EAC 

Sunday, January 26, 2014 

East African Business Council touts advocacy role

KIGALI, Rwanda - The East African Business Council (EABC), the voice of the private sector in East Africa, has resolved in their latest Board’s meeting to strengthen theiir role as the driver of policy advocacy in the EAC Region and to ensure better service delivery to the membership. 

   According to an EABC statement the Executive Committee resolved to present the concerns of regional businesses to all the five Heads of State in the region. 

   The Rwanda Private Sector Federation hosted the event recently. The EABC secretariat is based in Arusha, Tanzania, but a range of meetings are held around the region.

   To begin with the EABC will in the first quarter of 2014 hold high level meetings with each of the Presidents of the Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda to tell them the issues affecting businesses across the region.    

   EABC will also invite High Commissioners and ambassadors of EAC countries in the Partner States. 

   The business umbrella also wants EAC governments to quicken use of IDs as travel document in the entire region. 

   Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have already started allowing citizens of the three countries to use national IDs. 

   According to the Rwanda EAC ministry, since the beginning of this year, 8,000 people have crossed border at Gatuna, between Rwanda and Uganda using national IDs.

   EABC will be requesting Tanzania and Burundi  to follow suit in the near future to allow for easy movement of traders across the region.

   A general reduction of air fares has also be requested by the EABC. However ther EABC believes air transport companies have rights to fly the entire region and want governments to ease taxation on the cost air travel.

   High roaming telephone charges have been a leading handicap for doing business in the region. EAC governments have been asked by the EABC not to over burden the telecommunications sector with excessive taxation.

   Advocate for the Partner States to adopt the EAC Single Tourist Visa to increase the flow of tourists to the region and resolve all issues affecting the tourism sector given that this sector contributes immensely to the GDP of the five countries.

    The EABC highlighted its approval for the Single Tourist Visa, but loud concerns were raised by the reluctance of some EAC members to ratify the agreement to avoid double taxation  between states.

    It was decided at the Kigali meeting to strengthen the EABC Secretariat to be able to serve the members better. 

This is to be done through capacity building and the stationing of Technical Liaison officers in each of the five Partner States to ensure quick and regular service delivery to members. 

   Rwanda was commended for being the first country to recruit Ms. Fiona Uwera as the EABC Technical Liaison Officer for Rwanda. e necessary fields and turn ‘ hide’ off in order to display the page.

By Elisha Mayallah, Sunday, January 26th, 2014