The government on Tuesday received an additional funding to the tune of Sh.40 billion which will go towards mitigating effects of Covid-19 pandemic in the trade sector.
The funding is an agreement between Trademark East Africa (TMEA) and the European Union to have the latter channel resources through TMEA so as to support the Safe Trade Emergency Facility (STEF) being implemented by the East African Region.
The Safe Trade Facility is an emergency programme being rolled out by TMEA in the wake of Covid-19 to complement East African Governments’ efforts to keep safe trade flowing even as the fight against the virus continues.
The agreement was signed in the presence of the Trade Cabinet Secretary (CS), Betty Maina and his EAC counterpart. Adan Mohammed.
Mohammed lauded the move by EU through TMEA, saying that it will support consistent Covid-19 protocols at the borders, supply critical PPEs to the staff, increase the number of administered tests as well as expand health officers at the borders.
He noted that this is among a raft of initiatives and measures that the government is undertaking so as to ease business along the borders which currently experience heavy snarl ups of trucks even as the government seeks to conduct mandatory tests in a bid to ensure that no virus comes through the borders.
“This particular initiative will further incorporate County governments along the borders who will ensure that all protocols laid are observed,” the CS said.
Ms. Maina noted that this grant is important as it will compliment government efforts that ultimately cushion not only large enterprises but also SMEs who rely greatly on the flow of supply chain.
“Most of these enterprises cannot maintain major inventories and therefore we are grateful that through this grant we will further boost trade at the borders,” said Betty who further called on everybody, including business owners as well as the track drivers to take personal responsibility in ensuring that they are protocol compliant.
The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Simon Mordue said that this contribution will support Kenya which is the gateway to the EAC markets, keep its supply chain open in ensuring that food and other critical supplies reach their destinations during the Corona Virus pandemic.
At the same time, he noted that the funding will support the government to flatten the Covid-19 curve by preventing further cross border transmission due to traffic.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that the economy that has been disrupted due to this pandemic is saved, saving jobs and business is saving lives,” he said.
The TMEA CEO, Frank Matsaert underlined that the Covid-19 situation will be here for a while, adding that it is imperative that relevant stakeholders must now find ways of keeping the trade following while curbing the virus.
“A good starting point is equipping key border agencies with a broad range of equipment and technologies both for trade and related health aspects,” he noted.
The funds will go towards the Kenyan component of the programme, making EU the largest donor to the facility.
Specifically, in Kenya, the Safe Trade Emergency Facility will fund a range of short to medium term measures to protect critical supply chains and keep borders open thus preventing job losses and protecting livelihoods.
Through public-private partnerships the programme will provide mobile testing labs at Mombasa port and key border crossings, including Busia and Malaba, and personal protective equipment for the staff working there, which will complement existing government facilities to prevent the virus from spreading at these important trade hubs.
The programme will also provide information at major border crossings as part of the programme. TMEA will introduce a tracking application linked to the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) platform to monitor both trucks and their drivers, in line with health and sanitation protocols.
The other donors contributing to STEF, include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, UK and USA.
The programme will also provide information at major border crossings.
This funding will be a major boost to the government as it seeks to flatten the curve which has since seen over 3000 test positive to the virus.
By Alice Gworo