Recorded Depreciation Expense For The Year Investing Operating Or Financing EAC Investment Conference Focuses on Integration

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EAC Investment Conference Focuses on Integration

They were in their numbers in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and only one thing came to mind. To market the East African region as a single trading bloc to promote a strong economy and competitive business environment. As the EAC Secretariat provides the platform through the second EAC Investment Conference, what happens in the next one year will determine the success of the conference.

Reports from investment promotion agencies in the region indicate that after the first investment conference in Kigali, Rwanda, a large number of inquiries, project proposals and actual investments arising from the conference have been recorded.

Held against the backdrop of the global economic downturn, the Nairobi Conference “Invest in EAC where challenges are opportunities.” Kenya’s Finance Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, gave an overview of the theme of the conference, saying it was well chosen given the challenges posed by the global economic and financial crisis, drought and climate change, which have reduced economic growth and high energy costs for the region.

Despite the negative performance of the global economy, East African countries recorded modest but above-average economic growth in 2009, with the exception of Kenya, which experienced internal shocks early last year. The bi-quarterly financial market review by fund management company AIG Investments shows Uganda’s economy grew by 7 percent last year and is forecast to slow to 6 percent in 2009/10. The Tanzanian government has forecast GDP growth for 2009 to slow to 5 percent from 7.4 percent last year.

After recording an impressive performance in 2007, posting 7.1 percent GDP growth, Kenya’s growth fell to a disappointing 1.7 percent last year due to post-election violence, food supply chain disruptions and the global recession. Kenya’s GDP is expected to grow by 2.5 percent this year as the impact of post-election violence in the previous year eases.

Uhuru said the economies of Uganda and Tanzania were expected to grow by just 5 percent in 2009, while Kenya’s would register a rate of less than 3 percent, following strong growth in previous years. “However, growth momentum can be sustained through investment and spending in infrastructure and agriculture, the areas that provide the greatest impetus for the growth of the regional economy.”

Delivering a keynote speech during the official opening, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said that economic analysts said the economic crisis will not affect Africa much because the continent’s institutions are not fully integrated into the global financial market, which should ring alarm bells in African countries.

“Not being part of the global economy is a crisis in itself. The EAC should position itself as part of the global system, not its victim and actively engage in finding solutions that leverage the region’s capacity and experience to innovate and meet higher and growing goals.”

And as Kenya’s finance minister said, the secret to the regions success lies in investment and spending on infrastructure and agriculture. However, these are some areas that have proven difficult for governments to adequately deliver to their citizens. Nature has not fared well with some members of the region who are facing drought. Referring to the second quarter report, AIG Investment said that compared to the same period last year, agriculture, which accounts for 23 percent of the gross domestic product in Kenya, has decreased by 5.1 percent.

The conference noted that agriculture is the backbone of the region’s economy and contributes greatly to employment levels and exports, but the EAC region remains food insecure despite the availability of ample arable land and a large labor force.

In line with the theme of the conference, participants noted that opportunities exist by developing value chains along the agricultural sector; Value addition and product diversification. It is important for countries to invest in value addition processes for all agricultural exports in order to increase quality, gain a competitive edge and generate more revenue through increased sales and competition. Starting next year, Uganda will become the first country in Africa to sell its own coffee as a finished product on the international market.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has urged East African farmers and investors to increase investment in the agricultural sector to overcome perennial food shortages in the region. The President of Zanzibar, Dr. Abed Karume, also emphasized the need to increase investment in the agricultural sector through the strengthening of agricultural technology and infrastructure. Infrastructure is also a challenge in the agricultural sector. The development of “last-mile infrastructure” is seen as a means to enhance the delivery of inputs to the actual user and catalyze the production process.

Governments in the region, supported by development partners, should mobilize sufficient resources to rapidly develop a bankable pipeline of regional infrastructure projects, particularly targeting the road, rail and energy sub-sectors. Tanzania’s Central Bank First Deputy Governor Dr Enos Bukuku says the country will not cut infrastructure budgets in tough times. Uganda Investment Authority Executive Director Prof. These sentiments are shared by Maggie Kigozi, who says that during and after the recession, she is working to improve infrastructure to enable the private sector to use it effectively.

The issue of regional licensing for infrastructure service providers should be included within the provisions of the Common Market Protocol so that the EAC can benefit from the capabilities available in the region for infrastructure expansion and access.

Ongoing harmonization of policies in infrastructure sub-sectors should be fast-tracked, and the government should speedily ensure the implementation of these harmonized policies at the national level. The participants agreed that the region should invest in energy in an alternative way to keep up with global trends and increase economic sustenance as each member state had its share of energy problems. Over-reliance on hydropower generation has contributed to the power shortages experienced in the region. Although all EAC partner states are making efforts to diversify away from hydro-generation, hydropower generation will continue to be an important resource in the region’s generation mix.

Rwanda’s Energy Minister Dr Albert Buta said the region’s potential sources of renewable energy such as wind, geothermal and natural gas are largely untapped. “It’s time for investors to look beyond traditional sources of energy.” Marketing the region as a single market should undermine ongoing inter-trade activities. While the whole world is grappling with the economic crisis, most of the countries in the West have cut down on imports which has led to a huge reduction in the revenues of African countries derived from exports.

The East Africa Trade Report 2008 shows that total investment inflows to the EAC region decreased significantly by 11.8 percent from US$8,021.9 million recorded in 2006 to US$7,118.5 million in 2007. In intra-EAC investment flows, Uganda and Tanzania benefited the most. Kenya is a major player. On the other hand, Kenya attracted minimal investment inflows from EAC partner states in previous years but virtually no investment inflows were recorded in 2006 and 2007.

In the face of these challenges, the EAC is maintaining a strategic posture towards a strong political and economic business environment to weather the storm. The IMF predicts a 1.3 percent decline in global economic activity in 2010, particularly in the economies of industrialized countries, while some EAC countries and many African countries anticipate growth of between 5 percent and 7 percent. . Next year’s investment conference will review how the five economies work and attract investment.

Energy, telecommunication, tourism and mining were also discussed. Other sectors were infrastructure development, banking and financial services, manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing. There was clearly renewed confidence among international investors in East Africa as a trading hub. In the last few months, foreign businesses have been streaming into the region. Banking and financial services, manufacturing and mining, and other sectors are particularly attracting West African and Asian investors.

Currently, the region’s central bank governors are discussing the EAC monetary convergence and payment system. If implemented, the region will have a single currency and instant payment system. The new system will eliminate “abnormally high” transaction costs arising from the multiplicity of banking arrangements and foreign exchange fees.

Observers say East Africa could soon become the continent’s economic tiger if the pace of reviving the region’s economies is maintained. From this fiscal year’s budget, it is clear that the EAC states are determined to improve the business environment among them. A 2005 World Trade Organization assessment of trading blocs in Africa says the EAC is one of the most active on the continent. Since the formulation of the strategic plan in Kigali, major infrastructure construction work has begun. Among them are the EAC Road Network Project, the EAC Transport and Trade Facilitation Project, the Mombasa-Dar es Salaam Natural Gas Pipeline and the Regional ICT Support Programme. These projects are expected to cost more than $1.7 billion.

To facilitate the cross-border movement of goods, Uganda and Kenya have partnered with the Chinese government to build a second railway line between Mombasa and Kampala. Construction is expected to start in the last quarter of the next financial year and will cost Kenya more than KShs3 billion ($37.5 million). But observers say the community needs to protect itself from rising commodity prices and currency depreciation.

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