August 30, 2019: At the 3rd Global Logistics Convention, $3.5 million deal was signed between Trade Mark East Africa and the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA), to raise capacity in East Africa's logistics sector. The convention is held at the Kigali International Convention Centre, Rwanda from August 29-30.

The four-year EAC Logistics Sector Skills Enhancement Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through TradeMark East Africa, and implemented by FEAFFA; will address existing skills gaps in the region that have since resulted into high costs of doing business within the community.

The programme will help build skills of customs agents, freight forwarders and warehouse operators.

TradeMark East Africa's director, Patricia Ithau and FEAFFA president Fred Seka signed the agreement.

After the signing, Seka said the funding will facilitate introduction of a higher-level qualification that will build on the success of the certificate program, such as exposing practitioners to global practices and position them as global logisticians.

"The gender gap is still prevalent in the logistics sector. Women make up to only 20 percent and are rarely in the upper echelons of the businesses that employ them. The logistics sector in East Africa is a leading employer and accounts for over $15 billion in value. Yet, discussions on the sector have not been prioritised," Ithau said.

Non-tariff barriers affecting transport in East Africa are estimated at between 3 percent and 16 percent of the cost of the product, according to Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

In the recent past, Rwanda has implemented a number of trade facilitation initiatives including, the introduction of the Rwanda Electronic Single Window, which has enabled faster clearance of imports and exports in addition to improving efficiency, transparency, and accountability in revenue collection.

Dar-es-Salaam port director, Freddy Liundi said, "The port is very old having been built in the colonial era and nothing has been done for so long. Now, however, we are building better infrastructure and modernising."

Acknowledging that the logistics sector is central to economic development, Michel Sebera, the permanent secretary of the ministry of trade and industry, said the ministry has been engaging regional countries to unlock challenges in the sector.

The Global Logistics Convention is an annual freight logistics event organised by FEAFFA and the Rwanda Transporters Association, in collaboration with various government agencies and the private sector federation (PSF).

Previously, similar conventions were held successfully in Uganda and Tanzania.

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