Kenya-Tanzania trade marches towards $1 billion

Saturday February 19 2022
Namanga border

Namanga border between Kenya and Tanzania clears about 250 trucks daily. PHOTO | FILE


Kenya-Tanzania bilateral trade hit $905.5 million for January to November 2021, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.

Kenya’s imports from Tanzania stood at $501 million, and exports at $403.9 million.

“The bilateral talks between Kenya and Tanzania initiated by the two leaders have been the catalyst behind the improved trade figures across the border,” said Kevit Desai, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of EAC and Regional Development, citing the talks in May 2021 between President Samia Suluhu and her Kenyan counterpart President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Tanzania’s major exports to Kenya include cereals, wood and vegetables and Kenya’s exports to Tanzania include soap, coated flat-rolled iron, and packaged medicaments.

A meeting held by the East African Business Council and stakeholders at both the Namanga and the Holili-Kenya-Tanzania border posts last week revealed that Tanzania’s exports to Kenya have been increasing since last year, with the trade balance in favour of Tanzania.

Tanzania’s main export destinations in the EAC during the year were Kenya at $230.2 million, Rwanda $208 million, Uganda $191.3 million and Burundi at $179 million.


The private sector attributed the increased trade across the Kenya-Tanzania border to improved clearance of trucks by Customs’ authorities of the two governments.

“The Taveta/Holili One-Stop Border Post cleared 33,000 cargo trucks in 2021, a 73 percent increase from 19,000 in 2020,” said John Kalisa, chief executive of EABC.

The Kenya Revenue Authority station manager at Namanga Joseph Moywaywa said the border clears about 250 trucks daily, most of them from Tanzania into Kenya.

The use of modern scanners and equipment at both Namanga and Holili border posts has also contributed to the increase of trade volumes across the border.

“The implementation of Single Customs Territory (SCT) framework has enhanced interconnectivity of customs systems leading to maximized efficiency in Customs Administrations and other agencies,” said Kalisa.

“Other achievements are remarkable transmission of data at the border, and use of modernised border facility operating under the integrated border management concept with ICT system in place.”

Despite the improvement and increase of trade between Kenya and Tanzania, there is still an increase in the number of NTBs.

Levies on transit and EAC originating goods (East African products) by the counties in Kenya and re-testing of products by Bureaus of Standards are among other hurdles raised impeding cross border business.