7th May 2013

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Trans Kalahari Corridor: Accelerating regional economic development and integration

 

By Oscar Muyatwa

Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat

 

The Governments of the Republics of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa respectively concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on the Development and Management of the Trans Kalahari Corridor on the 3rd of November 2003, in Walvis Bay. This paved the way for the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat in Windhoek in March of 2007. The core functions of the Permanent Secretariat are: Transit and Trade Facilitation, stimulating growth in Corridor Traffic and Business, and reducing transit time and cost. The Trans Kalahari Corridor is a road network spanning 1900 kilometres traversing the territories of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa - between the Gauteng Province of South Africa and the Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Some of the key achievements on the Corridor include the implementation of a Single Administrative Document (SAD 500) which replaced several documents, adoption of streamlined and harmonized customs and transit procedures and harmonization and extension of border operating hours. The result is increased passenger and commercial traffic from less than 5% in 1998 to about 50% commercial and 60% passenger in 2008. The interventions resulted in a reduction in border clearance time from over several hours to one hour at most and thirty minutes at least. This translates into tremendous cost savings too.

Transportation legislative standards (vehicle dimensions, road signs, mass/load, etc.) have largely been harmonised and streamlined allowing for smooth and unhindered movement of goods and persons.

A Trans Kalahari Corridor Client Service Charter was launched during August 2011. The Charter embodies the commitment of the various role players (immigration, customs, police, weighbridge authorities) in terms of standard and service delivery towards corridor users and clients.

Botswana and Namibia South piloted customs systems connectivity using Microsoft's Cloud Computing solution during 2012. The objective thereto is to facilitate in the foreseeable future almost real-time data interchange between the respective Customs Administrations in a paperless environment that also has positive benefits in terms of risk management.

Some of the envisaged initiatives include the institutionalisation of a SADC-wide through-bond guarantee scheme. Multiple bond guarantee requirements pose some challenge to importers and exporters. The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat actively supports and participates in the COMESA - EAC - SADC Tripartite initiative towards an inter-regional bond guarantee scheme.

The TKCMC is partnering with the SACU Secretariat towards introducing the Authorised Economic Operators/Preferred Trader scheme. The scheme will accredit commercial operators with a regional cross-border business footprint enabling them to enjoy preferential service when crossing border posts thus significantly reducing border dwell time. The Trans Kalahari Corridor is lining itself for piloting the scheme leading to its eventual roll -out.

The Governments of Botswana and Namibia are negotiating a Bilateral Agreement on the possibility of introducing a One Stop Border Post at Mamuno/Trans Kalahari Border Posts on the Corridor. The concept envisages border agencies sharing facilities and commercial clearance being conducted on the Namibian side of the border posts whereas passenger traffic would be cleared on the Botswana side. This technically means border stopping would be at once.

The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat equally supports the introduction of a Single Window Initiative among the Corridor member states in the near future.

The African Union resolved to implement an intra-continental Free Trade Area by 2017. The success of such an endeavor undoubtedly rests largely on transport and economic corridor arrangements such as the Trans Kalahari.

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