KAMPALA, Uganda, Jan 25 – The success of the East African Community is directly related to peace and stability of the region, President Mwai Kibaki has said.
Addressing a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly in Kampala on Wednesday, the Head of State expressed satisfaction that the desire of East African partner states is to ensure regional peace, stability and development.
“Our engagement in bringing law and order in Somalia is driven by the desire to bring about peace, stability and development in this region,” President Kibaki said.
President Kibaki commended all EAC partner states that have committed resources and personnel towards bringing law and order in Somalia.
The President pointed out that the goal of the East African member states is to support the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia gain full control of the country and commence national reconstruction.
President Kibaki, at the same time, noted that the East African Community has made tremendous achievements in the last ten years which have facilitated socio-economic development of all partner states.
The President cited the launch of Customs Union and the Common Market which have helped in improving the intra-EAC trade from about $2 billion in 2005 to $4 billion in 2010.
He called on the EAC partner states to hasten and deepen the integration process, saying ordinary citizens of East Africa are keen on seeing tangible benefits of the Community in form of increased employment, rising household incomes and better infrastructure.
Said the President: “As benefits of regional integration begin to be felt in various sectors, the expectations of our people are increasing.”
He urged the EAC partner states to urgently focus on boosting the agricultural sector, implementation of the Common Market Protocol and increased investment in infrastructural development which will help in meeting the expectations of the people.
Saying agriculture is the main economic activity in all the five EAC partner states, President Kibaki expressed the need to mechanise the sector and embrace value addition.
Underscoring the importance of rapid industrialisation, the Head of State called on member states to take advantage of the resources within the region, both natural and human so as to develop processing, manufacturing and basic industries apart in addition to other forms of non-agricultural industrial activities.
Said President Kibaki: “The agriculture practiced in our region is generally not mechanised and there are few agricultural value addition industries. The need for rapid development demands that we begin focusing and investing in industrialization including value addition.”
President Kibaki also emphasised the need to focus on the growth sectors such as tourism and I.C.T.
He noted that while tourist arrivals to this region have surpassed the four million mark, the number is still small as compared to tourists received in individual countries such as South Africa and Egypt.
In this connection, President Kibaki called for investments in tourism promotion in innovative ways including through projects that will attract more tourists to this region.
On Information and Communication Technology, the President emphasised the need to encourage innovation and to facilitate establishment of enterprises such as business process outsourcing centers.
He noted that the massive penetration of mobile telephony in this region offers great opportunity for development of mobile applications and systems that will improve the lives of people.
Concerning the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol, President Kibaki said there is need to ensure free movement of people, goods, services, capital and rights of residence and establishment.
“The focus in this area should be on ensuring adherence to the agreed commitments in the Protocol for the establishment of the Common Market within the set timeframes.”
He also called on the partner states to fast track the transposition of national law that contradict the Common Market spirit so as to enable its successful implementation.
On Infrastructure, the President called for increased investment saying as the region aspires to deepen and widen the integration process, the development of modern infrastructure is critical as a foundation for industrialization and free movement of people and goods.
President Kibaki hailed the progress made so far especially in implementing the East African Road Network Project across the region.
The Head of State also called for the upgrading and modernization of the current railway network in addition to extending it to other parts of the EAC.
Noting that the shortfall in power supply remains a major constraint to economic development in the EAC economies, President Kibaki cited several projects currently being undertaken to ensure reliable power supply capacity across the region.
The power projects being undertaken include Bujagali Hydro Power Project in Uganda and the expansion of geothermal power generation at Olkaria in Kenya.
The President further commended the East African Legislative Assembly for effectively discharging its oversight and legislative role of the integration process.
He observed that during its 5th session the East African Legislative Assembly will deliberate on crucial legislative matters regarding the community which include, Inter-University Council of East Africa Bill, the EAC Trans-Boundary Ecosystem Management Bill and the EAC Polythene Material Control Bill.