The Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS) has developed a mobile phone-based tool for monitoring, reporting and resolving Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
These are experienced by users of ports and trade corridors in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.
Director of trade facilitation and policy harmonisation at the ISCOS secretariat Alex Zulu told IHS Maritime: “The tool commonly known as m-Ship is expected to revolutionise the industry as real time-service users participate in decision making and policy formulation and improve the shipping and transport industry in East, Central and Southern Africa region.”
“The scope of the platform covers the ports of Dar Es Salaam and Mombasa through transit countries to the hinterland through the Central, Dar Es Salaam and Northern Corridors including roads, rail, pipeline and the inland water ways,” he added.
Zulu said: “The implementation of m-Ship platform has been endorsed by the ISCOS member states and is being introduced to long-distance truck drivers, clearing and forwarding companies and shippers through their associations and organisations.”
The platform reports on service providers including customs services, clearing and forwarding agents, shipping lines and shipping agents, container fright stations, port and railways police, inland container depots, weighbridges and ports.
The importers, exporters and consumers of services from the region’s ports will be able to use their mobile phones to provide oversight on the public and private sector services providers they deal with every day.
Through m-Ship users of these services will be able to report delays, incidents of corruption and commend where services are exemplary.
The system then uses the reports to apply appropriate remedies to eliminate or mitigate challenges.
Service providers in the maritime and shipping industry are expected to provide efficient services in order to reduce the cost of doing business through elimination of bottlenecks and unnecessary delays while guaranteeing value for money.
The ISCOS represents the shipping and maritime interests of countries in East and Central Africa regions. Member states included are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.