The East African Business Council (EABC) is urging for tax regime harmonization within the East Africa Community (EAC) and improve ease of doing business to lure more investors in the region.
East African countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania are ranked in the top 7 by “Where to Invest in Africa” 2019 report of the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB).
Speaking on the second day of the Virtual Conference on Trade & Investment Opportunities in East Africa Beyond COVID-19, EABC CEO, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki urged EAC Partner States to continue creating a favorable business environment in the region.
“Addressing the cost of doing business such as energy and infrastructure issues and ensuring stable human capital development will entice investors to come to East Africa,” he said.
The conference attracted Investment Promotion Authorities, Senior Government Officials, Industry Champions, Development Partners and Investors from the region and beyond.
The EAC offers a market of more than 177.2 million people with a combined GDP of about USD200 billion. “Ethiopia is urged to join the EAC bloc along with DRC for a bigger regional market,” said Dr. Peter Mathuki.
The speakers representing Investment Promotion Agencies in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zanzibar highlighted the region’s priority investment sectors including tourism, agriculture and agribusiness, infrastructure, manufacturing, energy, mining and metals, oil and gas among others.
Speaking during the conference, Mr. Guracha Adi, General Manager of Investor Services at Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) said the Government of the Republic of Kenya is set to inject Ksh. 2 to 3 billion to expand the manufacturing sector.
“While disruptive in many ways, Covid-19 has brought in opportunities in the manufacturing of chemicals and cosmetics, textiles and apparel particularly Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), pharmaceuticals such as anti-body testing kits and metals and allied electronics such as oxygen cylinders,” said Mr. Adi.
Mr. Adi championed Kenya as a favorable investment destination noting that the country has no foreign exchange controls allowing for full repatriation of profits, capital and interest for investors.
Kenya Investment Authority also highlighted the manufacturing of construction materials and equipment, agro-processing, leather processing and heavy industries production as some of the key investment opportunities available in Kenya.
Generation of energy from biogas and renewable resources, processing of minerals and precious metals and establishing motor vehicle assemblies are among other opportunities investors can tap into.
Mr. Aschalew Tadesse, Director of Investment Promotion at the Ethiopia Investment Commission (EIC) also noted that 80 reforms are currently been effected to ease doing business in Ethiopia.
“We are focused on easing the process of acquisition of construction permits, starting a business, trading across borders and registering property,” said Mr.Tadesse.
The Virtual Conference was officially kicked off yesterday by the Chief Guest Mr. Nick Nesbitt, EABC Chair who noted that Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) continue to hinder cross-border trade due to different measures on COVID-19 in the region and urged for improving regional coordination and harmonization of measures on COVID-19 for economic resilience and growth.