President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli on Saturday pitched for small scale traders facilitation as they officially launched the Namanga one-stop border post.
Speaking after launching the crossing in Namanga, Presidents Kenyatta and Magufuli said the one-stop border post marks a new dawn of cooperation that will lead to blossoming of trade to the benefit of small-scale traders.
President Kenyatta warned customs and immigration officials at the border post from both countries against engaging in corruption, saying the vice undermines the spirit of the East African Community.
“We note that trade between the two countries in most cases is curtailed by those who are given the job to man our border posts. Instead of these people assisting citizens to trade freely, they engage in corruption. This must stop,” President Kenyatta said.
Mr Kenyatta said it is the small scale traders who drive the Kenyan economy. Therefore, they should be supported to do business across the border unhindered.
“That is why I agree with President Magufuli that, as leaders, it is our responsibility as we continue working to boost trade between the two countries. We must ensure that we protect our small traders,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta welcomed the announcement by the African Development Bank that it will fund the construction of a highway from Malindi through Lunga Lunga in Kenya to Bagamoyo in Tanzania, saying the road will be a major boost to the region’s integration efforts.
“Our integration and the common market will attract more investors and create jobs for our people,” President Kenyatta said.
President Magufuli said the Namanga one-stop border post will improve the ease of doing business and trade between Kenya and Tanzania.
“Traders will be able to transport their goods 10 times per month while in the past it was hard to do so even for four times a month,” President Magufuli said.
The Tanzanian president said the one-stop border post has also increased collection of revenue from Tshs3 billion to Tshs4.5 billion per month for the Tanzanian government since the crossing started its operations in October last year.
President Magufuli noted that one of the things that hinder economic cooperation between countries in Africa is the challenge of trade facilitation which is exhibited through unnecessary delays on the road, at ports and border posts, contributing to an increase in the cost of doing business.
“According to research done by the World Bank, such challenges account for 65 per cent increase in the cost of doing business in Africa. This makes the cost of doing business in our continent higher than other continents. For example, it is three times more than doing business in South America and five times more than in Asia,” Mr Magufuli said.