Vision 2030 Delivery Board James Mwangi said the launch was in line with the government’s economic blueprint and will help streamline the economy.

“Once we reduce our port clearing days from the current eight to four, it will simply mean that we have doubled the capacity of our port without spending. That is how efficiency is achieved. The same costs, but more productivity,” Mr Mwangi affirmed.

The Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Bankers Association are in the middle of testing the portal to ensure a one-stop shop for importers and exporters. They will be able to pay taxes due on their products as well as any other outstanding bills.

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The portal was developed through a partnership with Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) which was tasked to develop the online, web- based platform. TMEA lent support to the tune of Sh18 million. This will be spread until the second phase which is expected to be completed by June 2012.

In developing the KSC e-portal, key value chains of the priority imported exported products were identified then commensurate rules, regulations and procedures governing them were collected, repurposed and uploaded to the portal.  The initial products currently online are manufacturing raw materials, fresh produce, tea and coffee as exports, petroleum, grains and steel as imports.

The portal also includes a category of banned products in the East African region.

Further, developments to the portal will include identification and inclusion of more value chains, and the linking of the portal to the regional Single Window (SW) and Integrated Border Management (IBM) platforms that TMEA is supporting the stakeholders in the EAC in establishing.

It is envisioned that regional linkages and interfaces between the stakeholders TMEA supports, the Kenya National Single Window (KNSW) project will provide a regional SW platform that will help in the facilitation of trade in the region, hence reducing the cost of doing business as well as improving the competitiveness of the EAC as a whole.

The e-portal is expected to further feed into Vision 2030. Goal three of this strategy relates to economic growth and targets a 20 percent cumulative growth in exports for the period 2007-12 for goods and services, a feat that can only be achieved by improving customs and cargo handling activities.

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