Manufacturing offers a wide range of opportunities in the EAC Partner States. The region is currently a net importer of manufactured products such as machinery and transport equipment. By offering incentives such as zero rating of various raw materials, and through various manufacturing incentive schemes, the EAC Partner States have been trying to promote manufacturing as a way of diversifying their economies.
Textiles and Apparel
The EAC Partner States have a history of textile manufacture and are known for the production and export of handpicked cotton. The manufacture of garments has been revitalised since the signing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in the United States, which allows EAC Partner States except Burundi (since 1 January 2016), along with other sub Saharan African countries, market access to the United States.
Investment opportunities thus exist in cotton ginning, production of yarn and finished textiles, marketing and trading in cotton and textiles as well as in cut, make and trim units. Rwanda offers opportunities in development of sericulture and the silk textile industry.
Iron, Steel and other Metals
Opportunities exist in the development of nucleus foundry making precision castings that can then be processed into precision components, aluminium cans, high-strength reinforcement bars, ductile iron rolls, casting sand and moulding. Opportunities also exist for investment in the mining of iron ore to supply the existing steel mills, the production of sponge iron for steel mills and the production of steel products.
Vehicle Parts and Assembly
The number of new motor vehicles registrations in the region has been increasing rapidly over time.
Although some car parts are produced locally, accessories of some of vehicles, especially of European origin, are often lacking in the market. Opportunities exist in the manufacture of components for use by local assemblers and for export to regional markets. Use of bicycles as a mode of transport is widespread in the region, providing opportunities for bicycle assembly.
The electronics industry is growing rapidly with a number of firms engaged in assembly, testing, repair and maintenance of electronic goods. Investment potential exists particularly through Manufacturing Under Bond and Export Processing Zones programmes in the production of consumer electronics such as TVs, VCRs, disk drives, etc. as well as telecommunications equipment and support industry items such as cables, cords, die casting, metal plating, etc.
Investment potential can be found in the production of motors, circuit breakers, transformers, switch gears, irrigation pumps, capacitors, resistors, insulation tapes, electrical fittings and integrated circuit boards for both regional and international markets.
Opportunities exist in all five Partner States in the production of plastic articles to meet the domestic demand as well as demand in the broader region.
Investment opportunities can be found in the production of Polyvinyl Chloride resin from ethyl alcohol, formaldehyde from methanol, melanine and urea, mixing and granulating of fertilisers, cuprous ox chloride for coffee bean disease, caustic soda and chlorine based products, carbon black, activated carbon, precipitated calcium carbonate, textile dyestuff, ink for ball points and gelatin capsules, among other things.
Investment opportunities exist in the manufacture of drugs for the treatment of various tropical diseases, the provision of modern family-planning services, and the manufacture of medical equipment and sundries (surgical cotton/gauze, sanitary pads, syringes, bandages, infusion syrups, oxygen). The rich biodiversity of the region also provides an opportunity in the processing of herbal medicines. The processing of pyrethrum extracts and the production of vaccines, antibiotics and vitamins also offer investment opportunities.
The main beverage production activities in the region include coffee roasting, tea processing, and the production of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The region has a competitive advantage in processing these products because it produces most of the raw material used in this industry including fruits, barley, coffee and tea. Investment in this sector has been increasing, especially in producing soft drinks. The demand for beverages in the region is on the increase. Investment opportunities exist in production, targeting both local and export markets.
The packing industry includes all forms of printed paper and plastic packaging, woods, foil and glass packaging. It is a strategic sub-sector as it supports other industries (especially pharmaceuticals, horticultural products, beverages, edible oil, fish, and dairy products) in marketing and distribution generally, as well as in international trade. The developments in the manufacturing sector, especially the production of consumer goods, explain the increased demand for plastic packaging items.
Investment opportunities exist in the production of glass containers (raw material available), tin cans /boxes, corrugated cases (shuffle), cartons and labels, flexible packages, rigid plastics, and thin-walled plastics.