COMESA has recruited and deployed 14 Trade Information Officers (TIDOs) to facilitate cross border trade along the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ten out of the 14 TIDOs have been posted to the DRC border points comprising of Bukavu, Goma, Bunagana, Kasindi and Mahagi. The other four were posted to the corresponding border offices of Rusizi and Rubavu in Rwanda.
Recruitment of an additional six to cover the Uganda border points of Bunagana, Mpondwe and Goli are underway which will bring to 20 the total number of the officers recruited.
The deployment of the TIDOs is part of the implementation of the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Programme (GLTFP) financed by the World Bank and implemented by COMESA and its three Member States of DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
The programme aims at facilitating cross-border trade by increasing the capacity for commerce and reducing the costs of doing trade faced by small-scale cross-border traders and especially women.
Last week, COMESA conducted an induction training for the 14 TIDOs in Rubavu, Rwanda, to prepare them for the job that requires, among others data collection, analysis and reporting. As part of the induction, the officers were trained on using a newly developed mobile application which was also piloted at the Rubavu/ Goma border.
The Director General of Planning and Coordinator of Single Project Implementation Unit, Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs of Rwanda, Mr. Jean Louis Uwintoze presided over the opening ceremony.
In his address, Mr. Uwintoze urged Member States in the project to provide the required support to the TIDOs to enable them facilitate cross border trade. He said Rwanda will harmonize the roles of TIDOs with those of the cross border market field officers as well as the informal cross border trade data collectors.
“We want to make sure that their deliverables concur to the implementation of the Rwanda Cross Border Trade Strategy,” he said.
Through this Strategy, Mr. Uwintoze said Rwanda seeks to promote trade with all its neighbouring countries and in particular with DRC where huge influx of cross-border traders is experienced on a daily basis.
Between 40,000 and 45, 000 traders cross the Rwanda - DR Congo border at Rubavu/Goma every day making it one of the busiest borders in Africa.
The GLTFP Project Coordinator, Mr. Thomas Barasa, implored the TIDOs to work towards ensuring that informal traders are assisted, supported and guided as outlined in their job descriptions.
Mr. Barasa underscored the importance of countries joining efforts to facilitate the implementation of the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) which seeks to formalize the informal small scale cross border trade.
The Provincial Coordinator of the GLTFP in South Kivu, who was the leader of the DRC delegation to the training, Professor Celestin Bucederwa said the deployment of the TIDOs will help to address some of the problems faced by cross border traders.
National and provincial coordinators of GLTFP from South Kivu and North Kivu of the DRC attended the raining alongside senior officials of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs from Rwanda, Cross border market field officers and COMESA Secretariat staff.