Private and public sector players in the region should embrace the ideals of a 24-hour economy to accelerate growth, Amb. Richard Sezibera, the East Africa Community (EAC) secretary general, has advised.
Sezibera argued that reliance on the 8-12-hour production cycle practiced is slowing regional growth.
"In the face of globalisation, East Africa's economy cannot afford to close overnight as other competing economies in the world operate round the clock," Sezibera said.
"The EAC Secretariat and governments are working hard to support economic development by clearing non-tariff barriers; that's why we are encouraging the private and public sectors to adopt a 24-hour work approach to business and service delivery to enhance production."
The EAC boss was speaking at the launch of regional retailer Nakumatt Holdings' 50th branch in Arusha, Tanzania, over the weekend as part of the activities to mark the firm's 50 years of existence.
Sezibera commended home-grown businesses such as Nakumatt for playing a key role in driving regional integration.
Nakumatt currently operates eight branches in Uganda, three in Tanzania, two stores in Rwanda and 37 supermarkets in Kenya.
One of the retailer's stores in Rwanda, at the Union Trade Centre mall in Kigali, operates on a 24-hour basis. MTN's service centre at the mall also operates round the clock as do a few other businesses around town.
"My dream is to ensure that we double the formal retail penetration in East Africa from the current 14 per cent to at least 30 per cent in the next 10 years," said Atul Shah, the Nakumatt Holdings managing director.