The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community in charge of planning and infrastructure, Dr. Enos Bukuku challenged the business community in the region to take a more pro-active role in EAC integration in order to boost the region’s economy.
Speaking at a retreat for board members of East African Business Council (EABC) in Arusha, Tanzania, Bukuku said that apart from challenging the bureaucratic nature of government businesses, the private sector should complement inter-governmental efforts, with East African Business Council as its watchdog.
“The private sector should come with bigger force to partner with the EAC Secretariat and the Community’s organs and institutions in all its areas of cooperation among partner states,” Bukuku said.
“I see this to be an integrated and focused approach which should accelerate the participation and involvement of the private sector in integration agenda.”
He also urged the private sector to allocate adequate resources to EABC to strengthen its capacity as the voice of businesses in East Africa.
“The EAC Private Sector development strategy recognises that the region should be driven by domestic and cross border investments particularly in Small and Medium sized Enterprises while foreign direct investment should play a catalytic role,” he added.
In a recent meeting with the Executive Director of EABC, Agatha Nderitu, the EAC Secretary General, Richard Sezibera, requested the business community to submit regular reports on business experiences in EAC integration.
The EABC board highlighted the challenges that face the business community among them infrastructural bottlenecks, non-tariff barriers, lack of harmonised tax regimes, and a lack of structured mechanism for public-private dialogue.
EABC was established in 1997 as the umbrella organisation of the private sector in East Africa.