East Africa: Huge Business Opportunities Expected in Common Markets
The East African Community marks its 10th anniversary on Friday in Tanzania, where the heads of partner states are expected to sign the Common Market Protocol.
It will open the borders of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi to allow free movement of people, goods, services and capital. Huge business opportunities await people in East Africa under the protocol that also gives the right of establishment and residence. "Companies and firms established in accordance with the national laws of a partner state and having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business, and which undertake substantial economic activities in the partner state shall, for purposes of establishment, be accorded non discriminatory treatment in other partner states," says the protocol.
The Common Market is the second stage in the integration of the economic bloc, and comes five years after the launch of the Customs Union, the first stage in the integration process. The five countries have agreed to eliminate tariff, non-tariff and technical barriers to trade; harmonise and mutually recognise standards, and implement a common trade policy. In order to facilitate free movement of labour, academic and professional qualifications granted will be mutually recognised in the EAC. East Africa has a land mass of 1.82 million square kilometres and an estimated population of 126.2 million. The region holds the potential of emerging a far more important economic power than its current GDP of $60 billion suggests.
The Community plans to focus on key pillars expected to propel the regional economy, such as greater investments in common infrastructure including roads, energy, railways and telecommunications.