Trade Facilitation took center stage in 2018.

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Hon Amelia Kyambadde, the Trade Minister shares a little moment with development partners from UKaid and TradeMark East Africa.

Nicholas Kalungi.

Away from the political hullaballoo, 2018 was one of Uganda’s biggest trade facilitation years.

Unprecedented success was registered, resulting in to better access to trade information, faster cargo inspection, clearance and movement. Compared to 5 or 10 years ago, Uganda’s cross border trade is today much more effective and efficient thanks to joint efforts spearheaded by government, development partners and private traders.

Group photo of Trade stakeholders that attended the launch of the trade information portal.

Because I know for sure that my readers have had a busy 2018 and are now cooling off, making merry with family and friends, I will not bore them by diving in to details of this year’s accomplishments. To those unaware of what transpired in the year, I and many other people have written several articles on the same.  You may want to visit the archives to keep tabs on what happened. I am not being braggadocious but that is the way it is!

Nonetheless, for the benefit of all, here is a summary of my 2018 trade facilitation highlights.

Efficient border crossing to boost trade between Kenya and Uganda with launch of Busia one stop border post. Presidents; Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Busia OSBP.
  1. Launch of the Busia (UG/KE) One Stop Border Post
  2. Launch of New Jinja Cable Bridge
  3. Launch of the Elegu (UG/SS) One Stop Border Post
  4. Launch of the non-intrusive cargo scanners at Busia and Malaba
  5. Launch of the Uganda Trade Information Portal
  6. On-going upgrade of the Malaba Border Post access roads
  7. Continued roll-out of the Uganda Electronic Single Window platform
  8. Launch of the construction of the Gulu Logistic Hub
  9. Securing of funds for upgrading of the Tororo-Gulu Railway line
  10. Kick-start of efforts to revive water transport as an alternative cargo transportation route around Lake Victoria. (I have seen the plan on paper).
  11. The successful Global Logistics Convention held in Kampala.
  12. The successful 2018 East African Trade Development Forum held in Kampala
  13. Launch of the Busia (UG/KE) One Stop Border Post.

My best trade facilitators have been;

A cargo truck driver shares his views with Charles Achieng on how the non-intrusive cargo scanners are improving business.
  1. The energetic and action-packed Charles Achieng – chairman Busia Cross Border Traders.
  1. URA, UNRA and Ministry of Trade have been my best trade facilitation agencies. I thank them for doing their work.
  1. TradeMark East Africa, supported by her partners has been the biggest Trade Facilitator not only in Uganda but across East Africa. Unless you have alternative facts, this team is steadfast and committed to improving trade and markets in the region.

My biggest trade facilitation let down in 2018 is/was the endless inconsistencies and uncertainties surrounding Uganda’s commitment to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.

Minister of Works & Transport, Hon Monica Azuba Ntege monitoring SGR alignment in Malaba where Uganda & Kenya SGR will interchange.

Senior state officials continue to contradict each other on this project coupled with failure to confidently state the facts that stand in our realization of the same. For example, it is not rocket science to know that our realization of SGR is tied on Kenya’s SGR reaching Malaba.

Heavy trucks leaving Mirama One Stop Border post. For those doing business in Rwanda, the Ntungamo-Mirama road is a viable alternative.

Conclusively, in an era of so much pessimism, I choose optimism.  I am super optimist that backing on the success we have already achieved, 2019 and the years to follow can only get better. But, as we pursue more success, we must jealous protect what we have because a Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush.

Otherwise, Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad!

Merry Christmas. From HiPipo to everyone out there. GOD FIRST!