Internet Portal to connect East African business community

September 3, 2013

The proposed plan to set up an Internet portal to connect Tanzanians, Kenyans, Ugandans, Rwandans and Burundians with the business community and professionals of East African origin overseas is an ambitious plan that could help foster regional integration and development. The portal will be useful as a place for discussion, to disseminate information about new regional economic and trade policies, and to alert businesses overseas of the opportunities available for trade and investments in five East African Community member states. Most of them have indicated their interests to invest in agriculture, biotechnology, fishing and transport among other sectors in East Africa. Any investment could help and complement the East African government’s efforts to promote trade and investment outside Africa. The East Africans diaspora are still keen to play an active role in business and investment with the region. Their business networking potentials are not fully exploited and there’s a lot of potential in tourism, trade and investment.

A portal would be helpful for governments to share the latest development and to get feedback from East Africans businesses overseas. East African businesses in the western countries include tech companies, restaurants, catering companies, hotels, fashion, consultancy and financial services among others. Prominent regional corporations have also set up Europe and US operations, hiring both East Africans and locals and one of them is Kenya Commercial bank that has presence in United Kingdom. Other than students who have decided to look for jobs in western world and East Africans married to Americans, Canadians, Europeans there is also a growing number of East African professionals employed by major Europeans and North American companies. The outsourcing industry is expected to be one of the key growth sectors in the economic development of the East African region with Kenya and Uganda leading the way.

Ugandan government recently said that it has identified outsourcing industry as one of the key growth sectors to develop a more knowledge based and services driven economy. Me think that apart from proposed portal, the five member states need to identify an organization that can be tasked with the responsibility of attracting and facilitating the growth of corporations in the outsourcing or business services sector. In the case of Uganda, there is a huge anticipation of a good response from industry players with regards to the development of this business process outsourcing. I believes the Uganda has a proven track record when it comes to being selected as a choice location for the delivery of shared services and therefore I see no reason as to why outsourcing wont succeed as the case with Kenya their fellow East Africans. On the whole, East African Community member states have around 100 industry players within the outsourcing sector to date and charts an industry growth rate of around 18% per annum. As part of efforts to stimulate further interest for outsourcing services in Uganda, plans are afoot by stakeholders to form a local organization that will champion the marketing of their services in and outside the country.

If you look at the Ugandan economic transformation plan, business services has been identified as one of the key economic areas and it continues to be one of the main growth sectors for the country.  There is also a great potential in harnessing the expertise of overseas East Africans talent who are now returning to their homeland seeking work after economic crises in western world. Governments across the region are experiencing significant interest in the technology business. With the right types of jobs and career paths in place, I believe there will be plentiful opportunities for returning East Africans to come back and serve their respective countries. I know of an International consulting firm that is planning to set up centers of excellence for consulting, innovation, finance and digital media across several East African countries and this means there is confidence in the region. The company’s presence is expected to generate 6,000 high value jobs in East Africa with an average salary of $10,000 per employee and is planning to commit to investments amounting to $25 million over the next three years. So far, 100 people have already been hired since it began its operations in March this year. With a portal, East Africans are poised to experience a tech driven business transformation in coming years.

Contador Harrison