E-commerce Services & Digital Economy - Denmark
Danish Aid for Trade has supported several projects by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) that promote cross-border and regional trade in East Africa. Development assistance from Denmark has co-funded TMEA since 2011 both on a regional basis across the whole EAC, and also bilaterally to Kenya and Uganda.
Denmark’s trade facilitation support through TMEA is multi-faceted. It covers a variety of complementary activities to make trade easier, more efficient, and less costly. This work is consistent with international efforts led by the WTO to facilitate trade, and hence to increase economic growth, job creation and household incomes in developing countries.
The TMEA programmes and projects specifically concern Denmark’s support for women cross-border traders; harmonization of product standards; one-stop border posts; automation to modernize trade procedures; and a new Trade Logistics Information Pipeline initiative carried out in partnership with the Danish shipping company, Maersk.
In the East African Community (EAC), most cross-border trade is conducted by women, who run informal, small scale businesses. This project therefore supports the establishment and strengthening of women cross-border traders’ associations at borders as well as at national and regional levels. TMEA also facilitate simplification, translation into local language, and dissemination of the EAC Common Market Protocol, customs and other trade information. TMEA facilitates dialogue between association representatives and border officials, ministries, and agencies to address the problems that traders face. TMEA partners have lobbied for representation of women traders in Joint Border Management Committees, which have presented and resolved cases of harassment.
TMEA has also supported the establishment of resource centres in 7 border cities, where women traders can access market and trading information, report cases of sexual harassment, or seek arbitration in cases of illegal confiscation of goods.
In Rwanda TMEA has helped women exporters to transition from informal to formal trade, organising them into co-operatives and supporting them through the formation and registration processes. Support has also been given to build capacity of women with regards to book-keeping, business management and customs procedures.
The project has increased the number of women trading through organized groups across borders. E.g. in Busia, on the border between Kenya and Uganda, membership grew from 44 in 2012 to the current level of 150 today. At the regional level, an association of women cross-border traders has been formed, representing all EAC partner states. The project has further increased cross-border women issues considered in EAC policies and bills.