NAIROBI – African governments should give priority to policy and legislative reforms in order to boost cross-border trade that is key to realizing inclusive growth, Kenyan investors said on Tuesday. 

The members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, who spoke in Nairobi during the announcement of the 7th edition of Africa CEO forum slated for March 25-26 in Rwanda, said that a friendly policy environment is a key to promoting intra-Africa trade that currently stands at 12 percent.

Rachael Muthoga, KEPSA's deputy chief executive said:  "We can leverage on ongoing market reforms to accelerate intra-Africa trade that is key to re-ignite economic growth in the continent."

"Diversification from traditional sectors like agriculture to financial services and ICT should be our main focus as African continental free trade area (ACFTA) takes shape," she said.

 Kenyan business leaders, policymakers and budding entrepreneurs will join more than 1,400 participants at the premier gathering of African chief executives to brainstorm on emerging opportunities in the continent. 

Muthoga said the theme of the two-day summit, titled "Open Africa: from continental treaties to business realities," is in line with Kenya's investor's lobby's commitment to enhanced cross-border trade in goods and services. 

"There is a need for renewed dialogue between governments and industry to explore the opportunities provided by the vast African market," said Muthoga. 

Kenyan business executives have rallied behind reforms aimed at promoting market linkages across Africa and beyond. Darshan Chandaria, chief executive of Chandaria Industries, a leading manufacturer of hygiene products, said that investments in modern infrastructure are key to promoting intra-African trade. 

"Indigenous companies are keen to exploit opportunities in the regional and continental market subject to investments in modern roads, ports and railway network to ease movement of goods and labour ," said Chandaria.

He noted that Kenya has a comparative advantage in manufacturing and financial services sectors that it can harness to expand its footprint across the African market.