The Kenya Trade Network Agency in partnership with Trade Mark East Africa has launched a new online portal that allows farmers to access import, export and international trade procedures within five minutes, a marked improvement from the earlier 10 days.
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The portal is estimated to serve at least 1.5m users per month and consolidates 73 documents under exports, 52 under imports and one under transits (cross border trade) thus ensuring a shorter period in the export and import processes of products such as fertilizers, animal feeds, and flowers among others.
“Importers and exporters who used to take 10 days will now have access to whatever information they need at the click of a button where all public and private players share the platform,” said Trade Mark East Africa Chief Executive Frank Matsaert.
Although Kenya has a well-developed agricultural research system, use of modern science and technology in agricultural production is still limited. With the launch of the new portal, smallholder farmers will be empowered with information to realize their full potential through access of timely data on markets and proper documentation for easy navigation of their produce.
Completion and launch of the information portal makes Kenya the first country in the East Africa Community (EAC) to fulfill Article one of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade facilitation agreement which requires member states to publish their trade procedures online, displaying them step-by-step, with contact information on enquiry points, access to forms and other required documents and all relevant trade and customs laws.
A farmer who would like to export avocadoes for instance will log in to the website infotradekenya.go.ke and follow eight steps in order to obtain clearance for his/her consignment. The first steps would involve contracting a clearing agent through the Kenya Revenue Authority which has an updated list of licensed clearing agents. The cost of the clearing fees will depend on the value of the consignment and negotiations between the clearing agent and the trader.
After obtaining clearance the next step is paying Sh250 for airline concession fees. The fee is paid via mobile payment platforms Airtel money and Mpesa. For Airtel Money, dial *572# and follow the instructions. For Lipa Na MPESA, use Pay Bill No. 572572. The account number for both platforms is the valid e-slip number obtained from the KRA SIMBA system.
The farmer will then submit their original verification documents including KRA receipt, approved invoice, air waybill, phytosanitary certificate and three copies of the clearance entry in presence of the clearing agent who will submit the consignment physically. The consignment is ready for export once an export number has been given.