AS the world battles the deadly coronavirus, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of apex body of private sector associations and corporates in the East African Community (EAC) region have come up with a stimulus package proposal.
At their online meeting held under the umbrella of the East African Business Council (EABC) to deliberate on the fate of business and prosperity in the six-member countries bloc, the CEOs noted the need for preparedness and re sponse measures against the outbreak of Covid-19 in the region.
In their unanimous resolution delivered in a joint statement yesterday from Arusha, the CEOs called for the EAC governments to come up with a common post Covid-19 recovery and rebound strategy for the region, with a focus on intra-EAC trade and investments.
Governments of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan have been asked to reduce port and transport fees, levies and charges affecting the competitiveness of the EAC bloc.
The CEOs further urged development partners to support the EAC and private sector initiatives of combating the Covid-19 outbreak in the region and initiate donor round tables to support priority areas.
The CEOs said they remain optimistic that together, the countries will overcome the global pandemic, calling for the partner states to replicate and learn best practices from each other towards compacting the pandemic.
They ask the governments to ensure borders remain fully operational and facilitate the free movement of goods and services across the EAC partner states.
“The EAC member-countries should come up with practical measures aimed at enhancing regional value chains to reduce over-reliance on imports. Private sector associations collaborate and share information on the short term and long-term impact of Covid-19 to inform the business post Covid-19 recovery strategy.
“The EAC ensures food security, promote agro-processing and urban farming to cater for food provision in our urban setups. Fast track and enhance EAC framework for e-commerce to ensure ease and access to essential goods within the region and facilitate easier access to inputs and intermediate products for industries,” the CEOs said in their remarks.
As a prosperity measure, the EAC partner states have been asked to regulate recurrent expenditures and focus on increasing budgetary allocation on health, social services and food security.
They pleaded with the EAC Council of Ministers to hold meetings more frequently for information sharing and collaboration, and their countries to ensure food security, promote agro-processing and urban farming to cater for food provision in urban setups.
They also noted the paramount importance of protecting health and safety of the East African people, as the regional private sector is committed and join hands with the governments to ensure that the business community complies with the measures to protect the lives of fellow citizens.
The ongoing Covid-19 presents a significant challenge to EAC economies, disrupting global and regional value chains, hence impacting business operations from supplies, production capacity, distribution channels and utilisation of resources.
The CEOs appreciated the recent efforts by the EAC Council of Ministers geared towards facilitating free movement of goods and services across the EAC partner states on Covid-19 preparedness and response in the EAC region.
They also appreciated the EAC for incorporating the private sector in the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 in the partner states.
The statement was signed by Mr Stephen Ruzibiza - Chief Executive Officer, Private Sector Federation- Rwanda; Mr Godfrey Simbeye – the Executive Director, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, and Mr Gideon Badagawa - Executive Director, Private Sector Foundation Uganda.
Others are Dr Peter Mathuki – the CEO and Executive Director of EABC; Mr Denis Nshimirimana - Secretary General, Federal Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture – Burundi; Ms Carole Kariuki - Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Private Sector Alliance; Mr Hamad Hamad – Executive Director, Zanzibar Chamber of Commerce, and Mr Simon Deng - Secretary General, South Sudan Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture.