The East African Business Council Monday during the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM), appointed its new Executive Committee Members (ECM) with Mr. Kassim Omar from Kampala, Uganda emerging as the New Chairman of the ECM for the period 2017/2018.
Alongside the 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) the EABC Board of Directors and EABC Members from the 5 EAC Countries paid a courtesy visit to the Rt Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda.
Mr. Kassim Omar, EABC Chairman appreciated HE President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chair of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State for his commitment to the EAC Integration process and urged the President to spearhead the creation of a conducive environment for private sector in the EAC Integration Process no that Uganda has taken leadership in the East African Business Council.
“Uganda should champion the regional local content policy, BEABEA which will pave way for industrialization and measures which support Creation of more wealth and support job creation in the EAC region” said Mr. Kassim Omar, EABC Chairman.
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda urged business community to play a more active and assertive role in political integration that will create a better business environment for the East Africa Region noting that Africa export share value to the world is very low.
“Industrialization is key and indeed Buy Uganda Build Uganda campaign will be translated to BEABEA to reinforce regional local content” said Hon. Michael Werikhe, State Minister for Industry Uganda.
“The more value we add to our raw materials the more money we will get, we are committed to local content as a country and a region so as to spur job creation and increase export values” said Rt Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda.
“The cost of a flight ticket from Entebbe to Nairobi the same price as the cost of a flight to Berlin” said Mr. Kassim Omar, EABC Chair noted the need for Domestication of the EAC Air Space
Among other key issues brought to the attention of Prime Minister include: Industrialization to unlock the EAC Potential; Institutionalizing of EABC as institution to rally the EAC Private Sector in EAC Processes; slow movement of EAC Integration processes; High Cost of Air Transport in the EAC region and Removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs); Illicit Trade in the EAC Region; Liberalization of Trade in services in the EAC region; Un-harmonized Domestic Taxes in the EAC region and Compensation of Outstanding Claims from 2007 Post election violence in Kenya.
“The regional needs to free barriers to trade and take advantage of bigger markets” said Mr. Nick Nesbitt, EABC Vice Chair noting that a small country like Rwanda has the potential to host or nature a large company that exports world-wide.
“We should have joint efforts as a region in regional projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway just as the former East African Railways” said Mr. Samuel Nyantahe, EABC Vice Chair.
The Prime Minister seconded the need to have joint efforts in regional mega projects to spur intra- regional trade; as big countries such as China is building a railway line to Europe.
“Agriculture and food security should be coordinated at regional level as unilateral measures such as trade barriers and subsidies are counterproductive “said Mr. Kimwaga Mhando, EABC Member from East African Grain Council.
“Women should be involved more intra-regional trade” said Ms. Nancy Gitonga, Regional Coordinator East African Women in Business Platform.
EABC Vice Chair urged the Prime Minister to drive the Integration forward. The prime Minister appreciated the insights form the EAC business community welcomed the involvement of business community including women in trade and noted that the issues will be taken forward to HE President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Chair of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State.
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