Tuesday, November 15, 2016 

South Sudan in MOU with Uganda for border link

PARTNERSHIP: Representatives from the two countries’ foreign affairs ministry and TMEA top officials were present.

The  building of a One Stop Border (OSBP) is expected to increase efficiency by reducing time and transport costs incurred by businesses, farmers and transporters while crossing from one Partner State to the other. South Sudan joined the Community earlier this year.

KAMPALA, UGANDA--South Sudan and Uganda have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together and in partnership towards construction of a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) in Elegu/Nimule towns along the Uganda/South Sudan border.

“We are glad the partnership between the two countries has been established. This will provide a framework and mechanism for bilateral cooperation,” Moses Sabiiti, Uganda Country Director TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) said at the signing last week.

For OSBP operations, persons, vehicles and goods make a single stop to exit one country and enter another. Generally, its implementation includes simplification of documents and procedures and greater use of ICT. 

Many of the documents will be received and reviewed electronically before the vehicle arrives. If inspection is needed, it will be done jointly thereby avoiding unloading and reloading cargo twice with the loss of time and potential damage to goods.

The first OSBP was officially opened in Holili/Taveta towns on the Kenya/Tanzania border in February 2016. Since then others have become operational along the common borders.

TMEA is the Uganda Revenue Authority’s (URA) strategic partner, which meant they were involved in the brokering and crafting the MOU.

The MOU establishes a firm relation between South Sudan and Uganda to facilitate trade and remove the existing barriers that inhibit trade. 

John Kalisa, South Sudan Country Director TMEA said, “This MOU is a demonstration of the trust between the two countries, and serves as empowering South Sudan,  the youngest country in the world, to benefit from the joint border control. 

“We are equally determined and resolute in strengthening regional cooperation to enhance economic integration as a vehicle for economic prosperity,” he said.

South Sudan imports a large chunk of its consumer items from Uganda and at its peak three years ago, Uganda was earning $300 million from these sales.

However the fall of crude oilpricres on the international markert which is South Sudan’s leading fofeign exchange earner has hurt the country’s economy as well as rebel actvity.

According to a press release, senior officials from the The Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation signed the agreement. 

TMEA is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. It operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. TMEA works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.

Signing the MOU on behalf of South Sudan was Amb. Joseph Ayok Anei, while Amb James Mugume represented Uganda.

Several other top officials were in attendance. The South Sudan delegation comprised of Capt. David Martin Hassan, Under Secretary, Ministry of Transport; Diu Dohl Gaduwong, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Transport; Eng. Lado Tongun Tombe, Director for Road Transport and Safety, Nosc Chairperson of Nimule/Alegu OSBP. 

Uganda delegation comprised of the Permanent Secretary from Ministry of Trade, the Permanent Secretary from Ministry of Works and Transport and a representative from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). 

Michael Ojatum, Uganda OSBP Programme Manager TMEA and Damali Ssali, Uganda Trade Environment Programme Manager TMEA were also present at the signing. 

According to the press release, the partnership will fast-track humanitarian consignments and reduce the congestion at the border to enable faster reach to the displaced and distressed people of South Sudan especially during this time of unstable political environment and a collapsing economy.

 The MOU will also spearhead initiatives for the respective agencies to exchange important information related to cross-border trade flows, documentation, procedures and processes between the two countries.  

There will also be an avenue for reporting various non-tariff barriers  (NTBs) that traders face along the route, be it customs associated or discrimination related and this will promote transparency and accountability among the respective country agencies operating at the borders.  

By Sam Okwakol, Tuesday, November 15th, 2016