Rwanda has developed a cargo centre in Masaka, near Kigali City, in an attempt to position itself as a regional cargo hub.
However, the absence of a local content policy, protectionism in Kenya and Tanzania and a requirement of cash payments for container deposits have been cited as hurdles to boosting cross-border transport in East Africa.
Rwandan transporters and clearing agents say that the tax authorities in the region’s two biggest economies have denied them access to their digital systems, in disregard of the provisions of the protocol establishing the Single Customs Territory.
This means that the agents cannot file their declarations online with the Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports.
At a recent logistics forum in Kigali, Theogene Rukundo, secretary-general of the Rwanda Freight Forwarders Association, said they lacked access to the Kenya Revenue Authority and Tanzania Revenue Authority IT systems, because of not having PIN numbers needed to log in data for cargo destined for other East African states other than Rwanda.
Transporters said Kigali needs a policy that protects and promotes logistics firms like its regional neighbours, as this gives competitors from the bigger economies an edge over them. Studies have shown that the Rwandan logistics business’s market share remains small.