The Principal Secretary in the State Department of the East African Community Dr Kevit Desai has predicted a major growth in commerce across the community’s member’s states with an approximate value of 300 billion dollars (about Sh30 trillion).
Dr Desai said the recent admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the East African Community had further expanded the consumer market for goods and services within the region to about 300 million consumers, noting that this would help promote commerce.
“The existing composition of seven partner states makes this a value proposition of approximately 300 billion dollars and within that context, the industrial growth and potential for the region will be enormous,” he said.
The Principal Secretary said this at the Kilifi County Commissioner’s office where he was received by Assistant County Commissioner Alice Mbeyu Katembo on behalf of County Commissioner Kutswa Olaka.
“The inclusion of DR Congo into the East African Community makes it a 300 million consumer market and this consolidates efforts within the context of how Kilifi could promote commerce, which includes trade, services and manufacturing towards achieving greater levels of growth and potential,” he said.
Dr. Desai, who later met officials of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the national government in Malindi town said the proposed creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area would further expand the market for goods and services to about 900 million consumers.
“These are huge markets within the context of growing any business and the pillar is to see to it that the micro, small and medium enterprise sector and especially the youth take advantage of this opportunity within the context of the East African Community and its regional bloc status,” he noted.
He said promoting a proposed common external tariff would encourage local manufacturing and promoting local manufacturing such as in textiles, steel agro-processing, mining as well as areas of automotive and the pharmaceutical industries.
Dr Desai, who was accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development, said the team had visited Kilifi County owing to its immense potential to contribute to the success of commerce in the region.
He called on the ten counties in focus which include Kilifi, to address the issues of policies, legislation, regulations and standards of goods and services with a view to bringing business reforms transformation.
He said the government’s efforts to improve the road networks, especially in Kilifi, and the structural systems of the northern and central corridors through intermodal transport were extremely important due to the value connectivity has towards promoting commerce within the East African Community.
“Within the area of business ecosystems, it is actually critical that we address issues of policies, legislation, regulations and standards. While we have done this successfully in Nairobi, propelling Kenya to within top 50 in the world, we are hoping that the same applies to counties like Kilifi,” he noted.
Dr Desai said the government would like to see that the business ecosystem in Kilifi County is facilitative to enterprise creation and that includes trade, commerce and industry.
“This means that the environment will need to be predictable and accessible by ensuring that businesses are able to focus on their enterprise, talent and capacities as well as fulfil all the compliance regulations and other kinds of permits which overwhelm them in most cases and undermines their level of creativity and innovation,” he said.
His concerns about business reforms in Kilifi County were echoed by officials of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Malindi Chapter, who urged counties in the region to harmonize their levies in order to avoid double taxation.
Speaking separately after meeting the PSs delegation, a KNCCI director Mr. Shakir Salim Mohamed said there was need for a common levies within counties in the Coast region in order to lower the cost of doing business.
He said transporters of goods from one county to another were incurring huge operation costs as they are charged different levies as they pass from one county to another.
Mohamed also called for the digitization of the Kilifi County Government services to avoid delays and the automation of revenue collection to reduce revenue leakages.
He asked Governor Gideon Mung’aro to stop outsourcing revenue collection services saying that had been an avenue for corruption in the past ten years.
By Emmanuel Masha