THE East African Business Council (EABC) and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) have partnered to support the East African integration programme for Phase II.
The official grant under the partnership is valued at 661.6 m/- and was signed on Tuesday by John Kalisa, Executive Director of EABC and Björn Richter, GIZ-EAC Cluster Coordinator in Arusha.
Witnessing the signing ceremony, EAC Deputy Secretary-General for Customs Trade and Monetary Affairs, Annette Ssemuwemba, said that the Phase II project focused on harnessing the opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The growth and resilience of the EAC bloc results from unified policies, with the private sector playing a fundamental advocacy role,” said Ms Ssemuwemba in a statement.
EABC Executive Director John Kalisa said that the partnership will include capacity building for EAC private sector players in Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on AfCFTA.
“It will also focus on trade in services that will conduct sensitisation national workshops on the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Services (PTIS) and its annexes in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania,” he said.
Mr Kalisa said it will also publish the EABC policy advocacy agenda 2023/24 which will outline private sector policy priorities for the governments of the EAC partner states to address, especially to promote a conducive business environment.
“The EABC-GIZ partnership is a significant step toward fostering deeper private sector engagement in East African integration and AfCFTA processes, heralding a brighter economic future for the entire region,” Mr Kalisa said.
He said there will be export readiness workshops for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and youth entrepreneurs which will equip participants with AfCFTA and export skills to seize the opportunities offered by AfCFTA.
Mr Kalisa said the EABC-GIZ Phase I project was achieved in the development of a team of AfCFTA private sector master trainers on AfCFTA’s protocol on trade in goods.
“We improve knowledge of private stakeholders from the manufacturing, agriculture, and SME sectors on AfCFTA protocol on trade in goods following national sensitisation workshops,” Mr Kalisa said.
The new EABC-GIZ partnership builds on the remarkable achievements of Phase I and promises to enable the private sector, including Micro-Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), to learn how to trade under the EAC and AfCFTA markets, which serve a population of 300 million and 1.3 billion, respectively.