Small cross-border traders, long the mainstay of communities straddling the border of Kenya and Uganda and once considered illegal by revenue agencies, will benefit from the construction of an open air market in Busia. The project is part a Ksh1.31 billion ($13.1 million) agreement signed between the government of Kenya and Trade Mark East Africa on November 3.
The construction of the Busia Jumuia Cross-Border integrated market will be done jointly with Kenya’s Ministry of East African Community, on 40-acres of land that will hold a retail and wholesale section and a business hub.
The retail section is expected to be ready by 2022, and will host at least 2,000 traders. It will also include all-weather stores, stalls, and cold rooms. The market will provide a channel through which the government and other partners can provide trade and market information to traders.
“The construction of the Busia market will enhance cross border trade between Kenya and EAC partner states, improve livelihoods, structure trade, formalise informal trade and enhance revenue collection by improving the cross-border trading environment,” said Dr Kevit Desai, Kenya’s Principal Secretary, Ministry of EAC and Regional Development during the signing of the grant on November 3, 2020.
“The retail section will have a capacity of 2,000 SMEs traders drawn from the Lake Region Economic Trading Bloc effectively linking their trade value chains destined for the export market through the Northern Corridor,” Dr Desai explained.
“The four grant agreements of Ksh1.31 billion will facilitate trade and unlock the economic growth of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and to a wider extent the Democratic Republic of Congo given that this investment is in critical infrastructure,” said Ukur Yatani, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Planning.
Other planned regional shared markets include Namanga, Taita Taveta and Isebania on the Kenya- Tanzania border.
The Busia market is set to reduce post-harvest losses that often occur due to lack of storage facilities for fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. The market will also enhance revenue collection for the Busia County government by providing a structured mechanism for SMEs involved in cross-border trade to conduct businesses legally and safely.
The joint project follows a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta for construction of Jumuia markets in all border counties to create safe trade zones and spur economic activities between Kenya and the Great Lakes Region.
Further, four grant agreements signed between Kenya and Trade Mark East Africa will also support projects in Mombasa, Malaba and Busia.
TMEA, through funding from United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) has also committed $3.7 million (Ksh372 million) to finance the dualing of the road approaching the Busia One Stop Border Post from Busia town to reduce traffic snarl-ups.
Source: The East African