2nd East African Business Summit: ‘Buy East African, Build East Africa’

Staged against a backdrop of economic resurgence and optimism, the East African region was expected to grow by 5 to 6 percent in 2015/2016 according to estimates of the African Economic Outlook Indictors. In reality, however, intra-EAC trade growth has fallen behind global trade growth, particularly for industrial products. This development evidences implementation gaps and prompts for policy reviews.
The 2nd East African Business Summit was organised by the East African Business Council (EABC) and the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and was supported by the GIZ-EAC Integration Programme. It was held from 23rd to 25th May 2017 in Kigali and brought together manufacturers and policymakers from the East African region and beyond. Its main objective was to forge a path towards growth, self-sustainability and enhancing the EAC visibility as a major investment destination in manufacturing and industrial production.
The strategic sectors for industrial development identified and discussed by the business community and policymakers include agro-processing and agro-business, pharmaceuticals, mineral processing, construction materials, leather and textiles as well as automotive industries.
The slogan “Buy East African, Build East Africa” highlights the need for regional value chain integration and a common regional identity. The textile industry was cited as an example of the threat posed to regional production by the influx of second hand clothes from Asia as well as North America. Governments should stimulate local industries through their public procurement processes, and improve both infrastructure and production capacity. The region should also learn from best practices of other successful countries and regions.
In a session on “Industry and trade nexus” both Director General for Customs and Trade of the EAC, Kenneth Bagamuhunda, and GIZ trade advisor, Dr. Jonne Bruecher, urged stakeholders to strive for ”striking a delicate balance between protecting and supporting infant and fledgling industries and further liberalising the market for the sake of extra-regional market access and domestic efficiency and competitiveness”.
The three day summit culminated in the establishment and signing of “The Kigali Resolutions on Manufacturing” as a call to action by the relevant stakeholders to commit themselves to facilitating continued economic growth and development of East Africa.