PUBLISHED ON July 25th, 2014


The Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives is ready to launch the information exchange facility, a mobile platform that will allow business people to report on real time non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to relevant authorities.

The service is expected to start this month.

Under the National Response Strategy on Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NRSE-NTBs) project, the trade ministry singles out four key interventions.

First is to design and establish the Information Exchange Facility (IEF) which is going to be operated electronically using mobile phone networks.

Other interventions include re-alignment of National Laws and Regulations, development and implementation of an NTB Elimination Communication and Advocacy Strategy and institutional coordination on elimination of NTBs.

The new system will work in such a way that a trader will be able to fill in a complaint using their phone. This brings to an end to the old style of filling and filing paperwork to authorities which is tedious, time consuming and also expensive.

Under the new system, a person experiencing a barrier sends an SMS to code 201, at a cost of Ush150 (about $0.06).

Previously, the country recorded NTBs manually on paper at border points or other relevant authorities a process that was not fancied considering the hassle one goes through.

Non-Tariff Barriers continue to slow trade in the region which has remained low at $4.5 billion accounting for only 12% to 13% of trade in East Africa.

Such interventions are looked at as a positive move towards getting rid of trade barriers in the five country member trade bloc.

Emmanuel Atwine, the Project Manager NRSE-NTBs at the trade ministry was optimistic they will be ready to operationalize the system before the end of June because the pilot trial on the code was responding positively.

Atwine said that same message initiated goes to the ministry of trade and simultaneously to agencies like Uganda Revenue Authority, Ministry of East African Affairs among others.

“All processes have been finalized. We are working with the telecom companies and recently we have been testing the code and we will be ready before end of June,” Atwine told East African Business Week.

Source: East African Business Week

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