Finland has signed a three-year agreement with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to revive and boost trade in the region following a decline caused by Covid-19 restrictions.
The $13 million fund is aimed at supporting initiatives along the Northern Corridor that stimulate economic activity.
The agreement was signed at the Kenya Ports Authority headquarters in Mombasa on Tuesday by Finnish Ambassador to Kenya Erik Lundberg and TMEA board chairman Erastus Mwencha and witnessed by Dr Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of EAC Affairs.
Mr Lundberg said the funds will support TMEA and other regional governments to increase trade and continued response to Covid-19 under the Safe Trade Emergency Facility.
“Finnish government will work with various stakeholders in ensuring we boost trade to support livelihood. The three-year programme will support trade continuing safely and unhindered and protect the health of traders, trade officials and transport operators," said the envoy.
He added that the money will fund both short- to medium-term interventions that are critical for the resumption of economic activity, food security and social stability, jobs, and economic recovery.
Dr Desai said Kenya the implementation of the Customs monitoring platform – the Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) – was at 90 per cent and would be effected by June this year to increase efficiencies at the port of Mombasa and along Northern Corridor.
“With full implementation of iCMS, we expect Kenya's ranking at the world trade index to go up by 20 positions. In the system, we have integrated 41 modules and we expect the remaining four to be completed by June this year," said Dr Desai.
iCMS enables revenue authorities to receive declarations of goods before ships dock at the port, reducing the time taken to clear cargo.
The Northern Corridor is a key transpirt network linking the port of Mombasa in Kenya to its landlocked countries Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi. It also links eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.