The Finnish Government has extended an additional grant of Sh14 billion to TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to spur trade and economic growth in the East African region.
Finnish Ambassador to Kenya Erik Lundberg says the grant is expected to support the work of TMEA in enhancing trade across the East African Community (EAC) and enhance shared prosperity in the region.
The envoy said the grant agreement will in the long run deepen regional economic integration through TMEA over a period of three years noting that the fund is replenished every three years.
Ambassador Lundberg said the funding to TMEA is to support increased trade in the region and continued response to Covid-19 under the Safe Trade Emergency Facility.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday in Mombasa by Ambassador Lundberg and TMEA Board chairman Ambassador Erastus Mwencha at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) headquarters.
The signing ceremony was also graced by the East African Community (EAC) Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Kevit Desai, TMEA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Frank Matsaert and TMEA Country Director Ahmed Farah and the Executive Secretary, Northern Corridor Secretariat Justus Nyarandi.
The Finish envoy noted the agreement will advance common goals of increasing trade within the region by reducing the time and cost of transporting cargo from the Port of Mombasa to the hinterland.
He said Finland believes that supporting increased trade in the region in combination with assistance to the private sector will accelerate economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.
Ambassador Mwencha said the longstanding partnership with Finland will also support East African Community (EAC) regional trade integration efforts.
“Our long standing relationship has over the years eased the movement of goods and services in East Africa,” said Ambassador Mwencha who is also a former Secretary-General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
The TMEA chairman said the grant funding will also be used to bolster investment in Covid-19 economic recovery strategies.
TMEA CEO Frank Matsaert said part of the grant will be used to mitigate the impact of climate change noting that over the years the region has been hit by extreme weather conditions such as heavy rains and flooding hence damaging infrastructure and negatively impacting transport performance.
Dr. Desai said the grant will fund port investments in new technologies and innovations of information and communications technology (ICT) and improving overall business competitiveness.
He also revealed that the EAC is harmonizing its axle load regulations in an effort by the partner states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to bring down transport costs and check overloading that damages road infrastructure.
by Hussein Abdullahi