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Published: 20 March 2017      

Truck tracking in East Africa

An electronic cargo tracking system has been introduced in East Africa to prevent theft and tampering, as well as speeding up freight transport times

The system has been adopted by the customs authorities of the East African Community (EAC) states at a cost of US$4.4M and so is presumably also motivated by a desire to maximise customs revenue.

Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking (RECT) will operate along the main transport artery between the Port of Mombasa, Nairobi, Kampala and as far west as Rwanda. The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) financed the project through TradeMark East Africa.

A tracking device will be fitted to all trucks to provide information on speed, location and direction to a central monitoring office. Kenya Railways, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards and other relevant authorities will also be connected to the system.

Rapid response units will be deployed along the highway to respond to any unusual situations. It will be similar to the systems used in South Africa but the big difference is that East Africa will have a single scheme, while there are various competing private sector operators in South Africa.

RECT will also provide detailed data to forwarding agents and deter illicit activities by drivers. The chairman of Uganda’s Association of Clearing and Forwarding Agents, Kassim Omar, said: “There has always been that unpredictable aspect of not knowing whether your goods will reach or they won't reach and that in itself is a very serious discomfort, now this will resolve that problem. The level of assurance guarantees the buyer abroad or the supplier from this end that what was sent will be what is contained in that particular container.”

DfID estimates that the bureaucratic savings could cut the journey time between Mombasa and Kampala by a third. Uganda Revenue Authority commissioner general Doris Akol said: “The system will help us monitor goods from end to end; it will ease cargo handling, improve revenue collection and reduce diversion of untaxed goods into the market. It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of a level playing field in our region.”


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  • Africa) Kenya) Road Transport
  • Africa) Uganda) Road transport
  • Department for International Development
  • Kenya Railways
  • Kenya Revenue Authority
  • TradeMark East Africa
  • Uganda Revenue Authority
  • Asset tracking
  • RFID & GPS
  • Road transport operations


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