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East African female traders set to
benefit from “One Stop Border Posts”

BUSIA (Xinhua) -- Florence Atieno has witnessed the resilience and fortitude of female entrepreneurs along the Kenya-Uganda border who have weathered immense challenges to remain true to their vocation.

The 41-year-old mother of six is a native of Kenya’s Busia County, which is not only a melting pot of diverse cultures but also an enduring symbol of cross-border trade.

Atieno started trading along the Kenya-Uganda border at a time when the contribution of her gender in the growth of commerce was accorded dismal attention by a patriarchal society.

Nevertheless, the enterprising widow has cut a niche in the cut-throat world of cross-border trade.

Atieno and thousands of her female colleagues will benefit from the establishment of a “One Stop Border Post” at the Kenya-Uganda border in Busia town that has already created frenzy ahead of its launch on Saturday.

Speaking to Xinhua on Friday ahead of the official launch of the project by presidents of Kenya and Uganda, Atieno said it will unleash additional benefits to female traders from the two east African nations.

“We have already started reaping the benefits of a ‘One Stop Border Post’ that has eliminated barriers to cross-border trade... during its trial phase,” Atieno said. “Our goods are being cleared at record speed and we feel motivated to scale up the volume of goods traded with our neighbors.”

  East African female traders set to benefit from “One Stop Border Posts” | Coastweek

KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (1st,L), Kenyan Presient Uhuru Kenyatta (L, front), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni © and Tanzanian President John Magufuli (2nd R) converse during the retreat of East Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State at Munyonyo Common wealth Hotel in Kampala, capital of Uganda.  XINHUA PHOTO - JOSPEH KIGGUNDU

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, will launch the “One Stop Border Post” in Busia town amid concerted efforts to boost regional trade.

The project seeks to promote seamless cross-border movement of goods and passengers through automation and placing of key agencies like immigration and customs under one roof.

Atieno said that an estimated two thousand women who trade across the Kenya-Uganda border anticipate reduced cost of clearing goods and improved trust from their clients.

“My message to established and aspiring female small-scale traders is to harness the opportunities that the ‘One Stop Border Post’ will unleash,” Atieno said, adding that she expects her general merchandise business to grow exponentially.

Busia is the busiest port of entry in the larger east African region in terms of passenger traffic, and movement of cargo has also been on an upward trajectory.

Mariam Babu, a 46-year-old Ugandan trader who exports eggs from her native country to Kenyan shop owners, said she felt relieved now that it will require less time to clear goods at the border.

“The ‘One Stop Border Post’ has already revolutionized my business and I look forward to increasing the volume of eggs imported from Uganda to help meet a rising demand in Kenya,” said Babu.

Enjoying a cordial working relationship with her Kenyan peers, she is a firm believer in regional integration, which promises economic prosperity for ordinary citizens.

Babu settled along the Kenya-Uganda border at a time when female traders battled with monumental hiccups like harassment, lack of access to credit and to lucrative markets.

Nevertheless, the mother of five was upbeat the “One Stop Border Post” would pave the way for smooth transactions across the border that will be accompanied by higher profit margins.

“We need to sensitize women on the benefits of a harmonized and automated cross-border trade regime that eliminates backlog in clearance of goods,” said Babu.

Female entrepreneurs, who control over 90 percent of informal trade across the common border, will be the greatest beneficiaries of a streamlined and automated cargo clearance regime to be realized through establishment of a “One Stop Border Post.”

Daniel Muturi, program manager of Infrastructure and One Stop Border Posts at the Nairobi-based Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), said a simplified, digitized and fast mode of clearing goods will have a positive impact on female-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.

“Small-scale cross-border traders in this region who are mostly women will be able to save on time and financial resources upon full operationalization of the ‘One Stop Border Post,’” Muturi said.

Supportive infrastructure, skilled manpower and a friendly regulatory environment are key to successful utilization of “One Stop Border Posts” in the larger east African region, he added.



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