he East African Community (EAC) Secretary General has urged Partner States’ governments to invest in industrial parks and infrastructure to improve the competitiveness of the region and increase Intra-EAC trade.
Speaking during the opening session of the East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week (EATIW 2021), held at the Julius Nyerere Convention Centre, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Dr. Peter Mathuki asked the Member States to enhance industrial productivity and strengthen institutional frameworks and policies to accelerate economic growth in the region.
“Currently, manufacturing contributes to GDP a meagre 8.9%. To achieve the set target of 25% in 2032, there is a need for diversification of the manufacturing base and raising local value-added content resource-based exports,” he said.
The Secretary General called for promotion of rural industrialization through an agricultural development led industrialization strategy and strengthening of research, technology and innovation capabilities of all EAC Partner States, to foster structural transformation of the manufacturing sector and industrial upgrading.
As a strategy towards economic recovery amid Covid-19 in the region, Dr. Mathuki called upon EAC Partner States Governments to offer long-term stimulus packages for private sector development and sector-specific incentives for the established regional value chains such as cotton, textile and apparel, leather livestock and Agro-processing.
“Instead of competing, EAC Partner States need to complement each other. Harnessing our comparative advantage by collectively improving infrastructure connectivity will fast-track regional development,” Dr. Mathuki added.
The Secretary General also reaffirmed EAC´s commitment to finalize the Common External Tariff (CET) before the end of 2021.
“The EAC is committed to finalising the Common External Tariff (CET) by the end of the year, in a move set to promote the Community´s domestic industries & safeguard the region from international shocks,” he said.
He also emphasized on the need for EAC Partner States Governments to speed up the finalisation and implementation of EAC Regulations on liberalisation of air transport services, in a move set to lower flight costs and in turn reduce the cost of doing business in the region.
“With only about 2% of East Africans vaccinated, it is critical that the private sector leads deliberate public campaigns on Covid-19 vaccination and jointly to enhance EAC as an investment destination,” Dr. Mathuki said.
On his part, Mr. David Osiany, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Republic of Kenya, called for consistent public-private sector dialogues and collaboration to develop policies corresponding with the current business environment.
Prof. Kitila Mkumbo, Minister for Industry and Trade, United Republic of Tanzania called for joint investment by EAC Governments and the Private sector in skills development.
“Only 50% of our workforce are employable in the current job market. The public-private sector should come up with a strategy on skills development to fill this gap,” said Prof. Mkumbo.
The East African Trade & industrialization week which officially commenced yesterday will run up to the 3rd of September, 2021. The conference brings together business operators, policy makers, civil society leaders, international and UN organization leaders, academia from all avenues to address challenges and propose solutions to the changing role of business in the region and the continent.