[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Improving business competitiveness in the region: The case of TradeMark Africa
As it rebrands to TradeMark Africa, TMA, in its bid to grow its continental footprint, aid for trade institution formerly known as TradeMark East, boasts of having made a lasting mark in East Africa where it has operated for over ten years.
The institution has a cumulative portfolio of US$1.3 billion and has contributed to reducing time taken to transport cargo across the Northern Corridor by 16.5%; supported construction and operationalisation of over 15 One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), which have reduced time taken to cross select borders by an average of 70% and automated trade processes through over 60 single window information for trade systems across various government agencies.
As a key player in the regional integration of the EAC, TMA, has also been involved in setting up the institutional structures and framework of the Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), the Uganda Electronic Single Window (UeSW), Kenya Revenue Authority Integrated Custom Management System (iCMS), Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS), Women in Trade programme which is currently active across 14 border crossing points in the region, supporting Bureaus of Standards to adopt and promote international sanitary and phytosanitary measures amongst Small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Other recent partnerships that have been driving the East African Community agenda include that of Heifer International, a global non-profit organization, and Mastercard who have announced an agreement to connect millions of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to Mastercard's Community Pass – a digital platform that makes it safer and easier for farmers to get paid more and faster for their produce.
At the same time, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) has partnered with IDH Kenya to drive the competitiveness of the Textile and Apparel Industry in Kenya. The partnership shall be driven through the 3-year Sustainability for Competitiveness Project.
In the banking sector, Equity Bank (Kenya) Limited (EBKL), has completed the acquisition of certain assets and liabilities of Spire Bank Limited following receipt of regulatory approvals from the Cabinet Secretary Treasury and Planning. With completion of the transaction, customers holding deposits in Spire Bank, other than the remaining deposits from Spire Bank’s controlling shareholder, and specified loan customers will now transition to become EBKL customers.
In other news that made headlines in the region this week, NORFUND has invested in SAMANU to increase the production of edible oils in Ethiopia. SAMANU is a platform company with well-established brands operating in Ethiopia’s main FMCG sub-sectors (Tena Edible Oils, 555 and Aura Soap & Detergents, and Chef Luca wheat products). The investment by Norfund will fund the construction of a new solvent extraction plant to produce edible oils based on locally sourced sesame, sunflower and soya beans in its refineries.
To support universal and affordable broadband access in Africa, and the opportunities that come with increased connectivity, IFC announced a loan to Airtel Africa to help connect millions of new subscribers to mobile internet in six African countries. The financing facility has a tenor of eight years and will be used to support Airtel Africa's operations and investments in among other countries Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
And Toggle Market recently announced the launch of Toggle Finance, it’s innovative B2B product aimed at SMEs seeking supply chain trade finance and payable financing alternatives, to its new customer base in Rwanda.
This innovative solution transforms B2B e-commerce by providing SMEs direct access to financing for their operational purchasing needs.