•Mathuki told EAC Partner States’ governments to enhance industrial productivity and strengthen institutional frameworks and policies to accelerate economic growth in the region.
•The Secretary General also reaffirmed EAC´s commitment to finalize the Common External Tariff (CET) before the end of 2021.
The East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General, Peter Mathuki has urged the EAC Partner States to invest in industrial parks and infrastructure to improve the competitiveness of the region and increase Intra-EAC trade.
Mathuki told EAC Partner States’ governments to enhance industrial productivity and strengthen institutional frameworks and policies to accelerate economic growth in the region.
“Currently, manufacturing contributes to GDP a meager 8.9 per cent. To achieve the set target of 25% in 2032, there is a need for diversification of the manufacturing base and raising local value-added content resource-based exports,” he said.
He spoke during the East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week (EATIW 2021), held at the Julius Nyerere Convention Centre, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Secretary-General called for the promotion of rural industrialization through an agricultural development-led industrialization strategy and strengthening of research, technology and innovation capabilities of all EAC Partner States, to foster the structural transformation of the manufacturing sector and industrial upgrading.
As a strategy towards economic recovery amid Covid-19 in the region, Dr. Mathuki called upon EAC Partner States Governments to offer long-term stimulus packages for private sector development and sector-specific incentives for the established regional value chains such as cotton, textile and apparel, leather livestock and Agro-processing.
“Instead of competing, EAC Partner States need to complement each other. Harnessing our comparative advantage by collectively improving infrastructure connectivity will fast-track regional development,” Mathuki added.
“The EAC is committed to finalising the Common External Tariff (CET) by the end of the year, in a move set to promote the Community´s domestic industries & safeguard the region from international shocks,” he said.
The conference adopted a four-band CET structure (0, 10 and 25per cent).
The EAC states have been asked to speed up the finalisation and implementation of EAC Regulations on liberalisation of air transport services, in a move set to lower flight costs and in turn reduce the cost of doing business in the region.
“With only about two per cent of East Africans vaccinated, it is critical that the private sector leads deliberate public campaigns on Covid-19 vaccination and jointly to enhance EAC as an investment destination,” Mathuki said.
On his part, David Osiany, Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, called for consistent public-private sector dialogues and collaboration to develop policies corresponding with the current business environment.
In his remarks, Tanzania’s Kitila Mkumbo, Minister for Industry and Trade, called for joint investment by EAC Governments and the Private sector in skills development.
“Only 5per cent of our workforce are employable in the current job market. The public-private sector should come up with a strategy on skills development to fill this gap,” said Mkumbo.