Electronic customs system to reduce cost of business in Kenya

Sunday June 26 2022

Containers at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Importers and exporters in Kenya are set to benefit from increased competitiveness and reduced cost of doing business from reduced shipment delays and demurrage charges after President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the National Electronic Single Window System Bill, 2021, on June 21.

The Bill empowers Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) to operate autonomously without the Exchequer’s funding. KenTrade facilitates cross-border trade.

KenTrade CEO Amos Wangora said; “The law will enhance the use of Single Window System by helping protect data,” stem fraud and exploitation in the logistics coordination system often faced by importers and exporters using the platform.

Mr Wangora said the law makes KenTrade a one-stop Customs release centre and offers electronic trade transactions. Before, traders needed to deal with more than eight agencies before cargo was released for import/export but the law will consolidate the agencies to work under the KenTrade system.

The law comes two months after KenTrade launched the Africa e-trade platform to handle the exchange of commercial documents. The platform is integrated in 22 countries, which are members of the African Alliance for Electronic Commerce.

According to the law, only the Single Window system shall serve as a single entry point and platform for any person involved in trade and transport to lodge documents electronically including import or export documents.


The system, fully integrated into the Kenya Revenue Authority’s Integrated Customs Management System (ICMS), will also ensure 100 percent paperless compliance as it will be used for processing, approval and facilitate the electronic payment for fees and levies, due to the government, on all goods imported or exported making it easier and cheaper.

KenTrade says businesses suffer both direct border-related costs, such as expenses linked to supplying information and documents to relevant authorities, and indirect costs, such as those arising from procedural delays, lost business opportunities and a lack of predictability in the regulations.

Based on the present volume of imports and transit goods through Kenya, the streamlining will save the economy $150 million to $250 million annually during the first three years.