The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has adopted a regional policy framework on cross-border trade that promises to be a lifeline for the region’s small-scale traders.
Trade ministers from Djibouti, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya and a representative from Ethiopia meeting in Mombasa last Thursday signed a policy document seeking to strengthen border security systems, support trade facilitation at border crossings and promote participation of border and communities in policy making.
The Informal Cross-Border Security Governance policy tackles issues related to food security, employment, peace and security in the region’s borderlands.
Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said the initiative is expected to sensitise on cross-border trade among member states.
“The beneficiaries are likely to be women and youth, and we are happy that today we have a framework that will recognise the socioeconomic contribution of informal cross-border trade within member states,” Mr Mohamed said. “It will also help us understand the linkages between cross-border informal trade and cross-border security,” he added.
The policy document will be presented to the Igad Heads of State for onward transmission to the African Union.
Mr Mohamed said that improving cross-border trade is one step towards the Continental Free Trade Area that the Heads of State signed in Kigali in March.
Uganda’s Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde said the policy will regulate the informal trade within Igad countries and provide an opportunity to grow the informal sector.
“This policy will have an impact because every country's economy is driven by 15 per cent informal trade. So far there is no data available to quantify cross-border trade, meaning elicit goods are finding their way into the countries. The newly implemented policy is expected to formalise trade across borders and bring on board all member states from East Africa and the Horn of Africa. We were working only around East Africa but now we are also bringing on board members from the Horn of Africa and this will stimulate infrastructure development in future,” said Ms Kyambadde.
Mr Mohamed added that Igad is prepared to take up its role as the lead co-ordinator in charge of implementation the policy framework.
“We are looking forward to the opportunities for important improvements in the lives and livelihoods for the beneficiary communities in our region that will be created by the policy framework,” he said.
Ms Kyambadde said the policy document will regulate the informal trade within Igad and also provide an opportunity to grow the informal sector.