East African Community (EAC) has appealed for the development of a Small and Medium Entreprises (SMEs) engagement framework with the EAC Council of Ministers and green fiscal policy for the EAC bloc.
Speaking during the courtesy visit the EAC Secretary General Dr Peter Mathuki stated here at the weekend that the EAC is reviewing the SMEs Charter that will foster the growth and development of the SMEs sector.
Dr Mathuki affirmed that the EAC is working on strengthening private-public partnerships and forming thematic technical working groups to re-energize joint investment in key development projects across the region.
He reiterated EAC’s commitment to supporting the private sector stating that the EAC has made strides in resolving various Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) resulting in an increase in Intra-EAC trade from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
For example between April 2021 to June last year, 23 long-standing NTBs were resolved to unlock Intra-regional trade and stated that dedicated effort is being made to push for harmonisation of taxes and product standards in the region.
He further called on EABC to shift from advocacy to pushing to have a seat at the decision-making table, to ensure that creating a conducive business environment remains a top priority in the region.
The East African Business Council (EABC) SMEs Goodwill Ambassador Ms Mary Ngechu said the EAC region needs SMEs champions at the country level to amplify the SME agenda, and speed up the review and implementation of the EAC SMEs Charter.
She elaborated that challenges of quality, market access and complex trade requirement continue to set back SMEs to seize trade and investment opportunities in the EAC common market.
On her part, Ms Joyce Gachugi urged the EAC to formulate a green fiscal policy to promote the private sector to invest in waste collection and recycling.
She stated that Kenya has developed the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations and Sustainable Waste Management Act that has enabled recycling to increase from 9 per cent in 2017 to 36 per cent in 2022.
She said that waste collection provides decent jobs as the market for waste collection in Kenya alone is USD 1.5 million.
The EABC Chief Executive Officer Mr John Bosco Kalisa said SMEs constitute approximately 90 per cent of traders in the EAC and contribute to 60 per cent of employment and 29 per cent to the bloc’s Gross Domestic Product.
Mr Kalisa expounded that the EABC envisions being a centre for data management on circular economy and has set up a climate change committee to champion issues of environment and sustainable development.
Other areas discussed include: institutional strengthening of EABC and national focal points, Waste is Wealth Conference slated on 15th -17th May in Nairobi Kenya, First Ladies to be champion of environmental initiatives and Regional SMEs Summit with EAC Heads of State.