Uganda’s economy is a beehive of activity most of which is comprised of small and medium sized enterprises. Most of these have goals of tapping into the vast export market but have no clue where to start from and the procedures involved which has compromised expansion of their business. This could soon be history following the development of the Trade Information Portal by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives.
The portal, an electronic platform developed with a grant of $500,000 from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), enables all interested parties to access information regarding procedures, documentation, fees and other related charges with respect to exportation, importation and transit of goods.
Speaking at the launch of the portal, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde described the portal as an online one-stop place for all trade information premised on a World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) what was signed in Bali, Indonesia back in 2013 which Uganda ratified last year. The agreement requires member states to publish their export, import and goods’ transit procedures, as well as the responsible people’s contacts, online within available resources, establishing contact points to respond to enquiries.
The Assistant Commissioner for external trade, Richard Okot Okello, explained that the trade portal is designed from the user point of view, through collection of information from different agencies mandated to clear imports and exports. This is aimed at improving the business environment ultimately attracting investment in the country. He added that the goal was to reduce the steps that a trader goes through when exporting or importing, which previously were isolated in different agencies.
This online system whose development started with a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and development partners was commissioned at Kampala Serena Hotel and is fully operational and can be accessed at http://ugandatrades.go.ug.