TRADE

Uganda's exports to Kenya fall amid border delays

Kenya’s key imports from Uganda include milk, cream, tobacco, cane and electrical energy

In Summary
  • The mixed results come in the wake of slow clearing processes at the two borders
  • The council has since called for mutual recognition of Covid-19 certificates and restocking of reagents at border posts to minimize traffic snarl-ups.

Tankers ferrying cargo into Uganda line up for clearance at the Malaba boarder
TICKING TIME BOMB: Tankers ferrying cargo into Uganda line up for clearance at the Malaba boarder
Image: EMOJONG OSERE

Imports from Uganda to Kenya dropped in August due to border delays and reduced economic activities in the wake of Covid-19.

Uganda exports to Kenya stood at $46.9 million (Sh5.1 billion)as of August 2020 a slight decline from $48.3 million (Sh5.2 billion)the same period last year, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

On the other hand, the value of Kenya’s exports to Uganda increased to $88 million (Sh9.6 billion ) a jump from $53.9 million (Sh5.9 billion )in the same period last year, even as delays at the Malaba and Busia borders continue to affect cargo movement.

 

Kenya’s key imports from Uganda include milk and cream, tobacco, cane, electrical energy and plywood among others.

Exports from Kenya are mainly palm oil and its fractions, iron or non-alloy steel, petroleum oils and salt among other goods.

The mixed performance comes in the wake of slow clearing processes at the two countries' borders, occasioned by measures put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Uganda remains Kenya's biggest trading partner in the region, accounting for 28.6 per cent of her total exports to Africa.

The total export value in 2019 stood at Sh64.1 billion in 2019, the Economic Survey 2020 shows, with imports from Uganda totaling Sh38.5 billion.

This, as exports to the EAC market, increased by eight per cent to Sh140.4 billion

The value of imports from the EAC countries however contracted by 5.8 per cent from Sh71.9 billion in 2018 to Sh 67.7 billion in 2019.

The flow of goods was  recently worsened by a lack of reagents at border posts which affected Covid-19 testing processes.

In September, Uganda started charging drivers $65 (Sh7,059) for Covid-19 tests, a move that was blamed for pushing up the costs of transport as transporters passed the extra charges to cargo owners.

During a Kenya government-private sector mission at the Busia and Malaba Border border posts on Tuesday, the East Africa Business Council established that most Ugandan truck drivers travel without Covid-19 certificates hoping to be  tested at the border points.

 

EABC has now wants the introduction of a mutual recognition of Covid-19 certificates among East Africa Community (EAC) partner states and restocking of reagents at border posts, to minimise traffic snarl-ups.

Currently, the traffic of trucks headed to the Busia border starts at Mundika town, 15 kilometers to Busia border while the traffic snarl-up to Malaba One-Stop-Border-Post (OSBP) is exceeding 30 kilometers.

With about 55 trucks stalled per kilometer, this implies that more than 2,400 trucks destined for Uganda are still yet to be cleared, a move disrupting cross-border trade and costing the economy. 

“EABC is urging East African partner states to provide adequate reagents at the border points to accommodate the testing demand,” chief executive Mutuku Mathuki said.

Mathuki who spoke at the Busia border called for a regional coordinated approach in implementing EAC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for truck drivers and joint border collaboration to address the long truck queues and Covid-19 related issues.

“It is very critical for transporters in the region to also embrace the recently launched Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) to improve the truck turnaround time and allow partner states to electronically share truck drivers' Covid-19 test results, thus minimizing the need for multiple tests in a single trip,” he said.