Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, 1st Deputy Prime Minister off Uganda and Minister for East African Community Affairs Officiates the East African Business and Investment Summit & Expo 2023
Friday, 1st September 2023 Kampala, Uganda: – Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, 1st Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Republic of Uganda, officially inaugurated the East African Trade and Investment Summit & Expo 2023, marking the commencement of a significant economic forum.
In her address, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga emphasized the importance of public and private collaboration in achieving the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). She highlighted the persistent non-tariff barriers that hinder intra-East African Community (EAC) trade, calling for the full implementation of AfCFTA, compliance with EAC Common Market commitments, and an increased focus on manufacturing to boost the EAC’s GDP.
Organized by the East African Business Council (EABC), the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), Afreximbank, German Development Cooperation (GIZ), RSM Eastern Africa, Madhvani Group, Standard Chartered Bank, PAC Capital, SEATINI, and PWC, the 2nd East African Business & Investment Summit carries the theme “Private Sector Driven Regional Integration for Increased Intra-African Trade & Investment.” The summit has drawn over 600 delegates, including government leaders, private sector representatives, academics, and international organizations, to discuss strategies for enhancing regional integration and boosting intra-African trade and investment.
Mr. John Bosco Kalisa, Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC), welcomed attendees and addressed the challenges posed by global economic shocks and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on East African economies. He outlined the summit’s focus on critical domains such as the trade and investment climate, AfCFTA, Sustainable Industrialization and Value Chains, Tax Regime Harmonization within the EAC, Liberalization of Trade in Services, the Digital Economy, innovation, SMEs, Women and Youth in Business, and Climate Change & Agriculture. Mr. Kalisa underscored the summit’s aim to build upon the achievements of the inaugural event held in 2019, including the ratification of AfCFTA, the finalization of the EAC Common External Tariff, and the inclusion of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the EAC.
Mr. Stephen Asiimwe, CEO PSFU stated that the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU) works closely with EABC to champion borderless trade in the EAC bloc as the National Focal Point in Uganda.
Dennis Karera, EABC Vice Chair, speaking on behalf of EABC Chairperson Angelina Ngalula, commended the EAC Council of Ministers for their commitment to creating an enabling business environment for trade and their role in key achievements. He emphasized the need for practical policy reforms that stimulate cross-border investment within the region, reduce reliance on foreign direct investment (FDI), and promote productive integration based on comparative advantages and specialization. Mr. Karera also highlighted the crucial roles of women, youth, and SMEs in African cross-border trade and economic growth.
Hon. Amb. Ezéchiel Nibigira, Chair of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers, delivered a keynote address on the role of EAC Partner States in Promoting Private Sector-led integration. Hon. Amb. Nibigira urged the private sector to tap into the EAC and AfCFTA markets to create jobs for the youth and prepare for competition in the AfCFTA market. He stressed the importance of simplifying trade procedures, improving access to finance, and establishing joint venture partnerships for youth-led businesses. Hon. Amb. Nibigira highlighted the significance of creating favorable legal frameworks, conducive business environments, and eliminating non-tariff barriers to support intra-EAC exports.
Mrs. Wall emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and collaboration in driving economic growth and prosperity. She acknowledged Uganda’s transformative legislation to invigorate trade and business activities, reflecting a conducive environment for trade and investment. She expressed her appreciation for the collaborative effort that made the summit possible and commended the Government of Uganda for its visionary leadership and commitment to regional economic integration.
Mrs. Olive Kigogo, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce (UNCC), called upon governments to eliminate protectionism of non-tariff barriers and fully implement commitments and accountability of protocols on the freedom of movement of persons and goods in the EAC region.
Mr. Ashif Kassam, O.G.W, Executive Chairman, RSM Eastern Africa LLPRSM,said “ We need to create an enabling environment for business through public private partnership. “We need to work together is that it’s only through fiscal consolidation and fiscal discipline, that we will be able to rationalize the tax structures across the various countries,” he said.
Ms. Annette Mutaawe Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary-General Customs Trade and Monetary Affairs, reiterated the EAC treaty’s people-centered and market-driven approach and commitment to implementing the resolutions of the East African Business Summit.
Dr. Klingler Michael Kurt of Germany Development Cooperation (GIZ) emphasized GIZ’s commitment to championing a vibrant private sector across East Africa to shape sustainable economic development.
Mr. John Bosco SEBABI, Deputy CEO of the Pan-African Payment & Settlement System (PAPSS), delivered a compelling speech on “Promoting Private Sector Driven Regional Integration for Increased Intra-African Trade and Investment.” He highlighted the central importance of promoting intra-African trade within the context of Afreximbank’s mandate, emphasizing the significance of AfCFTA as a catalyst for economic integration.
Mr. SEBABI discussed Afreximbank’s strategic plans to support intra-African trade and investment, including the disbursement of over US$20 billion in support of these objectives and a commitment to disburse US$40 billion by 2026.
Mr. SEBABI acknowledged the significant potential of the East African Community (EAC) in enhancing trade and economic ties. He outlined Afreximbank’s initiatives and support mechanisms to stimulate trade and investment, including Industrial Parks, Africa Quality Assurance Centres, Business Councils, Investment Promotion, and the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund. He also emphasized the importance of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) as a premier marketplace for cross-border trade and investments.
The inauguration of the African Continental Free Trade Area presents a monumental opportunity for the private sector to expand intra-African trade beyond conventional borders. Mr. SEBABI stressed the need to unlock the potential of connecting over 1.3 billion individuals across Africa through AfCFTA, focusing on education, empowerment, simplified trade frameworks, inclusive trade, and fostering investments to harness regional value chains.
The East African Business and Investment Summit & Expo 2023 promises to be a platform where policies transform into prosperity, forging the path to a vibrant and prosperous East African business landscape.