Rwanda will this week host the first East African Business Council retreat and strategy meeting.
The two-day meeting which will bring together board members and business management teams from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda to assess and analyse the past, present and the future of the business environment amidst the expanding mandate in regard to regional integration, according to Denis Karera, Rwanda’s representative board member.
The meeting will take place at Lake Kivu, Serena Hotel, Ruvabu District in the Western Province.
“There is a lot of business information we need to put across so that our business community can tap into the opportunities coming with the integration process,” Karera said.
He said traders need to understand their rights if they are to tap into the enormous business opportunities.
The meeting will also discuss the challenges facing the private sector while conducting business across borders and ways to mitigate such challenges, Hannington Namara, the Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), said.
Member states have of recent stepped up efforts to address the challenges facing the private sector and movement of goods across borders, including the removal of non-tariff barriers, harmonisation of customs procedures, tax policies and the implementation of electronic systems.
The measures, according to Karera, will reduce the cost of doing trade and kelp accelerate Rwanda’s growth.
EAC partner states adopted a destination model of clearance of goods where assessment and collection of revenue will be done at the point of entry, allowing free movement of goods in the single market with variations to accommodate goods exported from one partner state to another.
The community has also resolved to implement the customs territory in phases. Currently, the average per-capita income of the 144million East Africans ranges between $300 and $700 per year with total trade valued at 11 per cent.
Rwanda seeks to achieve an economic growth of 11.5% and income per capita of $1,200 by 2017, according to the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) agenda.
Established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process, the East African Business Council (EABC) is the apex body of business associations from the five East African Community partner states.
Rwanda’s private sector joined the Council in 2007. The Council currently accommodates about 54 associations and 102 corporate members with an objective of fostering an enabling business environment and promoting private sector’s regional and global competitiveness in trade.