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The East African : Dec 1st 2014
8 Special advertising section A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES Uganda celebrates improved business climate The education sector is the best example of fruits of integration, making Uganda the region’s education hub By EDWARD SEKALO Special Correspondent East Af≥ican Community, joining Kenya and Tanzania as the founding Pa≥tne≥ States. If the≥e we≥e any doubts about the wisdom in the count≥y’s choosing to become pa≥ty to Af≥ica’s newest ≥egional economic bloc, these a≥e slowly but su≥ely being e≥ased. The evidence that 15 yea≥s late≥, Uganda has de≥ived a lot of good f≥om its involvement with the ≥egional bloc is to be found fi≥st and fo≥emost in the st≥aightfo≥wa≥d exe≥cise Ugandan citizens can expect thei≥ t≥avel to be if they have any engagements ac≥oss the bo≥de≥ in eithe≥ Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda o≥ fu≥the≥ in Bu≥undi. I Cross-border travel easy Thanks to the count≥y’s mem- be≥ship in the EAC, a Ugandan t≥avelle≥ to any of the othe≥ Pa≥tne≥ States does not ≥equi≥e a visa, and it gets even bette≥: one does not even need to have a passpo≥t. A tempo≥a≥y identification document would su∞ce fo≥ ent≥y into any of the othe≥ fou≥ Pa≥tne≥ States, while a national o≥ vote≥’s ID would do just fine fo≥ one seeking ent≥y into eithe≥ Kenya o≥ Rwanda. It also helps that an ag≥eement at the EAC level means most bo≥de≥ posts have tu≥ned into 16 to 24-hou≥ ope≥ations. It wasn’t always this way. Seve≥al bo≥de≥ posts p≥eviously ope≥ated daytime only, imposing a significant obstacle fo≥ one t≥avelling to any of the Pa≥tne≥ States by ≥oad. Enabling East Af≥icans to eas- ily t≥ave≥se the ≥egion fo≥ business o≥ leisu≥e has always been at the hea≥t of the integ≥ation p≥oject, and this is fu≥the≥ ≥einfo≥ced in the p≥otocol fo≥ the EAC Common Ma≥ket, signed in Novembe≥ 2009 and which among othe≥ f≥eedoms gua≥antees that of movement of pe≥sons. C≥is Magoba of the Minist≥y of EAC A≠ai≥s sees the positive influence of this p≥otocol in the exponential g≥owth in the numbe≥ of Ugandans in Kenya to 344,201 in 2011, f≥om 261,000 in 2009, as an example. Business opportunity An o≥dina≥y Ugandan would have seen the benefits of the EAC in the fo≥m of employment oppo≥tunities p≥esented by the waive≥ of wo≥k pe≥mit fees fo≥ East Af≥icans in Rwanda and Kenya, open- n Novembe≥ 1999, Uganda was one of th≥ee count≥ies that signed on to an ag≥eement to ≥evive the defunct The EastAfrican EAC @ 15 NOVEMBER 29 - DECEMBER 5, 2014 Makerere University leads other private colleges in offering higher education for students from all over the region. Picture: File ing up the labou≥ ma≥ket in the fo≥me≥ to 5,286 Ugandan wo≥ke≥s between Janua≥y 2009 and June 2014, acco≥ding to figu≥es available f≥om Rwanda’s Minist≥y of EAC. The≥e possibly isn’t a bette≥ secto≥ to illust≥ate the oppo≥tunity gene≥ated by Uganda’s involvement in the EAC than the education secto≥, whe≥e the count≥y has steadily built a ≥eputation as the ≥egion’s education hub, att≥acting thousands of students f≥om the othe≥ pa≥tne≥ states in sea≥ch of a decent education at an a≠o≥dable p≥ice. The National Council of Highe≥ Education Repo≥t 2011 states that Ugandan institutions had admitted 17,068 fo≥eign students by 2011 up f≥om 12,930 in 2005, with most of these coming f≥om the EAC pa≥tne≥ states. Such is been the popula≥ity of some of Uganda’s unive≥sities a few have ventu≥ed out and set up in count≥ies such as Rwanda and Tanzania to meet the g≥owing demand fo≥ thei≥ se≥vices. T≥ade≥s and manufactu≥e≥s have not been left out eithe≥. The establishment of the EAC Customs Union in 2005 is c≥edited with c≥eating new oppo≥tunities fo≥ doing business in the ≥egion by eliminating ba≥≥ie≥s such as ta≥i≠s and/o≥ quotas on locally p≥oduced goods. And acco≥ding to the Uganda Expo≥t P≥omotions Boa≥d, 82 small and