Category: Kenya

IOTA Foundation Join Hands with Kenyan Firm to Roll Out Paperless Trade in East Africa

The IOTA Foundation has stated that the initial stage of its cooperation with an East African business to facilitate paperless trading in the area has been completed successfully. The Foundation partnered with TradeMark Africa on the initiative, which aimed to modernize the continent’s supply chain’s inefficient and expensive paper-based procedures. This technique was substituted by a more effective digital approach system on the basis of IOTA’s ledger data platform, the Tangle. The Foundation collaborated with the Nairobi, Kenya-headquartered business to develop an interconnectivity technological framework that allows East African companies to “interact in a clear, safe, and immediate manner, both between themselves and with global associates.” TradeMark Africa (TMA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting regional commercial development. According to their calculations, a single transaction in Africa necessitates the completion of 96 paper based documents on average. The situation is far worse for exporters. They misplace papers because they have to distribute them physically, which contributes to inefficiencies, which are usually always pricey. Along with TMA, the IOTA Foundation is working to alter this. The Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP), which centered on the Kenyan flower business, was their initial effort. It’s among Kenya’s most important industries, and is also one of Africa’s largest. Kenya exports around 180,000 tonnes of flowers each year, or nearly seven million stems each day. Because this sort of product is very perishable, having an effective and robust distribution chain is important. This is something that TLIP has already been giving to farmers and exporters. “In...

A ‘blossoming partnership’: digital corridor drives Kenyan flower exports to UK

International trade, however, has a huge part to play in keeping the UK’s florists stocked with fresh cut flowers. The second top import market to the UK for flowers is Kenya, which supplies just over 8 percent of British-sold flowers, or 10,000 tons, worth not far off £67 million. Cut flowers account for 25% of all Kenyan imports to the UK. The Institute of Export & International Trade has been working with donor organization TradeMark Africa (TMA) to implement a ‘digital trade corridor’ between the UK and Kenya to help simplify trade between the two nations. The initiative, called the ‘UK-Kenya Trade Logistics Information Pipeline’ (TLIP), aims to eliminate documentation and introduce better visibility in the supply chains flowing between the UK and Kenya. This initiative builds upon on the Kenya-UK Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed in December 2020. TLIP's system uses blockchain technology to link all those in a supply chain together, enabling faster logistics and easier trading. Marco Forgione, director general of the IOE&IT, said: “This Valentine’s Day when you were giving your loved one a beautiful bouquet of flowers, consider the journey they have taken to put that smile on their face. Around nine different organizations are involved with the transportation of flowers from Kenya before they enter your home and all of these actions in the supply chain require documentation to move the goods along on their journey. “The trade corridor we are creating will provide more transparency and enable all actors to view the...

Technology reduces lurking danger for truck drivers and goods

“Armed men broke his windscreen and started hitting him with an iron bar. They stole the goods he was carrying and left him for dead. By the time help came, it was too late. He had died from excessive bleeding,”-Patrick Mutinda, former Truck driver. East Africa’s Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking system (RECTS) has many benefits some of which include safety of cargo, expedited clearance at borders and reduced dumping. To many long-distance truck drivers, it has assured them of safety on the sometimes-treacherous transport corridors. RECTs is a webbased system that provides a harmonised platform for revenue authorities in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda to monitor transit cargo from loading to offloading thus curbing cargo dumping, diversion among other risks. Over the years, cargo volume along transport corridor has increased and this raised the need to facilitate quick movement of cargo without compromising customs security controls. That is the well-known story. The untold story is that of long-distance truck drivers ferrying high risk and often in demand goods, whose lives have been saved from armed robbers by the rapid response unit attached to RECTs. Drivers like Mutinda. Mutinda is a former long-distance truck driver. He recalls his perpetual discomfort driving along Kiu, a lonely hilly section of the Mombasa-Nairobi highway near Salama, as the area was known for armed gangsters who attacked cargo trucks. His friend lost his life in one such incidence. “My friend… as his truck slowed down, armed men attacked him, injuring him, and taking off with the goods...

