The entry of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s brother into the regional lobby of the East African Business Council (EABC) raises both hopes and fears that ongoing trade disputes between the partner countries of the East African Community could be ended or intensified.
Muhoho Kenyatta – an older brother of the President – runs Brookside Dairy, the near dominant milk processor in Kenya, with interests throughout the region and is family owned.
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He was elected one of the executive directors of EABC’s board on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali last week.
< p> At the Council’s AGM, Angelina Ngalula from Tanzania was elected Chair, replacing Nicholas Nesbitt from Kenya, who has been in office since 2018.
Ms. Ngalula is Vo Chairmen of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and the Tanzania Truck Owners Association.
Four members from each EAC country were elected to the Board for the period 2022/2024.
Mr. Kenyatta will join Kenyans Jas Bedi (Kenya Private Sector Alliance), Emily Waita (Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa) and Mucai Kunyiha (Kenya Association of Manufacturers).
< Other members are Rwandans Dennis Karera (Kigali Heights), John Bosco Rusagara (Intraspeed Ltd), Emmanuel Nkusi (Bank of Kigali) and Linda Kalimba (Trinity Lawyers) and Tanzanians Paul Makanza (Tanzania Cigarette Public Ltd), Jacqueline Mkindi (Taha Fresh) and Ali Suleiman Amour (Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture).
The Ugandans are Simon Kaheru (Uganda Manufacturers Association), Stuart Mwesigwa (Roofings Group), Businge Wilson Rwabwogo, ( Mukwano Industries) and Pheona Nabaasa Wall (Uganda Law Society), while Bur undi is represented by Muzanena Antoine (Burundi Traders Association) and Juvénal Sakubu (EIS-EKA Group), Delphin Kaze (KAGE) and Amelie Ninganza (KHS C ompany Ltd).
All eyes are on the role , which Mr. Kenyatta will play in ending ongoing disputes over milk, eggs and sugar, in which Kenya is often pitted against Tanzania and Uganda.
Tanzania and Kenya have been at an ongoing war over the dairy trade, including confectionery, for the past five years, with Brookside at times finding itself at the center of the dispute. Now Uganda is accusing Kenya of erecting barriers to trade in its milk and efforts are being made to end the standoff.
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John Bosco Kalisa, EABC chief executive, said the president’s brother was not special on the council , as all suggestions from members will be included in the annual political advocacy agenda.
This agenda, he said, will be submitted to the EAC Council of Ministers for consideration and adoption. But he told The EastAfrican that Mr Kenyatta’s appointment should speed trade dispute resolution, not derail it.
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“The EABC Board is a very dedicated board with strong political commitments, so one of its mandates is to resolve the outstanding trade disputes,” said Mr. Kalisa.