EABC calls for consolidation centers to boost export of fresh produce

John Bosco Kalisa, CEO of EABC, made the call on Thursday during the regional private sector engagement on the fresh produce-focused maritime freight forwarding and logistics sub-sector hosted by the East African Business Council (EABC) in partnership. with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He said East Africa’s intra-community trade is low at 17% due to barriers and the high cost of transport estimated at around $1.8 per ton per kilometer.

Kalisa explained that the complexities and competitiveness of the EAC economies lie in the transport and logistics sector. He further urged ports and trade facilitation agencies to better facilitate trade.

He explained that the ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa should benchmark Durban’s best practices in terms of efficiency, vessel turnaround times and congestion in order to be competitive in the African Continental Free Trade Area ( AfCFTA) and in international markets.

Paveen Mbeda, Head of Public-Private Dialogue and Export Capacity at TMEA, said TradeMark East Africa is committed to supporting trade facilitation initiatives to increase economic growth and prosperity.

She explained that sea freight can reduce carbon emissions by 84-95% according to a study funded by the UK government in 2021. She urged fresh produce exporters to explore sea freight options.

Agayo Ogambi from the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa revealed that for fresh produce, air freight costs USD 2/kg (40ft/22 metric ton quantity) up to USD 40,000 while sea freight costs USD 12,000. Sea freight transit time from Mombasa to Europe takes 24-30 days.

He said the World Bank’s Global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) 2021 ranks the port of Mombasa at 293rd position and Dar es Salaam at 362nd position out of a total of 370, with the low rankings being related delays, traffic jams and facility management.

Ogambi said the Port of Mombasa is a crucial landing point for goods and connections to the Northern Corridor and that the expansion of sea freight through the port could increase exports to the Middle and Far East, including including China and Singapore.

Emmanuel Rutagengwa, Transport Policy and Planning Manager, Central Corridor, told Central Corridor that it is poised to transform into an economic corridor with value centers linking manufacturing hubs to boost exports and create more jobs.

Dr. Merian Sebunya, Chairman of the Uganda National Logistics Platform (NLP), called for an EAC fresh produce strategy that will build on the country’s comparative and competitive advantages.

Yowa Soso, South Sudan Shippers Council, called for investing in soft and physical infrastructure and benchmarking international best practices and lessons from other countries to improve the transport system in the region.

Hosea Machuki from the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, explained that Kenya exports 58% of the fruit by sea, which is around 3,000 containers per year and 42% by air, which is around 50,000 tons. per year. The main export markets for horticultural products from Kenya are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and France.

Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council, also highlighted the need for EAC countries to establish horticulture commodity aggregation centres.

Port infrastructure development, non-intrusive verification, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, railway expansions and development Reduced compliance costs, delays, fuel prices and interest charges on loans; Automation of processes to reduce human intervention; Deployment of electronic phytosanitary certificates and customs clearance at destination; Elimination of non-tariff barriers, reduction of the cost of land freight to the port of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam; Configuring trains to transport fresh produce, increasing direct shipments to European markets among the proposals put forward to boost exports of fresh produce from the EAC bloc.

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