Importance of One Stop Border Post facilities in EAC integration

One Stop Border Post (OSBP) is a border facility that combines two stops for national border control processing into one and consolidates border control functions in a shared space for exiting one country and entering another.

One Stop Border Post (OSBP) is a border facility that combines two stops for national border control processing into one and consolidates border control functions in a shared space for exiting one country and entering another. 

It uses simplified procedures and joint processing wherever appropriate.The aim of OSBPs is to reduce transit costs incurred in cross-border movement by combining the activities of both country’s border organizations and agencies at either a single common location or at a single location in either direction without increasing risk to public safety or revenue collection.

Various studies have indicated that transport costs in East Africa are amongst the highest in the world. This damages the region’s ability to trade competitively in the international market.

In particular, the time taken to get to and from the ports to land locked countries is singled out as a major factor.

In addition, poor infrastructure and delays at border crossings are further contributing factors along the East African trade routes.

Most National Revenue Authorities have made considerable progress to modernize their approach on the application of border controls including the introduction of Information Technology to increase the effectiveness of control procedures at border posts.

Their objective is to implement correct, systematic and effective controls to facilitate the movement of passengers and goods while ensuring effective revenue collection and enhanced public security.

While National Immigration and Emigration offices are doing their best to do their work effectively and efficiently.

In East African Community (EAC), to improve the business environment in the region, the five Partner States agreed to work together and boost economic ties, as well as put in place facilities to reduce the cost of trade in the region.

Among the many initiatives implemented is the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept, which has boosted trade facilitation across borders by harmonizing border control regulations and procedures and, thus, enabling expeditious and more effective border control mechanisms.

The initiative has also reduced the number of stops by consignments at border posts and other transactions by combining border control activities at a single location. This means that there are no repetitions of clearing procedures.

Such projects by the EAC countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi) have been implemented successfully by employing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to ease the sharing of data that is useful in border control operations.

The implementation of OSBP has seen the five EAC Partner States conducting joint technical training of border control officers to ensure common levels of understanding of the one stop border post operations. 

Moreover, since EAC is planned to abolish customs duty in 2010 and to activate the trade within the area, its necessity to facilitate the border procedure at the point that deemed as the bottleneck on the Corridor.

The OSBP bill has been developed which envisages com­mon border posts, among which the Taveta-Holili border and the Naman­ga border (Kenya-Tanzania), Busia and Malaba borders (Kenya-Uganda) and the Kanyaru-Akanyaru border (Burundi-Rwanda). Others are the Mutukula border (Tanzania-Ugan­da), Gasenyi-Nemba border (Burun­di-Rwanda), Lungalunga-Horohoro border (Kenya-Tanzania), Gatuna and Katuna (Rwanda-Uganda) and Rusumo OSBP between Rwanda and Tanzania

What OSBPs mean to Rwandans?

One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) being introduced on the Rwandan common borders with other EAC Partner States include Gasenyi-Nemba border (Burun­di-Rwanda), Gatuna and Katuna (Rwanda-Uganda) and Rusumo OSBP between Rwanda and Tanzania, Kagitumba and Mirama Hills, Kanyaru-Akanyaru border (Burundi-Rwanda), some are in progress or under construction and others have been operationalized to address one of the main delaying factors on major transport corridors.

They combine two stops into one and consolidate functions in a shared work space for exiting one country and entering another thus reducing travel time for passengers and freight vehicles.

These OSBPs enable border agencies from Rwandasneighbouring EAC Partner States to perform joint controls that can result in benefits to security, trade facilitation and human mobility. 

OSBPs facilitate mobility of persons and, by reducing time loss, can also reduce the cost of transport for shippers and goods to consumers accruing economic benefits across the national economic spectrum

In Rwanda, the Gasenyi/Nemba OSBP linking Rwanda and Burundi is fully operational. “There is a big improvement ever since the facility started operating with time taken being currently reduced to less than 40 minutes since everything including police is housed under a single facility”.

Rusumo OSBP was launched, this combines an international bridge, expecting to increase the axle load and increasing the speed for transit trucks.

Road networks between the two border facilities have not been left out and importantly to note ultimate increase of both traffic and trade volumes along the borders with OSBP facilities.

Increased free movement of persons and development of urban or trading centres are always associated with these newly constructed or upgraded OSBP facilities.

The writer is Director General: Coordination of EAC Affairs in the Ministry of EAC affairs.