NAIROBI, Kenya, February 1 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga says investment opportunities within the East African region have increased tremendously following the progress made in the East African Community integration process.
Speaking on Tuesday in Nairobi during the launch of Trademark East Africa whose role will be to hasten the integration process, the Premier said investor confidence is as a result of the stability displayed in the member states.
He however pointed out that non-tariff barriers in all partner states need to be dealt with so as to make trade easier.
“In spite of these positive developments, we are witnessing a resurgence of non- tariff barriers in virtually all partner states. The barriers come in various shades, including road blocks, weigh bridges and inspection of transit cargo,” he said.
He further said that the issue of infrastructure development needs to be looked at afresh in a bid to boost the region’s productivity.
“In addition, the poor state of regional infrastructure especially the railway network, link roads to partner states, inadequate power supply are not only impediments to the integration,” he stated.
East African Community Secretary General Juma Mwapachu emphasized the need for issues of human rights and corruption within the region to be dealt with.
“Any time during the next three months and during this year, there will be a number of protocols that are going to be adopted by our heads of state which will underpin the protection of human rights, the respect for rule of law and the respect for key governance as key drivers in our economy,”
He further underscored the importance of everybody regardless of social status to be involved in the integration process.
“It is not just about jobs. It is about people’s rights. Are the people really involved in the whole democratic and political space in the country?”
“We are saying we can not attain political federation if we do not create those building blocks that will give confidence to the people that yes, we are ready for a higher constitutional dispensation,” he added.
Mr Mwapachu said there is need for the informal sector to be actively involved in the East African integration process since they contribute greatly to the economic growth of member states.
He also urged the respective governments to facilitate and empower businesses in the sector to increase the flow of trade taking place across the borders.
He said an enabling environment needs to be put in place to encourage business to flourish.
“We need to improve our physical infrastructure, to build roads that connect the rural areas with markets. We need to consider how we are going to create border markets where people are able to trade even on the border points,” he added.
He further stressed the need to address the challenges of poverty and creation of wealth within the region.
“We have had today the sort of impediments that are at our border points which revolve around poor mindsets of our public officials, cumbersome procedures and of course you know just the normal facilitation at our border points,” he observed.
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