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INTERVIEW: High-tech enterprises to benefit from speedy customs clearance

Kenneth Kamukago

Kenneth Kamukago is the CEO of Afro Freight Clearing and Forwarding Company based in Kampala. He shared with the Independent’s Agnes E Nantaba about the growth opportunities in the clearing and forwarding industry.

What are the key elements in your management philosophy?

Management is about defining team work and understanding the roles of each member, not forgetting that there are links in between, from top to the bottom. I like holding regular meetings to have a glimpse of progress of everyone’s work.

Human resource is unique in a sense that as a leader, you need to keep track who is or not on track to ensure that there’s delivery of quality work. We have also managed to keep the company going through being hands-on. We can’t afford to sit back, delegate and wait for results.

What is your assessment of clearing and forwarding industry in Uganda?

The clearing and forwarding industry in Uganda has come a long way to a point of having almost all the work now automated. And with the growing need to trade and do business across borders, there is a growing demand for transport services for goods across seas, ocean or by air from one place to another. With the economy expected to grow, the industry is also destined to grow. The future looks bright.

What explains your latest expansion into oil and gas?

Our entry in oil and gas is because it is the biggest opportunity for us as Ugandans presently and some years to come. We have between 2018 and 2020 to experience oil flows and it is an industry that will fetch the country billions of dollars. We therefore saw a big opportunity to expand into that area so that we can also have a share of it but also expose our expertise.

What is your strategy to taking advantage of the huge opportunities in the oil and gas sector?

Human resource training is very important and so our team is taking the necessary short certifications such as ISO so to ensure that we are at the same level with the international counterparts. We are also in partnership with global logistics companies who have experience in oil and gas.

The East African Community recently took effect on the one-stop border posts. How have they been instrumental in improving trade in the region?

There has been a reduction in transit costs incurred in cross-border movement by combining activities of both the country’s border agencies at a single location on either side of the border – entry and exit – without increasing risk to public safety or revenue collection. The initiative has also eliminated repetition of clearing procedures because now almost all transactions are carried out at the same location.

What are some of the challenges you face as the industry?

The cost of doing business in Africa is very high partly due to high transport costs. This is sometimes worsened with the delay in cargo clearance resulting from the break down in the custom’s clearance system.

I think in order to break the cost cycle, there is need to improve infrastructure and ensure that there’s more efficient use of the existing infrastructure at the border posts.

What opportunities has the Single Customs Territory (SCT) brought to clearing and forwarding business in Uganda?

The system has put to an end cheating and dumping of transit goods into the local market because the cargo clearance system goes together with the payment of all taxes.

What is your projection of Uganda’s clearing and forwarding industry in the next few years?

The industry will be more of system based making cargo clearance more efficient. For instance in developed countries, clearing and forwarding is done at the click of the mouse so once other facilities are put in place, the industry will be steps ahead. However, it is only players who have invested in training and certification that will remain relevant in the industry.


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