Saturday, June 6, 2009

East Africa: EAC Roots for More Investments in the Bloc

Gashegu Muramira, The New Times, 3 June 2009

The East African Community (EAC) is embracing all possible initiatives aimed at promoting investment in the region and marketing it as one investment destination, a senior EAC official has said.
According to Alloys Mutabingwa, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Planning and Infrastructure), efforts have already begun with partner states sharing investment opportunity information and making investors visits abroad.

"We have agreed to set up mechanisms based on Information Technology capability to harness our five states," Mutabingwa said yesterday during an exclusive interview.

He stressed that the EAC already has a portal that is linked to websites in partner states just to share investment information.

According to the official, investment promotion is key in improving the region's competitiveness as well as advancing the livelihoods of over 120 million East Africans through job creation from foreign direct investments (FDI).

Mutabingwa explained that a recent visit to Canada by a high level EAC delegation is just one of the many other visits the community has made in marketing the region as a single market and investment destination.

According to him, the visit that was led by Rwanda's Commerce Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa, attracted 145 business representatives from some of Canada's renown business enterprises, and that EAC used the meeting as a platform to showcase opportunities in the region that await investors.

"The business enterprises in Canada showed a lot of interest and the follow up is soon going to be registered. They will come to East Africa individually to see the profitability, costs and risks of running businesses in this region," Mutabingwa said.

Mutabingwa, who was Rwanda's representative at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), commended the level of efficiency in facilitating investments in partner states through prompt registration and licensing of businesses as well as approving investment projects.

He cited low energy production and human resource capacity as impediment to investment in the region since investors expect to get their businesses running much cheaper by hiring locally.