East African Community (EAC) states cannot collectively or individually afford to neglect the development of their manufacturing sector, a UN official has said.
In his publication on the challenges of industrialisation within the EAC, Andrew Mold, officer-in-charge of the Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ENECA), says the best option for the development of EAC industry is to focus on both ‘recapturing domestic markets’ and simultaneously exploiting better the potential of regional markets.”
He observes that there are indeed a lot of promising developments across the region that could potentially facilitate greater industrial and manufacturing production.
Speaking to The New Times, yesterday,, Mold said the research paper tries to acknowledge the difficulty in terms of industrialisation in the East African Community, adding that the EAC does not have the budget “to make things happen” but individual countries do.
“All five countries are suffering similar constraints in terms of industrialisation. The way forward is not the international market but they need to look more at the regional market, including the wider region such as the market in DR Congo,” he said.
The EAC industrialisation strategy – whose vision is a globally competitive, environment-friendly and sustainable industrial sector, capable of significantly improving the living standards of the people of East Africa by 2032 – identifies sectors in which the region has potential.
However, the paper indicates that the principal problem is that the region on its own has no way of implementing the policies to achieve these objectives as the Community’s own common budget and resources are tiny.
“It thus depends on member states aligning their own visions with that of the EAC. At the moment, there are relatively few signs of significant alignment – indeed, member states generally view with some trepidation successes in manufacturing in neighboring states – fearing the competitive challenge that this could represent,” says the research.
A critical minimum level of industrial development is required if the region is to attain a sustainable rate of economic growth and development, Mold writes in the article titled, “Running Up That Hill? The Challenges of Industrialisation in the East African Community.”