Improving the logistics system will enable Uganda improve access to new market opportunities, according to Eng. Monica Azuba, minister for works, transport and communication. Improved logistics are key at a time when Uganda is boosting exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals
“Inefficient logistics can place obstacles to trade. It makes it difficult for countries to tap into new markets,” Eng. Azuba said. She was opening the two day Global Logistics Convention and Exhibition at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel recently.
The convention is attended by over 500 delegates from different parts of the world. It is organized by the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association, the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA), the National Logistics Platform and the Ministry of Works and Transport. The aim of the convention is share best practices in trade and policy, changing trends in the industry facilitate engagement among various stakeholders.
The minister commended Uganda improving its ranking from the 83th position to the 55th position last year in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI). She explained that the ranking was because Uganda.
The LPI is an interactive benchmarking tool created to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face in their performance on trade logistics and what they can do to improve their performance.
The minister explained that Uganda’s ranking has improved because of improvement in customs clearance procedures, improvement in infrastructure. “The improvement was by 25% in the LPI. We hope can do better,” she remarked. Other countries in the region performed better than Uganda in the LPI.
She said Uganda has introduced the one stop border posts to quicken movement of goods. She noted that the number for days for trucking cargo from Mombasa has reduced from 18 days to 3 days. She said government was investing more in improving roads, rail, air transport.
She cited that the use of rail transport can cut the costs of goods by 30% and it can enhance Uganda’s competitiveness.
During the convention the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association’s e-learning Platform was launched.
USAID Uganda Mission Director Mr. Joakim Parker said the USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, started working with the Federation in June 2017 with the common goal of strengthening the regional freight logistics industry. He said the partnership has built the capacity of customs clearing and freight forwarding agents to effectively apply the revised EAC Rules of Origin.
“The new e-learning platform will allow us to reach even more customs clearing agents, freight forwarders and shippers – the industry specialists who are on the ground, helping to improve East African Community integration and trade. The platform will lead to a reduction in non-compliant custom declarations and Non-Tariff Barriers, and in doing so will reduce the time and cost to move cargo across borders,” Mr. Joakim said.
Mr. Hussein Kiddedde, the chairman Uganda Freight Forwarders Association said logistics is a key driver for economic growth and productivity. He said new technologies were merging in the industry that needs to be adopted by the private sector. “There are many opportunities in the region such as oil and gas, Standard Gauge Railway, infrastructure development that need the services of logistics. We need to be ready for them,” Mr. Kiddedde said.
Mr. Dickson Kateshumba, commissioner customs Uganda Revenue Authority urged players in the logistics industry to avoid delays because it becomes a cost to the consumers. Mr. Kateshumba said sometimes the cause of delay in transporting goods were drivers who make unnecessary stops. “The driver has to be sensitized on trade facilitation,” Mr. Kateshumba said.
Mr. Patrick Bitature, chairman Private Sector Foundation in a key note address explained that the logistics sector was about managing the supply chain. “People who produce cement or steel need to import raw materials efficiently using logistics,” Mr. Bitature said.
Mr. Bitature urged the private sector players in the industry to work in synergy and not try to destroy each other. “We have to put aside our differences in the private sector, in the public sector and in the region and work together,” Bitature said.