Trade Hub’s Integrated Border Management Programs Yields Results in Malawi and Expands to Zambia
At the Songwe border post on the Malawian side between Malawi and Tanzania, a single window document has been introduced as a mechanism to measure the time taken to pass through all border formalities and to assist in joint border inspections.
This is just one of the reforms already implemented by the Joint Border Committee (JBC) since its establishment in September. It has also aggregated information on the role of each border agency, which it intends to distribute to clearing agents; agreed to clearly display the procedures to be followed at each agency for the benefit of first-time border users; and to share information on any changes within agencies to others involved in a timely manner and through regular meetings. The JBC also started to impose fines on drivers who do not leave the border complex immediately once their goods have been cleared. During a meeting of the JBC, facilitated by SATH in early November, the JBC reported that the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) met with its Tanzanian counterpart to suggest the abolishment of escort sheets, which was identified as a major cause of delays at the border. Tanzania promised to abolish the escort sheets as soon as it is linked to the RADDEx system and able to exchange information with MRA electronically. The JBC also took action to address power outages and smuggling.
"Through this committee, we are able to sort out some of the problems or challenges that were naturally being overlooked. With this program, there is unity among border agencies to the extent that if this trend continues, then we promise that Songwe Border shall be a nice place to live in and also trade facilitation will improve," the JBC‟s Vice chair, Mr. Ndlovu, explained.
The SATH IBM Program has unleashed latent energy at the borders which is reducing the time and cost of goods crossing the borders. There has been change in the mind-set of agencies at the border, from focusing on control to focusing on trade facilitation. SATH facilitated a similar meeting of the JBC at the Mwanza border post between Malawi and Mozambique in order to mobilize the JBC Action Plan into implementation, allocate responsibilities and identify resources required for success. Later in November, SATH traveled to Zambia to arrange a national workshop on IBM and launch Joint Border Committees at Kasumbalesa and Nakonde border posts.
The National workshop was opened by Mr. Lubasi Sakwiba, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, who emphasized Zambia‟s commitment to improving the procedures of importing and exporting goods to improve Zambia‟s competitiveness. He noted that, according to the World Bank, Zambia falls in the „very high trade transactions‟ category of countries and that at least 40-60% of trade time is due to „soft‟ issues such as document processing and customs clearance/technical control. The IBM program presents a perfect complement to the Government‟s ongoing efforts to reduce barriers to trade expansion through the Private Sector Development Reform Programme (PSDRP). Under this program, the Ministry carried out scoping missions to various border posts, the findings of which are consistent with SATH‟s own border operations assessment (BOA) findings. The workshop concluded with national level support for the SATH IBM program from all the ministries and departments involved in border clearing procedures and a mandate to establish Joint Border Committees at the Nakonde and Kasumbalesa border posts. These JBCs were successfully established during subsequent meetings facilitated by SATH, and the recommendations from the BOAs were accepted as the basis for action plans to address delays.
As in Malawi, SATH will work closely with the JBCs to refine their action plans and identify potential sources of support for reforms, where needed.