The East African Business Council (EABC) said on Wednesday that economic recovery from COVID-19 related shocks in the region was on course amid easing of travel restrictions, ramped up vaccination and renewed investor confidence.
John Bosco Kalisa, executive director of EABC, a regional body of private investors, said that governments have made bold policy choices to hasten the revival of key economic sectors like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing that experienced a downturn at the peak of the pandemic.
He spoke at a virtual forum convened by EABC to discuss the revival of trade and investment in the region after a slump occasioned by pandemic containment measures like lockdowns and curfews. “We are working on a post-COVID-19 recovery strategy targeting sectors that have a huge impact on the economies and livelihoods in the region,” Kalisa remarked.
Kalisa said that senior policymakers and investors in the region have commenced dialogue to explore fiscal incentives that can be rolled out to accelerate pandemic recovery, restore businesses and jobs. Reforming the tax regime, policy harmonization and negotiating for low-interest loans from lenders have been prioritized in order to rebuild economies in the region.
Rashid Kibowa, director of Trade at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat said that implementation of an economic recovery strategy focusing on enhanced cross-border trade and investment that was initiated at the onset of the pandemic had gathered steam.
According to Kibowa, the strategy lays emphasis on trade facilitation, investments promotion, improving transport logistics, reviving tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
He noted that intra-regional trade declined by 5.5 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic’s disruptions on supply chains, adding that easing of containment measures has gradually restored the cross-border movement of goods and services.
Kibowa said that EAC member states have reawakened their COVID-19 mitigation measures while streamlining regional supply chains and promoting electronic commerce to accelerate economic recovery.
He said that encouraging the Diaspora community to invest in their native countries, the establishment of innovation hubs, export promotion, and funding start-ups have been identified as key to pandemic recovery in the region.