Small business people from the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC) have converged on Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, for the 13th edition of the exhibition of their activities that promote competitiveness, investment and private/public partnership.
“The presence of a huge number of exhibitors and show-goers at the exhibition is a testimony of your support to the economic development of Burundi,” said the country’s Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Francois Kabura, at the opening of the five-day event being held at the Musée Vivant de Bujumbura.
Mr. Kabura noted that enormous infrastructure facilities were under construction in the capital and across the country since peace, security and stability prevailed in Burundi.
He said the exhibition was an occasion for artists and artisans to enhance competitiveness and increase employment, and thereby accelerate the region’s sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction initiatives.
Popularly known as Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi, Kiswahili language for ‘hot sun/labour power’, the informal sector is increasingly playing a crucial role in the growth and development of the economies of the EAC region.
According to the East African Confederation of the Informal Sector Organisation (CISO) chair, Mr. James Bwatuti, the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition is the biggest single initiative in the EAC that brings many small business people together to promote and expand market opportunities, and encourage competitiveness and innovation in the sector.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the EAC Customs and Trade Directorate, Mr. Peter Kiguta, has said the informal sector portrayed the new-found partnership between the public and private sectors in the region.
In addition, he remarked that besides providing employment and sources of livelihoods to a large number of the population in rural and urban areas, the sector utilised locally available raw materials.
Burundi and Rwanda joined the EAC in 2007 and the two countries started implementing the EAC Customs Union protocol from 1 July 2009.
Total intra-EAC trade in 2011 increased by 20.5 percent, reaching the highest value of US$4,4856 billion. The same year Burundi recorded an increase in its share of EAC trade to 4.2 percent from 2.6 percent recorded in 2010.
“This shows that due to the improved peace and security, Burundi is enjoying peace dividends through reconstruction of the local production base,” said Mr. Kiguta.
Other member states of the EAC are Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.