Uganda is currently hosting the third East African Community (EAC) Secretary Generalâ€™s forum, where the incumbent gets to interact with the private sector and members of the civil society. Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the EAC told reporters today that the region was getting more competitive but that there was still work to do because the region is still lagging behind.
The two-day consultative meeting, starting on Friday at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe, will be inclined towards how to facilitate businesses to perform better and be competitive in the region.
Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the EAC told reporters today that the region was getting more competitive but that there was still work to do because the region is still lagging behind.
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In the recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) global competitiveness 2014-15 report, all the four East African countries showed signs of improvement. Uganda improved its ranking to 122 out 144, up from 129 in 2013-14. However, it only scored 3.6 points out of a possible seven, the same as Tanzania. Uganda is still ranked behind both Rwanda and Kenya respectively. The report measures infrastructure availability, efficiency of institutions, the state of the economy, goods and services, presence of healthcare, the marketplace and technology. It is on these pillars that Sezibera says that the region still has room to improve.
The topics at the forum, according to Sezibera will focus on how to access affordable finance in the region, mobile banking and mobile money transfers and also identify the investment opportunities in the ICT sector. For instance in Uganda, average interest rates according to Bank of Uganda are at 20percent, a rate considered high. In the last financial year alone, BOU revealed that loan uptake in Uganda had grown below their projections.
Sezibera also said there will be discussions on food security and climate change mitigation. The Common Market Protocol is also on the agenda, with mainly on the freedom and rights that East African residents have in any of the member countries.
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Jessica Eriyo, the EAC Deputy Secretary General for Productive and Social Sectors, also told reporters that these meetings were consultative and provided a platform of engagement for member s of the public and the EAC Secretary General.
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Some of these proposals are presented to the East African Council of Ministers and technical team of the EAC, just before the Heads of State Summit in November 2014.