Kenyan gov’t launches online international trade portal
Traders in Kenya stand to benefit from increased efficiency following the launch of the Information for Trade in Kenya web portal, which has consolidated more than 120 documents and procedures required for import and export business in Kenya on one online platform.
The portal is estimated to serve at least 1.5 million users per month and consolidates 73 documents under exports, 52 under imports and one under transits (cross border trade) thus ensuring a shorter period in the export and import processes.
Completion and launch of the information portal makes Kenya the first country in the East Africa Community (EAC) to fulfil Article 1 of WTO Trade Facilitation agreement which requires member states to publish their trade procedures online, displaying them step-by-step, with contact information on enquiry points, access to forms and other required documents and all relevant trade and customs laws.
Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) implemented the portal with financial support of approx. US$ 498, 000 from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provided technical assistance.
Presiding over the launch, the National Treasury Principal Secretary, Dr. Kamau Thugge said,
“The InfoTrade Kenya portal is part of the Government’s initiative to facilitate trade in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation, to which Kenya is a signatory and obliges governments to be transparent and to provide information to businesses.”
He explained that the Government has been at the forefront in streamlining international trade procedures through the implementation of National Electronic Single Window System also known as KENYA TRADENET that has seen improvement of Kenya’s rating in the latest World Bank Ease of Business Index. Kenya advanced by 12 points to position 80, emerging third in Sub Saharan Africa after Rwanda and Mauritius in the Trading Across Borders category.
Principal Secretary, State Department of Trade, Dr. Chris Kiptoo who also attended the event noted that the InfoTradeKenya platform was complimentary to the Kenya Trade Portal which was launched in October 2017. The latter, he clarified, is aimed at promoting Kenyan suppliers to the international market by linking them to global traders.
On the other hand, the InfoTrade Kenya portal was intended to increase access to information on international trade procedures and regulations, cut back unwarranted penalties resulting from documentation errors and enhance trade efficiency.
Dr. Kiptoo said that the two portals will be integrated in order to offer seamless information to traders.
TradeMark East Africa, Chief Executive Officer, Frank Matsaert said, “Reducing the barriers to trade in Kenya to increase its trading opportunities internationally remains a key mandate for TMEA. We are proud to have partnered with KenTrade and UNCTAD to provide a portal that makes international trade information available, thus simplify the process of exports and imports and reduce the time taken.
This portal complements TMEA’s other work with government agencies including improving roads, the port, border posts and automation of key trade processes. Ultimately, these interventions will create a conducive business environment in Kenya, promoting job creation and reducing poverty.”
UNCTAD’s head of the business facilitation programme, Frank Grozel, said that the portal uses UNCTADS’s eRegulation content management system that enables transparency and efficiency in Trade therefore helping decision makers and implementers objectively analyze their progress towards effective trade facilitation.