East Africa: Uganda Private Sector Upbeat On EAC Market Access

Uganda flag.

The Uganda Private Sector players have expressed satisfaction on the way matters are opening up with promising market access across the East African Community (EAC) partner states.

With the new leadership at the helm of the EAC Secretariat and after swearing in of presidents of governments in most countries, changes are starting to be felt among traders in the positive node for intra-EAC business.

The players are upbeat on prompt interventions on market access challenges for their goods and resolutions of persistent trade barriers across the region, EAC's Secretariat decided to be proactive in clearing trade hurdles at borders.

Also, it is in response to a decision to avail a trade hotline that will provide cross-border traders with a platform to register their challenges and get rapid feedback or solutions.

At the Chief Executive Officers (CEO)'s Round Table in Kampala, Uganda on Thursday, the business leaders called for finalisation of amendment of the EAC elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) Act, 2017, in a move set to reduce transaction costs, hence boost intra-EAC trade.

The Executive Director for Private Sector Federation Uganda (PSFU), Mr Gideon Badagawa, said the activation of a dispute resolution mechanism through the operationalization of the Trade Remedies Committee and harmonization of EAC partner states laws are some of the issues the EAC Secretariat is urged to fast track.

Since its founding in 1995, PSFU has served as a focal point for private sector advocacy as well as capacity building, and continues to sustain a positive dialogue with the government on behalf of the private sector.

It is Uganda's apex body for the private sector. It is made up of over 200 business associations, corporate bodies and major public sector agencies that support private sector growth.

The EAC Director General of Customs and Trade, Mr Kenneth Bagamuhunda hailed the United Republic of Tanzania for sharing a letter to the EAC Secretariat, expressing an interest in joining the One Network Area (ONA).

"The adoption of the One Network Area (ONA) model by all EAC partner states is set to reduce the high cost of telecommunications in the region," he said.

In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched the 'Let's Roam the World Initiative' to follow up on previous work in the area of international mobile roaming. It then came up with a report on ONA Roaming Initiative.

The report showed a good example of a multi-country initiative for the creation of a harmonized enabling environment for the international mobile roaming market, with the objective of having affordable access to roaming services for both voice and data.

It showed that despite price reductions, and the emergence of a range of alternative technologies and calling solutions, prices were still high so that action was still being taken to make the service affordable to all consumers.

It illustrated how important it is to have an inclusive dialogue so that together, stakeholders could define appropriate solutions for business, regulation and policy issues.

The report was taken partly as guidance to assist the East Africa countries and other regional economic communities in Africa in their discussions and decisions on international mobile roaming, hence contributing to bring the East Africa northern corridor states to work together on the issue and contribute to the drive for greater integrated regional economic development.

This week's Uganda CEO's Roundtable under the theme ´Enhancing a Private Sector led Integration & Emerging opportunities in East Africa´ was well attended by industry captains from institutions such as the Uganda Manufacturers Association, Uganda Law Society and Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry among many others.

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