The DR Congo Directorate of Customs and Excise (DGDA) and the Ugandan Revenues Authority (URA) have signed the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS). This system will reduce the cost and time business owners spend on transporting cargos and check tax evasion. Also, an extension of the RECTS control centre will be launched in the country.
RECTS will enable real time tracking of transit cargos to or from DRC. This will be done through an online platform monitored in control centres in the four countries where the system operates: Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Congo. With these control centres, the risk of consignment diversion in checkpoints will be reduced. And as such, minimize checkpoint fraud and cargo theft.
An electronic seal is attached to every transit cargo vehicle and gives updates about vehicle location, speed, and cases of container tampering. Importers, transporters, and revenue authorities will be able to access this information. Twelve Rapid Response Units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor and will respond to alerts received from the command centres about suspicious behaviours, watching for diversion from designated routes, unusually long stopovers, or attempts to open a container.
According to the Africa Development Bank Group, the continent’s growth is tied to trade improvements. One of the factors it identified was the speed of inter-border trade, as well as slowness in delivery systems.
For DRC in particular, where internal revenue generation’s contribution to GDP has declined rapidly since 2014 (from 14.3 percent in 2014 to 8.2 in 2017), the country needed a change in trade strategy. Or at least, an improved way of handling business. The introduction of RECTS to the Northern Corridor, the busiest and most important route in East and Central Africa, will eliminate the need for physical escorts and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel and cigarettes, profiting DRC, among other vested nations.
In Uganda, where the RECTS has been in use since 2014 (about the same time DRC’s GDP began to slump) traders have reportedly been able to cut cargo transport time from six days to one and a half, saving them between $200-250 per day. Implemented well, this new system could transform DRC’s internal revenue generation engines, as lower business costs will encourage greater investment.
This project is funded by Trademark East Africa (TMEA) through a $642,000 fund from the Department of International Development (DFID).
By Tobiloba Ishola