The Technical Meeting with the Border Officials in the beginning of May aimed to identify these information gaps on cross border trade. At the same time the training workshop for cross border women traders at Busia and Malaba borders took place.
In engaging different stakeholders and representatives of the groups involved with cross border trade, voices were heard and their input will strongly shape the EAC secretariats’ Guides to EAC Trade Rules, Regulations and Procedure.
The role of female traders was in focus of the technical meeting, revolving around questions on capacity building to strengthen the woman cross borders trade business associations and networks, on building partnerships and developing business opportunities for informal women cross border traders.
Properly managed borders are needed to enable a safe environment and the EAC has adopted a border management policy that works towards that goal. GIZ supports the EAC via the African Union Border Programme to facilitate integration by using good border management systems.
But only easy access to information and granted security and protection can prevail precarity and empower women to do their business.
The IIDEA Partner Sauti is striving to fill the information gap: Sauti leverages on the mobile technology and mobile penetration within the EAC to deliver tailor-made and simplified trade and market information to East Africa SMEs to enable them to trade legally, safely and more profitably across borders.
The USSD based platform accessible on any kind of phone, traders are able to access cross border commodity prices and exchange rates, procedures for clearing both imports and exports, taxes and tariffs applicable on imports/exports, relevant documentations and agencies applicable to specific imports/exports.
Additionally, through the platform, traders can also anonymously report their border experiences which will be shared with the civil society partners and relevant government agencies for action and evidence based advocacy. Sauti also conduct rapid real time surveys which provide unique behavioral data on cross border trade and enable these kinds of data visualization and dissemination through data portal.
43% of Africans are involved in trade & the value of small-scale cross-border trade (CBT) in the East African Community. Cross Border Traders are often unaware of their rights and obligations as citizens of the EAC, including benefits of preferential tariff rates & compliance with complex border procedures.
Sauti platform offers traders accurate, officially-sourced, real- time trade and market information, accessible on one user-friendly manner directly through their mobile phones accessible free but network charges apply for safaricom at *483*35# on any Kenyan line or *270*35# on any Ugandan line.
Sauti has demonstrated the viability of its technological approach, assisted over 2,200 traders across Kenya and Uganda with over 10,000 requests for trade and market information, hoping to service the whole EAC (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan) and reach 20,000 users in 2 years.
The meeting discussed on bases of the given input the way forward and developed a joint strategy for improved cross border trade promotion for women traders.
The meeting was organized by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of EAC Affairs and Northern Corridor Development (MEACA & NCD) Kenya and supported by the Germany International Development Agency (GIZ) and attended by approximately, 35 delegates. The participants to the meeting were the representative of the EAC gender Department, representative of the East African women in Business Platform, Representative of the IIDEA Partner, Sauti, representatives of the women cross border associations in Busia and Malaba, Representatives of Revenue Authorties, Customs, Vetinerary, clearing and forwarding, trade information desk amongst others in in Busia.