Electronic Single Window to Facilitate Ease of Doing Business in Ethiopia

June 2nd, 2021 | Viewpoint


The Electronic Single Window (ESW) system allows traders to submit import/export-related requirements in batches. Establishing an online-based service system for traders reduces process costs related to application, process delays, and duplication of documents. Providing a web service function eliminates redundant input of information, and facilitates collecting required confirmation materials such as inspection and verification from designated authorities. The ESW system provides the required information for traders through its intuitive user interface screen, connects 16 major cross-border regulatory agencies, and enables traders to process all documentation relating to import and export through a single electronic submission. The Ethiopian Food and Drug Administration (EFDA) is one of the regulatory bodies that is expected to be using this system.

In April 2020, the government of Ethiopia introduced a new directive for traders to use the ESW system. EFDA clients that formerly used the electronic regulatory information system (eRIS) to apply for import permits for food, medicine, and medical devices were identified as ESW users. Considering that there is already an eRIS that manages the import process for these products, it was necessary to integrate the two systems. The integration allows traders to use the ESW to apply for import, while the approval process remains handled by eRIS. While using the ESW, medicine and medical device importers are still able to access products that they have registered for import on eRIS. Once the trader applies for an import permit on the ESW, the application passes through a layer that handles the communication between eRIS and ESW and reaches eRIS for the approval to be processed by EFDA staff

Once the approval is processed on eRIS, the result is communicated to the trader on ESW. In the first phase of the ESW and eRIS integration, more than 280 medicine importer permits were requested through ESW. The integration with eRIS will be the first integration with ESW in the country. It would allow the trading/import/export environment to be very easy and accessible for traders. Currently, around 100 traders have been using ESW to request and receive approval by eRIS.

Key Benefits
  • EFDA has become the first cross-border regulatory agency to fully integrate electronically to ESW, allowing clients to enjoy automatic approval from eRIS in minutes, if not seconds.
  • Given ESW is for all import permits—as a strict government mandate—EFDA now has more reliable data that virtually ensures all commodities that come to the country come to EFDA for formal authorization.
  • The Track and Trace initiative now has an additional platform that can ensure and enforce traceability event capture.
The eRIS system is part of the health sector digitization spearheaded by the USAID Digital Health Activity, a five-year project that is helping build sustainable, resilient, and interoperable health information systems (HIS). These HIS will ensure the entire health sector has the data, analytics, and skills necessary to improve the health and well-being of all Ethiopians.


Written by Yordanos Sebsibe, Project Manager

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