A World Bank report has praised the East Africa Tourism Platform (EATO) for showing strong leadership in championing a coordinated approach to enhance the region’s travel and tourism competitiveness.
The report says the EATP has enabled practitioners, policy makers, and regulators to engage in “meaningful dialogue” about the critical issues that are currently transforming these services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Cooperation initiatives are necessary to increase the regulatory capacity that African governments need to build over time to engage in meaningful liberalisation efforts,” says Alemayehu Geda, Associate Professor of Economics at Addis Ababa University.
“Through analytical support and technical assistance, the World Bank can assist African countries to improve regulation, facilitate services flows, and ultimately make services in Africa more competitive.”
Africa’s export potential in traditional services, such as tourism, is clearly recognised, but the emerging success of exports of nontraditional services, such as business services, is often overlooked, the report says.
For example more than 16 percent of the accounting, architectural, engineering and legal firms in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries are already engaged in exports, mainly to neighbouring countries.
“This contradicts official statistics, which assert that professional services exports for several countries are negligible or non-existent,” the report says.
“Likewise, many hospitals in Sub-Saharan African countries are treating foreign patients and are using tele-medicine; yet official statistics often do not record such trade flows in medical services.”
But the service sector is blossoming in ways that are currently unheralded, the World Bank says.