TradeMark East Africa growing regional business by removing trade barriers

Women traders in East Africa. Image from

Last week was a transformational one in terms of trade for Kenya and the East African region as a whole, as Kenya played host to the WTO’s 10th Ministerial conference. TradeMark East Africa also held a social and networking cocktail on Wednesday at the Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel to celebrate the milestones taken by the organization to promote trade in the East African region and to lay out the plan for 2016. The event held in conjunction with World Trade Organization, MC10 was attended by many dignitaries including Lord Maude, the UK Minister of Trade and Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed.

TradeMark East Africa in essence is a non-governmental organization that…amongst its many objectives, aims to empower women by facilitating their trade endeavours. This year  (TMEA) launched a USD 4.5 million Women and Trade programme that is aimed at empowering women. It will go a long way to help women increase their incomes and improve livelihoods for women traders and women-owned enterprises.  During the event I managed to interview TMEA Communications Manager, Nelson Karanja, and he explained to me in great detail what the key purposes of the multi-donor organization are. I have listed some of them below.

Women traders in East Africa. Image from //
Women traders in East Africa. Image from

To establish industries in Africa to process raw materials instead of selling them abroad.

It is quite ironic that Africa exports raw materials to other countries like cocoa pods, coffee beans, pyrethrum and many more, only to import the same as finished processed products at even higher prices. Trade Mark East Africa aims to settle this by establishing industries in Africa to process these raw materials.

Facilitating trade by removing barriers in the East African region.

One of the major hindrances to development in trade in this region, are the many barriers that are put in place. For instance, there are certain regulations to the number of flights made by planes from Tanzania and Uganda and vice versa. This limits the amount of goods imported and exported in the region. Additionally, small scale traders which comprise mostly women are barred from trade by many tariffs that are set for trade.

To increase in total the value of exports from East Africa

Africa is a rich continent that has so much potential in trade and TMEA purposes to get a 10% increase in the total value of exports from the region.

Increase in the intra-regional exports as compared to total exported in the region. Intra-regional trade in Africa is low compared to regions in other worlds.

Reduce the time it takes to conduct business transactions.

Decrease the average time it takes for a truck to let through the border.

If you have been to any of the borders of Kenya and other countries then you have witnessed the long lines of trucks that camp there waiting to pass through the border, what with the many checks and rules. TMEA aims to decrease the average time taken by trucks to cross borders by 30%

Frank Matsaert, the CEO for TMEA also talked about the coming period and plans for the New Year. “In the next phase we are interested in the economical advantage and opportunities for growth.”

TradeMark East Africa is an organization to watch out for as they work hard to create opportunities for trade in the East African region.

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