- As a result, they are largely confined to Tanzania’s boundaries even as they are legally allowed to sell their products – under domestic terms – to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan under the EAC Common Market arrangement.
Dar es Salaam. The requirement that one needs to have a passport in order to move outside the country is barring Tanzanian small-scale traders from accessing a wider market under the East African Community (EAC), The Citizen has learnt.
As a result, they are largely confined to Tanzania’s boundaries even as they are legally allowed to sell their products – under domestic terms – to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan under the EAC Common Market arrangement.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the chairman for an association that brings together operators of small businesses and petty traders – popularly known as Vibindo Society – Mr Gaston Kikuwi said as small-scale traders and business owners, they usually find it difficult to go through the bureaucracy of getting required passports.
He asked EAC member states to help them by allowing them to use national identification cards so they can be able to do cross-border trading within the region. Vibindo Society is an umbrella national association that represents over 50,000 small business persons across the country.
“The people of East African have their national identification cards which are acceptable by all countries……this could also be used in cross border trade once a small-scale trader lacks a passport,” he said.
Facilitation of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) has been given emphasis as one of the vehicles for poverty reduction under Article 80 (1) (c) of the EAC establishment.
In order for majority Tanzanians to participate in the EAC cross border trade, Kikuwi said that the government needs to, among other things, speed up the process of providing the national identification cards.
Apart from identification challenge, Kikuwi mentioned other challenges facing them as little knowledge on how to trade across borders, bureaucracy of some public servants in borders and in check points as well as numerous taxes and levies charged by various organs including regulatory bodies. “The numerous and similar taxes levied on small businesses and traders by Local Government Authorities - from one district to another - coupled with multi-regulatory Authorities such as the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA); Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Occupational Safety and Health Authority pose a big challenge to cross border trade,” he said.