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Clearing and forwarding in EAC to become a profession

The Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) will later this month officially inaugurate clearing and forwarding sub-sector as a complete profession in order to curb the infringement of professional ethics in the EAC region.

The move is also expected to improve the quality of service provision as FEAFFA, in collaboration with affiliate members and partners such as Trademark provides academic and professional guidance to individuals who wish to practice clearing and forwarding.

Addressing members of the media at the Ministry of East African Cooperation in Dar es Salaam, the FEAFFA Executive Director John Mathenge said the launch will be officiated by President Jakaya Kikwete on 30th October 2014 at Serena Hotel, Dar es Salaam.  

During the event, the industry’s key tools towards professionalizing the sub-sector will also be launched by President Kikwete.

The launch will attract Ministers of East Africa partner states responsible for EAC cooperation, Finance, Trade, Transport and Infrastructure; Commissioner Generals and Commissioners of Customs of East Africa Revenue Authorities.

 Other participants include industry regulators, port authorities, transit corridor authorities’ industry leaders across the region among other leaders are expected to attend.

 Mr Mathenge said the event is being organized to mark a grand shift of the freight forwarding industry from the negative past image that has for very long bedeviled the sector.

“Customs clearing and freight forwarding in the developing world, East Africa included is emerging from an era of poor reputation. The Low levels of professional ethics and integrity have caused the sector to be branded the industry of thieves’’ Said Mathenge.

The FEAFFA Vice president and the President of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) Mr Stephen Ngatunga said the Federation has steered several initiatives to reform the freight forwarding sector and that it was time for the sector to reap from all these efforts and acquire the status of a profession.

Mr Ngatunga who is the Chairperson of the organizing committee of the launch, said key among the Federation’s initiatives is the development and implementation of a professional practitioners training programme for the sector.

“We have introduced the East Africa Customs Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC) whereby more than 4500 practitioners across the region have been trained and certified as professional freight forwarders,” said Ngatunga.

In Tanzania TAFFA has trained 1350 Tanzanians through collaboration with Tanzania Tax Administration Institute.

The EACFFPC certificate, according to Ngatunga, is now a prerequisite for licensing Customs agents by EARAs.

FEAFFA has also developed and implemented a regional-wide industry code of conduct and standard trading conditions, tools he described as very critical towards provision of professional customs clearing and freight forwarding services in East Africa.

To consolidate these efforts, FEAFFA has now embarked on development of a self-regulation system for the industry and a draft policy framework has already been submitted to the relevant sectoral committee of the EAC for consideration.

The EARAs and the EAC Secretariat are our partners in these initiatives supported by TradeMark East Africa and USAID East Africa among others.’’ said Mathenge.

According to Mr Mathenge, FEAFFA was in the process of establishing a regional freight logistics institute expected to be a centre of excellence in training and research on freight forwarding matters.

A profession arises when any trade or occupation transforms itself through the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship, examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights.

Characteristics of a professional body includes:

  • Renders a specialized service based upon advanced specialized knowledge and skill, and dealing with its problems primarily on an intellectual plane rather than on a physical or a manual labor plane;


  • Involves a confidential relationship between a practitioner and a client or an employer;



  • Is charged with a substantial degree of public obligation by virtue of its profession of specialized knowledge;


  • Enjoys a common heritage of knowledge, skill, and status to the cumulative store of which professional men are bound to contribute through their individual and collective efforts;



  • Performs its services to a substantial degree in the general public interest, receiving its compensation through limited fees rather than through direct profit from the improvement in goods, services, or knowledge, which it accomplishes.


  • Is bound by a distinctive ethical code in its relationships with clients, colleagues, and the public.


By Faraja Mgwabati