Kenya is eyeing the untapped Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) business opportunities under a treaty on free movement of people.
Igad member States of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda are drafting the treaty under which businesses, people and local communities living across the borders will set up shop and operate without restrictions.
The region is seeking to abolish passport requirements, institute equal rights for people and businesses and cross-border investments under the Igad protocol for free movement.
“Out of the international migration of Africans in 2013, 82 per cent was Intra-African migration. This must be viewed as part of the agenda for trade,” said Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) who also doubles as Special Liaison Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Igad.
“To harness this positively, we have to ensure that bulk of the migration takes place in a regular manner rather than irregularly,” she said. This was during a Kenya government formulation of a national position in Naivasha recently.
Ownership of property
State representatives called for free movement of people and capital, removal of currency restrictions as well as deepening of regional financial markets and central bank transaction settling.
Kenya also called for recognition and easy conversion of currencies across the border and a possible loosening of laws restricting ownership of property across the region.
Traditionally, Kenya has relied on presidential level diplomacy to get a piece of the regional potential with little concrete progress for individual businesses which still encounter bottlenecks.
In Somalia President Uhuru Kenyatta brokered an opening for Kenya Commercial Bank to get a foothold in the banking sector during his September 2016 state visit.
The President has shown the political will to push for African integration with his recent pronouncement allowing entry of all Africans to enter the country and get visas on arrival.
He said the directive will boost trade and security; increase appreciation for African diversity and reduce negative politics on the continent. The idea is gaining traction as it makes more business sense to promote trade as countries sign regional treatise to facilitate movement.