KAMPALA - Prime Minister Bernard Makuza has underscored the need to deal with trade barriers, if East Africa is to position itself as a strong trade competitor.
The Premier made the remarks yesterday at the closure of the 3rd East African Investment Conference in Kampala, Uganda where he represented President Paul Kagame.
“Elimination of the remaining non-tariff barriers should be a priority for our community to create an environment conducive for doing business and attract more investors,” he told hundreds of investors and policy makers.
The ceremony was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete, who is also the Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State summit.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Burundian Vice President, Dr Yves Sahinguvu, represented the two other member states.
Makuza pointed out examples where there are still difficulties in travelling by road between partner states and the limited air transport and rail connections.
He added that what may be seen as challenges should also be viewed as investment opportunities for the private sector in the region, as well as for foreign investors.
The Prime Minister called upon the business community to invest in profitable projects through public–private partnerships.
“I wish to assure you that we, the EAC Governments, are committed to partner with you to make sure that doing business in the region is favourable and profitable,” he pledged.
He, however, added that although significant work had yielded an environment that is good for investing in East Africa, there is still need for strong commitment and determination by all parties.
The Prime Minister said the region had also benefited from cross border investments, and listed companies that have extended to Rwanda such as; Kenya Commercial Bank, Bakhresa Grain Milling Limited, Millicom International Cellular SA (parent company of Tigo) and Blue Financial Services.
President Kikwete presided over an award giving ceremony which recognized companies that had made cross-border investments and strengthened bonds of integration, while sharing experiences across the region.