News story

New UK trade initiative to help millions of Africans

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Minister Stephen O’Brien launches Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), an initiative that will work across East Africa to fund new businesses, develop essential infrastructure and standardise regulation across the region.

An initiative to boost trade and help millions of people across Africa to pull themselves out of poverty was launched today by UK Development Minister Stephen O’Brien.

Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) will work across East Africa to fund new businesses, develop essential infrastructure to speed up transport links, and standardise regulation across the region.

Stephen O’Brien launched TMEA in Nairobi, alongside the President of Burundi, Hon. Pierre Nkurunzinza, and Kenya’s Prime Minister, Hon. Raila Odinga.

Stephen O’Brien said:

“Trade is vital for international development. It is the catalyst for growth. It creates wealth, which, ultimately, is the most effective way to pull people out of poverty.

“I’m delighted to be here to launch Trade Mark East Africa. This innovative programme will boost trade in the region by making practical improvements, such as upgrading ports and roads, and making border crossings quicker”.

TMEA will:

  • Reduce transport costs by 15%. Currently drivers are hampered by long and slow border crossings and wait days to cross borders. New projects will develop better roads and ‘One stop border posts’, between Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. These new posts will use efficient computer systems which will reduce transit times by 50%, and make trading across the region faster and easier;
  • Link up tax regulations and systems, where ports and border posts across the region will be more effective at collecting customs and excise duties;
  • Enable access to finance through the private sector for two key transport corridors that link Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to Dar es Salaam and Mombasa;
  • Work more effectively with East African institutions, national governments, business and civil society organisations in each country to improve the business framework across the region; and
  • 60% reduction in non-tariff barriers (fees, border taxes and complex regulations) to make it easier and cheaper to do business between countries.

TMEA pilot projects have already been successful in the region. In Burundi, the Office Burundais de Recettes (OBR), who collect tax on behalf of the government, have already piloted a TMEA project. Since it began in 2009, the OBR has been turned around and in 2010 tax revenue has increased by over 25%.