The first East African Manufacturing Business summit currently ongoing in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, has been dominated by calls for policies and actions to industrialise the region and make it a competitive investment hub and gateway for the continent.
APA reports that the two-day meeting, organised by the East African Community and partners, has drawn business captains from the manufacturing sector from the sub-region as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
In his address to the delegates, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, represented by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, said special efforts needed to be taken to boost the manufacturing sector which presently contributes just 10 percent of the EAC gross domestic product.
Museveni said EAC governments, the private sector and development partners need to engage more and come up with practical actions that would raise the contribution of manufacturing to 25 percent of GDP as outlined in the regional industrialization policy.
The President said investment in research, technology and skills as well as improvement in doing business will be key in boosting the manufacturing sector and making the region a regional manufacturing hub.
In his contribution, the Secretary General of the EAC, Richard Sezibera, called for tough decisions and implementation of policies if the region is to achieve its target of making the manufacturing sector contribute 25 percent of regional GDP, adding that the manufacturing sector has the potential of creating millions of jobs.
Sezibera said in order to turn East Africa into an industrial hub there is a need to, among other things, remove all barriers, increase governments’ involvement and commitment, financing of technology and innovation, boldness to make investment decisions, skills development and access to low interest capital.