NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – The Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) will in the next six months fully automate its systems to ensure quality services.
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), a not-for-profit organisation that promotes regional trade and economic integration in East Africa, has partnered with TBK to develop and design an online web portal and Management Information System that will aid in the automation of TBK’s business process.
TBK Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said the partnership and migration to an automated business model will significantly improve the application and issuance of licenses, certificates and permits for stakeholders in the tea industry.
“Once we automate, we can release the current human capacity that is engaged in the manual process to focus on other areas of service delivery,” she announced.
“We’ll be able to speed up the process and therefore release the producer and exporter to focus on their core business, which is moving tea to the market. This web portal ensures that the information we produce is accurate and moves rapidly to the users so that it can inform their planning and forecasting,” she explained.
TMEA and TBK signed a Memorandum of Understanding in regards to the technical and financial support worth approximately Sh12 million and KenTrade Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alex Kabuga said automation is an investment that the entire government needs to make.
Kenya Trade Network Agency (KENTRADE) is a State corporation formed to implement an Electronic Single Window System as a possible solution to lengthy, corrupt, manual and uncoordinated trade processes and procedures.
“Each year, the economy loses an average of $250 to $300 million because of delays, high costs of capital and the loss of international markets due to the un-competitiveness of Kenyan export products,” Kabuga revealed.
“It’s important to note that some of these processes are towards reducing the cost of doing business and removing these losses from the Kenyan economy,” he added.
TMEA County Director Jason Kap-Kirwok said the web portal project should be completed by the end of the year and upon its launch, TBK will enjoy a drastic reduction of turn-around time in service delivery and an enhanced capacity to discharge its mandate of promotion and regulation of the tea industry.
TMEA Single Window Information for Trade (SWIFT) Director Edward Ichunga said they are working towards establishing systems for SWIFT and Integrated Border Management (IBM) in the East African Community (EAC) region.
The single entry point (single window) e-portal will facilitate lodging of documents electronically for processing and approval, making electronic payments for fees, duties, levies and taxes due to the government efficient, while enhancing an investment climate through regulatory processes and delivery of government-to-business services.
“A key aspect of SWIFT is the collection and dissemination of information on policies, regulations and procedures for trade,” he said.
“This will provide online systems for applications of various trading licenses and submission of trade documents to the various government agencies by traders,” he added.
Ichunga noted that in the short term, the web portal is expected to increase awareness on regulations and procedures amongst current and potential members of the tea trade fraternity.
“In the long term, this is expected to significantly reduce delays of cargo clearance due to inefficient and incorrect licenses or import/export procedures, as well as increase transparency, accountability and competency in the industry,” he said.
TMEA has already completed web portals for the Kenyan Shippers Council (KSC) and the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) and implementation is on-going with phyto-sanitary agencies and bureaus of standards in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.