Counties Urged To Tap In The EAC Markets

The entry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC Congo) into the East African Community has doubled the region’s population to 300 million people, increasing market access, according to Dr. Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary for the East African Community and Chairman of the Social and Political Pillar Vision 2030 board.

According to Desai, it has also resulted in an increase in total land mass in the region of 5 million square kilometers.

Dr. Desai stated in Kakamega on Friday that the government is currently reviewing the Common Market Protocol to include the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Sector through a charter so that MSMEs can benefit more from the initiative.

He stated that the protocol review will also address value chains and promote the highest level of return to those who invest their energy in entrepreneurship.

He urged all stakeholders, including county governments, individuals, and the private sector, to rise to the challenge through risk investment, ambition, and innovation in order to capitalize on the opportunity made possible by Kenya’s presidency of the region last year.

The PS urged counties to promote and support high levels of productivity, innovation, and competitiveness in order to drive inclusive development and self-sufficiency.

He stated that Kenya’s chairmanship in the EAC has resulted in a Common External Tariff that will encourage local manufacturing to produce for the East African Community and its market.

“While Kakamega County has been trading with the EAC over a decade, the potential now lies in raising the profile and scale in areas of commerce which includes trade, commerce and services. This can be achieved through value addition that it promotes as far as value chains in Agriculture, transport and logistics are concerned,” he added.

He noted that Kakamega has made strides in meeting the challenge of the vast market by constructing a 200-kilometer road network that connects remote farmers to a continental trade system.

The PS went on to say that the government recognizes that stakeholders in commerce want a more predictable environment and the ability to put their businesses in the forefront and ensure they can raise productivity levels, which will have a significant impact on job and wealth creation in the country.

He also challenged county governments and the private sector to focus on issues of compliance, multiple licensing, and addressing utility challenges such as water, electricity, and others, as well as minimizing any constraints that may discourage entrepreneurship and productivity.

“We have alleviated this problem of multiple licensing, similarly in Kakamega County one of the key focus areas is to ensure we consolidate all the licenses and streamline them into a single window,” he noted.

He stated that the government intends to transact approximately 130 000 tons of cargo at Mombasa ports under the Integrated Customs Management system by 2025 and approximately 230 000 tons of cargo by 2035.