BY Joe Rwangi
The Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives has launched a new project to promoteg cross-border trade between Uganda Rwanda and DR Congo.
Speaking at the launch of the “Great Lakes Facilitation Project” (GLFT) at the ministry headquarters in Kampala Amelia Kyambadde said the project will help improve infrastructure and eliminate cross-border constraints to regional trade.
The minister said GLTF will facilitate cross-border trade by increasing capacity for commerce and reducing the cost of trade, especially those incurred by small scale and women traders at targeted locations in the borderlands.
The project beneficiaries in Uganda will be vulnerable families in the borderland areas, cross-border traders, especially women, and users of border markets.
“This will be on the cross-border markets with DR Congo at Bunagana, Mpondwe and Goli. The interventions under the project will include improving core border infrastructure and facilities, construction of border export zones, formalising cross-border trade and ensuring effective monitoring and evaluation,” Kyambadde said.
The trade minister said the design of the project reflects the nature of trade linkages that have developed during the periods of instability and conflicts.
According to the minister, small scale trade is of great importance and is dominated by women for whom trading activities is a critical source of household income and who often face harassment and extortion when crossing borders.
Paul Brenton, lead economist at the World Bank Group in charge of trade and competitiveness, said the project will improve the livelihoods of small scale traders, improve cross-border trade and enable small scale traders to grow into bigger businesses.
“We hope that by the end of the project in 2021 there will be reduced poverty among the cross border traders as well as improved livelihoods basing on our experience from other parts of the world,” he said.GLTF will help to address some of these challenges such as lack of knowledge of trade regulations, procedures and their rights, vulnerability during travels and at the border, lack of adequate services as well as invisibility of women traders.
The project is funded by the World Bank at a tune of Shs50.4 billion and is spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Ministry of Works and Transport in collaboration with border agencies.