Arusha – The economic bloc of the East African Community (EAC) is expected to grow 3.6% this year.
The rapid growth will likely give the bloc of six nations leeway in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The facility, which became operational in January this year, has a consumer market of 1.3 billion people.
This was announced here yesterday by the new President and CEO of the East African Business Council (EABC), John Bosco Kalisa. “With the deep political commitment and goodwill of our regional leaders, there is hope and optimism for the growth of trade and investment,” he said.
Mr Kalisa made the remarks as he spoke with the visiting British High Commissioner to Tanzania, David William Concar.
He explained the importance of strengthening public-private dialogue from the national level to that of the EAC and AfCFTA. Deliberate efforts must be made to support young people and women in business and digitization for resilience and recovery from Covid-19.
Other areas requiring support are the elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and tackling the challenges of climate change. He also focused on investments in green energy as well as on trade facilitation and the digitization of infrastructure (ports and roads).
Mr Kalisa said the EABC has been at the forefront of supporting resilience and recovery by calling for a coordinated regional approach on the management of Covid-19 in the region. According to him, Covid-19 is expected to cost $ 37 billion to $ 70 billion in lost production in EAC countries. He appreciated the UK’s support for the EABC through TradeMark East Africa, an organization responsible for promoting trade in the region.
âUK support is essential to strengthen the advocacy and research role of the EABC to boost intra-EAC trade and investment,â said the newly appointed CEO. For his part, Mr. Concar stressed that the regional integration of the EAC was a way out of poverty “and an opportunity to create more jobs for young people”.
Mr. Kalisa, a Rwandan economist, recently took over as the new CEO of EABC, an umbrella body of private sector and business associations in the region.
He succeeded Dr Peter Mathuki, a national of Kenya, who was appointed on February 27 as the new secretary general of the EAC.
The EABC was established in 1997 primarily to spearhead business promotion in the region through advocacy and private sector development has observer status with the EAC.