2nd EA Business and Entrepreneurship Conference calls for promotion of cross-border investments
East Africans urged to take advantage of regional opportunities to grow their businesses
The second edition of East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition themed Accelerating Industrialization, Innovation and Investment in the EAC was held from 14th-16th November 2017 at Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The conference looked at Creating an Enabling Environment for Businesses to Foster Industrialization, Innovation and Investment in the EAC and Towards a Single EAC Investment Destination as cross cutting issues.
Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, graced the 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition during the official opening ceremony on the 14th of November 2017. The conference attracted participation of more than 330 high-level government and private sector decision makers from the EAC Partner States as well as business leaders, East African Diaspora, Entrepreneurs & investors from the region and abroad.
“More raw materials for East African industries should be sourced from within the EAC Partner States and there is need for employment creation for the growing youth population in the region,” said H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice President of United Republic of Tanzania.
Amb. Dr. Augustine Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, United Republic of Tanzania and Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko Secretary General, East African Community, Dr. Detlef Waechter Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Republic of Tanzania and to the East African Community; Mr. Vijay Pillai Adviser to Vice President for Africa, World Bank; Mr. Dennis Karera, Managing Director, Kigali Heights, Rwanda; Dr. Samuel Nyantahe, Chairman, Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), Tanzania; Mr. Olivier Lambert, Lead Operations Officer, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Worldbank Group and Mr. Felix Mosha, Managing Director IBM Holdings, Tanzania set the stage for discussions on the current policies and missing links in bid to accelerating industrialization, innovation and investment in the EAC.
The second day of the conference was marked by the launch of “Creating Perspectives: Business for Development” project that aims to improve economic perspectives for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in East Africa through scaling up of production and thus growth of businesses.
Hon Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sector EAC alongside with Mr. Jim Kabeho, Chairman, East African Business Council (EABC), Mr. Ernst Hustaedt, Country Director, GIZ, Tanzania and Mr. Matthias Wachter Head of Department Security, Raw Materials and Africa Federation of German Industries (BDI), Germany officially launched the new project.
“A lot of companies in Africa are SMEs facing challenges in enhancing competitiveness and growth,” said Mr. Matthias Wachter. “SMEs in Germany would like to know the processes of investing in Africa.”
“We are happy to be spearhead this new project that will support the growth of SMEs in the region,” said Mr. Jim Kabeho, EABC Chairman.
Also, the East African Business Council signed an affiliation agreement with the World SME Forum to support and enhance African SMEs’ integration to global markets so as to contribute to economic development, job creation and inclusive growth in EAC countries. The agreement was signed by Ms. Lilian Awinja, Executive Director of the EABC and Dr. Tunc Uyanik, President of the World SME Forum.
This conference offered an opportunity for the region to dialogue critically on how to encourage entrepreneurship and attract more foreign & cross border investments. It played a key role to inspire entrepreneurship spirit among East Africans with aim to support start-ups to set up businesses, small enterprises to grow, the medium to scale up and the large enterprises to outsource to small ones.
The simultaneous exhibition offered a platform for the EAC Investment Authorities to showcase investment opportunities in the region and firms and entrepreneurs show cased their products and services and shared bankable project proposals ready for investment not only from foreign but also local investors.
Key industry experts and relevant public decision makers led deliberations on the current policies and missing links in the conference sectors sessions namely: Information Communication Technology (ICT), Agri-Business, Urbanization, Cotton and Textile, Patents and Copyrights in the Creative Industry, Trade and Gender, Health, Banking and Finance, e-Commerce and Start-Ups.
Arising issues from the deliberations include:
Lack of viable strategies, policies and systems of coherent laws and regulations to stir up industrialization
Failure to fully implement the EAC Customs Union and Common Market Protocols
Different investment incentives across the region leading to competition instead of cooperation
Lack of a Regional Local Content Policy
Indeed, the conference allowed for exchange of ideas, expertise, B2B (Business to Business) and B2G (Government to Business) networking and offered a platform to learn about latest developments in the region. Below are key recommendations that arose from the conference in bid to trigger more cross border investments and enhance the business environment.
Creating an Enabling Environment for Business to Foster Industrialization, Innovation and Investment in the EAC
Diversifying the manufacturing base and raising local value add from existing rate of below 10% to at least 40%. This can be achieved through promoting the development and investment in strategic regional industries with sectors in which EAC has potential comparative advantage
Partner States should accelerate promotion of cross boarder investment (CBI) and double their efforts to encourage East Africans to take advantage of regional opportunities to grow their businesses instead of over-depending on FDI outside the region.
Create a credible, rules based regional investment regime that enhance predictability for investment policies and laws with mechanism to resolve trade disputes and enhance awareness about and promotion the EAC region as a single investment destination
Transforming Micro Small and Medium Enterprises capable of contributing up to 50% of manufacturing GDP from 20%
Towards a Single EAC Investment Destination
Implement fully the EAC Customs and Common Market Protocols
Formulate an EAC Investment Policy & Strategy
Amb. Celestine Mushy, Director of Multilateral in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, United Republic of Tanzania, urged the business community to collectively champion free trade as well as movement of capital and people during the official closing ceremony of the 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition.
“We will read your views expressed during your discussions keenly with the aim of identifying what more we can do to strengthen business activities in the region and to speed up wealth creation for our people,” said Amb. Mushy who noted the recommendations of the conference.
EABC through our Observer Status with the East African Community (EAC), we are committed to follow closely the implementation of the recommendations in order to amplify investments in to the region.
EABC appreciates the support received form all key players in organizing the 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition in particular, Tanzania Investment Center, Burundi Investment Promotion Agency (API), Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Uganda Investment Authority as well as EABC members, National Focal Points (NFPs) and sector associations for their continued support and commitment to the regional agenda, namely Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, Federal Chamber of Commerce Industries Burundi, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Rwanda Private Sector Federation, Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Confederation of Tanzania Industries, Association of Burundi Industries, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Rwanda Association of Manufacturers and Uganda Manufacturers Association. Our sincere gratitude goes to SBC Pepsi, DEG, HEVA Fund, Oxford Business Group, ALAF Ltd Tanzania, Kenya Commercial Bank – Tanzania, JC Decaux, Zoom Tanzania and Strathmore Business School our knowledge partner and Jumia Travel our Travel partner.
Much appreciation to development partners German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Federation of German Industries (BDI), and the EAC-German Cooperation particularly the GIZ-EAC integration Programme was expressed.