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(IGAD – Kampala) The Presidents of Chambers of Commerce and Industry from IGAD Member States chose their host to take on the mantle of the Chairmanship of the revived regional business forum on the first day of a two-day conference in Kampala.

Mrs. Olive Zaitun Kigongo will serve as the Chairperson of the IBF and her Chamber will host its secretariat during the revival period. Making the announcement after a closed door session, the President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, Ato Yesuswork Zafu said the decisions were reached through consensus. He praised his counterpart for providing a conducive platform to revive the business forum and urged all the chambers in the region to take responsibility for the financial sustainability of the forum as well as show commitment to its objectives. Terming the dec Staisions as milestones, he pointed out the chairmanship will continue to be rotational.

Accepting the honour bestowed on her and Uganda, Mrs Kigongo thanked her colleagues for demonstrating the confidence they have on her and her ability to run affairs of the revived IBF. She pledged to work very hard with the support of her staff at the national chamber as well as the others in the region to ensure the survival and prosperity of IBF.

Earlier, the Uganda Minister of State for Trade, Hon. Eng. Gagawala Wambuzi Nelson challenged the business community in the region to continue pushing the governments to create enabling environments that would allow improvement of livelihoods of the people. He said that trade is the essence of civilization and therefore the national chambers should strive to establish standards that would ensure increased membership in form of new enterprises in their respective countries. The Minister stated that the many problems that the IGAD region was experiencing were indeed opportunities for business.

“Just like China and India, we should take on our problems as opportunities to do business and solve these challenges”, he said.

Speaking at the same event, the IGAD Executive Secretary, Eng. Mahboub Maalim outlined some of the challenges the region faced and the potentials available. He gave an example of Sudan that has over 800,000 hectares of arable land with huge agricultural potential.

“We are the same people with similar social and cultural backgrounds. It should therefore be easy and straightforward for us to trade and do business among ourselves across the imaginary, artificial borders”, he declared. Furthermore, he expressed the desire to have harmonized regional policies and tax regimes that would bring about regional integration.

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