They include Masafu in Busia (52.3 hac), where they intend to construct warehouses and storage facilities, a border market, light processing facilities, a commercial warehouse and other related facilities
The Government has kicked off the establishment of the Border Export Zones (BEZ) at various border points to boost the interstate trade.
This is aimed at positioning Uganda and harnessing the regional market opportunities, according to the Minister of Trade and Co-operatives, Amelia Kyambadde. She said the target is to develop at least 18 zones at strategic border areas and have already secured land in collaboration with the respective districts.
They include Masafu in Busia (52.3 hac), where they intend to construct warehouses and storage facilities, a border market, light processing facilities, a commercial warehouse and other related facilities. Katuna, in Kabale (238.8 hac) (warehouse and other related facilities), Mpondwe in Kasese 6 acres (buildings for services, such as banks, insurance, retail, hotels, recreation facilities, warehouse and related facilities), Lwakhakha in Namisindwa 27 acres (border market) and Amuru 200 hec.
She said Kikagate in Isingiro and Ntoroko land has not yet been surveyed. While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre (UMC) in Kampala, on the progress of the project, Kyambadde said the construction work of various facilities is already going on in the four BEZs. They include Lwakhakha, Busia, Katuna and Orabo in Koboko.
The Government is to construct a commercial building, extension of electricity and other related facilities in Orabo. She said Elegu land is still clogged and experts are developing a flood mitigation plan. She said the project is partly funded by the European Union, under the Regional Integration Implementation Project (RIIP).
Kyambadde said the ministry got euros 1.26m (about sh5.5b) under the RIIP, supported by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which was used to conduct environmental impact assessments and developed master plans, architectura designs, Bills of Quality and construction tender documents for Katuna, Lwakhakha, Busia, Oraba, Elegu and Kikagate. The second phase of the project was allocated euros 1.7m (about sh7.7bn) to develop start-up facilities on each of the BEZ sites as prioritised by the districts. She said the ministry finalised procurement of contractors to construct venture facilities at each site, to attract more public -private investments to the sites.
Kyambadde said the Government also secured $2m from the World Bank, under the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project (GLTFP) for the development of Mpondwe in Kasese and preparation of feasibility studies for Bunagana, in Kisoro.
"The procurement process for the development of Mpondwe BEZ is also on-going and construction will commence next month," she added. Kyambadde said this will strengthen the country's export sector, creating a market for farmers who, for over the years, were being exploited by middlemen.
"Farmers have been previously selling raw items and had to incur a lot of costs in transportation. This time, we want them to take their items to the BEZs and store them in the warehouses or even process and package them at a fee, to sell quality products," she noted.
She said this is in line with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) manifesto and the National Development Plan to prioritise BEZs to improve trade and people's livelihood. Kyambadde said this will also reduce the cost of transporting goods by traders from Kampala to their respective countries.
She said this will increase export earnings as a result of improved trade infrastructure and capacity building to the cross-border traders, increase in value addition, provision of employment and promotion of investment, through publicprivate partnerships at the BEZs.
She said it will also improve post-harvest handling, reduce wastage of products during transportation, processing, drying and promote compliance to standards. It will also reduce non-tariff barriers, among others.
Kyambadde noted that the 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 finance ministry.
She said BEZ provides opportunities to continue trading regionally amidst COVID-19 measures. She implored the business community to invest in the BEZs and take advantage of the facilities that the Government is putting in place.