Women Traders in East Africa: The Case Study of the Busia One Stop Border Post
Across the continent, African countries are implementing various projects to improve intraregional trade, with a specific focus on improved trade facilitation and the constraints that impede cross-border trade. Efforts have focused on ensuring improved hard infrastructure such as one-stop border posts, together with policy and regulatory reforms. However, while improved trade facilitation has reduced constraints to cross-border trade, one of the lesser areas of focus is the gendered impact that hard and soft infrastructure has on informal cross-border traders, specifically women traders. Women informal cross-border traders constitute up to 70% of informal cross-border trade in Africa; despite this, policy reforms and infrastructural improvements do not always factor in a gender-sensitive approach. This paper focuses on the case study of the Busia One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), one of the busiest border crossings between Kenya and Uganda, in order to examine the impact that improvements to soft and hard infrastructure have had on the daily trading realities of women traders. In discussing the Busia case study, the paper assesses the specific constraints currently facing women traders in East Africa and how policy and infrastructural reforms have responded to the needs of women. It concludes with recommendations on helping government agencies meet the needs of women traders.