The strategy places the private sector and industrialisation among the community’s top priorities.
The EAC secretary Dr Liberat Mfumukeko and the acting executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Joseph Kiggundu have discussed plans for implementing the new EAC industrialistion strategy in Uganda.
Mfumukeko is on a working visit to follow up on the implementation of the 5th EAC Development Strategy. The strategy was adopted by the Heads of State Summit last year.
The strategy places the private sector and industrialisation among the community's top priorities.
Mfumukeko and Kiggundu addressed the media on Wednesday after holding a meeting at the UIA offices in Kampala.
"For industrialisation, development of the private sector to happen, the Governments and the EAC have to play an active role.
We have been discussing with the UIA on how to engage the private sector, one way is to provide a more conducive environment so that businesses thrive in the community," Mfumukeko said.
He explained that the choice on industrialisation strategy is motivated by the fact that the presidents, authorities and people in the region know the problem of unemployment in the region.
He noted that the administrations of the region cannot employ the hundreds and thousands unemployed youth. "We (EAC) are given a short period of time to transform the private sector in the region.
The ones that are settled should operate fully. The local and international investors are offered the best working condition and environment," he said. Mfumukeko and his delegation toured the UIA one stop centre.
He stressed that the implementation of the industrialisation strategy is key to resolving the high unemployment levels in the region. "The governments cannot deal with the problem of unemployment without involving the private sector."
He further said that implementation of the industrialisation strategy would require the involvement and full support of all revenue authorities like URA in Uganda and all investment promotion agencies like UIA.
The secretary general said they were working to resolve the current trade gridlock between Rwanda and Uganda. He said the EAC through its established mechanisms is engaging the two partner states in the conflict to find a solution.
He noted that 15 years ago to travel in the region one needed a visa which is no longer the case for East Africans. He cited that last year during the EAC summit held in Kampala, 65 non- tariff barriers were brought to the attention of heads of states.
He said it was reported in this year's summit that 45 non- tariff barriers have been eliminated. The elimination was made possible because presidents directed their administration to eliminate these barriers. "Do not think we are just watching, we have ways of dealing with such issues technically and diplomatically. The fact is no one wants to see such kinds of problems," he said.
He assured the private sector that all partner states have signed protocols to enable commercial activities take place in the region without difficulties. "Don't worry these issues will be resolved,"
"Progress has been. Occasionally we have periods when there are issues. Mechanisms are in place to track down these non-tariff barriers or situations which are problematic to the community. Concerning Rwanda and Uganda, our ministers in charge of trade, industry and investment have their platform in the community where they talk on a regular basis," he added.
He stressed regional countries to treat each other well. "When you live in the same house with your brothers and sisters, you can quarrel once in a while. What do parents do? They try to bring you together. The community has these frameworks for peace, security to resolve these issues whenever such tensions arise," he said.
On security in the region, he mentioned that while there were challenges faced regarding security, the region was relatively peaceful and attractive for investment.
Kiggundu said they were happy about the visit. He said they have explored new initiatives for promoting industrialisation. He highlighted that the visit adds value to UIA.
"The talks we have had focused on many crucial initiatives in the EAC. The EAC has been championing many issues including information sharing on investment and trade," Kiggundu said.
A report entitled ‘Independent review of the Uganda national industrial policy 2008' recommends that as a natural resource based economy, Uganda should focus on supporting and attracting industries that maximise value addition.
It recommends Uganda should focus on driving production and productivity of local content with a focus on small and medium scale enterprises.
It says quick investment in industrial support infrastructure such as water, air, road and rail transport, energy should be done to lower the cost of doing business. It adds that emphasis should be put on increasing security of persons and property.
The report undertaken by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and United National Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) calls for improved implementation performance to drive the industrialisation agenda.