New initiatives at KEBS reduce certification time, open doors for SMEs

Bureaucratic delays related to standards certification almost led Michael Kimeu* to give up on his ambitions to set up a bottled water business in early 2010’s. Kimeu set up a water distillation and bottling plant on the outskirts of Kajiado, a county to the south west of Kenya’s capital Nairobi. However, he knew that he could not embark on his new venture without his product acquiring certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS). The certification is a mandatory requirement for all locally manufactured products before they are shipped to markets locally or even regionally. It is issued to a firm as confirmation that a product conforms to requirements set by the Bureau. As soon as his equipment was installed and first product samples generated, Kimeu lodged his application for a permit. Almost half a year later, he was yet to receive the permit and attempts to follow up led to frustration. The delay had a negative impact on his business as supermarkets and other retailers could not stock his product without the KEBS mark of quality. It is an offence under the Standards Act Cap 496 of the laws of Kenya to offer a product for sale without a valid standard mark of quality. To keep his business active, Kimeu altered his initial plans and set up a small-scale water-refilling business, awaiting the KEBS license. "The kin d of investment I had made could not be recouped by the new strategy and I found that I was running into...

Mariam Babu – Reformed Smuggler Leading Women Cross-Border Traders on the Path to Self-Reliance

Mariam Babu, 43, a mother of five and grandmother to two who sells eggs in Kenya and salt in Uganda via the Busia border town, is not the image that springs to mind when you think of a smuggler. Yet when she recalls her time bringing in products from Kenya into Uganda through abandoned bush routes in the dead of the night, around 10 years ago, that is the word she chooses to describe herself. [caption id="attachment_55075" align="alignnone" width="640"] “Don’t get me wrong. We were not bringing in dangerous contraband,” she notes, “it was things like rice, wheat flour, and household goods. Yet the process of going through the proper routes at the Busia border, before the One-Stop Border Post was built was too complicated and too difficult for us small traders. The offices we have today didn’t exist. None of us knew where to go to clear our goods, the officers were rude and corrupt, and there was much paperwork to do - it was all so expensive. We never felt welcome at the border!”[/caption] Today, Mariam is the chairwoman of the Women’s Cross Border Traders Cooperative Society. From her office at the Women’s Trade Desk at the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), she reflects on her decade-long transformation. The changes at the border over the past several years, she says, have not only changed the border but also changed her life. She notes the establishment of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market, the construction of the OSBP...

A Green Port. What is It Worth?

A few years ago, the cargo handling section of Mombasa port teamed with dusty and sweaty workers busy hauling  heavy packages on their backs, from the warehouses to the waiting lorries. Injuries and chest pains were a norm. One of these workers was Humphrey Agini. He recounts how the polluted and risky work environment caused him to take many sick leaves; and quantifies the wages he lost, as a result, to the thousands of shillings. He wishes away those back breaking days . For years, Humphrey, who is employed by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) spent his days offloading heavy sacks of clinker, coal, fertiliser and industrial chemicals. The fierce sun would burn on ruthlessly. He worked for sheer survival. Each time he was about to give up, he remembered his parents back in the rift valley region of Kenya and his younger siblings who relied on the earnings he made. He became a sort of expert in handling dirty cargo. Yet, protective gear was unheard of and many were the days when both he and his colleagues fell ill. Just as hundreds of other port workers shared in his fate; so, did hundreds of importers and exporters, who contended with the delays this caused to exit or enter the port. Greening the port takes off Humphrey’s hard work and diligence had caught the eye of his superiors. And so, when KPA in partnership with TMA transitioned to mobile harbour cranes for bulk cargo handling in 2017, to increase port productivity, he was...

Kenya, Uganda deepen trade ties with the Busia One Stop Border Post

Edna Mudibo, a Kenyan smallscale trader in the border town of Busia who frequents Uganda, has found a renewed drive to carry on with her business and has ended years of cat and mouse games with police officers and border officials. This, thanks to a new initiative that further seeks to bolster trade relations between Kenya and Uganda. Unwilling to pass through the gazetted routes due to payment of duty, Edna, and many of her fellow traders would use clandestine but dangerous routes to ferry goods across the Kenyan-- Ugandan border. At times she would hire a man in a wheelbarrow to transport her goods through rough terrain, away from the main road network which would take her days to cross the Kenyan side. When she would bump into police officers who were doing random surveillance, they would confiscate all her goods, take the money she had and sometimes beat her. “It is a terrible experience and sometimes women do this because of lack of experience. Majority of women who used to take these routes would end up being even raped by these policemen,” she said. She is among over 20,000 small scale traders in Kenya and Uganda who are now growing their fortunes by freely trading across the border, thanks to the new one stop border posts. The initiative, which was unveiled in February, 2018 by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, combines two national border controls into one reducing the time it takes to...

