Gender and Investment: Impact of the EAC Integration process on Cross Border Investment: A Case Study of Women Investors in the EAC Region

In the East African Community (EAC) region, women constitute over 50% of the population and make up at least 70% of the agricultural labour force but they play a much less significant role in the formal economy. Women have invested mainly in the informal sectors, mainly in relatively low income earning activities such as vending, wholesale and retail, and have little or no presence in in primary sectors such as manufacturing, mining, construction, transport, and finance sectors. In Kenya for instance men represent 99% and 91% of those operating construction and transport enterprises. More generally, in developing countries, female-run enterprises tend to be undercapitalized, have poorer access to machinery, fertilizer, extension information, and credit. Laws, regulations, and customs restrict women's ability to manage property, conduct business, or even travel without their husbands' consent.

Regional trade and investment have grown rapidly in the EAC since the coming into force of the Community Treaty in 2005. Cross-Border Investment (CBI) has grown, particularly in services, manufacturing, tourism and transport sectors with Uganda and Tanzania as the prime destination but investments by women have remained insignificant, and women have continued to operate mainly in the informal sector.

The study will analyse cross border trade between the three biggest East African countries. The researchers' conjecture is that if women engaged in CBI are given sector- specific support then their participation will grow steadily, as will their contribution to economic growth. Poor people in the EAC, many of whom are women, often engage in CBI as a way of survival and will often not adhere to regulations and policies. Noncompliance is explained by either the stringency of the regulations or the high levels of ignorance among the women. The team hypothesize that if these women are informed about the regulations in place and their importance to their business activity then their compliance will improve and they will be open to participate in other sectors.

The study will be carried out in two areas in Uganda, along the Ugandan borders of Kenya (Malaba) and Tanzania (Mutukula) where many of the women engaged in cross border trade operate. These two areas are chosen for study in order to allow comparisons with the baseline survey data and also to allow randomised clinical trials (RCTs) without contamination as they are relatively far apart. The first step will be a baseline survey involving 200 women in each area. The results from the baseline survey will guide the researchers as they select the experimental and control groups. The experimental group will be selected based on high number of women and variety of activities that they engage in. The women sampled in the baseline will be invited to apply for training in the selected area. The assumption is that up to 50% of the respondents will apply for participation. 50% of them will be randomly selected to be part of the experimental group. These women in the experimental group will be trained and sensitised about the East African community integration process, its relevance, intention and how they can benefit from it. The participants of the control group will also be randomly selected and will not be exposed to any intervention but will be followed up as they carry out their activities during the life of the study. Three months after the baseline survey, a subsample will be invited to participate in focus group discussions about the challenges they face in CBI that are unique to women.

The researchers will also carry out in-depth interviews with policymakers and officials dealing with the regulatory framework at the two borders of Uganda to fully understand the environment, what policies, regulation and processes are in place, how they are implemented and the challenges they face as policy implementers.


Rebecca Nalumu

Uganda Investment Authority

Rebecca Namatovu

Copenhagen Business School

Samuel Dawa

Makerere University