Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda launch US$4.4 m electronic cargo tracking system

The revenue authorities of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda have  unveiled a Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs) that  enables them to jointly track movement of goods from port to destination (Mombasa Port to Kampala or Kigali) electronically.

The system is expected to reduce the cost of doing business by dipping transit time, enhancing cargo safety and helping traders to better predict arrival of goods.  The service will be free to the users (traders) as the revenue bodies will meet all operational costs.

The US$4.4 Million Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System is also expected to reduce cargo theft and diversion of goods in transit.

The system was acquired through support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) through TradeMark East Africa.  TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is a programme funded by a range of development agencies to support East African countries improve trade between them.

According to Doris Akol, the Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General, “The partnership (will) helps us monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods into the market. It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market.”

The system comprises satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units. An electronic seal is attached on transit cargo vehicles which communicates with the command centres giving real time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and if the container is tampered with or not.

Importers, transporters, and the revenue authorities are able to see this information (track the cargo) in real time. Rapid response units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor identified as notorious for diversion of goods. These rapid response units respond to alerts, received from the command centres, about suspicious behaviour like diversion from designated route, unusually long stop over, or attempt to open a container, which they investigate and resolve on the spot.

Frank Matsaert, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) CEO said, “Transit trade is an important element of any economy and we are glad to be the catalyst of this partnership.  RECTs is one of the many innovations that TradeMark is supporting and which is geared towards easing and improving local and international trade in East Africa. RECTs efficiency will ingrain fair terms of trade by creating a level playing field for both importers and local industries as it helps in eliminating diversion of cargo. (This) strong partnership between the private sector, the revenue authorities and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) will reduce transit time from Mombasa to Kampala down to 2days”

KRA, URA and RRA hope to work with other revenue agencies in the region to continue integrating their systems and further simplify trade. Speaking at the event, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Uganda Country Director Moses Sabiiti said, “The RECTS is building on the excellent results delivered by the first phase of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda, which reduced transit days from an average of 6 days (December 2013) to 1.5days for truckers moving from Busia to Elegu (the border with South Sudan.) “

He said the support has also enabled URA to improve capacity in business process management through automation of all customs stations and training.

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