Bringing business back from the brink
That’s the takeaway from Dr Peter Mathuki, Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC). He has been working tirelessly on behalf of members of the EABC to negotiate with EAC governments and find ways to survive this dramatic downturn, and coordinate efforts to create a stronger and more resilient business sector in the future.
“Our focus has been on trying to work out a recovery strategy across multiple sectors in the Partner States. For a recovery to be successful we need to have strong relationships with governments and different national Ministries – something which this crisis has certainly enhanced, and which we are sure will continue when we come out the other side of this pandemic.”
MARKUP works closely with the EABC, with the goal of finding the best solutions for regional businesses to grow and benefit from international markets and harmonised regional trade and quality standards and policies.
Tourism, airlines, manufacturing, logistics and transport, financial services, and many more businesses in the region have been brought to a standstill, or their activities largely curtailed. Pushing for stimulus packages from regional governments to help cover the gap or keep businesses afloat until markets reopen has been a mixed effort, but one which has opened the doors to valuable conversations with Ministers. It has also created new avenues for open dialogue about the needs of businesses in the future.
One of the EABC’s primary goals during this time has been to encourage EAC Partner States to work together and harmonise their responses to the economic downturn. “EAC Partner States have had hugely different responses, as evidenced by things like border closures and the movement of goods and trade. At borders and ports, trucks and containers being unable to go through has badly impacted supply chains, and we know of many businesses which will simply not survive, with all the knock-on effects that has. We’ve been working at border points to assist members and try to get things moving, with some success.”
“Whether National Response Meetings, or sectoral meetings across the region, as well of course as direct lines to Ministers, our suggestions and strategies are being well met and listened to. We hope that this will lead to some direct action and coordinated approaches which will help bolster business soon, and create an environment of regional cooperation.”