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Research & Learning

In line with TMEA’s effort to promote research on Aid for Trade (AfT) in Eastern, Southern and Horn of Africa and beyond, we conduct policy-relevant research that provide TMEA staff and partners, policy makers and practitioners with knowledge and data to harness trade development. Below are the highlights of the year under focus:

  1. Production of the following internal policy briefs: Trends in Trade, Investments and Trade Facilitation in East Africa (2015-2019); Relevance of Global Value Chains (GVCs) to Africa Countries; and Road Infrastructure and Enterprise Performance: Evidence from TMEA’s Mombasa Roads Improvement Initiative.
  2. We partnered with Oversight Development Institute (ODI) to develop a detailed OSBP Study and SPS Communities of Practice (CoP); and with the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) to develop Political Economy Toolkits. Both projects are ongoing.
  3. TMEA also partnered with United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UNECA) and African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) to develop and launch a regional COVID-19 flagship report titled, Waving or Drowning? The Impact of COVID-19 on East African Trade. The report assesses the impact of COVID-19 on EAC economies, and intends to influence short-term policy interventions to mitigate adverse effects of pandemics on business performance, employment, and the economy.
  4. Programmatically, we continued to conduct SME and AfCFTA research on women owned enterprises in Kenya; and developing a knowledge and sharing hub (a microsite and data visualisation dashboard) that will provide access to research outputs, data from TMEA’s interventions, and research analytics to guide policy prescriptions for partners.


The Communications Unit steers TMEA’s strategic liaisons with decision makers and the wider public, including government agencies, the media, the private sector, and women in trade

Communication outreach and events

We guided execution of a robust campaign around Safe Trade Emergency Programme (Safe Trade) by planning high-profile events and creating content encompassing news features and opinion editorials in local, regional, and international media. The key interventions highlighted included provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in key trade routes; launch of an innovative COVID-19 digital cargo and driver tracking system; a study on the impact and lessons from COVID-19 pandemic; and Standards, Phyto-Sanitary and Sanitary (SPS) ground-breaking for Safe Trade Markets in Kenya, Uganda, and Somaliland. At the same time the unit provided strategic support to private and public partners in execution of effective COVID-19 testing and vaccination campaigns.

We continued to engage the media in raising the visibility of over 30 high-profile events such as the WTO Aid for Trade Review and the Paris Peace Forum where TMEA was awarded for its Safe Trade Programme. TMEA reach via social media platforms averaged 2 Million with 1,795 direct media mentions, representing 25.6 percent and 25 percent, respective increment from the previous period.

Results & Organisational Performance

The Results and Organisational Performance Unit provides a comprehensive overview of the change TMEA, its partners and donors seek to deliver in Eastern, Southern, and Horn of Africa. We achieved the following results in the 2020/2021FY:

  1. We conducted a comprehensive review of TMEA’s portfolio to support the alignment of programmes to the prevailing COVID-19 aid for trade environment.
  2. We performed a results audit of projects in TMEA’s portfolio with a view to aligning their respective expected results, and expected end-of-project results to TMEA’s corporate-level outcomes.
  3. We advanced implementation of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Strategy.
  4. In Burundi, we undertook a political economy analysis - including risks and assumptions - which informed the country-level theory of change. A similar process commenced in Malawi.
  5. We started to work with programme teams to develop indicators to monitor shorter-term outcomes and key assumptions in the intermediate outcome level theories of change.

Environment & Social Safeguards

  • The Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit continues to provide technical support in the review and development of environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) for various projects under design. The Unit continued to build the capacity of staff and partners on safeguarding processes by training programme leaders and officers, partners such as women-in-trade, and technical consultants involved in TMEA’s new frontiers and Mbaraki Road Project at the Port of Mombasa.
  • With easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions towards the end of the second quarter, the Unit resumed safeguarding review missions with a focus on infrastructure projects such as the Hargeisa Bypass, Mombasa Roads Projects and the Busia Safe Trade Zone. During the year we facilitated the resolution of several grievances received, an indicator that TMEA project beneficiaries appreciate the set grievance redress mechanisms. For example, a cultural heritage assessment conducted around the culturally sensitive Naas Hablood Hills along the Hargesia Bypass Project site in Somaliland provided evidence and guidance on preservation of the cultural, natural and archaeological heritage in the hills.