The East African Business Community has identified infrastructure development as an important pillar that will further boost the economic growth that has been witnessed in the region.
Among them are the airport, rail and road infrastructure that were highlighted in the summit that was held in the Nairobi last week.
The opening of the Athi River – Namanga road last week proved the East African Community member states commitment to development of the regions infrastructure.
The five countries, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have all identified infrastructure expansion as a driver of the region’s economy.
With a population of 133 million people and a combined GDP of 79.2 billion dollars, EAC also boasts of an average 685 dollars per capita and the respective governments have moved to engage the private sectors in the member countries to help drive the economic growth further.
Even though regarded as the fastest growing trading block, EAC member states have recorded different growth in the past four years.
Kenya recorded the slowest growth averaging 3.5 per cent compared to Rwanda’s 7.9 per cent, Uganda’s 7.2 per cent, Burundi’s 4.2 percent and Tanzania’s 6.7 per cent.
Kenya however still showed a positive infrastructure development compared to other countries in the road, air and rail transport.
In the summit, Infrastructure was said to be one of the most critical enablers of a successful regional integration in enhancing trade, agriculture, tourism and the movement of labour.
Total intra EAC trade grew from 1,617.1 million dollars in 2006 to 3,800.7 million dollars in 2010.
The increase in total intra EAC trade has also seen the share of the intra EAC trade rise from 7.8% in 2006 to around 11.38% in 2010 all these attributed to infrastructure improvement.
Issues such as energy that will lure more foreign investments in the region has however not attracted huge investments even with the oil finds in Uganda and Kenya.
The removal of non-tariff barriers has been pointed out as one which will enhance trade between the member states even as they foster a trading block with other trading partners.
Institutional reforms were highlighted as key as the regions prepare to have a monetary union in the near future.