The use of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) in trade facilitation along the Northern Transit Corridor has picked pace and now the COMESA Secretariat has initiated the procurement of additional equipment to enable freight forwarders and customs authorities manage and monitor cargo movement thus reducing the cost of doing business.

The equipment which will be supplied to Rwanda includes 400 additional tracking devices developed under the COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS). The devices will be delivered to the Rwanda Revenue Authority with 300 going to containerized traffic and 100 for petroleum tankers. Already 600 units are in use in various transit corridors and the demand is rising by the day.

CVTFS was developed following a Council Decision in 2012 to provide an answer to the high cost of doing business through the use of information technology. Among the key challenges the system sought to address were diversion of good in transit, delayed clearance at the borders, long transit and release time, goods pilferage and high operating costs in trucking. Piloting of the devices on the Northern corridor was done in the last half of 2013. This provided enough experience to roll out the system in Member States.

The system is used by Customs authorities, freight forwarders, insurance companies, banks, port authorities, container freight stations and traders. So far Rwanda is among the leading countries that have embraced the CVTFS. The implementation of the CVTFS will initially be based on the GPRS communications system providing real-time movement of cargo trucks along the corridor that connects the Port of Mombasa with Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo as well as South Sudan.

In a recent meeting between the Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya and the Rwanda Minister for Trade and Industry Hon. Kanimba Francois, it was agreed that a technical team will explore the feasibility of using the Satellite communication systems for the CVTFS taking into account that the cost of satellite communication is more expensive. With CVTFS, revenue authorities and freight forwarders are now able to access the location of each consignment on a digital map and to record events during a whole journey from the departure point to destination within a country or border point of exit. They have been able to stem cargo diversion as most gazetted transit goods routes have been geo-fenced.

Among the benefits to companies is the ability to guarantee their customers quality of product delivered to them by securing the product when in transit. Any illegal opening, tamper or even attempt to detach the trailer will prompt the system to send an alert message to the control room and to the contracted transport company. In the event of vehicle breakdown the company shall receive real time alerts from vehicle drivers under duress by activating a panic button that comes standard with the devices.

Source: COMESA



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