The new East African Business Council (EABC) Executive Director/CEO, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, today paid a courtesy call on the EAC Secretary General at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Receiving Mr. Kalisa and the EABC delegation, Dr. Mathuki informed the team that private sector development and trade development were top of the EAC priorities for the 2021/2022 financial year.
Dr. Mathuki said that under the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC, the integration process is supposed to be private sector-driven even though it belongs to the people. He added that EABC therefore needs a strong voice in articulating private sector concerns in the integration.
The Secretary General disclosed to the EABC delegation that his engagement with the EAC Heads of State over the past two months had revealed that the region’s leadership was for strong private sector engagement to take the Community to the next level.
Dr. Mathuki said that there was a new enthusiasm among Partner States for increasing intra-regional trade and pointed out the eagerness by Tanzania and Burundi to join the EAC One Network Area, which is meant to harmonise mobile and data charges across the region.
“There is new set of expectations among the region’s leadership on how to do business in East Africa. The private sector is key to fast-tracking the integration process,” said the Secretary General.
Dr. Mathuki said that the EAC could not afford to work in isolation from the private sector, adding that a roadmap was required for cooperation between EAC and EABC as the umbrella body bringing together private sector associations in the region.
He urged the EABC leadership to generate strategies for engagement with EAC focusing on cooperation between the two organisations over the next five years.
“The interests of the private sector in the region have to do with the free movement of goods and people in the region. This means resolving the challenges at the Partner States’ borders and the two main seaports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa,” said the SG.
Dr. Mathuki noted that COVID-19 had now become a major non-tariff barrier to intra-regional trade and called for a harmonised approach among Partner States to the pandemic in terms of testing, testing charges and acceptance of COVID-19 certificates across the region.
Speaking at the event, EABC Executive Director/CEO Mr. Kalisa said job creation and poverty reduction were key priorities for the EAC region, adding that both tasks can only be undertaken with full participation of the private sector.
Mr. Kalisa said that the private sector had so far been voiceless and invisible in the integration process and that this situation should now change.
The EABC CEO called for the revival and re-energizing of the technical working group between EABC and EAC which had been dormant for a long time.