DENMARK has committed to support green trade and the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the East Africa Community (EAC) region.
The funding will be channeled through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), a leading Aid for Trade Organisation renowned for partnering with Eastern African governments to reduce barriers to trade, through automation and adoption of sustainable physical infrastructures such as One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) and ports, among others.
In the two agreements, 14.5 million US dollars will support Kenya's efforts to transition to green trade and create sustainable jobs under the Denmark and Kenya Strategic Framework for 2021 to 2025.
The second agreement of 3 million US dollars will support continued response to Covid-19 under TradeMark East Africa's Safe Trade Emergency Facility Programme.
Denmark Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Ole Thonke was quoted as saying that with the green trade funding (14.5 million US dollars), TMEA will partner with government institutions and private sector in adopting sustainable and efficient transport, infrastructure for reduced barriers to trade, improving trading standards, sanitary and phytosanitary issues and improving business competitiveness.
The new funding will build up on results that have been achieved in previous programs funded by Denmark, including support to non-motorised transport in the ongoing construction of Mbaraki Road in Mombasa, to include construction of storm water drainage facilities for climate change adaptation, installation of street lighting, construction of footpaths, walkways, and access ramps to enhance movement and safety of people living with disabilities.
In automation, Denmark's funding will ensure that government agencies in partnership with TMEA ramp up digitisation efforts of key trade processes to reduce use of paper and time taken to trade.
Results have been banked from previous support. For example, East Africa Tea Trade Association (EATTA) completed and started use of the Integrated Tea Trade System thus automating Mombasa Tea Auction, the second largest black tea auction in the world.
As a result, tea producers from 10 countries in Eastern African can now offer their teas electronically from their countries without need to travel or congregate at the auction floor and all documentation for teas sold through the auction is now paperless.
The automated system, which will officially be launched later this year, enables the tea sector achieve efficiency positioning it as a competitive auction, and will reduce the tea trading cycle by about 65 per cent from the current 45 to 60 days to less than a month.
Denmark's support to TMEA's Safe Trade will enable continuous efforts to provide essential services at the key entry and exit points while keeping front line border workers safe.
Safe Trade has ensured collaboration to combat Covid-19 through provision of platform for Covid-19 response by public and private partners, partnering with the EAC in leading the regional dialogues and policy interventions, provision of protective equipment, supporting roll-out and uptake of the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS), construction of safe trade zones for women traders across various borders.
"TradeMark East Africa falls under The Denmark-Kenya Sustainable Jobs and Trade thematic focus area whose objective is Green transformation and climate change adaptation, income opportunities and decent jobs, business competitiveness, trade and investments.
"Under these intervention areas, activities will be implemented around trade facilitation, value chains, renewable and non-renewable energy, investment in natural capital, resource efficiency and cleaner technology, climate change mitigation and adaptation, competitiveness, productivity, advocacy, and market access. The cornerstone of TradeMark East Africa's approach is that of partnership to achieve results, with a national focus to supporting implementation of regional issues," said Mr Thonke.
TMEA's Board Chair, Ambassador Erastus Mwencha said that the resolve for promoting inclusive economic growth is greater now as it has always been as Covid-19 pandemic has thrust most economies in the region and the world into a recession.
"For us to recover and build resilience, we must solidify our partnerships. TMEA's success is directly attributable to the robust partnerships established over time with the Government of Kenya and donors such as Denmark. We are keen to support initiatives that will restart the economy and adapt value chains fit for a post Covid-19 world. Including seizing opportunities for local production and export growth," he said.