The 2nd East African Investment Conference comes at a historic time for the East African Community when we are closer than ever to our goal of regional economic integration. The success of the Customs Union is a singular pointer to the systematic achievement and progress of the EAC integration process. Between 2004 and 2007, the volume of intra-EAC trade increased by 22% while the total EAC trade with the rest of the world rose by 26.8 % up from 22.8% in 2006.
In January 2010, the fully fledged Customs Union comes into effect with zero customs duty applicable to all goods traded among the EAC Partner States. This is a significant milestone in the road to EAC integration and will greatly impact trade, investments and revenues of the Partner states.
Last June, during the 1st East African Investment Conference in Kigali, the EAC Heads of State adopted strategic plans for accelerated implementation of projects under the infrastructure sector. The result was the commencement of construction works on the Arusha-Namanga-Athi River road project; the commencement of the Power Interconnection Project between Kenya and Tanzania at the Namanga border point and many other similar achievements in rail transport, civil aviation, communications, energy and development of the Lake Victoria Basin.
In addition, regarding barriers to trade and investment in the region, the EAC is working with the Partner States to strengthen the capacity building of their governments, improve the transparency of regulation and administration. EAC has actively worked to promote the implementation of the Protocol for the establishment of the EAC Common Market, which will create an economic bloc that will have a combined population of 125 million people and a total gross domestic product of 55 billion US dollars.
Though we gather under the cloud of a global financial and economic crisis whose effects have been felt not only in the Northern hemisphere but also here in the EAC region and other parts of Africa, the Conference will provide an opportunity to showcase the commitment and achievements of the Community as well as the potential it has to nurture and serve as a new hub of regional global trade and investments.
It is in this framework that we launch the 2nd East African Investment Conference with the theme, Invest in East Africa, Where Global Challenges are Opportunities. The Conference will focus its attention on creating a viable and vibrant regional economic bloc, and also addressing Non Tariff Barriers (NTBs) under the rubrics of entrenching a conducive investment climate.
I am pleased to note that the East African scene is changing by the hard work of our people, by the richness of our ideas. A great man once said ‘it is our workers, our people, our ideas, who are the greatest engines of economic resource’. There is no doubt that with close cooperation in promoting investment, we would always take our region to greater heights of achievement, becoming more dynamic and more competitive as we step into our future.
By Amb. Juma Mwapachu,
EAC Secretary General.
EAC Secretary General.