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The progress Africa has made is in some measure a reflection of collective efforts in our respective mandates, from peace building to entrenching governance, regional integration and financing infrastructure.

Dr Richard Sezibera
Dr Richard Sezibera

The African Competitiveness Report 2013 highlights the numerous areas where African nations need to improve their competitiveness to take full advantage of the economic growth across the continent.

The EAC region must deal with the bottlenecks to competitiveness. Some of those bottlenecks are strategic, and include inadequate infrastructure, the need to invest in human resource development and the need to widen our markets.

Other bottlenecks are more tactical, but the biggest bottleneck is the need for a mindset change that will lead the region to sustained growth over the next decades.

Over the years, the EAC has been instrumental in implementing policies to achieve realistic, yet ambitious goals to further regional integration, and ultimately, a political federation.

In doing so, we have notably created a Customs Union, established a Common Market, introduced free movement of stocks, supported joint infrastructure projects, reduced national tariff barriers, and begun work on the establishment of a single currency among partner states.

The Doing Business Report 2012 rates East Africa as one of the fastest growing and reforming economies in the world. By 2011, EAC intra-regional trade rose to 23 per cent of the total value of exports, a very fast rise from less than 10 per cent in 2005.

However, this is still not enough to turn the EAC into a middle-income region. The region’s average annual growth rate remained at over six per cent, with our countries performing within a band of between four per cent and 11 per cent respectively, despite difficult global conditions.

These achievements need to be maintained and sustained over time to make a real impact in reducing poverty.

Although the EAC region has demonstrated relatively strong political and economic institutions and macroeconomic stability, fundamentals such as infrastructure, more sophisticated financial markets as well as higher uptake of new technologies will be necessary for this sustained growth to continue.

Our infrastructure deficit stands at about $43 billion and we must raise this money to make sure that we have the right infrastructure to support East Africa’s growth over the next decade.

Several key issues with regard to competitiveness need to be addressed, and EAC partner states have, in particular, invested in doing this. We are negotiating, for example, common infrastructure projects including rail, energy, ports and harbours, which we think will overcome bottlenecks to our development.

We are also deepening our financial markets and negotiating private public-private partnerships to support infrastructure at the regional level.

EAC governments and the private sector have realised the importance of integrating further, and have committed resources for the success of the East African region.
A public-private partnership framework is already being finalised.

Upon conclusion, it is expected to enhance private sector participation in public enterprises, with a regional dimension.

The Easter African 

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