Maritime Single Window System to ease burden for shippers

Shipping firms and agents operating in Kenya will benefit from enhanced efficiency at the port of Mombasa following the launch of the Maritime Single Window System (MSWS).

Ms Karigithu said implementation of the new system is part of initiatives to facilitate trade in line with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention on Facilitation of Maritime Traffic (FAL), which makes it mandatory for governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports, to make cross-border trade simpler and logistics chains efficient.

“This aims at promoting measures to bring about uniformity and simplicity in documenting requirements and procedures associated with the arrival, stay and departure of ships engaged in international voyages,” Ms Karigithu said.

The new system now allows shipping agents in Kenya to electronically submit vessel pre-arrival and pre-departure FAL declarations to government agencies at the port.

The agencies include the Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, State Department of Immigration, Port Health, National Environment Management Authority, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Kenya Coast Guard Service.

Developed jointly by Kenya Trade Network Agency, the Kenya Maritime Authority, with financial support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office and Danish International Development Agency through TradeMark East Africa, the system now makes Kenya compliant with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Facilitation of the International Maritime (FAL) Convention.

The MSWS system, which covers the vessel arrival and departure process of both cargo and non-cargo vessels and facilitates the processing of all associated documentation for a quicker turnaround time in handling maritime traffic, will translate to reduced costs in processing cargo and non-cargo vessels.

Ms Karigithu noted that Kenya is among120 member states that have ratified the International Maritime Organization Convention on Facilitation of Maritime Traffic commonly referred to as the FAL Convention.

The country has also signed 26 conventions that have been domesticated through the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009, which is proof of Kenya’s desire to grow its maritime sector and compete with global maritime nations.

The Kenya MSWS will address the main issue of numerous, non-harmonised reporting obligations in a more coordinated and efficient way, and improve inter-operational tasks between various systems, making it much easier to share and reuse data.

KMA Director-General Robert Njue said the MSWS will enhance greater transparency and provide efficient end-to-end information flow for the government agency officers to better ensure the safety of arriving and departing vessels, and their cargo.

“The FAL /IMO initiatives are designed to simplify cross-border trade, reduce the administrative burden and create a more efficient logistics chain and that is the fundamental reason we have developed the MSWS,” Mr Njue explained.

KenTrade Chief Executive Officer Amos Wangora said the new system is an important innovation that will ensure marine waterways and operations stay efficient and safe for our stakeholders.

“The recent Suez Canal incident has shown how vulnerable our global supply chain can be. Kenya is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, and we cannot be complacent in our digital transformation journey,” Mr Wangora said.

He added that the development of the new shipping system in Kenya was driven by the need to simplify the administrative burden for ships entering and leaving the port of Mombasa.

Mr Wangora maintained that the current reporting requirements are extremely laborious and due to elements of overlapping legislation there is often a need to submit similar information to different authorities in different formats.

“We are proud to have supported KenTrade and Kenya Maritime Authority to develop the MSWS system which will enhance trade facilitation for the maritime stakeholders and enable faster operational procedures and shorter process time, leading to increased transit traffic through the port of Mombasa and reduced trade costs overall,” TradeMark East Africa Country Director Ahmed Farah said.

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