Mr Lino Criel Icila, the secretary general of the Uganda Clearing Industry and Forwarding Association (UCIFA) has come out and assured trade stakeholders that the adoption and usage of the Uganda Electronic Single Window as a cargo clearance tool will not impact on jobs in the sector.
Launched in November 2016, the Uganda Electronic Single Window is a paperless platform that leverages technology to facilitate international trade through allowing for electronic submission of information, documentations and processing of import, export & transit related trade documents and requests.
Mr Lino’s position came at the back of some stakeholders fighting the electronic platform as they see it as a tool that may lead to underemployment and eventually unemployment for them.
But in a recent interview, Mr Lino was quick to note that debating electronic clearance vs jobs in the sector is a wrong perspective as even with the presence of this automated system, there is still physical work to be done.
“That is not a correct perceptive. Single Window doesn’t real have a direct impact on the jobs. It is a system of operation. Of course, it is true that with any automation, some processes are cut down thus the necessity to reduce staff. But it won’t be a very big impact. Because, even with the electronic system, there are still several things that still require man power. Electronic only does document logging, reading and accessing information and getting releases. Our staff still do physical verification, cargo delivery and supervision among others,” he explained.
He noted that since its launch, the single window has reduced both time and costs involved in cargo clearance in addition to ensuring that clearing and forwarding agents are paid promptly.
“Clearing Agents are paid when goods are delivered so when you deliver on time, you are paid immediately and when you delay, your payment also delays. In all the system is facilitating trade and benefiting all stakeholders,” he revealed.
Nonetheless, he challenged the government and her trade partners to work on the challenges that are currently affecting this system.
“There are three things that need to be addressed. Network issues need to be fixed because the system is internet enabled, have all trade agencies on board and massive sensitization so that all stakeholders move in the same direction.” he concluded.
In Uganda, the National Electronic Single Window was rolled in November 2016 while in Kenya, KenTrade – National Electronic Single Window System was launched in 2014. The Rwanda Single Window was launched August 2016. In all these three countries, the single window systems are implemented by the sitting governments, supported by TradeMark East Africa, DANIDA, UNCTAD and other development partners.