Raising the benchmark on environmental management: Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) seeks water harvesting solutions

The coastal city of Mombasa experiences heavy rains and flooding several times a year. Whenever the rains pound this historic destination, the storm water causes havoc sometimes resulting in loss of human life and destruction of property. Despite the constant flow of the mighty Tana River into the Indian Ocean and the huge volumes of rain water that Mombasa receives annually, the city suffers a major deficit in water supply. The constant flooding and lack of water management systems poses a health hazard as well. Case in point, in May this year an outbreak of Cholera and other water borne diseases followed in the wake of flooding and heavy downpour. Large government institutions have not been spared from constant shortages as, The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) says it has never had enough water for use by either its workers, clients or general port users. Bernard Kyumbu, a frequent user of the port says many are the times he has been thoroughly embarrassed when he could not access sanitation facilities at the port, because they were locked. “I import cars and there have been times when after spending hours at the port waiting for clearance of containers and when the toilet facilities are shut down we are informed it is due to lack of water.” The Green Port Policy adopted by the port management with the support of TradeMark Africa (TMA) is expected, among other things, to address the issue of water harvesting, recycling, water purification, and sewerage treatment. Under the...

Achieving gender equality at the port- Kenya’s first female marine pilot

Elizabeth Marami did not really know what she was getting into, when she applied to become a marine captain through the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).  “It was not something that I was interested in as a kid, but I was always up for a challenge. When I got called in and I learnt what it was about I totally fell in love with the whole idea.”  Now Kenya’s first female marine pilot and a certified second officer, Elizabeth is the only woman out of 17 other trainee pilots at the port. At 26 years old, she is also among the younger people in her field. Neither this, nor the eight-hour days, or long months at sea, faze Elizabeth. She recalls spending one Christmas sailing to Saudi Arabia, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone network. “Such things make you really feel intimidated and for a split second you can question why you even chose to be here. But then you must know your end game. If you do, you can persevere and keep on going. If you are a go-getter you can achieve anything you want to achieve.” Still it requires something of an adjustment when Elizabeth first boards the ship and is the only woman in a crew of 50 - 100. “You have to fight for yourself to be perceived as equal. “ Thankfully, Elizabeth feels supported by her supervisors. “My superiors everywhere, even at the port have always been supportive of me. They said that...

Meeting standards means access to markets for Kenya’s horticultural farmers

Kenya’s horticultural farmers are being trained in good agricultural practices. History has shown us the social and economic transformation that is possible when people can grow enough food. It has also confirmed that when the same people access markets to sell excess produce, generations will feel and enjoy the impacts. Thus, the ability to improve livelihoods is what makes agriculture a business and not just a development initiative. A group of Kenyan farmers are now demonstrating this by financially supporting their local community health centre.  Farmers from Kangai Horticulture Marketing Co-operative Society in Kirinyaga County, in the central region of Kenya, built a maternity wing and a laboratory in their local health centre with proceeds from the sale of string beans and baby corn. The enterprising group struck a deal with exporters, that for every kilo of produce sold, a shilling is invested in the hospital project. Currently, the health centre attends to 150 to 200 patients daily. “We receive services we couldn’t receive before, such as TB (tuberculosis) and CCC (Comprehensive Care Centre) for HIV and AIDS patients,” explains Mary Wambui, a technical adviser with a local fresh producer organisation, adding that the number of staff in the health centre has grown from 4 to 22. The hospital extension is Peter Kanyuiro Ngigi’s proud legacy, together with his Fresh Producers Association of Kenya (FPEAK) certificate. This certificate, he explains, has been the key to his ability to access international markets, a market that has in many occasions locked out...