By Macharia Kamau
A platform expected to significantly hasten import cargo clearance is expected to become operational during the first quarter for next year.
The initial phase of the electronic single window system is expected to be operational in March, and is expected to make exporting and importing into the country fast and transparent by minimising manual process. The system is also expected to reduce the number of days that importers take to clear cargo at the port of Mombasa to three.
The system will require importers to electronically lodge documents for the cargo they intend to clear at the port, and all agencies charged with clearance of imports willview the documents as soon as they are uploaded. It will also allow these agencies to share and exchange these trade related documentation electronically.
An importer has to lodge the documentation to multiple agencies – including the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, different departments of the Kenya Ports Authority, and the Kenya Plant and Health Inspectorate.
“The single window will reduce to three days the time taken to clear cargo at the port of Mombasa, to eight hours at the airports and just an hour at the border crossing points,” said Joseph Kibwana, chairman Kenya Trade Network Agency (Kentrade) said yesterday at a Kenya Port Authority luncheon in Nairobi.
“All the relevant authorities will be able to view the lodged documents at the same time and give their costing to the importer who can then pay their respective costs and go ahead and get their cargo from the ports.”
Kentrade is the Government agency set up to implemented the Kenya Electronic Single Window System. The first phase expected in place mid next year will automate cargo documentation processes by integrating the systems of all the key stakeholders involved in cargo clearance in the public and private sectors.
The second phase will be implemented in the subsequent months and will entail integration of the Single Window System with the National Payments System through a National Payment Gateway to ensure an end-to-end electronic solution in trade logistics.
Clearance of cargo is done manually resulting in delays in cargo clearance. This has in the past resulted in congestion at the port, long truck queues at the border posts and high trade transaction costs. The manual system has also perpetuated corruption and seen Kenya rated as an uncompetitive trade and investment destination.