This paper reports on an ongoing study of an initiative to build e-Customs capabilities in eastern Africa. The EU’s customs capability building unit is trying to “export” e-Customs solutions to developing countries in order to strengthen the competiveness of companies based in these countries. Following the international development, e- Customs (with the improved control and traceability possibilities from producer to end consumer) will soon be a prerequisite for participation in international trade. The study is based on a semiotic framework for e-Customs implementations. Previous research has shown how interdependencies between the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic levels cause problems already within the EU. This research we are now expanding to the introduction of so called Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) in the East African Community. Since this project has just recently started we have only limited empirical material to load our framework, but initial data shows that the African initiative is trying to implement only parts of the e-Customs solutions that are developed to fit into a different semiotic structure. We can conclude that significant challenges lay ahead in adjusting also the rest of the structure if the initiative is to be successful.