NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22- A team drawn mainly from the private sector will soon be set up at the Ministry of East African Community to give recommendations on integration issues, a top government official has said.
EAC Assistant Minister Peter Munya disclosed that they were in the process of actualising setting up the Advisory Council through which the private sector is expected to raise issues affecting their competitiveness in the region.
“We are already in the process of forming that council so that whatever policy we are developing is informed by the needs of the private sector,” Mr Munya said.
He added that its inclusion followed the revision of the ministry’s structure to enable it have relevant and informed policies that favour the business community as they go about setting up operations in any of the five member States.
The new committee is supposed to work hand in hand with an assembly of the private sector at the EAC level which when set up, is expected to convene a meeting once every year to debate on policies and advise the Secretariat on the way forward on the integration process.
Mr Munya was responding to a question by Industrialist Chris Kirubi who wanted to know whether the government had a plan on how to exploit the opportunities that the East African Common Market protocol portends for the country.
“I think you need to put a committee together of business people to be working with your ministry to help you fast track how we can benefit in this region,” Mr Kirubi told the assistant minister.
The two spoke at an event organised by the East African Chartered Institute of Marketers on how businesses should position themselves to tap into the wider and integrated 126 million-people market.
Mr Munya assured the participants that East Africa was set to achieve the objectives as outlined in the EAC Treaty which would eventually see the region become a political federation.
Key among their concerns was the viability of having in place a Monetary Union by 2012 given the seeming hurdles such as political activities in the region. He dismissed views that the integration process might be negatively affected if there is a change of guard in the sister states.
“We may miss our targets in a year or two but we have been moving on. For example within 10 years we are at the Common Market level and we believe that the Monetary Union will also come,” he stressed.
He however acknowledged that there are member countries that may be unprepared or unable to move at the same speed as the rest of bloc but said the community would be at hand to assist such states.
In this respect, the Community is mulling the setting up of the East African Development Fund to assist the struggling countries as provided for in the Treaty.
Also present was Synovate Managing Director George Waititu who reinforced the view that political will was critical in ensuring the implementation of laws and policies that would enable East African citizens to enjoy the benefits that the integration portends.
Such determination, he said, should be seen in governance measures to for example fight corruption in the region and give investors the confidence they need to invest in East Africa.
“Corruption is without a doubt one of the biggest barriers that affect companies when they try to penetrate markets. In the last 10 years, we have seen a lot of changes in the way these countries are governed but there’s need for political will in terms of fighting this vice,” Mr Waititu added.