By our reporter

Experts attending the second high-level East African Manufacturing Business Summit and Exhibition (EAMBS) held in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali said that innovation is key for the East Africa manufacturing sector to compete globally.

Ali Mafuruka the board chairman of Trade Mark East Africa while at the summit in Rwanda which hosted the forum from May 23 to 25, 2017 dubbed “harnessing the Manufacturing Potential for Sustainable Economic Growth” said that East Africa has to understand that its industries are operating in a global context.

Mafuruka said that in an open globalized market place which is not going to change, east Africa has to be innovative and also has to work on their efficiencies and be able to produce high quality products that are competitive at international markets.

“Regional economies should strategically position themselves in the global business environment through producing locally made products that are price competitive,” Mafuruka said.

The three-day meeting included an exhibition where investors, enterprises, researchers and academia collectively showcased new products and services as well as exhibit the latest advances in manufacturing technology and innovation, particularly those with relevance to Small Medium Enterprises.

Lilian Awinja, the executive director of East African Business Council (EABC), called for innovative strategies that will raise competitiveness levels and expand the region’s manufacturing and export base.

“Innovations are now shaping the business environment. We need to add value to products produced in EAC. Our regional industries can now begin to raise manufacturing output and increase its share of global trade and production,” she said.

However, Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said manufacturing sector in East Africa needs to develop innovative approaches that are essential for local products to compete favorably at global markets.

“We should reduce the importation of cheap products from developed economies that may benefit local consumers but induce long-term challenges. East African economies should create a conducive business environment for doing business and encourage development of locally made products,” he said.

Kituyi added that a competitive manufacturing sector encourages domestic and foreign investment, creates employment and improves a country’s balance of payments.

Currently, manufacturing accounts for 10 percent of the GDP in the EAC bloc.

More than 400 delegates are attending the regional event.

Source: Coast Week