, ARUSHA, Apr 29 – President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday called on East African Community (EAC) partner States to step up their efforts towards addressing physical barriers to trade that could slow down regional integration.
The President noted that these efforts will ensure increased intra-regional trade and investment, and eventually an improved international competitiveness of the region.
“We must redouble our commitment in the implementation of regional infrastructural projects especially the Northern Corridor and expansion of the port facilities in our region,” President Kibaki said.
He added that the launch of the Arusha-Namanga-Athi River Road on Tuesday was not only symbolic but indeed a major achievement towards the implementation of the East African Road Network Programme.
In this connection President Kibaki noted that his Government is addressing the elimination of non-tariff barriers as a priority.
President Kibaki said: “In this respect, we have initiated a wide range of reforms at the Port of Mombasa aimed at enhancing efficiency. As part of these initiatives, we have introduced 24-hour operations to improve and speed up service delivery. We are also reducing road blocks for transit goods which have in the past constrained the movement of goods through Kenya.”
President Kibaki was addressing the 10th Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, Arusha, Tanzania.
The Head of State pointed out that within a very short period of time, the East African Community has managed to achieve another milestone in terms of successfully reaching consensus on the Common Market Protocol.
“This demonstrates our commitment and desire to match ahead of other regional blocs in search of our vision of having a prosperous, competitive, stable and politically united East Africa,” said President Kibaki.
He therefore said that the full realisation of the Common Market will facilitate free movement of goods, labour and capital within the EAC region adding that once achieved, it will deepen our efforts towards tariff elimination which we have been implementing since 2005.
President Kibaki said that the summit comes at a critical stage of integration process following successful conclusion of negotiations on the Protocol for the East African Common Market that began in Kigali Rwanda, in April last year.
President Kibaki said: “The negotiations on the Common Market will go a long way in building on the success of the East African Customs Union which E.A.C. Partner States signed on March 2, 2004 and successfully ratified on January 1, 2005. I am happy to note that implementation of the Customs Union has proceeded well and according to schedule.”
The Head of State pointed out that lesson learnt during the implementation of the Customs Union and the negotiations of the Common Market Protocol should be a foundation for effective and efficient operations in future endeavours.
Noting that timely implementation of the Treaty, the co-ordination of the activities of the organs of the Community and the establishment of a reliable resource base are all dependent on strong political commitment. President Kibaki appealed for renewed dedication, commitment and focus so as to realise and enjoy the full benefits of regional integration.
Despite the many programmes and achievements made by the Community, the President said: “There are tremendous challenges lying ahead. Political will is a basic precondition for smooth decision-making processes such as the preparation, implementation and control of agreed integration policies.”
President Kibaki acknowledged the positive contribution made by the private sector and development partners towards the realisation of the objectives of the Community.
“I am confident that the joint efforts of all stakeholders will enable us to realise our shared vision of a prosperous, secure and stable community,” President Kibaki said.
Others who addressed the summit were the host, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is the current EAC Chairman, and President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi.