Report on the 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhition 2016

Entry Date Sep 27 2017 // News, Events, Reports

Mr. Felix Mosha, EABC Vice Chair hands over EABC Study on Investment Opportunities along the Northern Corridor to Hon.Phyllis Kandie, Cabinet Secretary of EAC Affairs, Kenya during 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition 2016, Nairobi Kenya.

The East African Business Council (EABC) hosted the 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition from the 10th to 13th October, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. Under the theme of “Scaling up the Spirit and Bonds of Integration through Entrepreneurship”, more than 300 participants from 14 countries took the opportunity to discuss entrepreneurial trends, investment opportunities and existing constraints for businesses in East Africa.

The conference attracted a diverse audience composed of high level political decision makers, executives and representatives of the private sector as well as entrepreneurs at different stages of business development from from the East African Community region and beyond. Among the guests of honour were Dr. Mukhisa Kithuyi, Secretary General of UNCTAD, Amb. Juma V. Mwapachu and Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, former Secretary Generals of EAC. The Partner States were represented by Hon. Adan Mohamed, Secretary for Trade, Kenya, Hon. Phyllis Kandie, Secretary of EAC Affairs, Kenya, Hon. Sicily Kariuki, Secretary of Gender Affairs, Kenya, Amb. Jean Rigi, Permanent Secretary for EAC Affairs, Burundi and Hon. Maganda Julius Wandera, Minister for EAC Affairs, Uganda.

Throughout the thematic sessions of the conference, the various impacts and opportunities arising from the EAC Common Market Protocol were highlighted. The envisioned common market of 160 million consumers is attractive for foreign investment and very potential to fuel industrialisation & economic development in the region.

There is a clear indication that the EAC is a region full of investment opportunities, in many sectors, including but not limited to Infrastructure, Agri-business, ICT, Cotton and Textiles, Leather, Manufacturing, Energy, Services and the Education sectors.  It is also clear that the region is open and ready for business and investment and our governments are consistently reforming the business environment to attract more investments. We heard that over the past 5 years, the EAC governments have made 65 key reforms to improve the business environment.

The conference provided a platform for discussions between representatives from the public and the private sector on the aforementioned sectors.

Caption Highlights of the 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition 2016

“The private sector needs to come together to advocate for a legislation that will continue to improve the business environment, but more important, to take us to the full actualization of the common market.” Dennis Awori, Chairman Toyota East Africa

“I think this is a place, where we listen very clearly as government, to ensure that we understand what the issues are.” Hon. Phyllis Kandie.

“The private sector drives development and industrialization across most developing countries and this is entirely something that Africa is supposed to tap into to see where we are supposed to develop as a group, we must bring private sector as the leading player in industrialization. They are giving us the perspectives on hand and the experiences they have.” Hon. Maganda JuliusWandera acknowledged.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) supported the conference with the aim of strengthening the role of the private sector in the economic integration of East Africa. Dr. Stefan Mair, Member of the Executive Board of the BDI and head of the German delegation, highlighted East Africa as one of the most promising markets in Sub-Saharan Africa for German industries. The participation of the delegation, consisting of representatives of the BDI and German companies looking for investment opportunities in the EAC, was an excellent occasion to discuss ways for East African entrepreneurs to access the EU market. 

The panel on manufacturing underscored the importance of internationalising Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and utilising regional markets as a first step to integrating companies into global value chains. The EAC Partner States are mainly exporting commodities. Upgrading their value chains to export more processed goods offers great potential for economic development. The EAC Partner States were encouraged to embrace local sourcing through government procurement with a special consideration for women in entrepreneurship.

Noting that half of EAC’s population are women,  who manage approximately 35-55% of businesses and account for more than 70% of cross border trade. Many women entrepreneurs participated in the conference and were outspoken about their challenges.

“As a Kenyan entrepreneur I speak a lot with other people within this country and this city. So being able to hear from Ugandans, from Rwandese, from Tanzanians about similar challenges that we think, that we can work together, I think for me that is really exciting.” Wandia Gichuru, Founder and CEO at Vivo Active Wear, highlighted the potential of cooperating beyond borders.

The sector of internet and communication technology (ICT) has been identified as a major trade enabler, most notably in the sectors of tourism, education and agriculture. Dr. Sezibera elaborated on the latest achievements on ICT in Rwanda.

“The world’s first national drone delivery system will be used to deliver blood to patients in remote areas of the country.” Ms. Faraja Nyalandu, founder of “ShuleDirect”, advocated for the great opportunities of ICT in education.

She further explained that with the use of modern technologies, students can source up-to-date digital learning materials where access to up to date books proves difficulties.

The conference concluded by adopting a matrix of recommendations, which will be analyzed in the upcoming 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference scheduled on 14th -16th November 2017 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Why Attend the 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition 2017. Visit: www.eabc-online.com/entrepreneurship/

EABC appreciates the support received from GIZ, Federation of German Industries (BDI), Herrenknecht, General Motors, Kenya Commercial Bank and the business community in organising the 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition 2016.

Read report on the 1st East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition 2016.

Register here for the 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition that will take place on 14th -16th November 2017 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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