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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Three African blocs start SMS trade barrier report service

A Short Messaging Service has been launched for reporting trade barriers in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), according to The Herald. This supplements the existing web-based reporting system. The Tripartite system for reporting, processing, monitoring and resolving non-tariff barriers (NTBs) is available on www.tradebarriers.org and went live in November 2010. The SMS tool was first launched in 2013 in Zambia to facilitate a diverse spectrum of economic operators, especially the informal and small scale traders who may not have access to the internet. Tasara Muzorori, senior trade officer at Comesa said there was a central number to which the economic operators in different countries could send the texts to report the trade obstacles that they encountered. This was expensive for the economic operators as it involved incurring roaming charges. It was also a challenge to publicise that central number to the relevant players in each of the countries, as the foreign numbers did not identify with local users, Muzorori said. This led to the re-design of the SMS system, whereby each country installs and operates the toll using a central National number at a national level to which messages on trade obstacles can be sent thus eliminating roaming charges. The re-design of the SMS reporting tool was achieved with the support of the African Development Bank funded Tripartite Capacity Building programme. The new SMS tool is hosted and operated by National Focal Points in the individual tripartite countries.

Source: Telecompaper