REPUBLIC OF KENYA

SPEECH BY DR. CHRIS KIPTOO, PRINCIPAL SECRETARY,
STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE, MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY,
TRADE AND CO-OPERATIVES. DURING THE OFFICIAL
OPENING OF THE AFRICAN ALLIANCE FOR E-COMMERCE
(AAEC) 14TH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE & 8TH GENERAL
ASSEMBLY MEETINGS IN NAIROBI, KENYA, ON MARCH 14,
2017

 AAEC President Mr. Ibrahima Diagne,
 Chairman of KenTrade Gen. Joseph Kibwana (Rtd),
 KenTrade CEO Mr. Amos Wangora who is also a Vice
President of the AAEC
 The two Vice-Presidents of the AAEC, Mr. Jalal and Mr.
Isidore
 Distinguished delegates representing various
countries in Africa
 Representatives of regional bodies and our partners
in development
 Members of the press present
 Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

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I am indeed delighted to join you this morning to officially open
the 14th Executive Committee meeting and the 8 th General
Assembly meeting of the African Alliance for E-Commerce. As a
country we are honored to host the AAEC meetings in Kenya for
the first time ever since the AAEC was established over eight
years ago.

This in my opinion could not have come at a better time, bearing
in mind that the Single Window concept that this grouping
advocates for has been given prominence in the WTO Trade
Facilitation Agreement that came into force just recently on
February 22, 2017 following ratification by the pre-requisite
number of WTO members, including Kenya.

I am also happy to learn that a number of our distinguished
delegates present here today are visiting Kenya for the first time.
Allow me therefore to extend our warmest compliments and
welcome on behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya,
to the AAEC and all delegates gathered here for this event.

Equally, I wish to extend the gratitude of the Government of
Kenya to AAEC President Mr. Ibrahima Diagne, the Vice-Presidents
of the AAEC from Morocco and Cameroon and the AAEC fraternity
for the honor you have bestowed on Kenya by making it the first
country in this region to host not just one but two crucial events in
your calendar.

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May I also congratulate KenTrade, through its Chairman Gen.
Joseph Kibwana, for organizing and hosting this event and
therefore enabling Kenya to be a platform for a critical discourse
on the continents progress and challenges with digital trade and
e-Commerce.

Distinguished delegates,

The Government of Kenya places great emphasis on automation
of trade processes and indeed e-commerce as key to a
competitive global trade agenda.

The establishment of KenTrade as a state entity and its continued
commitment to drive this agenda as attested to by its continued
participation in the AAEC is a pointer to the premium that Kenya
puts on use of Information Communication Technology to promote
Africa’s cross border and international trade.

As a country we are committed to the total transformation of
Africa’s trade practices and we will continue to actively champion
the AAEC agenda within this region. In this regard, as a country
we are committed to continue reforming our trade practices and
processes to make them more responsive to modern realities and
more importantly position our country and the region for global
competitiveness.

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I am happy to observe that through the Single Window System,
countries implementing the concept are able to demonstrate to
the world how technology can be used to unlock the continents
trade potential, by transforming customs processes and trade
logistics. As a country, Kenya is gradually doing away with the
manual and time consuming cargo clearance procedures at its
borders and ports which are often associated with inefficiency,
corruption, revenue leakages and costly delays.

These have in the past impacted on our competitiveness as a
country including our ranking in the World Bank’s annual Ease of
Doing Business index. By fully automating our cross border and
international trade transactions including payments, Kenya
through KenTrade and collaborating Partner Government Agencies
like the Customs Agency (the Kenya Revenue Authority) has made
it easier, faster and efficient for importers and exporters, and also
Permit Issuing agencies to process goods being traded across our
borders.

Distinguished delegates
Although we do not consider the Single Window System as an ICT
project but a trade facilitation tool, we non-the-less take pride as
a country that Kenya is among the very few economies in Africa
that have managed to successfully undertake this complex and
cross-cutting project within a reasonably short period of time.

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I am aware that some of the nations represented in this forum
were already implementing the Single Window System before
Kenya began the process and have made great strides in this
area. My challenge to the AAEC is to take advantage of the
recently ratified WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to actively
champion this concept within the African continent.

Within the trade cycles, we are all aware that as the tariff levels
and other trade barriers decrease as a result of negotiations at
bilateral, regional and multilateral levels, the costs of
cumbersome trade procedures and documentation are becoming
increasingly visible. Resolving such challenges has for a long
period of time been highlighted by the business community to be
of pressing importance.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic
Business (UN/CEFACT), has indeed observed that an export
process on average, involves 27 parties, more than 40
documents, more than 300 copies of documents and the re-
keying of 60 – 70% of all data at least once. This process entails
significant costs.

