Uganda has now joined COMESAâ€™s electronic platform, The Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) which allows Member States to transfer funds within COMESA on the same day and at a lower cost. The system benefits exporters and importers in the region by allowing for a faster, safe and secure transfer of funds.
Uganda’s trade in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in 2013 totaled US$ 2billion, according to export and import statistics from Bank of Uganda (BOU).
Exports alone were valued at US$ 1.3 billion whereas imports were US$ 694.9 million.
In the COMESA region, Uganda exports mostly to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and DR Congo. In terms of imports from the COMESA region Kenya, Egypt, Rwanda, DR Congo, Swaziland and Mauritius are biggest contributors.
Last year was the first full year that Uganda became part of COMESA Free Trade Area. As a result trade increased by 2percent from 2012.
However, for importers and exporters, making payments for goods is one of the biggest challenges considering that it could take almost a week to complete a transaction.
Uganda has now joined COMESA’s electronic platform, The Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) which allows Member States to transfer funds within COMESA on the same day and at a lower cost.
The system benefits exporters and importers in the region by allowing for a faster, safe and secure transfer of funds.It also paves the way for trading on open account, the predominant method of payment within the EU and other parts of the world.
Rwanda, Malawi, Swaziland and Mauritius are already part of this live platform.
Central Bank Governor Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile says that this platform would facilitate trade with the COMESA region. He further notes that it would move the region closer to economic integration.
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According to Joan Akello, the Director Payments and Settlement at Bank of Uganda (BOU), Ugandan traders would see a significant drop in transaction costs as well a reduction in time to just one day.
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In November 2013, Uganda also joined the East African Cross-Border Payment System (EAPS), which was meant to reduce the transfer of funds by traders in East Africa.
Akello says that there have been “significant” flows of money using the system especially between Kenya and Uganda. Kenya is Uganda’s major trading partner in terms of both imports and exports.