medium size ente≥p≥ises f≥om Uganda have seized upon such benefits to b≥eak into the EAC ma≥ket. Since 2009, fo≥ example, 35 ente≥ed the Kenyan ma≥ket, 21 into Rwanda, 17 into Bu≥undi and nine into Tanzania, doing business wo≥th $15 million and selling p≥od- ucts such as alcoholic d≥inks and p≥ocessed foods. Simila≥ly, the EAC T≥ade Repo≥t 2012 indicates Uganda’s domestic expo≥ts to the pa≥tne≥ states ≥ose by 11 pe≥ cent to $473.6 million in 2012 compa≥ed with $426.8 million in 2011 ≥ep≥esenting a consistent upwa≥d t≥ajecto≥y in g≥owth since the Customs Union came into e≠ect. Improved business climate A su≥vey conducted by the East Af≥ican Business Council ≥eveals about seven in 10 Ugandan companies conside≥ the f≥ee movement of goods within the EAC made possible by the Customs Union — and mo≥e ≥ecently its t≥ansfo≥mation into a single Customs te≥≥ito≥y — beneficial in te≥ms of goods moving faste≥ and mo≥e e∞ciently; ≥educed clea≥ance ≥equi≥ements and sho≥te≥ lead times in supplying custome≥s, among othe≥s. The implementation of concepts such as the One Stop Bo≥de≥ Post is envisaged to fu≥the≥ imp≥ove the business climate. Myriad challenges remain Yet a numbe≥ of challenges ≥emain. One issue that M≥ Magoba is quick to highlight is the continued existence of non-ta≥i≠ ba≥≥ie≥s. The commonest of these include co≥≥uption by o∞ce≥s of va≥ious enfo≥cement agencies, non-ha≥monised documentation, existence of seve≥al weighb≥idges and ≥oad blocks along t≥anspo≥t co≥≥ido≥s, po≥t congestion, and va≥ying p≥ocedu≥es fo≥ issuance of quality ma≥ks by bu≥eau of standa≥ds. Fo≥ a landlocked count≥y like Uganda, businesses ope≥ating challenges Telephone call costs in the Community are still high and this is an issue that is high on the agenda of the 16th Summit Meeting of the EAC Heads of State. But it is forseen that the EAC will become a one area network where telephone calls across partner states are charged uniform local rates. Meanwhile Ugandan business people, who interact most regularly and most intimately with regional integration, see an EAC with non-tariff barriers reduced or eliminated altogether, with legally enforceable mechanisms in place to ensure everyone plays by the same rules in the Customs Union and the Common Market and with an EAC Secretariat sufficiently empowered to legislate for the good of all, the views shared in an EABC survey are anything to go by. in the count≥y a≥e natu≥ally mo≥e likely to su≠e≥ as a ≥esult of NTBs than those in pa≥tne≥ states. A mechanism to add≥ess NTBs was c≥eated in the Minist≥y of T≥ade, Indust≥y and Co-ope≥atives. Beyond NTBs, Uganda’s en- gagement with the EAC is also hampe≥ed by the slow pace in the implementation of decisions ag≥eed at the ≥egional level. This hinde≥s the enjoyment of the benefits of integ≥ation policies a≥e not in ha≥mony which ultimately makes them ine≠ective. To compound this, businesses in pa≥ticula≥ have ≥egula≥ly highlighted how they often su≠e≥ as a ≥esult of the inconsistent application of ≥ules gove≥ning f≥ee movement of goods. M≥ Magoba fu≥the≥ points out that the levels of awa≥eness about ≥egional integ≥ation and how Ugandans can benefit f≥om it a≥e inadequate. Although he says info≥mation about EAC has ≥eached mo≥e people in ≥ecent yea≥s, “about 20 pe≥ cent of Ugandans have not fully ≥eceived the message of integ≥ation.” A study by an independent South Af≥ican consultancy fi≥m howeve≥ put the figu≥e fo≥ awa≥eness about EAC at only 32 pe≥ cent. Funding has simila≥ly been Fewer NTBs recorded. Picture: File cited as a majo≥ impediment, with a ≥ecent ≥epo≥t noting that the inadequate ≥esou≥ces we≥e pa≥tly ≥esponsible fo≥ the low levels of awa≥eness. The ≥epo≥t of the Minist≥y of EAC A≠ai≥s Mid Te≥m Review, conducted in Feb≥ua≥y 2014, says funds p≥ovided fo≥ sensitising the public we≥e just ove≥ $170,000, ≥ep≥esenting less than 5 pe≥ cent of the minist≥y’s total budget.
Nov 24th 2014
Dec 8th 2014