DURING THE just concluded Rwanda-Uganda Business Forum, the key theme was exhausting the regional resources before focusing on external markets.
President Paul Kagame, who attended the meeting alongside his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, pointed to the need for the private sector to partner with governments in promoting intra-regional trade.
According to latest statistics, intra-East Africa trade volumes grew by 22 per cent in the last three years, an indication that private-public partnerships hold the key to more growth.
The elimination of trade barriers and instituting conducive business environments was a result of the partnership, even though more needs to be done.
Having uniform tariffs; whether in state levies or data charges among mobile operators, is one step towards regional integration. But as long as some member states of the East African Community are still playing catch up, total integration will remain on the drawing board.
The delays and hesitations in implementing some of the regional projects and policies are usually informed by political interests. The private sector’s interests are not factored in.
That is why Kagame’s call for partnership with all stakeholders should be a wake-up call for private entrepreneurs to take up the challenges and turn them into opportunities.
It is up to the private sector in each member country to come up with clear strategies to influence positive change in the trade arena; after all, they are the engines that run their economies.