TALENT KEY TO DRIVING TRADEAND INVESTMENT: Four leading figures from the world of East African business share their thoughts on how integration is progressing in the region in the fields of capital markets, employee mobility, the opening up of key sectors and the implementation of the AfCFTA.

The single biggest business agenda on the pan-African political front last year was the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). But what does this mean from the private sector's perspective and what are the implications for a business, both in terms of strategy and talent management?

Throughout the Talent Agenda Series regional HR conferences, Global Career Company in partnership with African Business presented a series of leadership panels exploring the talent challenges facing businesses. At the East Africa conference, Afreximbank, one of Africa's leading multilateral institutions, hosted a number of its clients to discuss their strategic outlook in what is arguably Africa's most integrated economic community, that of East Africa.

Moderator: Keith, we have four capital markets in the region. What is East Africa doing to integrate, so that we have a much larger, and stronger, regional market?

Keith Kalyegira, CEO, Capital Markets Authority, Uganda: The Capital Markets Authority of Uganda is working longside those of Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda to harmonise our regulatory framework to be able to operate as one.

We are looking at integrating the systems infrastructure of the security exchanges, at having one depository such that investment across the region is seamless. We want to have all the brokers across the region to be able to exchange information so that they can trade and collaborate across borders.

Melika, we are hearing lots of positive noise from Ethiopia. What is happening in terms of the opening up of key sectors like mobile telephony and banking, the sector in which you operate?

Melika Bedri, CFO, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia: With the economy opening up, we have to position ourselves for greater international competition. The government is looking to privatise a number of state-owned enterprises and with that, new banks might come to Ethiopia, as well as new types of businesses that will require sophisticated skill sets.

Our bank, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, is the biggest in the country, with 60% market share. We are well positioned domestically but to compete regionally we will need new competences and new skills. We have a vision to become a world-class bank by 2025, and that means enhancing our processes and services. As we digitise, for example, we need to ensure we have the technological know-how within our teams. As we move from a closed economy to an open one, that brings in new opportunities but also...

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