PUBLISHED ON February 19th, 2015

EAC Secretary General-Kenya private sector discuss ways to improve business environment in the region

Arusha — The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera this morning engaged, in a dialogue, Chief Executives Officers (CEOs) of Businesses in the Republic of Kenya on how to improve the integration process and the business-operating environment in the EAC bloc.

While hosting over 50 CEOs for breakfast dialogue at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, the Secretary General noted that the intra-regional trade expanded from US dollars 1617.1 million in 2005 to US dollars 3800.7 million in 2010, and that the EAC total trade with the rest of the world maintained an upward trend by posting a growth rate of 8.3 percent in 2013 compared to what was recorded in 2012. On the investment front, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to EAC increased by 6.6 percent to US$ 3.7 billion in 2013 compared to what was recorded in 2012.

He said that in order to maintain this momentum in the integration process, improvement in EAC’s competitiveness has to be given the due attention by all stakeholders. He urged the private sector to dedicate this year 2015 to issues that affect the business environment in the region that could be brought to the attention of the EAC Heads of State for their interventions at their Summit on 30 November.

Amb. Sezibera urged for the support of the private sector in ensuring that headways are made in areas not limited to total liberalization of free movement of labor and services (removal of work permit) and the removal of any Non Tariff Barriers currently in place.

He also urged the private sector in Kenya and the region as a whole to address the issue of “unfair facilitation” (corruption), which he said was a big challenge in the Community. He said the private sector needs to develop a code of conduct that they themselves will monitor. In this regard, he urged the private sector in the region to consider the draft code of conduct that has been prepared by the East African Business Council (EABC).

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Hon. Phyllis J. Kandie, applauded the EAC Secretary General for making it a priority to spend time with the Chief Executives of the private sector to review and discuss regional integration efforts.

She said at the core of the EAC was an economic promise for its citizens and businesses. “Through such interaction and discussions, the Secretary General is able to pick from the private sector issues which hinder a better business environment and in turn the Secretary General is able to brief and guide the Council of Ministers on necessary action to be taken”, affirmed Hon. Kandie.

The Cabinet Secretary, who was represented by her Principal Secretary, noted that the integration process was good for everybody in the region; “for our people it opens up opportunities in education, travel and tourism, employment amongst others. For our businesses, it enhances and widens the market for their goods and services produced in the region, lower cost of doing business and increases their competitiveness in the face of global competition”. It is therefore important that the private sector stays fully involved and engaged in the EAC Integration process and that the issues they raise in such forums are fully addressed”.

Notes to Editors:

The EAC Secretary-General Chief Executives Officers (EAC SG CEOs) Breakfast Meeting is a platform which brings together Chief Executives (CEOs) of Businesses in the EAC region with the EAC Secretary General to dialogue on how to improve EAC integration process and business operating environment.

The meeting is organized through joint effort of East African Community Secretariat, the East African Business Council (EABC) and Trademark East Africa (TMA). The Forum has been instrumental in bringing together the CEOs to agree on a common regional agenda for the Business Community, which is presented to the EAC Council of Ministers and subsequently to the Summit in a more systematic and elaborate manner.

The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community (EAC) in Article 127 (4) provides for participation of the Private Sector in the EAC integration process. The EAC Consultative Dialogue Framework, adopted by the Council of Ministers in November 2012, further provides for a platform for continuous dialogue between EAC, Partner States, CSOs, PSOs and other Interest Groups both at the national and regional level within the context of the requirements of Article 127, 128 and 129 of the EAC Treaty. The dialogue is also to ensure that the integration process proceeds with the involvement of the citizens of East Africa and is undertaken in the context of multi-stakeholder partnerships.

As part implementation of the above provisions, the EAC Secretary General, in collaboration with EABC and with the support from TMA, organized EAC SG CEOs Breakfast meetings in 2012 both at National and Regional levels. These meetings were also held in the subsequent years, in 2013 and 2014.

Source: All Africa

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