East Africa pri­vate sec­tor feted for in­te­gra­tion eforts

The East African - - NEWS - By VIC­TOR KIPROP Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

THE RE­GION’S gov­ern­ments have vowed to sup­port ef­forts by the pri­vate sec­tor to cham­pion growth and boost re­gional in­te­gra­tion.

Last week, Uganda’s Prime Min­is­ter Ruhakana Ru­gunda and other lead­ers at­tended cel­e­bra­tions for the East Africa Busi­ness Coun­cil’s 20th an­niver­sary in Nairobi, Kenya. Dr Ru­gunda said the pri­vate sec­tor was help­ing deepen in­te­gra­tion by har­mon­is­ing poli­cies in or­der to grow in­trare­gional trade, at­tract more in­vest­ments and in­crease de­vel­op­ment.

“Since the in­cep­tion of the EABC, there has been progress to­wards achiev­ing in­te­gra­tion through pol­icy re­views, tax har­mon­i­sa­tion, dis­cus­sions on the North­ern Corridor and stake­holder en­gage­ments to im­prove the free move­ment of goods and ser­vices,” Dr Ru­gunda said.

EABC is the um­brella body for the pri­vate sec­tor and cor­po­rate as­so­ci­a­tions from the East African Com­mu­nity — bring­ing to­gether 54 as­so­ci­a­tions and 108 cor­po­rate mem­bers.

Ob­server po­si­tion

In 2012, the body was granted an ob­server po­si­tion at the EAC, which en­abled it to par­tic­i­pate in rel­e­vant re­gional ac­tiv­i­ties, a chance EABC chair­man Jim Kabeho said has helped the body to in­flu­ence and ad­vo­cate for­mu­la­tion, im­ple­men­ta­tion or re­view of dif­fer­ent laws at a re­gional level. This has helped im­prove the busi­ness and in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment in the re­gion.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 EAC Trade and In­vest­ment Re­port, to­tal in­tra-eac trade in­creased from $1.5 bil­lion in 2005 to $5.1 bil­lion in 2015, but non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers like poor in­fra­struc­ture at the ports and along the main trans­port cor­ri­dors con­tin­ued to im­pede re­gional trade.

Mr Kabeho said that in the next three years, the EABC will re­brand in or­der to po­si­tion it­self for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the COMESA-EACSADC Free Trade Area and the African Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area, launched in 2015 and 2018 re­spec­tively.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, sev­eral cor­po­rates were feted. Re­gional lender Eq­uity Group Hold­ings was awarded the EABC Chair­man’s Award and Over­all Best Re­gional Com­pany while KCB was the Best East African Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­pany. Sa­fari­com was named the Best East African Com­pany in In­no­va­tion while Bidco Africa Ltd and Sig­i­non Ltd got the Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Trans­port and Lo­gis­tics awards re­spec­tively. Na­tion Me­dia Group won the East African Me­dia Com­pany award.

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