Regional business to flourish despite COVID-19 pandemic impact

Regional business to flourish despite COVID-19 pandemic impact
Regional business to flourish despite COVID-19 pandemic impact

Experts in business sector in the East African Community (EAC) have expressed optimism that business in the bloc is set to increase by 11% in 2022/23 despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the sector over the past two years.

This is according to the EABC Barometer on Business & Investment in the EAC and Outlook 2022/2023.

 The EABC Barometer was commissioned by EABC with support from GIZ and was officially launched during the Webinar on Facilitation of Cross Border Investments organized jointly by East African Community and AFRICA Reform for Investment and Sustainable Economies Project supported by the European Union.

The EABC Business Barometer is an index that captures the sentiment of the business stakeholders about how they see the business environment within the EAC during 2022 and 2023.

It shows the rate of investments, operation and performance of businesses in the EAC bloc is recovering.

 Businesses in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda has registered reduced cost of doing business while the cost increased in South Sudan and Tanzania during the pandemic, according to the study.

On Business outlook during 2022 into 2023, most businesses in Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania are optimistic about areas of improvements in the business climate, Businesses performance.

The increase was attributed to the intention by Governments to put in place interventions for business recovery, recovery from the losses suffered during the pandemic and expansion of the businesses to other markets within the EAC in post pandemic period.

It is notable that businesses in Tanzania stood out with an optimistic view of the outlook across all dimensions.

On COVID-19, the EABC barometer on business and investment revealed that curfews had the most negative effect as indicated by 58.2%, followed by border closures 54.4%, banning of in-person meetings 44.5%, inter-country movement restrictions 43% and banning of public gatherings 36.5%.

The findings further revealed effects of the COVID-19 pandemic included lack of customers, lack of finances, reduced sales volume, and high financial losses.

Key survival measures were finding new ways to connect to customers, online or remote work, new delivery ways of products and services, changed operation schedules and temporary closure of business.

As per the study findings, EABC recommends EAC Partner States to adopt the following strategies to recover economies from Covid-19 pandemic. 

 Encouragement of business formalization. 

The report recommended a review of regulations or restrictions on the COVID-19 pandemic policies in order to regulate, reinforce and promote investment in all sectors even for the post pandemic recovery and resilience in the region. 

Others include integration of informal trade into formal channels and trade agreements for the trade in goods and services.