Wednesday, 15th May 2024 – Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Officiating the Regional Workshop on Track and Trace Systems in the framework of the East African Community (EAC), organized by the East African Business Council (EABC), the Chief Guest Hon. Exaud S. Kigahe, Deputy Minister for Industries and Trade, United Republic of Tanzania stated, “According to a report by the World Customs Organization (WCO), illicit trade accounts for approximately 3.3 percent of global trade, a significant economic loss for governments and legitimate businesses.”

He applauded EABC and EAC for organizing discussions on solutions to combat illicit trade, noting that the workshop comes at the right time, as countries worldwide implement measures like Tracking and Tracing (T&T) systems to address illicit trade.

He stated, “As East Africans, given our level of integration, trade interaction, and existence of porous borders in our region, it is high time we consider the adoption of a common regional and interoperable Track and Trace solution to enable cross-border sharing of data and close cooperation to enhance stop illicit trade in our Community.”

In his remarks, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa stated, “In the EAC, digital tax stamps and electronic cargo tracking systems are among the digital technologies governments have rolled out with a view to track trade. The technologies are more focused on authentication (tax-stamp based) and tax verification solutions, rather than tracking and tracing.”

He urged governments to adopt a regional track and trace system to streamline cross-border trade, combat illicit trade, improve health, and boost government revenue collection.

He stated that the EABC has urges Governments to reduce costs of Digital Tax Stamp (DTS) to enhance revenue collection and business operations. He noted, Tanzania’s recent DTS reduction is appreciated; but similar actions are needed in other EAC states. For instance, DTS costs $25.72 per 1,000 stamps in Kenya for tobacco products, which warrants a deeper regional system review.

“The EAC Competition Authority is mandated to promote and protect fair competition and enhance consumer welfare within the EAC Partner States, fostering economic growth and prosperity for the citizens of East Africa,” said Stellah Nyambeki Onyancha, Deputy Registrar at the East African Community Competition Authority.

The Deputy Registrar explained that illicit trade, anti-competitive practices, and consumer violations pose formidable challenges, including counterfeits, contraband, piracy, and IPR violations. These challenges erode trust, distort competition, drive away investors, and worsen consumer welfare, jeopardizing the integrity of our economies. She called for collective efforts by Government, businesses, and consumers to resolve and confront illicit trade and promote fair competition in East Africa.

She stated that a regional track and trace system will harmonize tracking and documentation processes, reduce barriers and transaction costs, enhance competition, eliminate anti-competitive practices, and ensure safety for both suppliers and consumers.

In his presentation during the panel discussion on “Benefits of Digitization: Win-Win for All,” Eng. Ahmad Abdeldayem Aljawawdeh, Director of Planning and Studies and Track & Trace Project Manager at the Income and Sales Tax Department (ISTD), stated that following the adoption of the track and trace system in Jordan, illicit trading reduced by 30% and production grew by 50%.

In his contribution, Cobus de Hart, Director of Consulting at Oxford Economics Africa, South Africa, explained that a regional Track and Trace (T&T) system will enable the EAC bloc to pool resources, share technical assets, minimize costs, and provide timely information. This system will equip law enforcement with the intelligence needed to better protect and control border posts and routes, which is crucial given their limited resources. Other panelists included Nadia Berwa, Tax Officer at the Rwanda Revenue Authority, and Manuel Sumbula, President of the Angola Industrial Beverage Association. The session was moderated by Hafiz Choudhury of M Group.

The Regional Workshop on Track and Trace Systems, within the framework of the East African Community (EAC), convened over 85 government officials, private sector stakeholders, international experts, and industry leaders. They exchanged insights on strategies to enhance regional collaboration, share best practices, and formulate proposals and a roadmap towards a digital regional track and trace system, a key enabler for improved revenue collection and the fight against illicit trade.

Highlights of the key benefits for the regional track and trace system include:

  1. Streamline Cross-Border Trade: A regional digital tracking system simplifies processes, reducing transit times and costs, promoting regional trade and investment.
  2. Boost Tax Revenues: Digital tracking enhances tax administration efficiency, simplifying reporting, minimizing paperwork, and strengthening tax collection.
  3. Foster Collaboration: Digital tracking fosters collaboration among stakeholders, enabling data exchange and coordinated efforts to combat illicit trade.
  4. Strengthen Enforcement: Real-time tracking provides governments visibility into supply chains, aiding in identifying illicit activities and enforcing regulations.
  5. Enhance Supply Chain Transparency: Digital tracking offers real-time visibility into goods movement, ensuring accountability and minimizing risks.
  6. Build Consumer Confidence: Digital tracking empowers consumers with detailed product information, enhancing confidence in authenticity and quality.
  7. Improve Risk Management: Digital tracking enables proactive risk management, identifying and addressing supply chain threats swiftly.
  8. Drive Innovation: Adoption of digital tracking drives innovation, unlocking efficiency and transparency opportunities for governments and businesses.
  9. Promote Sustainable Development: Digital tracking promotes economic growth by attracting investment, stimulating growth, and creating job opportunities.
Published On: May 15th, 2024 / Categories: Highlights, News /