EAC Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, 18 April 2011: The 9th African Investment Forum organized by the Commonwealth Business Council, Tanzania Investment Centre and the East African Community kicked off today at the Mlimani City Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In attendance at the two-day event are the Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State Summit and President of the Republic of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza; President Mwai Kibaki of the Republic of Kenya; President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda; and the host, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania. Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Bernard Makuza is representing President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda. Also attending is President Dr. Mohammed Shein of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.
Addressing the over 900 delegates that are attending the Forum, the Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State, President Pierre Nkurunziza said the implementation of both the EAC Customs Union (since 2005) and the Common Market (since July 2010) protocols, heralds a big opportunity for investing in EAC, with a market of more than 130 million people, where free movement of persons and labor, free movement of goods, free movement of services, the right of establishment and the right of residence were guaranteed.
President Nkurunziza disclosed that EAC had adopted a model Investment Code as well as a competition policy, and was working to adopt, in the near future, fiscal and monetary policies aimed at attracting investors, through progressive and rising economic performance, lowering of inflation and debt management.
He also disclosed that EAC had streamlined a legal framework to protect investments and businesses, with the institutionalization of the East African Court of Justice, working with national commercial courts.
“In addition, EAC had achieved a strong political stability level through successful, fair and transparent pluralistic elections, which is a sine qua non guarantee for investment,” affirmed President Nkurunziza.
The Summit Chairperson said everything had been put in place to ensure a good working atmosphere for businessmen and the leadership in the region was looking forward to having good partnerships in terms of strong investments in agriculture, infrastructure, and energy to be able to achieve the objectives of the Community.
He noted that despite agriculture providing livelihood to more than 90% of East Africans, and despite much of the region being endowed with regular rainy seasons and dependable river regimes, poor production of agro-processed quality outputs does not allow the generation of more exports.
President called upon all the citizens of East Africa, especially media professionals, to commit themselves to the promotion of the EAC image and ideals.
Welcoming delegates, Tanzania’s President Kikwete said “I have been here (Mlimani City Conference Centre) several times but I have never seen this place packed with people like this”; I am really delighted to welcome all of you to Tanzania and to the EAC, the land and region of investment opportunities”.
The EAC Secretary General Amb. Juma Mwapachu asserted that EAC, through its Customs Union and Common Market, “was well poised to be a hub for higher rates of investments and trade exchanges.” He said the EAC region offers unique opportunities for investments in a wide spectrum of economic and social sectors.
Themed Accelerating East African Investment and Accessing an African Market of A Billion People, the 9th African Investment Forum involves interactive dialogue with EAC Heads of State, where participants are given the rare opportunity to directly ask the Presidents pertinent questions regarding doing business in the region. Participants are also being counselled by the Heads of State on the overall practice of doing business in the EAC and at the same time the Heads of State are getting advice from the Forum participants.
Plenary sessions on enhancing regional investment and trade under the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite arrangement; public-private partnership for infrastructure development: energy, rail, transport, communications, housing and construction; and improving access to finance; as well as Business Roundtables on agriculture, tourism, energy, ICT, women and business are also part of the Forum menu.
At the Forum, each Partner State is promoting and marketing specific investment opportunities. Kenya is focusing on transport and services; Rwanda is on education; while the United Republic of Tanzania is on tourism. The Republic of Burundi is promoting investment in agriculture and Uganda is on minerals and energy.
Meanwhile, three Presidents have so far arrived for the 9th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State scheduled for tomorrow 19 April 2011 at the Hotel Kilimanjaro Kempinski in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Presidents Pierre Nkurunziza, Mwai Kibaki and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni are in Dar es Salaam for the Summit. Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is the Summit host.
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department