East Africa is an interesting investment climate. However several issues need to be addressed to finally make Intra-Africa Investments more compelling. Many investors in several sectors are interested in East Africa in several sectors including ICT, agricultural processing. These non-tarrif barriers including excessive weigh bridges, police posts, lack of 24 hr border systems.
Kenya has alot to benefit from selling investors the entire East African markets. The Heads of states agreed in June 2008 at the East African Heads of S
tate summit. Rwanda eliminated border posts overnight. As East Africa moves towards a common market these non-tariffs barriers will have to be completed. Kenya is also moving quickly and the political will is there with the extension of working hrs at the border posts to 18 hrs and the reduction of weigh bridges.
ICT can play a very useful role. The current initiatives at the Kenya Ports Authority to automate the management of the port management system should receive greater attention. This project which is now ready for implementation, will have a measurable impact on the reducing the cost of goods into the East African countries. The development by Kenya Revenue Authority of the Integrated Tax Management System, to enable more efficient tax administration and collection is complete and in the pilot stage. The implementation of the undersea cable projects will allow greater business automation, and lower cost of business communication. The cable project is crucial for the government to be able to lower costs of delivery of services across Kenya.
The role that ICT can play in enabling business across East Africa cannot be overstated. There is need for greater private sector response to these opportunities. The development of robust agricultural exchange systems enabled by technology, to enable farmers understand the value chain completely and gain advantage of knowledge in agricultural production and marketing.
The ICT board believes very strongly in the idea of getting private sector companies to implement core government ICT projects on a PPP (private public partnership) basis. The recommended implementation model would be that all core systems are developed by best of breed companies, in partnership with local players. The best of breed companies would receive incentives tied to technology and knowledge transfer in order to develop local capacity. This is easier to track than most people believe. This approach has several benefits
- This approach would expedite the implementation of a digitized and automated government.
- It would allow a deeper development of private sector capacity, that is required for the long term development of the sector
- It would create high value jobs.
- The linkages with academic communities would also develop the countries knowledge base.