The EAC Secretary General, Amb. Richard Sezibera has spelled out plans to tackle challenges to doing business through a sectoral approach, starting with the manufacturing sector.
Sezibera announced these plans during the Regional East African Community Secretary General's Private Sector Chief Executive Officers Forum which was held on February 27 in Kampala, Uganda.
The Forum brought together more than 100 CEOs of businesses from all the five EAC Partner States.
"Together with key stakeholders [we] have agreed to focus on the manufacturing sector. We expect that this will give [sector] captains the confidence and venue to continue to articulate issues affecting the sector as well as providing policy review suggestions," said Sezibera emphasizing the need to raise the contribution of manufacturing to the region's Gross Domestic Product from the current 10% to 40%.
He confirmed that the bloc was about to conclude a Public-Private Partnership Framework, which is expected to go a long way in enhancing private sector participation in public enterprises.
"The proposed framework will facilitate private sector participation in public enterprises with a regional dimension particularly in industrial and infrastructure projects," he remarked.
In the one year since the Forum was launched via national editions, the Secretary General has met with CEOs from all five Partner States and during meeting in Kampala, he spoke proudly of the successes recorded so far.
"We have seen commendable improvement on a number of institutional reforms in the Partner States and adaptations of domestic laws related to the Common Market Protocol," Sezibera observed. "We have also seen more than 36 non tariff barriers to trade resolved."
The East African Business Council (EABC) chairperson, Hon. Gerald Sendaula, lauded the initiative, observed that EAC is an attractive proposition to both the private sector and government, but one that "can only be vibrant if the environment we are operating is conducive to trade and business".
EABC is the apex body for businesses in the region.
Meanwhile the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) CEO Mr. Frank Matsaert affirmed his organization is very much committed to supporting pragmatic solutions to challenges faced by the EAC in its integration agenda.
The Regional Secretary General's CEO Forum discussed among other recommendations from the national forums as well as prospects for the planned EAC-USA Commercial Dialogue, before concluding with an agreement on the key issues of concern the East African business community want addressed.
The recommendations, once ratified by national private sector apex bodies, will be forwarded to the EAC Summit of Heads of State, the top Organ of the Community.
The main objective of the SG CEO Forum is to provide a platform for regular dialogue between the EAC Secretary General and the business community on how to improve the EAC integration process and business climate in order to increase economic growth and development.