[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: What 2022 portends for East Africa
As the East African Community, EAC, member states eye innovative ways of deepening integration and trading more with each other, the bloc and individual countries are putting in place mechanisms, policies and legislation that seek to address longstanding hiccups that have put the brakes on seamless regional trade.
The EAC Secretariat recently convened a multi-sectoral meeting to consider the adoption of the EACPass, a harmonized system to facilitate cross-border movement, in a bid to end persistent border traffic snarl-ups disrupting intra-EAC trade. The meeting will include Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs, Transport and Health.
The meeting came in the background of an ongoing trade impasse at the Kenya-Uganda border points of Busia and Malaba that has disrupted cross-border trade. The two borders on the Northern Corridor also serve Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Previous attempts at opening up the borders for the member states like the one stop border posts have yielded impressive results by connecting businesses and small traders with each other across the region. Such interventions will feature prominently in 2022.
To deepen financial inclusion and bolster fintech operations, companies in the region have adopted new solutions and partnerships.
Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL), a Kenya Bankers Association’s (KBA) real-time payment services company has launched a modernized real-time payment system based on ISO 20022.
The new real-time payment system, delivered by TietoEVRY, put Kenya as one of the first countries in Africa to start running an ISO 20022 instant payments system with modern micro-services technology.
Still in Kenya, Equity Bank has reduced the duration it takes to settle PayPal withdrawals from 3 Business days to just 24 hours.
This development, the bank says will allow it to offer the fastest PayPal settlement period in the country enhancing efficiency for the increasing number of Kenyans who receive payment through the international payment solutions provider.
In Uganda MTN Mobile Money has launched a new MTN MoMo overdraft service that will enable MTN MoMo customers to access advance Mobile Money funds that they can use to complete their MoMo transactions and pay back later. Dubbed MoMoAdvance, the service has been launched in partnership with NCBA Bank.
Available to all MTN MoMo customers, MTN MoMoAdvance is an extension of the MTN MoMo customers’ transacting capability, enabling them to continue transacting even when they have run out of MoMo within an approved credit limit.
In the region’s aviation sector, Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services, Africa’s largest network operator has launched a new feature that enables customers to make online reservations for their cargo.
The platform enables customers check flight schedules, space availability, loadability of freight and makes real-time booking of their shipment in single and convenient way on cargobooking.ethiopianairlines.com.
In Kenya government has scrapped its plan to re-nationalize Kenya Airways, and will instead protect its financial interests during a USD1billion restructuring of the flag carrier that will include a USD827million debt take-over and a USD473 million cash injection, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed.
Uganda on the other hand is planning to acquire its first narrowbody jets. The state-owned airline currently operates four two A330-800s and four CRJ900s on flights that connect its Entebbe/Kampala base with Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya, the DRC and Somalia regionally as well as South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) internationally.
In the banking sector, the Bank of Uganda in its latest analysis has said that the global economic uncertainties due to Covid-19 will continue into 2022 as the pandemic starts its third year.
And this, among other factors, will have negative effects on the Ugandan economy next year.
Equity Bank Uganda has on the other hand launched the Equity Leaders Program (ELP) by admitting its first cohort of 123 top-performing scholars from the 43 Districts where the Bank has a branch presence.
The launch of the Equity Leaders Program, a mentorship and leadership development program, plays a significant role in extending Equity Bank Uganda’s social impact contribution through the scaling up of various programs that are already under implementation through Equity Group Foundation (EGF), the Group’s social impact engine.
For the second consecutive year, Equity Bank Rwanda has received the top award as the Bank of the Year Rwanda 2021 during the Bank of the Year Awards 2021 by The Banker.
The Bank of the Year Awards celebrates the best of global banking and are regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence.
In Tanzania, The World Bank has approved $150 million in financing to strengthen Tanzania’s land administration system and increase tenure security for at least two million land holders, users and their families.
The new financing from the International Development Association (IDA) is for the Land Tenure Improvement Project (LTIP) which will be implemented by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, targeting 14 regions which cover approximately 40 districts.