The World Bank funded Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP) has launched a three-months study to develop appropriate strategies of maintaining and sustaining the Trade Information Desk Offices (TIDOs) at the border points.
The objective is to enable the TIDOs to continue facilitating cross border trade beyond the timelines of the main project which ends in December 2021.
The study is expected to produce a comprehensive report detailing a proposed framework and options for sustainability of the TIDOs. This will include an indicative estimate of the maximum amount of money that small-scale cross-border traders may be willing to pay as fees for the TIDOs services at each border.
For each sustainability option recommended, a roadmap of concrete steps and responsible authorities will then be taken to COMESA Member States for validation through a regional workshop before operationalizing the proposed solutions.
GLTFP Coordinator Mr. Thomas Barasa said the issue of sustainability of projects and programmes is important to COMESA and the World Bank.
“The Bank and the (COMESA) Secretariat would like to see the TIDOs continue operating way after the GLTFP has closed. This will ensure that small scale cross-border traders continue their trade without any disturbances,” Mr Barasa added.
He said the study will be undertaken in a participatory manner involving all stakeholders using physical and modern ICT tools such as online meetings.
Being part of the wider World Bank Great Lakes Regional Initiative, the GLTFP aims at increasing formal small-scale cross border trade flows in the region, leading to high revenue collection for governments at the targeted border posts.
One of the core activities of the project is the provision of information and sensitization support to cross border traders, especially, the small-scale category as well as the collection of data on small scale trade.
Through the TIDOs, desk information officers sensitize the traders and collect vital information on small scale cross border trade which would otherwise be missed by the officially designated border agencies like customs officers.
Presently, the TIDOs are operational at 12 selected borders in the three project countries. On the DR Congo-Uganda border are: Mahagi/Goli, Kasindi/Mpondwe and Bunagana/Bunagana. On the DRC-Rwanda borders are Goma/ Petite Barriere Rubavu, Bukavu/Rusizi and at the Kamanyola/ Bugarama border points respectively.