East Africa turns to tech to curb $6 billion illicit commerce

Dar es Salaam. East Africa is anticipated to undertake a track-and-trace system to streamline cross-border commerce and assist stem almost $6 billion in annual losses ensuing from illicit commerce.

The plan, which was introduced in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday by the East African Enterprise Council (EABC), can even assist to enhance well being and increase assortment of presidency income throughout the area.

EABC govt director John Bosco Kalisa revealed the plan throughout a regional workshop for stakeholders.

The workshop was organised to debate and lay the inspiration for the system.

Mr Kalisa mentioned Wednesday’s discussions centred on a framework that will probably be used to create and function the system.

“We plan to begin as quickly as potential. Digital tax stamps and digital cargo monitoring techniques are amongst digital applied sciences governments have rolled out with a view to monitoring commerce throughout the East African Neighborhood area. Nevertheless, these applied sciences are extra centered on authentication and tax verification options relatively than monitoring and tracing,” he added.

Mr Kalisa mentioned the EABC was additionally urging governments within the area to scale back prices related to digital tax stamps (DTS) to boost income assortment and facilitate enterprise operations.

“Tanzania’s latest discount related to DTS is appreciated. Related measures are wanted in different EAC member states. As an illustration, it prices $25.72 per 1,000 stamps in Kenya for tobacco merchandise and this warrants a deeper regional system assessment.”

Business and Commerce deputy minister Exaud Kigahe mentioned when opening the workshop that it’s time the East African Neighborhood block thought of the adoption of a standard regional and interoperable track-and-trace resolution to allow cross-border sharing of related knowledge to cease illicit commerce.

“Based on a report by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), illicit commerce accounts for about 3.3 p.c of worldwide commerce. This represents a major financial loss for governments and legit companies,” he mentioned.

Mr Kigahe recommended the EABC and EAC for organising discussions on methods of combating illicit commerce, noting that the workshop got here on the proper time when many nations worldwide are implementing varied measures to curb illicit commerce.

The East African Competitors Authority deputy registrar (Monopolies and Cartels),  Ms Stellah Onyancha, mentioned illicit commerce, anti-competitive practices and shopper violations pose critical challenges, together with counterfeiting, proliferation of contraband items, piracy and mental property rights violations.

“These challenges erode belief, distort competitors, drive away buyers and worsen shopper welfare, thus jeopardising the integrity of our economies,” she mentioned.

Ms Onyancha known as for collective efforts by governments, companies and shoppers in combating illicit commerce and selling truthful competitors in East Africa.

She mentioned a regional track-and-trace system will harmonise monitoring and documentation processes, cut back limitations and transaction prices, improve competitors, eradicate anti-competitive practices and guarantee security for each suppliers and shoppers.

Some individuals famous that after the system is up and operating, it should promote sustainable growth by attracting funding, stimulating development and creating jobs along with selling innovation and unlocking effectivity and transparency each on the a part of governments and companies.

The digital monitoring system can also be anticipated to empower shoppers via detailed product data, thus enhancing confidence in authenticity and high quality.

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