Africa-Press – Rwanda. The private sector is being rallied to draw robust plans that will see them optimize the economic integration process that political leaders of the East African Community have put in place.
This will not only lead to their growth but also their indigenous national economies and eventually an economically solid bloc.
This call couldn’t have come at a better time. Over the years, we have heard members of the private sector complaining about, among others, bottlenecks that still inhibit their craft in the form of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
True these barriers, which have been progressively dismantled especially for importers and exporters using the two transport corridors – the Northern Corridor, which links the region to the port of Mombasa and the Central Corridor, which connects to Dar es Salaam – were major impediments to trade.
The ease of intra-regional trade is further streamlined under wider regional integration initiatives like the Customs Union and the Common Market whose implantation has continued to considerably expand, despite some hitches that have been addressed as we move along.
Political will towards the integration process has also been demonstrated through the continued expansion of the bloc to presently seven countries to create a market of over 300 million people.
However, all this will not yield the desired result if the private sector does not seize the moment to create opportunity from this expanded market. They may complain of challenges that they meet here and there, but do they have a strategic plan in place that will enable them reap the dividends of economic integration?
It is therefore imperative that the business community thinks strategically and this will also help them penetrate and benefit from continent-wide initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
With a strategy in place, they will be able to create an even more robust lobby that will push the political class to iron out some of the existing challenges to the full implementation of the protocols like Common Market, the Customs Union, and the Monetary Union on the road to creating a Federation.