Public and private sector players should have a common approach that will help expedite the implementation of regional integration, thus drive the East African Community into a large market. Rwanda’s businessman, Denis Karera, the managing director of Kigali Heights, said a hormonised strategy is important, especially as the Africa prepares for the recently-endorsed continental free trade area.
The deal to establish the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, of over 1.2 billion people, was signed on March 21 during the 10th African Union extraordinary summit in Kigali. Karera is also the current vice-chairman of EABC. Karera is was speaking during the inaugural East Africa Business Council (EABC) Excellence Awards 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya last week.
The former EABC chairman, and another Rwanda businessman, Faustin Mbundu, the chairman MFK Group, were awarded for their exemplary leadership while leading the regional private sector umbrella body. Karera said the awards were a “great milestone toward building a united East African business community”.
Local social enterprise that offers water solutions, Water Access Rwanda, scooped the Best East African Company award in SME category. Equity Group Holdings emerged overall winners, scooping the Chairman’s Award during a dinner held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, followed by Mabati Rolling Mills and Chandaria Industries based in Kenya.
KCB Group was recognised as the Best East African Company in financial services, Bidco Africa won the manufacturing category, followed by Chandaria Industries and Mabati Rolling Mills, respectively.
The awards recognise companies that have demonstrated exceptional business performance in accelerating regional growth, creating wealth, employment and reducing poverty across the region, according to the EABC chief executive officer, Lilian Awinja. Awinja said the awards also sought to reinforce the critical role the private sector plays in the regional economy. Firms from Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda were legible for recognition.
“The private sector is a driving force of East Africa’s economy through the creation of jobs and opportunities that enable citizens to earn a living and thrive. It is also a major player in the integration process,” she added. The awards categories included overall accolade for best company in the EAC, and best companies in services, manufacturing, and SME sectors, as well as women-owned enterprises, green economy, innovation and corporate social responsibility, among others.