The East African Business Council (EABC) wants the five member countries to do more to enable the private sector become the engine of growth in the regional bloc.
EABC Chairman, Gerald Ssendaula speaking here on Wednesday, said the private sector is an engine of the regional economy, but it’s facing a number of challenges that makes it unable to fulfill its expectations.
He was speaking during the launch of the third Edition of ‘Doing Business in the East African Community 2012 Report’ in Bujumbura.
He named some of the challenges as poor infrastructures such as roads, railways, and ports, which according to Ssendaula, need collective rehabilitation efforts by the EAC partner states.
“As a business community, we’re struggling to do away with these challenges, but alone we cannot win. That’s why we need support from member countries,” he said in his brief remarks.
The newly appointed EABC chair also urged the governments in the region to put more resources into solving critical issues.
Impacting on business such as poor infrastructure, inadequate power and reduce politics at the entry/exit points.
He said despite undertaking full implementation of the Common Market protocol, countries are still entertaining unnecessary bureaucracies when it comes to the free movement of goods and services in the region.
“This is just one of the myriads of challenges which are hampering trade development in the region,” he lamented, urging countries to truly implement what have been agreed in the EAC treaty.
First Burundian Vice President, Therence Sinunguruza noted that Doing Business Reports series were an indicator and encouragement to the government of Burundi to improve on the business climate in the country.
He said the country was aiming at achieving a two-digit position rather than the current three-digit (169th) as indicated in the Report.
He cited some of the milestones attained as including the setting up of the Burundi Revenue Authority, the promotion and facilitation of investment, and several other reforms aimed at changing the business environment.
Doing Business in the East African Community Report 2012 is a regional report drawing on the global Doing Business project and it presents quantitative indicators on business regulation and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 183 economies over time.
Burundian Minister of Trade, Industry, Posts and Tourism, Victoire Ndikumana re-affirmed Burundi’s commitment to improve business climate in the overall context of the EAC regional integration.
For his part, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera commended the International Finance Corporation and Trade Mark East Africa for publishing of the 3rd edition of the report.
He said the current surge in interest and appetite by the East African citizens to critically analyse different elements of the
integration process across the region was a clear indication that the Community was moving towards being truly people-centered as required by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
Sezibera noted that the data from the Reports would be used in setting up and focusing the Community’s yearly priorities towards enabling the private sector work as an engine of growth, as a creator of employment, and as an innovator for change.
He reiterated that his primary objective and commitment was to work with Partner States to improve the business environment, adding that business regulations should ensure public safety and fair competition, not stifle legitimate businesses.
“That’s why the Doing Business in the East African Community report, is an important tool to constantly remind us that business regulation shouldn’t negatively affect the ease of doing business,” he said.