According to Articles 105 and 111 of the treaty establishing East African Community (EAC), productive sectors are the basis for the livelihood of the people of the region as they directly address the problem of low productivity, unemployment and food security in the region.
The sectors comprise of agriculture, environment and natural resources, tourism and wildlife, industry and energy. These sectors are the cornerstones of the livelihood of the EAC people.
They employ the majority of the East African People and can be transformed into fostering the region’s quest for sustained economic growth and development. Strategies for developing these sectors are meant to create the requisite opportunities for enhancing the welfare of the people of East Africa through improved competitiveness, regional and global integration.
The regional strategic interventions of enhancing supply capacities in agriculture entailed identifying high value agricultural sub-sectors for which the region has a competitive advantage and capitalise on investments that can facilitate Partner States to transform their respective economies. Others include the development of an EAC Strategy Plan on agriculture and Food Security; harmonisation of regional policies; regulations, SPS, and pest control standards; development of regional programmes on bio-safety and bio-technology, trans-boundary disease control and emergency preparedness; formulation of special trade regime on SME cross border trade, strengthening of national Agriculture/Livestock institutions, farmers, traders and processors associations.
Environment and Natural Resources Management
Sustainable Development is the ultimate aspiration of the EAC partner states. Restoration and protection of the environment and natural resources opens the door to sustainable socio-economic development in East Africa. The Protocol on Environment and Natural Resource Management provides for joint actions to address climate change. Achievements recorded in the 3rd development strategy include development and harmonisation of regional and national policies and legislation on environment; implementation of environmental assessment guidelines for minerals and shared ecosystems; and development of climate change policy and master plan; policy harmonisation of regional and continental level bio-safety; and institutionalisation of joint participation of EAC in International Treaties and Conventions.
Industry and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Development
The development of vibrant and robust industrial base will accelerate the pace of economic growth and development in the EAC region. In order to lay a firm foundation for industrial development in the region (as articulated in articles 79 and 80 of the EAC Treaty), and in keeping with the commitments at continental level, the Community has formulated a Draft EAC Industrialisation Policy and Strategy.
The EAC CU and CM Protocols constitute the critical milestones of the industrial policy whose mission is to create market driven, regionally and internationally competitive industrial sectors based on comparative and competitive advantages of Partner States. At policy level, the EAC draft Industrial Policy and Strategy (for the period 2010-2030) under preparation prioritises key sectors targeting flagship industries with strong forward and backward linkages.
Within the framework of the Customs Union since 2005, the harmonisation of the policy, legal and regulatory frameworks have to a large extent led to expanded trade and investment opportunities. Intra-regional trade though dominated by agriculture products now accounts for 11% with potential for further increase. Cross border investments stood at US$ 265,000 in 2006 and US$ 750,000 by 2009.
Other achievements were the development of a draft framework for fostering cooperation in technology acquisition, development, transfer; and commercialisation of innovations; IP frameworks; formulation of a framework for mainstreaming cleaner and resource efficient production in industries, formulation of a programme on upgrading and modernisation of the SME businesses in the region.
Tourism and Wildlife
As a step towards maximising benefits from sustainable tourism and wildlife resources, the Protocol on Tourism and Wildlife Management, the Tourism Marketing Plan and Strategy were concluded in 2006/2007. The region is now being promoted as a single tourism and wildlife destination including joint participation in at the World Travel Markets (WTM). The success of the tourism sector has benefitted from immense private sector investments in hotels, transportation, marketing and product development and dedicated government efforts in conservation. Other benefits have come from a Standard Criteria for Classification of Hotels and other facilities; identification of three Centres of Excellence and the finalisation of the Protocol and Operational Manual. Overall, tourists visiting EAC increased from 3.030 million in 2006 to 3.408 million in 2008.
Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development
The private sector has been a key player and beneficiary of the Customs Union and its role will expand within the Common Market framework. The development of the regional Private Sector Development Strategy where each Partner State has put in place measures to enhance the participation of private sector in development. Avenues for increased private sector participation have been integrated in all sectors of the economy and private sector enterprises are investing in the communities. As a result, investments to the EAC region have improved significantly. The FDI inflow total to the EAC region increased from US$1,323 billion in 2006 to US$1,714 billion in 2009. On the other hand, FDI stock also increased from US$9.33 billion in 2006 to US$14.866 billion in 2009.
What should be prioritised by our community in the above sectors will come in the next article.
The writer is head of Economic and Productive sectors at the Ministry of EAC, Rwanda