The 3rd East African Investment Conference was held at the Commonwealth Speke Resort, Munyonyo from 27th – 30th April 2010 under the theme “EAC Common Market: The Preferred Investment Destination”. The conference was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Uganda in collaboration with the East African Community Secretariat, the Investment Promotion Agencies of the EAC Partner States and the East African Business Council. It was also co-sponsored by several investors in the region, some of whom were awarded Certificates of Recognition during the Conference.
The conference was structured into plenary and roundtable sessions and was attended by over 1500 participants. Teams of professionals from the public and private sectors made expert presentations on a variety of subjects and contributed to panel discussions.
Following several rounds of discussions, held in a cordial atmosphere and professionally conducted, the following key recommendations came out for consideration and implementation.
On Extractive Industries in East Africa,
The cultural values and interests (including environmental concerns) of project affected persons should be given due recognition during preparation and implementation of projects, by involving them at all stages of investments programming.
Lack of local skilled manpower (especially in oil exploitation) should be addressed through investment in centres of excellence and appropriate training that fits the needs of what is described as the new economy that is knowledge driven.
Import duty exemptions on mining equipment is a major incentive and the region should consider making it a policy in all Partner States.
In the Tourism Sector,
Partner States should commit themselves to enhance the marketing of East Africa as a single tourist destination by developing a regional marketing strategy.
The EAC should speed up the process of having a single entry Visa for tourists. This will ease the travelling of visitors within the region.
Partner States should adopt common criteria for classification and grading of accommodation facilities in EAC in order to harmonize hotel tariffs in EAC.
In the Finance Sector,
It is noted that only 4% of Africans have access to formal bank credit and less than 15% own bank accounts. Therefore, there is need to promote wider and deeper access to financial services.
We need to focus on innovative instruments for mobilizing long-term savings as undertaken by Rwanda’s Provident Fund and by Savings and Credit Societies in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
EA Citizens should be sensitized to take advantage of the diverse opportunities available in the Banking Sector, including specialized banking services like agricultural banks, capital markets and credit rating services, among other financial services.
On Scaling Up Special Economic Zones,
Partner States should promote the provision of dedicated land and infrastructure services away from population centers as an incentive for the private sector to invest in special economic zones.
Public enterprises should be encouraged to zone and build industrial parks but private management and marketing of the parks be contracted out.
Partner States should encourage the provision of land with secure title deeds to empower citizens to benefit from investments in such land as well as propel productive private-sector driven investments especially in bolstering agricultural productivity and thus addressing food security challenges.
On Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a Vehicle for Addressing Infrastructure Challenges in the EAC,
EAC should fast-track the establishment of demand-driven ?federal? Institutions, including the E.A. Finance Commission (for the Monetary Union) and the E.A. Trade & Investment Commission (for the Common Market).
On Infrastructure Development,
EAC should develop a regional policy on inland waterways transport; the Lake Victoria Transport Act and the Inland Waterways Transport Agreement provide a legal and regulatory framework to enable investment in this strategic transport system to take effect.
Better urban planning and traffic management needs to be instituted; for example cities should develop new commercial cities away from existing ones and introduce urban mass transit systems as a way to reduce traffic congestion.
On The Role of Research and Development in Socio-economic Integration of East Africa,
Partner States should put in place policies and play a key role to support R&D initiatives and facilitate collaboration between academia and private sector for improvement of R&D in the region. R&D in biotechnology is of particular importance in promoting sustainable food security.
R&D should be utilized to improve quality of goods and services targeting the international market. Research findings should be made easily available to the citizens for utilization, without violating intellectual property rights.
R&D should be used to explore and examine the natural resource potential of the region and social Research should also be made part and parcel of R&D.
On Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to Trade and Investment in the EAC
EAC should liberalize the EAC regional airspace and make it a domestic one including negotiating a multilateral air service agreement. The aim is to bring down the high costs of travel and doing business in the region.
The region should harmonize and streamline business registration and licensing procedures in EAC and introduce electronic methods for business names.
Partner States should accept Certificates of Origin issued by their counterparts and verification exercises for rules of origin should be concluded within a maximum of two months for now.
On Energy Shortfalls in the EAC Region
Partner States should enhance the involvement of the private sector to scale up investments in both power generation and transmission. Investments in wind power and solar generation are viable and should be given greater impetus.
EAC should accelerate power interconnectivity projects to mitigate both short term and long term energy short falls.
EAC should harmonize the national energy policies, laws and regulations as per the EAC Power Master Plan.
On Strategies and Institutional Requirements for EAC Integration,
The establishment of the EAC Development Fund to enhance project implementation should be fast tracked and Partner States should contribute handsomely to the Fund.
The region should hasten the removal of Non Tariff Barriers that do not require major investments or policy shifts. Unnecessary bureaucracies and red tape are few examples.
EAC planned programmes should also be programmes at national levels. It is proposed that each ministry in the Partner States should have an EAC Desk to enable the EAC Ministries for EAC Affairs undertake their co-ordination roles more effectively.
On Up scaling the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Sector for Regional Competitiveness,
SMEs should cooperate, coordinate and collaborate among themselves. It is thus important that the EAC Secretariat organizes SMEs in the region and assist them to form a regional body.
Government Guarantees are needed to support SMEs access credit from banks.
A regional association to represent the interests of SMEs need to be established and strengthened.
On Harnessing the Human Resource Endowment in East Africa to Accelerate Economic Growth,
There is need to have an East African integrated policy framework to tackle the problem of unemployment. The Summit should soon host an EAC Summit on Employment with focus on Youth Employment.
We should harness the potential of the less literate by promoting blue collar jobs in our societies.
Partner States should encourage both foreign and domestic investment so that the large local labour force can be made more active.
On The East African Financial Landscape,
EAC should introduce a central financial clearing house for East Africa.
The region should discuss ways of attaining sovereign rating so as to ensure reduction in costs of raising funds from outside the region.
Anti Money Laundering laws should be implemented and enforced in all East African countries.
On Dealing with Regional and Global Challenges,
More effective conflict management and resolution systems should be developed and implemented in the region.
Partner states need to be proactive in addressing climate change issues, for example, by setting up effective early warning systems in the meteorological departments. EAC should speed up completion of the Climate Change Policy and Master Plan which will inform appropriate measures being taken for mitigation of climate change impacts.
There is need for time consistency in the implementation of government policies and programmes which have close bearing on EAC’s deeper integration.
On Opportunities in ICT and Regional Advantages in Outsourcing and Service Economy,
Companies in the ICT sector should invest in capacity building of EAC citizens.
Laws to promote and regulate emerging ICT services at national levels should be enacted and enforced. Regional laws are also needed for regulatory ICT services of a regional dimension.
Policies and regulations that facilitate ICT infrastructure sharing for towers and fibre optics should be developed and implemented in order to avoid costly duplication and making the costs of ICT and communications services such as mobile telephony more competitive.
Cross Cutting Issues
To promote investor confidence, there is need for the region to maintain predictability of policies. In situations where there is need for change in policy, the relevant stakeholders should be consulted.
There should be no discriminatory treatment against investors in the region. All investors should be treated in the same manner and offered similar benefits as national investors.
Public Private Partnership (PPP) policies need to be developed and put in place both at the national and regional levels to enhance private sector involvement in different types of investing.
Source: East African Community (EAC)