, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – The East African Community (EAC) Ministry has appointed a team of legal experts to review provisions of the Common Market Protocol and propose any recommendations that should be taken to ensure a smooth implementation in July.
EAC Minister Amason Kingi said on Tuesday that the taskforce has 45 days to present its findings which will be used to, among other things, harmonise Kenya’s laws with those of the other East African member States.
“The legal taskforce will audit all provisions of the protocol, the annexes and regulations therein and make recommendations on the necessary legal and administrative reforms,” he said.
The team with representatives from the government, civil society organisations and private sector will be chaired by industrial court judge Stewart Madzayo.
The audit, he explained, was necessary to ensure that national laws conform to the Protocol in order to ensure a conducive business environment where many of the stringent restrictions to trade and investment are eliminated. This would in effect ensure that the region attains the desired competitiveness.The arbitrary suspension of the Common External Tariff by some countries during pre-budget consultations is one of the challenges that the private sector faces due to the different laws that these countries have.
Speaking during the launch of the ministry’s communication policy and strategy handbook, Mr Kingi emphasised the need to have the region’s citizens participate fully in the integration process. This would entail providing information on the integration agenda and benefits that East African citizens will accrue from a common market.
“Successful regional integration presumes solid support by the citizens of the partner states. Such support is predicated on the availability of full and complete information on all areas of the integration,” he said.
He regretted that in the past there have been gaps that have hindered the effective flow of information to the grassroots which had led many people to view the integration agenda as a ‘high level political rhetoric’ as well as slowed down the cooperation process.
“Regional integration has often been portrayed as being more of a myth than a reality largely as a result of limited access to information and other proactive engagement modalities,” he said.
However, with the launch of the handbook, the Minister expressed confidence that this bottleneck would be adequately dealt with.
A number of activities will be rolled out as the ministry seeks to increase the visibility of its affairs and understanding of all aspects of the EAC integration. Awareness campaigns, sensitisation workshops for both media and private sector players as well as training of line ministries will be carried out he revealed.
“We will expand our partnership with all the media in Kenya and East Africa through well-targeted capacity building programs and mutual consultations in order to continuously empower the media in its reportage and appreciation of the process,” he added.