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Kenya premiers in e-electronic phytosanitary certificates

Kenya is the first country in Africa to introduce and adopt e- electronic phytosanitary certification (ephyto).

And many other nations in the continent are visiting the country to benchmark and is likely to increase the quality of trade with the European market that fits well in the ongoing agriculture digitalization programme.

Speaking during the E-certification milestone celebrations, Principal Secretary, State department for Crop and Development, in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Kellow Harsama expressed optimism that the shift was instrumental in shaping a more inclusive digital transformation in all business processes in agriculture and trade.

“It is time to ensure that the future of innovation contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Let’s work together to embrace a win-win future”, the PS told participants during the celebrations marking the cooperation between Kenya and The Netherlands on the Electronic Certification milestone

Covid 19 pandemic, he added, had affected   every organization around the world, necessitating changes in their strategies to embrace digitalization of their operation to cope with the life threatening situation.

“We are aware that digitalization is a key factor to bolster investment and innovative development for both our countries”, he said.

Harsama noted that technology enhanced security by reducing risks associated with cyber-attacks which can disrupt business operations.

“Our focus towards digitalization and our investment in the development of innovative technologies has enabled us to effectively complete in the global market where the transformation has a high impact in many areas, especially enhanced trade in plants and plant products”, he said.

The PS added that the development of electronic certification standard and creation of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto Hub serves as a platform for exchange of electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhyto) among trading partners where over 70 countries have successfully implemented paperless certification and this he added is indeed an achievement worth celebrating.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) Managing Director Prof. Theophilus Mutui said the need to enhance efficiency in service delivery provided a unique opportunity to holistically examine the business processes of importation, exportation of plants and plant products from a digital perspective.

“We have had over a decade of opportunities where we have worked together with the Netherlands to automate our processes. We take pride in our globally recognized and solid reputation in the phytosanitary arena that has been possible because of our objective of investing in our customers’ businesses”, he added

Prof. Mutui explained that the previous and current digital transformation encompasses the development and implementation of the Export and Import Certification Systems.

“ In order to meet these high customer expectations, we have accelerated the digitization of our business processes that goes beyond simply automating the existing processes but re-inventing the entire business processes, including developing automated decision making, and dealing with regulatory and fraud issues”, he said

The MD noted that KEPHIS has benefited from the cooperation with the Netherlands through staff training on specific disciplines, knowledge transfer and skill development, a value which has set Kenya as a leader representing Africa in the global ePhyto steering group.

While we celebrate this milestone we realize that innovation is a dynamic process, Prof. Mutui said they will continue to explore more opportunities for innovation so that they can deliver efficient and cost effective service to all stakeholders.

“There are other milestones to be achieved, notably ePermits for import of plants and plant products and for this we will continue to work with governments across the world to strengthen digitization of phytosanitary certification and other processes”, the MD said

Patricia de Vries – van Loon – Chief Phytosanitary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality from the Netherlands said their county was keen to expand the Ephyto concept beyond Kenya as the starting point.


She said by going paperless, the electronic certification system will facilitate a more efficient trade of fresh produce between our two countries by improving the efficiency of imports and exports through saving time and valuable resources.


“We from the Netherlands see the adoption of the ePhyto as a win-win for both our countries,” said Mrs. Patricia.   She added, “We are proud that Kenya is the first country in Africa to successfully implement the ePhyto.


Automation of the phytosanitary services has led to benefits accrued to both the public and private sector key players. For the public sector, certification provides reliable, efficient and effective measures against counterfeit certificates with a resultant effect of better protection of the importing country against plant pests and diseases.

The private sector which includes exporters and logistics service providers benefit through removal of complexity and time consuming processes which are normally associated with manual processing of paper certificates and has seen 60 percent of consignments rejected at border points due to non-compliance associated with paper certificates,

Automation will simplify business processes, reduce cargo dwell time, and provide the authorities of the importing country opportunity to review consignment data and correction where necessary before the cargo leaves the country of origin.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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