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Fund to aid transport innovators

By LUKE ANAMI | November 8th 2013

By LUKE ANAMI in Dar es Salaam

A fund that will support innovations that can reduce the logistics and transport costs within the East African region was yesterday launched in Dar es Salaam.

The Logistics Innovations for Trade (Lift) is a fund set aside specifically to enable upcoming as well as established businesses develop new ideas and plans through the use of technologies and cutting edge business practices.

Lift is expected to help reduce freight logistics costs in East Africa, which currently account for about 42 per cent of the total value of imports, making it the region with the second highest transport and logistics costs in the world.

Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) has already set aside US$16 million (Sh1.4 billion) for interested business entrepreneurs and East African citizens to apply for funding.

While launching the fund, UK Secretary of State and International Development, Justine Greening, whose government has contributed to the fund, said the project could help reduce transport times in the region by 15 per cent over the next two years.

“I am very encouraged that African governments are acknowledging the importance of private finance mechanisms. National and regional strategies are required to enable public-private partnerships that are going to be essential in creating private sector confidence needed to play back the financing gap,” she said.

TMEA CEO Frank Matsaert said Lift was trying to make business more efficient.

“If you look at East Africa, 48 per cent of imports are just transport costs. How can you compete with those sorts of costs? Lift is trying to bring new technology in transport logistics to lower those costs and make businesses more competitive, create more jobs and make people grow richer. That is what we want,” Matsaert said when he teamed up with Greening, East African Community Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure Enos Bukuku, and Tanzania’s deputy ministers for EAC and Transport, Dr Abdulla Juma Abdulla and Dr Charles Tizeba, to launch the fund at Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam.

Lift will be administered on a 50-50 basis as the applicants will be required to raise half the funds required to execute their concept.

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