SPEECH BY THE INCOMING EABC CHAIRMAN DURING THE 22ND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING KIGALI RWANDA ON THE 20TH OF JUNE, 2022

Outgoing Chairman,

Members of the EABC Executive Committee,

Distinguished Members of the East African Business Council,

Our Elite Members: Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa Ltd, Msingi East Africa Ltd, KCB Bank

Representatives from the Government of the Republic of Rwanda

Our Development Partners (AfreximBank, TradeMark East Africa, ITC, German Development Cooperation, GIZ, BDI)

The Media Fraternity,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to thank the entire membership of the East African Business Council for electing me to be Chairperson of the Organisation for the next two years.

Allow me therefore to thank my predecessor and his members of the Executive Committee for the initiatives they have put in place in ensuring that the agenda of the EAC business community is at the forefront of his leadership and for the great strides in repositioning EABC as the true voice of the private sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this 20th day of June 2022, it is, therefore, my honor to accept the role of Chairperson of EABC and I count on your continued support to ensure that the mandate of our institution is realized in accordance with the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of my key assignments is to ensure that EABC remains a real partner in all spheres of the EAC integration process as the apex body of the private sector in the region. However, this will require collective efforts from the entire membership.

Allow me to recognize and appreciate the efforts of my predecessors, the Chairman and Board of the East African Business Council.  I wish to recognise and appreciate the good job done by the outgoing Leadership and the progress made so far; and I welcome the new Executive Committee members to the role of building EABC, repositioning it and accomplishing the tasks that lie ahead of us, especially effective representation of the business community in high-level EAC policy decision-making meetings on pertinent cross border trade and investment matters in the EAC region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The outbreak of COVID-19 slowed down most economic activities, especially trade and investment. The total trade for EAC declined by 6.08 percent to USD 51.9 billion in 2020 from USD55.2 billion in 2019. Total exports from the region in the same period increased by 3.15 percent to USD16 billion from USD15 billion in 2019. Intra-EAC trade was at USD 5.9 billion in 2020.

I believe that my task among others, as Chairman of this great institution, is to strongly advocate for Partner States to address the impediments to our intra-EAC regional trade and ensure that the Partner States adhere to the EAC Common Market and Customs Union Protocols.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we address impediments to our intra-EAC trade, at the continental level, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity and prospect for East Africa’s and Africa’s economic growth. The AfCFTA is set to increase Africa’s real income by 7% to USD 450 billion and intra-African trade by 33% by 2035.

Africa’s economic recovery has been hindered by higher inflation, tighter global financial conditions, and rising interest rates; and the recent Ukraine crisis has compounded the situation further.

These global disruptions call for the need for deeper integration!

East Africa is the leading regional economic bloc in Africa and as the private sector we are committed to championing the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Together, we will speak with One Voice at the continental level and ensure EABC is mandated and recognized as the Focal Point on private sector engagement in East Africa by  the AfCFTA Secretariat!

I believe together with our counterparts across the continent we will craft solutions to boost intra-African trade and, going forward, build better Africa’s economic growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Further to the foregoing key areas that I have highlighted, my term in office will focus on working with our Secretariat to implement the EABC Strategic Plan 2022-2027 and advocacy on issues outlined in the EABC Policy Advocacy Agenda in order to address sectoral and cross-cutting trade policy barriers and discrepancies in the implementation of the East African Community Customs Union and Common Market Protocols.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply honoured to work with the new Executive Committee Members and EABC Secretariat to realize the following pillars of the EABC Strategic Plan:

  1. Business Environment:
  2. EABC will engage all levels of government to support and enable future growth of an inclusive private sector in the EAC Region as stipulated in Articles 127, 128 and 129 of the EAC Treaty 1999. We will enhance Public-Private Partnership on infrastructure projects and Public-Private Dialogue on business environment matters and legislation. We will strive to also have an effective EAC Investment Policy to attract more Investments into the EAC region.
  • Strategic Networks:

EABC will work with key stakeholders in developing a holistic approach to grow a synergetic model for sustainable private sector development and strengthen the Sectoral Specific Desks of Manufacturing, Trade in Services, Agribusiness, Energy & Infrastructure and SMEs, Youth & Women in Business.

  • Membership:

EABC will work with National Apex Private Sector Associations, regional and sectoral associations in the EAC region to harmonize policy positions on cross-border trade and investment matters. EABC will create value-adding services to members in a bid to seize the opportunities availed by the EAC Common Market Protocol and the African Continental Free Trade Trade Area.

  • Community Focus and Visibility:

EABC will build support from the community on the Social and Economic role played by the EAC private sector and build trust and credibility! Together we will pro-actively work to enhance the visibility and credibility of the Council in the media.

  • Organization Sustainability:

We commit to fundraise and ensure that our great institution, EABC,  the voice of the private sector in East Africa is self-sustaining and our structures are well aligned to realize our mandate and vision of a borderless East Africa for business and investment.

In conclusion,

I welcome all businesses in the EAC Region to join EABC membership to ensure it remains a strong and credible Voice of the Private Sector.

I appreciate the EABC Members and our key partner the East Africa Community for the deep commitment to work with the private sector !

Special thanks go to all our Development Partners for their generous support to East African Business Council!

Asanteni Sana! Murakoze!

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