East Africa: EAC Seeks to Top Africa in Investments

THE East African Business Investment Summit has resolved to enhance trade and investment within the region to make it a leading investment destination in Africa.

At the high level summit that took place in Arusha for two days, delegates adopted resolutions, one being the public and private sectors to prioritise capacity building for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in financing, digitisation, technology acquisition, market access, linkages with multinationals among others so as to upgrade operations for sustainability and growth.

Having set the economic agenda and outlook for the East Africa, the over 500 delegates to the Summit from Africa, Europe, Asia and America decided that the East African region adopts the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as robotics, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IOT) to reduce costs and expand their services globally.

Mr Nick Nesbitt, the Chairman of the East African Business Council (EABC) that organised the meeting along with the East African Community (EAC) and the national focal points, signed the resolutions along with the Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Dr Vincent Biruta.

Other resolutions included the target for the EAC bloc to double the intra-EAC trade from the current 12 to 24 per cent within five years.

It was also resolved that the public sector should fast track domestication and implementation of regional and sectoral policies, laws and protocols in order to create an enabling business environment.

Following deep discussions during the plenary and breakout sessions that came in the wake of EAC commemorating its 20 years anniversary, it was agreed that EAC partner states fast track tax harmonisation by using a number of measures including establishing an initiative to address tax-related issues.

"Partner States should fast-track the conclusion of the comprehensive review of the Common External Tariff (CET), the East African region adopt emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies," said Mr Nesbitt, referring them specifically as such as robotics, blockchain and artificial intelligence, internet of things to reduce costs and expand their services globally.

The public and private sector are now to collaborate to design measures that would catalyse the digital revolution in East Africa including Tech Bonds, Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Tech Parks, Tech Hubs unfoldingand protect its data by putting in place data sovereignty policies.

A call was issued upon each of the six EAC partner states to embrace African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities.

The states have also to expedite the finalisation of the Standardisation, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Bill (SACA Bill, 2017).

A joint committee comprising of EABC and EAC Council of Ministers shall be set up to closely monitor the implementation of the resolutions and an action plan shall be developed to implement the same. Dr Biruta, who is the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will be handing over the resolutions to the EAC Heads of State for adoption and consequent implementation.

The summit went by a theme; 'EAC@20 Private Sector-Driven Regional Integration for increased Intra-EAC Trade and Achievement'.

The delegates composed of captains of industry, ministers, senior government officials, investors, women in business, the diaspora and development partners, among others agreed on the resolutions before were signed.

The meeting enabled the private sector meet high level policy and decision makers from East Africa and beyond in order to influence policy reforms and implementation to improve the business environment in the EAC region.

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