Inefficient or inconsistently applied procedures, overly
burdensome requirements and lack of transparency can slow the
clearance of goods at the border and increase the costs of trade.
The direct costs of complying with these requirements can be
significant and can have more of an impact on trade than tariff

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rates particularly in cases where tariff rates are already low. The
OECD has indeed observed that, “crossing the border” costs can
increase costs by up to 24% of the value of goods.

Lack of transparency about rules and regulations, redundant and
lengthy clearance processes, and multiple document
requirements in different formats and with different data
elements, increase the costs and time of doing trade. Today these
obstacles are seen as posing greater barriers to trade than tariffs
and quotas do. They are indeed “thickening” the borders of
countries.

Hence, it is more important than ever to utilise trade facilitation
to enhance administrative efficiency and effectiveness, reduce
costs and time to markets, and increase predictability in global
trade. This is due to its impact on competitiveness and market
integration and its increasing importance in attracting direct
foreign investments.

As we advance this discourse however, we remain well aware that
the whole world is rightly concerned with measures that could cut
trade costs and therefore facilitate trade. This is pronounced at
the multilateral level with the WTO members finally ratifying the
Trade Facilitation Agreement as part of the Bali package.

At the continental level we continue discussions on the
Continental Free Trade Area championed by the African Union

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which aims to establish a pan-African trade pact, as part of a
broader effort to increase intra-regional trade within the
continent.
At the regional, we are aware that under the Common Market for
East and Southern African (COMESA) and East African Community
(EAC) we continue to pursue numerous initiatives geared towards
increasing intra-regional trade and expanding the coverage of the
Free Trade Area. As far as intra-regional trade is concerned, this
remains one of the most un-tapped potential for Africa yet intra-
regional trade might be the gateway to development.

The statistics in Africa aren’t too impressive, especially when it
comes to one of the biggest opportunities for growth: trade
among African countries. In 2014 in Europe, for example, 69% of
exports were to other countries on the continent. In Asia, that
figure stood at 52% and in North America at 50%. Africa had the
lowest level of intra-regional trade, at just 18%.

The share of Intra-African trade therefore remains low compared
to intraregional trade in other parts of the world and unlocking
Africa’s full economic potential would require economic
integration—globally, regionally, and between rural and urban
areas.

In this regard distinguished delegates, I am more convinced
than ever before that the Single Window environment, both
National and Regional creates significant opportunity to address

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the above challenges and especially to improve the speed and
efficiency of border procedures, thereby reducing trade costs and
enhancing participation in the global value chains that
characterize international trade today.

It has indeed been empirically proved that the greatest
contributors to reducing trade costs comes from measures to
streamline procedures and reduce documentation, automation
and measures to streamline fees and charges.
These measures are all in-built in the Single Window System and I
am again urging you all to take an active role in your countries
and as an organization to continued championing of the Single
Window concept within our African continent.

Distinguished delegates,

As I conclude, I want to observe that the wisdom behind the
formation of AAEC, its spread, its continental agenda and notable
impact over the last eight years has set a momentum for
development in trade facilitation as evidenced in the strides that
AAEC has achieved over the years with very limited resources
since inception.

In this regard, I want to express Kenya’s appreciation especially to
the founding President of the AAEC Mr. Ibrahima Diagne and his
team including the AAEC secretariat and the Executive Committee
for their commitment in working toward repositioning Africa as a
globally competitive market at a time when the geo-political
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challenges including Brexit create uncertainty and therefore
threaten to disrupt Africa’s trade agenda.

I am confident that the objectives and ideal of AAEC will enable
Africa to leverage on e-commerce for sustainable growth in Africa
and for relevance and competitiveness in the global market and
the growth of intra African trade.

Lastly, distinguished delegates, I am aware that you have very
tight schedule for the next two days, but I implore on you to set
aside time from your busy schedule to sample the various tourist
attraction sites and amenities in our City. It would especially be
worthwhile to visit the Nairobi National Park, the only Wildlife Park
in the world that is within a city, and in particular a Capital City. I
promise that this will certainly be a lifetime experience that you
would not want to miss.

With these remarks, distinguished delegates, Ladies and
Gentlemen, it is my duty and pleasure to declare the 14 th AAEC
Executive Committee meeting and the 8th General Assembly
officially open.

I wish you successful deliberations and a fruitful stay in Nairobi
Kenya.

Thank you.

Dr. Chris Kiptoo, EBS
Principal Secretary, State Department of Trade
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