The Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP) is a 5 year regional project implemented by the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Uganda, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The main project objective is to facilitate cross-border trade by increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs faced by traders, especially small-scale and women traders, at targeted locations in the borderlands. Total budget for the project is 26,000,000 USD over a period of 5 years (2016-2020).
The project will support improvements to infrastructure and facilities at priority border posts. The priority border posts have been identified and proposed by the authorities based on traffic volumes, importance to supply chains of goods traded most across the borders, relevance to conflict dynamics in the region and the poor state of infrastructure to support cross- border trade. Selected facilities will be improved based on integrated designs for efficient and secure traffic flows of pedestrian, passenger and commercial vehicle traffic. The designs will seek to improve security of small scale traders, particularly through separate or demarcated lanes for safe passage of pedestrian traffic, lighting and cameras, and providing warehousing so traders can safely store their goods and minimize losses in their supply chains. In addition, support will be provided to redesign access roads in the control zones and to provide parking facilities for vehicles as well as strengthening IT infrastructure and connectivity for customs and other agencies’ management and processing systems (including cross-border connectivity).
Project beneficiaries will primarily be cross border traders, especially women, air travelers and vulnerable families in borderland areas. Key national project stakeholders and beneficiary institutions include: Ministry of Trade, and Industry (MINICOM); Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority; Rwanda Transport Development Agency; Local Administrative Entities Development Agency; Rwanda Revenue Authority and Directorate-General of Immigration and Emigration.
Progress / Impact
Improvement of border post infrastructure at Rusizi-1
The Consultant has finalized a feasibility study and a formal validation took place on January 11-12 2018. Tender for works is in the offing.
Upon completion, this border infrastructure will enhance cross border trade traffic flow and security, movement towards coordinated one stop border, improved revenue collection, improved border transport infrastructure and facilities, reduced travel time and cost, improved drainage in and around the border posts, enhanced public health of the communities, and generally improved environment for people to live and work.
Establishment of Border Markets
The feasibility studies for Nyamasheke District had completed and validated. The next phase is the launch of constructions works slated to take place by June 2018. These cross border markets will enhance exports due to increased border market infrastructure, increase incomes and employment opportunities for border communities including the disadvantaged groups.
Cross-border trade will facilitate agricultural trade and increase resilience and social cohesion. Trade facilitation will enable agricultural producers to sell their produce more easily and speedily; improve access to critical inputs into production; reduce the prices of consumer goods and services, and increase real incomes.
Policy Reforms to Facilitate Cross Border Trade.
The reforms are essential to make border crossing procedures more transparent and predictable for traders. This is of particular importance to small-scale traders, and especially women, who are typically more vulnerable given the asymmetry in power between the official and trader and the current lack of a functioning mechanism for addressing complaints and resolving disputes for small-scale traders.
Under this framework, the Project has created Joint Border Committees which will regularly incorporate traders’ representatives through membership of trade related sub committees where appropriate, and will be used as the main platform for small-scale (women) traders to: lodge complaints and report abuses, including harassment and other forms of gender-based violence; receive first-hand assistance and legal advice; and provide feedback on reported cases of abuse.
The reforms will contribute to increased safety and less scope for harassment at the border, especially against women, to shorter time to cross the border (thus providing the opportunity to eventually increase the number of journeys in a day, with a corresponding increase in profits and revenue) and to improved control and revenue generation at key border crossings.
The project will continue to support JBC workshops, trainings and other capacity building exercises to illustrate to both traders and officials the benefits of establishing such joint platforms, as well as to progressively build mutual trust between the two groups.
These reforms will in general lead to : Improved border crossing regulatory framework, movement towards coordinated one stop border posts, and enhanced cooperation to facilitate trade in services especially logistics, financial and key professional services.
Upgrading Infrastructure at Kamembe airport in Rwanda
The project is supporting Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) to develop navigation infrastructure and improve security at Kamembe Airport. So far, the perimeter fence has been completed and the final detail designs for navigation infrastructure (AMHS and D-AIM components) of the upgrading works had been submitted for review and approval. The next phase will be the completion of the installation.
Kamembe has a comparative advantage over other airports in the region: both Goma (DRC) and Bujumbura (Burundi) airports are more than 100km from Bukavu while Kamembe is 25 minutes flying time from Kigali, through which travelers can connect to the rest of the world. The majority of passengers passing through Kamembe are Congolese (about 90 percent), a significant proportion of whom source tradeable goods from the Middle East and ship them through Rwanda.
The airport has great potential, with passenger traffic growing at an average of 19 percent per annum for the last 4 years.
The project is complementing the government investment in the runway and finance new navigational aids and weather equipment, aeronautical ground lighting, airport perimeter fencing and lighting and a transit cargo facility (US$14.2 million). The improvements to the airport are a priority of the government and are part of the country’s Strategic Transport Master Plan.