The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde in the last three weeks of August commissioned the construction of investment venture facilities at four Border Export Zones.
The Border Export Zone (BEZ) Program, previously called Border Market Program, was adopted in 2010 to position Uganda’s exports into the region and drive the development goals of the country including import substitution and wealth creation.
At Lwakhakha, the minister launched the construction of a central market and related facilities; at Busia and Katuna, warehouses and related facilities are being constructed; and in Oraba, they are erecting a commercial building and extension of electricity and other related facilities.
These facilities will be ready for use by close of this year, according to the minster. In total, the government eyes setting up 18 zones in order to boost export earnings with better trade infrastructure and capacity building, increase value addition as a result of the demand for quality products and amenities, provide employment and promote investment through Public-Private Partnerships at the zone sites.
The Zone sites will also help: improve post-harvest handling and reduce wastage of produce during transportation, processing and drying, improve compliance to standards and marketing quality of products through the use of improved and organized infrastructure, reduce non-tariff barriers and promote formal trading.
They will also enable Uganda to maximize the benefits of the EAC Customs Union, the COMESA FTA, Tripartite FTA and the African Continental FTA. Full-scale development of all the 18 sites is scheduled for the period 2021/22 to 2029/30 in line with the Project Proposal currently before the Development Committee of the Ministry of Finance.
Between 2014-2019, the trade ministry injected 1.26 million euros secured under the Regional Integration Implementation Project (RIIP) supported by COMESA to conduct environmental impact assessments, and developed master plans, architectural designs, BOQs and construction tender documents for Katuna, Lwakhakha, Busia, Oraba, Elegu, Kikagate.
In the Second Phase of the RIIP Project, which started in 2018 -- the minister says -- BEZ was allocated 1.7 million euros to develop startup facilities on each of the BEZ sites as prioritized by the districts.
“Consequently, the Ministry finalized procurement of contractors to construct venture facilities at each site to attract more public-private investments to the sites,” said Kyambadde. In addition, the government has secured $2 million from the World Bank under the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP) for the development Mpondwe BEZ (Kasese District) and preparation of feasibility studies for Bunagana BEZ (Kisoro District).
“The procurement process for the development of Mpondwe BEZ is ongoing and construction will commence in October 2020,” the minister said in a statement. The minister urged the business community to invest in the Border Export Zones and take advantage of the facilities Government is putting in place.