The recently elected president of Kenya William Ruto has called for policies that facilitate the free movement of people and goods and services across the borders of East African Community countries, arguing that it’s the only way the region will be able to fight poverty among its 300 million people.
According to Dr Ruto who jetted into Uganda for the country’s 60th independence anniversary, the regional leaders ought to work towards ensuring shared opportunity and prosperity among its population.
Museveni: ‘Father’ of East African region with many differing visions
“President Museveni is our elder and experienced leader. We look up to him now to take charge in efforts to remove the borders that separate us, the people of EAC and Africa. We cannot share poverty and hunger but we can share opportunity and prosperity. It’s up to us as leaders to work towards transforming our boundaries which act as barriers into bridges to facilitate the movement of our people,” Dr Ruto said before adding that he had instructed Kenya’s trade minister to work with his counterpart to ensure that the dream is realized.
According to Dr Ruto, the EAC business community which is lagging behind the policymakers should take advantage of the regional trade agreements to enhance cooperation.
“There’s no reason as to why food should not be available in our region. Today we import 1.2 million tons of fertilizers as a region yet we have the raw materials to manufacture fertilizers and reduce on foreign exchange expenditure. We spend $400 million on clinker to make our cement yet we have raw materials in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. We spend $500 million on importation of steel yet we have raw materials in the region,” he said and reiterated that 78-year-old Uganda president Yoweri Museveni who has been in power since 1986, should take charge of EAC integration.
“With age and experience comes responsibility. You have both. Take responsibility and lead the charge,” Dr Ruto said.
“Since 2004, the EAC has been implementing initiatives to fast-track political integration. Summit directives were given and national consultations with stakeholders between 2006 and 2008 as well as various studies were undertaken to examine, facilitate and fast-track the process,” the Arusha-based entity states on its website.
“In the consultations, it became clear that the East African citizens want to be adequately engaged and to have a say in the decisions and policies pursued by the East African Community.”
On May 20, 2017, EAC heads of state adopted the political confederation as a transitional model of the East African political federation. However, still no direction has been given on how the confederation will be executed.
Pillars of EAC regional integration
Customs Union: Through the Customs Union Protocol, trade within the EAC region has been enhanced significantly. Additionally, the EAC has been an attractive foreign direct investment hub.
Common Market: EAC guides the free movement of goods, people, labour, services and capital from one partner state to another as well as the rights of establishment and residence without restrictions.
Monetary Union: The East African Monetary Union Protocol provides for the attainment of a single currency for daily transactions within the common market.
Political Federation: The EAC partner states envisage coming together to form a super-state under a single political authority/government.
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