EAC urged to collaborate, drive region's trade

Businesses told to tap into e-commerce

In Summary

•According to the World Bank, the Covid-19 pandemic is set to cost East Africa partner states between $37 billion to $79 billion in output losses.

•The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) says ready to resolve some of the bottlenecks the region is facing.

Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magufuli (Tanzania) during a past EAC Summit /PSCU
Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magufuli (Tanzania) during a past EAC Summit /PSCU

There is need for deeper collaborations between the public and private sector to boost intra-EAC trade and investment, industry players have said, as the region wades through Covid-19 effects on economies.

During a consultative CEOs roundtable meeting organized by the East African Business Council (EABC) in collaboration with GIZ, in Arusha, the industry captains noted that the region's economies are interdependent hence need close collaboration.

Dubbed 'Creating Perspectives Project', the Thursday forum brought together company chief executives in Arusha, with the aim of deliberating on approaches that the private sector can explore to revamp their businesses amid the pandemic.


The business leaders have lauded the Tanzanian government for its commitment towards sustainable economic growth, following the attainment of the middle-income status from the World Bank, this year.

The leaders also noted that the decision to keep the economy open, offered the private sector a major relief in terms of business resilience as it also strengthened local supply chains. 

This happens in the background of a recent report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), indicating that Tanzania’s economy is estimated to grow at 5.5 per cent in 2020, recording the highest growth in the region.

During the meeting, EABC CEO, Peter Mathuki called upon businesses to re-purpose their business models to tap into the new emerging opportunities such as e-commerce, digital technology and biotechnology.

Innovation, value addition, embracing our local content and tapping into our regional supply value chains are some of the imperative solutions that will drive us towards economic growth,” he said.   

Mathuki noted that, as Tanzania shares its borders with eight countries in the region, the move to keep the borders open has sustained intra-regional trade and replenished the region’s food basket.

“EAC economies are interdependent and the move to have borders open have seen the supply of staple food and basic necessities across the region maintained,” he said.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Speaker Martin Ngoga challenged the business community to form a stronger unified front and defend their business interests in one collective voice through the EABC.

“The security of the EAC community should not just be entrusted to the goodwill of individuals but should be pegged strongly on the law and structures of the community. It’s time for the business community to challenge policies put in place and even petition the EAC Parliament to promptly resolve some of the bottlenecks you are facing,” Ngoga said.

According to the World Bank, the pandemic is set to cost East Africa partner states between $37 billion to $79 billion in output losses.

The business leaders are appealing to the EAC governments to embrace regional integration to enable businesses to tap into the EAC Common market of over 177 million people and the regional supply chains.