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EAC Sectoral Council clears bill for one stop border posts, adopts draft protocol for ICT networks

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 24, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- EAC Partner States' Ministers responsible for the Transport, Communications and Works met today in Arusha, Tanzania, where they cleared the draft One Stop Border Post Bill and adopted a draft EAC Protocol for ICT Networks.

The Ministers were in Arusha for the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the Sectoral Council on Transport, Communications and Meteorology convened to consider among others; the revised draft One Stop Border Post Bill, the draft EAC Protocol on Information Communication Technology (ICT) Networks, as well as matters pertaining to the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA).

Key among the agreements reached during the Sectoral Council meeting was the adoption of the revised draft One Stop Border Post (OSBP) Bill, which the Ministers directed the EAC Secretariat to forward to the 13th Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs in March 2012 for consideration and approval.

Once the draft Bill is cleared by the other key Organs of the Community, namely the EAC Council of Ministers and the East African Legislative Assembly, an EAC One Stop Border Posts Act is the envisaged outcome.

The Act would provide the legal framework for the operation of border posts of two Partner States under one roof, meaning they would become more efficient as Customs and Immigration checks, among other border operations, will be conducted in a “common control zone” that would eliminate the current practice that involves checks on both sides of a border between two Partner States.

Under the OSBP concept, all traffic would stop once in each direction of travel, facilitating faster movement of persons and goods, and allowing border control officers from the two Partner States to conduct joint inspection.

The key benefits OSBPs promise are: less time spent crossing borders for travellers; simpler and more efficient clearance procedures for businesspeople; while border agencies stand to gain through improved information sharing and risk management – leading to more effective controls.

The draft Bill, first developed in 2010, had remained pending after an October 2011 meeting of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General identified various gaps that it directed the EAC Secretariat to address.

Addressing the meeting, EAC Deputy Secretary General (Productive and Social Sectors) Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva noted that infrastructure development in the region would be positively impacted by the enactment of the OSBP Bill, while Kenya's Assistant Minister for Transport and Chairperson of the Sectoral Council Hon. Simon Ogari remarked that the proposed Bill would boost the implementation of the Common Market Protocol.

Ministers Adopt Draft EAC Protocol on ICT Networks

The Ministers' meeting also considered and adopted the draft EAC Protocol on ICT Networks, which seeks to, among others, promote: ICT services in the Common Market; the harmonization of ICT policies, laws and regulations; and establishment and management of ICT networks.

The EAC Protocol on ICT Networks was a key recommendation of the Final Report of the Detailed Pre-Investment Analysis for the East African Community Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network (EAC-BIN) concluded in 2010 and adopted by the Council. The Report had recommended that a protocol on ICT networks was pre-requisite for the successful implementation of cross-border ICT networks.

The Ministers in attendance at the Sectoral Council meeting included; Hon. Simon Ogari, Assistant Minister/Transport; Hon. Dhadho Godhana, Assistant Minister/Communications (Kenya); Hon. Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, State Minister/Transport (Rwanda); Hon. Moise Bucumi, Transport, Public Works and Equipment (Burundi); Hon. Dr. John P. Magufuli (Works); Hon. Omar Nundu, Transport (United Republic of Tanzania); and Hon. John Byabagambi, State Minister/Works (Uganda).

Notes to Editors: One Stop Border Posts

• The EAC is adopting the use of OSBPs as a trade facilitation concept to minimise delays at cross border points on major transport corridors in the region, often as a result of poor facilities, manual processes, lengthy and unintegrated procedures and poor traffic flow.

• It entails combining two stops into one and consolidating functions in a single public facility for exiting one country and entering another. The effect is reduced travel time for passengers and freight vehicles.

• Components of the OSBP concept are already being implemented at the Malaba border post (Kenya/Uganda) as well as the Katuna/Gatuna border post (Uganda/Rwanda).

• Border posts earmarked for transformation into OSBPs in the region include: Malaba, Busia (Kenya/Uganda); Namanga, Taveta/Holili, Lunga Lunga/Horo Horo, Isebania/Serari (Tanzania/Kenya); Rusumo (Rwanda/Tanzania); Kobero/Kabanga (Burundi/Tanzania); Katuna/Gatuna, Mirama Hills/Kagitumba (Uganda/Rwanda), Mutukula (Tanzania/Uganda); Nemba/Gisenyi 2, Ruhwa, Akanyaru (Rwanda/Burundi); and Tunduma/Nakonde Tanzania/Zambia).