NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – Over 300 MSMEs from all 47 counties are representing Kenya during the ongoing 23rd Edition of the East African Community (EAC) Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair, formerly known as the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi Exhibition, at Cercle Hyppique grounds in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The theme for this year is ‘Connecting East Africa MSMEs to Enhance Intra-EAC Trade’ and has drawn over 1,500 MSMEs in trade, manufacturing, agribusiness, and services sectors from the seven EAC partner states.
The EAC Trade Fair was officially opened by the Vice President of Burundi, Prosper Bazombanza, on December 8, 2023.
In his remarks, the Vice President noted that the trade fair has been a vital platform for enhancing and revamping the socioeconomic integration of the people of East Africa.
It also provides a platform and opportunities for MSMEs to showcase their products, facilitate business-to-business engagements, and share information on trade-related matters.
The opening ceremony also doubled up as the launch of the EAC Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) App that was developed by the EAC Secretariat and Trade Mark East Africa with the aim of easing the reporting, monitoring, and elimination of NTBs in the EAC community.
The app will also provide different access levels for traders and NTB focal points in each partner state.
Kenya celebrated its country day with a showcase of its unique products and innovations, patriotic songs, fashion showcasing creative designs, apparel, artifacts, and dances from all the cultures represented.
“This trade fair will not only avail a forum for showcasing what Kenya has to offer to the regional market but also play a leading role in facilitating trade and business exchanges among participating countries while at the same time offering an exciting platform for launching new and improved technologies targeting both the local and regional markets,” said Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Cooperatives and MSME Development Simon Chelugui.
“Burundi is a virgin market with immense unexploited opportunities and i encourage Kenyan MSMEs to take advantage of the excellent relations between the two countries to establish a foothold and exploit the emerging opportunities in terms of trade and investment,” he added.
“Possible areas of investment include the following: Agro-processing; Education that will improve the gap in language barrier; Infrastructure to assist the present transport and logistical challenges; Finance and banking to enhance a common currency; Energy /fuel solutions; Light Manufacturing, telecommunication and the construction industry which aligns with the governments Agenda.”
The CS noted that statistics show EAC members are trading more with countries outside the bloc than partner states, becoming importers of products and services that ideally should be sourced in the region.
He further called on the partner states to consider integrating language, currency, transport, infrastructure, and mobile networks to better link regional growth and sustainable development.
“The Government is keen on leveraging on Kenya’s international engagements to create opportunities for its citizens, businesses and investors,” Principal Secretary State Department for MSMEs Susan Mang’eni.
“It is high time that the EAC MSMEs Trade fair organizing committee widened the scope to include the investor angle that will bring together different investors to support MSMEs scale up to become big manufacturers, said PS.
She also stressed one-language integration for easier trading and economic growth.
Present during Kenya Day celebrations were Minister of Commerce, Transport, Industry, and Tourism in Burundi, Marie Chantal Nijimbere; Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, Susan Mange’ni; and Ambassador of Kenya to Burundi, Daniel Wambura CBS, among others.
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