PUBLISHED ON October 17th, 2014

Private sector optimistic as top business executives meet

Government and business leaders from East African Community are today expected in Kigali to discuss mechanisms of how to fast-track regional development and inclusive growth.

The sixth East Africa Business Summit (EABS) brings together more than 100 regional top executives and policy-makers.

President Paul Kagame and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta are expected to officiate at the summit, according to organisers.

The business leaders are expected to discuss the East African fiscal policies and practices, regional labour policies and management of the region’s natural resources, including minerals.

According to a statement from EABS, the two-day summit will also lay a foundation for a more concrete public private partnership toward achieving a quantum leap through wealth creation and competitiveness.

The summit will also highlight pertinent issues affecting the business environment in the region, including that of business and work permits.

“What we are looking for is more acceleration to realise the objectives they have set up for the businesses,” Joshua Oigara, the chief executive of Kenya Commercial Bank, said at a media briefing yesterday.“We would also like to see strong engagement from the businesses. It is not necessarily the public sector or the government initiative.”

The summit has also attracted several ministers from the region, including Valentine Rugwabiza (East African Affairs), Francois Kanimba (Trade and Industry), Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, Adan Mohamed, his energy counterpart Davis Chirchir, and Tanzania’s labour minister Gaudentia Kabaka, among others.

EABS is a joint initiative of Citibank, Deloitte, KPMG, Nation Media Group, PwC and The Serena Hotels.

Business community optimistic:

The summit seeks to engage leaders and development actors to chart ways of addressing key challenges as well as means of contributing to the region’s economic transformation.

Josephine Nyebaza, managing director, IntraCargo Ltd, said the meeting is an opportunity for both parties to come up with more sustainable solutions to the constraints hindering regional trade.

“This is an opportunity for policy makers to hear directly from the business community. We expect the dialogue to focus more on solutions rather than promises,” Nyebaza said.

Charles Majoro, a Kigali-based businessman, said the summit should also focus on the cost of doing business in some member states.

“We want to know what the region is doing in terms of linking small and medium enterprises to access finance, regional markets and, most importantly, energy and skilled labour,” he said.

Rwanda’s informal cross-border trade exports to the region increased by 7.4 per cent, fetching $109.3 million, in 2013.

Recent statistics indicate that intra -regional trade grew from $5.5 billion in 2012 to $5.8 billion in 2014 while total trade between EAC partner states accounts for only 12 per cent.

Source:: The New Times

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.