EAC leaders agree on special purpose financing schemes for SMEs

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The Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) bloc Tuesday agreed to establish special purpose financing schemes for small and medium enterprises to cushion them from the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and South Sudanese Salva Kiir agreed on this at a virtual consultative conference on the COVID-19 pandemic response in the region.

The meeting was chaired by President Kagame as current chairperson of the EAC Summit.

“We are working to minimize the economic hardship on our citizens, while protecting their health. But this will be more effective if we act in concert with one another,” Kagame said.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the presidents acknowledged that the region’s key economic sectors such as agriculture, trade, manufacturing and industry, tourism, hospitality and entertainment are experiencing a slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They called on partner states to support local production of essential medical products and supplies as part of efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The leaders also asked partner states to prioritize regional value supply chains and to support local production of essential medical products and supplies including, masks, sanitizers, soaps, processed foods, ventilators as part of efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

The Heads of State agreed to adopt a harmonized system for certification and sharing of COVID-19 test results, the communiqué said.

They underlined that that information sharing is key during crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministers responsible for health, trade and transport were called on to finalize and adopt a regional digital surveillance and tracking system for drivers and crew on COVID-19 for immediate use, the communiqué added.

The presidents also implored partner states to facilitate farmers to continue farming activities during the pandemic and post-COVID-19 period, support agro-processing and supply chains as an import substitution measure.

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