KEPSA and East Africa Business Council (EABC) convened a Chief Executives Officers’ Round Table meeting on 12th March 2019 at Serena Hotel, Nairobi to discuss opportunities and challenges that companies based in Kenya face while doing business across borders and chart out recommendations for improving the business environment in the EAC.
The meeting was second of EABC’s series of meetings in collaboration with National Focal Points (NFPs) seeking to enhance dialogue in the EAC and increase the visibility and reputation of EABC. The first meeting was held in Uganda with the Uganda Private Sector Foundation (UPSF) which is the NFP for EABC in Uganda.
In her remarks Ms. Rachel Muthoga highlighted that KEPSA is National Focal Point for EABC in Kenya and it’s always glad to have such forums that bring great minds from the private sector together to engage on how best to shape policies and the future of economies. She also added that the main objective of the forum was to harness insights and recommendations that can be used in the policy process through the various established Public-Private Sector Dialogue platforms to spur conducive business environment. Further, she pointed that in order to increase trade in the EAC region there is need to advocate for business-friendly policies, adding that Non-Tariff Barriers and NCMS are the key impendent in the Intra-regional trade since they increase the cost of doing business.
EABC Executive Director, Hon. Peter Mathuki, in his remarks emphasized on the need to mobilize more members to join EABC, as this will strengthen the organization as the voice of the private sector in East Africa. He added that EABC will be having meetings with various heads of states with an aim of improving the region’s business environment. EABC will be having various desks (manufacturing, services, agribusiness, energy and infrastructure among others) that will sorely deal with issues pertaining to the specific sectors. He concluded by stating that there is need to reposition private sector as it is the engine of integration in the region.
EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, gave the keynote address where he called for establishment of a web- based investment platform. He added that the Chambers of Commerce in all EAC countries should be one- stop shops offering end to end solutions for investors including legal services, business plan development and linking to funds. He reiterated the importance of collaboration between the private sector and public sector.
He also noted that companies in EAC should take advantage of EABC ‘s observer status in EAC to channel issues for full implementation of the EAC protocol. Amb. Mfumukeko also added that he will lobby for the formation of a platform between the private sector and the Ministers during the EAC Ministerial Council forum to ensure that the private sector influences decision making.
Presentations were also made by KEPSA Head of Policy and Research Analysis, Victor Ogalo and EABC’ Manager of Policy and Standards, Lamech. The KEPSA presentation focused on Trade and Investment challenges facing the Kenya private sector in the East African Community, while EABC’s presentation was anchored on Common External Tariffs with an update on the review of the CET by the EAC, and the status of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBS) in the EAC.