Promotion and Development of MSMEs and E-Commerce to enhance Intra EAC Trade
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)/ Informal sector plays a pivotal role in the EAC region as the single largest employment creator per year in the region and therefore a source of wealth and employment creation. MSMEs, therefore, are of critical importance in the integration and economic transformation of the East African region.
Article 44 of the EAC Common Market Protocol provides that Partner States shall adopt common principles to facilitate the development of Micro, Small and Medium Industries and Promote indigenous entrepreneurs.
The Secretariat implements this mandate by undertaking the following activities:
- Organize and facilitate the annual EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fairs,
- Undertake Capacity Building Programmes for MSMEs and Trade Facilitation Institutions,
- Facilitate the Implementation of the EAC Simplified Trade Regime (STR) for small-scale cross-border traders,
- Undertake border monitoring missions to ascertain the effectiveness of the STR and conduct sensitization and awareness raising for the small-scale cross-border traders;
- Establishment of a Buyers and Sellers Platform for MSMEs.
EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fairs,
The EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Trade Fair is a platform that supports MSME development. Formerly known as Jua Kali/ Nguvu Kazi Exhibition, the trade fair is an annual event that exposes the best MSMEs’ products produced in the region.
Artisans of all trades ranging from but not limited to wood carvings, furniture, pottery, food production, clothing & textiles, leather, jewelry, personal care products and metal fabricators from the EAC Partner States converge to showcase the various products and services produced by the sector at the annual trade fair.
The first such Trade Fair was held in Arusha in November 1999 during the signing of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Subsequent to the success of the Arusha Trade Fair, the EAC Heads of State directed that the Trade Fair be held annually on rotational basis among the EAC Partner States in an effort to enhance and revamp the socio-economic integration of the people of East Africa.
Since its inception in 1999, the EAC Secretariat has worked very closely with the Confederation of Micro and Small Enterprises Organization of East Africa (formally EA-CISO) and the EAC Partner States to stage the exhibitions across the region on a rotational basis, with different themes each year.
Over the two decades, the annual Trade Fairs have brought together exhibitors from the East African region for the purposes of opening up new market frontiers for their products while bridging up the knowledge and technological gaps between them.
The EAC Buyers and Sellers Platform
The EAC recognises the potential of ICT through a dynamic and functioning digital economy in contributing to socio-economic growth in the region. In this regard, the EAC Secretariat has conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Intra- EAC ecosystem in all the Partner States, covering e-commerce from the perspective of various stakeholders: government (policy makers and regulators), private sector (logistics and online marketplaces), and the postal sector, as key facilitators of e-commerce.
The objective of this comprehensive assessment was to determine the status of Intra-EAC e-commerce in EAC, and generate actionable recommendations to guide further development of e-commerce in the region, with emphasis on Intra-EAC e-commerce.
On the basis of the assessment, an EAC E-Commerce Strategy was developed to address gaps and opportunities in key policy areas that have Intra-EAC effects such as regulatory frameworks, trade logistics/facilitation, payment systems, skills development, SMEs and gender issues.
The EAC Buyer-Seller Platform is an e-commerce platform that is currently under development.
The Platform will bring to light products produced in the region and therefore provide awareness and market of EAC products.
The EAC Buyer-Seller Platform is envisaged to enhance intra-EAC trade and investment and will contain an integrated database/catalog of manufacturers, producers, SMEs, (registered) MSMEs and wholesalers and their respective products, as well as logistics/service providers, and respective services.
As part of marketing and promoting the private sector in the region, the platform will provide opportunities for exhibition space for products produced within the region.