he Republic of Uganda has launched the 17th Intake of the East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC) training program. The intake was officially launched by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner of Customs Mr. Abel Kagumire.
Speaking during the launch, Mr. Kagumire, applauded the partnership between the government and the private sector in promoting professionalism and compliance in the logistics sector in Uganda and the EAC region at large.
“URA is keen on ensuring integrity, professionalism, and compliance is entrenched in the customs clearing sector for posterity,” said Mr. Kagumire.
“I am glad to inform you that the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment (SCTIFI), recently recognized the EACFFPC program as the regional training program for customs agents and freight forwarders in East Africa. This is a big step toward the actualization of professional and compliant industry,” he added.
The Commissioner also recognized the efforts by The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) in securing resources from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to ensure continuity of the regional program.
The Chairman of Uganda Freight Forwarders Association (UFFA), Mr. Hussein Kiddedde thanked URA for the continued support of the EACFFPC programme. He informed participants that the industry is also working on a self-regulation law that is intended to enhance accountability, professionalism, and compliance in the freight forwarding industry.
Uganda becomes the second EAC country to roll out the recently updated competency-based curriculum for customs agents in East Africa developed with support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).
This brings to 300, the total number of customs clearing agents currently undergoing training under the harmonized updated regional curriculum. Skills acquired through this training are expected to contribute to improving the competencies of customs agents thus reducing import/export processing delays related to human labor.
The launch brought together Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) senior management, leaders from the freight logistics industry, various trainers of the program in Uganda, and the newly enrolled students. Over 170 participants attended the online launch.
“The updated curriculum also covers soft and employability skills necessary for successful business operations’’ said Lydia Mulondo, the URA Assistant Commissioner – Learning and Development.
Updating of the curriculum was informed by the need to align the training program to market needs and opportunities in the freight forwarding environment. A study by TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) in 2016 found that there was a lack of capacity building in the transport and logistics sector throughout the EAC region. The study also established that the low capacity of clearing and forwarding agents was compelling shippers to understand clearing processes, an additional skill outside their core business. It also established that there were limited formal training opportunities in warehousing, resulting in warehouse functionaries learning the basics on the job. Besides, operators in distant regional economic centers and borders had challenges in accessing the training program.
EACFFPC is a joint regional training program of the East African Revenue Authorities the Freight Forwarding industry and the EAC directorate of customs. It aims at equipping practicing or prospective customs agents and freight forwarders with the requisite knowledge, skills, and competencies in customs and freight forwarding. Over 7000 customs agents and freight forwarders have qualified for the program since it was started in 2007. EACFFPC is one of the requirements for licensing of customs agents in the EAC.
Plans to start a diploma program are in advanced stages to create room for progression and acquisition of global logistics competencies critical for trade under Africa Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA).