The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: EAC Chief Urges States to Aid Informal Sector

East African Community (EAC) countries need to increase their attention in terms of resources to the informal sector, with the view to contributing to sound development of the region economies, a senior EAC official has said.

The Director-General of the EAC Customs and Trade Directorate Mr Peter Kiguta said the new-found partnership between the private sector and the informal sector was increasingly playing a crucial role in the growth and development of the economies of the region.

"There is need for the East African Countries to accord the region fast growing informal sector more attention with the view to contributing to growth and development of the economies of the region," he said on Thursday.

Addressing exhibitors and stakeholders during the launch of the EAC Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition in Bujumbura, Kiguta said the informal sector was not only providing employment and source of livelihood to a large number of the population in both the rural and urban areas but the sector utilises raw materials available in the region.

Kiguta noted that Burundi and Rwanda, which started implementing the EAC Customs Union in July 1, 2009, have increased intra-EAC trade.

"The region total intra-trade increased by 20.5 per cent reaching the highest value of $44.8 trillion. In 2001, Burundi recorded an increase in its share of the EAC trade to 4.2 per cent having grown the share from 2.6 per cent recorded in 2010.

The deputy speaker of the Burundi Parliament François Kabura officially opened the 13th edition of the event themed Promoting Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi through Innovation, Competitiveness, Investment and Private Public Partnership. He said the exhibition was an occasion for artists and artisans to enhance competitiveness and increase employment, and thereby accelerate the region's sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction initiatives.

Kabura noted that the Jua Kali sector has been encouraging, which explains the appetite traders have towards promoting competitiveness, sustainable growth and poverty reduction initiatives. The region's fast growing private sector has changed interaction dynamics and started working with governments' especially in implementing the designed development plans.

For example, Kenya is currently implementing a long-term development plan - Vision 2030, Rwanda is actualising Vision 2020, and Uganda -Vision 2025.

A similar feature in all these development plans is acknowledgement that the desired growth cannot be achieved unless the nation states are transformed from subsistence agriculture economies to knowledge-based society, with high level of savings and private investment.

According to the East African Confederation of the Informal Sector Organisation (CISO) chair, Mr. James Bwatuti, the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition is the biggest single initiative in the EAC that brings many small business people together to promote and expand market opportunities, and encourage competitiveness and innovation in the sector.

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