Ten chief executives, representing national business ass ociations from 10 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, endorsed this week f o ur policy positions developed over the past year for common advocacy with their n ational and regional governments, the Kenya Manufacturers Association said in a n ew business report PANA obtained here on Friday.
The report said the policy documents were endorsed and adopted at the annual con ference of the Eastern and Southern Africa Business Membership Organisations Net w ork, which took place in the Kenyan capital at the end of last month.
It said, “Two regional policy positions were developed on lowering transport cos ts and ‘easing the movement of goods through entry points’ in addition to nation a l positions on ‘conditionalities and cost of borrowing’ and ‘developing better l i nkages between the labour market and education suppliers.”
The bloc comprises 10 countries — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Bots wana, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Member associations include the Kenya Association of Manufactures, Uganda Manufa cturers Association Confederation of Tanzania Industries, Rwanda Private Sector F ederation, Burundi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Handicraft, Bo t swana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower, Confederation of Busines s Associations of Mozambique, Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce and Indu s try, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Confederation of Zimbabw e Industry.
The joint policy recommendations revolved around transport, trade, unemployment and capital. These will be presented to various domestic and regional government s by the respective business association.
On transport, it said, “This has been cited as unreliable yet expensive. A surve y conducted by the Eastern and Southern Africa Business Membership Organisation N etwork shows that transport costs in the region are among the highest in the wor l d, yet the lowest in quality.”
It recommended that governments in the region should unite and decrease the curr ent rail transport costs by upgrading and standardising of the regional railway n etwork including the construction of new railroads to enhance connectivity betwe e n countries in the region, and to new markets such as South Sudan
Its position on trade facilitation observed, “More than 50 per cent of companies in Eastern and Southern Africa lose business through delays and bureaucracy at h arbours, land boarders and airports in the region.”
The report said that companies in the bloc experienced severe problems with the customs departments, “including breakdown of document systems, short opening hou r s, physical inspections and delay of duty refunds.”
The association said it had established that small-medium enterprises employed 4 5 per cent and contributed 64 per cent to the gross domestic product.
“As such their importance to the economy should not be underestimated, and we sh ould utilise their full potential. In Uganda for instance, 80 per cent of busine s ses cannot access finance,” It said.
The report said youth in Africa aged between 15-24 years are unemployed. “This i s the reason African countries are grappling with high rates of crime and drug a b use,” it observed.