East Africa Community leaders have invited American firms to invest in the region, touting mega infrastructure projects as the key attraction.
Deputy President William Ruto, Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) and Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn also urged the United States to stop negative publicity against the region by issuing travel advisories for those who wish to travel to the EAC.
They said that five member states have invested heavily in infrastructure projects among them roads, railway, hotels as well as travel had improved drastically.
They told the US private sector that the region was among the best places to invest in the world.
Said President Museveni: "East Africa is the place to invest. It is the place to be. Security is good. But you should stop this travel advisory issues."
Speaking during a meeting with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the leaders also urged the US to act fast on introducing direct flights to East Africa.
They expressed the stand during a meeting of Heads of State and Chief Executive Officers from the US and East Africa, at Westin Hotel, New York.
The leaders said the negative advisories have hampered investments and the growth of tourism in East Africa.
Pockets of strife
Mr Ruto followed the cue saying travel advisories were not a measure to end insecurity.
He said pockets of strife in neighbouring countries in the region should not give the US a reason to give a blanket ban.
"You have more legitimate reason to invest in East Africa. We have the requisite infrastructure; what we need is direct flights to the region to make it easy for investors to get there," Mr Ruto said.
He added: "We should reconsider issues of travel advisories because the region is safe. You need to speak to your ambassadors there."
Mr Kagame said the region had plenty of areas for investment, some untapped, for the private sector.
He said leaders in the region had facilitated easy movement of people through a single entry visa.
Mr Desalegn said the region was developing infrastructure that linked the countries.
He said investments in clean energy, oil and gas was critical for the development of East Africa.
Mr Desalegn said there were avenues for investors to partner with businesspeople in the region in agro-processing and value addition.
To make steps towards Industrialisation, the Ethiopian PM said, electricity production was key.
Ms Pritzker said she was concerned with the issue of travel advisories. She said she encourages more American businesspeople to invest in the region.
She said the value of travel and tourism was clear because it improves economies, creates jobs and helps reduce poverty.
- The East African Community flag on June 24, 2010. EAC leaders have invited American firms to invest in the region, touting mega infrastructure projects as the key attraction.