Slow Internet a challenge to electronic single window system
Local traders have lamented that slow internet is hindering effective performance of the newly established electronic single window system.
The system, which allows importers and exporters to clear their goods online, is now under implementation in the country and has positively impacted the beneficiaries despite some challenges.
“Everything that is done electronically is always faster. It saves time and it is cost effective. But the challenges we get is the internet connection that is sometimes slow and affects our operations,” Janet Nkubana, a trader and chairperson of the Rwanda Exporters Association, an arm of the Private Sector Federation (PSF) said in an interview with Business Times.
Through the system, an importer who, for instance, is at the port of Mombasa, Kenya can clear goods on transit thereby saving time that would have been spent at border posts.
Through the system, traders can now send clearance documents online to all relevant agencies including the Rwanda Revenue Authority, Magasins Generaux du Rwanda (MAGERWA), Rwanda Bureau of Standards, Ministry of Health and Rwanda Development Board.
According to the Secretary General of Rwanda Long Distance Truck Drivers Union (ACPLRWA), Theodore Murenzi, the system has helped in reducing the withholding fee initially paid at Magerwa, which owns warehouses approved and under control of the Customs and Excise Department.
“Today, about 65 percent of transporters use the blue channel regime whereby if a truck enters the country’s borders, it goes directly to the final destination of goods instead of diverting to the warehouse and this has reduced costs especially the withholding tax,” he said.
He further said that the system foils any possibility of tax evasion.
Murenzi said that despite the slow internet connection, there was need to sensitise all traders on the usage of the system saying that some of them neither know how to use a computer nor the internet.
Speaking during the launch of the system in February last year, Trade and Industry minister, Francois Kanimba, said the system was the only alternative to ensure the smooth flow of goods.
“Rwanda being a landlocked country, there is need to introduce simplified systems that facilitate trade as this will create a conducive investment climate thus attracting more investments and economic growth.”
Commenting on the recurring issue of slow internet, John Bosco Kalisa, the Country Programmes Manager at TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) asked all traders affected to always approach the agency.
TMEA is a multi-donor funded agency that provides support for increased regional trade and economic integration in East Africa.
Rwanda is the only country in the region that has implemented the system that was introduced by TMEA. Plans are however underway to extend it to other regional countries.
Transporters cite delays at the borders as an key trade barrier that leads to a hike in commodity prices.
The 2012 African Development Bank (AfDB) report published in August last year revealed that non tariff barriers were derailing the economic development of the region. The bank advised the EAC partner states to allow the free movement of goods if their economies are to grow.
Contact email: eric.kabeera[at]newtimes.co.rw