The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of Uganda’s export
destinations ranking number three within the COMESA region.
Uganda’s exports to
DR Congo are valued at USD177m and these are mainly construction materials like
lime and cement, iron and steel, cereals and fruits and vegetables.
other hand, Uganda imports little from DR Congo with the values standing at
USD2.5m and these are mainly essential oils, cosmetics and some iron and steel.
Most of the trade between Uganda and DR Congo is done at the three
major border points of Mpondwe in Kasese district, Bunagana in Kiroso district
and Goli in Nebbi district, with Mpondwe being the busiest border point in
terms of trade activities.
Most of the trade is conducted by the cross border
traders who cross to and from Uganda taking and bringing back merchandise.
However, most of these cross border traders are facing challenges including
poor market structures where they operate from at the borders, complicated
border crossing procedures, mistreatment from scrupulous individuals among
In order to address the challenges faced by these cross border
traders, the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and
Cooperatives secured a loan to a tune of $14m.
The said loan is approximately shs.50.4bn
from the World Bank to implement the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project
(GTLF) aimed at facilitating cross border trade between Uganda and DR
Congo at the three borders of Mpondwe, Bunagana and Goli.
The project aims at
increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs faced by the cross
Through the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project, the Ministry
of trade in collaboration with the Ministry of works and transport and the
border agencies will construct appropriate infrastructure that improves
conditions at borders.
This increases capacity to trade together, put in place
measures that simplify border crossing procedures especially the customs
procedures and improve the standards of treatment of traders and officials.
With funds from the World Bank, Government has started
preparations for the construction of a One Stop Border Post (OSPB) and a Border
Export Zone/modern Border Market at Mpondwe to create a conducive environment
for the cross border traders.
The Minister of State for Cooperatives Hon. Fredrick Ngobi Gume, on March 2nd led a team of members of Parliament on the Tourism,
Trade and Industry Committee for a monitoring visit to the proposed
construction site for both the One Stop Border Post and Border Export Zone at
Minister Gume told MPs that Government has already secured 4.3
acres of URA land for the construction of the OSBP and is currently negotiating
with squatters for an extra 6.9 acres for construction the OSBP at Mpondwe.
“We have done the boundary opening for the land and we are negotiating for
an extra 6.9 acres that goes up to the border line, to enable government have
full control of the Mpondwe border point”, explained Gume said.
The Minister also told MP’s that for the modern border market,
land has already been secured and the Ministry has called for proposals to
procure companies that will do the actual construction for both the OSBP and
the border market.
The construction of the two structures will cost USD9.4m
with the actual construction expected to begin at the end of 2018.
The GTLF project coordinator and Principle commercial Officer in
the Ministry of trade Steven Kamukama says the OSBP project is concurrently
being implemented by DR Congo.
He also said the facility will house all government
agencies from Uganda and DR Congo under one roof to complete all entry and exit
formalities for both passengers and cargo.
This will reduce the time of
clearance for cross border traders and other users. Kamukama says the same
infrastructure will be constructed in Bunagana and Goli, however these two are
still awaiting funding.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade
and Industry Alex Ruhunda, however, cautioned the implementing agencies to
directly involve the local leaders and the traders in Mpondwe in the
implementation of the project.
With the completion of the project, the revenue collection at
the Mpondwe border is expected to increase.
The officer in-charge of Uganda Revenue
Authority at the border Sabiiti Fred says URA been losing a lot of revenue due
to smuggling which is encouraged by the open border.
“Currently, we clear around 60 trucks everyday and we
collect an average of shs.250m per month, but with the construction of the OSBP
this revenue is expected to increase to shs.400m per month”, said Sabiiti.
In addition to the OSBP and modern border market, the Ministry
of trade has established a trade information desk at Mpondwe border to assist
cross border traders in doing business. The officer in charge of the desk
Muhindo Eri says on average they assist 15 traders in the areas of commodity
prices, guidance on taxation and clearance procedures.
Culled from The Independent (Kampala)