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Private sector joins push to raise African incomes through trade

Published on April 09, 2015

Innovative efforts to dismantle trade barriers in East Africa provide a shining example of how the private sector can work alongside governments and nonprofits to help drive sustainable economic growth and lift people out of poverty.

USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and nonprofit partner TradeMark East Africa have already taken strides toward cutting the costs and time associated with regional transport.

Their work has, for example, helped reduce transit times from the port of Mombasa to Kampala and Kigali by an estimated 9 percent over the past 12 months alone, Rees said. Kenya’s government has committed to cutting transit times by an additional 30 percent over the next three years.

TMEA is also on track to complete the construction of 13 one-stop border posts at key border crossings along EAC trade corridors and to double container traffic capacity at the port of Mombasa by 2016, the USAID official said.

One of the key goals of USAID and TMEA is to galvanize private sector companies, whose technological prowess and industry expertise mean they are well-placed to help transform East Africa’s trade and logistics sectors, typically through a mix of financial investment, product development and technological transfer.

Private sector engagement in East Africa is key to TMEA meeting its target of creating 5 million jobs over the next five years, CEO Frank Matsaert said, adding that it is already “really engaged” with 400 to 500 companies across the region.

Projects where TMEA has already harnessed private sector power include an SMS system that allows businesses to report nontariff barriers via mobile phones, using software developed by Kenya’s Ushahidi platform. Read more. Source | devex impact