NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15- The European Union (EU) on Monday signed financing agreements worth Sh64 billion with various agencies to support regional economic integration and development projects under a five-year regional strategy paper.
The funds granted under the 10th European Development Fund were allocated to the Eastern and Southern Africa – International Organisation region for the period between 2008 and 2013.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said the funds would help the region improve its economic performance in its regional integration ambitions.
“The regional support that we have received today will complement other European Union-funded projects under the various National/Country strategy papers of the member States particularly in the transport infrastructure, trade and private sector development,” he said.
“Kenya for instance, is set to receive from the European Union – under its country strategy paper for 2008-2010 – an amount of Sh38 billion towards support of various sectors,” Mr Kenyatta said.
He said the EU funded programmes would support the economic integration process by facilitating trade and reducing the barriers to cross-border trade, management of shared water resources and fish stock as well as development policies for Small Island States and closer political integration.
“As Kenya we would like to urge you to undertake, as soon as possible, a midterm review of the regional strategy paper as there have been significant developments that have taken place both within the region and globally, that may require a re-thinking of the strategy or the initial resource distribution within the strategy,” the Finance Minister said.
He said there was need to ensure that the activities outlined in the projects under the financing agreements at the regional level supported and complemented those at the national level.
Europe Aid Co-operation Office (AIDCO) Director Gary Quince said it was essential that the region decided on its infrastructure priorities and the necessary work was launched to develop bankable projects.
“It is important to decide on an appropriate balance between hard and soft investments,” Mr Quince said.
“As concerns hard investments it is important to identify where the EU funds can most effectively be directed.”