ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and Kenya jointly commenced the Moyale One Stop Border Post (OSBP) operation on Tuesday, raising hopes to bolster trade and cooperation between the two nations.
Moyale is the only gazetted border crossing point between the two East African nations.
The start of operations means the border regulatory officials clearing traffic, cargo and persons from both countries will now physically relocate and sit side by side on either side of the border, where they will undertake exit and entry formalities in a joint and/or sequenced manner.
Officials see the beginning of the operation a step closer to achieving the goal of exponentially boosting trade between the two neighboring nations, in addition to promoting regional and economic integration between the East Africa region.
“The people of Ethiopia and Kenya deserve to tie their economic and social relations under the principle of mutual benefit,” said Mengistu Tefera, Special Advisor to Commissioner General Ethiopia Customs Commission.
“The establishment of the OSBP will have a significant role in improving cross border trade and free movement of people,” he added.
A 2017 baseline survey by the aid-for-trade organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) indicates that it takes on average, 21 hrs and 52 minutes (Kenya-Ethiopia) and 12.5 hrs (Ethiopia-Kenya) for a cargo truck to cross the border.
A fully functional OSBP is expected to reduce the border crossing time by at least 30 percent, to enable faster movement of cargo and people.
Kennedy Nyaiyo, the Secretary of Kenya’s Border Management Secretariat, said the operation became possible as a result of a collaborative effort by both governments.
The two sides, with the support of their development partners including Africa Development Bank, have already managed to sort out the legal frameworks, its construction, supplying office infrastructure and ICT technology, and others, of the one stop border point in Moyale.
“Let us utilize the OSBP and explore its opportunities to facilitate trade between Ethiopia and Kenya,” Nyaiyo said.
Experts say the trade flow between the two neighborly countries has big room for improvement.
Data from TradeMark East Africa, for instance, shows Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia in 2019 were valued at USD 67 million, while Ethiopia’s exports to Kenya were valued at US$ 52.05 million.
This trade flow is expected to increase significantly with the internationalization, according to TMEA .
Its officials also believe the start of the operation will give a boost to Kenya’s Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopian (LAPSSET) corridor project which recently gained momentum with the launch of first berth of the Lamu Port.
The OSBP will also “be a key catalyst to enhance trade on the trans-African Highway to accelerate socio-economic transformation for both countries.” said Daniel Muturi, TMEA Kenya Program Manager.
The Moyale one stop Border Post is the fifth for Kenya but the first of its kind in Ethiopia.
It “is an important milestone for Ethiopia in cementing its position as a key player in trade in the Horn and East African region and sets a positive precedent for other similar projects in the country’s key border points,” said Abenet Bekele, Deputy Country Director of TMEA Ethiopia.
Moyale OSBP became operational after its official launch by the leaders of the two countries, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in December, 2020.