Kenya is pushing to bring on board all East Africa Community member countries to the regional electronic cargo tracking system to streamline cargo transportation and boost tax collection through the Single Customs Territory.
Kenya’s National Treasury acting Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said having all EAC countries using Rects is crucial in avoiding dumping of goods, minimising travel delays, improving cargo security and boosting tax revenues.
Speaking at the 2019 taxpayer’s month forum, Mr Yatani said: "Plans are underway to roll out Rects to include South Sudan, Tanzania and ultimately to destinations outside the EAC bloc."
But the biggest challenge is that Tanzania has its own electronic cargo tracking system (Tancis), a multi-vendor platform owned by private companies.
The push to bring Tanzania on board, in particular, comes at a time when Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are increasingly using the Central Corridor as a viable option than the Northern Corridor via Kenya.
While it is clear that South Sudan is set to join Rects as soon as the transitional government is in place this November, negotiations with Tanzania are ongoing.
“The timelines are not clear for Tanzania but the country joining Rectis will improve cargo transit for DRC and Rwanda,” said Richard Kamajugo, Trademark East Africa senior director for trade environment.
The e-cargo tracking system and a regional customs monitoring platform provide real-time tracking of cargo trucks between the port of Mombasa and destinations in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda through the use of electronic seals on cargo being tracked by satellite from a centralised tracking centre.
The DR Congo joined in July despite not being an official member of the EAC.
Rects has been in operation for two years now, but the non-adoption of the same by Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi is limiting its effectiveness, bearing in mind the importance of the Central Corridor in regional trade.
EAC adopted the SCT to make doing business easy across the bloc by having goods e-checked prior to loading and releasing them from the port of entry.