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Prioritize EAC protocol on industrialization

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Added 6th March 2017 10:01 AM

In terms of export oriented policies which the EAC countries like Uganda can learn from Developed countries such as Singapore

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In terms of export oriented policies which the EAC countries like Uganda can learn from Developed countries such as Singapore

By Peninnah Mbabazi

The East African Community (EAC) has made positive strides to anchor economic development. Most of the investment seems to be under infrastructural development interventions, including the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) – covering railways, roads and energy sectors. This is one step.

The East African Community has been among the fastest growing regions with about 6.5 % economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa in the past decades. Regional integration has been at the fore of this growth, as the Member states to foster economic development. 

The EAC economies by way of household employment are dominated by agriculture which is the core economic sector employing 90% of their respective populations and accounting for 24% to 46% of gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, the EAC remains a net importer of manufactured products. So how do we reverse this and anchor locally based industrial sector? What would it take for local manufacture and assembly of electronics like motor vehicles, electric circuit breakers and fittings, cookers, dry cells, solar panels and machine parts? How do we leverage petroleum related products such as plastics and other products? 

Whereas opportunities do exist in large scale farming, irrigation, value addition; processing, pre-packing and specialization, in order to exploit regional and international markets, the opportunity for industrial growth is not being strengthened in locally producing quality inputs for use in the agricultural sector.  

With our good soils and fresh water in EAC, why would the region import processed animal feeds, chemicals given our fertilizer deposits, cement or even ceramics and glass? Rather being nearly net importers, we ought to strive for export based through value addition. Else we continue to suffer balance of payment deficits and parading begging bowels to the Western world and China.

Opportunities do exist in large scale fish farming, irrigation, and agro-processing, packing materials, mineral wealth to benefit the regional and international markets. 

With the development of the EAC regional industrialization policy that sets direction for sustainable and equitable industrial development in East Africa.

The policy aims to transform the region to modern industrial economies through high value addition industries, increase of manufactured exports, export earnings, employment and purchasing power, product diversification, increase linkages with other economic sectors and through technical skills for modernization and higher productivity. 

It proposes the establishment of regional industries to drive industrial growth and stresses strong linkages between industries and key sectors of the economy such as agriculture, infrastructure, and energy among others. 

In terms of export oriented policies which the EAC countries like Uganda can learn from Developed countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. Uganda being part of the EAC needs to improve competitiveness of industrial sector to enhance expansion of trade in industrial goods within the community and for exports.

Based flagship approach as so far seen under Northern Corridor Integration Projects, factories and industries on such will deliberately operationalize and accelerate ambitions of Articles 79 and 80 of the EAC Treaty) and the EAC Industrialization Policy and Strategy (2010-2030). Then we can spur forward and backward linkages for economic transformation at EAC.

In conclusion, the EAC economies cannot continue to be nearly importers of manufactured goods from the rest of the world. Community.

Writer works at Uganda Debt Network

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