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Border officials and traders at ten border points between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda have been empowered with knowledge on the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime and the minimum standards for treatment of small scale cross border traders.

The training and awareness creation programme conducted by COMESA staff was held under the World Bank funded Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP). The first phase of this project covers the DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The four main objectives of the workshops were to make the GLTFP known, to increase awareness among the customs, immigration, police and health officers, Cross Border Traders Associations (CBTAs), cross border traders and other stakeholders on the COMESA STR and the regulations on minimum standards for the treatment of small scale cross border traders.

Other objectives were that improved understanding of the STR is expected to contribute to greater impetus towards implementation of the STR and ultimately more small scale traders benefitting from the regime.

The enhanced understanding of gender issues and the regulations on the minimum standards for the treatment of small scale traders would contribute to more professional treatment of small scale traders and reduction of incidents of harassment, corruption, conflict and other malpractices and ultimately reduce costs of doing business by small scale traders.

The borders that were trained are Rusizi and Rubavu in Rwanda, Bukavu, Bunagana, Kasindi, Mahagi and Goma in the DRC and Bunagana, Mpondwe and Goli in Uganda.

Each of the 10 awareness workshops held from 7 – 21 December 2017, was attended by an average of 50 participants.