COMPETE SUPPORTS WOMEN IN TRADE LOGISTICS IN EAST AFRICAHigh logistics costs are a major barrier to East Africa’s competitiveness and to the region’s prospects for accelerated economic growth. High transport costs are a function of a number of factors, among them, multiplicity of institutions, processes and documentation in the cargo clearance process from the port of Mombasa in Kenya to the hinterland countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. The multiplicity of players in the logistics supply chain in East Africa also breeds the environment for corrupt practices owing to lack of transparency.
Women can play an important role in advocating for a corruption free trade environment particularly in trade logistics. In the past, this was not possible because women in East Africa lacked a platform to engage with policy makers. This has changed with the formation of the Women in Maritime in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA). WOMESA was born out of the United Nation’s “Women In Development (WID)” initiative which is a world-wide initiative to empower women to drive development. WOMESA covers twenty four (24) countries in Eastern and Southern Africa and has its Secretariat in Mombasa, Kenya, at the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA). The current Chairperson of WOMESA is Nancy Karigithu, the Director General of KMA. The Kenya Chapter of WOMESA is headed by Evelyn Mwamure, Manager, Conventional Cargo, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
WOMESA is a potential partner for USAID in addressing issues impacting on trade logistics and competitiveness including anti-corruption. As part of cementing this partnership, the COMPETE Transit and Grants Teams met with the Executive Committee of the Kenya Chapter of WOMESA to define modalities for possible COMPETE grant support to WOMESA to host a regional workshop for women in trade and logistics in East Africa scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. More details about this ground breaking workshop will be published in the coming weeks.