East Africa: Expert Warns of Uncertainties in East Africa

Lack of political consensus among political leaders in the East African Community [EAC] is creating a highly-uncertain situation for investors targeting the region, analysts have said.

Melissa Cook, the managing director of African Sunrise Partners, a New York-based investment firm focusing on Africa, said uncertainty in the region was pushing investors elsewhere.

Cook was delivering a keynote speech at the launch of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society East Africa at Serena hotel on Tuesday. CFA institute is a global, non-profit member organization of financial analysts, portfolio managers, and other investment professionals.

Cook said political leaders are arbitrarily changing constitutions to suit their political and individual agendas, which impacts negatively on the business environment.

"When I see governance, I see two steps forward and one step back. We see presidents in Central and East Africa changing the constitutions so that they can run again," Cook said. This creates anxiety among the people who want change, breeding confrontations with police. In Uganda, Kampala was on a week's lock-down during the February elections as police battled opposition supporters.

In Kenya, police is battling opposition that wants changes in the electoral commission before next year's polls. Burundi is yet to heal from the chaos it was thrown into when the incumbent refused to step down after serving the two constitutional terms.

Cook said: "Having a unified strategy that stays in place regardless of who is in power [helps create investors' confidence]. There needs to be a path and a clear institutional policy instead of a person policy."

The concept integration, she said, is a positive step to driving competitiveness in the region. However, its ability to grow and attract steady and sustainable inflows of vital investment will depend on its capacity to raise global investor confidence by ensuring good political governance that is en- trenched by the member states as well as its institutions.

CFA Society East Africa announced a partnership with Capital Markets Authority to provide members with better investment analysis. The firm said it would promote global standards of expertise and conduct among investment managers and analysts.

Meanwhile, Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of Private Sector Foundation Uganda, said Uganda's challenge was failure to design measures that can stimulate long-term savings. With this measure in place, he argued, Uganda can be able to mobilize resources and fund some of the major infrastructural projects.

Source: The Observer