The East African Business Council (EABC) says the East African Community must harmonise infrastructure to reap fully from the customs union and common market agreements.
This was one of the recommendations of the recent regional EAC secretary general-CEO forum in Kampala. The forum discussed ways of reducing costs of doing business in the region.
EABC Executive Director Andrew Luzze said regional CEOs wanted all East African sea ports to implement an integrated port management system, quick repairs on sections of the road along the Northern, Central and Southern corridors, and the EAC air space to be made domestic.
In additions, they called for the implementation of the EAC regional power master plan, and also urged EAC partner states to invest in railway transport to reduce the burden on other modes of transport.
CEOs also cautioned partner states to take note of the EABC Business Climate Index (BCI) survey (2011), which indicated that access to affordable and reliable energy emerged as a single most source of obstacle to business operations across the region. They want subsidized power supply to local manufacturers by implementing the regional power master plan.
Though the region entered the second stage of integration in 2010, which is the Common Market Protocol, the CEOs were concerned about the laxity of the region especially in harmonizing the cost of doing business and the persistent non-tariff barriers.
They agreed that for EAC to have a fruitful common market, there was need to expedite the establishment of a single customs territory, taking into account the interests of stakeholders, and also remove application of rules of origin for East African goods. Similar recommendations were made during last year's forum but few have been realised.
Intra-EAC trade is still low, at about 11.38%, while the remaining 88.62% of trade of EAC is with rest of the world.