EAC prime investment destination – experts

Business experts and investors from the region and beyond, reckon that East Africa is a top investment destination on the continent, thanks to its improved business environment. They were speaking at the opening of a two-day East Africa Summit in Kigali, hosted by The Swiss-based Economist Group, publishers of The Economist, a weekly news magazine.
Finance Minister John Rwangombwa (L) speaks during the EA Summit yesterday. Looking on is EAC Secretary General, Richard Sezibera. The New Times / T.Kisambira.
Finance Minister John Rwangombwa (L) speaks during the EA Summit yesterday. Looking on is EAC Secretary General, Richard Sezibera. The New Times / T.Kisambira.

Business experts and investors from the region and beyond, reckon that East Africa is a top investment destination on the continent, thanks to its improved business environment.

They were speaking at the opening of a two-day East Africa Summit in Kigali, hosted by The Swiss-based Economist Group, publishers of The Economist, a weekly news magazine.

Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa, noted that the IMF World Economic Outlook recognized the East African Region as one of the fastest growing regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, growing at an average of 8 percent per year.

 “By deepening the integration process, the region has eradicated some of the major tariffs to trade and improved the financial sector tremendously. We think that the potential today is bigger than where we were ten years ago,” he said.

Nathan Kalumbu, the President of Coca Cola in Central, East and West Africa, said that many African countries made remarkable strides in implementing their respective development agenda, even in the face of global economic crisis.

“Countries in the EAC region are accelerating economic growth and are being reviewed as the next real investment destination; Africa must focus more on economic principles and subscribe to ideas that will eventually break its societies out of the poverty cycle,” Kalumbu said.

Dr Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of EAC, said that Africa has come a long way, from being negatively described as ‘the hopeless continent’ to being referred to as “the rising continent.”

“EAC hosts about 130 million people with a GDP of US$ 72 billion; this seems comparatively a low figure, but it has grown from a mere US$40 billion a few years ago, so, in terms of growth, it is phenomenal,” Sezibera said.

“Over the last few years, the community has been implementing a Customs Union, with a gradual phase down of tariffs. This has enabled interregional trade to grow as well. The process is now complete and the next phase is to turn the community into a single customs territory”.

He added: “Many of the countries in the region gain growth amidst great challenges, like being landlocked, meaning that the fundamentals are right. There is also a growing educated workforce and increasing investment in science and technology”.Other speakers included Jay Ireland, the President and CEO of GE Africa, Raman Dhawan, the Managing Director of Tata Africa, and Bob Collymore, and the CEO of Safaricom.

ivan.mugisha@newtimes.co.rw

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