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Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) a State Corporation mandated to implement, operationalise and manage the Kenya Electronic Single Window System is working on a procedure to automate cross-border trade procedures at ports of entry by October 2013. The Electronic Single Window System will provide a platform for exchange of trade-related documentation and help reduce the clearance time from eight days on average to a maximum of three days.

According to Alex Kabuga, C.E.O KenTrade, he expressed the fact that the system could save the economy as last year 2 billion was lost due to inefficiencies in cargo clearance. “The single window platform will transform the way business is done in the country by simplifying and streamlining processes and integrating the systems of the multiple numbers of stakeholders that traders have to deal with.

KenTrade says it will cost Sh1.9 billion to roll out the single window project that is expected to increase Kenya’s trade competitiveness and cut the cost of doing business in East Africa’s largest economy. Previous efforts to embrace technology in the clearing system have not been quite successful as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and KPA rolled out the Simba and KWATOS applications respectively which work independent of each other and cannot be integrated. “Attempts by KRA and the port’s authority to integrate Simba and KWATOS have not succeeded mainly due to system limitations and down time,” said KenTrade

“The first phase of the single window will go live in October 2013 while the second phase will be ready in April 2014.” A single window is defined as a portal where all customs documents are lodged and payments submitted online, cutting the red tape associated with clearing goods at sea ports and border points. The system will reduce cargo dwell time at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from the current average of five days to a maximum of a day and streamline clearance at land border posts to take two hours.

Kenya will become the second country in the region after Rwanda to migrate to digital cargo clearance platform. Rwanda, which holds pole position as EAC’s favourite business destination, implemented its Sh278 million online clearing system in August last year and businesses are expected to save around Sh758 million annually on customs costs.

The first phase will automate all the cargo documentation processes by integrating the systems of all the key stakeholders involved in cargo clearance such as KRA, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis).