The Minister for Works and Transport, Eng Monica Azuba Ntege has called on stakeholders in the transport and logistics industry to focus on improving Uganda’s ranking in logistics saying customers increasingly demand efficiency in service.
She made the plea on Wednesday while speaking at the opening of the second Regional Logistics Expo in Kampala. The Expo is bringing together over 500 local and international participants to assess the industry and discuss among others embracing disruptive innovations like blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence.
The two-day expo started on Wednesday at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, under the theme “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions for Freight Logistics.”
It is organized by Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA) is partnering with the National Logistics Platform (under Private Sector Foundation Uganda), the Ministry of Works and Transport and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Minister for Works and Transport, Eng Monica Azuba Ntege said this year’s theme is very appropriate because of the need for the industry to be dynamic and keep up with the ever evolving world.
She recounted that last year’s Expo was significant as it resulted into the signing of an MoU between government and the private sector which became a precursor for consolidating the partnership in logistics.
“Customer expectations are increasing greatly and they expect to get goods faster, more flexibly, and at low cost,” the Minister told delegates at the summit.
She added: “Manufacturing is becoming more and more customized, which is good for customers but requires hard work for the logistics industry”.
Azuba said that while Uganda improved its ranking in the Uganda logistics performance index by 25 places between from 83rd in 2007 to 58th in 2016, this dropped between 2016 and 2018 from 58 to 102.
“This is unacceptable and I would to challenge industry experts to come up with feasible solutions that will improve our industry performance in the region,” she said.
She outlined some of the interventions made by government to improve the efficiency in logistics, among them – the construction of One Stop Border Posts at key border crossings of Malaba, Busia, Mutukula, Mirama Hills, Elegu, Katuna, Goli, Ntoroko, Mpondwe and Bunagana.
The construction of these Border Posts is geared towards increasing efficiency and reducing costs, she said.
The Minister also said government is in the process of reviving the national airline, Uganda Airlines in regard to air transportation of logistics. Commercial flights expected to commence on August 28.
“The objective is to increase Uganda’s competitiveness by reducing the cost of air transport and ease connectivity to and from Uganda”.
Under water transport, government is developing a multimodal port at Bukasa for cargo connecting to Musoma or Mwanza in Tanzania and to Kisumu in Kenya. Phase 1 of the project is set to be completed in 2021.
She further started that government is committed to developing railway transport and that financing arrangements for the development of Standard Guage Railway are being concluded.
Uganda cleared about 76,400 containers last year, according to statistics from URA. 39 percent of these containers came from China, 16 percent came from India and 6 percent came from United Arab Emirates.
This was 15 percent higher than what the volume of cargo that was cleared the previous year.
“All of us need to appreciate that the Logistics Industry has transformed thanks to Technology. Air transport is making us more connected. We thus have to facilitate quicker movement of goods with Digitization as the key facilitator,” said URA Commissioner for Customs, Dicksons Kateshumbwa during the Expo.
“Last year, 52% of our revenue was collected through Single Customs Territory. That alone shows how much Digitization is playing a key role in the economy”.
“Logistics are very critical to our lives. Everything we have on us (clothes, shoes, watches etc) was transported. It came through Logistics. This platform is very critical for us all,” he said.
Participants noted that high costs of transport and logistics impact the final prices of products and services.