Kigali — Today, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has called on East African private sector players to take the lead in ensuring the advancement of the manufacturing sector in the region.
Premier Murekezi was addressing over 500 delegates attending the East African Manufacturing and Business Summit, which runs from 23-25 May 2017 in Kigali.
Themed "Harnessing the Manufacturing Potential for Sustainable Economic Growth", the three-day summit brings together members of the private sector from EAC partner states and beyond, potential investors and policy makers.
Opening the summit, Prime Minister Murekezi pointed out that the role of manufacturing in regional GDP remains minimal. Therefore, he added, there is need to harness the manufacturing sector to be the driving force behind EAC socio-economic transformation.
"To date, the average contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP of EAC is about 10%. It is planned that this contribution will reach 25% by 2032. It is also expected that by the same year, EAC will have diversified the manufacturing base and raised the value of the local content of manufactured exports to at least 40% from the currently estimated value of 8%," Prime Minister Murekezi said.
Murekezi further urged EAC member states to continue working together to harmonise policies that would see the manufacturing sector soar.
"We need to promote intra-Africa trade by deepening the continent market integration and increasing the volumes of trade between our countries," PM Murekezi emphasised.
The summit is a follow up to that held in Kampala, Uganda, in 2015. Issues to be addresses include identifying major investment opportunities, assessing how best the EAC can market itself as well as analysing and addressing major challenges impeding manufacturing in the region.
"Items on agenda include assessing the current status of industrialisation in East Africa. We will look at how the implementation of the EAC Treaty is contributing to the facilitation of industrialisation in the region," Rwanda's Minister of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs Francois Kanimba said.
The summit will also look at the success factors for EAC manufacturers, how to gain competitiveness in price and quality, how to deal with environmental concerns, and what can be done against counterfeits, illicit trade and intellectual property violations.
The summit is an opportunity for the private sector to advocate for better reforms but it is also an occasion for governments to engage the former so that they move towards better production.